Did Enoch and Elijah die and go to heaven?
The Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah are two very unusual individuals because they never died. The question we are interested in is, “Did Enoch and Elijah die and go to heaven?”
Did Enoch Die and Go to Heaven?
The book of Genesis refers to two different men named Enoch. The first one is referred to in Genesis 4 and the other in Genesis 5. The Enoch in Genesis 4 only appears in that chapter.
Enoch, Son of Cain
Genesis 4:17-18 describes the first Enoch that appears in the Old Testament. The passage tells us that Cain gave birth to a son named Enoch. Then Cain built a city and named the city Enoch. This Enoch was the ancestor of Irad, who was the ancestor of Mehujael, who was the ancestor of Methushael. That is all that we know about this Enoch.
Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. Genesis 4:17-18 (NASB)
Enoch, Son of Jared
The second man named Enoch in the Bible appears in five passages (Genesis 5:18-24; 1 Chronicles 1:3; Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14). Genesis 5:18-24 tells us that when Jared was 62 years of age, he became the father of this Enoch.
Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch. Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died. Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:18-24 (NASB)
In this chapter we have been told that Adam died (v. 5), Seth died (v. 8), Enosh died (v. 11), Kenan died (v. 14), Mahalalel died (v. 17) and then Jared died (v. 20), but we are never told that Enoch died. Enoch did not die in the normal sense. Verse 24 simply says that “God took him” (v. 24). This is a very interesting passage because we are not told exactly what “took him” means. The Hebrew word for “took” is laqah. The word is very common in the Old Testament, occurring 965 times. It normally means “to take,” but sometimes it is used to refer “to being taken in marriage” and “to being snatched.” The last two uses of the word help us understand what God did to Enoch. Enoch was snatched away.
1 Chronicles 1:3 and Luke 3:37 do not provide any additional information but simply use the name Enoch in a genealogical list. Jude 14 refers to Enoch as a prophet when it refers to a prophecy. But Hebrews 11:5 is the next significant passage about Enoch’s life because it says,
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. Hebrews 11:5 (NASB)
The Greek word for “taken up” has . . .
“. . . the implication that the two locations are significantly different—‘to move from one place to another, to change one’s location, to depart, departure.’”
So Enoch was snatched up from earth to heaven, and then we are told “that he did not see death.” A plain reading of Hebrews 11:13 seems to say that Enoch actually did experience death.
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises . . . Hebrews 11:13 (NASB)
But it is important to note there are two different Greek words for death in verse 5 and verse 13. The Greek word for death in verse 5 is thanatos, and it refers to the process of dying due to disease. The Greek word for “died” in verse 13 is apothnesko, which refers to physical death. This helps us understand that verse 5 tells us that Enoch did not experience the death process. God snatched Enoch’s spirit away. While it is also possible that someone on earth buried his body, it is more likely that God caused his mortal body to just cease to existing. When believers die, God takes their spirits to heaven. When the rapture occurs in the future (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), the mortal bodies of believers will be transformed into immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Therefore, the answer to the question, “Did Enoch die?” is yes, his body died, but he did not experience the dying process or suffer the pain and anguish of dying.
Did Elijah Die and Go to Heaven?
Elijah’s name appears 101 times in the Old and New Testaments. So we will address only the relevant passages that will give us the answer to the question, “Did Elijah die?” Therefore, our first passage is 2 Kings 2:11-12.
As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 2 Kings 2:11-12 (NASB)
The passage says that Elijah was taken up in a chariot in a whirlwind to heaven. The Hebrew text does not give us any additional information. Therefore, we are to understand that Elijah was with Elisha and all of a sudden Elijah was taken to heaven. 2 Kings 2:1 says the same thing. Therefore, the answer to the question, “Did Elijah die?” is, “Yes, his mortal body died when he was taken to heaven in a chariot in a whirlwind.” Only his spirit went to heaven.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, “Did Elijah and Enoch die and go to heaven?” is that their physical bodies ceased to exist and they went to heaven. So, where are Enoch and Elijah today? They are in the intermediate state in heaven without an immortal body. For more information about the intermediate state visit, “Are Elijah and Moses in the intermediate state?” For more information about what will happen to Christians at the time of the rapture, visit “The Church Is Missing — What is the Rapture?”
1. Louw and Nida. Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible Societies. 1989. vol. 1, p. 182.
2. Verlyn D. Verbrugge. Dictionary o New Testament Theology. Zondervan. 2000. p. 236-238.
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