The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Will Believers in Christ Never Die?

Virtually all translations render Jesus’ words similar to those of the ESV as follows:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25,26)

In these translations verse 25 seems to affirm the resurrection for those who believe in Jesus. Even if they die, they will come to life again. But verse 26 seems to say that those who believe in Jesus never will die! If they never will die, how can there be an “if they die” in verse 25?

I suggest that verse 26 is an incorrect translation. The Catholic “Douay” translation has the verse saying not “shall never die” but “shall not die forever.” This could be understood as they “will not remain dead.”

A literal translation of the Greek might be “shall not die into the age”—that is will not remain dead right into the next age. The next age is the Kingdom Age which begins with the return of Christ. At that point (the last day of the present age) Jesus will raise them from death.

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have lasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40)

Another interesting point is that the words “shall not die into the age” is not a simple future (though every translator renders it as if it were) but a subjunctive. This seems to suggest that it is Jesus’ purpose that whoever believes in Him (that is, entrusts himself to Jesus) should not remain dead right into Kingdom Age.