Perhaps you’ve heard something like the following preached in a sermon:
I certainly have and recently stated as much in a sermon myself. I received the following feedback about my sermon statement from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Professor of Expository Preaching, Mike Miller:
“39 lashes were not given because the 40th would kill a person. Mishnaic teaching (later codified in the Talmud) dictated that 40 lashes was the maximum anyone could receive. They stopped at 39 to avoid inadvertently giving more than 40.”
I couldn’t find academic support for the idea of the Romans intending 40 lashes for death in a Google search. This notion appears to be a Baptist preacher old wives’ tale. Consider this my retraction and apology to the body of Christ.
Learn a valuable lesson with me. Unless it’s the word of God itself, what you hear in a sermon bears verification. Thank You, Dr. Miller for teaching me how to be a more careful speaker.