DEATH ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES SERIES – TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Intro and purpose. What death is not equal to.
- Death is not separation from God
- Death is not separation from the life of God
- There’s no such thing as “spiritual death”
- Death is not separation of soul from the body
- Death is not separation – summary
- Physical death is not annihilation
- Divine bio-engineering. How Jesus Christ solves the problem of death of fleshly bodies
- Death according to the Bible: lack of life, loss of life
Now, after we have disambiguated ourselves of extra-Scriptural meanings, we are in a position to define what the scriptural meaning of death is.
DEATH OPERATES ON THE BODY OF THE FLESH
Death that has been plaguing humanity ever since the fall of Adam operates on the bodies of flesh, and not on spirits. This is stated in the Scriptures quite clearly, but scripture expositors rarely tie this knowledge in with the topic of death, for whatever reason. Sin (dysfunction, being “apart / amiss” from God’s design) operates in the flesh, producing death, as apostle Paul noted most notably in Romans chs. 5 – 8, and this is also noted in a lot of other places in the Scripture as well.
Here are some passages pertaining to sin / death operating on the bodies of flesh:
2 Corinthians 4
11 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members [of the body] to bear fruit to death.
23 But I see another law in my members [from the context, you will see that Paul is talking about his fleshly body here], warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 6 – elaborates on how exactly the Romans 7:25 deliverance from the body of death occurred:
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin [notice how it says “body of sin”, not “spirit of sin”] might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
[…] [God] condemned sin in the flesh [of Jesus. Sin and consequently death operate in the flesh ]
1 Corinthians 4:10
10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
(V.11 actually pertains to divine health, when properly understood)
One of the biggest clues to the mechanics of how God would solve the problem of physical bodily death is the covenant of circumcision with Abraham, which God has fulfilled for descendants of Abraham, via Christ (Christ is in Abraham, we are in Christ, hence transitively we are in Abraham and are heirs of the promise made to him, and the sign of circumcision found its true fulfillment though Christ in us).
Paul gives us additional information regarding this transition of a human being’s “location” from body to spirit:
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him […]
So you see that the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham is indeed a lasting covenant, and is fulfilled in us by us (our being) divesting ourselves of the body of the flesh (v. 11 above) via our co-death with Christ, and them being co-raised up with him, which elsewhere is described as putting on Christ:
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
When you were immersed / baptized into Christ (which happens once you place your trust in him), you (your being) had put off the body of the sins (dysfunctions) of the flesh, and had slipped on Christ – or the new spirit (of Christ). We still have the body of the flesh, but we are not in it any longer. Spirit is our new homebase now.
So now we are waiting to be divested of this body of the flesh, and be clothed with an imperishable body:
1 Corinthians 15
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
When we were in Adam, we were “in the flesh”. I mean, WE (our being) were IN it. “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return” – that’s the destiny of those in Adam. When we were placed into Christ, WE (our being and identity) are now “in the spirit”. We are NOT spirits (I have previously stated incorrectly that upon new birth we become spirits – if we were spirits, we wouldn’t need bodies to function), but we are IN the spirit part of our being:
Since we are no longer located in the flesh, but are instead in the spirit, putting off the body of the flesh doesn’t strip away our being along with it.
Here are the effects of this transition from flesh to spirit in what is one of my very favorite chapters in the entire New Testament:
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you [Upon new birth, our being moved from flesh to the spirit – very important point!]. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
(V.11 actually pertains to divine health, when properly understood)
I am not saying that death doesn’t have consequences in the non-physical world – it sure does! Humans need both spirit and body to function as a living being:
7 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 being.
Human spirit is that which is brought into effect by the breath of God (Greek word for “spirit” is “pneuma” – lit. breath-effect).
In some translations such as NKJV quoted above, the term translating the Hebrew word “nephesh”, which maps into the Greek “psuche”, is “living being” In translations such as KJV, the same word translated as “soul”. The latter term has so much non-Scriptural baggage that translating the word as “living being” is preferable. In the case of humans, the word “person” may also be used to translate the same word – and is actually used in some translations, in selective passages – e.g., Genesis 14:21 (NKJV) : “Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.””.
So, either the spirit or the body being absent or non-functional makes it impossible for a human to continue operating in their full capacity of a living being. If the body is dead – it obviously affects the entire being. In the Scriptures, in instances of physical death, the entire person is referred to as “dead” physically, and “asleep” metaphysically (I am not saying “spiritually” since that would be a misapplication of the term). That’s why bodily resurrection is so important.