What does taste death in Hebrews 2:9 mean?

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Since God cannot cease to exist spiritually, what kind of death did Jesus die? Is it just physical death? ( where soul departs from the body ). Or was Jesus separated from the Trinity for some time? Or as some say did he suffer for us in hell? Or did he take up sin on him and become like the serpent? ( Numbers 21:9 John 3:14 ) What does this text teach us?

Also in

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

it says the Soul of Jesus went to hell. Is this experience also included in the tasting death experience mentioned?

  • I don't think 3:14 refers to Numbers 21:9, but to Exodus 4:4-5. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:43

9 Answers 9


Since death cannot literally be tasted (i.e., with the tongue), the Greek verb γεύομαι is here used figuratively with the meaning of “to experience someth[ing] cognitively or emotionally, come to know someth[ing].”1 Hence, Josephus 2 and Philo3 mention the taste of wisdom; and, Hermes Tresmegistus, the taste of immortality:4

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The Hebrew equivalent verb טָעַם (taʿam) shares a similar figurative sense. The Jewish writings mention טעם שינה (“the taste of sleep”)5 and טעם חטא (“the taste of sin”).6 Likewise, the Aramaic targumim mention טעמא מיתו (“the taste of death”).7

To taste of death, then, means to experience death, i.e. to die. With respect to his humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ died in the same manner as any other man. He gave up his last breath and committed his spirit to God the Father,8 and his body was placed in the grave.9 However, because he was also God, and God is spirit,10 he as eternal spirit11 continued existing while he lay in the grave.


1 BDAG, p. 195, γεύομαι, 2.
2 Josephus. Wars of the Jews, 2.158: τοῖς...γευσαμένοις τῆς σοφίας
3 Philo. On Virtues, §188: γευσαμένων σοφίας
4 Hermetica, Vol. 1, p. 192–193
5 Sukka 55b
6 Yoma 22b
7 Targum Jerusalem of Deu. 32:1
8 Luke 23:46
9 Luke 23:53
10 John 4:24
11 Heb. 9:14

  • + 1 However you don't seem to distinguish between "tasting" and "eating". IE: In English, to "taste" food is to "sample" or "experience a little of" in contrast to "consuming it all". It seems to me that Koine works the same: [Heb 6:5 KJV] And **have tasted the good word [ ῥῆμα ] of God, and the powers [δυνάμεις] of the world [ αἰῶνος - "age"] to come, [Heb 6:6 KJV] If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:55
  • I think that the reason the phrase "taste of" is used is to indicate that his suffering was cut short. He didn't go all the way. He experienced just enough so that he could have compassion on the dry trees. This might support this idea: [Col 1:24 NIV] Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:58

The figurative usage of "taste" in the Bible is "experience intimately; know by personal experience." Thus it might be used along with "see," as in the following Psalm:

Psalm 34:8 (KJV) O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Cf. Jn 20:27 (feel and see).

St. Peter also uses this Psalm in his first Epistle:

1 Peter 2:3 (KJV) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

That is, if you have indeed come to know by lived experience the grace and mercy of God, and the merit in living Christian life, and its end.

But death in the Bible is separation of soul and body, not cessation of existence or consciousness as a person.

1 Peter 3:18-19 (DRB) Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, 19 In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison:

(The 'prison' is clearly Sheol, or where Abraham's Bosom is, the Afterlife. Spirits aren't in literal prison systems. Cf. Heb. 11:40; Mt. 5:25-26. It's not the place of the damned, even if it's the same 'realm,' you might say.)

People preach to other spirits not if their spirit is 'just their body,' or if they are 'in soul sleep,' as some say, but if they can "yield" the spirit from the body (Mt. 27:50), and live on in another mode, namely, as a disembodied spirit, like an angel does by nature.

With that background, let's read the context of Hebrews 2 again:

Hebrews 2:9-18 (DRB) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all.

