Last week, I wrote about how the meaning of some of our words can change over time and completely depart from their originally intended definition. Sometimes it is because the words get misused. But sometimes, I think there is just too little understanding of the word itself.
It is possible, also, that in some cases we are so far removed from the original meaning that we don’t recognize that this has happened. One word that seems to fall into this category is “death.” Death is a word that is used quite often in the Bible but is usually interpreted differently that I believe was originally intended.
In the Bible, the term “death” typically (I want to say “always” but that seems so…absolute) refers to “separation.” For example, according to the Bible, Man is composed of two essential “parts,” material and immaterial or body and soul. In order to be defined as “human” in biblical terms, both parts are essential to make a complete human. This was a large part of the discussion at the Council of Chalcedon as they continued to articulate the concept of the Trinity, particularly how Jesus could be God and Man simultaneously.
At death, these two “parts” are separated. The body no longer functions but the soul continues on. In other areas, Paul refers to death as a separation from God. One example is Paul’s claim that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) In other words, if you keep sinning without repentence, you will end up being separated from God and His heavenly kingdom.
I have not yet found an occurrance in scripture where this understanding of death does not seem plausible and even the likely undestanding from an authorial intent hermenuetic. When we die, our souls are separated from our physical bodies. When we sin, we are separated from God.
Another time, perhaps we can go into what this means with respect to one’s eternal destiny. After all, the concept of hell and eternal suffering is yet another point of contention among critics and skeptics and, I must say, probably for some good reasons. So, perhaps we’ll have to take a closer look at that another time to see whether or not these concerns are justified.
Until then, grace, love and peace.