How does the Bible define life?

Today I would like to tackle the subject of how the Bible defines life. Now this is a different question from how science defines life. Science would define life as some sort of condition of being separated out from inorganic material. Plants and animals have this condition that separates them out. And I’m not talking about the scientific condition of life. Life is not a condition. Life is something that originates with God himself. So if we’re going to talk about life from a biblical standpoint, we have to take a theocentric viewpoint of life. We cannot take a man-centered viewpoint on how life can be looked at and thought of. It must be defined by the Bible believing Christians. Outside of God, there is no life. According to the Bible, life cannot and does not exist.

Now this flies completely in the face of scientific theory or pseudoscience like the Big Bang Theory that insists that we believe that life was created from non-life and that intelligence derived from non-intelligence and that order is the birth child of chaos. None of these things make sense even according to scientific values. So, we are going to have a theocentric definition of what life is. The Bible simply describes life as coming from God himself. The first four words of the Bible are in the beginning God. There is nothing before, there is nothing beside, there’s nothing above or under or beyond God. In the beginning God.

Everything that we have is oriented around the person and the character of God and the Bible is quite frank. Proverbs chapter 8 says, “Whoever finds me, finds life.” Now that is an unapologetic equivocation of God and life. If you find me, you find life. They are one and the same. It does not mean that if you understand God, you have begun the knowledge of life or you’ve begun to experience life. It equivocates God himself with life.

The fact that God exists means that life exists on a universal level of meaning that the universe exists within a knowledge of who he is. There’s a very famous passage that says this, “I’m going to call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I’ve set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life.” But that passage goes on to say that, “you and your offspring may live loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him for he is your life.” God is life. He is your life and length of days that you may dwell in the land.

Colossians 3 goes on and reasserts this, “For you have died. Your life is hidden with Christ and when Christ who is your life appears, then you will appear with him in glory.” So Christ is our life. God is life. We also understand that God gives life. Job chapter 12 says “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Now this is an example of a Hebrew poetic device of repetition or parallelism. I repeat with intensification type of advice.

Here’s another example, and this is not regarding life, but this is an example of that Hebrew literary device of repetition. This example comes from Psalm 92 and it says, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” That’s an example of Hebrew repetition and intensification. Both of these are examples of trees that grow tall and strong and have longevity and deep roots. In the second case, the cedar of Lebanon. The psalmist is re-emphasising on the first case, which is a palm tree. He could have just said the righteous are established like a strong tree. But the Hebrew poetic device is to say it one way and then repeat it with a variation or an intensification.

That’s what we have in Job 12. “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” So, mankind falls under the umbrella, of course, of every living thing, but he repeats himself by saying that the breath of all mankind is also in God’s hand. We find that God is the Giver of life, and we find that God cherishes life.

The psalmist describes God as the Upholder of life. It describes God as the Redeemer of life. It describes God as the Keeper of life throughout the Psalms. Jesus, the son of God, is the gift of life. The gift that we celebrate at Christmas. John 8 describes Jesus as the light of life. John 10 describes Jesus as the Abundance of life. John 3:16 ascribes to Jesus everlasting life and the gospel of Christ is the gospel of life. In 2 Corinthians 2 we read, “We are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ.” And it goes on to say that that is an aroma that brings life which means that, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no true and lasting everlasting life.

What are we getting at here? Why are we looking into these things? This is certainly not an exhaustive biblical definition of life itself, but it is a bit of a comprehensive look at how God sees life and how the Bible defines life. It is all wrapped around the existence of God. Life cannot begin and does not begin without God. Life is sustained throughout by God. And the end of life is solely at the discretion of God’s will. In God’s hand, the end of life never comes without God’s decision and providence in the end of life coming.

Life starts with him, it ends with him. We’re going to be taking a look over the next several weeks at an unfolding picture of building from life and how God sees it, how the Bible describes it and the insinuations that go along with that. Then we will transition that into how God sees death, how he sees the shedding of innocent blood, some of the nuances between murder and manslaughter, and innocence and guilt as it pertains to life. But we’re just kind of building foundations here one level at a time. The greatest foundation for all of Christian ethics is that God is life.