Saturday, April 07, 2018

Eternal LIFE Is a Gift to Some not a Given for All


Try to define it.

It's not as easy as you might think. 

Living things tend to be complex and highly organized.

A biologist, physicist, geneticist, and spiritualist all define life differently.

So the only definition of life that really matters is the one that comes from the Author of life.
"The breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4). 
God's covenant name in Hebrew is the sound of "breath" (Heb. יהוה‬) This Hebrew name for God is YHWH using English letters. It is without vowels in both Hebrew and English and is not even vocalized by orthodox Jews during their prayers.

English speaking Christians will add vowels to this Hebrew name for God to come up with  Y E H O W A H, modernized in English as Jehovah and translated in the Bible as LORD (all caps)

Any attempt to vocalize this covenant Hebrew name for God in the Hebrew language can only be accomplished by breathing in through the nose and exhaling through an open mouth. 

God's covenant name in Hebrew is the sound of breathing

When God formed Adam, He gave to the first man "the breath of life" and man became a "living being" (Heb. נָ֫פֶשׁ ). The Bible declares:
"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)
In the Hebrew language of the Bible, Genesis 2:7 reads (right to left):
וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃
The Hebrew word לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ (second word from the end on the far left emboldened) is translated living being in some English Bibles but as "living soul" in other translations (e.g. King James Version).
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7 King James Version). 
Unfortunately, the use of the English word "soul" confuses many Christians.

Some have wrongly concluded that a person "has a soul" and that this soul is something independent and distinct from the body. But to think biblically, every time you hear the word "soul," you should think "living being."

You don't have a living being. You are a living being.

The Bible teaches that living beings are those that have been given the breath of life. Both mankind and animals have been given this breath of life from God.
And God said, "Let the land produce living beings (Heb. נָ֫פֶשׁ) according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. (Genesis 1:24).
The same Hebrew word נָ֫פֶשׁ used for mankind in Genesis 2:7 is used for animals in Genesis 1:24.

That both man and animals are considered living beings by God is easily seen in the story of the flood. When God judged the world through the flood, He took away "the breath of life" from all living creatures.
"Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died." (Genesis 7:22).
So animals and mankind are similar in that we both live and we both die.

What makes humans distinct from animals is the image of God in us (see Genesis 1:26).

This image of God revolves around our ability to know good and evil, to choose right or wrong, and to enjoy a familial relationship with the Author of life. The Author of life has also given a promise to those He made in His image (e.g., mankind, not animals) that the breath of life might never be withdrawn upon our perfect obedience.

In summary: The breath of life that comes from God is the biblical definition of life. 

Physical Death

The Author of life promised the withdrawal of the breath of life (Genesis 2:17) if man rebelled. The promised judgment was not immediate physical death, but imminent physical death.

Sin brings for mankind the removal of the breath of life.

Without the breath of life, living beings die.

So God alone is the Author and Sustainer of life.

The biologist, the physicist, the geneticist, and the spiritualist may all have different definitions of life and of death. But the Author of life has the final say in both.

Life begins when God grants the breath of life.  Death occurs when God removes the breath of life. 

When the breath of life is withdrawn man and animals cease being living souls. The body which is made of clay returns to the ground from whence it came (dust). 

The Bible references living beings only in terms of life and death.

For living beings created in God's image (e.g. "mankind"), the Bible refers to death as sleep, or in more graphic depictions, the clay (e.g. "the body") returns to the dust from whence it comes (Psalm 90:3), awaiting resurrection.

The Resurrection

The strange doctrine that the early Apostles and followers of Jesus Christ believed was called anastasis (e.g., resurrection from the dead). Jesus said:
"For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:26-30). 
Paul preached the resurrection of the dead in Athens, Greece, the home of those who proposed that souls never die but only migrate from one home to the next. Paul declared:
"God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Jesus from the dead.” (Acts 17:31). 
Look at the response of the philosophers on Mars Hill: 
"When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” (Acts 17:32). 
The Athenian philosophers required no resurrection in their way of thinking. Souls never die. They just move to other planes of living.

Ancient Greeks like Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, as well as the eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and most modern New Age movements, teach things similar about the afterlife to what you'll hear from the average Christian preacher today.

You'll often hear that a living being continues to exist after death in the form of the soul or the mind or the consciousness. Many popular books, even those that are Christan in nature,  have been written by people who allegedly have “out of body” experiences, as if its normal for “a soul” to separate from the body. Modern evangelicals are often unaware how their views of the afterlife are more affected by the ancient philosophies of men rather than the inspired truth of God's Word.

If one proclaims that God will one day resurrect former living beings to those who believe living souls simply migrate and continue to live in other forms, you'll get the same reaction that Paul received. 

Some will sneer. 

Others will want to hear more of the resurrection.

The Christian doctrine of the resurrection from death is only powerful when life and death are properly defined.