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by his passion. 11 For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 12 I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the church will I praise thee. 13 And again: I will put my trust in him. And again: Behold I and my children, whom God hath given me. 14 Therefore because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner hath been partaker of the same: that, through death, he might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil: 15 And might deliver them, who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude. 16 For no where doth he take hold of the angels: but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold. 17 Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest before God, that he might be a propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that, wherein he himself hath suffered and been tempted, he is able to succour them also that are tempted.

It was fitting for the Representative of sinners before God to at least have tasted the suffering of sin: otherwise, did God really come down to us at all? Just as it is desirable that a political leader has experienced the struggles of the lower classes himself, and wasn't always upper class, rich, etc. It's "through the grace of God" that His death becomes our death. He went through ("tasted") death for all.(it benefits them, and they don't have to taste eternal death because of it).

The reason 'tasted death' is here used instead of simply 'he died' is because what's being emphasized is that He died not only in appearance, or 'legally,' but exactly as we all die.


Q: Since God cannot cease to exist spiritually, what kind of death did Jesus die?

A: The Bible teaches us that Jesus is one Person (hypostasis) who possesses two natures (physis), a divine nature and a human nature. This means He is fully divine and fully human. This sublime mystery is called the Hypostatic Union. Like the mystery of the Trinity, it is very hard for us to wrap our finite brains around. After all, most of us only have one nature.

My favorite analogy is to imagine one person who has two accounts on the computer, an admin account and a guest account. He is fully admin and fully guest. To make the analogy even more complete, there are three persons who all share the one admin account, but only one of these persons (guess which) also has a guest account. The admin account always existed and all three persons always shared it and always will share it, but the guest account was first created 2000 years ago. The Son didn't lose his access to the admin account by creating a guest account, but instead has two accounts. My analogy has its limitations, but hopefully it will be useful.

Of course, like the word "Trinity," the wording "Hypostatic Union" doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible. Nevertheless, the reality of both of these mysteries is certainly implicitly there, just not expressed in the same words. We see that Jesus does things that only God would do (create all things, exist before Abraham, etc.) but he also eats, sleeps, suffers, etc. like an ordinary man. How can this be? Hypostatic Union.

Now, in order to answer the original question, let us turn attention to the following verse from Revelation.

(Revelation 2:8) And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write: These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead, and is alive:

Keep in mind that "the First and the Last" is YHWH. (see Isaiah 44:6) This verse is saying that the First and the Last (i.e. God) was dead. But how can that be, since God is not subject to change? But since God the Son has two natures, a divine nature and a human nature, there is no contradiction. In his divine nature, God the Son is not subject to change and cannot die. But in his human nature, God the Son died on the cross, his soul descended into Hades, and he rose from the dead on the third day.

I know it at first sounds shocking to say that God died on the cross to save sinners from eternal damnation, but it actually is very fitting from a theological perspective. If Christ was just a "good man," how could his sacrifice pay for the infinite debt owed to God for the sins of mankind? But if God died on the cross, His sacrifice was of infinite value.

Here is a beautiful prayer from the Byzantine Rite which illustrates the sublime implications of Christ dying on the cross in his humanity while still being God simultaneously.

When your body was in the tomb, your soul in hell [Hades], when you were in paradise with the thief, you were, at the same time, O Christ, as God upon the throne, with the Father and the Spirit, infinite and filling all things.

Q: Or as some say did he suffer for us in hell?

A: The Apostles' Creed says that Christ "descended into hell [Hades]," yet this doesn't mean that He suffered the fires of hell like the souls of the damned do. But that is perhaps the topic of a different question, so I'll link to an article since that's all I have time for at the moment.

