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Hebrews 5:7 (DRB):

Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.

The question is so easy:

  • Did God already safe Jesus from death?, Because of Jesus' reverence (godliness- godly fear - piety - reverent submission) he didn't suffer death at all?, Or saving Jesus from death because of his godliness means his resurrection?
  • Did Jesus suffer death or not?

The content of the verse is so clear: God saved Jesus because of his piety.

There are two questions near to my question on SE, Look here: In what way was Jesus' prayer heard (Hebrews 5:7)

But my question is about: Did He suffer death or not?, Where the content of the verse is clear that He had been saved from death.

The clear meaning in Hebrews 5:7,8 seems to contradict the clear meaning in other sites in the Bible that declare death of Jesus, thus we want to solve the contradiction also.

Thus, we want to prove first that Hebrews 5:7, means death of Jesus. If not, i.e: He hadn't died, then, we want to solve the contradiction between Hebrews 5:7,8 and other verses in the Bible contradicting them.

Thank you.

  • Doesn't the very next verse (5:8) already answer that question ? – Lucian May 10 at 0:26
  • @Lucian the verse Hebrews 5:7 is so clear: Jesus was saved from death. How verse 8 clarify verse 7 which is already clear!!. Verse 8: Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; KJV. Verses 7,8 are so clear; He suffered great pain but not death. – salah May 10 at 1:01
  • Why would you think that the suffering in question excludes the death, which is its logical fulfillment and completion ? (Hebrews 2:9; Acts 17:3). – Lucian May 10 at 12:28
  • @Lucian the two verses 7,8 are so clear: He suffered great pain but not death. – salah May 10 at 13:28
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    The words "but not death" are absent from the (con)text at hand, whether immediate or otherwise. To ascertain whether the text's view of (Christ's) suffering includes or excludes death, one must find other instances within the text, where the same word or idea occurs. One such instance is in 2:9, as mentioned earlier. So, unless you doubt the authenticity of 2:9, or can otherwise explain how someone can resurrect without formerly dying, it is not entirely clear why we are even having this discussion in the first place. – Lucian May 10 at 13:48
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Georg Lünemann answers your question:1

σώζειν ἐκ θανάτου [“to save from death”], however, can have a dual meaning, either to save from death so that it does not need to be endured, thus to preserve from death; or, to save out of the death to which one has fallen victim, so that one does not remain in death as a prey, but rather, he shall be returned to life.

The fact that Christ really prayed for that reason (to be spared from death), according to the account of the Gospels, seems to argue in support of the first interpretation. However, first of all, the fact that Christ still really endured death,2 and then the addition in our verse that Christ’s prayer had been answered, decides against it and in support of the second [interpretation].

In addition, finally, we have to take into account the fact that, according to the gospels, Christ does not pray absolutely for that reason—to be preserved from death, but rather, he makes this his wish dependent on the will of the Father.3 Thus, he subordinates himself completely to Him.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews unambiguously declares elsewhere that the Lord Jesus Christ had died.4

How was the prayer of the Lord Jesus answered (cf. KJV: “and was heard in that he feared”)?

The Lord Jesus Christ was “delivered5 by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God.”6 Nevertheless, God the Father raised him from the dead, loosing the cords of death that had held him.7

24 whom God raised up, having loosed the cords8 of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it.


Footnotes

1 p. 181
2 Heb. 2:9, 9:26, 9:28, 10:10, 10:12, 13:20
3 cf. Luke 22:42
4 see footnote 2
5 to his enemies
6 Acts 2:23
7 Acts 2:24
8 according to the Hebrew text of Psa. 116:3

References

Lünemann, Georg Konrad Gottlieb. Kritisch exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament, Dreizehnte Abtheilung, Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über den Hebräerbrief. 4th ed. Vol. 13. Göttingen: Vandenboeck and Ruprecht, 1878.