Spiritual Death

Physical death and spiritual death are not the same. 

Physical death is the absence of the breath of life

Spiritual death is the absence of the inner desire to know the Author of life. Spiritual death is seen in living people who hide from the Author of life. Spiritual death is sometimes even revealed through living beings hating the Author of life.  

Who is this Author of life? On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Author of life: 
"You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 3:15). 
God can't die. So how can it be said, "You killed the Author of life?"

Because God came as a Man.

The Bible tells us Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16).  Jesus is YHWH come in the flesh.

Emmanuel, God with us.

The Author of life.

The Jews to whom Peter preached had cried out two months earlier, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" (Luke 23:21). It is true the Jews wanted Jesus the Anointed One put to death on the cross.

But this same Jesus told His disciples:
"No one takes my life from Me. I lay my life down Myself. I have the power to lay my life down, and I have the power to take it again" (John 10:18). 
Jesus came to voluntarily die the death all living beings created in God's image deserve to die. Jesus accomplished His mission. He lived a perfectly righteous life, died a death as the perfect Substitute for sinners who deserve death, and conquered both sin and death through His resurrection. He now promises to give the gift of immortal life to those who embrace Him (II Timothy 1:10).

To put it another way, Jesus holds "the keys of life and death" for every single person (Revelation 1:18).

To be spiritually dead is to reject the Author of life.

The Spirit and Spiritual Life

The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma which also means breath. We get our word pneumonia (e,g., "inflamed breathing") from this word. 

In the Greek New Testament, there are no capitals. So when a translator comes across the word for spirit (pneuma) when translating the Bible into English, the translator must decide by context if it is a reference to the Spirit of God or to the spirit of man.

 An example of this is found in Romans 8, the great chapter on pneuma.
"You have not received the pneuma of bondage again to fear" (Romans 8:15). 
Is the pneuma here a reference to the Spirit who first leads us to fear God but ultimately brings us to the place of calling God  "Abba (Daddy)"? Or is pneuma here a reference to the spirit of fear within a person?  English translations differ on the interpretation.

I believe that Romans 8:15 is a reference to the Holy Spirit, but my point for this post is that the Holy Spirit and the spirit of man are intertwined and connected. Only the breath of God (the Spirit) gives and sustains both physical and spiritual life in mankind.

The breath of God must breathe on a person to bring about spiritual life that leads to a love for the Author of life (Jesus Christ), and the breath of God must also breathe to sustain physical life for eternity.
"Then Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). 
Breathe, O breath of God, now breathe.

In short, we are all dependent on God for life.
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD" (Psalm 150:6). 
I know many sincere followers of Jesus who view the afterlife in terms of the transmigration of the soul or the soul’s continuation apart from the body.  Right relationship with God is independent of one's views of the afterlife. Fellowship with other believers should also be independent of differences over this issue.

But if the Bible does indeed speak of living beings in terms of life and death, then it would be wise for us who name Christ as Lord to reflect biblically on what we teach about these four doctrines:

1. The day of judgment  - seems to be a day when God will review the lives of those He created in His image. It only encompasses those whose names are "not in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27) and will include "the opening of their books" (Revelation 20:12) where God has recorded every thought, intention, and action of living beings He created in His image (Matthew 12:36). God will take no pleasure in sentencing the wicked to die a second time. Those in union with Christ escape this coming day of wrath because of Christ (Romans 8:1) and will receive the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

2. The second death - (Revelation 21:8) seems to be the process by which the wicked will die a second time, ultimately destroyed by the fire God prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). How this second death occurs and how long it takes may vary according to God's justice and the sins of the individual (Matthew 10:15).

3. Eternal life - seems to be the gift God gives to those in union with Christ. It includes spiritual life during our time on earth, and immortal life after the resurrection and the unveiling of the new earth. This spiritual life not only includes "faith in Christ" but even more importantly, a love for others as Jesus loves us (John 13:34-35). It is by this love that all will know we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). Immortal life is the gift given to those whose names are in "the Lamb's book of life," (Revelation 21:27) and it is the gift reserved for those deemed perfectly righteous (see Philippians 3:7-11).

4. The Person of Jesus  - is Life (John 1:4). He is the Author of all life. Religion will tell you there are many ways to God, but the Scriptures declare the only hope for sinners is the Person and work of the Anointed One. "For deliverance from death is found in no one else for there is no other name given to mankind by which we can be delivered other than His name." (Acts 4:12).


RB Kuter said...

Thanks a lot, Wade, for what is obviously a post in which you invested a lot of time and effort to bring together and which has a lot of valuable insights and teaching about the Hebrew language and your perspective on an important, but still veiled by God in my opinion, aspect of the "spiritual" realm.

You have led us into this general topic of "body and soul" before and I always enjoy it and glean additional understanding of Scripture through the discussions.

