I am deeply troubled in this matter of Soteriology and Eschatology. John 6:52-59

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[c] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[d] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.(ESV)

Take note of verse 53, where Jesus says you must partake in communion to receive eternal life and be raised up. He is clearly referring to eternal life in heaven.

However, in verse 58, it says the Israelite Patriarchs died. In contrast to verse 54, this is clearly referring to an afterlife, not just death in the earthy sense. There is also no assurance that they will be raised up.

How may this "contradiction" be understood in terms of Soteriology and Eschatology?

EDIT: To clear up what the contradiction is, this is what I'm referring to: Jesus says 2 things.

  1. Those who partake in blessed communion receive eternal life (Soteriology) and will be raised up on the last day (Eschatology).
  2. Those who partook bread from heaven (manna) did not receive eternal life. But this seems to contradict with the idea that people in the Old Testament could and did go to Heaven.
  • Not sure why this was downvoted. It includes citations and has a clear answer.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 27, 2021 at 5:45
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    I have not down-voted, but it is not clear what you find difficult. The fathers ate manna in the wilderness which was but a figure of what was to come. That does not mean that some of those fathers did not also eat of the true manna. God is not the God of the dead (said Jesus, Mark 12:27) but of the living. That God is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob proves that they still live. These things are clear in orthodox theology (the Westminster Confession, for example). What is it that you are not clear about ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 27, 2021 at 12:43
  • It's not my downvote, but I do agree that this question would be greatly improved if it ended with a short explicit statement of exactly what 'this "contradiction"' is. Nov 27, 2021 at 14:59
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    @LukeHill, the contradiction is still between what the Bible says and the idea that people "did go to Heaven". There is nothing quoted in the question that even mentions Heaven, so there is no biblical contradiction in the question. The only contradiction presented here is between what the Bible says and an idea that you state as fact but without any scripture to support it. Nov 27, 2021 at 19:17
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    @LukeHill, Elijah was lifted into heaven (the air) by a whirlwind. He was set down elsewhere and continued (see 2 Chronicles 21:12) his life after that. This event had nothing to do with God's Heaven (the "third heaven"). See my answer to Did God resurrect Moses? - Biblical Hermeneutics.SE Nov 27, 2021 at 20:04

5 Answers 5


Try extending your quoted passage to include 6:35-40 and your statement "you must partake in communion to receive eternal life and be raised up" might be revised.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Coming and believing are what satiate spiritual hunger and thirst. If you follow the progression of this very long dialogue, beginning at verse 22, it is only in the face of intensifying disbelief (v. 41, 52) that Jesus turns to the eating flesh and drinking blood language.

Compare the last highlighted passage to John 3:14-15

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

The "being raised up at the last day" refers to the resurrection of the body and does not preclude a spiritual resurrection which begins at belief and never ends:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. - John 5:24-26

As Paul repeatedly insists, we are currently dead apart from Christ and in Christ we are made alive eternally. He will never leave us nor forsake us. It is eternal life and it begins the moment we believe. There is no need for mystical religious rites and mysterious transforming substances. It is enough to reject everything believed in thus far and to believe Christ and the Father who sent Him.


There is no contradiction.

13No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven John 3:13

No matter when one lived, all have life through Jesus only. The resurrections will see OT and NT saints rise to receive the new life. Only in Christ is sin removed, David, Abraham, etc. need his sacrifice for them too.

Abraham your father rejoiced in that he should see my day--and he saw it and rejoiced. John 8:56

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead Col 1, no one before him has received eternal life. Anyone who was raised, died again.

"God is not the God of the dead (said Jesus, Mark 12:27) but of the living. That God is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob proves that they still live" (Nigel)

No wonder there is confusion. Suggesting that Abraham etc. is alive somewhere is based on a faulty and presumptuous understanding not supported by scripture but tradition alone. God IS the God of the living - simply because all may live IN Christ. Even though they die - yet they shall live.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. John 11:25

When will they live? By a resurrection after Jesus' return.

But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Jer 30:9

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand Acts 2:34

And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. Ez 34:23

Traditional church teaching offers some incongruent ideas about the next life based on pre-suppositions forced onto the text. When they fail to align with scripture - we must choose one or the other.

