Q & A – How Could Enoch Be Taken Alive To Heaven?

 

 

Dear Craig,

I was reading your "Nephilim" article and it mentioned that Enoch was taken up to heaven.  How can this be when Jesus said, "no man has ascended to heaven"?  (I believe this to be a common mistake with Christians).  This is clearly wrong here!  What is your explanation?  Maybe you can do an article about this?  Thanks for any explanation or future article.  BTW, you have many interesting studies here!

Sincerely,

Nelson

 

Craig’s Answer:

 

 

Thanks for your question and comments Nelson.  I think it is great you are looking to find clarity, and in this case, clarification needs to be made. 

 

Genesis 5:23-24 So all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him.  AMP

 

In the purest sense, you are correct; the text of Genesis 5:24 does not say that Enoch was, “taken up to heaven.”  However, this is still an accurate statement because when interpreted in light of Hebrews 11:5, the veracity of the argument is substantiated with more than ample proof (see below).

 

Hebrews 11:5 Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. [Genesis 5:21-24.]  AMP

 

The Greek word translated above in Hebrews 11:5a,b as, “caught up and transferred to,” and concurrently, “had translated,” in the Amplified Bible is metati/qhmi; this Greek word is transliterated as, “metatíthemi.”  Metatíthemi is from metá (NT: 3326), denoting, “change of place or condition,” and títhemi (5087), “to place.”  Thus metatíthemi means, “To transpose, put in another place and hence to transport, transfer, translate.”[1] 

 

There is further evidence pointing to Enoch’s transportation by God to heaven.  Yet a third time in Hebrews 1:5c we see a word cognate of metatíthemi used and translated as, “taken to heaven.”  This Greek word is meta/qesi$ transliterated as, “metathesis,” (NT: 3331) and it literally means, “transposition, i.e. transferral (to heaven),”[2] or, “to transfer; transposition, a moving to another place.”[3]

 

Although not specified in the text of Genesis 5:24, I believe it to be accurate to say that God took Enoch alive into His heaven, which stands distinct from what Jesus speaks of when he says, “No man has ascended EXCEPT he which is also descended.”  We must delineate the only two text where Jesus actually uses the term, “ascended,” because each account presents its own unique picture.  The first account in John 3:1-17 is the dialogue Jesus has with a teacher of the Pharisees named Nicodemus.  Below is a portion of the text in question you mentioned:

 

John 3:12-17

 

12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 

13 " No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 

14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 

15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 

16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  NASU

 

The descent of Jesus must be intricately tied to his ascent because the purpose for ascending was to bear witness to the truth that he had redeemed the antediluvian generation that was once disobedient in the days of Noah.  Jesus spent 3 days in the heart of the earth, aka by the Hebrews as Sheol, making a declaration of redemption thru his sacrifice to this particular generation.

 

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient , when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the  water. NASU

 

The Hebrews, as well as many ancient nations, held there to be three ‘heavens’ and the first was the immediate surrounding atmosphere, including the air breathed, clouds, where birds fly, etc; the second heaven was where the, “stars of heaven,” were, as God made His promise to Abraham using this cosmic constellation of stars and planets to illustrate.  The third heaven was the place where Yahweh dwelt and this is where God “took” Enoch, whereas Jesus, “ascended,” after first descending. 

 

Psalms 139:7-8 Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. NASU

 

Not surprising Elijah was also taken alive into heaven via the horses and chariots of Yahweh:

 

2 Kings 2:11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared  a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them.  And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.   NASU

 

The author of Hebrews 11:5 understood the mindset unique to them Hebrew faith, and so he includes Enoch in his lineage of the hall of faith.  Perhaps more significant however is the author of the Genesis chapter five account of Enoch’s experience utilizes Hebrew words akin to the Greek words metatíthemi and metathesis used to describe how he was translated to heaven.

 

First, the context of Genesis chapter five deals with successive human lineage; in fact, the chapter opens specifying its intent as a record of the human family thru the patriarchs (see below):

 

Genesis 5:1-5 THIS IS the book (the written record, the history) of the generations of the offspring of Adam. When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them and named them [both] Adam [Man] at the time they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth. After he had Seth, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. So altogether Adam lived 930 years, and he died. AMP

 

As the text continue we see the birth, life and eventual death of all the patriarchs mentioned with ONE exception being Enoch.  Therefore, it is not coincidental the author in the New Testament writing to the Hebrew converts records this same event (Enoch’s translation), knowing his readers will comprehend this familiar passage in the Pentateuch.

 

Genesis 5:18-24 When Jared was 162 years old, Enoch was born.  Jared lived after the birth of Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  So Jared lived 962 years, and he died.  When Enoch was 65 years old, Methuselah was born.  Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]. [Hebrews 11:5.] 