I wonder how you would apply your position in the case of passages like the following (there are many others but these jumped to mind as considered your thoughts):

1 Thessalonians 4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will BRING WITH HIM those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also died for sins once for all, [the] just for [the] unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; :19 in which also He went and made proclamation TO THE SPIRITS [now] in prison",

Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are UNABLE TO KILL THE SOUL t; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy BOTH SOUL AND BODY in hell."

Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for the kind words.

First, those whom God will “bring with Him” who have fallen asleep are the same as “the dead in Christ who rise first.” Then, “we which are alive and remain at His coming will be caught up to meet them.”

Second, “the spirits that are now in prison” seem to me to be true spirits (not men, but angels) who seemed to be active in the antedivulian age seeking to prevent the birth of the Messiah by corrupting the seed of mankind (see Genesis 6). The judgment for their horrific activities was imprisonment until the day of judgement when they will join other spirits in their full and final destruction.

Hope that helps.

Rex Ray said...


Usually in murder mysteries there’s usually one small thing that catches the culprit.

“But the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17 New KJ)

You said this judgment was not immediate physical death, but imminent physical death. How do you explain “…the day that you eat of it, you will surely die”?

“The Criswell Study Bible” comments on Genesis 2:17: The death to which God alludes is spiritual death.”

Spiritual death is separation from God which can be seen when Adam and Eve hid from God.

“…the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.” (Genesis 3:8 NLT)

Wade, do you believe if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, would they be alive today?

You said, “This image of God revolves around our ability to know good and evil…to enjoy a familiar relationship with the Author of life.”

How do you explain Adam and Eve enjoying a familiar relationship with God BEFORE they knew good and evil?

Since it’s bedtime, more later.

Wade Burleson said...


Great question.

The language of Genesis 2:17 is very precise.

The EXACT same Hebrew construction is used in I Kings 2:37, 42. Let me tell you that story.

King Solomon summoned Shimei. King Solomon commanded Shimei to stay within the city limits of Jerusalem where he could live and move freely. But, if he crossed the line of the city limits and went out, King Solomon declared that Shemi would die.

"For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die" ( I Kings 2:37).

Again, this is identical to the words in Genesis 2:17.

Solomon is King. Shemei must obey or the command of the King or die. Shemei transgressed the King's command and crossed the line (just as Adam did God's command).

Notice what happens.

Solomon searches for and finds Shimei, “ ‘Did I not say... “Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die”?’ ” (v. 42).

The language Solomon used - the exact same as God's to Adam - literally means “dying you shall die." The moment the men transgressed, the sentence of death unsheathed like a sword BY THE ACT OF TRANSGRESSION - but the KING did not execute the certain sentence until exposure of the criminal by trail. It's like a judge giving time to a criminal guilty of a capital crime prior to the execution of the criminal. The sentence of death is received by the act (dying), but the execution of the criminal is a later date (you shall die).

Shimei is clearly standing trial. Solomon reminded Shimei of the announced penalty and then had Shimei executed at a later date - not the DAY he transgressed (v. 46).

It seems beyond dispute that “dying you shall die” was intended to announce a death penalty for violating the law laid down by King Solomon.

The parallel of this story to Genesis 2 and 3 is striking for both God and Solomon issue kingly commands.

Both promise a penalty, framed using the same phrases “in the day” you do X, “you will certainly die.”

Both conduct investigations prior to executing the sentence. And, in both cases, the sentence is announced and executed at a date later than the offense.

As to your second question:

"How do you explain Adam and Eve enjoying a familar relationship with God BEFORE they knew good and evil?"

I use the word "familial" which means "Aba or Daddy." I believe "the image of God" is seen in both Adam and Eve at Creation, and they LOST this ability to call God - Aba - after the rebellion.

Grace restores what was lost.

Fear of God turns into a familial relationship with God by the work of the Spirit.

Hope that helps.

Rex Ray said...


I’ve been working on my comment below and just read your last comment. I’ll reply to it later.

What purpose was the tree of life if God intended for man to live forever?

One common error that we all make at times is to say a subject and quote a Scripture that explains it, and then throw in another subject in the same sentence so the reader may believe the Scripture talks about both. An example is you writing: “…the body returns to the dust from whence it comes (Psalm 90:3) AWAITING RESURRECTION.”

The two statements have nothing to do with each other!

Your belief that all Christians are still in their graves is based on John 5:28-29. “…the time is coming when all the dead in their graves…will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.”

To understand Scripture, it’s best to read verses before.

John 5:24 NLT “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they HAVE ALREADY PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.”

To me, that’s saying we don’t have to wait in our graves thousands of years. GLORY!

“…Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:3)


The most logical answer is they came from Heaven and will return there, but I think you will ignore the question. :)

“…I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob...” (Exodus 3:6 NLT) If they were not alive, God only had an army in a graveyard.

