After over 65 years of ministry, we have developed the top 27 questions people ask us so we would like to share these questions each week for our weekly blog and share the answers as a resource for you all to use in your ministry, churches, and family.
Top ? #19 What Does the Bible Say about Crime and Justice?
Answer: God has instituted governments and vested them with the authority to administer temporal justice, including capital punishment for those that take another person’s life.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross he paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind. By virtue of his sinless life and sacrificial death, God could offer salvation, eternal life, and forgiveness to all who place their trust in Christ. However, the temporal consequences of sin still remain. Because of this, it is necessary that there be just punishment for people’s misdeeds.
In Genesis 4 we read of the first crime committed on earth when Cain murdered his brother Abel. At that time God himself brought judgment on Cain for his behavior. After the time of Noah, however, God requires that if a person kills another person the murderer should be put to death. This began the rule of human government which continues until today. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 13 that God has established governmental authority.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. “ – Romans 13:1-5
God recognizes that human government and justice systems can be corrupted. To prevent the abuse of punishment he gave the well known “law of retaliation” which states “eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” The purpose of this law is to restrict punishment to fit the severity of the crime, in other words this forbid someone from taking a life for an eye, etc.
God gave many very direct statements about the importance of justice such as that found in Deuteronomy 16:18-20. “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you. “
Governments have been given the authority to administer justice. The authorities have the obligation to mete out justice even though our sins have been forgiven by God and we have been declared righteous in His sight based on the death of Jesus Christ.
Please read the following verses: 1 Peter 2:13-17; Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 24:23-25; Malachi 2:9; Exodus 23:6-9.
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