TABLE OF CONTENTS
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.
You may click on any of the sections to go right there although it is recommended
you read from the beginning to the end.
- Philippians 1:21, 23 — “having a desire to depart and be with Messiah”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23 — “spirit, soul, and body”
- Hebrews 11:5 — “Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death”
- Hebrews 12:1 — What about the great cloud of witnesses?
- 1 Peter 3:19 — Did the Messiah preach while in the grave?
- Appendix — Soul — Additional Evidence
Verses 21-24 are quoted for context:
Philippians 1:21-24, 21) For to me, to live is Messiah, and to die is gain. [Note these two possibilities: living OR dying.] 22) But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23) For I am hard-pressed between the two [that is, between living or dying], having a desire to depart [the Greek word is analuo, which can also mean “return,” discussed in more detail later] and be with Messiah, which is far better. 24) Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul wrote Philippians while imprisoned in Rome (see v. 7):
Philippians 1:7, Just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
Possibly, because of his imprisonment, Paul considered awaiting the resurrection while asleep in death would be an advantage as compared to his current condition.
Another possibility is that Paul considered that his death would be gain because it would further embolden the brethren to spread the good news; after all, Paul’s imprisonment was already having this effect (vv. 12-14):
Philippians 1:12-14, 12) But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13) so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Messiah; 14) and most of the brethren in the Master, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
If Paul’s imprisonment inspired confidence in the brethren, how much more would his death? Similarly, after Stephen's death, some were motivated to go "everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:1-4):
Acts 8:1-4, Now Saul was consenting to his [i.e., Stephen’s] death. At that time a great persecution arose against the assembly which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3) As for Saul, he made havoc of the assembly, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4) Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Returning to our passage in Philippians 1, notice verse 23:
Philippians 1:23, For I am hard-pressed between the two [that is, between living or dying], having a desire to depart [analuo] and be with Messiah, which is far better.
As mentioned earlier, the word “depart” is translated from the Greek word analuo, which can also mean “return.” Analuo appears only one other time in the Greek text of the newer writings, where it refers to the “return” of the Messiah in the parable of the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant:
Luke 12:35-40, 35) Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36) and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return [analuo] from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37) Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38) And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39) But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Thus, in Philippians 1:23, recall that Paul's dilemma is between living in prison or dying. But then he adds a third possibility; “having a desire for the return [analuo] and to be with Messiah, which is far better” than the other two options.
In the phrase, “having a desire for the return,” I have not added the words “for the” to the Greek text. Also, in the phrase, "to be with Messiah," I have not added the word "to." These words are in the Greek text, as shown in the NIV Greek/English Interlinear New Testament — see below:
The Messiah's return would have solved Paul’s dilemma between living in prison and dying.
Did Paul think he would go to be with the Messiah upon death? No, according to Paul’s own testimony, he understood that he would not receive his reward until the Messiah’s return:
2 Timothy 4:1, 6-8, 1) I charge you therefore before Yahweh and the Master Yahshua Messiah, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
6) For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8) Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Master, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
1 Thessalonians 5:23, Now may the Elohim of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit [G4151 pneuma], soul [G5590 psuche], and body [G4983 soma] be preserved blameless at the coming of our Master Yahshua Messiah.
At first glance, the mention of spirit, soul, and body might seem to imply that the soul is separate from the body and is immortal.
- As covered previously:
- The Greek word pneuma can also be tranlated as "breath."
- The Greek word psuche can also be translated as "life."
- The Greek word pneuma can also be tranlated as "breath."
- Thus, the statement could very easily be translated "may your whole breath, life, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Master Yahshua Messiah."
- This rendering would also agree with the context, which is that Paul desired for the Thessalonians to be preserved alive and well unto the Messiah's return.
For more detail on psuche translated as "life," see: Matthew 10:28--Those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Hebrews 11:5, By faith Enoch was taken away [KJV: “translated"] so that he did not see death, and was not found, because Elohim had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased Elohim.
For the record, Hebrews 11:5 refers to the account of Enoch in Genesis 5:24:
Genesis 5:24, And Enoch walked with Elohim; and he was not, for Elohim took him.
When isolated from the rest of the Bible, a casual reading of these two verses might seem to indicate that Yahweh took Enoch to eternal life in heaven, and Enoch never died.
- Scripture does not specify where Elohim took Enoch. People assume heaven, but Scripture does not specify.