Jesus said the same thing. “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised---haven’t you ever read about this in the writing of Moses…? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” So he is the God of the living, NOT the dead. You have made a serious error.” (Mark 12:26-27, Matthew 22:31-32, Luke 20:37-38 NLT)

Wade, it looks like we have three Gospels disagreeing with one. Doesn’t the majority rule?

Wade Burleson said...


1. What purpose was the tree of life if God intended for man to live forever?

Answer: The tree of life sustains life. It's the means by which man lives forever. Without it, man would be mortal. Sin BARRED access to the Tree of Life. In the resurrection, the Tree of Life is everywhere with free access once again.

2. As stated in the article, eternal life is BOTH "faith in Christ" (spiritual life) and immortal life ("no more death after the resurrection").

3. Moses and Elijah - "Where did they come from and where did they go?" ANSWER: In the resurrection, people may be able to "go back into time at the discretion of God for confirmation of the Good News" as I believe happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses and Elijah were in the new heaven and earth with us, but went back into time to confirm that there is no greater Word and no greater Authority than Jesus Christ.

4. I wholeheartedly agree that "God is the God of the Living." That's why the resurrection to life is central to the gospel.

5. Have a blessed Sunday!

Reese Watt said...


Thanks for the article and for your insights.

I would say that I am not convinced regarding your arguments regarding the meaning of "on the day you eat of it".

You make your case by referencing the Shimei incident. Let's compare the two statements:

"On the day you eat of it, you will surely die"
"On the day you cross the river, you will know for certain that you will surely die."

The key verb in the first verse is "die"
The key verb in the second is "know"

Do you see the difference?

What will happen when man eats of the fruit is this: he will die.
What will happen when Shimei crosses the river is this: he will know.

The Shimei passage cannot be used to explain why man did not die when he ate of the fruit.

Do you understand my point?

Wade Burleson said...


I do understand your point.

In the translation of the Hebrew, translators may add “know” or leave “know” out depending on the context. In the Shemei context its obvious he didn’t die that die. So know seems appropriate. As to Adam? An interpretation is that he “died” spiritually that day, so no need for “know.” But’s that an interpretation (as it is in Shemei’s passage) not a translation. If one translates the Hebrew grammatical construction, the translation would be the exact same in both passages.

I completely understand the interpretation that Adam died the day he ate the fruit. I’m saying it’s an interpretation of the passage - I understand that interpretation, but believe that the judgment was physical death, and Adam didn’t die THAT day, but came under the judgment of death that day.

Thanks for the comment.

Rex Ray said...


In my opinion, your comparison of the death of Shimel and Adam & Eve is not very close:

“Three years later two of Shimel’s slaves ran away…he brought them back to Jerusalem…Solomon heard that Shimel had left Jerusalem. [how much time passed before Solomon heard: days, weeks?] So the king sent for Shimel…at the king’s command, Benaiah…killed him.[same day he was sent for.]” (1 Kings 39-46 NLT)

“…he [Adam] ate it too. At that MOMENT their eyes were open, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness…they hid from the Lord. (Genesis 3:6-8 NLT)

Their SIN and SPIRITUAL DEATH happened in a moment while Shimel’s SIN and PHYSICAL DEATH took a long time.

Reese Watt said...


Thanks for you response. You said (regarding the Shimei passage):

"In the translation of the Hebrew, translators may add “know” or leave “know” out depending on the context"

I hope I'm not coming across as a jerk here, but that statement is just factually wrong. If you look at the Hebrew for the Shimei passage, the verb for 'know' is *explicitly* there. In fact, it's there twice, in the structure that is often translated as "knowing you will know". It would be an omission to leave that out - it's not a translation decision.

So, the Shimei passage says something like "knowing you will know that dying you will die."

It's just not a parallel passage to the Genesis passage, because Genesis does *not* include the "know" verbs.

Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Wade, I posted this Scripture on the Rethinking Hell FB page before reading your article. I think this goes hand in hand with what you pointed out the Bible says about man and animals.

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3.

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Jim G.

Christiane said...

well, let's take a look at this extremely interesting post and try to sort out whether or not 'eternal life' is a permanent attribute of the human 'soul' (as each 'soul' is given directly to that human person from God Himself);


'eternal life' is a grace given by God to those who are penitent and seeking the mercy of God
in which case, the ones who were NOT penitent might then be annihilated completely

I can't sort this out for certain, but I know what I would LIKE to happen, sure:
I would hope for the Creator to be able to 'renew' His Creation and destroy evil and death itself, and I would hope (but I cannot know this) that as creatures (animal and human) are a part of God's Creation, they could also find themselves healed and renewed through Christ the Lord, Who once took our humanity to Himself at the Incarnation so that He could heal it . . . .
Do I have any basis for this hope? Very simply this:
"Jesus, I trust in You"

so however it happens, we know enough about God through the revelation of Jesus Christ to have hope for mercy, for renewal, for healing, for the end of human suffering, for the drying of human tears, for all this, we are allowed to HOPE.

