This is an interesting question to ponder. I believe that it is more than just pure speculation, but has implications on how we view Christ and His identity with mankind and how you view the effects of sin on man. I will leave this up here and then blog on it soon to defend my proposition of its importance.

Here is the issue: Death is the result of sin, yet Christ never sinned. If Christ did not allow himself to be put to death, would he have died? What do you think?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    21 replies to "Would Christ have died had He not been killed?"

    • richards

      Yes, I think he would have died. Isn’t death the result of the curse of sin? Christ was fully human as well as fully God, so his human body would have aged and degenerated, just as ours do. If not, he would not have been fully human, but rather, a tertium quid and unable to save us.

      “What he has not assumed, he has not saved.” Gregory of Nazianzus

    • iakobusdoulos

      Christ being “fully human” or “fully man” did mature in the natural way all bodies do. Since that is true we can only assume that yes, He would have aged just as naturally as any other body does and therefore would have expired as all bodies do. The Word also says that “mans years shall be threescore years and ten.” Being obedient to Scripture as He was His body would have “yeilded” to this Scripture as well.

    • Chad Winters

      The question is: prior to his resurrection did Jesus have a normal Fallen body. It seemed to me that he did have a normal body prior and after his Resurrection he had the glorified resurrection body that doesn’t age or become sick (similar to bodies that believers will have after the resurrection and the New Earth. This answer though would leave Jesus open in childhood to illness and possible early death, but I would assume he relied upon the Father for Health and Healing just as he did other supernatural needs.

    • Douglasah

      So, set aside the idea that Jesus Christ apeared to the disciples a few times
      after being raised from the dead, and that Paul heard his voice (which would
      tell me he wasn’t dead) MY guess would be that he would have lived at least
      as long as Moses, but that he would STILL ascend when the time was right,
      and not leave behind a body to argue over.

    • John Cordero

      Yes, but NO!

      Considering that the Son of Man was sent by the Father and willingly came to give his life as a ransom for many, he would have contradicted his own purpose for coming and been disobedient to the Father if he didn’t lay down his life. Disobedience toward the Father would have been sin, and the result of sin is death.

      Yet how could Christ Jesus, who was fully God from heaven who became fully unfallen man to live in a fallen world with sinful people, not humble himself and become obedient to the point of death with such eternal joy set before him, namely that everything that the Father has belonged to him and he was returning to the Father after redeeming people for the glory of God?

      But the Father loved the Son because the Son, as the good shepherd, was fully committed to die for the sheep and take his life back again. And the Father, because of his love for the Son, granted the Son to have life in himself; and authority over this life — either to lay it down or take it back again — could not be taken from the Son. No one could take life away from the Son unless the Son decided to give it up. And the Son would not forsake eternal pleasures at the right hand of the Father for fleeting pleasures promised by sin or Satan.

      Christ Jesus willingly died to gain eternal life for us, and this life is to know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent.

    • richards


      The question is hypothetical, but leads us to think about the nature of Christ. Of course, Christ did die on the Cross voluntarily, and it could not have been otherwise “because Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), but what if He had not? Would Jesus have died *if* he had not been crucified?

    • Ed Kratz

      Death entered through Adam’s sin, so Christ would have been under Adam’s sin, it seems theoretically possible that a person could live without sin their entire life, yet they would still die a human death. Death in this world is not a result of our own sins but original sin.

      Eternity is where our sin comes to play, not in our earthly bound bodies, not that I am implying that sin does not have consequences for us here, it certainly does, and the hypothetical of a person living a perfectly sinless life is just as absurd as the question originally posed.

      So, though this is a silly philosophical question, the answer has to be yes, Christ would have died as a result of original sin.

    • stevemoore

      Just asking here, I dont have the answers myself. ;^)

      If Christ was born into Adam’s sin then he was “guilty” or stained by original sin?

      How could he be the second Adam if he was a son of the first Adam?

