Question #1: Please forgive me my poor English, I'm from Poland and I feel much
better in reading than in writing. Could you tell me something more
about Enoch – as I understand Gen 5.24 he was taken to God with his
physical body – especially in connection with this two witnesses,
because I've heard someone talking not about Elijah and Moses, but
Elijah and Enoch? (In context of
CT 3A, section V.6: The bodies of Moses and Elijah) Thank You for
your page and work. I found it very helpful in many difficulties I've
found in the Bible. Very often I saw two or more possible answers, but I
don't know the original languages of Bible so I had problems in checking
what was the most possible (or only possible) meaning. It is rather
difficult to find good sources of information in Polish, and I don't
have enough money to buy helpful study resources in English. I found
many useful things on the internet, but the problem here is that
sometimes it is difficult to check how near is the author to God's truth
and sometimes I've lost much time before I found that author is possibly
not even Christian.
Response #1: Thank you for your e-mail. I certainly understand that it is easier to read than write a non-native language. I find your English to be very understandable.
I also understand your frustration with internet sites that are deliberately deceptive about what they really believe. I always try to make it very clear not only what I find in the Bible, but also the linguistic and theological evidence behind my positions, and the argumentation as well. I am also happy to answer questions about anything in these writings, or anything in scripture at all, as far as I am able.
Although the word used for "taken" in Genesis 5:4, laqach, is one of the most common verbs in Hebrew, and while it is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense for God's sovereign termination of human life apart from any question of transmutation/translation as we have here with Enoch (cf. Ps.73:24), the phrasing used in this passage is similar to that of Elijah's words in respect to Elisha in 2nd Kings 2:10 - both men are "taken" by divine agency in a unique way (same verb). But the most important key to interpreting Genesis 5:4 is the further commentary on this passage given by Paul in Hebrews:
By faith Enoch was translated (i.e., transmuted) so that he did not see death, and "he was not found because God translated (i.e., transmuted) him". For before his translation (i.e., transmutation) he was born witness to that he "had pleased God".
So while, even with the non-technical vocabulary, because of the
context we probably would not fail to see in Genesis 5:4 a unique
transformation of Enoch from earth to heaven (i.e.,
"translation/transmutation"), the vocabulary used in the Greek of
Hebrews 11:5 puts the question beyond doubt. The verb (and corresponding
noun) used there is meta-tithemi, and the meta prefix
gives the main verb stem's meaning of "placing" a special twist
indicating a special change of some sort (see English words such as
"metamorphosis", "meta-formation", etc.). Further, the statement to the
effect that Enoch did not "see death" makes it crystal clear that this
transfer from earthly to heavenly life was unique. Indeed, as far as we
can tell from scripture, only three individuals ever experienced
anything like this (Enoch, Moses, and Elijah - and Moses' case is even
more specialized). Technically speaking, all three of these individuals
are "dead" in the sense that they are not in their earthly bodies. They
are also, of course, alive in the sense that our true life with God the
Father and our Savior Jesus Christ only begins when we are face to face
- He is "the God of the living, not the dead" (Matt.22:32).
Enoch's transformation took place without what we would call a normal physical death. There was no trace of his body afterwards, and his transformation from earth to heaven, from his physical body to the temporary spiritual body he and all departed believers now occupy as they await the resurrection, was instantaneous, without the normal exhaling of the spirit and consequent de-animation of the physical body that is the norm. In this way, Enoch's departure is a true foretaste of the resurrection that will occur when our Lord returns at the end of the Tribulation. For just like Enoch, all those believers alive at our Lord's second advent will be "caught up together . . . . to meet the Lord in the air" (1Thes.4:17) as "this mortal body takes on immortality" (1Cor.15:54; cf. vv.50-56). Enoch's experience is a preview of the resurrection, and the temporary spiritual body he now occupies will at that future time also be transformed into the eternal "resurrection body" to which we all look forward (2Cor.5:2-4).