I appreciate what Wade writes, this:
"In short, we are all are dependent on God for life.
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD" (Psalm 150:6). I know many sincere followers of Jesus who view the afterlife in terms of the transmigration of the soul or the soul’s continuation apart from the body. Right relationship with God is independent of one's views of the afterlife. Fellowship with other believers should also be independent of differences over this issue."

I do think that what we 'hope' for may not be how things actually turn out but we may at least TRUST in Christ Himself. And for some us, that TRUST includes the hope that those who do not know Him by Name will also be included in His Mercy.

For those who focus on 'hell, evil, sin, death, punishment', I do think it is important to want for there to be 'justice' but let it be God's justice which is rich in mercy, and gives cause for the hope that goes beyond 'reason' because it is based on love itself.

For those who reject God outright, even after all mercy, I do not know what will happen, but they also have chosen and I do accept that their 'choice' will be honored . . . but miracles abound and I'm not ruling anything out for any soul, or any living creature of God.

Rex Ray said...


I believe there was only one tree of life. God put it in the Garden of Eden.

“…trees were beautiful that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9 NLT)

The question arises, why did God have a tree that Adam was not to eat? I believe God loved Adam but he wanted Adam to love him back by being obedient.

“…What if they…take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever! So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden…After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24 NLT)

So Wade, what happened to the Garden of Eden? Did an earthquake swallow it, or God could have turned it into sand?

But what I’ve written above (and what you wrote in answering my original question) does not answer my original question:


I’ll attempt to answer my own question.

If Adam was going to live forever, the tree of life had no purpose. But the tree of life revealed Adam was mortal.

God’s plan was for Adam to die at a ripe old age and join him in Heaven. But Adam disobeyed and died a SPIRITUAL DEATH. The world inherited that spiritual death.

God did not love Adam any less or any more than his love for us. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

Rex Ray said...


Good comment. We may become known as the late night writers. :)

Rex Ray said...

One more shot

If the punishment of Adam’s sin was only physical death, and Jesus paid the penalty for that sin at Calvary, then Christians should never die a physical death. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Those in the first Adam all taste the first death, except those "who are alive when Jesus returns."

Those in the last Adam (Jesus Christ) never taste the second death.

Rex Ray said...

Wade, dear friend,

Thanks for the reply…(nothing worse than being ignored)

You said, “Those in the first Adam [that’s everyone that’s been born] all taste the first death…”

(That includes Jesus, but Enoch and Elijah were excluded)

Does your statement relate to what Adam’s punishment was or only a ‘dodge’?

Three possibilities:
1.Physical death.
2.Spiritual death.
3.Spiritual and Physical death.

I hate to agree with Paige Patterson, but his work on “The Criswell Study Bible” footnote on Genesis 2:17 states: “The death to which God alludes is spiritual death.”

Everyone that’s been born dies twice unless they’ve been born twice.

Tom said...


In Revelation we are told the following

Revelation 20:11-15: - The Great White Throne Judgment

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Both Death, that is the second death, and Hades, that is the abyss, have been present since Day 1 of Creation, Hades is first mentioned in Genesis 1:2 and the Second death is mentioned in Genesis 2:17. People have great difficulty in getting their laughing matter around this fact as is evident in this blog.

The phase “mō·wṯ tā·mūṯ” in Genesis 2:17 is best understood to have the following meaning, “you will die, {at a future time} the second death”. So, when the Second Death and Hades are cast into the Lake of Fire at the GWT judgement, it symbolises that from that future time onwards, sin would no longer exist, because all of those who had sinned and not repented of their sin as recorded in the books, would also be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Ezekiel 18:21-24: - "But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die {i.e. the second death}. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die {i.e. the second death}.

Now the example that Wade used from 1 Kings 2:37 only confirms the miss understanding that the Religious Leaders and scribes, in Solomon’s time, had of Genesis 2:17 and they could not understand what God said in this verse. Solomon, had no ability to kill Shimei with the Second Death, rather, he could only cause his physical death if Shimei disobeyed Solomon’s edict to not leave Jerusalem.

This is borne out by Christ’s statement: -Matthew 10:28: - . And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Sin, when it occurs, begins the process of being a candidate for the Second Death at the time of the GWT judgement, however, salvation through our repentance and acknowledgment of who Christ is as the Son of God, who died willingly for our sins, we will be found righteous at the GWT judgement and will be given eternal life.

However, God’s Grace is such that if we truly repent of our sins and return to living righteously, then we will be redeemed and will live forever.

The second death is referred to many times in the Bible. We only have to search for it diligently when we are reading the scriptures.

Rex Ray said...

