03 December 2008

Death Examined (Pt 1)

In my current studies, I wish to spend some time looking at death and the various ways it is used in the Scriptures. Unfortunately many Bible readers see the English word death and immediately assume it to always be speaking of literal end-of-life scenarios...but is it? Most all Christians know that there is both a spiritual and physical death spoken of in Scripture, but even breaking it into those two categories is still a pretty "physical" and literal meaning for the words.

What other ways do we find it used throughout scripture? What other ways is it used that might be commonly misunderstood outside of a deep rooted understanding of Hebrew culture? I know I for one, have gotten confused over the many ways the Scripture uses the same word to refer to many different kinds of "life" other than just physical and spiritual, like when it is used to refer to someone outside of God's covenant...an understanding I know I am not always quick to catch due to my "Greek-ness."

Some examples I hope to dig deeper into and examine are things like:

  • God promised Adam in the garden regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Obviously this has nothing to do with physically dying, for we know he ate and did not physically die. So, we know he spiritually "died" as his eyes were opened that same day. However, then in the NT we are told that Christ came to fix/reverse the death that was brought by Adam...and we always assume that to mean physical death, yet it was not physical death that Adam gave us...so what are the implications?

  • Quite often in the OT, when the people of God were breaking covenant with God, they are referred to as "dead" and without life; and when they return to faithfulness, they are said to be restored to life, raised from the dead, resurrected, etc. Yet we are too quick to assume these terms always means something physical, especially in the NT.

  • Jesus says in John 8:51: Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. yet first century Christians who believed and followed him have long since died...physically at least. What "death was Jesus referring to that they would never "see."
These are just some of the type issues that I would like to study, research and share as time permits. Actually, I am hoping to find and purchase a book on the subject, that has already examined this in detail. If anyone knows of one, one that explores the deep Hebrew understanding, let me know. In the meantime, I will use what resources I currently have on my self, and piece-meal together what I can on the subject. So here we begin a new little series...Death Examined!