Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man

Biblical Evidence of an Old Earth

No Physical Death before the Fall? Summary and Highlights

In Isaiah 65, Isaiah predicts that physical death would still continue in the new Jerusalem after the end of the age.  As full preterists who believe that all end time prophecy has been fulfilled in and around the time of Israel’s first century war with Rome, we know that Isaiah was right. This means that when Jesus brought eternal life by conquering death in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:22 that this “life” was not physical life but rather spiritual life (i.e. separation from God resulting in eventual consignment to the spiritual realm of death called Sheol to await the resurrection). As implied in 1 Corinthians 15:22, the “life” that Jesus brought through his sacrificial death should entirely repair the curse of death caused by the sin of Adam.  This verse thus implies that the curse of Adam was not physical death but rather spiritual death (i.e. consignment to the spiritual realm of death called Sheol to await the resurrection).  According to Ephesians 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, the eternal life that comes through faith in Christ that breaks the curse of Adam is fulfilled in heaven through the resurrection of the dead in which the saints are raised to eternal life in heaven, not eternal physical life on earth as is sometimes supposed. Because the curse of the fall of man is spiritual, not physical, death and physical death still continues after the end of the age, it would therefore seem plausible that physical death would have also preceded the fall of man at the beginning of this age.  It cannot then be argued that the earth must be no more than 6000 years old since this would imply many years of physical death were laid down in the fossil strata before the fall of man.  Because the fall of man instituted an age of spiritual death, not physical death, the fact that millions of years of physical death preceded the fall of man is therefore not a sound argument against old earth creationism.  For a compelling explanation of how several prophecies concerning the destruction of heaven and earth had been fulfilled at various points in Old Testament history; how this fact may imply that the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1-3 was not the very first, literal creation of heaven and earth; and how Adam may just be the first person in a then new heaven and earth, and not the first person ever see The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old:  How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible.

 

Biblical Evidence of an Old Earth

there were many Years of Death in the Fossil Record before the Fall of Man.

Death before the Fall of Man? If the World is More than 6000 years old, then there would be many Years of Death in the Fossil Record before the Fall of Man.  This is Not a Biblically Sound Argument–Especially for Preterists.

Proponents of a young earth often argue that the world cannot be more than several thousand years old because death did not enter the world until the fall of Adam.  If the world is really millions of billions of years old, then there would have been millions of years of death laid down in the fossil strata before the fall of man.  This argument is based on the assumption that physical death entered the world with Adam.  Is this a sound argument against an old earth from a full preterist perspective?

Full preterism is the belief that events surrounding Israel’s first century war with Rome fulfilled all Biblical end time prophecy.  If this is true, then 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 has already been fulfilled: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’  ‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’”  1 Corinthians 15:22 states, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

According to 1 Corinthians 15:22, Jesus reversed the curse of death instituted by Adam.  Thus the life that Jesus brought through his sacrificial death should entirely repair the death caused by the sin of Adam.  After the Jewish War which fulfilled Biblical end time prophecy, people still die.  Therefore the death that was swallowed up in victory through the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy cannot be physical death.  If all end time prophecy has been fulfilled and Jesus has already repaired the curse of death brought on by Adam, then it cannot be said with any certainty that Adam was the first mortal man to bring physical death to creation.  Therefore, preterism is consistent with, if not implies, an old earth in which physical death preceded the fall of man in the same way that physical death still continues after the fulfillment of end time prophecy.

No Death before Adam? Isaiah 65:20 Teaches that Physical Death will Continue after the End of the Age.  The End of Death at this Time refers to Spiritual Death.

The fact that physical death persists after the fulfillment of all end time prophecy should not be surprising.  In Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah looks ahead to the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and Revelation 22 with the words: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.”   The new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22 opens with a nearly identical expression in Revelation 21:1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”  Interestingly, in Isaiah’s description of the new Jerusalem, he explicitly indicates that there will still be physical death.  Isaiah 65:20 reads, “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.”[i] Thus when Revelation 21:4 states that in the new Jerusalem “there will be no more death,” this death is not physical death, it is, as stated above, spiritual death.

heaven

Descriptions of heaven in near-death experiences strikingly resemble the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22.