Enoch "pleased God" to such an exceptional and extraordinary degree that he is singled out for praise in both testaments, and some of his words have also become a part of scripture (Jude 1:14-15). And the way he did please God is important to note. The verb translated "he walked with God" in Genesis 5:4 is the usual Hebrew verb for walking, halach, but it is in the hithpael stem, meaning repeated/repetitive action. Enoch made it a point to keep the Lord always beside him at all times (cf. Ps.16:8). This requires constant and consistent attention to divine truth (in our day, the Bible and correct Bible teaching), prayer, continual concentration on the truth (cf. Ps.1:2), on Him who is the truth, our Lord Jesus (cf. Heb.11:27b), conscientious application of truth to life (cf. 2Pet.1:5-11), and the ministering of truth to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Jn.21:15-17). Such a one was Enoch, and to such an outstanding degree that it was uniquely given to him to demonstrate from his unique manner of death the blessed end of those who stay faithful to Jesus (i.e., resurrection and eternal life), and the great benefits in this life of walking with God and pleasing God rather than ourselves.
You may find the following related links of some use as well:
Walking with Jesus.
Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
The false doctrine of "soul sleep".
Aspects of the Resurrection.
I hope you find this helpful. Feel free to write back for anything for which you wish further clarification.
In Him who died for us so that we might live forever together with Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Please shed some light upon the Matt 16:19 reading i.e. the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the binding & loose upon earth & heaven; Also Luke 22:19 This do in remembrance of me; And The feeding of the lambs and sheep of John 15, 16, & 17.
Thanks in advance.
1. On the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 16:19, we may
note immediately that the binding and loosing, the proper function of
keys, must certainly be connected to the keys themselves. In the
preceding part of this discussion Jesus was telling Peter about the
building up of the Church. Therefore these keys and their ability to
bind and loose is no doubt also connected to the expansion of the
Church. Since Jesus was preaching about the kingdom of heaven and
entrance into it through repentance and faith in Him (Matt.4:17), it
seems clear enough that the keys to the kingdom open the way for
entrance into the kingdom, and that those "loosed" are free to enter,
while those "bound" are not. The way we enter the kingdom of heaven is
indisputably through faith in the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ. Therefore the keys that give us this possibility of faith in Him
must be the gospel information about His Person and work on the cross
that forms the object of our belief.
This interpretation which sees the keys of the kingdom as the gospel through which one enters the kingdom conforms with everything else we know about the basic mandate of spreading the gospel which Jesus gave to His apostles (Matt.28:18-20; Lk.24:46-49; Acts 1:7-8; 9:15; 22:21; 26:15-18; cf. Matt.10:5ff.; Mk.6:8-11; Lk.9:3-5; 10:1-20). It also accords with all scripture has to say about the way in which we become Christians. Case in point is John chapter three where we must be "born again by water and the Spirit", with the water representing the Word of God as the refreshing life-giving substance ministered by the Spirit (as is often the case: e.g., Is.55:1; Jn.7:37-39; 1Cor.10:3; Eph.5:26; Tit.3:5; 1Pet.3:21; Rev.22:17), made real and understandable to the heart that receives the gospel message in faith and humility. This is true Christian epistemology.
Note that the gospel is divisive. Some will receive it with joy, while others will harden their hearts by rejecting it. When the gospel is heard, therefore, some are loosed but some are bound - by their own negative response. This is similar to what we see Matt.13:19 where the devil "snatches away" the truth before it can be understood (i.e., the person is not responsive to the message so as to open up to the Spirit's ministry and accept the refreshing "drink" of the gospel). While it is true that the apostles are given these "keys" preeminently, all believers may use them. Indeed, we are all called upon to mediate the gospel of Jesus Christ, even though the work of the twelve was foundational in the building up of the Church of Christ (Eph.2:20; Rev.21:14; cf. 1Cor.3:9-11).
