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The Death of Christ

Query for the Month


June 2016

Next up-date: July 1st 2016 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.


This article is available as a PDF file here.    Or as a WORD doc.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

In the meantime, try this site.   


Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.

In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding.  Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.   

The query:

How can Christ be said to have died “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) when history tells us that He died at Calvary 4,000 years later (give or take a few)?

My response:

Here we have a classic example of where the Bible appears to contradict itself until we look carefully at each word.  But, as Jesus told us, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) so there must be a way in which we can harmonise the two events.  Below are the two texts:

Revelation 13:8-9.

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [Satan], whose names are not written in The Book of Life of the Lamb slain from [not just “AT”] the foundation of the world [a continuing experience].  If any man have a [spiritual] ear, let him hear”.   

Mark 15:43-45.

“Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly to Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.  And Pilate marvelled if He were already dead [His picture was finalised, after only six hours]: and calling to him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead.  And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph”. 

Because on the surface they appear to be telling us of the same happening, most Bible teachers ignore the first quote and concentrate on the second, but if we are good Bible students then we must give each text the same careful consideration.  This will lead us the conclusion that they must be referring to two different deaths seeing that the main emphasis of the supposed contradiction is the time setting and the speed of them.

One way to harmonise the Bible is to realise that the writer (or speaker) is often referring to a literal OR a spiritual event, sometimes using the first to support the other. 

For instance: 

John 2:

19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. 20 Then said the Jews, “Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days?” 

21 But He spoke of the temple of His body [a fact which escaped His hearers completely].

22 When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 


In the query text the Spirit tells us that there was a “death” which began at “the foundation of the world” and which preceded His sudden death at Calvary. 

So what does He mean?

It is only when we have the correct understanding of the mechanics of salvation that we can see the answer, so let’s look at the first time it came into operation.

Genesis 3:

7 [After Adam and Eve had stolen the fruit of God], the eyes of them both were opened [to their new condition], and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 

8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, “Where are you?” 

10 And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself”.

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?” [The Son of God knew the answer, but the angels needed to hear it.]

12 And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat”.

13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat”. 

After becoming Commandment-breakers three very bad things happened to Adam and Eve. 

1.       They changed physically – they lost their robes of light:

2.       they were frightened of the Son of God who had often come to visit them:

3.       and they blamed somebody else for their actions.

 So they were different physically, emotionally, and morally! 

They tried to make themselves presentable to their Maker (Jesus) with the fig-leaves – then they tried to hide from God – and they told lies.

So when He called out (for the benefit of His angel companions, for He knew where they were), they confessed that they were afraid of Him now.  He then asked them what they had done (again for the angels sake, for He knew exactly what had transpired), and they tried to appear innocent and blamed some else.

The man had even turned against his own loving companion, which is why it is written, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.   And Adam was not deceived [he chose deliberately to sin], but the woman being deceived [she was confused] was [first] in the transgression”.  1 Timothy 2:13-14.

It became obvious to the “watchers and holy ones” that physically, emotionally, and morally (i.e. in body, soul and spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:23), these were NOT the same Adam and Eve that the Creator had made and pronounced “very good” just a little while before.  They were now “aliens . . . [let’s go on a bit] having no hope and without God in the world”.  Ephesians 2:12.  They were “dead” in trespasses and sins.  Ephesians 2:1.

They had accepted the word of another “father” and the description which Jesus used centuries later of some Pharisees also fitted them.

John 8:44:

“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own [invention]: for he is a liar, and the father [originator] of it [and is therefore, the father of liars]”.  

Before this, they had been “righteous” but now they were “sinners” and the following words also applied to them:  

Mark 2:15-17:

“And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat [dinner] in his [Matthew’s] house, many publicans [tax-gatherers – collaborators with the Romans] and [public] sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?’  When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’.”   

So there and then in the Garden of Eden He offered Adam and Eve the remedy for their ailment.

And they took it.

The angels heard the offer and saw the satisfied look on the Son of God’s face, but could not see any change in Adam and Eve, and yet that’s what our query text is referring to.

