Have you ever encountered the question if Jesus is God, how did He die? Many Muslims are in the forefront of asking this question. George A Paul argues that the question is inherently flawed in its assumption and amasses a wealth of scriptural evidence to support his argument.
God cannot die, Jesus died therefore Jesus cannot be God.
Before answering about the death of Jesus we must understand what death is. This understanding of death must be according to the Bible and the orthodox Christian faith. This is necessary since there are many who in the name of orthodoxy promote and proclaim heresy.
Once we define death we can determine if death of Jesus Christ resulted in the death of God. James 2:26; states that ….. The body without the spirit is dead…. From this we are informed human being have a body and soul or spirit and from James 2:26 we also learn if body does not have the spirit it is dead. Hence, we may conclude it is the body which is declared as dead and not the spirit and Death is separation of spirit or soul from the body. This is further confirmed in the Bible in Gen 25:8; Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age…. This is further confirmed by few other passages in the Holy Bible Gen 25:17, Gen 35:18, Gen 35:29; Gen 49:33; Lam 1:19; Act 5:5, Act 5:10, Act 7:59-60; Act 12:23;
From this we conclude:
- Death is separation of soul or spirit or ghost from Body (all three terms mean the same, “something which makes a human beings ‘Body’ to be alive and living without which the person is said to be dead)
- In James 2:26; it is interesting to observe that, it is the Body which is spoken of as dead not the spirit. The same is said about Abraham in Gen 25:8;
Since now we know about the body and how the body becomes dead, we should also learn about the spirit or soul, what happens to the soul after death? Would it cease to exist?
In Luke 16:22,23; We read, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
From this we learn that, both the beggar and the rich man were alive even after death, it is the same rich man and the same beggar who continues after death and it is the same Abraham who died long ago who was speaking with the rich man. Hence, we conclude, the same persons continue to exist after death (after giving up the ghost). This is further proved by
Ecc 12:5; speaking about death says “…… man goeth to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets:” further … Ecc 12:7 states, “and the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it.” And in Gen 3:19 we read… “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Further in Psa 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. These scriptures confirms the truth about the continues existence of the spirit and educates us about the consequence of death
From the above we learn……
- Death is giving up the Ghost
- All continue to live after death; no one dies in the sense of ceasing to exist because of death.
- Because of death the body does not “disappear” but continues to exist, however with out motion (as dead), and the body returns to dust through burial and the spirit to God.
Further we should know; would the body and sprit always remain separated after death? Or would they come together? What would be the end?
Luk 20:35, 36; But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, accord
ing to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
In Luke 20:35,36; we see Those raised from the dead will not die.
Further, the soul is alive after death and the body also will be made to live and will be bought back to life. We can conclude thus because, we see God Judging both the body and soul. Hence we should ask; how can God destroy the non existing soul and body in hell? Since no one can destroy a non existing person, not even God. The wicked and the righteous are alive even after death and are bought back to life with body and spirit to face Gods judgment.
Since we know about death, we should ask what happened to Jesus, did he die (cease to exist)? The scripture clearly says; “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Luk 23:46; Mat 27:50; Mar 15:37; Joh 19:30; from what we have seen about death tell now we can conclude, Since Jesus Christ gave up his Ghost or Soul, we can say Jesus Christ died. However we must add Jesus body was dead because His soul was separated from his body and his spirit was alive with the Father. Luke 23:46; Ecc 12:7
Besides, it’s a fact that Jesus did not cease to exist when He died. We can affirm with confidence that Jesus Christ continued to exist even after giving up his Spirit (dieing). Had it not been so Jesus Christ would not have promised the thief on the cross saying, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43; Jesus Christ was on the cross suffering when he assured and promised the thief saying, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Jesus said, “Today” shalt thou be with me in paradise, at that particular hour Jesus was on the cross. It would be foolish on our part to argue that the cross and the suffering was the paradise. After saying this to the thief Jesus died within a short time and when he died it was still the same day of the promise. If Jesus had ceased to exist after death then the paradise he promised was the “cross”. If he did not cease to exist then the paradise is different and this different paradise is spoken in Joh 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” because Jesus Christ did not cease to exist we have hope that he will prepare a place for all those who believe in him and will come and take us to be where He is.
