By faith Enoch was translated - It is said, in Genesis 5:24, that Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Here the apostle explains what God's taking him means, by saying that he was translated that he should not see death; from which we learn that he did not die, and that God took him to a state of blessedness without obliging him to pass through death. See his history explained at large in the above place, in Genesis 5:22-24.
By faith Enoch was translated - The account of Enoch is found in Genesis 5:21-24. It is very brief, and is this, that “Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him.” There is no particular mention of his “faith,” and the apostle attributes this to him, as in the case of Abel, either because it was involved in the very nature of piety, or because the fact was communicated to him by direct revelation. In the account in Genesis, there is nothing inconsistent with the belief that Enoch was characterized by eminent faith, but it is rather implied in the expression, “he walked with God.” Compare 2 Corinthians 5:7. It may also be implied in what is said by the apostle Jude Jude 1:14-15, that “he prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints,” etc. From this it would appear that he was a preacher: that he predicted the coming of the Lord to judgment, and that he lived in the firm belief of what was to occur in future times. Moses does not say expressly that Enoch was translated. He says “he was not, for God took him.” The expression “he was not,” means he was no more among people; or he was removed from the earth. “This” language would be applicable to any method by which he was removed, whether by dying, or by being translated. A similar expression respecting Romulus occurs in Livy (i. 16), Nec deinde in terris Romulus fuit. The translation of the Septuagint on this part of the verse in Genesis is, οὐχ εὑρίσκετο ouch heurisketo- “was not found;” that is, he disappeared. The authority for what the apostle says here, that he “was translated,” is found in the other phrase in Genesis, “God took him.” The reasons which led to the statement that he was transported without seeing death, or that show that this is a fair conclusion from the words in Genesis, are such, as these:
(1) There is no mention made of his death, and in this respect the account of Enoch stands by itself. It is, except in this case, the uniform custom of Moses to mention the age and the death of the individuals whose biography he records, and in many cases this is about all that is said of them. But in regard to Enoch there is this remarkable exception that no record is made of his death - showing that there was something unusual in the manner of his removal from the world.
(2) the Hebrew word used by Moses, found in such a connection, is one which would rather suggest the idea that he had been taken in some extraordinary manner from the world. That word - לקח laaqach- means “to take” - with the idea of taking “to oneself.” Thus, Genesis 8:20, “Noah took of all beasts and offered a burnt-offering.” Thus, it is often used in the sense of “taking a wife” - that is, to oneself Genesis 4:19; Genesis 6:2; Genesis 12:19; Genesis 19:14; and then it is used in the sense of “taking away;” Genesis 14:12; Genesis 27:35; Job 1:21; Job 12:20; Psalm 31:13; Jeremiah 15:15. The word, therefore, would naturally suggest the idea that he had been taken by God to himself, or had been removed in an extraordinary manner from the earth. This is confirmed by the fact that the word is not used anywhere in the Scriptures to denote a “removal by death,” and that in the only other instance in which it (לקח laaqach) is used in relation to a removal from this world, it occurs in the statement respecting the translation of Elijah. “And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel, came forth to Elisha, and said to him, Knowest thou that the Lord “will take away” (לקח laaqach) thy master from thy head today?” 2 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 2:5; compare Hebrews 11:11. This transaction, where there could be no doubt about the “manner” of the removal, shows in what sense the word is used in Genesis.
(3) it was so understood by the translators of the Septuagint. The apostle has used the same word in this place which is employed by the Seventy in Genesis 5:24 - μετατίθημι metatithēmiThis word means to transpose, to put in another place; and then to transport, transfer, translate; Acts 7:16; Hebrews 7:12. It properly expresses the removal to another place, and is the very word which would he used on the supposition that one was taken to heaven without dying.
(4) this interpretation of the passage in Genesis by Paul is in accordance with the uniform interpretation of the Jews. In the Targum of Onkelos it is evidently supposed that Enoch was transported without dying. In that Targum the passage in Genesis 5:24 is rendered, “And Enoch walked in the fear of the Lord, and was not, for the Lord did not put him to death” - לּה lo‘- ‹amiyt yityeh YahwehSo also in Ecclesiasticus or the Son of Sirach (49:14), “But upon the earth was no man created like Enoch; for he was taken from the earth.” These opinions of the Jews and of the early translators, are of value only as showing that the interpretation which Paul has put upon Genesis 5:2 is the natural interpretation. It is such as occurs to separate writers, without collusion, and thus shows that this is the meaning most naturally suggested by the passage.
