The topic of whether Enoch and Elijah die or saw death has polarized Christian views. Some people believe that they did while others believe that they did not. I will answer this question clearly in this post. But, first, let’s examine the relevant quotations.
“Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”~GENESIS 5:23-24
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” ~HEBREWS 11:5
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”~2 KINGS 2:11
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” ~JOHN 3:13
Yes. Enoch and Elijah died and neither of them was taken into heaven alive. Jesus Christ stated clearly, in John 3:13, that no one (including Enoch and Elijah) has ever gone into heaven except him. The Scriptures cannot be broken. The Bible cannot contradict itself. If this is the case, then what is the truth about Enoch and Elijah in relation to death and heaven? Let’s explore further.
Enoch Vs Death and Heaven
The books of Genesis 5 and Hebrews 11 state that God took Enoch away or up, but they do not mention “heaven.” The mention of heaven is only found in some Bible translations, as it was added by the translators. In the Greek Scriptures, from which the transaction originated, the word “heaven” does not occur. Similarly, Hebrews 11 mentions that Enoch did not experience or see death, but this does not mean that he did not die. Some Bible translations say he did not die, but in the Greek Scriptures, the word “die” does not occur.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: If God did not take Enoch to heaven, where did he take him?
Answer: The Bible does not specify where God took Enoch. We must remember that God is under no obligation to reveal everything to us. The secret things belong to God, while those that are revealed are for us and our children forever.
Question 2: If Enoch eventually died where God took him, why did the Bible say that he did not see or experience death?
Answer: The expression “did not see or experience death” does not mean that Enoch did not die later after God had taken him to the undisclosed location. It simply means that when he died, he did not go through the normal process of death, such as gasping for air or feeling the agony of death that others feel before they die. He died peacefully, without struggling with death and its accompanying pain.
NOTE: Even Hebrews 11, where Enoch is mentioned, states in verse 13 that all those mentioned there, including Enoch, died.
Elijah Vs Death and Heaven
The book of 2 Kings 2 states that Elijah was taken to heaven, but it does not refer to the third heaven where God’s throne is located, the same place Jesus came from and ascended back to. The Bible mentions the “third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2, implying that there are three heavens. Therefore, when Elijah was taken, it refers to the second heaven, which is the sky or space. Jesus clearly stated that no one else has ever gone into heaven, specifically the third heaven, except him (Jesus). Additionally, Elijah later wrote a letter to King Jehoram, as mentioned in 2 Chronicles 21:12. If he were in the third heaven, such communication would not have been possible.
In terms of death, Elijah eventually died because the Bible states that all humans are destined to die (Hebrews 9:27).
Jesus Christ, having perfectly satisfied all conditions, is the first human to gain victory over physical death. This is one of the reasons why he has preeminence over all other people and things. Therefore, to claim that either Elijah or Enoch never died is to suggest that they have preeminence over Jesus Christ, which contradicts Scripture. Although all believers in him share in his victory over physical death, this victory will only be activated for them at the resurrection.
While there may be differing interpretations, Jesus’ statement that “No one has ever gone into heaven except him (Jesus)” carries significant weight. Based on this, it can be concluded that both Enoch and Elijah experienced physical death. The exact details of their deaths and the locations to which they were taken may not be explicitly revealed in Scripture, but the overarching message remains clear. Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, holds a unique place in conquering death and opening the way to eternal life.