No Death before Adam and Eve? Genesis 2:17 says that if Adam and Eve ate of the Forbidden Fruit that They would Die that Day. Adam died 930 Years Later. Therefore, the Death Adam and Eve Experienced the Day They Ate the Fruit was Spiritual Death which is Separation from God.

There is abundant Biblical evidence that the death that Adam inaugurated was actually spiritual death, not physical death, and the life that Jesus imparted to the saints is spiritual life, not eternal life on earth in glorified earthly bodies. For example, in Genesis 3:5 Adam is told, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Immediately after eating this fruit Genesis 3:7 says that “the eyes of both of them [Adam and Eve] were opened.” In other words the promise made in Genesis 3:5 of wisdom the day in which Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge was accurate: The day Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit they could immediately discern good and evil.

Now compare this promise with Genesis 2:17. In this v. God warns Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” However, Adam did not die physically on earth that day. Instead, Adam died 930 years later (Genesis 5:5). So Adam and Eve received the knowledge of good and evil the day in which they ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:5-7) and yet did not die physically that day (Genesis 2:17). This means that the death that Adam and Eve experienced that day could not have been physical death on earth. Rather, the death that Adam and Eve experienced the day in which they ate of the forbidden fruit was spiritual death having been cast out of Eden later that day. When Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden they were quite literally separated from the presence of God. It is this separation from God that the Bible calls spiritual death.[ia]

No Death before Adam and Eve? 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 indicates that Jesus repaired the Curse of Death at the Fall. But because Jesus Brought Spiritual Life (John 11:25-26, Romans 7:7), Not Eternal Physical Life to the Saints, Therefore the Death that occurred at the Fall must be Spiritual Death.

Another bit of evidence pointing to the fact that the death that was experienced at the fall was spiritual, not physical, death and the life that Jesus imparted is spiritual life, not eternal life on earth is implied in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22: “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Here one can see that the life that Jesus brought was meant to entirely repair the curse of death instituted by Adam. Since futurists believe that the fall of man instituted physical death on earth, then the resurrection of the dead is thus assumed to be a resurrection of eternal earthly bodies. However, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 poses a significant problem for this view.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 indicates that Jesus Christ was to be the first to be resurrected from the dead. If this resurrection is a resurrection of earthly, physical bodies as is often assumed Jesus was not actually the first person to be raised from the dead in an earthly, physical sense. 1 Kings 17:17-23, 2 Kings 13:21, Luke 8:52-55 and John 11:43-44 all list examples of people who were raised from the dead in their earthly, physical bodies before Jesus’ resurrection. This fact therefore implies that the resurrection of the dead is a spiritual resurrection and not a resurrection of eternal earthly, physical bodies. And if the resurrection is spiritual, then the death experienced at the fall must also be spiritual since according to 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 the life that Jesus brought through the cross is expected to repaired the curse of death at the fall.

As explained above, the death that Adam experienced after eating from the forbidden fruit was spiritual death. Conversely, it was spiritual death that Jesus conquered on the cross. As stated above, spiritual death is separation from God. The day that Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge they were cast out of Eden and therefore–quite literally–separated from God. Likewise while hanging on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[ii] Here one can see that at the time of the crucifixion Jesus also experienced separation from God which is spiritual death. However, through His sacrificial death, Jesus brought forgiveness of sins to the faithful and thus restored fellowship with God. This restored fellowship with God is spiritual life. Thus spiritual life (restored fellowship with God) is the opposite of spiritual death (separation from God).

