The myth of spiritual death and original sin: In that day you will surely die

written by Tony

Firstly, the purpose of this series is to look at life, death and resurrection from what I believe was the original Judeo/1st century Christian perspective.

Secondly, my hope is to expose Christian Gnostic doctrines that started to infiltrate the Church around the fourth century, that laid the foundation for the theological system we know as Calvinism.
I believe Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel and a direct attack on the very nature and person of God.
My intention is not to villainise those that support and spread Calvinism, but simply to expose these doctrines and how they distort biblical truths and end up misrepresenting God and the Gospel.

In this series, we will look at what I believe the scriptures teach about life, death, and our resurrection and expose false doctrines that I call myths or traditions of men.

The Webster’s dictionary defines a myth as being “a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence“.

The traditions of men

The more I continue to read and study the inspired writings of those who contributed to the Bible, the more I reject many of the doctrines I once believed to be Biblical truth.
My feelings on these issues have become stronger and run much deeper and convicting than ever before.
To my mind, calvinism is a direct attack on the very nature and person of God and dismantling the doctrines of calvinism will be the main focus of this series.

I encourage you, the reader to think carefully about what I share in this series.
What I have written, exposes what now appears to me, to be glaring inconsistencies between what some men teach and what the scriptures actually say.

In that day you will surely die

Why didn’t Adam and Eve die on the day they sinned, just as God told them they would?

I’m sure I’m not the first Christian to ask this question.
This post is where I will try to answer this question.

For many years I struggled to reconcile God’s words “In that day, you will surely die” with the written narrative of Genesis clearly records that Adam and Eve lived for many hundreds of years after sinning, both raising children and continuing on in their relationship with God.

When questioning others about my conundrum I was told that the answer I was seeking could be found in the doctrine of spiritual death.
As explained here I eventually rejected the doctrine of spiritual death as it clearly violates the scriptures, regardless of the calvinists protests.

Dying you shall die

However rejecting the doctrine of spiritual death did not answer my question regarding Adam and Eve not dying on the day they sinned.

But one day I found the answer I was seeking and to put it bluntly it simply changed my life and bought me untold joy. Now I could reject spiritual death and stay consistent with the text of Genesis.

I’m going to make a very bold statement here.

  • I believe that the Bible translators have done the Church a great disservice by not offering an alternative but equally accurate interpretation from the Hebrew text in Genesis 2-4.
    This alternative translation completely changes the way we can understand what God told Adam in the garden bringing it into perfect harmony with the events as recorded in rest of the text.

The problem is with our English translations, and not the original Hebrew as we will see.

One day I chanced upon this article written by Brodie Hodge of Answers in Genesis

In his article he writes…

It is true that Adam and Eve didn’t die the exact day they ate (Genesis 5:4–5) as some seem to think Genesis 2:17 implies. So, either God was in error or man’s interpretation is in error. Since God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), then fallible humans must be making the mistake.

Let’s take a look at where the confusion arises. The Hebrew phrase in English is more literally:

Tree knowledge good evil eat day eat die (dying) die

The Hebrew is, literally, die-die (muwth-muwth) with two different verb tenses (dying and die), which can be translated as “surely die” or “dying you shall die.”

This indicates the beginning of dying, an ingressive sense, which finally culminates with death.

At that point, Adam and Eve began to die and would return to dust(Genesis 3:19).

If they were meant to die right then, the text should have simply used muwth only once, which means “dead, died, or die” and not beginning to die or surely die (as muwth-muwth is used in Hebrew).
Old Testament authors understood this and used it in such a fashion, but we must remember that English translations can miss some of the nuance.

Surely you will die

It now seems to me that the main emphasis in the text of Gen 2 is not when Adam would die, but the certainty that eventually in time Adam would die starting from that day.

From the time Adam sinned and received his sentence, Adam knew that without access to the tree of life, the process of dying had started with the sure knowledge that one day he would eventually die. Paul refers to this as being dead in our tresspasses and sins.

Since physical death entered the creation, all mankind has lived in bondage to the fear of certain death

The dead living under the sentence of death

Although I don’t agree with everything the writer of this blog writes, I do agree with him in what he wrote below.

