“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”-1Th 4:13
Why are we talking about death when this verse explicitly says, “asleep”? Simply because that’s what the context seems to indicate. Please remember to read the verses that we are focusing on in their proper context. Jesus and His disciples also frequently referred to physical death as “sleep”.
Physical death is the separation of soul and body. It is represented in the Scriptures as a part of the penalty of sin. This is the most natural meaning of Gen 2:17, 3:19; Num 16:29, 27:3. The prayer of Moses and the prayer of Hezekiah recognize the penal character of death. The same thing is true in the New Testament. For the Christian, however, death is no longer a penalty, since Christ has endured death as at the penalty of sin. To him it becomes a sleep as to the body and a gateway as to the soul through which he enters into full communion with the Lord (2Co 5:8; Phi 1:21, 23;, 1Th 4:13,14; Mar 5:39).
Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. I mention this now just to point out that there is some nuance in Christianity in relation to death and how it is to be understood. We will focus more on spiritual death in another Theology Thursday.
It should be noted that the definition that we have for physical death (separation of soul and body) doesn’t seem to really grasp all that physical death is. In order to do that we must include something like, “as well as a cessation of biological function”. All this also brings up an interesting question:
Were humans created mortal or immortal?
It appears that physical death is linked to the fall in some clear way. Genesis 3:19 would seem to be not a statement of what is the case and has been the case from creation, but a pronouncement of a new situation:
“By the sweat of your faceyou shall eat bread,till you return to the ground,for out of it you were taken;for you are dust,and to dust you shall return.”
Further, Paul’s theme in 1 Corinthians 15 is that physical death has been defeated through Christ’s resurrection. Paul says:
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
If in the end of all things God is going to restore all things (Act 3:21) and if humans are to be immortal in the end, then it seems that humans were initially created without the intention of dying physically nor spiritually.
Welp. What do you think? Is death all there is or do you think God has something else in mind? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks and God bless!