This notion of spiritual death (separation from God) and spiritual life (renewed fellowship with God) is echoed over and over in the Bible. For example, Don Preston notes that Paul while still physically alive said that he had once experienced death: “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.”[iii] This idea is also conveyed in John 11:25-26. Here Jesus tells Martha the sister of Lazarus, “[E]veryone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”[iv] Of course, Martha eventually died physically as do all people. And Paul, like Adam, did not actually physically die the day in which he first learned right from wrong. Rather spiritual death (separation from God) begins when someone sins with the knowledge of right and wrong. Recall that in Romans 7:7 Paul says that he was once alive apart from the Law but when he learned of the Law he was suddenly guilty of sin now knowing right from wrong. The same thing occurred in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they were immediately given knowledge of right and wrong and sin became sin and so they also died that day spiritually as did Paul when he learned of the Law.

No Death before Adam and Eve? Spiritual Life Begins on Earth when the Saints are brought into the Presence of God through the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Reception of the Holy Spirit on Earth is a Deposit Guaranteeing that the Saints Will be ushered into the Literal Presence of God in Heaven at the Resurrection.

Having explained how spiritual death is separation from God through sin, let us now delve more deeply into the relationship between spiritual life and the reception of the Holy Spirit. In John 11:25-26 Jesus says, “[E]veryone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” As stated above, spiritual life is, of course, the opposite of spiritual death. If someone who is said to be spiritually dead is separated from God, then someone who has spiritual life is therefore someone who is in the presence of God. How is one restored into the presence of God? This occurs with the reception of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual life is marked by and begins on earth with the reception of the Holy Spirit. By receiving the Holy Spirit the saints are no longer separated from God because they have been brought into the presence of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:22 reads, “[God] who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [down payment].” Similarly Ephesians 1:13 says, “[H]aving also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit . . .” Upon receiving the Holy Spirit–the Spirit of God—the saints are , of course, no longer separated from God. This restoration into the presence of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit is a seal, pledge or down payment guaranteeing a more literal and physical fellowship with God in heaven after physical death (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13). Thus spiritual death ends and spiritual life begins through the Holy Spirit while on earth and this eternal spiritual life comes to its ultimate fruition in heaven when the saints are ushered into the literal presence of God in heaven.[v]

No Death before Adam and Eve? Jesus Conquered Death through the Resurrection. Eternal Life is in Heaven, Not Earth.

If Jesus did not put an end to physical death, then how did Jesus reverse the curse of spiritual death instituted by Adam? As touched on above, the eternal life that Jesus brought through the cross comes to its ultimate fulfillment at the resurrection and ascension of the saints to heaven after physical death. While in heaven the saints are reunited with God to experience literal spiritual life. Ephesians 2:5 says, “[E]ven when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 echoes Ephesians 2:5: “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” According to Ephesians 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, the eternal life that comes through faith in Christ that breaks the curse of Adam is fulfilled in heaven through the resurrection of the dead in which the spirits of the departed saints are raised to eternal life in heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 confirms this idea:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

According to 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 it is clear that eternal life in heaven follows physical death: “What you sow does not come to life unless it [your physical body] dies.”  If it is true that the life that Jesus bought about by his sacrificial death is spiritual life in heaven, then the death that Adam brought about by his sin would therefore appear to be spiritual death. Thus Adam brought spiritual death in the same way that Jesus brought spiritual life.  What exactly is spiritual death?  In other words, if spiritual life begins on earth and experiences its ultimate fulfillment through unification with God in heaven after death then what happens to those who are said to be spiritually dead (separated from God) after death?

No Death before Adam Sinned? Spiritual Death is Consignment to Sheol to Await the Resurrection.

Acts 2:27 states, “[Y]ou will not abandon my soul to Hades . . .”[vi]  Hades is synonymous with death and is the Greek equivalent of Sheol.  The Bible often translates Sheol, death.  This is not a mistranslation.  Sheol is death–specifically spiritual death.  Throughout the Bible, death, Hades and Sheol are used interchangeably.  The Bible indicates that before the resurrection, spirits of both the righteous and wicked were consigned to an afterlife realm of spiritual death called Sheol (Genesis 37:35).  What is Sheol?

No Death before the Fall? Descriptions of Sheol in the Bible . . .