  • I'm downvoting because there is a slim amount of commentary that really doesn't answer the Soteriology bit of this question. Also, it doesn't address the new covenant with Christ that only existed AFTER the fathers.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 27, 2021 at 5:30
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    As you wish, the first quote dispenses with your alleged contradiction, rendering the whole question moot.
    – steveowen
    Nov 27, 2021 at 5:33
  • the first verse seems to contradict the idea that anyone has gone to heaven, which is against key Christian doctrine (absent Soul Sleep possibly?) do you have a way to keep this in line with Christian doctrine where someone goes straight to Heaven?
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 27, 2021 at 5:43
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    Then the obvious conclusion is then - doctrine is wrong, rather than make God’s word wrong to accommodate poor theology. There is numerous content on here and BH that shows doctrine is not aligned with scripture. This is a classic area of confusion made worse by poor theology.
    – steveowen
    Nov 27, 2021 at 5:50
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    @LukeHill says "first verse seems to contradict the idea that anyone has gone to heaven". In general, almost all biblical contradictions are actually contradictions between what the Bible says and the ideas that people think it says. The obvious resolution is accept the Biblical truth and to drop the false idea, but most people are far too reluctant to even consider the possibility. Nov 27, 2021 at 15:06

Nobody could get into heaven prior to Jesus dying and then returning to heaven in glory as the great and only High Priest who was sacrificed once for all time. When Jesus died on the cross, the thick tapestry curtain in the temple was rent asunder from top to bottom. It was as thick as a man's clenched fist and the drop was about 20 cubits. Given that there's uncertainty as to what cubit measure was used, and that Josephus's height measurements were greatly exaggerated (despite his horizontal measurements being exquisitely accurate) the drop can only be called 'great'.

The supernatural ripping of that curtain (which hid from view the Most Holy place in the temple where the High Priest could only enter once a year) symbolised the way into God's very presence now being opened up, Jesus being the 'firstfruits' who entered in first. Please bear in mind that this is entering into the very throne-room of God in heaven. There's more to heaven that that.

Your first question is, "Did anyone before Jesus go to heaven?" The answer is, "No." What enables a person to receive eternal life is another matter, and mixing that up with getting into heaven is muddying the waters. Jesus stated that even while believers in him walk on earth and before they die physically, they have already received eternal life.

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live... Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned... These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:24-40 - empahses mine).

Your second question is, "Will they be raised up on the last day?" The scripture above is clear that everyone who has died will be raised up with a resurrection body on the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. That, however, does not speak of the departed spirit/soul part of the deceased. That is another question. As Ecclesiastes chapter 12 explains, at physical death "the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it", which is why youths are exhorted to remember the Creator before death comes: "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Just what Jesus said thousands of years later. And Jesus himself committed his spirit to God the Father, immediately before he died physically. Stephen likewise committed his spirit to Christ in heaven just before he was stoned to death. Read Luke 23:46 & Acts 7:59. Now, when Hebrews 9:25-27 is quoted, it should all become clear:

"Nor did [Christ] enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer may times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

A believer in Jesus receives eternal life at that point of saving faith (believingly confessing the name of Jesus, Acts 10:42-43 & Romans 10:9-13) so that only his physical body will die prior to Christ's return. His spirit, or soul, returns to God who gave it. That's why Revelation 6:9-11 depicts the souls of the martyrs being under heaven's altar, being told to wait till the full number of the martyrs will be reached. They are not in front of God's throne - not yet. They are waiting in the spirit, in another part of heaven, till the last trump is sounded, all the dead will be given resurrection bodies with which to 'clothe' their departed spirits/souls, and then be judged by Christ. That awesome Day of Resurrection and Judgment (Revelation 20:11-14) concludes the whole protracted matter of physical death, spirits returning, then being clothed with resurrection bodies to stand in judgment, then going to their eternal destiny. Some will surround the throne of God in worship, others will be thrown into the lake of fire.

Your two additional Edit questions should dissolve into comparatively secondary importance in relation to your two main questions, now that those have been answered.

