The 2001 Translation

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2001 Translation


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    John 8:51 – ‘never see death at all’?

    According to some Bible translations, Jesus said (as recorded at John 8:51):

    ‘If anyone observes my word, he will never see death at all.’

    However, all of Jesus’ faithful Apostles and disciples (who had certainly observed his word) died. The Bible even tells about the deaths of some of them, such as Stephen and James. Did Jesus lie?

    No. Bible translators just got it wrong. In Greek, John 8:51 literally reads:

    ‘ean tis ton emon logon terese, thanaton ou me theorese eis ton aiōna
    ‘if/ever anyone the my word should/observe, death not not he/shall/behold into the age.’

    Jesus then used same sentence structure at John 11:26:

    ‘Kai pas ho zon kai pisteuon eis eme ou me apothane eis ton aiōna. Pisteueis touto?’
    ‘And all the living and believing into me not not should/die into the age.’

    The Greek words thanaton (death) and apothane (should die) precedes aiōna (age/era), and here it is found in the accusative case. What’s that? The accusative case is a grammatical feature of language. It shows who is the victim, who is being acted upon.

    So, in the grammar of the Greek, the death is acting upon this age, or era. This important point is completely omitted by nearly every English Bible!

    By taking account of these important words, it seems clear that Jesus was saying that those who believe and obey him will not go into permanent death in this age, or era. In other words, they wouldn’t remain dead for the entire age/era. In other words, they will not remain dead permanently.

    Jesus himself explained this clearly at John 6:40:

    ‘everyone that pays close attention to the Son and believes in him should have age-long lifeFor I will resurrect him… [yes] me, on the Last Day!

    As you can see, Jesus wasn’t really saying that his disciples would never die. Rather, he was telling them that they wouldn’t stay dead in this age/era, because he would resurrect them on the last day (presumably, the last day of this age/era).

    This expression ‘into the age’ may seem strange to us today, but a similar Greek word, aiōnōn, is routinely translated in English Bibles as ‘forever’. Translators could have easily translated John 8:51 it as:

    ‘If anyone observes my word, he will not be dead forever.

    In our translation, we have chosen to retain the Greek expression, so translate John 8:51 as:

    ‘those who obey my words will not see death into the age.’

    At least one other English translation, the Literal Standard Version, translates it similarly:

    ‘if anyone may keep My word, he may not see death—throughout the age.’

    For a greater discussion on this topic, please see the subheading ‘The Promise of Jesus,’ in the commentary, The Hereafter.