How Many Times Do We Die?

Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Heb 9:28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

—“die once” is linked to Christ dying … “judgment” is linked to “save those..”

It’s possible this passage has often been misinterpreted as describing the fact that we each are appointed a time to physically die. While nothing in our lives is a surprise to God and we certainly do not die apart from His will, we have some paradoxes with which to contend:

-Lazarus. He died once, then was raised, and we presume he died again.

-Prophets and people from the tombs that rose from the dead when Christ died on the cross. We don’t know how many or any other circumstance, but we can safely say they died later on and were re-buried.

-Elijah. He was translated to God, so he didn’t experience a physical death.

-Enoch. Also translated to God, not a physical death.

-The boy raised to life by Elijah.

-The boy raised to life by Peter.

There are probably more instances that I’m missing, but the point is, we cannot interpret a verse as “doctrine” if the word of God would be in obvious conflict with that doctrine.

So, this passage likely refers to a spiritual death to which each is appointed. It is appointed for man to die once … after that comes judgement. While it is possible to die physically and come back through a divine miracle or a miracle of medicine, it is not possible to die spiritually more than once. That type of death is pretty permanent. Nothing will bring back that type of death. And just like we would never haul in rotting corpses to a banquet, God will declare judgment on the dead and have them removed from His presence.

But, for those who have been saved through the One Death of Christ, they will not need to be removed in judgment. They will be saved and kept in the Presence of God, whom they eagerly await.


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