That he should not see death - That is, that he should not experience death, or be made personally acquainted with it. The word “taste” often occurs in the same sense. Hebrews 2:9, “that he should taste death for every man;” compare Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27.
And was not found - Genesis 5:24, “And he was not.” That is, he was not in the land of the living. Paul retains the word used in the Septuagint.
He had this testimony, that he pleased God - Implied in the declaration in Genesis 5:22, that he “walked with God.” This denotes a state of friendship between God and him, and of course implies that his conduct was pleasing to God. The apostle appeals here to the sense of the account in Genesis, but does not retain the very “words.” The meaning here is not that the testimony respecting Enoch was actually “given” before his translation, but that the testimony relates to his having “pleased God” before he was removed. “Stuart.” In regard to this instructive fragment of history, and to the reasons why Enoch was thus removed, we may make the following remarks:
(1) The age in which he lived was undoubtedly one of great wickedness. Enoch is selected as the only one of that generation signalized by eminent piety, and he appears to have spent his life in publicly reproving a sinful generation, and in warning them of the approaching judgment; Jude 1:14-15. The wickedness which ultimately led to the universal deluge seems already to have commenced in the earth, and Enoch, like Noah, his great-grandson, was raised up as a preacher of righteousness to reprove a sinful generation.
(2) it is not improbable that the great truths of religion in that age were extensively denied, and probably among other things the future state, the resurrection, the belief that man would exist in another world, and that it was maintained that death was the end of being - was an eternal sleep. If so, nothing could be better adapted to correct the prevailing evils than the removal of an eminent man, without dying, from the world. His departure would thus confirm the instructions of his life, and his removal, like the death of saints often now, would serve to make an impression which his living instructions would not.
(3) his removal is, in itself, a very important and instructive fact in history. It has occurred in no other instance except that of Elijah; nor has any other living man been transported to heaven except the Lord Jesus. That fact was instructive in a great many respects:
(a) It showed that there was a future state - another world.
(b) It showed that the “body” might exist in that future state - though doubtless so changed as to adapt it to the condition of things there.
(c) It prepared the world to credit the account of the ascension of the Redeemer. If Enoch and Elijah were removed thus without dying, there was no intrinsic improbability that the Lord Jesus would be removed after having died and risen again.
(d) It furnishes a demonstration of the doctrine that the saints will exist hereafter, which meets all the arguments of the sceptic and the infidel. One single “fact” overturns all the mere “speculations” of philosophy, and renders nugatory all the objections of the sceptic. The infidel argues against the truth of the resurrection and of the future state from the “difficulties” attending the doctrine. A single case of one who has been raised up from the dead, or who has been removed to heaven, annihilates all such arguments - for how can supposed difficulties destroy a well-authenticated “fact?”
(e) It is an encouragement to piety. It shows that God regards his friends; that their fidelity and holy living please him; and that “in the midst of eminent wickedness and a scoffing world it is possible so to live as to please God.” The conduct of this holy man, therefore, is an encouragement to us to do our duty though we stand alone; and to defend the truth though all who live with us upon the earth deny and deride it.
(4) the removal of Enoch shows that the same thing would be “possible” in the case of every saint. God could do it in other cases, as well as in his, with equal ease. That his friends, therefore, are suffered to remain on the earth; that they linger on in enfeebled health, or are crushed by calamity, or are stricken down by the pestilence as others are, is not because God “could” not remove them as Enoch was without dying, but because there is some important “reason” why they should remain and linger, and suffer, and die. Among those reasons may be such as the following:
(a) The regular operation of the laws of nature as now constituted, require it. Vegetables die; the inhabitants of the deep die; the fowls that fly in the air, and the beasts that roam over hills and plains die; and man, by his sins, is brought under the operation of this great universal law. It would be “possible” indeed for God to save his people from this law, but it would require the interposition of continued “miracles,” and it is better to have the laws of nature regularly operating, than to have them constantly set aside by divine interposition.
(b) The power of religion is now better illustrated in the way in which the saints are actually removed from the earth, than it would be if they were all transported. Its power is now seen in its enabling us to overcome the dread of death, and in its supporting us in the pains and sorrows of the departing hour. It is a good thing to discipline the soul so that it will not fear to die; it shows how superior religion is to all the forms of philosophy, that it enables the believer to look calmly forward to his own certain approaching death It is an important matter to keep this up from age to age, and to show to each generation that religion can overcome the natural apprehension of the most fearful calamity which befalls a creature - death: and can make man calm in the prospect of lying beneath the clods of the valley, cold, dark, alone, to moulder back to his native dust.
