For the vast majority of people, life on Earth ends in physical death. The Bible teaches that the consequence of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and that people are destined to die once and after that face judgment (Heb. 9:27). However, the Bible says that two people never physically died but were transported to heaven instead. Who were they and why didn’t they die?
Enoch and Elijah never physically died because God transported them to heaven. Neither man took a final breath. Neither man’s heart stopped beating. Neither lost the function of their brain. Neither lost consciousness. Enoch was raptured to heaven, and Elijah was transported with a horse-drawn chariot.
How and why was Enoch transported to heaven? How and why was Elijah transported to heaven? Can believers today be transported to heaven? Some Christians believe in the Rapture. Is it related to Enoch and Elijah? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Enoch never died, but was transported to heaven
Who was Enoch? Though readers may desire detailed information about the life and faith of Enoch, the Bible doesn’t provide it. The little information it does provide includes his family line. The book of Genesis teaches that Enoch was the son of Jared: “When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch” (Gen. 5:18). He was also the father of Methuselah: “When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah” (Gen. 5:21).
What was Enoch’s relationship with God like? Enoch had a close relationship with God. Though the Bible doesn’t describe it in detail, what the Bible does say about it is profound. The beginning of Genesis 5:22 states that “Enoch walked with God.” It’s a short description, but it’s a powerful statement about Enoch’s heart, character, and the way he lived his life.
What happened to Enoch? Two verses later in Genesis 5:24, the description states, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Since the phrase “Enoch walked with God” is repeated twice in three verses and the statement about God taking him follows them, the majority of scholars and theologians believe these descriptions are directly connected to Enoch’s transfer to heaven.
Why did God take Enoch to heaven? Some speculate that it was to show others the way to heaven. One scholar writes, “The life and translation of Enoch display not only how it is that we come to please God but also what the reward is for those who live and seek God by faith. The reward is God Himself.” 
What does the book of Hebrews say about Enoch? Hebrews verifies that Enoch never physically died and that his rapture to heaven was based on his faith. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).
What does the book of Psalms say about Enoch? The Psalms don’t say anything specifically about Enoch, but some scholars believe there are two verses that reflect on life after death, which may reflect his story in Genesis. Psalm 49:15 reads, “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” And Psalm 73:24 reads, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
Elijah never died, but was transported to heaven
Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the 9th century B.C. The only detail the Bible mentions about his early life is that he was born in Tishbe in Gilead (1 Kings 17:1).
What is Elijah known for? Elijah is known for predicting drought (1 Kings 1:1-7), raising a widow’s son (1 Kings 1:17-24), confronting Ahab (1 King 18:1-19), and defeating the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40). However, one of the most memorable moments of his life was the last one in which he was raptured to heaven (2 Kings 1:1-14).
“And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.”2 Kings 2:11-12 (ESV)
Although Elijah wasn’t perfect, his faithfulness and courage define his legacy. His appearance with Jesus in the Gospels solidifies his important place in the biblical narrative, as do the other New Testament passages that mention him.
- Jesus spoke of Elijah as a foreshadow of Christ: “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:13-14).
- Elijah appeared with Moses at the Transfiguration of Christ: “And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:14).
- James uses Elijah’s prayer life as an illustration: “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth yielded its crops” (James 5:17-18).
Can believers today be transported to heaven?
The Bible teaches that the majority of people will physically die (Rom. 6:23, Heb. 9:27). However, some Christians believe that the Bible teaches an event referred to as the Rapture. According to some that believe in the Rapture, Enoch and Elijah are a type or foreshadow, of the end-times event.
What is the Rapture? The Rapture is a supernatural event that will occur in the end times. It’s when God will suddenly and supernaturally remove all Christians from the Earth. The purpose of the Rapture, according to those who believe the doctrine, is for God to rescue believers from the Earth in preparation for the seven-year tribulation, which is a period of intense, overwhelming, and devastating judgment.
Will those that are raptured physically die first? No. According to the doctrine, God will transport Christians to heaven, perhaps in a manner similar to that of Enoch and Elijah, though not necessarily using a horse-drawn chariot.
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