DID ENOCH AND ELIJAH DIE, OR ARE THEY ALIVE IN HEAVEN?
Many Christians believe that neither Enoch or Elijah died and that both are now in heaven. But we read in Jn. 3:13, “No man hath ascended to heaven but He Who came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven”. This verse is clear, no one, but Christ has ascended into heaven. We know that there are no contradictions in the Word of God, so we must look more carefully for the truth about Enoch and Elijah.
First we will consider the few verses that speak of Enoch in the Old Testament. We read in Gen. 5:22-24, “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him”.
Let us turn our attention to the phrase in Gen. 5:24, ” he was not“. That phrase is often used of death in the Old Testament. We read, for example in Jer. 31:15, “….A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not“. And the phrase is used in the same way in Job 7:21, “…..for now shall I sleep in the dust; but Thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be“.
In the New Testament we read of Enoch in Heb. 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God”. This verse seems to say that Enoch did not die. But we read in verse 13 of this chapter, “These all died in faith….”. To whom does the word “these” refer? It refers to all those from verse 4 to verse 13, including Enoch. There is absolutely no logical reason to exclude Enoch in those that died.
To be thorough, we should note that Jude 14-15 also speaks of Enoch, “And Enoch also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”. This passage, while important, does not impact on our study so I will not dwell on it.
So far in our study we have learned from Heb. 11:13 and from the phrase “he was not” that Enoch had indeed died. We have also learned from Jn. 3:13 that Enoch had certainly not ascended to heaven.
Now let us consider the Greek word translated “see” in Heb. 11:5 in the phrase, ” that he should not see death”. That Greek word is “eidon”. Appendix 133 of the Companion Bible gives the following definition: “eidon= to see: implying not the mere act of looking, but the actual perception.….”. To make perfectly sure that we understand this definition, let us consider the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “perceive”. “Perceive: awareness of….”. If we are to take into due consideration the definition of the Greek word translated “see” we must understand this phrase to say that Enoch should not be aware of death. Obviously then, he had been not aware of his own death. This does not tell us that Enoch did not die, only that Enoch was not aware of his death when it happened. Much like a person who dies while under anesthesia during an operation is not aware of his death, so too Enoch was not aware of his death when he died. I believe that as we continue in this study the concept of Enoch not being aware of his own death will become more clear.
Having learned that Enoch had died, we are now ready to consider each occurrence of the Greek word translated “translated” used in Heb. 11:5. That Greek word is “metatitheemi”. We must determine its meaning from how the Holy Spirit used it. The word is used six times.
Acts 7:15-16, “And Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers. And were carried over (Gr. “metatitheemi”) into Sychem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham bought for a sum of money….”. Note, these were dead bodies that were “carried over”.
Gal. 1:6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed (Gr. “metatitheemi”) from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”.
Heb. 7:12, “For the priesthood being changed (Gr. “metatitheemi”) , there is made of necessity a change also of the law”.
Heb. 11:5, ” “By faith Enoch was translated (Gr. “metatitheemi”) that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated (Gr. “metatitheemi”) him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God”.
Jude 4, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning (Gr. “metatitheemi”) the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God even our Lord Jesus Christ”.
So we have the following translations: “carried over”, “removed”, “being changed”, “translated” and “turning”. What is the basic concept of this word? In my opinion, the basic concept of the word is one of changing. In Acts the location of the bodies were changed. In Galatians their attitude towards Christ had changed. In Heb.7 the priesthood was changed, in Heb. 11 Enoch was being changed and in Jude ungodly men had changed the grace of God.
The question we must now ask is: in what way was Enoch changed? Let us review what we have learned of Enoch. 1) He had died. 2) He was not aware of his death. 3) He was changed.
I believe that Enoch’s change was from life to death. And he did not perceive his own death because he was taken in such a way that he was not allowed to be aware of it. This fits exactly what the Word of God says about Enoch. Nothing has been added and nothing detracted.
We read in II Kings 2:11, “And it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”. Does that mean that Elijah never died, but went directly into heaven? I think we must consider Jn. 3:13 again, “No man hath ascended to heaven but He Who came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven”. Let us consider this passage in II Kings more carefully.
To begin with, the Hebrew word translated “heaven” is “shahmahyim“. The “im” tells us that it is plural, i.e. there is more than one heaven. It is used of the dwelling place of God in Gen. 1:1 where we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven(s) and the earth”. It is also used in Gen.1: 26 where we read, “and God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image…..and let them have dominion over…… the fowls of the air (shahmahyim).…..”. And in Gen. 7:11 we read, “In the sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, ……were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven(s) were opened”. So the same Hebrew word is used of the heaven where the birds fly, where the clouds gather and where God is on His throne. The question we must answer then is; to which heaven was Elijah taken?
