IMMORTALITY VERSUS MORTALITY

DEFINITIONS: “Immortal — the state or condition in which death is impossible — a death-proof condition.” E391

“Life within oneself — not dependent upon any external sustaining conditions.” A185

“Mortal — a state or condition in which death is possible; a condition of liability to death, but not necessarily a dying condition unless a death sentence has been incurred.” E391 See also A127.

“Two Greek words are translated immortality: “(1) Athanasia, which Strong defines as ‘deathlessness.’

This word is found in the following Scriptures only:
“‘This mortal must put on immortality [athanasia — deathlessness]’ — referring to the first resurrection shared in only by the Church. 1 Cor. 15:53

“‘When this mortal shall have put on immortality [athanasia — deathlessness]’ — referring to the same first resurrection of the Church.” 1 Cor. 15:54

“‘Who only hath immortality [athanasia — deathlessness] — referring to our Lord Jesus and excepting the Father from comparison, as always.’ 1 Tim. 6:16

“(2) Aptharsia and apthartos (from same root) are rendered immortality twice and immortal once, but would more properly be rendered incorruption and incorruptible, and are generally so rendered by lexicographers. All the occurrences of these words in the Bible follow:

“‘To those who seek for glory, honor and immortality [aptharsia — incorruption].’ Rom. 2:7

“‘It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption [aptharsia].’ 1 Cor. 15:42

“‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption [aptharsia]’ 1 Cor. 15:50

“‘This corruptible must put on incorruption [aptharsia].’1 Cor. 15:53

“‘When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption [aptharsia].’ 1 Cor. 15:54

“‘Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity [aptharsia — incorruptly].’ Eph. 6:24

“‘Jesus Christ who hath brought life and immortality [aptharsia — incorruptible] to light through the gospel.’ 2 Tim. 1:10

“‘In doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity [aptharsia — incorruption].’ Titus 2:7

“‘The glory of the uncorruptible [apthartos —incorruptible] God.’ Rom. 1:23

“‘They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible [apthartos].’ 1 Cor. 9:25

“‘The dead [Church] shall be raised incorruptible [apthartos].’ 1 Cor. 15:52

“‘The King eternal, immortal [apthartos — incorruptible], the only wise God.’ 1 Tim. 1:17

“‘An inheritance incorruptible [apthartos], undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.’ 1 Pet. 1:4

“‘Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible [apthartos].’ 1 Pet. 1:23

“‘That which is not corruptible [apthartos] even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.’ 1 Pet. 3:4

“The thought in this word is — that which cannot corrupt, cannot decay, cannot lose value: aptharsia is thus in many respects the equivalent of athanasia or deathlessness when applied to sentient beings; for that which having life is death-proof, may truly be styled incorruptible.” E396-398

“The favor or blessing of God to his obedient children is life — continuous life — free from pain, sickness, and every other element of decay and death. Adam was given this blessing in the full measure, but was warned that he would be deprived of the ‘gift’ if he failed to render obedience to God — ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die.’ He knew nothing of a life in torment, as the penalty of sin. Life everlasting is nowhere promised to any but the obedient. Life is God’s gift, and death, the opposite of life, is the penalty he prescribes.” A128

“To those who think that the Bible abounds with such expressions as immortal soul, undying soul, never-dying soul, etc., we can offer no better advice than that they take a Bible concordance and look for these words and others of similar import. They will find none; and thus the sincere truth-seekers will most quickly convince themselves that Christian people in general have for centuries, in thought at least, been adding to the Word of God, much to their own confusion.” E392

ORIGIN OF HUMAN IMMORTALITY ERROR

The idea that man has an immortal soul which continues to live after the body dies is held by most denominations and by the heathen. Satan was the first to deny that man would die. (Gen. 3:4) “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die...” The Scriptures contradict this falsehood (John 8:44) “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him...,” teaching instead that...

ROM. 6:23: “...the wages of sin is death...”

EZEK. 18:4,20: “...the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “Had the penalty against sin been merely dying — had the Lord said to Adam, Because of your sin you must experience the trying ordeal of dying! then, indeed the penalty would be met by Adam and others dying. But such is not the penalty: the penalty is death, not dying: and death is the absence of life, destruction. Hence for man to pay his penalty would mean that he must stay dead, devoid of life forever. ‘The soul [being] that sinneth it shall die.’ As already pointed out, this destruction of the soul (being) according to the sentence would have been everlasting, except for the redemption accomplished by our Lord. It is in view of that redemption that death is turned into what is figuratively termed a ‘sleep’ — in view of that redemption there will be an awakening from this sleep of death in due time, accomplished by the Redeemer, with the full consent of divine Justice, whose demands he met.

