I received the following question:
Nathan, I have over time greatly appreciated your help to us in study of God’s Word.
Recently had the pleasure of listening and studying your talk on the Resurrections at the 2015 conference.
I have a question and need for clarifying a couple of points.
You explained that you believed Enoch was translated to heaven without seeing death.
Did you mean that he was translated so quickly he did not see death, or that he is now permanently in heaven with the Lord and did not die, but went thru a change into an immortal body? Some type of out resurrection/translation? Could Paul also have had similar as Enoch translation if he desired?
The faith chapter mentions a number of people of faith, but it says these ….ALL
DIED not as yet receiving the promises, of these, Enoch is mentioned. Was he also one that died not having received the promises, or are we to assume he is excluded from the list that died. It did say these all died?
Thanks for your input on this.
Your brother X
The Faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah
4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us,
8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
Thank you for writing, and for your kind words about my help in Bible study. It is my prayer that my labor in the truth and writings about the Scriptures will help those who seek our Lord and Savior to understand and get to know Him and His works and ways better though my studies.
I am glad you got to hear my talk on the Resurrections at the conference.
I do believe that Enoch was translated or carried over to heaven without seeing death, as I expressed it in the talk at the conference. I do not know how quickly the translation took place, but I do not think it was the speed of it that caused him to not see death. I believe that the word “see” here indicates personal knowledge by experience. He did not personally get to know death because he was translated. This could have happened quickly or slowly, but the point is that he was translated, and therefore did not experience death.
I do believe he is in heaven now with the Lord, though I am not sure if that is permanently. We know that Elijah is going to come back before the great and notable day of the Lord to live on the earth in the Kingdom of God, and it could well be that Enoch will do the same. Of course, since that is not revealed to us, we simply do not know.
I do not think Enoch necessarily went through a change to an immortal body. Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, and it is through Him that we will receive our future, glorified bodies. Yet remember that even Adam, in his fallen state after eating the forbidden fruit and in his damaged, dying body could have eaten of the tree of life, and it would have healed him of all the deleterious physical effects of the forbidden fruit. The problem was that he would not have been healed of all the deleterious moral effects, and he then would have lived perpetually as a wicked, fallen being. That would have been unthinkable, as God expresses it in Genesis 3:22-24.
22. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23. therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
God shows here that the tree of life was fully capable of healing Adam and keeping him alive perpetually. If the tree of life which God made had that power, then surely God would have the power to keep Enoch, one of Adam’s descendants, alive in heaven however long he saw fit. Thus Enoch might well have lived there perpetually, even without a different body, up to this very day, or at least until Christ paid the price for him to be given a new body. Yet I do not like the idea of some receiving that body prior to the giving out of it at the great resurrection to start the Kingdom, so I rather prefer to think that even Enoch and Elijah have not yet received their new, glorified bodies, but rather have been kept alive by God’s power in the same bodies they had when they were taken to heaven. Yet of course I really do not know this for sure.
I do not think his translation was a resurrection, or it would have called it that. He was carried over in physical form. Perhaps he even took the same “ladder” or stairway to heaven that Jacob saw in his dream.
Yes, I do believe that Paul could have had a similar translation experience as Enoch if he had chosen it. I wrote about that in my article on “Is It Christ to Live? Is It Gain to Die?”
If you wish to understand the statement “these all died in faith, not having received the promises,” you must read the whole portion in which it occurs.
13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
The same people of whom it is said, “These all died in faith,” it is also said, “and truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.” You are going to run into insolvable problems if you attempt to apply this statement to Abel, Enoch, or Noah. We can just imagine Noah thinking, “I would like to go back to the world before the flood.” Suddenly, whoosh! All the people who died in the flood are back alive, all the damage done to the earth is undone, all the history of the past however many years is erased, and Noah is back in the world before the flood because he called it to mind. No, no, this could not have happened. Abel would have had a real problem calling to mind his previous life while he was dead. And Enoch would have had little reason to want to come back to this wicked world. So how could this statement possibly be true of these three men?
Moreover, what “promises” were Abel, Noah, or Enoch given that they did not receive? You would have real problems finding any such promises. The promises come in with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in verses 9-11 of Hebrews 11.
9. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10. for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
The promises “these all” did not receive were the promises of a land and a seed like the stars of heaven that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob received. These are the “all” who died in faith, not having received the promises. Abel, Enoch, and Noah did not die in faith not having received the promises, since these promises were never given to them. Therefore, the whole statement from verses 13-16 is of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob, and cannot possibly be of Abel, Enoch, or Noah. To interpret it as carrying back to them in order to say that Enoch died will make the passage into foolishness once this interpretation is carried out to all its logical conclusions.
Of course, you already heard my comments in the talk on the Resurrections, wherein I pointed out the foolishness of the idea that what is meant by “translated so he did not see death” is that the reason Enoch did not see death is that God killed him.
You are welcome for the input. I pray this helps you understand the passage.
Keep studying the Word!