Sheol is the spiritual realm of death where spirits of the departed exist absent from God to await the resurrection. Sheol appears to be a realm of darkness that is often described as a pit (Ezekiel 32:21-23).   It is also called “outer darkness” by Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 8:12, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 25:30). This realm in which spirits are temporarily confined seems to have given rise to the Catholic conception of purgatory.

coming out of the void

NDE’s confirm the existence of Sheol, a realm of darkness.

Death before the Fall of Adam? Descriptions of Sheol in Near-Death Experiences . . .

From the Biblical descriptions mentioned above, Sheol appears to be what is often called the void by researchers who study near-death experiences (NDE’s).  Like Sheol, the void is an afterlife realm of complete darkness.  It is said to be completely absent of light at its lower depths but greyish or foggy at its outer edges.  It is a great expanse of black nothingness that seems limitless to spirits trapped in its depths.  While referring to Sheol, the void, 1 Corinthians 15:51 says, “We will not all sleep.” As stated in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the void is a realm where some spirits sleep while it would seem that the majority of people who have reportedly experienced the void during an NDE are conscious and aware.[vii]  The void is a place that spirits frequently pass through on their way to heaven.  And like Biblical descriptions of Sheol, it is also a place where spirits are sometimes temporarily trapped before finally rising up to more pleasant heavenly realms.

Death before Sin? Jesus brought Spiritual Life (Eternal Life in Heaven after Physical Death).  Adam brought Spiritual Death (consignment to Sheol after Physical Death).

It was not physical death that Adam instituted upon his fall from grace; it was spiritual death, which is consignment to the afterlife realm of death called Sheol.  Just as Adam’s sin opened the gates of Sheol, the afterlife realm of spiritual death, Jesus’ righteousness opened the gates of heaven, the afterlife realm of eternal life.  It is through admittance into the eternal life of heaven that death is truly and literally conquered. Just as Jesus brought spiritual life–that is a resurrection to the eternal life in heaven after physical death–Adam brought spiritual death–consignment to Sheol after physical death.

Doré, Gustave. Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. 1866. Doré's English Bible.

A Multitude of spiritual bodies were seen rising out of the earth in A.D. 66.  Was this the resurrection?

No Death before the Fall of Man? Historical Record of the Resurrection in A.D. 66?

That having been said, is there any historical evidence of the resurrection of the dead around the time of the Jewish War?  Yes.  In A.D. 66, the same year as first manifestation of Christ during the second coming, a multitude of spiritual bodies appeared out of the earth at the audible sound of a trumpet.  For a detailed explanation of the historical fulfillment of the resurrection of the dead see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.[viii]

Was There Death Before Adam Sinned? Conclusion

In Isaiah 65:20, Isaiah accurately predicts that physical death would still continue in the new Jerusalem after the end of the age.  1 Corinthians 15:22 implies that the life that Jesus brought through his sacrificial death should entirely repair the curse of death caused by the sin of Adam.  Isaiah 65:20 implies that when Jesus brought eternal life by conquering death in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:22 that this life was not physical life but rather spiritual life (i.e. the afterlife in heaven). Isaiah 65:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 thus imply that the curse of Adam was not physical death but rather spiritual death (i.e. consignment to the spiritual realm of death called Sheol to await the resurrection).  Ephesians 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 indicate that the eternal life that comes through faith in Christ that breaks the curse of Adam is fulfilled in heaven through the resurrection of the dead.  As implied in these and other verses, the departed saints are raised from Sheol, the afterlife realm of spiritual death and separation from God, to experience eternal life in heaven where they are literally brought into the presence of God. Thus eternal life exists in heaven, not on earth. Because the curse of the fall of man is spiritual, not physical, death and physical death still continues after the end of the age, it would therefore seem plausible that physical death would have also preceded the fall of man at the beginning of this age.  It cannot then be argued that the earth must be no more than 6000 years old since this would imply many years of physical death were laid down in the fossil strata before the fall of man.  Because the fall of man instituted an age of spiritual death, not physical death, the fact that millions of years of physical death preceded the fall of man is therefore not a sound argument against old earth creationism.

