By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
John 11.25-26 reads as follows: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and I am the life. The one who is believing in me, though he die, he will live again. Everyone who is living and believing in me shall never die in the age. Are you believing this?”
First off, we need to look at the grammatical aspects (syntax). The first sentence is emphatic, “I” used with the predicate “I am” in the Present Indicative. The articles (“the”) equally place emphasis on what Jesus is saying he “is”. He is “the resurrection” and he is “the life.” John’s Gospel places great stress on “life” in his Gospel. Jesus is not “just” spiritual life, or physical life, or the life of God’s creation. He is all of those. He is the “source” of all life, whether it be a bird flying in the noon wind, or a leaflet sprouting anew. This is an astounding statement and claim. It is exhaustive of all that these terms mean. Jesus is the author of life and as such, gives life.
The second sentence is what we call a ‘conditional clause.’ The first verb is a participle in the Present Active form. A participle is a verbal adjective describing a subject. In this case, a believer. The person who is believing. The “time” of the participle is determined by the context, not the form. It is plain that Jesus is speaking of those who are currently believing, or whoever, past, present or future, can be described as a “believing one”. “In me” is the object in who this action of believing is directed. Everyone believes in something or someone, but not everyone believes in Jesus.
The conditional part starts (Protasis) with “though he die”. Here the Subjunctive Mood is used in the Aorist form. The Greek has kan, which is a combination of the conjunction, kai, and ean (if, though, when, even if, even though). The condition is that even if a person dies (as a matter of fact), they will live again. The final (Apodosis) part is Future Indicative. This is a typical form of a condition stated with a future result. The person that believes in Jesus, though he will die indeed, will certainly live again. The verb “live” or “live again” is implied by the Protasis which states that he or she will die. Another more modern way of saying this is, “in spite of the fact that you will die, you will live again afterwards.” In the manner that a person “dies” (which is, in this case, actual death) will be the manner in which a person “will live” (will be raised from the death they died). It makes no sense to interpret “die” as physical death, but the Future “will live” as current spiritual life.
Broadening the range of those who are believing, John wrote “whosoever lives” or all who live, anyone who is a living one. This is the Present participle form we have already seen above for the one who believes. Added to this by the conjunction, kai, is the same form above for a “believing one”. Whoever is a living being and is a believing one at that shall not ever die, or shall never die. The Greek here is a strong double-negative, hence the translation “never”. It is emphatic. To conclude, Jesus asks in essence whether or not Martha is a believing one. “Do you believe this?” “Are you a believer in what I am saying to you?”
With syntax, we may also note the placement of the words in the written text. “Believing” (the verb is, pisteuo) occurs in two forms. The first is in the participle form which is used twice. The second is in the Present Active Indicative used once at the end, “do you believe?” We may infer from this that John’s emphasis is on belief, or in what (or who) one believes. In fact, the condition of living again and never dying is based in what (or who) a person believes. It’s important to get that right!
Also to be noted is that we see what is called a Chiasm. Spotting this may help in defining what Jesus means by these words. The chiastic structure is formed by placing “believing” and “living again” in the first part followed by “living and believing”. Thus, “believing” (A) and “living again” (B); “living” (B`) and “believing” (A`). ABB`A`. This is a classic and often used literary unit. There is also “die” (A) and “never die” (A`).
The second part of dissecting any given passage in the Scriptures (or in any literary work for that matter) is to note the context. In this passage, the context is the death of Lazarus, the despair of Martha, and the proclamation of Jesus in light of this. Lazarus was a true believer in Jesus, as was Martha. Martha expresses her faith in saying, “I know he will live again in the resurrection in the last day”. This is an extraordinary phrasing on John’s part. “I know he will live again (anistemi in the Future Indicative, literally, stand again) in the resurrection (anastasis) in the last day.” Jesus then says, “I am the Anastasis.” That there is to be “the resurrection” in the last day is made plain in John 6.39-ff, where Jesus states that all shall be raised. The same participlian form “the one who believes” (6.40) is promised to be resurrected “in the last day”. Martha is affirming what she heard the Master already teach. Since Lazarus was dead, he would stand again in the resurrection in the last day because he believed when he was living.