  • 1
    You wrote: "The Bible teaches us that Jesus is one Person (hypostasis) who possesses two natures (physis), a divine nature and a human nature." Where does it teach that? As I read it Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh and he was the image, reflection and impression of God's nature, per Hebrews 1:1-3. Jesus is the angel in which YHVH put his name so that YHVH himself would not be sullied or die (or kill every human being as if they had crashed into the sun). Please do not base answers on post-Biblical fabrications.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 17:11
  • @Ruminator "Where does it teach that?" The First and the Last was dead. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 22:36
  • @Ruminator By the way, the concept of a "Bible" is a post-Biblical fabrication. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    This is a "Biblical Hermeneutics" site, not a Catholic or Protestant site so post-Biblical creeds are of no weight.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 1:03
  • @Ruminator What if the Bible proves the teachings of the Catholic Church? Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 1:49

What kind of death did Jesus experience?

In order to explore this question from the text, we need to put aside personal beliefs for a moment - including doctrine on the Trinity or preconceived ideas about heaven and hell, the soul, etc.

The Greek word γεύομαι can be translated as 'to taste', but also ‘to eat’ and more generally ‘to experience'. It is not specifically a small or partial experience, so we cannot assume that what is meant here is only a small taste of death.

All written accounts of Jesus say that he died - ie. that his physical body became void of life. His body was then buried, and from that point Jesus no longer enjoyed a material existence.

These written accounts also describe, in a number of ways, the experience of Jesus’ presence being lost to the world for a short time after this death, before it was restored just three days later - not necessarily as a material body, but as the faithful began to 'experience' him or to witness him 'appear' amongst them.

During those three days - regardless of whether one believes in heaven or hell, in a soul, the Trinity or the serpent - all accounts point to a death experienced by Jesus in every sense of human experience. For those three days, Jesus was lost to the living human experience in every way - body, soul and spirit.

While we may ‘know’ that God cannot cease to ‘exist’ spiritually, all accounts attest that for three days no one, not even those closest to him were able to experience Jesus at all except as a loss - a void. We can theorise about what goes on beyond our human experience, based on what we believe, but in the end we can only attest to the human experience itself.

But Jesus is experienced as alive

We also don't need to believe in the resurrection, in heaven and hell or the Trinity to recognise that, after those three days, Jesus has continued to exist as a non-material presence at least somewhere in human experience, whether or not we recognise that presence as ‘real’ or ‘alive’, ‘human’ or ‘God’, or simply a character in a book.

The way I see it, after three days his disciples began to recognise that this spiritual connection Jesus had nurtured in their personal experience of his life did not cease to exist - it was only their awareness of it that was temporarily experienced as ‘lost’. This spiritual or non-material element of human experience, and its ability to connect beyond time and space, was what he had been teaching them to focus on all along. And whenever they then brought those diverse experiences together, Jesus appeared as very much a 'living', active presence amongst them: bringing peace, reminding them of what he had taught and what he had suffered in order to demonstrate the eternal, spiritual element of human experience by his example.

What does this text teach us?

As for what Hebrews 2:9 intended to teach, we know that Paul is writing specifically to the Jewish in his community, and has been arguing the significance of Jesus to scripture. So far in this letter he has cited a number of scriptural passages to illustrate that Jesus is both a subject of scripture and ranked above the angels. Here he gives a small interpretive twist to Psalm 8, which in the original text describes 'the son of man' as made 'little less than God (Elohim)' and crowned with glory and honour, with all things put under his feet:

what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet (Psalm 8: 4-7)

Paul instead phrases this part of the text in the past tense as 'lower than the angels (angelous)' for a 'little while', and only now crowned with glory and honour:

It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” (Hebrews 2: 6-8)

With this slight twist, he suggests that Jesus fulfills this scripture - by allowing himself to be temporarily placed below the angels (to become mortal, to experience death for the benefit of all) for a time in order to attain glory greater than that of the angels (whom he has already described as servants of those who attain salvation).

But the original Psalm describes a present glory and honour bestowed on 'the son of man', proclaimed by David. It was not until people witnessed Jesus demonstrating the potentiality of this 'dominion over the works of thy hands' that we would even begin to understand our own spiritual potentiality as ben-adam, as the offshoot of humanity that walks with God as described in the OT. In this way the original scripture is indeed fulfilled by Jesus - just not in the limited way that Paul described in addressing the Hebrew members of the church. The potential for glory and honour is available to every ‘son of man’ - all those who walk with God.