Tom Ross,

Do you believe in “Once saved, always saved”? It may depend upon which Bible translation you believe if Jesus said in John 3:16 “shall be saved” or “should be saved”.

These translations state “shall be saved”.
Bible in Basic English
Common English
God’s Word
Lexham English
New American Standard
New International Readers
New Living

These translations state “should be saved”.
American Standard
Douay – Rheims Catholic
Complete Jewish Bible
English Standard
Good News Bible
Hebrew Names
Jubilee Bible 2000
King James
New King James
Message Bible
New Century
New International Version
Revised Standard
New Revised Standard
Orthodox Jewish
Third Millennium
World English
Young’s Literal

I believe “shall be saved”.

Tom said...

Rex, the two Greek words that you are asking the question about with respect to John 3:16 is “μὴ ἀπόληται” where “ἀπόληται” is also found in the following verses of the New Testament: - Matthew 5:29, 5:30, 18:14, Luke 21:18, John 3:16, 6:12, 11:50.

A word for word translation of Matthew 5:29 would read: - If moreover the eye of you - right causes to stumble you pluck out It and cast [it] from You it is better indeed for you that should perish one of the members of you and not all the body of you be cast into hell.

A word for word translation of John 3:16 would read: - thus indeed loved - God the world that the Son the only begotten he gave that everyone - believing in him not should perish but might have life eternal

In all of the 7 cases where G:0622 is embedded in the following Greek Word, “ἀπόληται” it would seem to me that that this Greek word has the intended meaning of “should perish.” This suggests to me that the context of the original Greek text in John 3:16 has been modified when the verse was translated into the English language, probably to reflect the theological understanding of the committee with regards to Jesus’ statement in this verse and their desire to propagate a “once saved, always saved” theology which the word for word translation above would not seem to support.

In Ezekiel 18, we are clearly told that if a righteous man sins and transgresses God’s statutes, whether under the “Old” or “New” Testament in my humble opinion, then that righteous man is no longer righteous and has, because of his sin/transgression, become once more a candidate to die the second death if he does not repent of his sin/transgression after he has sinned/transgressed against God/Jesus.

So to answer your question: - Do you believe in “Once saved, always saved”?, my response is NO. This may sound harsh, but the space allowed to respond within the comments section of this blog, does not allow for a length dissertation to be provided, to justify my answer to your question. It is also not based on any of the available English translations of the Greek text “originals” on which the different English translations are based.


Wade Burleson said...


Thank you for your response to Rex. I rarely hear such a clear explanation of one's lack of belief in once saved always saved.

Though you would not agree with me, I believe the cross of Christ - where the Son of God perished (died) for us - is the reason the person "in Christ" will never perish. The Substitute made atonement for all my sins, and though the wages of my sin is death (as you clearly point out), the death of the infinite and perfect Substitute made full and complete atonement for me. I never perish because He did.

Aussie John said...

"The Substitute made atonement for all my sins, and though the wages of my sin is death (as you clearly point out), the death of the infinite and perfect Substitute made full and complete atonement for me. I never perish because He did".


Tom said...

Wade, I was only addressing the English translation of John 3:16 in my response to Rex.

I also had the following passages in mind when I was writing my response but omitted them because of the space limits for a comment.

Matt 12:31-32 - The Unpardonable Sin - (Mark 3:28-30)

"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Mark 3:28-30 - The Unpardonable Sin - (Matt 12:31,32; Luke 12:10)

"Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation" — because they said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Luke 12:8-12 - Confess Christ Before Men - (Matt 10:32,33)

"Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

"And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.

"Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

So the question that I have is that if a person is saved, then if he sins against God/Jesus will he be forgiven his sin, or is that forgiveness conditional on the sinner having a repent heart?

Also, based on the verses above, it clearly states that a person who blasphemes (i.e. sins) against the Holy Spirit is not forgiven.

Now Wade, I do not have a lack of belief with respect to being saved, however I do not always agree with the "acceptable traditional doctrines of man." The trouble I believe is that people like the "good news" and stop reading the verse(s) when they come to a "but" because what follows the “but” qualifies the bounds of that forgiveness. When Jesus was dealing with a person’s sin(s) he always told them to repent of those sins. Are we any different to the people that Jesus rubbed shoulders with during His First Advent?


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that as I was reading through this, the verse of 1 John 2:16 came to mind. I think the wording, "pride of life" takes on an interesting meaning when thinking on topics like this.

One question I do have - if I follow this and understand that the "soul" that we often refer to, is actually the "breath of life" - it seems this applies to everyone living (believer or not) at this present time. However, when we look at verses like 1 Corinthians 3:16 - where we are told the Holy Spirit dwells within us (as believers) - where then, does this spirit go when we die and are awaiting the return of Christ and our resurrection?


Rex Ray said...

Tom Ross,

AH, the many Scriptures you quoted would seem to refute Peter’s words in Acts 15:11.

