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By Vernon W. Redekop

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Chapters 1215 point out the ethical dimensionshow to live a good life in a hostile environment. Near the end of chapter 12, Paul quotes two passages from the Hebrew Bible: "I will take revenge, I will pay back," says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35). "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this, you will make him burn with shame" (Proverbs 25:2122). Paul uses these quotes to make three points:(1) don't seek vengeance; (2) live peacefully with everyone; (3) conquer evil with good.

Jerusalem Bible) Some even go so far as to use this verse in support of capital punishment. Before making the leap from a 1,930-year-old letter to public policy today, let's be certain we know what Paul was talking about. It is not immediately evident whether he is talking about the state, the policeman, or something else. Paul, the author of Romans, had trained as a Pharisee. All his life he had been committed to serving God. At one point in his life he considered Jesus to be a false teacher.

Do you think you could stone your child (or pull the switch on the electric chair) if he or she were guilty of murder? Should your feelings make a Page 21 difference? Why or why not? 2. Why was the death penalty given in Deuteronomy 13:712 if it was so seldom carried out in Israel's history? 3. What do we value more than anything? What could destroy this value in the community? Page 22 Chapter 3 Death-Deserving Behaviors It could be argued that the ancient Israelites accepted capital punishment for the following offenses: (1) shopping on the Lord's day, (2) cursing God, (3) cheating on income tax, and (4) having sexual intercourse with someone of another religion.

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