Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Many Different Deaths




The Bible has much to say about death, but many recognize that the end of physical life is not always meant by that term. The Bible speaks of symbolic and metaphysical deaths also. Romans 6 is a prime example when Paul refers to a death to sin and a symbolic participation in the death of Christ. Thus we face the challenge of fully understanding each biblical reference to death. It is easy to assume that physical demise is meant when perhaps that is not the case.


For example when the Bible says the soul that sinneth shall die, does that mean physical death? Is that the death God warned against in the Garden in connection with the Tree of Knowledge. That is largely assumed to be so, but is that a valid assumption?


It is evident within the English language that the word death can refer to a variety of  conditions besides physical demise. It can mean the end of something like the death of an age or a marriage. It can refer to a state of unawareness as in "dead to the world". In another sense a significant or tragic loss can be likened to death, in that it has a paralyzing effect.


Besides the issue of what type death is under immediate discussion in the Bible, we might want to ask whether any form of biblical death is the result of homicide, suicide, or natural causes. It is often assumed that a particular death in the Bible results from God's displeasure, which implies that God is homicidal. But again is that the correct way to view death in its various forms? Why can't death be from natural causes instead of divine intervention? What if the death of Romans 6, for instance, is a suicide. Maybe the deceased died willingly, purposefully, bringing to an end a previous state or condition in preparation for something new and better.


The biblical focus on death leads straight to the death of Christ. Jesus' death is seen as essential to mankind's well being. Human agency was required in order to bring about that death. In the traditional view, the evil of killing the Son of God was a requirement under God's plan. The Romans and the Jewish religious leadership thus had to play a role in that death.


If Jesus' death had come by suicide would that death then have been equally sufficient to meet God's sacrificial requirement? These tangential issues raise additional questions about our understanding of even Jesus' death. Was it only physical? When Jesus said no one took his life but instead he laid it down (John 10:17-18), did that mean his sacrifice was self inflicted? Can't self inflicted death be heroic and more powerful than being a murder victim? If these many death questions are ignored, can we truly know what Jesus accomplished on our behalf?