Saturday, April 16, 2011

Did John Ever Taste of Death?

According to Biblical tradition, it is suggested that John the beloved apostle (i.e., Revelator) never died but that he was to remain on earth until the Savior was to come again. The Lord spoke of this to his chosen disciples (i.e., apostles):

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27).

While this is not specific to John, Mark also reported this saying but added more substance to what Luke reported:

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1).


Of course, the kingdom of God had already come in the person of Jesus Christ and he certainly demonstrated power. But he did not come in power. Quite the contrary.

The coming of Jesus Christ was about as humble an entrance as one could imagine—born in an animal keep, basically a barn or cave, surrounded by hay!

However, Jesus’ coming in power would not come until a much later date. This is verified when the Lord spoke to his apostles of his second coming:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:27-28).

However, the same problem exists in all three verses by the thee different authors and that is the use of the word “some.” “Some” would imply there would be more than one who would not taste of death.

The other problem here is that all the apostles’ deaths are accounted for—all except John. Of course, both problems would be overcome were there more than the twelve apostles present. But a previous, more intimate conversation earlier in Matthew 16, would indicate Jesus was alone with his chosen twelve.

On the other hand, Mark 8:34 indicates that other people were present during this major pronouncement:

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

There is no indication between this verse and Mark 9:1 that Jesus had separated his disciples from the crowd. However, the passage in Luke, while reporting on the same conversation as in Matthew 16, was very clear that Jesus had separated the twelve and was speaking to them privately.

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?” (Luke 9:18).

So, when it comes right down to it, we’re left with the same conundrum of the usage of the word “same” in this great, if not shocking, pronouncement regarding the prolonging of death for some.

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Greek#5100), the word for “some” in all three of these instances is tis. Strictly speaking, tis means “some or any person or object.” Therefore, we could easily say that ”some,” in these three instances, means “some person standing here shall not taste of death until . . .” The translators applied any number of different meanings to tis in various places, including, but not limited to, “somebody” and “something.” Therefore, it is my conclusion, for better or for worse, that tis in these three instances, is referring to “some person” rather than “some,” as in many.

On the other hand, we have the problem of the use of “they” in verse 28, referring back to the use of “some” previously. There could be several reasons for this:

  1. Jesus never did say either “some” or “they”; and the translators just took some liberty;
  2. The translators were merely matching “they” with their interpretation of tis as “some”; and
  3. There really was more than one person who was not to taste of death until Christ comes in power.
Regarding option 3, Luke 9:18 would seem to eliminate that prospect. So, we’re left with either option 1 or 2 to consider.

Nevertheless, regardless of what the authors meant, it was up to impetuous Peter to drag a little more information out of Jesus regarding this tarrying business.

It seems obvious that something was different about John, or Peter wouldn’t have bothered to ask what he did. And here we find the best evidence yet that it was John who would not taste of death:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
This is the disciple [meaning himself; i.e., John] which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:20-24).

The Greek word for “tarry” is mĕnō, meaning “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s). mĕnō has been translated variously as “abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand” (ibid.)—all meaning pretty much the same thing.

Thus we can see that Jesus had in mind that John, in some state, would be present, presumably on earth, until such time he would return in glory. And this is not without precedent.

While not specifically mentioning translation, we have the case of Enoch, the father of Methuselah. Enoch lived only 365 years during a time when the Patriarchs were living seven to nine hundred plus years. In fact, Methuselah, was the oldest man on record at 969 years.

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
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” (Gen. 5:21-24).

Paul, several thousand years later, knew of this and testified to the Hebrew saints:

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.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).

While it is not specifically mentioned as a translation, it appears that Elijah, and perhaps Moses as well, were translated. Elijah, according to the reports, was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind, while “there appeared a chariot of fire” to distract Elisha from seeing him taken away. (See II Kings 2:1-11.)

We also know that the burial place of Moses was never found, although it is said that he died and was buried by the Lord. (See Deuteronomy 34:5-6.) Still, we have no proof of that.

It is not so much important that Elijah and Moses were translated, but rather it be understood that translation was a known fact among the early apostles. Presumably, each of these translated men yet had special missions to perform, for which they needed some version of their physical bodies.