These are immensely deep spiritual matters that the Bible does unfold, but until the Bible is reverently examined - all of it, not just proof-texts - many questions will arise. I have only provided a sign-post to point you along the way to go to resolve these many questions. I hope this helps.


Did anyone before Jesus go to Heaven and Will They Be Raised Up On the Last Day? (John 6)

”Eemaha!” That is Eskimo for maybe.

Truly Jesus died. This is a cornerstone of Christian theology. The Son of God died, but then rose from the dead three days later. However, Enoch and Elijah did not die. They were taken from earth to heaven by God. They are the only ones in recorded history to skip death.

Some Christians hold that these two Prophets will return to earth and will die as martyrs, professing the faith in Jesus as the true Christ when the Antichrist appears.

As such, they neither consumed the body or blood of Christ, as both we living prior to the establishment of the New Covenant.

In fact, Enoch lived during the time of God’s Covenant with Adam, while Elijah lived under God’s Covenant established under the Law of Moses.

Why did God take Enoch and Elijah to heaven without them dying?

According to the Bible, Enoch and Elijah are the only two people God took to heaven without them dying. Genesis 5:24 tells us, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Second Kings 2:11 tells us, "Suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind." Enoch is described as a man who "walked with God for 300 years" (Genesis 5:23). Elijah was perhaps the most powerful of God’s prophets in the Old Testament. There are also prophecies of Elijah’s return (Malachi 4:5-6).

Why did God take Enoch and Elijah? The Bible does not specifically give us the answer. Some speculate that they were taken in preparation for a role in the end times, possibly as the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3-12. This is possible, but not explicitly taught in the Bible. It may be that God desired to save Enoch and Elijah from experiencing death due to their great faithfulness in serving and obeying Him. Whatever the case, God has His purpose, and while we don’t always understand God’s plans and purposes, we know that “His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).

Certainly the teachings of John 6:52-59 can not pertain to those who lived under a different Covenant established under God’s will.

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. - Hebrews 11:5

22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:

24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. - Genesis 5:22-24

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. - 2 Kings 2:11

Whether or not these two Prophets went to heaven or not; or are in fact to be the Two Witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation does not produce grounds for some contraction in St. John’s Gospel as they were both living their lives under a different set of mandates established by God during their perspective times.

The Two Witnesses

11 Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth.”

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. 6 They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically[a] called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; 10 and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.

11 But after the three and a half days, the breath[b] of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Are Enoch and Elijah the Two Witnesses?

The apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (also known as Acts of Pilate) states that those two witnesses who will appear in times of Antichrist to engage in battle with him are Enoch and Elijah: "3. One of them answering, said, I am Enoch, who was translated by the word of God: and this man who is with me, is Elijah the Tishbite, who was translated in a fiery chariot. 4. Here we have hitherto been, and have not tasted death, but are now about to return at the coming of Antichrist, being armed with divine signs and miracles, to engage with him in battle, and to be slain by him at Jerusalem, and to be taken up alive again into the clouds, after 3 days and a half." - Gospel of Nicodemus, Chapter 20:3-4.

Others have proposed Moses as one of the witnesses, for his ability to turn water into blood and the power to plague the earth.

Early Christian writers such as Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus of Rome, have concluded that the two witnesses would be Enoch and Elijah, the two prophets who did not die because God "took" them according to other Biblical passages. - Two witnesses

Did anyone before Jesus go to Heaven and Will They Be Raised Up On the Last Day?

If there is any possibility of this I would say that the Prophets Enoch and Elijah fit the bill. The only question I have is that how diverse denominations interpret ”heaven”, in regards to these two Prophets, which is not part of this immediate posting.


You are not condemned because of some cosmic happenstance of being born post the life of Jesus in a Christian country. You are condemned by your sinful nature. This is true for all of mankind before, during and after the life of Jesus. We are all guilty. We have been found guilty and sentenced. Through the sacrifice of Jesus there exist a way to escape our sentence.

If you in honest prayer admit your wrongs. If you put your trust that Jesus came and died on the cross so we can escape our sentence then you have hope for an afterlife, but this does not make you innocent.

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