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the UNDERSERVED grace of the Lord Jesus.”

I believe your thinking is that once man is saved, he has to DERSERVE being saved till he dies.

There’s only one difference in all people in the world, and that’s LOST SINNERS and SAVED SINNERS.

John 3:16 has nothing about, sin-repent, sin-repent, etc. to stay saved.

“He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)

It’s true there is “The Unpardonable Sin”. That sin is rejecting the Holy Spirit forever.

A Scripture that would support falling from Grace is Hebrews 10:29. The key word is “suppose”. It could be used by saying, ‘suppose a cow jumped over the moon’.

“Of how much sorer punishment, SUPPOSE ye, shall be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing and had done despite unto the Spirit of Grace?” (Hebrews 10:29 KJ)

Wade Burleson said...


Of course I know you believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Never for once doubted your position on salvation.

I understand the "but" which qualifies actual forgiveness.

You are concerned that people "raise their hand" and say they want to go to heaven, but they never experience a changed life.

I get it.

I too have a "but" that qualifies forgiveness.


In my experience when people love others like Jesus loves us (John 13:34-45), it is evidence that they indeed have experienced the grace of God.

I only resist other "buts" - the "buts" that pastors, churches, religious leaders, and others place on Christians. The believe "but" attend church every time the doors are open. The believe "but" give your tithes and offerings. The believe "but" do this and do that.

Believe and love.

By this will all know we are His disciples.

Reese Watt said...


I'm sure you're busy and have much to do, so responding to my most recent post probably is not at the top of your list.

But I am curious to know if you took the time to research and compare the Hebrew behind the Genesis passage and the Shimei passage in Kings.

Do you agree that the Hebrew behind these passages is significantly different?

Tom said...

Rex, it is very difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, but Scripture does tell us that we are to renew our minds and to put on the renewed personhood that God intended us to be from the beginning of time which has as its foundation, righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-32.

Now, it seems to me that you are making a case out of the silence of what I have not said in my above posts.

What I have written above is not in disagreement with your Acts 15:11 reference which you cut short in your quoting of that verse: - But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

God is interested in a relationship with us whereby we change, to become the person He intended us to be in relationship with Him. We must have a continual desire to be walking through our life in step with God.


Tom said...

Wade, you made the following statement: - "You are concerned that people "raise their hand" and say they want to go to heaven, but they never experience a changed life." However, I would express it in slightly different terms to be in line with the Matt 25:31-46 parable. This parable is about the separation of the people who do call Jesus/God Lord of their lives into two flocks. (The initial separation of one flock from the other flock is on the basis of those people who call Jesus/God Lord and those people who do not call Jesus/God Lord. Those who do not Call Jesus/God Lord, Lord, are immediately dispatched into the Lake of Fire. The second flock will then be divided again. Ezekiel 34:17: - "Behold, I shall judge between sheep/(one flock) and sheep/(and a second flock), between rams and goats.

Jesus' parable in Matt 25 is focused on the separation of the "rams and goats" of Ezekiel 34:17, the second separation that will occur during the end times.

The first flock are the separated sheep in the parable and they have a heart after God's heart and willingly come in obedience with His Hearts desire. They willingly take up their cross on a daily basis to be disciples of Christ/God on His terms.

The Second flock are the separated Goats, in this parable. They have a heart to get into heaven on their terms without the need to take up their cross to follow Him as His disciples This grouping of people only do what they believe will qualify for them their "ticket" to get into heaven/eternity.

This parable re-enforces a previous statement that Jesus made in Matthew 7:21-23:-

Matthew 7:21-23: - I Never Knew You - (Luke 6:46; 13:26,27)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'


Rex Ray said...


We are quoting different translations of the Bible.

This church counsel was to decide how Gentiles were saved. NOT the other way around.

Many translations have: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Basically, that’s saying “we” (Jews) are saved the same manner as “they” Gentiles. This is true but it doesn’t make much sense.

I’ll stand by this translation: “We believe that we are ALL saved the same way, by the underserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11 NLT)

Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for your understanding.

I did compare - and I see no difference.


Of course, I understand your viewpoint too.

Reese Watt said...


That's interesting. This is a question of fact and not of opinion, and I would truly appreciate it if you would help me clear this up. Perhaps there are two different versions of the Hebrew out there. In the Hebrew that I am referencing, I see two additional characters in the Kings passage that are not in the Genesis passage. (FYI, I am using e-Sword Bible software) In my software, when I hover over those characters, it says that the character is a form of the word 'know' and it gives the English equivalent as 'yada'. That verb appears twice.

So, the Hebrew is something like this:
yada yada kee muth muth

I think that means something like:
knowing you will know that dying you will die

Or, in the NASB
you will know for certain that you will certainly die.

So, when I investigate, I see that the Kings passage has the 'yada yada' phrase, but the Genesis passage does not.