 

It’s noteworthy Enoch lived 365 years, the exact number as there are days in one year!  That number may have great typological significance, but for this study, note Enoch’s lifetime relatively short compared to those patriarchs mentioned before and after him, one living till age 800 years, the next mentioned after Enoch (Methuselah) lived 969 years, and he died.  This is no mistake; the intent was to be an indelible record of what occurred to him.

 

My last and final reason to believe he was taken alive to heaven is found in the definition of the Hebrew word 'ayin (OT: 369) translated, “he was not found.” 'Ayin, is defined as meaning, “no; not; nothing; or else, nor.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Phoenician (Punic). The word appears 789 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

 

'Ayin may be used absolutely, with no suffixes and not in a construct chain.  When so used the word signifies nonexistence. This is its use and significance in Genesis 2:5 (the first occurrence): "...and there was not a man to till the ground."  In the construct state 'ayin has the same basic meaning. With a suffixed pronoun 'ayin negates the existence of the one or thing so represented; with the suffixed pronoun "he," the word means, "he was no longer."  "And Enoch walked with God: and he was [no longer]; for God took him" Genesis 5:24.  This word should be distinguished from another 'ayin meaning "whence," or "from where."[4]

 

The final Hebrew proof is found in the definition of the Hebrew word translated as “took,” (as in, “God took him {Enoch} in Genesis 5:24).  This Hebrew word is laqach (OT: 3947) and it means, “To take, to get, to fetch, to lay hold of, to seize, to receive, to acquire, buy, to snatch, or to take away.”  It is found in the Qal perfect and therefore carries one of the following meanings:

 

To take, to take in the hand

To take and to carry along

To take from, to take out of, to take, to carry away, to take away

To take possession of, to select, to choose,

To take up or upon

To fetch

To take, to capture, to seize

To take, to carry off [5]

 

It is not reasonable to connote the exact same meaning and purpose for Enoch’s translation to heaven and Jesus’ words by which he first, “descends” to Sheol for a period of three (3) days at death, and then after the resurrection, showing himself alive, he ascends slowly upward in the presence of the twelve apostles. 

 

Acts 1:1-11 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.  3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 

5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 

6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"

7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 

8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." 

9 The Ascension And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.

11 They also said, " Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."  NASU

 

These events have far too many distinctions to warrant a reasonable comparison.  Besides, Jesus is the one who himself “ascends” to his Father, whereas Enoch cannot ascend himself, but rather he is seized and snatched by God to heaven.

 

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"  NASU

 

The ascension spoken of by Jesus, as the son of man is messianic; it refers to a requirement in the Law given to Moses, which did not apply when Enoch was taken to heaven. 

 

Deuteronomy 30:11-15 For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off.  It is not a secret laid up in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?”  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who shall go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?” But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it.  See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil. AMP

 

You’ll have to read Deuteronomy chapter thirty to understand the righteous requirement of the one man who could ascend to God’s heaven and plead the righteous cause for Israel.  Even David mentions this challenge in his psalms:

 

Psalms 24:3-5 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation. NASU

 

This psalm defines what Jesus meant when he was to ascend to God’s, “holy hill” and, “stand in His holy place,” which was to plead the cause of redemption (for the true Israel of God) based upon the righteous life of obedience he lived to God, whereby his unblemished life when crucified on Calvary atoned for sin.  What I am saying here is that there is a definite purpose and plan of salvatioin in the descent and ascent of Jesus, which is unlike the translation of Enoch by God, who was taken to heaven because of his righteous faith, exemplified in his walk of purity in fellowship with Yahweh.

 

The apostle Paul echoes this thought in his epistle to the Roman church by making the connection between the descent and ascent of Christ, why he fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law, and exhorts the church not to think anyone else is needed to ascend or descent to find Christ, who now sits as mediator at the Father’s right hand.

 

Romans 10:5-8 For Moses writes that the man who can practice the righteousness (perfect conformity to God's will), which is based on, the Law with all its intricate demands shall live by it.  But the righteousness based on faith imputed by God and bringing right relationship with Him says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into Heaven?’ that is, to bring Christ down; Or, ‘who will descend into the abyss?’ that is, to bring Christ up from the dead as if we could be saved by our own efforts.  But what does it say?  The Word (God's message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach, [Deuteronomy 30::12-14; Leviticus 18:5]  AMP

 

There can be no other reasonable explanation from the Old Testament and New Testament texts, the meaning of Hebrew and Greek words, and simple logic.  I hope this proves helpful to you Nelson.

 

Love in Jesus,

 

Craigo

 

Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry (www.bibleanswerstand.org)

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.   

 

 

 


 

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[1] (From The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993)

 

[2] (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

 

[3] ibid

[4] (From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

 

[5] (from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.)