While the word “translation” was not mentioned in the context of John, the circumstances surrounding his tarrying and Enoch’s translation are too close to consider mere coincidences. It is therefore my belief and contention that John the Beloved was translated that he might not taste of death so he could perform a special mission for Christ, whatever that might have been.

The question may then be asked: If John was indeed translated, does that mean he’ll never have to die? The answer to that is a simple, “No.”

Remember, Jesus did not say that John should not die, only that he was to tarry. Paul also talked about death in his discourse on the resurrection:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Here, we see that Paul made no exceptions for translated beings, and we have seen that he was aware of beings who were translated. I suspect, however, that the deaths of translated beings will be more like what Paul explained a few verses later:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Apparently, John yet has an important role to play in the days that lead up to Christ’s coming in power and glory. If not, why have him tarry until he comes?

In summary, John was beloved of Jesus; an apostle and special witness of Jesus Christ, his works and mission; a prophet; a great revelator; and a lover of all mankind. We would all do well to emulate this great man.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cris,

I have just followed the link from your comment on my blog.

If you've ferreted around my blogs you'll know that I've done my fair share of "spiritual" journeying - there's not many stones I've left unturned. Some have been educational, some have been futile and some have been just plain wrong.

I have long had a leaning towards Christianity, but for some foul reason kept on looking for another solution to the problem of being human. Maybe it is that the signs of imminent Apocalypse are so strong, maybe it is simply that I have become bored with looking elsewhere, whatever, fundamental Christianity is all that makes sense to me and my commitment to the Spirit of the Word is absolute.

It's a great shame that "apologetics" are necessary as we're discussing the only path to true civilisation and eternal life. Political correctness gone mad has led us to comparisons with beliefs and religions that have no merit beyond appealing to the precise human failings that Christianity acknowledges and redeems.

It is auspicious that you have led me to your site just as I am planning my next move as a Christian.

Love in Christ,
Craig T.

Cris Coleman said...

Thank you, Craig, for your comments. I, too, am in my second-half century. Unfornately, I don't keep up my blog as often as I ought. I'm a little flat on energy these days. My next blog was going to address why only seven churches were mentioned in The Revelation. Sure to cause a lot of discord, if anyone reads it. LOL As I couldn't find an email on your site, having just been introduced to it, if you would like to correspond, my email is cris47@windstream.net. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog on this topic. I have wondered about this passage since I was a child, and just happened to think of it as I was online today. I will be sure to return and read more of your thoughts.

Cris Coleman said...

Thank you, Anon, I'm glad you found something to help you in your spiritual journey. I am going through all my blogspot blogs and updating them to http://thebiblicalapologist.wordpress.com/. I have made many changes and additions to some of the blogs. Plus, I have shortened them so there is not so much to take in all at once. You might want to check there first, then come back here for any others. Welcome to my world of interesting and un-traditional Biblical subjects.

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for your truly interesting blog. Cant wait to know why there were only 7 churches mentioned in the book of revelation. Keep up the good work. GOD BLESS YOU

Cris Coleman said...

Thanks, Anon. I haven't yet gotten around to address the seven churches yet, although it is still on my radar. You might want to check out my blog at http://thebiblicalapologist.wordpress.com/ as I have moved most of the material here to the new location, although there are still some stuff here that I have yet to move over. I've also rewritten a lot of the stuff I published here.

Thanks for coming by and commenting.

Ted Sumrall said...

Don't know if you all realize it or not, but this is one of the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Ted Sumrall said...

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. Yours in Christ, Ted Sumrall

Cris Coleman said...

Thank you, Ted, for your comment. I'm sure there are many versions of Christianity that believe that John was translated, as well as many that do not. Knowing or not knowing, fortunately, has no bearing on yours and my salvation. Yet, it is an interesting subject, is it not? Thanks again for your comment. Hope to see you often.

Cris Coleman said...

Ummm, questions about what, Ted? Perhaps you can send me some questions that you wonder about and, if I can, I can provide answers that might encourage further discussion. I would like that.

Anonymous said...