    • stevemoore

      Is sin a necessary part of humanity? For Christ to be fully human (and fully divine) and yet be spotless in every way, I’d argue that sin is not a necessary attribute of humanity. I’d also argue that everyone born into Adam would be guilty, but then I guess I’d argue that Christ wasnt born into Adam???

    • Eriol

      I’ve wondered about this myself (at those times when I tire of thinking about angels on the heads of pins). I’ve envisioned Christ presenting Himself to the Jewish leaders and, in contrast to what did happen, being received as their Messiah. But it would still be necessary for Him to die – His Sacrifice was determined before the foundation of the world – and (I speculate) He would have presided at His own Sacrifice in the temple. His blood would have been shed in that earthly sanctuary as well as the heavenly one. Immediately following His resurrection, the Kingdom would have begun.

      I cannot begin to fathom, however, what such a scene would have looked like as thousands of repentant Jews stood in silent witness to the Sacrifice of their King. If this is a biblical notion (i.e., a temple Sacrifice of the Messiah), I am simply in awe at the thought of such a scene.

      But even more, I am amazed that Jesus, who perhaps came to be the Sacrifice for the sins of the world in a ceremony of reverence and dignity, nevertheless finished His work even though it meant dying on a tree as a criminal.

      I don’t have any categories in my mental schema to assimilate that Truth.

    • Eriol


      OK, Jesus couldn’t have presided at His own Sacrifice in the earthly temple: He wasn’t a Levite. But He could still offer Himself willingly to the knives of the priests.


    • Josh

      Fun little blog question. It seems the simplest answer has been already stated and I would affirm that yes, He would have physically died from natural causes.

      But I think some clarification is needed. Firstly, sin is imputed to us through Adam at our birth and we are therefore spiritually dead when we are born. This imputation of sin was and still is passed along through the seed of man (i.e. in procreation between a man and a woman) (Romans 5:12). Yet, Jesus was not procreated through the seed of fallen man, but by the Spirit of God (Matthew 1:20-25). Thus the virgin birth is a crucial doctrine to the perfection of Christ.

      Secondly if Jesus could “pass through” the angry mobs and crowds that sought his life (John 7:30), I think it is more than reasonable to assume that His Father was able to keep Him from getting sick or dying until it was His time. This is evident when God sent an angel to instruct Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to flee from Herod. (Matthew 2:13)

      The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), yet Jesus (His physical body not His Personhood within the Godhead) was created and is subjected to futility, and since Jesus physical body was a part of that creation (once again I am not saying Jesus was a created Being, in regard to His Personhood, just His material body on earth) His physical body was subjected to that futility as a result of Adams sin just like the rest of creation. (Romans 8:19-22)

      Hopefully I haven’t committed any blaspheme here lol, hope this helps the discussion.

    • Preacher Jack

      To respectfully disagree with a couple of the replies posted here Christ was not subject to the effects of sin like we are. In him was found no sin, He knew no sin or made of the flrsh but without sin these are descriptons that the scriptures give him so the logical conclusion is that since the wages of sin is death and he was nitunder the bondage of sin like us he would not be under it’s penalty.

      Christ took on human form because ot was the plan for the one who knew no sin to be made sin for us. The reason for him to become fully human was redemption so he would have died a sacrificial death not a natural one. My answer then is if he lived to an old age he still would have died but not by natural causes.

      Scripture pointed to it so there is no getting around it age is inconsequential.

    • Samson

      Well, since nobody is taking the “no” approach, I guess I’ll give it a

      No, Jesus would not have died. The affects of sin or sin itself is not
      what qualifies someone for personhood within humanity. If we take
      this view then Adam was not human and could not have represented
      us until after the fall. Jesus was argueably more human from a purity
      state than we are. Therefore we have no reason to believe that He
      or Adam would ever die unless sin was cursed upon them. When we
      willfully sinned with Adam our death was inevitable. When Christ
      took our sin upon Himself; death was inevitable.

