02-04-16 IS ENOCH A TYPE
OF OUR TRANSLATION?
By John Aldworth
Published April 2, 2016
Gen. 5:24: And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Heb. 11:5: By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Col. 1:13: (God) who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
We may not have a Tardis, like Dr. Who, or a rocket to take us deep into space. Nevertheless, God has indeed called us to be time travelers. That is, to be transported by his grace from one ‘world’, or ‘age’, to another. Indeed, those who have laid hold of the truth of his promise of eternal life (Titus 1:2) have already been transported in spirit into the age to come (Col. 1:13).
Of course our bodies and souls have yet to make this transition but we are promised that if we ‘hold fast to the form of sound words’ we have heard from the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 1:13) our body will be changed to be ‘like unto his (Christ’s) glorious body’ (Phil. 3:21) and that we ourselves will ‘appear with Him in glory’ (Col. 3: 4).
Just how this glorious change is to be wrought in us has puzzled many grace-saved believers. Is it to be by resurrection? Will it be by rapture? Will we be ‘caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ (1 Thess. 4:17)?
Enoch, the seventh man chosen by God after Adam, has long been held up as a type or pattern of earthly saints being ‘caught up’ or ‘raptured’ at the Second Coming of the Lord, as described in 1 Thess. 4:14-17. Respected Old Testament expositor Unger asserts that when Enoch was ‘taken’ by God (Gen. 5:24) he received a glorified body but where is the scriptural evidence for such a claim? There is none and it is an assumption on his part.
It is also an assumption, and a wrong one at that, when Mr. Unger and other well regarded Bible teachers state that Enoch is a type, or pattern if you will, of the ‘rapture’ or ‘catching away’ described in 1 Thess. 4:17). The two events are not comparable and to say that they are stems from a failure to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15).
Let me explain. The ‘caught up’ resurrection described in 1 Thess. 4:17 takes place when saints destined to live again on earth are resurrected to ‘meet the Lord in the air’. This meeting takes place as the Lord descends bodily from heaven to take his place as earth’s King at his second coming and raises the dead in Christ as He does so (1 Thess. 4:16). Note carefully that there is no mention of heaven in this passage. Note also that the dead first ‘rise’ and then are ‘caught up’. Nobody is translated.
The words ‘caught up’ are never used to describe Enoch’s experience nor that which will occur to us as members of the ‘church which is his body’, and over which Christ is Head (Eph. 1:22-23). Instead God ‘took’ Enoch and in both his case and ours the words ‘translate’ or ‘translation’ are used. Heb. 11:5, for example, says:
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
And Col. 1:12-13 tells us that the:
… Father hath made us meet (fit, qualified) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
God says that He has already done it, that He has already spiritually translated you and I into the world to come, the day of Christ mentioned seven times in Paul’s epistles and summarised as ‘His appearing and his kingdom’ in 2 Tim. 4:1. Do you truly believe this from the heart? If you do, then you are a fit candidate for bodily translation because it was by faith that Enoch was translated. Like Enoch, we must believe that by his grace God will do and indeed has already done all that He has promised to change us so that we can be with Him in glory.
Genesis 5:19-23 records Enoch’s birth and life but not his death, for he didn’t die. He did not die but ‘he was not, for God took him’, verse 24 says. What does this mean? Many hold that Enoch was transported alive straight to heaven to be with God. But this not what the Bible says. There is no mention of heaven in either Genesis 5: 19-24 or Heb. 11: 5.
I believe that Enoch, a Gentile, as the type of our own translation was from the time God took him ‘hid with Christ in God’ as indeed we are (Col. 3: 3). With this one difference: while Enoch did not see death we do. But that is no less for already ‘we are dead and our life is with Christ in God’. Enoch, I submit, like us, will find his life in Christ. For, ‘when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then ye (we) shall appear with Him in glory’. Until then Enoch ‘like us is ‘hid in God’.
Note that in Genesis 5 the usual formula for recording life and death is broken in his case. For example, vss. 19-20 describe the life and death of Enoch’s father:
And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty two years and he died.
However, of Enoch it is said (vss. 22-23):
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty five years. And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Notice only Enoch of all the Genesis patriarchs walks with God. Abraham was told to walk before God and we are told to follow Paul as Paul followed Christ. But Enoch walked with God. Evidently, in our case walking with God (by following Paul) is a prerequisite for translation.
And so is pleasing God. Heb. 11:5 says that ‘before his translation he (Enoch) had this testimony, that he pleased God. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul in Col. 1:10 encourages us, as grace-saved believers, to …
… walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God’.
Walking and pleasing then are precursors to our translation. But you might ask, as I have done, how can a sinning, selfish person like me truly walk with and please God? The answer is found in the context:
Col. 1:6 says that as saved believers we already ‘know the grace of God in truth’. And grace makes all things possible. And in Col. 1: 19, the Apostle Paul prays that we may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and all understanding that ye might walk worthy of your vocation (calling).
In our natural selves we can neither walk with nor please God. But then we are not just in our natural selves. We have ‘delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son’ (Col. 1:13). In other words, we can both walk with and please God because God through his grace can cause us to do so. Paul, despite being a sinner, said that, ‘I am what I am by the grace of God’ (1 Cor. 15:10).
Enoch is a type of our translation but Elijah is not. Nor is Paul’s being caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2) a pattern for the great change which translation has already wrought spiritually in us. Indeed, even Christ’s own ascension is not a pattern for our translation into glory, for in Acts 1:11 an angel told his apostles, ‘… this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven’. And that would be down to earth not up to heaven.
In other words, at his second coming the Lord will come in the ‘clouds’ as he went. In Rev. 1:7 the Apostle John says: ‘Behold He cometh with the clouds and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him’.
But clouds of what? The answer is clouds of angels. Jesus Himself said so. Matt. 16:27: ‘For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels…’ See also Heb. 12:1 and 22. However, no angels, no clouds are associated with our translation as set out in Col. 1:13. But they are definitely found at the so-called ‘rapture’ found in 1 Thess. 4:17:
Then we which are alive shall be caught together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
As to Elijah, he was also ‘caught up’, not translated you note, by a chariot of fire which I understand to be a further reference to angels. Elisha described this as ‘the chariot of Israel and the horses thereof’. Evidently, then it is not a means of transportation into heaven for Gentiles.
To sum up. The rapture is not our hope; our translation is. Already our spirit has been translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. At Christ’s appearing (Col. 1:3-4) our ‘vile body’ will be changed by the Lord ‘that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body’ (Phil. 3:21). As to our souls, that is ourselves, well, we ‘shall also appear with Him in glory’ (Col. 3:4. And that glorious event will complete our translation.