Hebrews 11:5 (KJV)

5 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 11:13 (KJV)

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Enoch who is said to have not tasted death is included in the list of faithful men and women who all died in faith. How can we understand the supposed contradiction in the above texts?

1 Answer 1


Well, hardly a "contradiction" as that term is normally understood. But there is a potential misunderstanding, as OP notes, which can be addressed in two ways:

  • (1) To assume that ἀπέθανον "[these] died" is a simple way of talking about the end of their mortal existence, and not pedantically filling it out with "...or were translated without experiencing death". But this is on the supposition that "these all" (οὗτοι πάντες) of v. 13 refers inclusively to all who precede this verse, back to the beginning of the chapter. So....

  • (2) The other option is to understand "these all" (οὗτοι πάντες) of v. 13 refering back to the "last set", that is, Abraham (with Isaac and Jacob) and Sarah only. (This is the understanding, for example, of Marcus Dods among older commentators, and more recently Paul Ellingworth (p. 593) among several more recently who take the same position.) The reasoning: as v. 13 is elaborated, the reception of the promises and the seeking a homeland refer specifically to the character of faith displayed in 11:8-12.

    It is possible that "these all" could include Noah, but the context tells against it. There is fairly clearly a separation of Enoch from "these all" on this reading, though, since the summary statement of v. 6 ("And without faith it is impossible to please him..."), sets off Enoch from what follows. Noah begins a new phase in this catalogue of faith achievers.

My sense is that either of these options adequately addresses OP's perception of a "contradiction" here, although Option #2 is the more compelling one.

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