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I've heard non-trinitarians say, "The Bible says God can't die, therefore Jesus isn't God.

  1. First of all, does the Bible even say that God can't die (I assume it does, or at least it implies it). I believe that God can't be snuffed out of existence. If it does say it or imply it, in what sense is the word "die" or "death" used, and what evidence or reason do you have for your answer?

  2. I know that Trinitarians distinguish Jesus dying (biological death of His body) and God hypothetically dying (being snuffed out of existence), but how do we prove this difference biblically? I hope that's a coherent question. To clarify, some non-trinitarians would say that distinguishing meanings of death in the Bible is just ad hoc or grasping for straws. How do we prove that this difference in meaning is biblical and not ad hoc?

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    The personal beliefs of people don't matter here - anyone is allowed to answer any question. Instead the content of the answers must match the perspective asked about. So there's no need to say only Trinitarians can answer. If someone knows what Trinitarians teach then they can write an answer, they don't have to believe it themselves. – curiousdannii Aug 12 at 2:50
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    Does this answer your question? According to Orthodox Christianity, did God die on the cross at Calvary? – Nigel J Aug 12 at 3:26
  • In the same way we reconcile human death with the existence of an eternal soul. – Lucian Aug 16 at 11:37
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The Doctrinal Position

Trinitarian position usually includes the doctrine of Jesus's having two natures in one person (Hypostatic Union). Armed with both the doctrine of Trinity and the Hypostatic Union, the standard explanation of what happened when Jesus died on the cross is as follows:

  1. The Divine nature of Jesus did not die or cease to exist
  2. Neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit died on the cross
  3. The body of God the Son in his human nature died and was buried
  4. Although the human body of God the Son died, the hypostatic union of two natures was never separated, broken, or compromised

Source: Did God Die on the Cross?: The Trinity and the Crucifixion

Answering your questions

Q1: Does the Bible even say that God can't die?

Answer: Yes, see several Bible verses such as

  • Isa 40:28: ... The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. ...
  • 1 Tim 1:17: All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
  • Deut 33:27: The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. ...

Q2: [paraphrase] How do Trinitarians explain that Jesus truly died as a human being but yet retains His Divine Nature who never die?

Answer: Quote from the article above for the explanation:

As mentioned above, human nature doesn’t cease to exist in death; rather, the body perishes but the soul/spirit lives to God. Jesus’s human nature—like ours—still existed in his death, because the soul/spirit is immortal and thus the human nature still lives in/not in the presence of God. If Jesus’s human nature died/ceased to exist for three days, this would indicate not only a death of his soul, but also a split in his person—only half of Jesus would exist for three days while his body was in the tomb. We need to affirm, then, that the human soul/spirit of Jesus remained alive (thus, his nature did not die), but that he experienced a real human death like all of us: body in the ground, soul/spirit with the Lord. And his resurrected body, like ours one day, was raised imperishable and he now lives as the God-man who will never die again.

Q3: What's the Biblical evidence for the answer of Q2?

Answer:

STEP 1: Trinitarians look at the Bible verses below as the starting point (with straightforward plain sense interpretation).

  • Jesus is God: see supporting Bible verses such as
    • John 1:1,14: In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
    • John 10:30: The Father and I are one.
  • Jesus died: some supporting Bible verses:
    • John 19:30-33: When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs.
    • Mark 15:37: Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
    • 1 Pet 3:18: ... He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

STEP 2: Trinitarians then came up with the doctrinal position above as the straightforward logical way to reconcile them, yielding the explanation in the answer to Q2 above.

Conclusion

The straightforward meaning of the Bible verses and the explanation preclude having to "grasp for straws".

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You are asking about the "Trinitarians" view, not about a certain denomination. Because there are many different Trinitarian denominations, various different answers to your question exist.

God can't die, therefore Jesus isn't God.

Jesus dying ... and God ... dying

In my youth I heard about various books written by Christian theologians arguing more or less this way:

"One reason why God became a man is that he wanted to die because he wanted to make the experience of dying."

These authors deny the premise ("God can't die") of the non-Trinitarian's statement (see the second part of my answer).

I don't know which denominations were represented by these theologians, however, it is clear that the statement implies that those denominations at least assume that Jesus is God.

First of all, does the Bible even say that God can't die (I assume it does, or at least it implies it).

You have to be very careful here:

If you assume that there is no life after death, the sentence "some person died" is equivalent to the sentence "the person does not live any more".

However, the Bible assumes that there is a life after death. And if a religion (not necessarily Christianity) assumes that there is a life after death, the sentence "the person died" does not imply that the person does not live any more. The statement that somebody has died does not even imply that the person is dead (even not for a short moment) after having died.

And in reverse, the statement that some person will live forever does not imply that the person does not die.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you if there is some text in the Bible explicitly saying that God cannot die.

However, the quotes from the Bible given in the other answer only say that God will live forever; assuming that there is a life after death, this does not imply that God cannot die.

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    Re. your point, "does the Bible even say that God can't die?" One anti-trinitarian group grasps at straws by mistranslating Habakkuk 1:12. They have it read, "O Jehovah. O my God, my Holy One, you do not die, O Jehovah." (NWT) But it should read, "O Jehovah, my God, my Holy One. We do not die, O Jehovah." (YLT) To change 'we' (God's people) to 'you' (God) is a sign of desperation to try to make the Bible say something that it does not say. – Anne Aug 18 at 17:59
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You answered your own question a bit: It was Jesus' body that died. When we refer to someone dying we usually mean one's physical body is dying. Atheists then think the human is "entirely" dead (no longer existent). In fact, nobody "dies" like this, just their bodies. The deceased then go to Heaven, hell or purgatory.

Jesus' body was dead for two days. After the death of Jesus on the cross Jesus went into hell, reunited with His body on the third day and rose to Heaven.

In the Apostolic creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

(emphasis mine)

In Scripture, sometimes with "death" also spiritual death is meant, but that's a different story that doesn't play a role in this case.

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To understand spiritual Death and Life in regards to Trinitarian doctrines of the Resurrection, consider John 4:24 in relationship to Psalm 51:13 where we learn the Holy Spirit (Ruach Qadesh, ר֥וּחַ קָ֜דְשְׁ ) is the bond that joins us to YHVH.

[Psalm 51:13] "Do not cast me away from before You, and do not take Your holy spirit from me." (אַל־תַּשְׁלִיכֵ֥נִי מִלְּפָנֶ֑יךָ וְר֥וּחַ קָ֜דְשְׁךָ֗ אַל־תִּקַּ֥ח מִמֶּֽנִּי )

By rejecting the Holy Spirit, you would reject your relationship with the Father. This is why Simon (Peter) repents three times in John 21 to parallel the rejection of his bond to Yeshua, three times in Matthew 26.

If Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth had rejected knowing the Father, then He would would have been considered dead within the faith. - In the Gospel accounts, Yeshua the Messiah remains faithful to YHVH by ministering a restoration of Torah for the resurrection of His people, which means Yeshua's soul never died.

The doctrinal debate regarding Resurrection is explained by Yeshua to the Sadducees in [Mark 12:26-27]. Yeshua corrects a misunderstanding of the resurrection in God, stating : " Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

It is interesting when readers of the Gospel mention Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth as having "died" on the cross, since spiritual death refers to the worship of idols or disowning the Father. There is no verse in the Gospels that states Yeshua of Nazareth worshipped idols or deified men like Caesar. Instead we read about Yeshua's life in the Father by rejecting the diefied Caesar in Mark 12:17.

Mark 12:17 not only describes biblical death in idols versus biblical life in YHVH, but also alludes to our spirit as the "image" of God instead of our body.

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