Captial Justice


Something has been bothering me for a fairly long time. The first gentile called was a Roman Centurion, a military commander, who was responsible for policing and enforcing law.  What has been bothering me about this for a long time is the need for conscientious objection to military service, in some ways the bible has been split on this subject. Cornelius was neither commanded to give up his position, or to cease from doing any specific duty, though he may or may not have done so.


This prompted me to think about the words translated as killing, murder and violence and such. What will become clear early in the study is the Hebrew word for murder the one translated “thou shalt not kill” and the legal term under the law “put to death” are completely different and do not seem to have a new testament command against it. Having said that the law has passed away, leaving behind the commandments of Christ and the commandments to Noah.


Genesis 9:5 to 6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.


There was a command on all men, beasts, and family members, that if any person murdered, he should be put to death. This command came before the law, as did many other things mentioned in the food commands post. The interesting thing perhaps is that under the law death by stoning was the specifically required act. Oddly enough crushing the skull of a person also is pretty much the quickest and most merciful death a person is ever likely to get as nerve endings in the brain are separated by force. This is why stoning was punishment under the law.


Now getting back to the words.


Exo 20:13  Thou shalt not kill.

Deu 5:17  Thou shalt not kill.

לא תרצח

οὐ φονεύσεις

Not murder


The verses and following Hebrew Old Testament and Greek Septuagint phrases are what is important here. The translation between Hebrew and Greek in these verse is precise and word for word.   This matters because the exact phrase is used as a quotes in the New Testament by Jesus, and Paul.  There are other phrases which are obvious reverences to Exodus or Deuteronomy which are spelled or phrased a little different.


Matthew 5:21 to 22  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.


Romans 13:8 to 10  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.



The next verses are not phrased in an exact match to the Septuagint Greek but, are still pretty obvious references to the same verses in the Old Testament.


James 2:10 to 12  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.  So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.


Mark 10:18 to 19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.


Matthew 19:18 to 19  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


Luke 18:19 to 20  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.



Now as you will notice, all of these reference are to murder. As are the next few verses that specifically speak about murderers. (Mark 7:7 to 23, Romans 1:28 to 29,  Galatians 5:19 to 21, 1 Timothy 8 to 10, 1 John 3:15, Revelation 21:28 & 22:15)  The act of putting someone to death, however is not murder.  Murder is killing someone against God’s will.  That is the biblical definition of murder.  Putting someone to death, however, is the act of killing in accordance with God’s will.  What is notable is this, the word used for kill in Exodus and Deuteronomy are only ever used in context of unlawful killings in other words murders.  These verses show the context of the word usage in the bible.


Exodus 20:13, Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 4:42, 5:17, 19:3 to 6, 22:26, Joshua 20:3 to 6, 21:13 to 38, Judges 20:4, 1 Kings 21:19, 2 Kings 6:32, Job 24:14, Psalms 62:3, 94:6, Proverbs 22:13, Isaiah 1:21, Jeremiah 7:9, Hosea 4:2, 6:9


How does all thing apply to service in police forces and military forces? Cornelius was a blend of what we would think of as a police officer, military soldier, and judge. His specific command post was for the protection of the people in the land of Israel under Roman law. It was not a wartime duty that he held at that time. John the baptist counseled soldiers.


Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.


The word violence here is διασεισητε and have a meaning of shaking thoroughly and a secondary meaning of extortion. This is not really what we in modern terms think of when we think of violence, this is a very specific kind of act, not the broad label which we slap on violence.…

The commands against brawling or striking, which we would call fist fighting or martial arts, are only toward bishops and deacons in the ecclessia. In other words ecclessial managers may not do this. This would mean that judges, police officers, and military servants may not be ecclessial managers.  Then passage render no man evil for evil comes into play also. However the word evil there can be translated bad, or wickedness, so this does not apply to something if done in just punishment.


Romans 12:17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.


1 Thessalonians 5:15  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.


1 Peter 3:9  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.



Dealing with wars. Wars by members of the ecclessia are summed up in 1 verse.


2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:


Simply war in this day and age is the act of one country, to murder members of another country. It is not war for instance to put to death a mass of individuals who slaughter whole villages as is done in africa, or for that matter those committing genocide. God’s justice demands this be done as was commanded through to the entire human race via Noah.


Genesis 9:5 to 6  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.


Having studied this, we should be contentious objectors to unjust warfare for greed political gain, and country boarders.  However we should not be contentious objectors on upholding keeping and enforcing God’s justice where not in conflict with local governments. God’s justice is God’s vengeance, and he has in some cases given us commands on how to carry this out.


Romans 13:1 to 4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.


The whole point of governments it to carry out God’s Justice upon evil men. Cornelius would not have been called if his lifestyle, work, and means of supporting himself were evil. It isn’t wrong to be involved with the criminal justice system, provided you as a person stand for God’s justice. Cornelius was and he was not rebuked for doing so.


Now before you completely dismiss this thought, think on this passage in comparison.


Isaiah 55:11  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.


If we assume that “things changed” in the New Testament, because of traditional thought, well then this voids God’s word.  His will then is no longer accomplished by the Christian Churches in this command to the entire human race.  Christians are part of the human race.  Our personal feelings of what humane action are should be completely based on the bible first.  Not doing so is against the will of God.  God through Peter killed Ananias and Sapphira with the Holy Spirit.  So then killing via God’s will cannot be unjust or unholy.  There are right conditions to do so which God has set.  This of course does not mean we ought to take the law into our own hands, but rather that our opinions should support and uphold the capital punishment command in the case of a murderer.

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