Thus, as we have seen, had it not been for the redemption, Adamic death would have been what the Second Death is to be, viz. ‘everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.’ When once the proper view of the subject is obtained, there can be no further doubt in the mind of any reasonable person that paying the penalty of sin takes all that a man has, and leaves nothing either to suffer or enjoy. On the other hand, the more we investigate from this standpoint, the more clearly we may see the seriousness of the difficulty in which our race was involved under the divine sentence; and the more will we appreciate the necessity for the ransom. And seeing this feature of the subject clearly will show us clearly also that when our Lord Jesus did become our Redeemer, when he did give himself as our ransom-price, it meant to him what the original penalty would have meant to us, viz., that ‘the man Christ Jesus’ suffered for us death, in the most absolute sense of the word, ‘everlasting destruction.’ Hence we know Christ no more after the flesh. The flesh, the human nature, was given as our ransom-price, and the fact that it was not taken back is our guarantee that all the blessed provisions of that ransom are available to the entire human family under the terms of the New Covenant — that all the perfections and rights which belonged to our dear Redeemer as a man were given in exchange for Adam’s similar rights, which had been forfeited through disobedience; and that these, therefore, are to be given to all who will accept them upon the divine terms, during the ‘times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.’ Acts 3:19-21” E465, 466

TEXTS PROVING THAT MAN IS MORTAL

GEN. 2:17: “...in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Margin: “Heb., dying thou shalt die.”

GEN. 3:3: “...Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

GEN. 3:19: “...dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

PSA. 89:48: “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand [power] of the grave?...”

Grave: sheol, oblivion, hidden, or extinguished, or obscure — not a place but a condition. “The common thought is that no man, no soul experiences death; that the moment of dying is the moment of an increase of life; hence that the soul is quite superior to the powers of sheol, oblivion — that the soul cannot die...” E365

“Sheol — the state or condition of death as respects the soul, in contrast with grave, a tomb for a dead body which in the Hebrew is qebar. See Psa. 30:3; 49:15; 89:48; where sheol is rendered grave. See 2 Chron. 34:28; Job 10:19; Psa. 88:5; where qebar is grave. Our Lord’s soul went to sheol the condition of death (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:27), but ‘he made his grave (qebar, tomb) with the wicked and rich.’ Isa. 53:9” E347, footnote

“The Hebrew word sheol occurs sixty-five times in the Old Testament Scriptures. It is three times translated pit, thirty-one times translated grave, and thirty-one times translated hell. These are all faulty translations, if measured by the present general use of the words, hell, grave and pit.

“The meaning of the Hebrew word sheol (hades is its Greek equivalent) can scarcely be expressed by any one English word: it signifies hidden or extinguished, or obscure — the condition or state of death: it is not a place but a condition, and perhaps the word oblivion would more nearly than any other in our language correspond with the word sheol of the Hebrew and hades of the Greek. Nothing in the word sheol signifies joy or misery, or any feeling; the connections must guide us in this. Let us therefore examine uses of the words sheol and hades and ascertain from the connection all we can respecting ‘hell.’ We will find it clearly stated in the Scriptures that sheol, hades, oblivion, receives all mankind, good and bad alike; that it has no light, no knowledge, no wisdom, no device; that no tongue there praises the Lord, neither blasphemes his name; that it is a condition of absolute silence, and in every way an undesirable condition, except that it has attached to it a hope of resurrection.” E354

See also Index: Hell; Soul

PSA. 145:20: “...all the wicked will he destroy.”

