What is Death?

I have read some interesting explanations as to why Adam and Eve did not die the day that they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  While many godly people have researched this and have what seem to be credible explanations, I feel they overlook one important point.  The Bible is progressively written.  That means the Bible has truths that are progressively revealed.  Death is progressively revealed.


In the garden of Eden, there was no death.  We need to let the context of Genesis 1-4 define what death is and is not.  Most people believe death is when your physical body ceases to function.  This is one result of death’s power over the human race.  But death as defined in Genesis 1-4 is something quite different.  God told Adam that he would die on the day that he ate from the tree, and he did.


When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, the transformation that overtook them was DEATH itself.  If we let the story give us a definition of death at face value, we come away with a picture of death something like this:

~Death is estrangement from God. 

~Death gives us the desire to run as far away from God as possible because of your sinfulness. 

~Death is separation from God.  Death is being ashamed of your sinfulness in the presence of God. 

~Death is God’s judgment upon the sins of mankind. 

~Death is being cast out (banishment) from the presence of God. 


When God proclaimed the future of the human race to Adam and Eve through the curses that would now come upon them, he noted that Adam would return unto the ground.  More specifically, Adam would have to toil to make the ground produce fruit until the day that he returned to the ground from whence he was created.  Notice that God did not say that he would till the ground until the day he died.  Death is not used in connection with Adam returning to the ground.  Jump ahead to chapter 4 and notice that death is not used in conjunction with the slaying of Abel.  In these first four chapters in the Bible, death does not refer to the physical body ceasing to function.


Later, when Adam physically died, death would come to mean a physical death at the end of one’s physical life.  But the primary usage in the account of the fall of mankind is true death, true separation from God.  We refer to it as spiritual death because we so commonly use the term death to refer to physical death.  If we let the context of Genesis 1-4 determine what death means, we understand that Adam and Eve truly died on the day that they ate from the tree.  Yet in the midst of their death, God gave them hope.  God gave them a promise, the Seed-Promise.  The Seed-Promise is the foundation for God’s Covenant Plan which can be traced throughout the Bible.  I have hinted at it in this series, but in my next post on this series, I will examine what the Seed-Promise meant to Adam, Eve, and the serpent.  Until then…


Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13


-The Orange Mailman

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