The "keys" metaphor is also used in a slightly different fashion at Revelation 1:17 (i.e., there they are "the keys to death and Hades"), but that passage likewise indicates the opening up of the opportunity for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Here is what I have written about those keys in Coming Tribulation part 1 Introduction:
The "keys" mentioned as being possessed by our Lord Jesus Christ refer to the fact that only through Him can a person escape our common human destiny of death and punishment (Jn.14:6). Because God in His wondrous mercy gave His Son for us and because Jesus died for us, that destiny can be changed by any and all - one needs only to turn to Him to receive this redemption from the power of sin and death (Rom.8:1-4; Gal. 3:13; 4:5; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; 1:20; Heb.1:3; 1Pet.1:18-19; Rev.1:5), and the grant of eternal life in its place (1Jn.5:11-13). The plural, "keys", used here is also significant. Christ Jesus is the key, but we must accept and follow Him (i.e., we must receive and utilize the key we have been graciously offered by putting our faith in Him). He has already "unlocked" and opened the door of the prison house for us all (cf. Is.42:7; 61:1), but we must still follow Him out (cf. Acts 12:9). All the merit, all the work is His (Eph.2:8-9), but we must respond to that work in order to be released (Jn.1:11-13; Rom.10:8-11). Just as our Lord told us at John 3:5 that we are saved "by water and Spirit" when we are born again (i.e., our belief in and response to the water of the Word, the gospel message, on the one hand, and God's salvation of us in Jesus through the power of the Spirit on the other: Eph.5:26; Rev.22:17), so the plural "keys" is an indication of this critically important point of truth: God has done absolutely the most for us in sacrificing His Son (Rom.5:6-8; 2Cor.9:15; Eph.2:8), but He will not override our free will and force us to believe in Him against our will (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9; cf. Rev.2:21).
2. "Remembrance" in Luke 22:19 (and 1Cor.11:24-25 et al.) is the
whole point and purpose of what we call communion. Greek Orthodoxy
claims that this word, anamnesis, has mystical overtones, but
there is no evidence for this in scripture or the Greek language. Roman
Catholicism claims that through the ceremony we partake of grace - also
completely unbiblical. On the contrary, this verse makes it crystal
clear that when we eat and drink - and especially when we do so
corporately as Christians - we should have as our focus the remembrance
of our Lord: His Person (who He is) and His work (what He did in dying
for us). These are represented by the bread and the cup respectively as
the other verses in the context and the other gospels which treat the
Last Supper make clear. We need to continually be reminded of the fact
that He is our true sustenance, the Bread of life, the Word of Life, the
Water of Life, and that He gave us His all, His body and blood to eat
and drink - symbols of what we have embraced in faith, the critical
points of our entire Christian faith of which we need a daily reminder
and remembrance. For, as believers, we do not live by earthly bread
alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of our God. There is
more about communion at the following link:
Communion and the blood of Christ and
3. John 21:15-17: Many commentators have made quite a lot out of the variation of vocabulary in these verses (i.e., sheep versus lambs, to pasture versus to feed, love-agapao versus love-phileo), but that is a mistake in my view. All of these commands are saying the same thing. Jesus uses the three-fold repetition of the same essential mandate to Peter in order to underline just how important this mandate is. Evangelism is important, as are all the other functions of the Church. But the thing Jesus chooses to emphasize above everything else in His final teaching is "feeding the flock" (cf. 1Cor.3:2; Heb.5:14; 1Pet.2:2-3). He is the Word of truth, and without the Word we have nothing and can do nothing for Him. We can't know Him without truth, we can't grow without truth, and we can't be particularly effective in the ministries to which we have been called if we haven't grown spiritually (which requires knowing and believing truth). Understanding the truth of scripture is fundamental for the successful Christian life; therefore feeding the flock is the bedrock ministry upon which the Church rests. The fact that in our day and age prepared teachers are rare and those who are both prepared and consistently teaching even rarer does not change this fact, but rather it emphasizes the point: this is the age of Laodicea (see the link: Laodicea, the era of degeneration). For more on food as a metaphor for Bible teaching see Peter lesson #13 and The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6.
Hope you find this helpful.
In our Lord, the Bread of life.