We know he was not taken into the heaven where Christ is (the heaven of Gen. 1:1) because of Jn. 3:13 quoted above. I believe that as we consider II Chron. 21:12 we will have the answer as to which heaven Elijah was carried away unto. “And there came a writing to him (King Jehoram) from Elijah the prophet…….”. This “writing” came to the Jehoram after Elijah was taken up into heaven. How do we know that?
To begin we must understand that just as the four Gospels were records of the same period of time with different emphasis, so too Kings and Chronicles record events, more or less, of the same time period but with different emphasis. We read in I Kings 2:12 that Solomon began to reign in the place of David. And we read in I Chron. 29:22 that Solomon began to reign. In other words from I Kings 2 all the way through to the end of II Kings covers the same period of time as does I Chron. 29 all the way through the end of II Chron.
Now to when Elijah wrote his letter. We read in II Kings chapter one of Ahaziah’s illness and how the Lord told Elijah to meet Ahaziah’s messengers. My point is that Elijah was taken up in the time of Ahaziah as recorded in II Kings 2:12. Elijah wrote a letter to King Jehoram as recorded in II Chron. 21:12. Jehoram lived after Ahaziah’s death making the Elijiah’s letter written after Elijah was taken up.
Surely, we cannot think that Elijah was writing from heaven, especially since we know from Jn. 3:13 that he was not in heaven wherein is the dwelling place of Christ.
I am suggesting therefore, that Elijah was carried into the heaven where the birds fly, but then came back to earth in a different place from which he wrote to King Jehoram.
Many would suggest that because Elijah was one of those who were seen at the transfiguration, that Elijah had not died.
We read in Matthew 17:1-3, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun and His raiment was white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him”.
Does the fact that Moses and Elias were talking with our Lord prove that Moses and Elias had not been dead, but alive in heaven? I believe that verse 9 gives us the answer to that question. “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying, ‘Tell the vision to no man….”. Peter, James and John did not see the persons of Moses and Elias, they saw a vision.
The Greek word translated “vision” is “horama”. The Greek word is used twelve times in the New Testament. As we study each occurrence we will see how the Holy Spirit had intended for us to understand this word. It is always translated “vision”, except in Acts 7:31.
The first occurrence is Matthew 17:9 which is quoted above.
Acts 7:31, “And when Moses saw it, (the burning bush-verse 30) he wondered at the sight…”. The Greek word translated “sight” in this verse is “horama” the same word translated “vision” in Matthew 17:9. The account of the burning bush is given in Ex. 3. Unfortunately, the Hebrew has he “saw” the burning bush, but that phrase was not included in the KJV so I can not tell the reader the meaning of that Hebrew word translated “saw”. However, based on the fact that the 11 other occurrences of the word “horama” are all translated “vision”, I would say that here too, Moses saw a vision of a burning bush.
Acts 9:9-10, “And he (Paul) was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias: and to him said the Lord in a vision (Gr. “horama” )….”.
Acts 9:11-12, “And the Lord said unto him, (Annanias) ‘Arise, and go unto the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision (Gr. “horama” ) a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight“. It couldn’t be more clear that “horama” does not mean “to see with the eyes” because we are specifically told that Paul could not see when had this vision.
Acts 10:3, “He (Cornelius) saw in a vision (Gr. “horama” ) evidently about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him….”
Acts 10:17, “Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision (Gr. “horama” ) which he had seen should mean….”
Acts 10:19, “While Peter thought on the vision (Gr. “horama” ) ….”
Acts 11:5, “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision (Gr. “horama” ), a certain vessel descend as it had been a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners…” The last four occurrences of “horama” refer to Peter’s vision. This verse tells us that he had been in a trance. That, in my opinion, tells us that Peter did not actually see a sheet, but he saw a vision.
Acts 12:8-9, “And the angel said unto him (Peter in prison) ‘Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.’ And so he did, And he saith unto him, ‘Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.’ And he went out, and followed him: and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel: but thought he saw a vision (Gr. “horama” )“. Note the contrast in this passage between what Peter thought he was actually seeing, and seeing a vision.
Acts 16:9, “And a vision (Gr. “horama” ) appeared to Paul in the night…”.
Acts 16:10, “And after he had seen the vision (Gr. “horama” ), immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia…”.
Acts 18:9, “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision (Gr. “horama” )…”.
Because we are told quite specifically in Matt. 17:9 that what Peter, James and John had seen was a vision, I believe that we may conclude that Moses and Elijah were not (and are not) alive, but that they were seen in a vision.
We know that there are no contradictions in the Word of God. We know that no man has ascended into heaven but Christ (Jn. 3:13). Therefore, we must approach the scriptures that seem to say that Enoch and Elijah did not die with open minds and not allow ourselves to adopt a teaching that is not based on Scripture.
Enoch was changed from being alive to being dead. Evidently, that change was such that he had not perceived his death.
Elijah was carried into the heaven wherein the birds fly and was let down in a different place.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond to this paper please write to me at: email@example.com