For an explanation of how the fall of man was a fall from the Eden that is in heaven mentioned in Ezekiel 28:1-19; how the changes Adam and Eve experienced after the fall were changes from heavenly to earthly bodies; and how the curses they experienced in their environment were the result of being cast from heaven to earth, a realm which had long been “cursed,” see Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective. Also for a compelling explanation of the exegetical error of young earth creationism in addition to the Biblical evidence in favor of an old earth see Does the Bible Really Suggest that the Earth is 6000 Years Old?

 

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For more compelling evidence of an old earth through sound Biblical exegesis see the following articles 1) The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old:  How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible 2) Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man 3) Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective 4) How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10 5) The Cycles of Creation and Destruction in the Bible are Reflected in Prehistory.

Interested in PRETERIST ESCHATOLOGY or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE.  The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!


[i] Because of the utopic way in which the New Jerusalem is described in the final chapters of Isaiah including Isaiah 65, futurists believe that Isaiah 65 was to be fulfilled after the end time. And I agree. The New Jerusalem in the final chapters of Isaiah and the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22 are strikingly similar. Though I would add the fact that I believe that the last chapters of Isaiah may have been initially fulfilled in a typological sense in the aftermath of the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon and the subsequent rebuilding of Jerusalem as a result of the decree of Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. Though Isaiah 65 may have initially pointed to events in the fourth and fifth century B.C., these verses were almost certainly typological of the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22. Thus the fact that the final chapters of Isaiah, including Isaiah 65, were ultimately fulfilled in the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22 strongly implies that people will also still physically die on earth in the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22 as predicted in Isaiah 65:20.

[ia] Don K. Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings!, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 6.

[ii] Matthew 27:46 cited in Don K. Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings!, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 13.

[iii] Romans 7:9 cited in Don K. Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings!, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 14. The moment Paul spiritually died as a consequence of sin is an earthly reflection or inevitable prediction of the fate of his soul after death. Spiritual death which is separation from God means that the soul was to be consigned or imprisoned to the outer darkness of Sheol after death. Sheol is quite literally spiritual death. The day Paul sinned he is said to have died. In other words, Paul is said to die in the present tense when referring to his future spiritual death in Sheol after physical death. The Bible often declares future events in the present or past tense. For example when predicting the future destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, Jesus says the following to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:38: “Behold, your house [the Temple] is being left to you desolate!” Likewise while predicting the future fall of Babylon an angel is said to declare the following in Revelation 14:8: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great . . .” Thus the spiritual death which points to the time in which Paul lost fellowship with God was ultimately and literally fulfilled upon his consignment to Sheol to await the resurrection at the last trumpet.

[iv] Don K. Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings!, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 14.

[v] Preston makes the following argument: “The wages of sin is death. Forgiveness removes all sin—the cause of death. Thus, those forgiven of sin do not receive the wages of sin, i.e. they do not die.” (Don K. Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air: The Wedding of the King of Kings!, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 18.)   If sin brought about an instantaneous change in physiology such that Adam was destined to eventually physically die, then why doesn’t forgiveness of sins reverse the curse of Adam and ultimately result in eternal physical life on earth? (Ibid., 18-19)

[vi] NRSV.

[vii] www.near-death.com/experiences/research06.html (3/20/2008).

[viii] If Adam was not the first man, then did the human race that preceded Adam have souls?  I believe that they did.  Then what happened to those people after death if they lived before the age of spiritual death?  Of course one can only speculate on the answer to this question.  However, I believe that people who preceded Adam were probably judged in the same way that ancient Egyptians or Native Americans who lived in 2000 B.C. who had never heard about Jesus were judged.  However that was, I have faith that this judgment was just and equitable.

Biblical Evidence of an Old Earth: Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man: Conclusion

The fact that physical death continues after the end of the age implies that it also existed prior to the fall of man

Biblical Evidence of an Old Earth: Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man

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