"Mortal" and "Immortal"

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Lexicons transmit the meaning attached to these words up to 'date of issue,' and where known, the origin of same. Different shades of meaning are given to the words as a result of local usage, which in time became universal and by such, words often are given a meaning the very opposite to that they originally meant. Examples: the word "Let" originally meant "to hinder," but has since been employed as meaning "permit" (see also "scan" and "apology," etc.).

There is so much in 1 Corinthians 15 in common in the natural and physical sphere that the term "Mortal," originally restricted to the legal, spiritual sphere, has since been employed to describe the natural man, and thus confusion has ensued regarding the doctrine pertaining to such in Scripture, which Scripture rather enhances, employing the natural as a simile and basis for the spiritual.

As the result of the above, the term "Mortal" has now two distinct meanings, one legal, the other physical. The Legal is gleaned from the Scriptures; the physical from lexicons and current thought.

Derivation and Source of the Term "Mortal"

It came to us from the Latin and French zones and predicated dead or death states.

Latin:mortalis, mors, mortis - Death.
French:Mort - Death.
English:mort-al (noun) - dead person. mort-al (adj.)-state of death, subject to death.
Mort-gage (N) F.mort- Dead. Gage- a pledge = dead-pledge.
Mort-main (N) F.mort- dead. Main - hand. L. mors, mortis- death, manus-hand = dead hand.
Mort-ally (adj)Unto death. F & L. mors- death. facie-I make.
Mort-ify (V) L.mortifico- I mortify- I make death - put to death.
Mort-ified (P)Made dead.
Mort-ification (N)Death of parts.
Mort-ifier (N)One who puts to death.
Mort-ality (N)Death (and frequent death).
Mort-uary (N) L.mortuus - one dead. Place of the dead.
Im-mortal (adj) L.Not subject to death.
Im-mort-alise (V)Render not subject to death.
Im-mort-alised (PP)Rendered not subject to death.
Im-mort-alising (PA)Exempting from death.
Im-mort-ality (N)Immortal existence, not subject to death. Im-mort-ally (AD) Exempted from death.

With these definitions before us let us take up the Scriptures and apply them legally, i.e., according to the Law of God.

In Romans 6:11, we are advised to "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead" (mortal). Dead unto what? The answer is, "Dead indeed unto sin" (Romans 6:2, 11 and 1 Peter 2:24). "Dead to the law" (Romans 7:4). Now note, "Through the law" (Galatians 2:19) which was itself "the ministration of death" (2 Corinthians 3:7) even "the letter that killeth" (2 Corinthians 3:6). On what principle if not on the Federal Principle? Is it not for Adam's sin and is not this Adamic mortality (Romans 5:12,19)? Can you deny that such persons were rendered 'subject to death per law' (Mortal - adj.) and in submitting to this ordnance of God rendered dead persons per law (Mortal - noun)? Is not this mortality a legal affair and strictly so? When does their legal mortality (death) occur? When they reckon themselves dead (Mortal). Is burial prescribed? Yes, in the waters of baptism (Romans 6:4) in the cloud and in the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2) into Moses

What are they said to do when they submit to this form of doctrine? They are said to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27) - the sacrificial covering provided by God in Eden for Adam's sin (Genesis 3:21; 22:8, John 1:29, Exodus 12:13, Revelation 13:8, etc.).

Hence Paul says, "This mortal (person under sentence of death - subject to death per law) must put on (in the appointed way) immortality" (not subject to death per law, not under sentence of death) (I Corinthians 15:53, Romans 6:14, Ephesians 2:5,8) which then renders the person immortal according to the law of God. Now this person though now immortal, is still corruptible and this is possible from two sources also, viz. mentally and physically and as the Scriptures say; "First that which is natural then that which is spiritual." We will first consider the physical man. (Publisher's Comment – I don't think this can be sustained, for once a person is made immortal he can never be changed back to mortal. I believe a person can be neither mortal nor immortal as was Adam at creation. Adam became mortal when he transgressed the law).

Corruptible: All but the uninitiated will agree Adam was created corruptible - subject to the laws governing his physical organism, which even in Scripture is termed a "natural man" in which sphere "man has no pre-eminence above a beast," "as the one dieth, so dieth the other" (Ecclesiastes 3:19,20) i.e., as a result of natural physical decay. This natural death, is revealed in Genesis 3:19, "Because thou hast done this." Adam, if obedient, might have escaped. But where, then, had been that glorious display of mercy and love? (John 1:29, and 3:16).

Now it is generally understood that Genesis 3:19 contains the death sentence for Adam for his sin, but if the reader will just glance once more at the sentence, commencing at verse 17, he may notice it is in the light of a prediction, telling Adam the result of the curse upon the (Adamic) ground, which curse is now introduced, introducing with it that much misunderstood federal principle in relation to Adam and his "sin" (Romans 5) which was done for his sake (or benefit), i.e., that he might have a few of his seed saved thereby; foretelling the result of misconception concerning this inclusion in his "sin" and the way from under this curse, thus; "Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee" (couched in figure, as a guide the Egyptians (doctrines) were described as "Pricking briers"). Numbers 33:55, etc. Ezekiel 28:24, Judges 2:3, Psalm 106.

