Plato's Phaedo is one of the great dialogues of his middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium. The Phaedo, which depicts the death of Socrates, is also Plato's seventh and last dialogue to detail the philosopher's final days….
In the dialogue, Socrates discusses the nature of the afterlife on his last day before being executed by drinking hemlock. Socrates has been imprisoned and sentenced to death by an Athenian jury for not believing in the gods of the state and for corrupting the youth of the city. The dialogue is told from the perspective of one of Socrates' students….Socrates explores various arguments for the soul's immortality in order to show that there is an afterlife in which the soul will dwell following death.
Socrates offers four arguments for the soul's immortality. In his Cyclical Argument, or Opposites Argument (Socrates) explains that Forms are eternal and unchanging, and as the soul always brings life, then it must not die, and is necessarily "imperishable"… As the body is mortal and is subject to physical death, the soul must be its indestructible opposite. As the soul always brings life, then it must not die, and is necessarily "imperishable". As the body is mortal and is subject to physical death, the soul must be its indestructible opposite.
By immortality is ordinarily understood the doctrine that the human soul will survive death, continuing in the possession of an endless conscious existence…. The doctrine of immortality, strictly or properly understood, means personal immortality, the endless conscious existence of the individual soul….Catholic Encyclopedia.
For many years religions of all origins have fostered the idea of the natural immortality of the soul which asserts that humanity is immortal by nature. This doctrine teaches that man is incapable of death. It teaches that some part of a person will never die. It also asserts that this never dying part of a human being will live forever somewhere, whether in heaven or hell. Mankind, it asserts, is destined for eternity whether he is good or bad. According to this teaching, God created man to be immortal by nature (inherently immortal); he was so created by God to live without dying. This notion teaches it’s proponents that when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, he in some way inserted a never dying soul, a little part of himself, making him immortal. The idea presented, is that God cannot therefore destroy this little part of himself which is therefore the “real man”.
This is an interesting concept inasmuch as God was the one who pronounced death upon our first parents Adam and Eve. “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”. Genesis 3:19 It is also interesting when one considers how God drove our first parents out of the Garden "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Gen. 3:22). The doctrine of "natural immortality" is discounted by as many tombstones and unmarked graves as there are in the world.
Contrary to this teaching is the Biblical doctrine of "conditional immortality," which teaches that immortality is something we must seek.” Rom. 2:7 One does not seek for something he already possesses. Romans 8:24 For the sake of clarity, when this article mentions living forever, everlasting life, eternal life, or immortality; we are talking about the same thing. We are talking about living forever without ever dying.
I really like the definition which can be derived from Jesus words. These words break down the concept of immortality to its simplest form. This reference is the place where Jesus addressed the hypothetical question of one woman being married to seven brothers; whose wife would she be in the resurrection? This question was asked by the Sadducees who are noted as not believing in the resurrection at all. Luke 20:27.
- Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.37 "But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob .38 "Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him." Luke 20:34-38 (NASB)
My point is; Jesus’ words “They cannot even die anymore” give another way of expressing eternal life, life everlasting. “Sons of the resurrection” would enjoy life from that point forward without the curse of death ever occurring again. Notice this ability to live without ever dying again had occurred because they were referred to as “sons of the resurrection” which would itself refer to someone who has been raised from the dead. Remember him that was “made was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death.” Heb 2:9 (NASB)
CANNOT DIE ANYMORE
Jesus reminded the Sadducees of Moses’ reference to the resurrection when he referred to God as, “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. “God”, Jesus said, “is not the God of the dead…for all live to him.” That is best understood by examining the thought put forth by Paul:
When God spoke of Abraham as being a father of many nations, he speaks in the past tense “I have made thee”, which Paul took to mean God meant that Abraham was already the Father of many nations, even though that in actuality had not yet occurred. In other words, God can refer to those things which are not and do not exist as though they already exists; “for all live to him”. It will occur because God said it will. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who are dead because he has ordained that they will live again in the resurrection. Notice Jesus’ reference to this same issue in this verse:
- (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Romans 4:17 (KJV)
- There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. Luke 13:28 (KJV)
How can Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be in the kingdom of God unless God raises them from the dead? Abraham believed in a resurrection of the dead. Heb. 11:19 God revealed to Abraham that he would give land to him and his seed. Gen. 13:14-15 Abraham believed God and his belief was counted to him as righteousness. Gen. 15:6 Abraham died without receiving enough of that land to set his foot on. Acts 7:5 The land of the promise made to Abraham will yet be given to him. Galatians 3:17 God will raise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the dead and give to them the inheritance which he promised; Luke 13:28 that’s why Jesus said “Blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth". Matt. 5:5
Eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23). A gift is something that is given to a person which he did not have. This teaches that God will give certain people something they do not have and cannot have, save only through Christ. Don’t forget Jesus words to Nicodemus:
Immortality is something which we must put on at the last trump when Jesus comes. (1 Cor. 15:53) If we already have natural immortality, we would not have to put it on, for we would already have it on. I am reminded of this verse:
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? Romans 8:24 (NASB)
God gave his son, so whosoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). If we are naturally immortal, we already have everlasting life, so we can't perish anyhow. The privilege of living forever is reserved for those who heed the conditions laid down by God. "He that hath the Son hath life" (1 John 5:12).
