It’s Easter, so today you’d be seeing a lot of celebrations over God’s “victory over death”. Slogans en masse such as, “He is Risen!” Perhaps though, one of the most popular verses of the Bible one would see is as follows:
- For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. – Romans 6:9 (NIV).
- We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. – Romans 6:9 (ESV).
- knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. – Romans 6:9 (NASB).
- because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. – Romans 6:9 (HCSB).
That last line is of great interest. If death no longer rules over God, does it mean that death at one point have power, dominion, mastery, rule over God? Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, says of this passage:
“death hath no more dominion over him: it once had dominion over him; it held him under its power for a time, according to the divine determination”
If God is all powerful, then how is it possible for death to be greater than God, to have power and mastery over God? Some Christians have tried to explain this by saying that God allowed Himself to “temporarily surrender” His own dominion over death, but this leads us to the inevitable problem of the Christian God losing one of its attributes, thus rendering God, powerless. What’s worse is, if God gave up His power over death, and then death overcame God – it would stand to reason that death would be more powerful than God and thus God could never “defeat” death.
In conclusion, this passage is vital for a Muslim’s da’wah to Christians. They quote it and share it, which makes it easier for us to reach out to them. This passage leads to unsettling beliefs for the Christians, God sets up rivals to Himself, God loses essential attributes, God is no longer all powerful, or at the least it can lead them to denying the hypostatic union (two natures in Christ, one divine, one human), by them arguing that death had power over one of the natures – the human or the divine, which is in itself blasphemy since the natures are unified and it is heresy to split them apart.
In contrast, in Islam, God is the master of life and death:
“How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.” – Qur’an 2:28.
and Allah knows best.