Does Acts 2:27 say that the soul of Jesus went to hell?

Peter also twisted the meaning of scripture to suit his agenda when he addressed the Jewish crowd in Acts. Here he quotes Psalm 16, where David speaks of the security in the Lord of his heart and soul as well as his body.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure. For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16: 1-11)

Peter then attests that, because David is dead and buried, he must not have been talking about himself, suggesting that he was prophesying instead:

Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2: 29-31)

But did David expect anyone to be permanently or eternally kept alive, or only presently? He begins this Psalm with ‘Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge’, suggesting that this song is in reference to himself in the present tense: his experience of having heart, soul and body preserved. Once again, though, the scripture is nevertheless fulfilled by Jesus - as it is only through his teachings and his example, his death and his disciples recognising that he is alive for them and for others beyond material existence, that ‘the path of life’ and ‘fullness of joy’ that David says he was shown in keeping the Lord always before him is fully realised and shown to all those who believe: as a spiritual path of eternal life.

So, whether or not we believe in the concept of ‘Sheol’ as a place where this spiritual element of the human experience goes after death to await ‘the Pit’ as the ultimate end of existence on the Day of Judgement, what David expressed in terms of his own experience of walking with God is later expressed more fully in the life of Jesus.

And what about the serpent?

The verse of John 3:14 associates the resurrection with Moses lifting a serpent:

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 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. (John 3: 13-15)

First of all, it’s important to note that these verses are not the words of Jesus, but of John, the gospel author (there are no speech marks in the original Greek text, so this is an easy error to make). While it begins with “Truly, truly I say to you”, the rest of verse 13 is written in first person plural (we), and repeated later in this same chapter in reference to John the Baptist, where a clear distinction is made between what John the Baptist speaks of (earthly things) and what Jesus himself speaks of (heavenly things):

He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony; (John 3:32)

While the OP associated this serpent reference with Numbers 21:9, it more closely refers to Moses lifting up the serpent in Exodus:

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And he said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand, and take it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand— “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” (Exodus 4: 1-5)

So John 3:14 does not suggest that Jesus became like the serpent in relation to sin, but in relation to being a clear sign that God ‘has appeared to you’.


Sorry, I don’t have a neat and succinct explanation for these questions. I don’t think there is one. I only hope that I’ve helped clear away some of the clutter.

We continue to seek more tangible, verifiable answers to the question of existence beyond physical death. We can picture serpents or Sheol, heaven or hell, even a separate place of rest for the soul. All of these images seem easier to grasp in the human mind than what Jesus has taught and shown us (through sharing the human experience beyond words and pictures) about the true nature and potentiality of our spiritual and material existence, and of our relationship with God.

If it were that simple to explain with words, we wouldn’t need the whole bible or another two thousand or more years of human experience and expression to try and figure it out, would we?


What does taste death in Hebrews 2:9 mean?

The Lexham Bible Dictionary has this nice summary:


The act of tasting is used figuratively of experiencing the goodness of God and his word and of a variety of experiences: misery, sin, wisdom, love, death and blessing.

The taste of food or drink
Ex 16:31 See also Ge 25:28; 27:4,7,9,14,17,31; Nu 11:7-8; 2Sa 19:34-35; Jn 2:9

Legalistic prohibitions against tasting certain foods are condemned by Paul
Col 2:20-22

Taste used figuratively
Of the experience of misery Job 6:6-7 In his complaint against God, Job compares the unacceptability of his lot to inedible food. See also Job 27:2

Of the experience of the goodness of God Ps 34:8 See also Heb 6:4-5; 1Pe 2:3

Of the experience of the goodness of the word of God Ps 119:103 See also Ps 19:10; Jer 15:16; Eze 3:3; Rev 10:9-10

Of the experience of sin Pr 20:17

Of the experience of wisdom Pr 24:13-14

Of the experience of love SS 2:3 See also SS 4:11,16

Of the effectiveness of Christian influence Mt 5:13 pp Lk 14:34-35 

Of the experience of death Heb 2:9 See also Mt 16:28 pp Mk 9:1 pp Lk 9:27; Jn 8:52

Of the blessings of the kingdom of God Lk 14:24; 22:29-30

To determine not to taste food until a task was completed was commonly used as an oath
1Sa 14:24-46; 2Sa 3:35; Jnh 3:7; Ac 23:14

Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

So besides the usage of tasting food there are some idiomatic usages very similar to in English.