The context, then, should inform us as to the meaning of these words before us. Jesus, in fact, said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (11.23). These were words of comfort. When informed that Lazarus was ill, Jesus replied, “this illness is not for the purpose of death (pros thanaton), but for the glory of God” (11.4). Later, Jesus realized that Lazarus had “fallen asleep” (11.11), a euphemism for the recline of the dead body, or “laying to rest” of the body. “Lazarus is dead” (where the verb, apothnesko is used). We can be informed from the context, then, that “die” in the phrase “though he die” means actual death.
When Jesus said he is The Resurrection and the The Life and that the death of Lazarus was not for death (though death happened), but for the glory of God, the raising of Lazarus from the dead is meant to illustrate the power of Jesus to the glory of his father. Jesus had not yet died, either, but yet had power to raise the dead. In the exchange with Martha, however, it is “the resurrection in the last day” that comes into focus. The resurrection of Lazarus, which was now to occur, was not “the last day”. “All” that are given to the Son shall be raised on that day (6.39). Lazarus’ resurrection, then, is meant to illustrate something else. We may also note that Lazarus had been dead for four days (11.17). He was not “raised” in his final or last day (some think the resurrection occurs when a person dies and their soul goes to heaven. But, that is not what resurrection means). Lazarus will be raised with the “all” who are given to the Son “in the last day”, and clearly, the day that Jesus raised him was not that day. Martha affirmed such. Jesus acknowledges her faith (belief) and proclaims to her, “I am the resurrection, Martha.”
We are now prepared for the final analysis of our passage. Speaking to Martha, Jesus said, ‘those who believe me in, that is, believe in me before they die (like Lazarus here before us), even though they die, will live again. Whoever is now living and believes in me before they die, they, when raised again, shall not ever die, ever. Do you believe in this, Martha?’ We know the answer.
Believing must occur before a person dies. It is no contention that “though he dies” means actual death. The Future Indicative “he will live” refers to the anastasis (stand again) which will happen “in the last day.” This is made plain in the chiasm that “will live again” (Future) is followed by the Present participle, “the one who is living”. The Present participle for those who now believe is the same application to those presently alive before they die. “The one who lives” is contrasted with “though he die”. Right now, as living ones, be also believing ones and if you are believing ones, though you will die (and not be “living” any more), you will be raised and live again and you will never die again. Unlike Lazarus who, even though raised from the dead, died again later on (and this is the point), there is coming the time, the last day, when I will raise up those who believed in me before they died, and these shall not ever die again. If you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Resurrection, the One who will raise the dead unto immortal life, eternal life. When asked if Martha believed this, she answers, “Yes, Lord! I have believed and still do (Perfect Indicative of pisteuo) that you are Messiah, the Son of God, the Coming One who comes (Present participle) in the world.”
The contrast in this passage is on those “living” (“the living”) and the fact that Lazarus is not living. “Lazarus is dead.” Yet, because we know that Lazarus was a “believer” he is promised to be raised “in the last day” together with “all those who believe in me.” Martha affirms this doctrine. This affirmation – her faith in the Messiah, the Coming One (who has come and is before her) – is displayed in what she knows Jesus will do (raise the dead in the last day). Since she is utterly convinced that He is the One who will do this in the last day, then he can demonstrate even raising Lazarus from the dead, even though such a miracle is temporary, for Lazarus will die again. “Even now (nun) I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (11.22). Before the time of the last day when the dead are raised, even now – before that time – Jesus can raise Lazarus so that they may be with him among “the living” for a little more time. More or less, Martha is saying, “I know that he will be raised to immortality in the last day, but can I see him again right now, because I know who you are, and what you can do, and what you will do on the last day.” Martha’s faith is wondrous.