Now, if we look at Genesis 2:17, what it literally says in Hebrew is “the day you eat from the tree – in dying shall [do] you die” – meaning the day you eat from the tree (i.e., immediately) you shall start dying (process) until you are dead (finality). That’s a good clue right there.

Also, the language of the Scriptures often time doesn’t differentiate something undergoing the process from something that has completed it.

A very good example of that is Jesus’s saying “let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60, Matthew 8:22). The same exact adjective νεκροὺς (“necrous” – Strong’s G3498) is used in both instances in the passage.
The former dead are still alive but are in the process of death (death outcome is a certainty for them), the latter are in the finality of physical death (death has been fully realized in them).

So the text can be read that in that day you will begin to die, which makes total sense and lines up perfectly with the overall context of the curse God handed down to Adam and Eve.
Being banned from the garden meant no access to the tree of life which was necessary to maintain their bodies. Without the tree of life, they were doomed to suffer physical death.

The writer above wrote “A very good example of that is Jesus’s saying “let the dead bury their own dead”

I see the same principle at work in Paul’s writing when he refers to believers as once being dead in trespasses and sins, but now being raised to life.
Once we lived under the sentence of eternal death, but when we came to Christ although we will still physically die, death (life without a body) will no longer be permanent.

Yeshua used the exact same principle here

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
John 5:24: NASB

Notice that Yeshua is using the past tense?
How could Yeshua say such a thing?

Because He also said this in John 11…

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?
John 11: NASB

So just as unbelievers were physically alive, yet they were considered physically dead (i.e let the dead bury the dead) because of the certainty of their end.

Believers on the other hand, although they will die one day in the future are considered alive because of the certainty of their resurrection from the dead.
So the biblical principle at work here is that the ultimate destination of a person defines their present condition.

Through the first Adam’s sin, physical death entered the human experience.
But through Yeshua, the Last Adam, eternal life has entered man’s experience.

There is no tension between what God said would happen to Adam and what is recorded in Genesis.
A perfectly acceptable translation of the text can be rendered as you will start to die in the day you sin, with the certainty of death being the end result…ie surely die.
I hope that the information I have provided here will bring you joy and peace as it did to me.

In my next post, we will look at the Jewish concept of being born again and how Christian Gnosticism has redefined the historical Hebrew concept being born again.


My conundrum 

For many years I struggled to reconcile God’s words “in that day you will surely die” with the text of Genesis, which clearly shows that Adam and Eve lived for many hundreds of years after being expelled from the garden, raising children and continuing on in their relationship with God?

The problem I found out wasn’t so much to do with us understanding our English Bibles but rather the way in which the translators, translated the Hebrew into English for us.

2 thoughts on “The myth of spiritual death and original sin: In that day you will surely die

  1. locustwithoney

    The concept of “spiritual death” is why I have backed away from most of the Preterist sites. The CBV folks have perpetrated the idea of spiritual death in that Jesus died spiritually on the cross. That heresy was around in the ’70s spewed out from the Tulsa crowd and we exposed that myth back then. Now, these guys have resurrected that heresy today once again. How is it possible that the Lamb of God, spotless, without blemish, whose bones were not allowed to be broken could possibly be defiled by sin, ridiculous! Besides the Corporate Body view takes away from what God did personally for each and every one of us. We were saved as individuals, we die as individuals and we will be raised as individuals into His presence. We will all give an account before Him as individuals. That’s how I see it.


    1. I too, have seen the CBV people try to claim that Yeshua died a spiritual death as well and it really is close to heresy in my view.
      In fact I think the CBV is close to heresy and damnation and I don’t say it lightly.
      I resisted the preterist view for years and to tell you the truth if I had come across the CBV in those days I would have discounted preteristrism outright as having anything to do with orthodox Christianity.
      I would say that the CBV do more harm than good for our cause.

      The teaching of the NT writers make it very clear that those who die in Christ are raised with spiritual bodies.
      The idea that the resurrection was simply a change of status that happened in 70AD is a cop out.
      The physical body is sown and a spiritual body comes from that sown seed.
      Whatever that body looks like it is a body none the less.
      I tend towards our new bodies being able to operate in this physical world if need be and in the heavenly realm.
      This would be like the angels and Yeshua Himself.


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