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  • do you mean that accepting his prayers was in his resurrection? – salah May 10 at 7:20
  • @Dottard the point that Jesus and the bible make is that he did not die otherwise he would be spiritualised and therefore does not need to eat and would not have any flesh and the only sign he gave was Jonah. If Trinity would be asking himself to save himself. – another theory May 10 at 12:26
  • Yes Salah. Christ petitioned and supplicated Him who was able to resurrect Him (save Him out of death). What petition? "If this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Was He heard (was it done)? Yes. Christ was crucified and resurrected. Why? To become to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, Heb 5:9-10. – Walter S May 12 at 22:32
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That is one of the great mysteries of Jesus' death - The Father could save Jesus, and Jesus specifically asked to be excused but was not, Matt 26:39, 42.

as to whether Jesus actually died or not, there is abundant evidence that Jesus actually died. Here is a sample.

There are several records that Jesus' death would happen, ie, was predicted.

  • Matt 16:21 - and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
  • Matt 17:23 - They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.
  • Matt 20:19 - and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!
  • Mark 9:31 - They will kill him, but on the third day he will come back to life.
  • Mark 10:34 - who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.
  • Luke 18:33 - they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.
  • Luke 9:22 - The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

The eye-witness accounts of Jesus' death:

  • Matt 27:50 - "... Jesus … yielded up the/his spirit", or, he "breathed his last". That is, he stopped breathing and died. The guarding centurion also observed the death, v51. Note that the Roman soldiers were professional killers.
  • Mark 15:37 - " … Jesus … expired". That is, He stopped breathing and died. The guarding centurion also observed the death, v38.
  • Mark 15:44 - When Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, Pilate was surprised he was already dead, so he asked a centurion to check that Jesus was dead. The centurion confirmed it so Pilate released the body to Joseph. A Roman centurion is a trained killer and an expert in telling if someone is dead.
  • Luke 23:46 - " … expired". That is, He stopped breathing and died. The guarding centurion also observed the death, v47.
  • John 19:30 - "He [Jesus] said, 'It is finished!' And he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." That is, He stopped breathing and died.
  • John 19:33 - the soldiers did not break Jesus' legs because he was already dead. (Roman soldiers were trained killers and knew how to tell if someone was alive or dead!)
  • John 19:34 - just to be absolutely sure, one Roman soldier took a spear and pierced his side - this would have been a trust of the spear up under the rub cage into the heart. If Jesus were not dead before he would certainly have been dead afterward. As a result, a mixture of blood and water emerged suggesting that he really was dead indeed!
  • John 19:35 - the apostle John says he witnessed these things personally and testifies that these facts are correct.

Some have suggested that there were no disciples and very few people who actually saw the death of Jesus but that is not true. All Roman crucifixions were done to achieve two objectives - to completely humiliate the victim and to provide some cheap ghoulish entertainment for the masses - thus all crucifixions were attended by crowds (Luke 23:48). It is also said that all the disciples deserted him in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:56) but Peter (and some others) followed at a distance to observe the trials ((Matt 26:58).

Specifically, we know that the following named people observed the death of Jesus:

  • Simon of Cyrene, another disciple, who carried the cross Matt 27:32, Luke 23:26.
  • Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate for the body Luke 23:50-53.
  • Nicodemus who visited Jesus by night John 19:39
  • Cleopas and his friend (Luke 24:13-21) who were travelling to Emmaus on Sunday.
  • Many women and others associated with Jesus (Luke 23:49) such as Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary's sister Martha, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Matt 27:55, 56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25. This also included (at least) John as recorded in John 19:26, 27.
  • It is also recorded that many of these same people accompanied the dead body to the tomb to see where it was laid so that could embalm the body on Sunday morning. Matt 27:61, 28:1, Mark 15:47, 16:1, Luke 23:55, 24:10, John 20:1.
  • One of the soldiers, specifically a centurion observed Jesus' death and was so moved that he gave praise to the Jewish God of heaven Matt 27:54, Luke 23:47. Another pierced him with a spear to ensure His death and a soldier also witnessed the fact to Pilate Mark 15:44, 45.
  • Many of the Jewish leaders, including the chief priests, observed the crucifixion and death to ensure that Jesus died and that their troublesome citizen was finally disposed of. Matt 27:41-43, Mark 15:31

There are numerous other passages that discuss the death of Jesus.