The “remedy” is that they needed a “new birth” (or in their case, a new “creation” is a better word) and that is exactly what happened.  It is a great spiritual “change of life experience”, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, and yet it is not always immediately evident. 

John 3:

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born again [a second time], he cannot see the kingdom of God [clearly]”.

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” [He confused the physical and the spiritual like the temple builders.]

5 Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [spiritual].

[They are two different things which look and sound a lot alike.]

7 Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again8 The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes [for it travels in a great meandering circle]: so is every one that is born of [breathed into by] the Spirit”.

[In the physical, “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”.  Genesis 2:7.  In the spiritual, the LORD God exchanges lives and man becomes a divine/human being.  2 Peter 1:4.]

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you a master [a teacher] of Israel, and know not these things [which are basic foundations of Christianity]? 11 Verily, verily, I say to you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness”. [You must trust the word of God.] 

When this great experience which is likened to a rebirth takes place, the onlookers still see the partaker’s physical body, they may even still hear the words and emotions of their former companion, but we have God’s word that he/she is different spiritually.  It is usually only later that the spectators receive the evidence of it, but God knows at the time.


Because virtue (Godliness) has gone out of Him.

Mark 5:

25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press [in the crowd, from] behind, and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole”.

29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue [divine Life] had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and say You, ‘Who touched Me?’” [for they knew not what had happened.]

32 And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth.

34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be whole of your plague [you are born again and healed]”. 

And in another place:

Matthew 9:

1 And He entered into a ship, and passed over [the lake], and came into His own city [Capernaum]. 2 And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy [paralysis]; “Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you”.

3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, “This man blasphemes”.

4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Wherefore think you evil in your hearts?  5 For whether [which] is easier, to say, ‘Your sins be forgiven you’; or to say, ‘Arise, and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (then said He to the sick of the palsy,) ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’.”

7 And he arose, and departed to his house. [In this case the onlookers saw the physical change.]

8 But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power to men. 

In both of our sample texts, the physical body was still there.  The woman’s healing was not immediately evident, but the man’s was.  However, in both cases they had been “born again” internally and their past sinful lives forgiven and cleansed, for the Son of God had not stopped saving people when He became the Son of man. 

So what happened in the Garden?

By an act of re-creation the Son of God took a portion of Adam and Eve’s lives and replaced it with a portion of His own Life.  He physically took their sinful spiritual nature (character) into Himself and gave them each a new Life – His divine Life!  They were “born” a second time by receiving Life direct from God!  Jesus told us later, “The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:

I am come that they might have Life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd gives His Life for the sheep”.  John  10:10-11.

But, this action cost Him some of His Life!

And this is what the Spirit is telling us.  In the Garden the Son of God “died” as only a God can do, for He not only gave, He also took

It is the nature of sin that it cannot be destroyed without a death.  “Moreover he [Moses] sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood [death] is no remission”.  Hebrews 9:21-22.

This cost to the Son of God was not for the actions of sin, for they can be forgiven and cleansed, but for the sinmaster itself which controls the actions.  For sin is more than what we do – it is also what we are.   It is written; “For to be carnally [earthly] minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”.  Romans  8:6-7.

The rebellious mind is not AT enmity with God, it IS enmity and can never be subject [obedient] to Him.  So the dilemma was, what to do with it once it had developed? 

We have just read the Son of God’s solution.  He took it into Himself and wrapped Himself around it and isolated it so that it no longer was a problem to its original carrier or to the universe.  Because He is God He can handle this “disease” but we are told that it is a “death” to Him, which means that it separates Him from Life as death separates us from our loved ones. 

By His action He was forever separated from His Father.  

To the degree that He carries “sin, the sinmaster” He is detached from His loved One, never to be reunited so closely again.  That is what is involved in the eternal sacrifice, the continuous sacrifice, which is illustrated by crucifixion.  He can be physically close with His Father today, but not as spiritually close as He used to be, for God His Father gave Him to us forever.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved”.  John 3:16-17.