- Also, compare other statements made in the context of Hebrews 11.
The context of Hebrews 11 mentions several faithful ones by name, including Enoch, and then states:
Hebrews 11:13, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Verses 39-40 confirm:
Hebrews 11:39-40, 39) And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40) Yahweh having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
- Since Enoch “died in faith,” it was only for a period of time that “he did not see death.”
- Possibly, Yahweh delivered Enoch from being murdered by an angry mob who despised his prophecy of coming judgment (cp. Jude 1:14-15:
Jude 1:14-15, 14) Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, Behold, Yahweh comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15) to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are irreverent among them of all their irreverent deeds which they have committed in an irreverent way, and of all the harsh things which irreverent sinners have spoken against Him.
- That Enoch did not die at a certain time but later did die, in no way contradicts the text.
- Also, see the numerous Foundational Scriptures, which inform us that all are appointed to die. If one, or a few, Scriptures seem to contradict many, shall we accept the few and ignore the many, or shall we accept the many and seek explanations for the few? We should accept the many and seek explanations for the few.
- "Taken away” (KJV: “translated”) is translated from the Greek word metatithemi (G3346).
- This word is also used in Acts 7:16, where it refers to Jacob's remains being carried to their final resting place, from Egypt to Shechem:
Acts 7:16, And they were carried back [KJV: “were carried over”] to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
- Thus, being taken away or carried somewhere does not mean that one must go to heaven. One can be taken or carried from one place to another.
- Compare the carrying away of Philip after he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch:
Acts 8:39-40, 39) Now when they came up out of the water, the spirit of Yahweh caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40) But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
--The Greek word used in this passage is harpazo (G276), but the context is similar — Yahweh took Philip and the eunuch saw him no more.
Like Enoch, Eliyah also was not found after he “went up,” but later, he wrote a letter to King Jehoram, showing that he continued to reside on earth. For further details, see: "Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
- Death is the consequence of sin, and all have sinned:
Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
- The path to justification from sin, to immortality, and eternal life goes through the death and resurrection of the Messiah:
Romans 4:25, Who [the Messiah] was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Hebrews 9:15, And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant [my comment: for Enoch and all others], that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
- If Yahweh made an exception for Enoch, He could have made an exception for everyone and spared His Son.
- Passing from mortality to immortality requires death. Believing that Enoch bypassed death and went on to everlasting life in heaven is one step toward believing that the dead are not really dead, but instead, go directly to heaven.
Hebrews 11:5, By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because Elohim had taken him; for before he was taken [KJV: “before his translation”] he had this testimony, that he pleased Elohim.
In this instance, the Greek word is metathesis (met-ath’-es-is; G3331).
Metathesis derives from metatithemi, the word studied earlier from the phrase "Enoch was taken away."
Ironically, Strong's Dictionary includes “transferral (to heaven)” in the definition of this word even though nothing about heaven is stated in the definition of its parent word. Moreover, Scripture itself does not specify where Elohim took Enoch.
Consequently, the inclusion of “(to heaven)” in Strong’s definition evidently reflects Strong’s opinion as to where he thought Enoch was translated.
Hebrews 12:1, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [i.e., the righteous people of faith mentioned in chapter 11], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
It has been suggested that the people referred to must be alive, having gone to the “other side” after their deaths; therefore, they can still witness to us.
- This great cloud (or group) of witnesses are the models of faith mentioned in chapter 11.
- Chapter 11 also informs us that these people died and have not yet received the promise of everlasting life:
Hebrews 11:13, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off [i.e., in the distant future] were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:39–40, 39) And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40) Yahweh having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
- Although these people died and are in their graves awaiting the resurrection, they witness to us by the example they left; that we, like they, “might obtain a better resurrection”:
Hebrews 11:35, Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
- But this resurrection has not yet occurred. Revelation describes the “first resurrection,” which is yet to come:
Revelation 20:6, Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Verses 18-20 quoted for context:
1 Peter 3:18-20, 18) For Messiah also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to Yahweh, being ① put to death in the flesh but ② made alive by the spirit, 19) by whom [or, by which; hos (G3739) can also be translated “which”—KJV: “by which”; ESV, NASB, NRSV, RSV: “in which”] also He ③ went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20) who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. [Note: Eight souls, consisting of Noah and his family, were saved. The animals on the ark were also souls, but the focus in this context is on human redemption.]