From this we can conclude the following about the death of Jesus Christ:
- Death is giving up the Ghost; Jesus Christ gave up his Ghost. Since Jesus Christ gave up his Ghost or Soul, it is said that Jesus Christ died.
- Only the body dies but the spirit continues to live after death; no one ceases to exist because of death. Therefore Jesus Christ did not cease to exist.
- Since Jesus Christ did not cease to exist after his death He promised paradise to a dieing thief on the day of his death.
- Moreover, because Jesus did not cease to exist after his death he could say I go and prepare a place and will come back to take you.
Since we know what happened to Jesus at his death lets look at what happened to his body, did his body cease to exist? NO, Jesus body did not cease to exist (Disappear) but was buried, which is confirmed in Mat 27:57-66; He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed. Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42. Hence we see Jesus body did not “disappear” but was present without the spirit (as dead)
However, the consequence of a body returning to dust because of death did not come upon the body of Jesus after his death. This is established in Act 2:31 He (David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. Other scriptures which speak about his resurrection: Matthew 28:2-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18. Moreover, It was the same Jesus Christ who came back to life with the same body which was glorified and asks his disciples to see his wounds. John 20:26-29
From this we conclude:
- Jesus Christ died and was buried but his body did not return to dust but He rose from the dead.
- It was the same person Jesus Christ who died and came back to life.
- If those who come back are the same as those who were dead (gave up the ghost) then the dead did not cease to exist. Hence, death is not cessation to exist.
The scripture confirms it is God alone who has power over Death and on the Day of Death;
Psalms 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.
Deu 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; And there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
Further the scripture also declares; No man has power over Death which is established in
Ecc 8:8; There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; ……
Jesus Christ has power over death therefore Jesus Christ is God.
1Samuel 2:6 Jehovah killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth up. 1Samuel 2:6 The LORD kills and restores to life; he sends people to the world of the dead and brings them back again. (Good news Bible)
John 2:19-22 "Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, AND I WILL RAISE IT AGAIN IN THREE DAYS.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and YOU are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was HIS BODY. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."
John 10:17-18 "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down OF MY OWN ACCORD. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
Mat 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Joh 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
2Ti 1:9,10; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
From the above scriptural evidence we declare, no man has power over death Ecc 8:8; all men who come back to life after death is because of God and not because of their own power. Deu 32:39; 1Samuel 2:6; Jesus Christ was alive who bought him self back to life after his death by his own power John 2:19-22; John 10:17-18; because he did this, Jesus Christ is God. If Jesus Christ ceased to exist how can He bring himself back to life? Therefore Jesus Christ did not cease to exist after death. However, as shown above his body and soul were separated because he himself gave up his ghost or soul. Mat 27:50; Mar 15:37; Luk 23:46; Joh 19:30; and after he gave up his ghost (died) he did not cease to exist but continued to exist and bought himself to life with the same body.
Hence Jesus as God and man never ceased to exist at his death.
Finally, Jesus Christ is the Judge whom we have to meet after death; 2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
If Jesus Christ ceased to exist how can we meet the one who does not exist? From this we see Jesus Christ did not die in the sense of cessation to exist. But died in the sense of giving up his ghost Mat 27:50; Mar 15:37; Luk 23:46; Joh 19:30; and continued to live apart from the body before resurrection Luke 23:43; while the body was buried and lay in the tomb Mat 27:57-66; Mar 15:42-47; Luk 23:50-56; Joh 19:31-42; and Jesus Christ continues to live with a physical body after resurrection. John 20:26-29; Jesus Christ desires that we live with him and went to prepare a place for us after his death and resurrection and will come again. However, had he ceased to exist after death then he cannot have desire as expressed in John14:3; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Further, Jesus expresses similar desire in John 17:24; 2Co 5:8; Phi 1:23;