In the Garden He began to “die” what we call the “second death” – the one from which there is no resurrection.  On the cross He illustrated both, but there He only died the first death as the Son of man, for He was alive again on the third day.

Since the experience in the Garden of Eden He has repeated the operation of salvation to any and every one who will accept it, so that His sacrifice is slowly increasing.  But He is God and can handle it – not without pain – but with love.  For His love for the sinner is such that He willingly lays down His life for us when we need it.

It is a one-off and an individual thing, continually and slowly increasing His burden, for He does not save in groups.

Then, to add to His load, He also takes the guilt and the result of our actions of sin when we confess them to Him, and carries that as well!  However, the sanctuary service teaches us that there will come a day when He will be able to pass that burden on to the originator of it – Satan. 

That day is called “The Day of Atonement” for it is a time when ALL the results of the actions of ALL the sins of ALL His children will be removed from Him in one operation and placed on the scapegoat.  (See Leviticus 16.)

But He will NEVER be free from the burden of the sinmaster, but this will only be evident by the marks of crucifixion on His body.  He showed them to His disciples the night following His resurrection.  “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit [ghost] has not flesh and bones, as you see Me have.  And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet”.  Luke 24:39-40.

{GC 674.1 - GC 674.2}   

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” Revelation 21:1.  The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth.  Every trace of the curse is swept away.  No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin.

One reminder alone remains:

Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion.  Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought.  Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His glory: “He had bright beams coming out of His side: and there was the hiding of His power.” Habakkuk 3:4, margin.   

That pierced side whence flowed the crimson stream that reconciled man to God -- there is the Saviour's glory, there “the hiding of His power.”

“Mighty to save,” through the sacrifice of redemption, He was therefore strong to execute justice upon them that despised God's mercy. And the tokens of His humiliation are His highest honor; through the eternal ages the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise and declare His power. 

But not all understand this, and so in heaven after the first resurrection, “One shall say to Him, ‘What are these wounds in Your hands?’  Then He shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends’.”  Zechariah 13:6.

You might notice that the enquirer calls them “wounds”, not “scars” because that is what they are, fresh wounds which never heal. 

Revelation 5:

5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof”.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts [four living creatures], and in the midst of the elders [in the midst of the church], stood a Lamb as it had been [just been] slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. [He possessed all power and all knowledge.]

7 And He came and took the Book [of Future History] out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. 

Adam and Eve and every born-again person since then has lived in His righteous Life (often called “Christ our righteousness”) – not in the merits of His life on earth, but in the glory of His immortal Life with its power. 

That’s what He meant when He said,

    John 6:53-57:

  “Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man [study My life on earth], and drink His blood [soak up My life on earth], you have no life in you.  Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is meat [food] indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He that [spiritually] eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me”. 

But any sin actions we might commit after rebirth condemn us to die the first death by their “wages” [i.e. the consequences, until we are forgiven and cleansed from them]. Romans 6:23. Therefore only those who really believe His word and stop having to sin and confess will be alive at His Second Coming.

So it is written:

    Hebrews 12:1-4.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed [circled] about with so great a cloud of witnesses [as presented in the previous chapter], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him that endured such contradiction [opposition] of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against [the temptation to] sin”. 

    John 11:23-27.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother shall rise again’.  Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day’.  Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the Life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead [in the first death], yet shall he live [in the resurrection]: and whosoever lives [grabs hold of that Life] and believes [fully] in Me shall never die.  Believe you this?’  She said to Him, ‘Yes, LORD: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world’.” 

Unfortunately, Martha missed the real truth too!

And finally,

    Hebrews 12:1-11    The Message version (MSG)

12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


The Bible tells us of two “deaths” associated with Christ – one for the Son of God and one for the Son of man.  They are different and yet called by the same name so that we may understand them fully.  He did NOT die the SECOND death at Calvary for that is a permanent death and He was alive again in three days.  So there He died the FIRST death as the Son of man.  He “died” the permanent “death” as the Son of God from the foundation of the world!



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but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.


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