The word is used by Jesus to assure his followers that they would not "experience death" until Jesus returned in their generation:

[Mat 16:28 NKJV] 28 "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

John 8:52 LEB: The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham and the prophets died, and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death forever.’

I'm of the opinion that in the context of Jesus' death the intended meaning is to "experience even a sample of" which does not refer to experiencing being dead (IE: "soul sleep"), but rather the dying itself. The reason I say that is that the author is discussing Jesus' qualifications as priest and "pioneer". One of his qualification was to, like those to whom he was to be pioneer and priest:

[Heb 2:9-11, 17-18 NLT] 9 What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position "a little lower than the angels"; and because he suffered death for us, he is now "crowned with glory and honor." Yes, by God's grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. 11 So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. ... 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

I appeal to the following verse to suggest that in Matthew 16:28 Jesus was saying that some would not have any experience of death in the same idiom that is frequently used of food:

[Col 2:21 NKJV] 21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,"

But Jesus did NOT vicariously experience death for every man but experienced a sample of it to imbue him with compassion in dealing with his brothers going through the terrifying ordeal.


Q. Since God cannot cease to exist spiritually, what kind of death did Jesus die? Is it just physical death? ( where soul departs from the body ). Or was Jesus separated from the Trinity for some time? Or as some say did he suffer for us in hell? Or did he take up sin on him and become like the serpent? ( Numbers 21:9 John 3:14 ) What does this text teach us?

Hebrews 2 says that it was necessary to be made like his brothers in every way so that suggests to me that his experience of death was not some exaggerated cosmic horror show as some suggest but rather a sufficient sample of the ordeal to make Jesus "fully qualified" (IE: "perfect") as high priest.

In fact, not only was Jesus' death not exceptional, it was significantly less horrific than the deaths of the many thousands executed by Rome because the worst part of crucifixion was avoided by his prayers in Gethsemane such that his ordeal lasted only 3 hours instead of the usual days:

See also:

[Eze 20:47 KJV] 47 And say to the forest of the south [IE: Judah and Jerusalem], Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north [IE: the northern tribes] shall be burned therein.

[Luk 23:27-31 KJV] 27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

[Rev 6:16 KJV] 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

[Rev 9:6 KJV] 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

And before he died he said, "It is finished".

He did however "descend into hADES":

[Eph 4:9-10 KJV] 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

If we presume that hADES is a place with fire (ala Luke 16:24), I think the types of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego comfort us that Jesus experience no harm in hADES.

If we presume that hADES is NOT a place with fire, I think the type of Daniel in the lion's den comforts us that Jesus experience no harm in hADES.

Since "Trinity" is not a scriptural construct I will not sully myself with the notion right now but I will mention what the scriptures say about his alleged separation from God:

[Act 2:24-26 KJV] 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

  • Jesus did not say that He will return in the lifetime of those present at the seaside but that some would SEE it and John on Patmos certain did SEE His kingdom come. Also to not taste death includes to not feel it’s sting. Jesus took the sting of death away. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 14:47
  • I take "shall not see" in the same way I take "shall not taste" - that "not see" means, in this context, "not even see from a distance", but okay. I don't have much room in the comments so I'll refer you to this link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Note: open mind required!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 14:54
  • 1
    Right but you are equating the act of physical death with Death and it’s sting. They certainly overlap because the sting comes after the physical body dies but that in itself is not the sting. Death has a sting and plagues attached to it. I gave me own response if you care to read it and comment. I’ll read your link now. Thank you for the link. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 15:18
  • 1
    @DerÜbermensch Thanks, I should have checked that. I'll correct it.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Ruminator—My reference to the targum was correct. It is the fragment of the Jerusalem Targum of Deut. 32:1. See Etheridge, J. W., p. 630. Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 17:21

