Dying They Did Die

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 14, 2016 0 comments

by Steve Risner

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

We are plugging away at these questions now and I feel like we're able to see light at the end of the tunnel. We've been discussing “10 theological questions no young-earth creation can answer.” We've actually been doing this for about 9 months give or take. My goal was to be thorough; I don't think anyone will say I was not. But I hope the time we've put into this has helped you see that a solid Biblical understanding and an unswerving faith in our Creator can open up extremely deep theological ideas found in God's Word. If we trust Him, the answers show themselves quite often.

This week we are answering question number 6: If the punishment for eating from the tree was that Adam and Eve would physically die… why didn’t they physically die? Good question, right? I thought so. It's certainly not unanswerable, but it's a good question. Let's see what Tyler Francke, the author of this question, has to say on the topic first. He says you may ask, “Wait a minute. The Bible says they would die, and they did die. What’s the problem?” And here is where he immediately goes into why his Biblical literacy is the problem. In a matter like this, my first response is to make sure I know I understand the basics. He does not. Let me explain why I say that. He tells us, “The Bible doesn’t just say they would die, it says they would die 'in the day' that they disobeyed.” One of the difficult things in any situation like this is translation. We all understand, I'm sure, that the Bible was not written in English. Hebrew is very different from the English language. So we need to keep in mind that translators do the best they can to bring out the meaning of a text, but it's often the case that we may lose a little in translation. This theistic evolutionist is referencing Genesis 2:16-17. The text actually says, “...in the day” or “...on that day” and is the same phrasing used in Genesis 2:4. Now Tyler, the author of the blog post we are looking into here, says, “We know from the literalists that the word ‘day’ in the Genesis creation accounts can’t mean anything other than a 24-hour day.” We do know that under the right circumstances the word “day” can only mean a 24-hour day. It's all about context and word usage—like it is in many other forms of communication. However, Tyler is making a classic strawman statement here. A strawman fallacy is when you misrepresent someone's position to make it very easy to knock down. That's what this is. No one suggests the ONLY meaning of the word “day” is a 24 hour time period. In fact, we do know from this passage as in Genesis 2:4 that the term is an indefinite time period. “In that day” doesn't mean THAT 24 hour time period. Charles Ellicott wrote in 1897 that the phrase “’in that day’ was the same as in Genesis 2:4 and means an indefinite period of time.” This is how nearly everyone understands the passage in question. This actually could be the end of the discussion here, but I think we can further support this and further expose theistic evolution for the unbiblical doctrines it inserts into Christianity. I'll give a couple of commentary excerpts to expand our understanding here.

Matthew Henry in 1706, long before Darwinism and long before the erroneously accredited founder of the young-earth creationist movement Ellen White was even born, says of Genesis 2:16-17, “Let us never set up our own will against the holy will of God. There was not only liberty allowed to man, in taking the fruits of paradise, but everlasting life made sure to him upon his obedience. There was a trial appointed of his obedience. By transgression he would forfeit his Maker's favour, and deserve his displeasure, with all its awful effects; so that he would become liable to pain, disease, and death. Worse than that, he would lose the holy image of God, and all the comfort of his favour; and feel the torment of sinful passions, and the terror of his Maker's vengeance, which must endure for ever with his never dying soul.” This fairly well establishes that for centuries the common understanding of Genesis was that man was created immortal and that physical as well as spiritual death was the result of the Fall.

The Pulpit Commentary in 1884 says it this way: “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; literally, dying, thou shalt die. That this involved death physical, or the dissolution of the body, is indicated by the sentence pronounced on Adam after he had fallen... universal experience attests that permanent escape from its execution is impossible. In the case of Adam it was thus far put in force on the instant, that henceforth he ceased to be immortal. As prior to his fall his immortality was sure, being authenticated for him by the tree of life, so now, subsequent to that catastrophe, his mortality was certain. This, more than immediateness, is what the language implies.” And in reference to the pronouncement at the Fall in Genesis 3:19 the Pulpit Commentary reads, “...in consequence of his transgression he had forfeited the privilege of immunity from death, and must now return to the soil whence he sprung.” Is Tyler going to suggest that all of these highly respected sources are simply just spewing young-earth creationist dogma? I would hope not since they didn't really know there was such a thing—this is especially true of Matthew Henry who wrote long before there was any real doubt.

We do know that, according to the account in Scripture, that man was prevented from living forever by God (Genesis 3:22). We need to just toss out the entire account and say it has nothing to do with anything important if we just hand wave all this stuff. Man was cursed. According to this curse, he'll die. There is no mention of man dying prior to the pronouncement of the curse other than God's warning that if man disobeyed, he would die. Even the Amplified Bible has a footnote for Genesis 2:16-17 indicating that man was created immortal and that physical and spiritual death both occurred as a result of Adam's sin. Physical and spiritual death has been the long held position for a very long time.

Because I know Tyler loves Ken Ham, I will quote from an Answers in Genesis article on the subject: “The phrase ‘you shall surely die’ can be literally translated from the Hebrew biblical text as ‘dying you shall die.’” In the Hebrew phrase we find the imperfect form of the Hebrew verb (you shall die) with the infinitive absolute form of the same verb (dying). This presence of the infinitive absolute intensifies the meaning of the imperfect verb (hence the usual translation of ‘you shall surely die’). This grammatical construction is quite common in the Old Testament, not just with this verb but others also, and does indicate (or intensify) the certainty of the action. The scholarly reference work by Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Conner, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), gives many Biblical examples of this, and they say that “the precise nuance of intensification [of the verbal meaning] must be discovered from the broader context.” Clearly in the context of Genesis 3, Adam and Eve died spiritually instantly—they were separated from God and hid themselves. Their relationship with God was broken. But in Romans 5:12 we see in context that Paul is clearly speaking of physical death (Jesus’ physical death, verses 8–10, and other men’s physical death, in verse 14). We also find the same comparison of physical death and physical resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22. So both spiritual death and physical death are the consequences of Adam’s fall.” I realize that's a little wordy, but the point is excellent.

That article goes on to look at other times in Scripture that we find the exact same wording for “dying you shall die” which seemed helpful. The exact same phrasing is used in Numbers 26:65 when God tells the Israelites they'll die in the wilderness because of their distrust of Him. It took 40 years for that to occur. Do we have to conclude that this didn't mean they would all physically die because they didn't die the moment they heard the proclamation? No. We understand that this phrasing in Hebrew means that there will come a time when this will come to pass. And it did.

Another point to make is that God sacrificed an animal to cover Adam’s shame. This was because death is the result of sin—physical and spiritual. This sacrifice of an animal is insufficient to forgive sin as Christ’s death did, but the death of an animal was necessary to not warrant some of the immediate consequences.

I think that really explains it. But we find near the end of this “unanswerable question” that Tyler once again exposes his lack of Biblical knowledge. He says, “Faith in Christ is our one hope of restoring that connection, and restoring that connection is our one hope of eternal life, because our spirit — not our physical bodies — is the only part of us that can live forever.” Faith in Christ is our hope for sure and praise God for that. But we know from our series entitled “In Adam All Die” (specifically part 2) that the Word of God is very clear on this. We do not spend eternity as spiritual beings. We will have a resurrected body much like the physical body that Christ has since He has risen. He was physical, and Paul mentions for us that the resurrection of dead bodies (literally) is the hope we have in Christ Jesus. This theistic evolutionist, like many I have encountered, does not understand God's Word at all and has such little knowledge that he doesn't even know he's exposing his ignorance when he writes. But take heart, the end is coming! This series has but 3 questions more!

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