‘Death’ and ‘Dead’ in the Bible

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

This will not be an exhaustive paper by no means; merely reflections of my own thoughts at the moment.  It stems from a past subject where I was reading our Apostle and brother in the Faith, Saint Paul.  In Romans 4, which is a critical chapter in his overall apologetic, Paul wrote, “and weakening not in the faith while he considered his own body as having already died, its being almost a hundred years old, and the death of Sarah’s womb” (Romans 4.19, my translation).  In short, Abraham, due to his weak body, was “dead” from all considerable aspects.  He was a dead man walking.

However, the contrasting verb “weakening” is used for illness or sickness.  When a person is ill their bodies are weak.  Although Abraham’s body was dead (some translation have “as good as dead”), his strength in “the Faith” was super strong.  There is a ton of material here in Romans 4, but this aspect, Abraham thinking he was “already” dead, caught my attention.  It cannot at all be reasoned here that Abraham was thinking about what has come to be popularly called, “spiritual death.”  The text unmistakably states that we are talking about Abraham’s physical body (and Sarah’s as well under the metonymy of “womb”).  The reason why they thought of themselves as “dead” was because they were old.  We are born and full of life.  In our youth we have, it seems, power to conquer the world, but we grow old and are heading to the inevitable grave.  At a certain point, old and feeble, a hundred years old, death is not far from us and we know it.  In fact, for many, the body is practically dead, shutting down, not moving as fast.  Abraham, when he was at this age, was given a Promise: he would have a son by his wife, Sarah.  “Considering his body” (that is, taking a look at it, or knowing it) this was not going to happen!  “But, I am dead!  My wife is dead!”

“Dead” here, as it relates to the body, is the basis of which Paul’s usage of the terms “dead” “dying” and “death” are to be understood.  There is no “spiritual death” and then later on there is a “physical death”.  Rather, we are born as ones “already dead”.  Okay, so the body lives for about 80 years, but its dying.  Its heading to the grave.  There is no stopping this force of death.

Jesus was “raised from the dead” (Romans 1.4).  God “gives life to the dead” (Romans 4.17).  And right after Paul wrote “God gives life to the dead” he speaks of Abraham “already dead”.  Yet by faith Abraham was given life by the one who gives life to the dead.”  This phrase, “gives life to the dead” is found in the Hebrew Bible of Judaism (what Christians call the Old Testament, wrongly so).  Samuel, our beloved Prophet who together with the Apostles our Faith is founded, wrote, “Yahweh puts to death and sustains life; he brings down a grave, he raises up” (2 Samuel 2.6).  That is, Yahweh holds the keys of death of life.  In Deuteronomy 32.39 this God proclaims, “I put to death and I sustain life.”  Further, “For we all shall surely die, as water runs down to the earth” (2 Samuel 14.14).  “Am I God, who puts to death and sustains life?” (2 Kings 5.7).  The phrase in Samuel 14.14 is the same as that found in Genesis 2 and 3: “you shall surely die.”  Hence, from the first threat: “you shall surely die” to the “woman from Tekoa” who stated, “we all shall surely die” to the Apostle Paul, “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15.22).

This death, according to Paul came in through the act of Adam’s disobedience (and Eve’s deception – they are both called, “haadam” – the man).  In Romans 5.12-ff Paul offers one of his most elaborate defenses for his faith.  Death came through Adam; the fact that we die.  But, further than this, yet never separate from it, is that this death already renders us as dead – as good as dead.  We are dead in sins.  Paul does not relate to us a picture that while we are physically alive we are spiritually dead.  This would be too nice and soft a picture of our state.  Rather, you are dead.  Born dead.  Are dead.  Because you are dead, your body is dying.  We are dead precisely because of the fact that our death is inevitable.  It’s as good as done.

The term, then, “make alive” means just that, and Paul’s appeal to Abraham, who was a hundred years old and dead, was “made alive” and did not “weaken in the faith” – he was made alive in his faith and produced a son – his body was strengthened to produce a son with Sarah.  Life was given through faith, and yet he still succumbed to physical death eventually (due to Adam, being one his offspring).  We all die.  Physically.  This is because we are dead in sins (I would word this, “as good as dead because of our sins”).  Paul is not speaking of any “spiritual death” or “death of the soul” (like a dead spirit inside a living body).  James, another beloved Saint, wrote, “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2.26).  That’s about as clear as a biblical definition of death as one can get.  Likewise, the person without The Spirit of God is counted as dead (even though he is physically still breathing, he’s dead – heading to the grave).

