John 11:26—How could Jesus say we will never die when the Bible declares all will eventually die?
Problem: God Himself said to Adam, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Paul reaffirmed this, declaring that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). But Jesus seems to contradict this when He affirmed, “whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26).
Solution: First of all, even taken literally, Jesus was not denying that believers would die. In fact, He affirmed it in the previous verse, saying, “though he may die, he shall live.” In other words, Jesus claimed that because He was “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25), He would resurrect those who believe in Him unto eternal life (cf. John 5:28–29).
Further, Jesus may have been speaking about spiritual life and spiritual death. In this sense, those who believe in Him will have spiritual life (John 3:16, 36), even though they will experience physical death. For those who are born only once will die twice, once physically and once again at the “second death” (Rev. 20:14) or final separation from God. But those who are born twice (John 3:3, 7) will only die once (physically), but will live with God forever.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.