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Answering The Atheist
June 1, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 22

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Must everyone die? Some Bible verses tells us that everyone will die (Romans 5:12; Hebrews 9:27), but others say that some will never die (Genesis 5:24; John 8:51; John 11:26; Hebrews 11:5). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
When the Bible uses the terms “death” and “life”, it should be noted that they are used in two different manners. Sometimes it is speaking about physical life and death, but sometimes spiritual. The context helps us to determine which is meant in a given verse.

Romans 5:12 tells us that death has spread to all men. Contextually, this should be understood as spiritual death – separation from God. In contrast to this death, eternal life is promised through Jesus Christ (v 18, 21). In Romans 6:23, we see these terms again, “...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” These are speaking of spiritual life and death, not physical.

All accountable persons have died spiritually. Spiritual death can be conquered through Christ, thus, the Lord’s statements in John 8:51 and 11:26. He is not promising His followers eternal physical life, but spiritual life (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-24, 35-54).

Now, regarding physical death, it will touch every human with just a few exceptions. Notice, Hebrews 9:27 says that “...it is appointed for men to die once...” This is a general truth, however, the Bible does acknowledge some exceptions. Enoch (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5) is one. Also, if you read the 1 Corinthians 15 text listed above, Paul notes that not all will physically die, for those who are living at the Lord’s return will be changed from their mortal bodies to immortal in the twinkling of an eye. Those who have died physically will be raised from the dead, that they might gain eternal life if they faithfully served the Lord.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible