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Thesis: The Bible presents an understanding of death that is in agreement with scientific evidence, which makes the solution to the problem of death that it presents all the more realistic and reasonable.

In a changing world full of political, wholesale jerseys from china social, and economic upheaval, there is very little you can really rely on. Nothing in this world is certain. Well, except, death and taxes that is. Those are two things we can truly count on. But even there, there is still some degree of uncertainty and mystery involved, (though taxes seem to be the more predictable of the two, and the least mysterious. I mean, it’s certainly no mystery they are going to increase, and probably more than we care to think.) Death, on the other hand, isn’t quite so easy to pin down. We plan out our lives as though we will live to a ripe old age, but there really is no guarantee that we will reach that end. We really could die tomorrow. You just never know when that proverbial bus will hit you.

Not only is the timing of the event of death uncertain, but also the experience afterwards, if there is an experience to be had. What awaits us in the great beyond? It’s the question that has been pondered throughout the ages. You see, death remains a great mystery to most, because to experience it, you have to well, DIE. And there really aren’t too many of us who can rightfully claim to have come back from the dead. Firsthand accounts of what happens after death are hard to come by. So, it remains a mystery for us who are living, while we are yet alive. However, for those who are curious about the problem of death and its solution, (because there is a solution to the problem of death), the Bible does shed some light on the matter which can provide comfort and hope for those who take its teachings seriously.

Before delving into the subject of death, we must first examine the nature of man. Genesis 2:7 recounts the initial creation of mankind: “Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” The Bible presents the human person as a physical body animated by the spirit, the life force or breath, provided by God. It is a simple equation: dust + breath of life = a living person. Mankind, as defined by God, is “a single or unitary constitution that cannot be separated into components.”[1]

It is important to note that the true biblical understanding of the nature of humanity is consistent with current scientific data. Recent studies in genetics have helped to verify this point. In his book, On Behalf of God: A Christian Ethic for Biology, Mr. Bruce R. Reichenbach writes:

“human personhood cannot be reduced to a purely immaterial or spiritual notion, as sometimes occurs when people identify themselves with souls. We are essentially and fundamentally embodied beings, with a genetic heritage from our parents, their parents, and so on. This genetic heritage affects all parts of us.”[2]

From this it may be seen that humans are “embodied beings”: mankind is a psychosomatic unity. In his essay, Ensoulment Revised in Response to Genetics, Neuroscience and Out-Of-Body Experiences, Gordon McPhate comments: “…the work of behavioral geneticists has begun and will undoubtedly continue to provide more and more evidence that human beings are a psychosomatic unity.”[3] Science clearly supports the biblical understanding of the nature of humanity.

The unity of the human person has a profound impact of our understanding of death and what happens after death. The main implication of this truth is that man is fully mortal: there is no part of man that lives on after death. When a man dies, he is no longer alive. The biblical writers, of both Testaments, were well aware of this fact. In one of his laments, Job expresses the mortality of man through the use of synonymous parallelism when he asks “Are your days as the days of a mortal, or your years as man’s years, that you should seek for my guilt, and search for my sin?”[Job 10:5-6 ] In Isaiah, Yahweh himself says “I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.”[Isaiah 13:12] In the New Testament, Paul readily acknowledges the mortality of man and speaks of the resurrection when “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”[1 Corinthians 15:52-53] Paul, building on the foundation laid by the Old Testament writers, recognized that man is fully mortal and that immortality is not an innate human quality.

So what is death, according to the Bible? Warren Prestidge, author of Life, Death, and Destiny, writes: “Does the Bible have a definition of death? Indeed it does. ‘You are dust and to dust you will return’ (Genesis 3:19)…To be dead is to ‘sleep in the dust of the earth’ (Daniel 12:2).”[4] This use of the metaphor of “sleep” illustrates the Hebrew’s understanding of death as a state of unconsciousness and inactivity. The “sleep of death,” as it is so called in Psalm 13:3, is characterized by a lack of cerebral and respiratory activity. For instance, the psalmist notes that when mortal man dies, “his spirit [breath] departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish.”[Psalm 146:4] The author of Ecclesiastes echoes similar sentiments: “…the dead do not know anything…for their memory is forgotten…their love, their hate and their zeal have perished…for there is not activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [the grave] where you are going.”[Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10] These passages demonstrate that the ancient Hebrews understood that death is the end of life, the moment when man stops breathing and brain activity ceases. This understanding of death not only makes sense of the psychosomatic unity of man, but also of the modern scientific understanding of death. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 31st Edition, defines death in the following way:

“death (death) (deth) the cessation of life; permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions. For legal and medical purposes, the following definition of death has been proposed-the irreversible cessation of all of the following: (1) total cerebral function, usually assessed by EEG as flat-line (2) spontaneous function of the respiratory system, and (3) spontaneous function of the circulatory system…”[5]

Thus it may be clearly seen by comparison that the biblical understanding of death coincides with the standard biological-medical-legal definition of death: death is the end of life when all independent cerebral and respiratory functions permanently cease.

For many, the thought of facing one’s own death produces inescapable and deep-seated feelings of anxiety and fear that persist throughout their entire lifetime. It’s not hard to understand why: Prestidge comments,

“Firstly, death means then end of person-forming relationships with those who mean much to us. Therefore it threatens our deepest values and commitments. Secondly, it means, it would appear, the end of ourselves, confronting our whole existence with an absolute limit. What, then, do we amount to? Third, it undermines hope, stripping our confidence and our illusion of security in the future or even the present. Fourth, it calls in question whether our lives can have any real meaning, since it puts our life ultimately out of our control.”