No murderer, which is equal to hating one’s brother, has eternal life abiding in him. To come before God with unforgiven sin will bar one from the privilege of living forever.
- Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 (KJV)
It has been God’s intention from the beginning to allow men to live forever. Why do you think he put the “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden? While that is true, it is also true that eternal life is conditional. God placed cherubim east of the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3:24 God revealed here that it is not his intention to allow everyone to live for ever, only those who overcome will be given the right to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. Rev. 2:7 It would be good to look at the process of putting on immortality. Here on the basis of the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the believers finds sure footing. Paul presents the case for the resurrection of the dead in I Corin. 15:1-50; following that presentation he offers this word picture:
- But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand. We're not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. 52 You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it's over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we'll all be changed. 53 In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. 54 Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! 1 Cor 15:51-54 (MSG)
Don’t ignore Paul’s words, “we shall not all sleep”. What does that mean? It means there will be some who “are alive and remaining” when Jesus returns. I Thess. 4:17. These will not die, but “will be changed in the moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump”. Verse 52 KJV The dead will be raised incorruptible and the living will be changed. Jesus clarified this in his conversation with Martha after the death of Lazarus.
Is Jesus suggesting that if you believe in Jesus you will never die? Yes it does, but we must get the timing correct. Remember, Jesus’ conversation with Martha was in the context of “resurrection”. Verse 25 What Jesus was saying was that those who are living when Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, returns, will not have to die, because they will be changed from mortal to immortality. When he said “he who believes in me will live even if he dies” he is not saying that they will be alive even though they appear to be dead. Remember that Jesus said “plainly to the disciples, Lazarus is dead.” John 11:14 If we cannot believe Jesus’ assessment of the situation, who can we believe? If that is what he meant, (they will be alive even though they appear to be dead) how then could he have spoken of those who “sleep in Jesus” and how could anyone be “dead in Christ”. “It is appointed unto men once to die,” Heb. 9:27 and the only way to escape that death is to be living in Christ when Christ returns. Then “everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die”.
- Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 (NASB)
This corruptible must put on incorruption: this mortal must put on immortality. Death itself, the “last enemy” to be destroyed, will be swallowed by triumphant life. I Corin. 15:26 Fathom with me the implications of everlasting life: Freedom from death and sickness; no more hospitals or funerals; no cemeteries to dot the landscape of the kingdom of God.
Do you realize how long God has had this in mind as a part of his purpose? Ephesians 3:11
- And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25 (KJV)
- In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; Titus 1:2 (KJV)
JESUS WAS DEAD
Jesus understands this completely. He was dead. He understands what it means to be death. He is alive. He understands what it means to be resurrected from the dead. He is alive forever more. He understands what it means to be living without ever having to die again. He is “the firstfruits of them that sleep”.
- Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Rev 1:17-18 (NASB)
How do we get this eternal life? God has promised it; we can surely count on it; we, however, do not now possess it.
- But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 1 Cor 15:20-23 (KJV)
- Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16
- By patient continuance in well doing seek for it. Romans 2:7
- Wait for it, cause it is coming. Romans 8:25
- Eternal life is conditional. It is the gift of God. Romans 6:23
- But everlasting life will only be given to those who overcome. Revelation 2:7
UNINFORMED ABOUT DEATH
The Apostle Paul put it in tender terms; words worthy to be used when someone wants to know how to comfort another who is dealing with the reality of death: Verse 18 these words were written also to help those who are “uninformed about those who are asleep”. I Thess. 4:13 We need not be ignorant (KJV), uninformed (NASB) or in the dark (MSG) about those who are asleep in death.
What did Paul mean by “meeting the Lord in the air”? Please notice that will occur “in the clouds”. Jesus mentioned this “gathering” in the Gospels.
- For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess 4:16-18 (NASB)
- "Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. 31 At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole. Matt 24:30-31 (MSG)
What are they doing in the four winds? They were there to meet the Lord in the air; all around the earth and need to be gathered together to meet their Master. Consider Jesus’ words to John:
COMING WITH CLOUDS
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. Rev 1:7 (NASB)
You will remember that it was on the Mount of Olives that the disciples got their last glimpse of Jesus. He had spent those last 40 days on earth speaking to them about the Kingdom of God; Acts 1:3 following those days “he was taken up, into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight”. Acts 1:9-11 As he was being taken up, “Two men” stood by the disciples in white apparel and announced that Jesus would come again just as they had seen him go into heaven; in the clouds.
Jesus said that he would “dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.” Matt. 24:31 We should not expect to abide there in the clouds, in the air forever. We should expect to accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, where he will exercise rulership. You will recall that the prophet said that the “government would be on his shoulders”; Isaiah 9:6 also remember that Gabriel said he “would reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there would be no end.” Luke 1:32-33 We can expect to reign with him for a thousand years, Rev. 20:4 and to live in the kingdom of God forever. Rev. 11:15
I surely hope you got that! “So we shall always be with the Lord”.
- Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders. Isaiah 24:23 (NASB)