I have argued, even in my post moments ago, that "taste death" is a brilliant polysemous rhetorical device whereby our author alluded to the Last Supper. Yes, of course, on one level it means the objective experience of the crucifixion death, metaphorically expressed. However, that one layer does not exhaust the intended sense, and a second layer of meaning is proposed.

"Taste death" means at the intended second level a literal, signal, idiosyncratic drinking experience Jesus shared with his disciples at the Last Supper, where He in his ipsissima verba says He does precisely that. Our author cleverly calls this a "taste death" because Jesus claims precisely that the chalice to be drunk contains his shed blood, offers it to be drunk, and because per Is. 25:8 death itself is being thereby swallowed (destroyed): "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54)' ”.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 2:36

Another significant reference we must contend with is the FIRST instance of the word death and a reference to eating in the Bible.

Genesis 2:17, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."

It may also be that in some of the instances of this phrase, that the author also seems to indicate the tree of death versus the tree of life and that one will no longer suffer the poison of the knowledge of good and bad whose consequence is death.

This would match with the various themes of non-judgment and forgiveness in the text. These seem to be related to "not eating the fruit of death.".. That is, "not tasting death."

A place where this seems explicit (or at least a double meaning) is in Gospel of Thomas Logion 85,

"Jesus said, "Adam came from great power and great wealth, but he was not worthy of you. For had he been worthy, [he would] not [have tasted] death.""


“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When it says He tasted death it means He experienced death and all it encompasses. Now granted He also promises that His believers would not taste death (and by implication all it encompasses, not that they will not die physically).

“The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.'” ‭‭John‬ ‭8:52 ESV

So what’s the difference? They will not taste death but they died. Tasting death and dying overlap but they are not one and the same. Death itself has a sting.

“"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:55‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Believer no longer experiences the sting of death because the sting of death is facilitated by sin and the Believer is in Christ and imputed His righteousness, therefore without sin and thus no sting. Jesus however took on sin for us and therefore tasted the sting of Death in full

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:56‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But Believers are not under the Law but in the Spirit and under grace

In the OT we have Efraim who is the image of the lost ten tribes that mixed in with the gentiles, also the name of the prodigal son and who comes home through Romans 7 and according to John 1:13 are the Church or the New Israel born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word. Efraim or the Church is promised to not experience the plagues and sting of death.

“I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭13:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When it says that some will not taste death before they see the kingdom come, it means they will see the kingdom coming in their lifetime but the word for see is eido in the Greek and it can mean both literally and figuratively. And in this case being in the Spirit and having visions John saw it figuratively.

“Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In conclusion Jesus tasted Death with all its plagues and sting, He did not merely die physically, He experiences the full wrath of G-d in the form of Death’s plagues and sin. And He did it for all but only those who accept Him as their Savior will benefit. Just like only those who accept, receive and use an all inclusive flight to Hawaii benefit. Having the ticket available in your name in insufficient if you never use it.

Therefore those who do not receive this free gift, will experience or taste both physical death (most likely) and the plagues and sting of death.

As far as Him descending into Hades, if you read some of the manuscripts it can be interpreted as Him going down and telling those fallen elohim waiting in chains for judgment something to the effect, by the way I am victorious and your fate is sealed. The hope you had that you might impede the plan of Salvation for humanity failed, I conquered through death by swallowing death and now I have dominion and the keys here too.

The serpent imagery is the imagery of Jesus on the cross. The serpent in many ways in ancient times represented regeneration and restoration. And Moses’ bronze serpent was effective when people believing gazed upon it and were restored. Jesus’ death on the cross in similar manner is a means of allowing the human race to believe upon Him and fix their eyes on Him to be restored back to their pre-sin condition with glorified bodies still “predestined” (designated ahead of time) for the believers.