The Spirit “makes alive” the inner man in the same way the dead man Abraham was made alive by his faith.  It is not that Abraham’s spirit had yet departed his body (James’ definition), but that Abraham, who was dead, was enlivened by that which God Promised in spite of the inevitable, in spite of what he saw concerning his body – a dead body, and a dead womb.  His faith overcame what he saw and he performed the necessary act of coitus (there are children present, shhhhh) at a hundred years old.  Likewise, we are to have the same faith.  We are dead (as good as), heading to the grave (or urn, whatever).  Yet, observing this fact, I also “see Jesus.”  Jesus, who was “dead but now is alive” (Revelation 1.10).  And that same Spirit that quickened him is at work in me.  I do not look at the fact that I am going to die due to the wage of sin (Adam’s and my own).  However, I also know that BY FAITH I look not at what is seen (my inevitable death) but at what is unseen (the resurrection of the Man, Christ Jesus) and through that I live beyond that which is seen.  I live in my body with the hope that upon the death of my body, and in spite of the death of my body, he shall make my body live again – and so I use this body with that in mind – as a temple of the Lord not to be abandoned, but a temple that is to be raised.  My faith, then, directs my deeds done “through the body” (2 Corinthians 5.10), and in spite of my dead body (which hasn’t gone the way of the earth yet, but its getting there and will surely get there).

Thus, for Paul, “dead” in sin means just that.  Likewise, “dead in Christ” takes on the same application.  I have not “literally” died in Christ.  I have not literally, physically been “crucified with Christ.”  Only Christ died on the cross, physically.  However, his physical death was in “obedience” (Philippians 2.1-ff).  He died in obedience to God knowing that God would raise him from physical death and exalt him with eternal, bodily life (which can never die again – Romans 6.9).  I am placed in Christ by “the faith” in that I see his death (due to sin placed upon him as the sacrificial Lamb), my own death “in the Lord”.  That is, when I die, my faith has maintained my living in this life that I shall be raised from the dead.  As Abraham had faith, even though dead, his faith maintained him up to his inevitable demise – he died in, with, and for his faith which reached beyond the fact of his demise and saw his own resurrection based on the Promise of God.  This is the difference in dying in sins and dying in faith.  God has promised us that we shall be raised from the dead, just as surely as he raised his Son from the grave.  Therefore, I live my life in this body as one counted dead in Christ, and also, since I know that God keeps his word, I shall also be raised with Christ just as he was.  It’s as good as done, and thus I can live my life now as one “being raised from the dead” – demonstrating the life of the man, Christ Jesus, who is raised from the dead, in my own body, in my own life.

But, Sam, you are not raised from the dead.  Your body is getting older and the grave is your future.  Yes, though I am weak, and becoming weak, and though you can say I am as good as dead since that is my ultimate demise and dissolution of this corrupt body of mine, I live beyond what I see and am made alive already by that fact.  Paul says it better: “The life I am now living in flesh I live in faith of the son of God, the one who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2.20).  Paul describes here the Christian life.  The flesh will die – it’s as good as dead.  In “this life”, or “the life I am now (nun – Greek) living in flesh” I live in faith.  The same “in faith” that Abraham had – who was dead – for all practical purposes.  If a person is known to inherit a vast wealth as a done deal in the future, we call that person an heir.  It may be that he or she must wait until something or other legally happens, but this does not change the fact: they are an heir.  Period.  The future fact declares the “now” reality.  Abraham was declared to be a father.  Sarah was going to have a son.  This was before the fact.  In fact, the facts stated otherwise: no way.  Abraham lived his life “now in the flesh” and “lived in faith.”  His faith went beyond the “now” and to the matter-of-fact later.

Thus, “dead”, “death” always carries with it the meaning of death, demise, down to the grave, an end to life, the spirit without the body.  But, we see Jesus and life beyond the grave in Him.  There is no “spiritual death” or some metaphor of death that happens, and then we also physically die (like there are two deaths we under go).  There is one death a man undergoes, unless he or she is in Christ.  If in Christ, his death is applied in the faith that by his now living at the right hand of the Father, as the one dead and now alive, will also raise us up – will raise up this very body once claimed by Death (Blessed Mystery) because, we believe, he as made this body of mine a member of his own.  It will live again.  And, so, in faith, the life I live now in flesh I live in faith of the son of God….

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

2 thoughts on “‘Death’ and ‘Dead’ in the Bible”

  1. Sam,

    That Paul is not talking about physical death in Rom 4:17 is clear. Abraham was not dead. “As good as dead” is not dead. It is” mostly dead,” almost dead, but not dead. But God did give him hope in his situational “death” which would result in life. These are not speaking of the physical any more than Eph 2 is.

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  2. Travis, the Greek text has the word, “already” in it. There is absolutely no way to get “spiritual death” here. Isaac was physically produced by a physical act (coitus) based upon a miraculous intervening of God (Promise). I mean, to say that Abraham’s physical shape is not speaking in terms of “physicality” when the whole text is explicitly saying the opposite lets me know that I have presented an issue with “your” interpretation that cannot at all allow for anything “physical” here. As for everyone else, and every commentary, they see the obvious point.

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