John has given us a glimpse of what resurrection is. “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice” (5.28). When? “In the last day” (6.39-ff). Thus, before that hour comes, the “living and believing”, those who not just live their lives until death, but who live their lives believing in Him, will also die. But, they will be raised immortal. If “living” means bodily life in the here and now, then bodily life is what is to be expected when finally raised to life immortal.
Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.D.
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 (The Ministry of Reconciliation, Baker Books, 1980), 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, designed and graded exams for their Hebrew Languages course.
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). Adams wrote of Misplaced Hope as a "useful, scholarly work" (p.6 - though he disagreed with the overall thesis). 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, now 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 ran through its first run. The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019; though still available in Kindle form from American Vision). Dr. Gentry also gave mention to Frost in his book, Have We Missed the Second Coming: A Critique of Hyper Preterism (Victorious Hope Publishing, 2016), noting him as "one of the most prominent" teachers within Full Preterism (135). 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 (McGahan Publishing House, 2021); 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), and worked directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc., for a year. Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works with Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana, and Bethel Presbyterian Church, Knightstown, Indiana, where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon. 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, Lewisville, Indiana.
Samuel also works part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for several years. He has a solid, family reputation in the community, and has performed local marriages and funerals. He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle. Recently, he has completed his two year quest for a Th.D from Christian Life School of Theology Global, Georgia.
View all posts by Samuel M. Frost, Th.D.
3 thoughts on “John 11.25-26”
First off, William Bell, in the response he posted to this article, wrote, ” We believe this is incorrect for two reasons. One, if, as Frost correctly defines the word “believing” as a present active participle,” and those who “may die” i.e. expressed by the subjunctive mood in the second clause, then it cannot be speaking of those who had already died. That eliminates, per the context, those of the past. According to A.T. Robertson’s, “A Greek Grammer of the New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, the subjunctive mood always describes potential “future” action, i.e. action that has not occurred but which may occur in the future.” This is false. The “participle” does not emphasize “time”, and the Subjunctive is “time” relative to the subject. In this case, “he who believes” (describing the action of the believer, not WHEN, but WHAT). Thus, he who believes could refer to anyone, past, present or future. The “though he die”, thus, is relative to (future) the believing. Believing must come first BEFORE a person dies.
The same is demonstrated when Jesus brings up Abraham. “Abraham died” (John 8.52). Yet, Jesus proclaimed, “if any man keeps my word, he will not ever die” (8.51). Jesus had proclaimed that Abraham did, in fact “keep my word” (8.39,40). “If ye were children of Abraham, ye would do the works of Abraham.” When Jesus said, “If any man keeps my word, he will not ever die”, they exclaimed that Abraham did, indeed, die. We can see that the subject matter is the same as in chapter 11 of my article. Abraham “believed” and “did the works of God” by his believing. Abraham “died”. Abraham, according to the further dialogue with Martha, “will live” in the “resurrection in the last day” when “all who BELIEVE” will be raised. So, how William Bell can discount the faith of those that have died is far beyond me.
But, Bell continues to insist on his point: ” Those who “may die” does not mean those who already are dead.” But, this underscores the entire point: Lazarus was DEAD! The “potential future” of the Subjunctive Aorist is future to the subject. Abraham was “living” and “believed”, and “died” (his future). He believed before he died. And, thus, Jesus applies the “never shall die” to Abraham – which, as commentaries have noted, is further elaborated upon by the insertion “though he die” in John 11. One must read the entirely of John to figure the overall theology of John. Abraham will never die when he is raised to immortality in the resurrection in the last day because “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced” (John 8.56)! Bell’s confusion is that he wishes to maintain that physical death has absolutely nothing to do with “never dying”. Therefore, “never dying” must be “spiritually living”, omitting any need for resurrection of the body. This is driven by his 70 AD heresy.