(c) The death of the Christian does good. It preaches to the living. The calm resignation; the peace; the triumph of the dying believer, is a constant admonition to a thoughtless and wicked world. The deathbed of the Christian proclaims the mercy of God from generation to generation, and there is not a dying saint who may not, and who probably does not do great good in the closing hours of his earthly being.
(d) It may be added that the present arrangement falls in with the general laws of religion that we are to be influenced by faith, not by sight. If all Christians were removed like Enoch, it would be an argument for the truth of religion addressed constantly to the senses. But this is not the way in which the evidence of the truth of religion is proposed to man. It is submitted to his understanding, his conscience, his heart; and in this there is of design a broad distinction between religion and other things. Men act in other matters under the influence of the senses; it is designed that in religion they shall act under the influence of higher and nobler considerations, and that they shall be influenced not solely by a reference to what is passing before their eyes, but to the things which are not seen.
Cain Filled With Doubt and Madness—Satan is the parent of unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion. He filled Cain with doubt and with madness against his innocent brother and against God, because his sacrifice was refused and Abel's accepted. And he slew his brother in his insane madness (The Review and Herald, March 3, 1874). 1BC 1087.1
15. Mark of Cain—God has given to every man his work; and if any one turns from the work that God has given him, to do the work of Satan, to defile his own body or lead another into sin, that man's work is cursed, and the brand of Cain is placed upon him. The ruin of his victim will cry unto God, as did the blood of Abel (The Review and Herald, March 6, 1894). 1BC 1087.2
Any man, be he minister or layman, who seeks to compel or control the reason of any other man, becomes an agent of Satan, to do his work, and in the sight of the heavenly universe he bears the mark of Cain (Manuscript 29, 1911). 1BC 1087.3
25. Seth More Noble in Stature Than Cain or Abel—Seth was of more noble stature than Cain or Abel, and resembled Adam more than any of his other sons. The descendants of Seth had separated themselves from the wicked descendants of Cain. They cherished the knowledge of God's will, while the ungodly race of Cain had no respect for God and His sacred commandments (Spiritual Gifts 3:60). 1BC 1087.4Read in context »
The experience of Enoch and of John the Baptist represents what ours should be. Far more than we do, we need to study the lives of these men,—he who was translated to heaven without seeing death; and he who, before Christ's first advent, was called to prepare the way of the Lord, to make His paths straight. GW 51.1Read in context »
Enoch was a holy man. He served God with singleness of heart. He realized the corruptions of the human family, and separated himself from the descendants of Cain, and reproved them for their great wickedness. There were those upon the earth who acknowledged God, who feared and worshiped him. Yet righteous Enoch was so distressed with the increasing wickedness of the ungodly, that he would not daily associate with them, fearing that he should be affected by their infidelity, and that his thoughts might not ever regard God with that holy reverence which was due his exalted character. His soul was vexed as he daily witnessed their trampling upon the authority of God. He chose to be separate from them, and spent much of his time in solitude, which he devoted to reflection and prayer. He waited before God, and prayed to know his will more perfectly, that he might perform it. God communed with Enoch through his angels, and gave him divine instruction. He made known to him that he would not always bear with man in his rebellion—that his purpose was to destroy the sinful race by bringing a flood of waters upon the earth. 3SG 54.1Read in context »
The wickedness of men had reached such a height that destruction was pronounced against them. As year after year passed on, deeper and deeper grew the tide of human guilt, darker and darker gathered the clouds of divine judgment. Yet Enoch, the witness of faith, held on his way, warning, pleading, entreating, striving to turn back the tide of guilt and to stay the bolts of vengeance. Though his warnings were disregarded by a sinful, pleasure-loving people, he had the testimony that God approved, and he continued to battle faithfully against the prevailing evil, until God removed him from a world of sin to the pure joys of heaven. PP 87.1
The men of that generation had mocked the folly of him who sought not to gather gold or silver or to build up possessions here. But Enoch's heart was upon eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion. His mind, his heart, his conversation, were in heaven. The greater the existing iniquity, the more earnest was his longing for the home of God. While still on earth, he dwelt, by faith, in the realms of light. PP 87.2
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. For three hundred years Enoch had been seeking purity of soul, that he might be in harmony with Heaven. For three centuries he had walked with God. Day by day he had longed for a closer union; nearer and nearer had grown the communion, until God took him to Himself. He had stood at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest; and now the portals opened, the walk with God, so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of the Holy City—the first from among men to enter there. PP 87.3Read in context »