As a result, many people face death by adopting attitudes of avoidance, compensation, accommodation, or even denial.[6] Nevertheless, despite our feeble “solutions” to confront the problem of death, the reality is that death cannot be avoided and the solution is completely out of our hands.

The good news is that there is hope, because there is a solution to the problem of death. However, we must first recognize that death is not the real problem that we face; the real problem is the guilt that we have incurred as a result of our own sinfulness. Contrary to popular belief, “death is not merely a biological inevitability: it is God’s provisional judgment upon human sinfulness: ‘death spread to all because all have sinned’ (Romans 5:12; see Rom. 6:23; Gen. 3:17-19, 22-24; Ps. 90:7-11).”[7] Therefore, real issue that needs to be addressed is not death itself, but rather how we can become reconciled to our Creator. We must deal with the root cause: human sinfulness.

Paul sums up the dilemma and its solution in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[Romans 6:23] God has graciously provided pardon for those who turn from their sin and believe the good news about the coming kingdom of God, embracing Jesus as their Lord and Master and entering into his death and resurrection through baptism. To those who loyally trust and obey Jesus until the end, God promises immortality and life in the kingdom of God.

After dealing with the root cause of death, namely sin, it is time to return to God’s solution to the problem of death which is resurrection, an awakening from the sleep of death. The Bible records that on the last day, when Christ returns to reestablish the kingdom of God, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”[Daniel 12:2] At this time, the dead in Christ will be raised and immortalized. Of the nature of this resurrection body, Paul writes: “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”[1 Corinthians 15:42-44] Thus, the Bible demonstrates that the solution to death is a full bodily resurrection and immortalization of the person.

The Bible’s solution to the problem of death is actually quite realistic in light of the biblical and scientific understanding of both human nature and death. Unlike traditional Christian belief, which teaches that humans are a dichotomy of a physical body and an immortal soul (or even trichotomy of body, soul, and spirit), the Bible portrays man as a psychosomatic unity. This understanding of human nature agrees with modern scientific data and allows for a death that is total and complete, unlike traditional beliefs which teach that there is some part of the human person that departs and lives on after death. Thus the full resurrection of man makes the most sense of biblical and scientific research. Of this matter, it seems reasonable to agree with Warren Prestidge, who remarks, “the Bible’s uncompromising realism concerning death is also one reason that the solution it does offer ultimately is so convincing.”[8]


[1] Sanchez, Gilbert. “The Nature of Man.” Chalcedon: Equipping to Advance the Kingdom. http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/the-nature-of-man-2/ (accessed November 15, 2013). [2] Reichenbach, Bruce R., and Elving V. Anderson . On Behalf of God: A Christian Ethic for Biology (Studies in a Christian World View). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

[3] McPhate. “Future Perfect?: God, Medicine, and Human Identity.” Ensoulment Revised in Response to Genetics, Neuroscience and Out-Of-Body Experiences, Edited by Celia Deane-Drummond and Peter Manley Scott, 102. New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2006.

[4] Prestidge, Warren. Life, Death, and Destiny. Auckland, New Zealand: Resurrection Publishing, 1998, p 12. [5] Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2007.

[6] Prestidge, Warren. Life, Death, and Destiny. Auckland, New Zealand: Resurrection Publishing, 1998, p 8.

[7] Ibid, p 14.

[8] Ibid, p 7.

3 Responses to “Resurrection: The Reasonable Solution to Death”

  1. on 26 Nov 2013 at 1:51 pmJas

    Contrary to popular belief, “death is not merely a biological inevitability: it is God’s provisional judgment upon human sinfulness: ‘death spread to all because all have sinned’

    The actual meaning of this verse is “remaining in death spread to all because all have sinned”
    Adam was told he would die that very day which we know he did not and died several hundred years later. God was speaking of his being accounted for spiritual life not his human life. It is silly to think that death was not a reality for Adam’s human body . What was taken away was the plan for Adam to become a spiritual being after his human death as was Everyones till Jesus reconciled All Mankind. Now this promise is available based on individual sin . All mankind will be raised to face judgement based upon how they treated all God’s Creation.
    This is not a Christian exclusive .

  2. on 19 Nov 2014 at 6:13 pmXavier

    “That classical Judaism firmly believed in the resurrection of the dead—indeed, insisted upon it as a defining tenet of the community—today comes as a shock to most Jews and Christians alike…Abba Hillel Silver [Reformed rabbi and one of the most important figures in American Judaism, in his influential volume Where Judaism Differed], presents the resurrection of the dead as a late and degraded development in Jewish thought, a borrowing from foreign sources ‘to which the Jews added nothing original’…The Christians, vulnerable to a crude superstition about a god-man who came back from the dead, have perverted the Hebrew Bible by introducing something altogether foreign into it.”
    J.D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel, pp 1-3.

  3. on 20 Nov 2014 at 1:30 pmSarah


    It’s amazing to me that modern rabbinic thought can get away with such a claim, given that we can find references to the resurrection from the Pentateuch onward (e.g. Deut. 32:39).

    What exactly does he mean by “late development”? First century AD?


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