Why taste? Wasn’t it the full “meal” of death?

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s only a taste because although He took the whole penalty of sin, He was G-d and He was righteous. So in the battle between Him and Death

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He took the keys or the authority and power from Death.

Victory swallowed up death. So yes Hebonly tasted it because it was an unmatched fight, unparalleled. Death had no hope of winning even with Him carrying all the sin of the world.


To "taste death" is a metaphor bearing the same power as the metaphor "receive death", for "death" is not an object to be received, or a food to be tasted, it means simply to die, and in Jesus' case, to die voluntarily. Now, the question is, what does it mean for Jesus to die? And this question is impossible to be answered without our delving into questions of Christology (who is Jesus Christ, how the Divine and human are related in Him) and anthropology (what is a human being and what does death mean in a human being's case).

To start with Christology: the Logos of God, Who is impossible to be separated from God, being Himself God and co-eternal to God (John 1:1-2) adopted nature of mortal humans and died. Now, the created human nature consists of intelligent soul and body, the uncreated and the Creator-Logos having created and received both at incarnation in a Personal unity with His own eternal Person/Hypostasis of the God-the Son. In Platonism the intelligent soul of humans is indestructible/immortal and eternal on its own terms, but in Christianity the intelligent soul is created and not immortal in its own terms, but only through grace and benevolence of God. Nevertheless, like in Platonism, also in Christianity, the intelligent human soul survives death, otherwise it is totally illogical for Jesus to say that man must beware not of those who can kill body, but of the one who can cast man to the hellfire after the death (Luke 12:5). That what remains after the death and decay of body is human soul/personality, possessing both consciousness and conscience which knows and perceives the will of God and suffers for not having used chances during the earthly sojourn to repent and comply to this divine will; thus, the "hellfire" in this verse is a metaphor for the pangs of conscience that an unrepented intelligent soul departed from its body will experience after death.

Now, when Jesus died, since He being God was also completely human, it means that His human intelligent soul departed from His human body, just like in any other man, but this intelligent soul was in a hypostatic unity with the eternal Logos, who is in a constant, necessary and unbreakable unity with God-the Father. After three days lying in the tomb, also the body was united to the intelligent soul that has never died (given that human souls are immortal by grace of God and how much more so the human soul of God Himself), for also His body became an indispensable aspect of the Person/Hypostasis of Logos after the Latter's incarnation.

Just for a further clarification: the similar holds with the saints of Christ, like St. George or St. Anthony the Great, whose bodies are not yet resurrected, but whose created persons endowed with intelligent souls are standing in front of the Holy Trinity praying for the entire mankind, and believers can entreat for their help because of their deserved boldness and intimacy with God. But in the end of history, with the Second Advent of Christ their bodies will also be resurrected. Just like Jesus' body was resurrected and the resurrected Jesus represents the Hypostasis/Person of Logos together with the created human nature (aka created intelligent soul+body), united inseparably and Personally/Hypostatically to Him.

Thus, to sum it up, "Jesus tasted death" means that the eternal Hypostasis/Person of Logos experienced painful death of His body, i.e. separation of His created intelligent soul from His created body through a sadistic violence suffered on the Cross. But it is absolute theological absurdity even to suppose that the eternal Hypostasis of God the Son/Logos was separated from the Hypostasis of God-the Father and God-the Holy Spirit, for Trinity is infinite, eternal and changeless.

  • @Down-voter Hey, my anonymous role-model, you, the coolest guy on this site! How nice of you to patiently read my long post! I understand that you agree with each and every theological point expressed in it and only my English and style was the reason for you to downvote. Why I think so? Well, had you had any objections to the theological points, your nobleness would not have suffered leaving my erring self in a blunder in such important theological points but definitely would have helped me out of it to aid and save my soul. Thus, I will appreciate your suggestions as to my English and style. Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 12:36

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