International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ek'-se-kut, ek-se-ku'-shun-er (`asah, "to do," din,"to judge," "decide"; poieo, "to do"; spekoulator, Latin speculator, "an attendant"):
"Execute" in the sense of "executing judgment," "vengeance," etc., is often found in the Old Testament (Exodus 12:12 Deuteronomy 10:18 Psalm 149:7 Jeremiah 22:3 Ezekiel 25:11 Micah 5:15; compare Jeremiah 21:12, "Execute justice in the morning") and a few times in the New Testament (John 5:27 Romans 13:4 the King James Version; Jude 1:15). In the sense of punishing capitally, by legal process, it is not found. "Executioner" is found only in Mark 6:27 the King James Version, where Herod, the king, is said to have "sent an executioner" (spekoulator) to behead John the Baptist, but the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version have instead, according to the stricter meaning of the text, "The king sent forth a soldier of his guard." The office of executioner, however, was a recognized office in all the great nations of antiquity.
George B. Eager