- Notice the sequence of events:
- Was “put to death”
- Then “made alive"
- Then “went and preached”
- Was “put to death”
- WHEN did the Messiah go and preach?
- AFTER He was “made alive” by Yahweh raising Him from the dead.
Note: Over fifteen verses say that Yahweh raised Yahshua from the dead (Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:14-15; Acts 10:40; Acts 13:30; Acts 13:34; Acts 17:31; Romans 4:24; Romans 6:4; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Peter 1:21).
- The NIV further clarifies that the Messiah preached “After being made alive...”—
1 Peter 3:19 (NIV 2011), After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits.
Thoughts on preaching to the imprisoned spirits:
A possible explanation is that after the Messiah arose, He proclaimed His victory over death to the angels (also called spirits in the Bible) chained in tartaroo from ancient times (cp. Hebrews 1:7; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6):
Hebrews 1:7, And of the angels He says: Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.
2 Peter 2:4, For if Yahweh did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [tartaroo (G5020)] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.
Jude 1:6, And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Let us remember and hold fast to the foundational Scriptural evidence:
- When we die, we return to the dust.
- That all are appointed to die.
- Then, we await the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:53-54, 53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54) So WHEN this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.
This appenix provides aditional evidence demonstrating that human beings are souls.
The word “soul” is commonly translated from the word nephesh in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The definition from Strong’s dictionary states:
H5315. nephesh, neh'-fesh; from H5314; properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental).
Nephesh appears in many verses of Scriptures describing human behavior. Several examples follow, demonstrating that human beings are souls.
A soul can:
- THINK AND DESIRE
Genesis 23:7-8, 7) Then Abraham stood up and bowed hinself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8) And he spoke with them, saying, if it is your wish [KJV: "if it be your mind" (wish, mind = nephesh)] that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me.
- Note: Our will and our mind are part of our being. We are what we think; so, we should guard our thoughts carefully (cp. Proverbs 4:23-27).
Leviticus 5:1, If a person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the Master; if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.
Leviticus 5:2: Or if a person [KJV: “soul"; Hebrew, nephesh] touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty.
Leviticus 5:4: Or if a person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
Leviticus 5:15: If a person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of Yahweh, then he shall bring to Yahweh as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering.
Leviticus 7:18: And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] who eats of it shall bear guilt.
- BE CUT OFF
Leviticus 7:21: Moreover the person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew nephesh] who touches any unclean thing, such as human uncleanness, an unclean animal, or any abominable unclean thing, and who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to Yahweh, that person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew. nephesh] shall be cut off from his people.
- BE CONSECRATED OR DEFILED
Leviticus 11:44: For I am Yahweh your Elohim. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves [Hebrew, nephesh], and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves [Hebrew, nephesh] with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
- BE AFFLICTED
Leviticus 16:29: This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls [Hebrew, nephesh], and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.
- RECEIVE ATONEMENT
Leviticus 17:11: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls [Hebrew, nephesh]; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul [Hebrew, nephesh].
- WORK; BE DESTROYED
Leviticus 23:30: And any person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] who does any work on that same day, that person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] I will destroy from among his people.
- ABHOR YAHWEH'S JUDGMENTS
Leviticus 26:15: And if you despise My statutes, or if your soul [Hebrew, nephesh] abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant.
- DIE; BE CUT OFF
Numbers 19:13: Whoever touches the body [Hebrew, nephesh] of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of Yahweh. That person [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.
Deuteronomy 6:5:You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul [Hebrew, Nephesh], and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 14:26: And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart [KJV: “soul”; Hebrew, nephesh] desires; you shall eat there before Yahweh your Elohim, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
- ANGUISH OR SORROW
Deuteronomy 28:65: And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there Yahweh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul [KJV: “sorrow of mind”; Hebrew, nephesh].
- KEEP YAHWEH'S COMMANDMENTS
2 Chronicles 34:31: Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul [Hebrew, nephesh], to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.
- GO DOWN TO THE PIT (death), BUT CAN ALSO BE REDEEMED
Job 33:28-30: 28 He will redeem his soul [Hebrew, nephesh] from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light. (29) Behold, El works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, (30) To bring back his soul [Hebrew, nephesh] from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.
- GO TO THE GRAVE AND SEE CORRUPTION
Psalm 16:10: For You will not leave my soul [Hebrew, nephesh] in Sheol [the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
— [This is prophetic reference to the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead (cp. Acts 2:27-32).]