  • Luke 24:46 - This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day
  • 1 Cor 15:3, 4 - … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day
  • Acts 10:40 - God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
  • Acts 13:30 - But God raised him up from the dead the third day

There is much evidence that Jesus actually died, not only from his friends the disciples but from Roman soldiers as well; that is, both sympathetic and antagonistic witnesses. This is very compelling and voluminous evidence.

There is also some important indirect evidence that Jesus was known by everyone in Jerusalem, including the chief priests and Roman authorities, to have died.

  • The chief priests were worried that the disciples would come to try and steal the dead body so they posted a Roman guard to protect it, and on the Sabbath as well!! Matt 27:62-66.
  • The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb witness the resurrection but the chief priests were so embarrassed by this that bribed the soldiers to say (in spite of dire consequences for soldiers sleeping on duty) that the (dead) body of Jesus was stolen while they slept!! Matt 28:11-15. This possibly even involved some bribes for Pilate (v14).
  • Despite the report of some, many of the disciples could not believe that Jesus was raised for the dead and were very frightened; Luke 24:36-43, John 20:11, 19, 20, 24- 29.

In fact, the doctrine of Jesus’ humanity is so important that anyone who denies it is called antichrist! 1 John 4:3, 2 John 7.

The fact that the Bible so emphatically declares Jesus’ humanity does not diminish His divinity.

Lastly, there is now several reputable reports of the medical facts about Jesus' death in places like: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315

Back to Heb 5:7 which says: During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Note that Jesus actually asked to be excused from the great sacrifice (Matt 26:39) three times but His request was denied. St Paul also prayed to be released from his "thorn in the flesh" three times as well but his request was also denied (2 Cor 12:7-9). Many take courage from these stories because if Paul and Jesus had their prayer requests denied (at least on these occasions) then when God denies me something, I am keeping good company!

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    Evidence of Jesus - Jesus says a resurrected body is spiritualised - therefore no need for the tomb to be moved, no need to eat, no need to say touch me I’m flesh and many more. In particular the only sign given by Jesus - like Johan - who was alive for 3 days. Not what other people said but Jesus. Why ask to be saved if he is part of the trinity asking himself to save himself. – another theory May 9 at 22:48
  • I am not sure I understand the import of your comment. Suffice to say, Jesus gave evidence of His physicality by requesting something to eat Luke 24:42 – Dottard May 9 at 23:34
  • @Dottard how to solve contradiction of Jesus death with this verse (Hebrews 5:7)? – salah May 10 at 0:18
  • There is no contradiction - this verse only says that Jesus could have been saved but was not – Dottard May 10 at 0:27
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    That is NOT what the text says - look carefully. It only says, "offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death" Jesus was heard but the prayer to be excused was denied. – Dottard May 10 at 1:12
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The Father was able to save him. Jesus himself had the power and the authority to “Let this cup pass.” because “I could call and my father would send 12 legions of angels.” Had he chosen not to go through with the cross, all he had to do is simply request of the Father and the Father would have responded by sending 72,000 angels to lay waste to humanity. Yet, he subjected himself to the will of the Father and chose the cross.

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It seems all the answers are looking at the wrong death. Jesus isn't praying to be released from the imminent death on the cross. While he did ask (in the garden) if it were possible to avoid the crucifixion, his will was realigned with the Father's.

Jesus was concerned about the next life and the eternal death that may rob him of it. IF he had sinned while in the flesh, he would not be able to be raised again - ever! Death had a power over him via the chance that he might sin just once!

Rom 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

Jesus lived in the flesh and looked forward to being alive in the spirit after his resurrection - this is when he could NOT die anymore. It was this that he was praying for, as only the Father working in and through Jesus' obedience (learned through suffering) could keep him sinless until his death against the constant temptation to do HIS will instead of the Father's. Heb 5:8

Did Jesus suffer death or not? Yes, of course he did - humanity's salvation depends on it!

Jesus' prayer was heard/acted on as his prayer was fully according to the Father's will that he be the saviour promised long ago. Jesus remaining sinless unto death was a 'team effort' - just as it is for all humans who accept God's call over their life.

Jesus said he could do nothing of himself - remaining sinless was chief of those things.

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