Law Home Page

A proud British father was explaining to his friends that the first book he gave to his son who was aspiring to become a lawyer was ". . . the Bible, the Holy Bible!"

"The Bible ... for a lawyer?!" exclaimed his friends.

"Yes sir," answered the proud father. "the properest and most scientific book for an honest lawyer, as there you will find the foundation of all law as well as all morality."


God's Plan

 Pre-Flood Era    Old Testament  

Church Age (Last Days)


Great Tribulation


New Heavens & New Earth

Satan's Counterfeit

Pre-Flood Era Old Testament

Church Age


Great Tribulation

Golden Age

New Heavens & New Earth

A schoolgirl is suing her school for allegedly breaching her human rights by "punishing" her with repeated detention for repeated misbehavior. A serial burglar is spared prison because he plans to become a poet. First-time burglars are to be given "community sentences". A violent thug is sentenced to "an anger management course". Murderers are given "life sentences" which last on average eight years. Having discarded biblical law for many years now, the Government and liberal judiciary now seem intent also on dismantling the biblical based due process penalties for law-breaking.

The biblical principles which should guide judicial penalties are listed below, from the most to the least important.


Punishment to fit the crime should be the first and foremost aim. God has given the State the "sword" to punish evil-doers. "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" (Rom.13:4). This is what is called retributive justice. It is "breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Lev.24:20). Only the State is authorized to inflict such punishment. Individuals are forbidden to practice this on a personal level (Mat.5:38,39). However, the less the State exacts lawful vengeance, the more likely it is that individuals will take the law into their own hands.


The criminal should compensate the victim for at least as much as has been taken from them. This is commanded and commended in both the Old and New Testaments (2Sam.12:6, Lk.19:8). Today, however, people can steal from old ladies and large companies and yet not have to pay back any of their ill-gotten gains.


Sometimes a criminal is too dangerous and too likely to re-offend to be released back into the community. In such a case the publicís right to protection transcends any of the criminalís rights. The criminal has forfeited his right to freedom if he uses that right to terrify, intimidate, threaten and assault others. Too often, today, the criminalís rights are given priority over those of the "innocent" public.


"That others also may fear" is certainly a biblical principle of justice (1Tim.5:20). Part of the purpose of justice is to "scare" people into obedience to the law. Sadly today most criminals just laugh at the law and scorn the pathetic penalties imposed upon them. They leave the dock with smirks on their faces. Far more crime would be deterred if the State was indeed a "terror to the evil" (Rom.13:3) rather than a joke.


Lastly, there is rehabilitation of the criminal. The perverse elevation of rehabilitation to the top of the governmentís priorities is what has turned so much of our criminal justice system and society upside down. Society and the victim are largely forgotten in the misplaced desire to show that the worst offenders can be restored by counseling and psychotherapy. Of course, attempts should be made to prevent the criminal re-offending. However the biblical way is not by counseling and psychotherapy but by punishment, pay-back, protection and deterrence. This would result in far more criminals being "rehabilitated".


Above all, the Bible stresses the need for repentance and redemption. It holds out to the criminal not only the need for forgiveness and the need for change, but the availability of forgiveness and the possibility of change through Jesus Christ. He saved a criminal with his dying breath. He is still able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him (Heb.7:25).

David P Murray (January 2003).

Top  /  Home /  Law Home Page