“The theory that the distinction between man and beast consisted in a different spirit of life, a different kind of life, and that at death the one went up and the other down seems to have been very old amongst the world’s philosophers; for we find Solomon, the wise man querying:

“‘Who knoweth [who can prove] that the spirit [ruach —spirit of life] of man goeth upward and that the spirit [ruach — spirit of life] of the beast goeth downward to the earth?’ (Eccl. 3:19-21) Solomon’s own understanding he gives just previously, saying:

“‘That which befalleth the sons of men [death] befalleth beasts; even one [the same] thing befalleth them: as the one dieth so dieth the other; yea they have all one breath [ruach — spirit of life, breath of life]; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast’ — in this respect, in the matter of being a different kind of life — his preeminence must be sought and found elsewhere, as we shall see.” E314, 315

IMMORTALITY ORIGINALLY POSSESSED BY THE FATHER ONLY

1 TIM.1:17: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal [incorruptible], invisible,...be honor....”

“God has...declared his name to be Jehovah, which signifies the ‘Self-existing One’ or ‘The Immortal One.’” E40

“...immortality is ascribed only to the divine nature —originally to Jehovah only....” A186

IMMORTALITY GIVEN TO JESUS AT HIS RESURRECTION

JOHN 5:26: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”

“...immortality is ascribed...subsequently to our Lord Jesus in his present highly exalted condition....” A186

REV. 1:18: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore....”

HEB. 1:3: “...being the brightness of his [the Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person....”

1 TIM. 6:15,16: “...the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality....”

Cf. 1 COR. 15:27: “...the Father excepted.”

“‘Who only hath immortality’ [athanasia —deathlessness] — referring to our Lord Jesus and
excepting the Father from comparison, as always. 1 Tim.6:16” E397

1 TIM. 6:15,16: “...the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality...”

“Many consider this passage to signify that at his appearing, at his second advent, our Lord Jesus will exhibit or make known to the world the Heavenly Father’s greatness. But although that view has some reasonable aspects, we incline on the whole to apply the statement to the glory and honor of Christ — dating from the beginning of the Millennial age. True, he will cause all who accept his way to recognize Jehovah God also, but this will not be at his appearing but at the close of his reign, when he shall ‘deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father.’ 1 Cor. 15:24-28

“To apply the passage to the Father would be to deny that our Lord possesses immortality, whereas the Scriptures explicitly teach that he and all who share in the First Resurrection obtain therein immortality and that thus the Father, who hath life-inherent (self-existence — immortality), gave to the Son that he should have life-inherent (self-existence — immortality). 1 Cor. 15:42-44,53,54; John 5:26

“But to apply this Scripture to the Son seems to fit every condition perfectly, and by no means ignores the Father, Jehovah — nor proves that our Lord Jesus is the Father, Jehovah — for we are in all such cases to remember the invariable rule laid down by the inspired apostle — namely, that in comparisons, honors, etc., mentioned respecting the Son, the Father is always excepted as being inexpressibly above all comparisons. His words are, ‘It is manifest that he [the Father] is excepted,’ and not to be considered under or subject to our Lord Jesus and the various powers conferred by the Father upon him. For when the Son shall have subdued sin in the world, ‘then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [the Father] that did put all things under him [the Son].’ 1 Cor. 15:27

“Another very similar statement of the glory of our Lord Jesus’ kingdom given him by the Father is that ‘He is at the head of all principality and power.’ (Col. 2:10) The answer to this is the same. The Father’s government and authority are never contrasted with that of the Son; for the latter is at one with the former and is his representative.” E78, 79

“While the Scriptures do speak of the mortality of man, and indeed in nearly all particulars confine themselves to man’s relationship to God, yet they no less positively teach in another way the mortality of angels, by declaring that Christ ‘only hath immortality’ (1 Tim. 6:16) — the Father as always been excepted. (1 Cor. 15:27) And as we have already seen, our Lord Jesus received immortality (which is an element or quality of ‘divine nature,’ only) at his resurrection, and as a reward for his faithful obedience to the Father’s will to the extent of self-sacrifice — ‘unto death, even the death of the cross — wherefore him hath God highly exalted.’ Although always superior to all others as ‘the only Begotten,’ this exaltation raised him, as the apostle declares, far above angels and principalities and powers and every name that is named in heaven and in earth. Eph. 1:21

“Thus it appears clear, from God’s own revelation on the subject, that only Himself and his Only Begotten Son possessed this quality of immortality at the time the apostles wrote their epistles. Indeed, had the Only Begotten been immortal sooner than at the time of his exaltation he could not have been the Savior of the world — because he could not have died; and under divine arrangement to be our Redeemer he must die: the record is, ‘Christ died for our sins’ and was exalted to immortality afterward.” E392, 393

IMMORTALITY PROMISED TO THE SAINTS

1 JOHN 3:2: “...when he shall appear, we shall be like him...”

2 PET. 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature...”

ROM. 2:5-7: “...God...will render...To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”

1 COR. 15:53: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortaltiy.”

REV. 20:6: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no
power...”