What does Jesus mean, 'He shall never see death'?


“Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” John 8:51 (Read John 8:51-56)

Jesus’ words to His fellow Jews echo His words in John 5 and John 11. Jesus told the Jews in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” In John 11:25-26, Jesus said to Martha when her brother Lazarus had died: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

What does this mean? It means that the one who trusts in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and His Savior will not suffer eternal death and damnation. Though believers may die physical or temporal death and their bodies be placed in the grave, they will not die spiritually or eternally.

At death, God’s angels carry their souls into heaven to be with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the Last Day, when Christ returns, He will bring their souls with Him, raise up their bodies as glorified heavenly bodies, and they will, according to both body and soul, dwell forever with the Lord Jesus.

St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Phil. 1:21-24; cf. Luke 16:22-23; Rev. 6:9-11: 7:9-17).

To the Thessalonians, St. Paul wrote: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13-17; cf. Phil. 3:20-21; 2 Cor. 5:1-9; 1 Cor. 15:1-58).

Jesus called upon His hearers — and He calls upon us today — to hear and believe His words, to believe He is the eternal Son of God who came into this world a true man to redeem us by His perfect atoning sacrifice, and to turn from our sinful ways and look to Him and His cross for pardon, forgiveness, and life eternal.

As Jesus said, those who keep His saying and look to Him for pardon and forgiveness will not see death — they won’t be condemned to eternal damnation in the fires of hell but have passed from death to life. At death, their souls will be carried by God’s angels into the presence of Abraham and all the saints who have looked to Christ for mercy, and on the Last Day, their bodies will be raised up as glorified and heavenly bodies and reunited with their souls, and they will dwell forever with the Lord!

Grant that I hear and believe Your words, dear Lord Jesus, so that I may share in Your victory over death and live in Your presence forevermore. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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