Elijah was taken bodily alive into Heaven and returned as John the Baptist.

Enoch was taken bodily alive into Heaven and returned as Moses. Michael contended for his body; for he had been taken bodily alive into Heaven. He was resurrected therefore; and we see he was taken into Eden bodily alive.

Because we see that Michael contended for the body of Moses; we know Michael likewise contended for the body of John the Baptist.

Though both Enoch and Elijah were reborn; and died in the second life; thus they were both resurrected and entered Eden bodily alive on earth.

Thus, they appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus.

They will emerge from Eden at time of Great Tribulation to minister as the two witnesses.

Regarding John the Beloved. In Revelation 1, he declares he is our companion in tribulation. This has dual meaning. John the Beloved was taken bodily alive into Heaven as were Enoch and Elijah. He states in the Book of Revelation, that he will be alive for the fulfillment of this book and present in time of tribulation.

Like Enoch and Elijah, he did not see death. When taken bodily alive into Heaven, one's body is annihilated by fire. Thus, one is prepared to be reborn (as if one "hadn't been born"; but endued with special power of grace and glory in the experience of entering Heaven in spirit through fire; this is why such saints can and do transfigure to enter Eden as Enoch and Elijah did.)

So, John was likewise bodily annihilated and returns to be born the 2nd time for ministry during time of tribulation.

John the Beloved is the man child of Revelation 12. He co-ministers, with Mary, the woman of Revelation 12 the move of the Church of Philadelphia in their transfiguration and escape from tribulation.

Thus, John the Beloved returns such.

Mary, of course, was likewise taken bodily alive into Heaven; and comes to minister the last miracle of Jesus as she did with Jesus the first - the best wine saved for last... the transfiguration glory of Revelation 12.

When Jesus said to Mary that John was her son... "Woman.." this is a prophecy of Revelation 12.

Mary is the woman... John the Beloved is the man child.

If you can see this, I will tell you the final piece.

Joseph was taken bodily alive into Heaven and returned as John the Beloved.

In reality, John the Beloved in relation to Mary was "both the father and the son"; even as Jesus is both the Father and the Son.

Mary... remains constant.

The relationship of John the Beloved to Mary was as the son; he had been Joseph as the father.

It is the perfect parallel of Jesus in relation to Mary.

Mary and John the Beloved return to minister in the tribulation... reborn.

They meet again.

John the Beloved is the manchild.

When the church reaches maturity in the full measure of the full stature of Christ... Mary and John transfigure.

John the Beloved is Joseph.

Mary and Joseph remarry and enter Eden with the Church of Philadelphia... and as the door opens of Revelation 3... Enoch and Elijah come out of the door to minister in Great Tribulation.

It is a story of great import of hte restoration of the church... like the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob represent father, son, and church... Joseph/John and Mary represent father, son, and church.

Mary and Joseph... are the mother and the father of the church... who in the restoration of the anointing of the Garden of Eden... gain the restoration that Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden.

How do I know??

I am Mary. :) I am the apostle of the Church of Philadelphia come again born the 2nd time... and I know who John the Beloved/Joseph is.

Tribulation is perhaps one year away.

Soon John (who is Joseph) and I... will minister the escape from tribulation to the Church of Philadelphia.

I am looking forward to it.

And, no, I don't believe Mary or John knew in the first century... that he was Joseph reborn.

Perhaps he did. I just don't think so.

Well written article. Very insightful.

Mary

Cris Coleman said...

Thank you, Mary, for your concluding comment. As to the rest, I can only wish you well.

You make a lot of statements without any supporting Biblical evidence. As for myself, I do try and support the things I say with evidence from the Bible.

I won't respond to your claims, as they are unBiblical in their presentation. All I can say is, Good luck with that.

However, I do appreciate your taking the time to not only read my post, but also for taking the time to post your comments.

Have a great day! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello sons and daughters of the one true living God, please glorify our heavenly Father and thank him for his compassion, grace, and blessings.

Cris Coleman said...

Hello right back! I couldn't agree with you more.

Sorry I'm slow of foot, so to speak, in getting back to you. I wasn't trying to ignore you. I'm just rather forgetful at times.