Is that the same as your sources?

Peter Grice said...

Hi Reese,

In Wade’s initial response to Rex, which you interacted with, he refers to a particular “hebrew construction” that he says is identical in 1 Kings 2:37, 42 and Gen 2:17. He’s talking about the pairing of the infinitive absolute and imperfect forms of the same verb, which is widely noted in Hebrew grammars to indicate (or intensify if already indicated) the certainty of the stated action, and not the action itself. According to Waltke and O’Conner, “the precise nuance of intensification [of the verbal meaning] must be discovered from the broader context” (See Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Conner, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), p585.). In this case, the two scripture references are also identical in terms of their verb, death. Wade confirms that this is what he is tracking with when he concludes: “The language Solomon used - the exact same as God's to Adam - literally means ‘dying you shall die.’”

He then goes on to compare the similarities of the respective contexts. He aruges that Solomon's “dying you shall die” is clearly the announcement of a death penalty for transgression of kingly command, the death being carried out later as one might expect, after investigation. In Genesis God also issued such a kingly command and warning of penalty, framed using the same phrases “in the day” you do X, “you will certainly die.” Wade is not here arguing for the identical construction; rather, he's observing that these phrases make the two passages strikingly similar, and therefore worthy of comparison in every respect.

In your first query to him, you seemed to misaprehend his argument as suggesting that the broader hebrew phrases are identical. You offer an alternative argument where each longer phrase has a “key” verb, these verbs are different, and the key verb is what happens immediately (note: a reading called “immediacy of action”).

In replying to your comment about the entire statements in each case, Wade notes that translators may choose to include or exclude “know” based on the context.

Peter Grice said...

Allow me to interject my own thoughts at this point. The concept of knowing (here, coming-to-know) may be implicit in the concept of certainty (which is indicated in the hebrew construction for “death”), and vice versa, given that both can speak to the content of epistemology. In other words, there is little daylight between sudden intensified certainty of X, and sudden intensified knowing of X. Indeed, 1 Kings 2:37 doesn't just contain a so-called “key verb” for “know,” it contains the aformentioned hebrew construction, literally translated “knowing know,” or woodenly translated “knowing you shall know” (as you did note). Therefore, the concept of certainty is indicated in this construction as well, i.e., the certainty of knowing. Here in verse 37, “dying die” immediately follows, but this is a second instance of the construction. The fact that verse 42 provides alternative phraseology for the command of verse 37, and the fact that it does not have the two constructions adjacent to each other, helps to confirm that we should consider them distinctly. I would offer that in general, “dying die” references the certainty of death in a way that could imply certain knowledge of death (just as one surely is aware of a death penalty forewarned), while here in Kings the expanded concept of *the certainty of knowing of the certainty of death* merely makes that explicit. In fact, verse 42 speaks of it being received by Shimei as a solemn oath, and so thickly layered wording (essentially ancient legalese) is what one would expect in that case: he knew what he was getting into, and the conclusion of it was “your blood will be on your own head.” That was the whole point of it: the death penalty, so the emphasis cannot be easily shifted to a more incidental knowing. In my opinion, knowing is only made explicit because there is an added emphasis on the righteousness of the penalty before God (1 Kg 2:41-45), and so Shimei would know and understand God's justice in that regard, should he transgress, vindicating not only Solomon, but also his father David, a matter Shimei already knew in his heart (v44).

So the two occasions are fundamentally similar regarding the death penalty, despite the additional nuances of context in the Shimei account.

Back to Wade’s statement, translators certainly have the option to leave out “know” from the overall English even if it is specified in the Hebrew, just as they may add it in when it's not exlicit in the original text. Given the Shimei context, they didn't opt to leave it out (nor did they add it in based on “dying die,” which was Wade's main focus). Given the Genesis context, meanwhile, they didn't add it in. It could have been added in on the grounds that the hebrew construction there might speak to the certain knowledge of death (there's an interesting contextual consideration regarding the ironies of knowing or realizing that concurrently with knowing good and evil). But in Wade’s view it was not added in based on “dying die,” because translators wanted to leave room for *an interpretation* unrelated to the knowing arising from certainty of death. The implication of this being an interpretation is that so is our alternative. I'm not sure whether Wade would say that a typical English translation accommodates either interpretation, but I am fully convinced that it is does. When young earth creationists argue as conditionalists do about this (and it is not just young earthers among non-conditionalists), they never argue that “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” is a bad translation because it must be read according to immediacy of action. Rather, and in my own view, too, such translation is perfectly apt to convey immediacy of certainty of action.

Hope this helps!

Wade Burleson said...


Peter has written a wonderful response to your question. I sincerely apologize for not being able to respond with more clarity. MY time this week - in point of fact - has been the same as previous weeks, but from my perspective, much, much shorter. :)

Peter, thanks for stepping in - and accurately representing my view.

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