Let My People Think




Now let’s analyze the passage where the notion of “spiritual death” takes root.

Genesis 2
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The prooftext that’s usually given for “spiritual death” is that in the passage above God said to Adam “you shall surely die the day you eat of the fruit”, Adam did eat, and since Adam didn’t die physically that day, he must have died spiritually. There are a few problems with this conclusion. For one, the scriptures don’t state that he died spiritually, period. That’s an assumption. The second problem with that is that conclusion is that the Scriptures contain no references whatsoever to spirits dying, or “spiritual death”, or anything of that sort. Spirits don’t die. When people die, their spirits simply return to God. There are a number of references to that in the Scriptures.

I looked over all the references in the Hebrew scriptures of the word “spirit”, and the spirit, as described there, could be: troubled, revived, anguished, willing, hardened, sorrowful, inoperative (“there was no spirit in them”), becoming operative again (“his spirit returned, and he revived”) (the latter two examples are talking about living people, so it can’t be that their spirit was literally departed from them, or else they would be dead), sullen, stirred up, moved, broken, contrite, having deceit, steadfast, overwhelmed, searching, faithful, failing, departing (resulting in the “person returning to earth” – which confirms the point I made above), faithful, haughty, humble, ruled (by a person), calm, patient, proud, angry, fainted, anxious, excellent. That’s from Genesis to Malachi, inclusively. There are no references at all to spirits dying.

You can go through the same exercise with the Gospels and the epistles, with the same results.

As a side note, “spiritual” matters shouldn’t be a codeword for the things we can’t explain (similar to irritable bowel syndrome designation for the things that a gastroenterologist is having trouble with diagnosing). Spiritual world is a well-established primary realm with its own realities governed by a set of laws and principles, and not a poetic embellishment nor a rhetorical device.

Now, if we look at Genesis 2:17, what it literally says in Hebrew is “the day you eat from the tree – in dying shall [do] you die” – meaning the day you eat from the tree (i.e., immediately) you shall start dying (process) until you are dead (finality). That’s a good clue right there.

Also, the language of the Scriptures often time doesn’t differentiate something undergoing the process from something that has completed it. A very good example of that is Jesus’s saying “let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60, Matthew 8:22). The same exact adjective νεκροὺς (“necrous” – Strong’s G3498) is used in both instances in the passage. The former dead are still alive but are in the process of death (death outcome is a certainty for them), the latter are in the finality of physical death (death has been fully realized in them).

Genesis 2:17, where death is first mentioned in the Scripture, also completely refutes the notions of death being equivalent with either separation from God, or with separation of spirit / soul from the body. Neither happened on the day Adam ate of the wrong tree. As to Adam being separated from God – God kept on communing with Adam the same as before, providing a covering of animal skins for him, God later communed with Cain, etc. As to Adam’s spirit being separated from his body – Adam’s spirit kept unity with his body for another 900+ years, so that type of separation is ruled out too.

I found this rather simple way of resolving Genesis 2:17 to be not only completely scriptural, but also non-contradictory either to the passage, nor to its context, nor to other scriptures, nor to commonsense understanding concerning death of living beings.

Comments on: "Spiritual death – no such thing is ever mentioned in the Bible" (11)

  1. lifewithporpoise said:

    My conservative IFB religious former self is afraid of what I’ll read next (in a good way).

    Also pondering how I’ll inform all my lofty religious friends sitting in Moses’ seat about the spiritual death/separation from God nonsense.


  2. hmm… To some extent this post addressed my comment on the prior post. Though, if the dead bury the dead, then maybe there were already dead and we must reconsider what life is. I have other thoughts too, but must run some errands. Will continue on this journey at my return.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to revisit this one. You mentioned that Adam continued to commune with God the same as before. I think before sin, Adam communed with God the way our spirit does. They communed spirit to spirit. Adam’s spirit was engrafted into the life stream of the spirit of God. His spirit was one with God. In the same sense that we are in Christ and He in us and that as we are in the vine, the life of the vine flows through us. Our spirit is eternally alive in communion with the Spirit of God. The vine illustration gives insight into the state of the pre-sin earth and of what is restored through Christ.

    However, when sin entered, the spirit made alive unto God in communion with the Spirit of God was cut off. This branch that was cut off began to wither or as you said began the process of dying as it was no longer connected to the source of life. And where God still spoke with Adam, the spirit to spirit connection and communion was no longer present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like your insight here about spirit to spirit communion withering off. Makes good sense. I will need to sign off for today, I will read and reply to the rest of your comments tomorrow. Thank you for your very well thought out comments / feedback on this series!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It has been my pleasure. It is a fantastic series. Rest well and God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

        • One more interesting tidbit. What happened in the Garden is that human’s eyesight got corrupted – they began to see their own nakedness when it wasn’t an issue at all with God. Their response was shame and fear, and a false sense of separation from God. That’s what preceded then beginning to put more and more distance between themselves and God, and their gradual tuning out from spirit communication.

          Sin in Greek is missing the mark; what causes one to constantly miss the mark is corrupted sense of eyesight. Except here, it’s heart-sight.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. […] I don’t agree with everything the writer of this blog writes, I do agree with him in what he wrote […]


  5. […] A pretty fair deconstruction of this nebulous term ‘spiritual death’ is: Spiritual death – no such thing is ever mentioned in the Bible […]


  6. […] A solid deconstruction of this nebulous term ‘spiritual death’ is: Spiritual death – no such thing is ever mentioned in the Bible […]


  7. […] In metaphorical language, the Bible does indeed speak of ‘death’ in a figurative sense (‘dead in sins’ etc. – Eph.2:1, Mt.8:22, Rom 7:9-11, Col. 2:13, 1 Tim.5:6, Rev.3:1), but linguists tell us that such metaphorical usage only derives meaning secondarily from the primary meaning of a word; death is primarily known as ‘the end of life’ – this is how God authoritatively defines it to Adam in Gen.3:19 (unless we engage a spurious argument from silence to allege Adam would still be alive post-mortem). So we can grasp the derivative, analogical meaning of (metaphorical) ‘death’ from our familiarity with its predominant connotation, not the other way round: ‘death’ is not a state of being ‘alive’ while in some attenuated or metaphorical sense being ‘dead’. What does the term ‘spiritual death’ even mean (it appears nowhere in Scripture)? These bloggers put it rather well: Dying You Shall Die and Spiritual death – no such thing is ever mentioned in the Bible […]


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