The Jews are an example and our proof of this. They were natural physically corruptible persons and when put under the Mosaic Law they were thereby federally legally sentenced to death for the "sin" (which was per the ordinances legally described as transgressions of law) which they themselves did not commit, for the law itself was "the ministration of condemnation and of death" rendering them 'Hors de combat' (Romans 3:9) before they could commence 'works of law' to establish their own righteousness by works of law, hence by works of law (alone) shall no flesh be justified (in expecting to escape death per law). Hence being the ministration of condemnation and of death as a sentence, it is "Scripture (that) hath (shut up together or) concluded all under (Adam's) sin" (on the Federal Principle) "that God might (through the one act or same means) have mercy upon all" (Galatians 3:22, Romans 11:32) who respond; as he literally did in Eden, where the only possible universal salvation occurred, by saving Adam, through Christ and His sacrifice.

Now Paul shows us that man is also mentally corruptible, for he said he "Feared lest their minds should be corrupted (as Eve's) from the simplicity of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus" (2 Corinthians 11:3). This is mental corruption.

As the phrase "put on" indicates a legal procedure in the case of the mortal, we suggest that it is also the case in connection with the "putting on" of incorruption, for we have the victory over this death by belief in the truth, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; hence when we submit to baptism, then is fulfilled the saying "death is swallowed up in victory" which God gives us; for when we pass from death unto (sentence of) life. Prior to this mental putting on the mind was (and still is in other sections) corruptible, but by understanding and receiving the truth they put on incorruption, the uncorrupted word of God. But Paul shows them something further - a mystery - something concealed, viz. that it is not complete here, for they are to be physically changed, and with the dead who are asleep in Christ, rendered physically incorruptible.

It is this reference to the physical that sends some minds adrift, but the fact that "to put on" indicates a prescribed form of doctrine, should enable us to keep it in its proper niche. If incorruption here does not apply to the word of truth, then I am at a loss to understand the figure employed, for I perceive no such simile in the transformation of the corruptible substance to incorruptibility.

The physical change is a fitting climax to the work of God who created man corruptible for the natural sphere, with a view to His ultimate creation of them "incorruptible" to redound to the glory and honour of God, their Maker and Redeemer.

A. and L. Wilson

The following is for your earnest consideration from the Emphatic Diaglott:

Romans 5:18, "therefore indeed as through one offence, sentence came on all men to condemnation; so also through one righteous act (not the many acts of Jesus' life) sentence came on all men to justification of life."

Read also verse 19, re constituted. Is it physical or legal? Galatians 2:19, "Besides, I through law died by law, so that I might live by God." Can you honestly consider the above in any sense other than the legal?

I have been as brief as I possibly could owing to your letter calling for the answering of so much. You are at liberty to print all you receive from us if you so desire.

A. and L. Wilson.

* * * * *


Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
We are bought with a price.
The Just for the unjust.
That no man... calleth Jesus accursed.
That if natural death was the sentence, then the death of
Christ by crucifixion was in vain.
That without the shedding of blood there is no remission.
If corruption was the price Jesus did not pay it.
There is... now no condemnation... in Christ Jesus

A Brief Summary

The thoughts arising out of the notes on "Mortal" and "Immortal" in this 'reply letter' are greatly strengthened by the consideration of the words. Can they be applied to God or Christ? We say they are legal terms, and never refer to God nor His Son, in Scripture. You will probably say this is untrue, and quote 1 Timothy 1:17, which reads "Now unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God," also "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" - 2 Timothy 1:10.

The following is the Emphatic Diaglott appendix:-

"Immortal" - deathless; does not occur once in the original, and only once even in the common version, 1 Timothy 1:17, where it ought to be rendered "incorruptible." It applied to God.

The R.V. and E.D. read "incorruptible" in each place and therefore prove the physical and not legal.

As the term "mortal" means "subject to death" (legal per law) this cannot apply to Jesus as He was legally free from the sentence passed upon all "in Adam" though He was physically the same.

The term "immortal" can only be applied to Him in this sense. The 'fall' which necessitated Jesus being legally free is ample proof (in the absence of any Scripture) as to the change being physical. The 'fall' was moral - legal. The change was of relationship. This never applied to Christ.

The other places where the word "immortality" occurs are 1 Corinthians 15:53,54; Romans 2:7 (each apply to man, not to God nor Christ, and is rendered "incorruptibility" in E.D.; and in R.V. "incorruptible") and 1 Timothy 6:16. This is the only place where the word is applied to God, and is rendered in the E.D. text as "Deathlessness." As all others are rendered "incorruptible," and that God was never subject to death, legally nor physically, the text must be understood as physical, underived and possessor of all things.

Look at these terms from the legal standpoint and there will be no need to ponder over the difficulty of having a physically condemned Christ, and a morally sinless Christ.

Dear reader, give the foregoing subject your due consideration and may the supposed "difficult subject" of Jesus Christ and Him crucified appear to you in all its simplicity.

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