      If we look at the courtroom analogy of salvation the fine that is imputed
      to the innocent must be paid even as though he committed the crime

      Therefore NO! If Jesus was not killed he would still be alive on the earth
      today and you would still be dead in your sins with no hope of

    • stevemoore

      Samson – that’s what I was thinking…

    • Eriol


      You are assuming (perhaps correctly but perhaps not) that Adam would not have died had he remained obedient for an unknown period of time. But what of the tree of Life in the Garden? After the Fall, the angels were to keep him from eating of the tree and living forever in a fallen state. If Adam was created to never die, what was the purpose of the tree of Life? Was Adam to eat the fruit as a reward for obedience? Even if that were the case, then it still implies that Adam was not capable of eternal life apart from something being added to him subsequent to his perfect creation.

      Is it not possible that, following his obedience, Adam would have eaten from the tree of Life and been translated into heaven (as were Enoch and Elijah)? Or, to put it in Catholic terminology, Adam would have been assumed into heaven.

      Death as we know it is only unnatural in that it causes the separation of the spirit from the body, something God did not intend or desire. But translation or assumption avoids such a separation: the body and the spirit remain unified and enter heaven simultaneously.

      Remember, too, that it is not death that Satan uses against us but the fear of death. There is a difference.

    • justin01

      I would also have to say that Jesus would have continued to live. If the wages of sin are death and all adam’s seed have fallen through adam, then it only makes sense that Christ had to be conceived by the work of Holy Spirit so that He would not be born fallen as according to the seed of adam, but rather He would have a fleshy nature in that He was human. Because His patriarchal lineage comes from God directly instead of adam, it is only reasonable to assume that He would not be under the curse of adam’s seed.

    • Preacher Jack

      Adam was not forbidden from eating from the tree of life. Prohibition (on eating from it) was not put in place until after the fall.

      Spiritual and physical death was a direct result of sin. Doing a little speculating here but, Adam’s hiding from God may have been more than just shame for what he did but fear of physical death.

      To restate my answer (from an earlier post) to the overall question is Christ would have died regardless of method or when because the scriptures foretold he would die. So had it not been then it would have been later.

    • Eriol

      Since Michael remains silent, maybe someone needs to define “death.” I get the feeling we’re not always talking on the same level or about the same thing.

      For me, it means separation and not cessation. If this is the case, then Adam and Jesus could have physically died but not suffered any separation: the spirit and the body would have remained a unity and both (the spirit and the body) would have immediately entered into the presence of God.

      The wages of sin are, indeed, death; death, however, is the separation of the spirit from God (spiritual death) and from the body (physical death). Since the Fall, if the latter occurs while the former exists, then eternal death – separation – obtains.

      But, as has been mentioned, this is all speculative and perhaps of limited heuristic value.

      What I suspect would have happened had the Jewish leaders received Christ as the nation’s Messiah is that someone (like me) would have said, “Hey, if He is the Messiah, why wait? Let’s kill Him now and bring in the Kingdom!”

      And we wind up in the same situation today anyway.

    • C Michael Patton

      Wow, I go on vacation and you guys go hog wild. These are great. I am going to have to read them soon and see if I even need to give my answer I anticipated to write about 😉 From what I have read so far, my opinion on this issue is represented well!


    • Scott

      Before I got into the theology behind this question (sin, the fall, the sin nature vs. fallen nature etc.), I reasoned to the same answer another way. If Christ was capable of being killed (whether by sword, stoning or the way it did happen, by crucifixion) I believe he would have also died eventually by disease, old age etc. If he could die by one way, he would have died by another–as backed up by the theology reasoned through here.

      That said, since he did have the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is life, could have have not come in a pre-fallen body as the Tree of Life (or sustained by the Tree of Life) himself? This may have been answered up above, but thinking of it with these considerations may not have been brought out.

      And then another question comes to my mind. Would Christ have died for our sin if he had just died by disease or old age? I’m not sure he would have because the way he died, and did die, was the way it had to happen as a Temple sacrifice to die for sin as appointed by Scripture. He had to have “oppression and judgment [as] he was taken away” (Is. 53:8). He was born to be a sacrifice just as we are reborn to be a sacrifice, living as it may be, for God.

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