O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

If you believe in fulfilled Eschatology, then you probably believe that our life is now, in Christ, and that nothing can take that away. You also believe that we are now in the body of Christ, and that His kingdom is fully realized, yet we don't see it with our eyes because we are still in mortal bodies.

Nevertheless, it occurred to me recently that there are two terms used for our "life after this life". They are "immortality" and "eternal life"

So, do you believe there is a difference between the two? If not, why are two different words used? If so, then what is the difference? 

Would like to hear others weigh in on this issue.


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Death is not the end of our life because the Biblical definition means that death is having no relationship with God 

Adam and Eve are representative of Old Covenant Israel and Genesis was written to Israel in captivity

Doug, I think you gave a great explanation of conditional immortality. I actually also disagree with Mr. Farrar, his arguments like most people who deny immortality are based off of an argument on silence. Because the Sadducees only held to the first five books of the bible then of course they would deny resurrection and eternal life. And we can also see how the line of Sadducees died out with AD 70...probably cause they didn't know their scriptures like Christ said they didn't. I do know that Strong's Hebrew H5703 'ad (transliterated) is described in the last two words of Daniel 12:3

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

The NETS version of the Septuagint says-

"And those who are intelligent will light up like the luminaries of heaven, and those who strengthen my words will be as the stars of heaven forever and ever."

So it seems to me that the Hebrew's did understand what forever and ever meant. In Ecclesiastes we find out how everything is meaningless because we die but if Christ has defeated death and we share in his resurrection then we know that we who have been given life will not die a meaningless death. As you point out, eternity is in their hearts and we have been given the way to that eternity through Christ's resurrection.

I am sorry I can't give an explanation about the use of both words in a sentence in the New Testament.


Regarding aphtharsia (immortality/incorruptibility) there are only a few times it shows up in the Old Testament which I will provide every example, for example Wisdom of Solomon we read in Ch 2:23-24

Because God created human beings for incorruption and made them the image of his own nature, but through the envy of the devil death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.


For her true beginning is the desire for instruction, and love of her is keeping her laws, and paying attention to her laws is confirmation of incorruption, and incorruption brings one near to God, so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.


For your incorruptible spirit is in all things. Therefore you reprove little by little those who fall into error, and by reminding them of the things through which they sin you warn them in order that, being freed from wickedness, they may believe in you, O Lord. 

18:4-5 But those deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness who had kept your sons shut up, through whom the incorruptible light of the law was to be given to the world. 

Or 4th Maccabees 9:21-23

Although he had already had his skeleton severed, the lofty-minded youth, a true son of Abraam, did not groan, but as though transformed in the fire into immortality, he nobly endured the torments. “Imitate me, brothers,” he said. “Do not desert your post in my struggle nor renounce the broth- erhood of good courage you share with me. 


“Here lie buried an aged priest, an aged woman and seven boys, victims of the violence of a tyrant who wished to destroy the polity of the Hebrews. They vindicated their nation, looking to God and enduring tortures even unto death.” Truly the contest carried on by them was divine, for then virtue, testing them for their perseverance, offered rewards. Victory meant incorruptibility in long-lasting life. 


Doug: Why would the same identical concept use two seemingly different words? If immortality is the same as eternal life, why separate the two ideas with two words? Are they really the same concepts? If so, what are the important differences?


IMO they are not the same… one speaks to the fullness of life (eternal) as revealed in Christ; the other shows us the endless (deathless) source of that very life itself – God.


If we have eternal life, as fulness of life in Christ, do we not have immortality also? Literally, immortality is defined biblically as deathlessness - no death. Although only the Father has immortality, and yes, He is the source of deathlessness, is not having fulness of life forever in Christ the same thing as deathlessness?

Certainly we have a derived immortality by virtue of the fact that we all have a beginning in that it is not something inherent of ourselves; but the outworking of that will always be by its very nature future to us, i.e., we are mortal and yet step into immortality via death. “Eternal life” on the other hand in terms of relational stance with God is a present reality. Remember, Jesus said… “this IS” not “this will be” eternal life.


I think eternal life and immortality are closely linked together though with slightly different nuances just like resurrection, the kingdom of God, salvation, sanctification, forgiveness, the new covenant etc.

I think the challenge is defining immortality in respect to physical death. This seems to me to lead to confusion of terms.

Looking at 1 Cor 15:53, IF you do not believe that the resurrection is about the physical body you should probably never define immortality with reference to physical death.

Looking at Rom 2:7, is it possible that eternal life IS glory honour and immortality? i.e. Eternal life is the compound word for seeking glory, hour and immortality.

Since eternal life is about a relationship with God, immortality may simply refer that unlike Adam, we can never "fall" hence never "die"

Eternal life is the quality/deepth of relationship with God, immortality is the unchangeable nature of that relationship. Neither deal with pre or post moterm status.

Besides "in Heaven" I dont think there are any words available to describe the afterlife.

Thanks JIR. I appreciate your comments a lot. You said neither the words eternal life nor immortality deals with post mortem life. If so, then what scriptures DO talk about post mortem life, in your opinion? If there aren't any, and the two words above are only about relationships, then what scriptural assurances are there that there actually IS post mortem life?


Let me quote from 2 Makkabees Ch 12:39-45

On the next day, when the need for it had arisen, Ioudas’ men went to recover the bodies of those fallen earlier and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in their ancestral sepulchres. Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Judeans to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who makes visible the things that are hidden, and they turned to supplication, imploring that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Ioudas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Hierosolyma to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.

Yes this has been used to argue for masses for the dead and purgatory by the Catholic church but only because they don't understand the intermediate state of the dead ended in AD 70. I think that in context, this verse shows the Hebrew idea of the intermediate state of the dead was developed quite a few years before the time Jesus arrived on the scene. I am sorry I can't find any more verses that talk about what post mortem life is like but there surely is such a thing. Our relationship continuing on with Christ is what we get.

I guess at this point it depends on what one believes e.g. I could say Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, but perhaps others have a different understanding of that verse.

I could talk about "all live unto Him" as in Luke 23 but perhaps others have a different understanding to that verse.

Paul talks about a crown awaiting him even though he knew he would die

Revelation talks about how from that time "blessed were they who died in the Lord",so too do the Psalms

Im sure there are other verses which show there is an afterlife but I think these suffice.

But they rarely describe what that life is only that it is there and better than this one (at least from the time and point of view of the writer, others might argue we have everything now so it never gets better).


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