“By faith Enoch was transferred so as not to see death.” In their rendering of this portion of Hebrews 11:5, some Bible translations indicate that Enoch did not really die. For example, A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt, states: “It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven so that he never died.”
Some 3,000 years after Enoch’s day, however, Jesus Christ stated: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13) The New English Bible reads: “No one ever went up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man.” When Jesus made that statement, even he had not ascended to heaven.—Compare Luke 7:28.
The apostle Paul states that Enoch and others making up the great cloud of pre-Christian witnesses ‘all died’ and “did not get the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 11:13, 39) Why? Because all humans, including Enoch, have inherited sin from Adam. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) The only means of salvation is through the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. (Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:1, 2) In Enoch’s day that ransom had not yet been paid. Therefore, Enoch did not go to heaven, but he is asleep in death awaiting a resurrection on earth.—John 5:28, 29.
Jehovah did not permit Satan or his earthly servants to kill Enoch. Instead, the inspired record says: “God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) The apostle Paul describes matters this way: “By faith Enoch was transferred so as not to see death, and he was nowhere to be found because God had transferred him; for before his transference he had the witness that he had pleased God well.”—Hebrews 11:5.
How was Enoch “transferred so as not to see death”? Or as rendered in the translation by R. A. Knox, how was Enoch “taken away without the experience of death”? God peacefully terminated Enoch’s life, sparing him the pangs of death from either sickness or violence at the hands of his enemies. Yes, Jehovah cut short Enoch’s life at the age of 365. Quite a young person in comparison with his contemporaries.
How was Enoch given a “witness that he had pleased God well”? What evidence did he have? Likely, God put Enoch into a trance, even as the apostle Paul was “caught away,” or transferred, evidently receiving a vision of the future spiritual paradise of the Christian congregation. (2 Corinthians 12:3, 4) The witness, or evidence, that Enoch had been pleasing to God could have entailed a visionary glimpse of the future earthly Paradise in which all those living will support God’s sovereignty. Perhaps it was while Enoch was thus experiencing a rapturous vision that God took him in painless death to sleep until the day of his resurrection. It appears that, as in the case of Moses, Jehovah disposed of Enoch’s body, for “he was nowhere to be found.”—Hebrews 11:5; Deuteronomy 34:5, 6; Jude 9.
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