Punishment distinct from crime


"If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death." (Lev 20:10)

It seems that the Law of Moses, as well as specifying what the prohibitions are, often specifies the punishment as well.

However, in the encounter between Jesus and the adulterous who was in danger of being stoned to death (Jn 8:1-11), it would seem to me, Jesus separates the sin from the punishment that is owing for it. In other words, Jesus brought attention to the sin ("sin no more" 8.11) but he did not, in justice, want to see her stoned ("go on your way..." 8.11).

Is it right to say that in thinking of the Divine Law, while an action can be objectively sinful and doesn't change from era to era, the proper and most appropriate punishment for the sin might indeed change?

Has there been any good studies done on the distinction between Crime and Punishment in the Divine Law?


Its that humans change.

The Jews in the begining were a people with no home. They had no law, they had no currancy, they had no culture, national pride etc etc.

That's one of the first things God did after freeing them from Egypt.....He made them into a nation and gave them unification and purpose.

Laws and the strict punishments helped shaped the nation. Helped strengthened marital bonds (and therefore the family unit....the basic unit of society) and so forth.

It was the peoples mindsets and hearts that were growing and changing. These people were like a small child to God and punishments were more black and white. As the people "aged" and they had national pride and a "place"......When Christ came, He moved the law from their minds into their hearts and required more from them in a sense like how a parent requires more from an older son/daughter.

Keep in mind....in the scheme of things. The most horrible punishment is hell.....which is applicable to us in both the new and old testament............in the old testament, the strict punishments helped keep people in line and helped show how awful sin is......that it is deadly. This is a lesson they needed to understand! It also kept society together in saving parts of society like marriage, helping everyone to take a strict stance to live under Gods laws and for God alone etc etc.

Hope this helped!

God bless


You have delved into an important topic. Many use the OT laws to attack Christians who renounce homosexual acts. The truth is there are at least three distinct types of laws in the OT, the moral law, the civil law, and the ritual/dietary law.

The moral law is unchanging, it denotes behaviors which are sinful or not. It never changes. Murder, theft, sexual impurity, etc, will NEVER be okay. They will always be sinful.

The civil law deals with how the moral and/or ritual/dietary laws are carried out. In other words, the punishments due from violating the other laws. The punishment for adultery is different than at other times in history. Doesn't change that adultery is wrong, but the punishment for the sin can be different. The civil law of the OT was specific to the Jewish people of that time. God was setting apart His people, to be radically different from other people around them.

The ritual/dietary laws deal with the ritual practices and dietary requirements of the Old Covenant/Testament. They were fulfilled and replaced with the New Covenant/Testament. Again, it was to differentiate the separate God's people from those around them. Most/All of these actions and requirements are not sinful in and of themselves, they are only sinful if God tells you to do/not do something, and you refuse. Wearing clothes made of different fabrics is not inherently sinful. But it is if God tells you not to. Eating pork is not inherently sinful, but it is if God says not to.


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