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A Biblical Definition of Death

April 21, 2018

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24

The Son of God has life in himself (5:26), and he is able to give life to whomever he will (5:21). The life that he has is eternal, and here he speaks about how this eternal life can be ours!

When Jesus speaks about death and life, he is speaking about something in which all of us are involved. Nobody can say, “This isn’t relevant to me.” Life and death are the experience of every person, in every generation, in every culture.

What is death? When you know what death is, then you will know what life is. We normally think about death as something that is pronounced by a doctor when the vital signs of life have ceased. When the heart no longer beats, the lungs no longer breathe, and the brain no longer sends its animating signals throughout the body, then a person is pronounced “dead.”

But the Bible speaks about death in another way. The first time death is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis where God says, “In the day that you eat of it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you shall surely die” (2:17).

Adam and Eve sinned when they disobeyed this command, but at the end of that day when Adam sinned, his heart was still beating, his lungs were still breathing, and his brain was still sending animating signals throughout his body. So, he didn’t die? Or did he? Yes he did!

What happened on the day Adam and Eve sinned? They came under the judgment and the condemnation of God. And that is what death is in the Bible.

How does this definition alter your view of death?


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.


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