Indeed most of "orthodox Christianity" teaches the fallacious concept that humans either go to hell or to heaven upon their death. Many falsely teach, in addition, that they go to a temporary place called limbo or purgatory, when they die. However, the Bible very clearly teaches an altogether different occurrence. In answering the question about Enoch, we must first consider some fundamental Biblical teachings about death as it now relates to mankind.
Hebrews 9:27 states: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment..." Ecclesiastes 3:20 confirms that everyone dies: "All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust." Psalm 89:48 concurs: "What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?" Paul also shows that all men die: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Jesus Christ also died, and He was without sin (Compare 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5). Furthermore, only Jesus has entered heaven, having been resurrected by the Father (Compare Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1). Jesus said of Himself: " 'No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man' " (John 3:13 NASB Version). Martin Luther, correctly understanding the Biblical teaching on this matter, even translated John 3:13 as follows: "No one ascends into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, that is, the Son of Man" (copyright 1938). This is further explained by Paul in Ephesians 4:8-10.
Peter gave this testimony concerning David: "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day" (Acts 2:29). And, less there be any confusion, Peter very precisely showed that David was not in heaven: "'For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool'" (Acts 2:34-35). This is a prophecy that God the Father would place Jesus Christ at His own right hand for a period of time that would then be consummated with the resurrections (Compare 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
For more information regarding the question of what happens to man when he dies, please read our free booklet, "Do We Have an Immortal Soul?"
With these statements about Who has and who has not ascended into heaven, let us now examine what the Bible says concerning Enoch. Genesis 5:24 is one of the misunderstood Scriptures concerning Enoch: "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." This verse is then quoted in Hebrew 11, verse 5.
One must ask, "Do these statements made about Enoch somehow contradict the rest of Scripture, or did God make an exception in Enoch's case?" The answer is NO on both counts!
When we read the context of Genesis 5, we find the line of Adam through Seth and the particular children who were the ones who were faithful to God. In this lineage we find the mention of Enoch, who, as verse 22 shows, was faithful to God (Compare Jude:14): "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters." However, Enoch had already been alive for sixty-five years so that his total lifespan was 365 years -- shorter by far than either his ancestors or his offspring. Also, note that these key individuals in this lineage had other sons and daughters, as well.
Exactly what the world was like before the flood came, we have only been given a few indications in the Bible. When, Noah, the great grandson of Enoch, was born, Noah's father, Lamech, said of him: "This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed" (Genesis 5:29). Also, in Genesis 6:5, we read this statement about the tragic circumstances of mankind: "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Noah did not just escape the flood and save himself and his family.
Noah also "walked with God" as did his ancestors, because he is called "... a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly" (2 Peter 2:5).
Understanding that Enoch's generation was also in rebellion to God and His laws, shows the challenge that Enoch faced. Hebrews 11:5 lists Enoch among those who were truly faithful to God: "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, 'and was not found, because God had taken him'; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God."
Now consider verse 13 of Hebrews 11: "These ALL [including Enoch, see again verse 5] DIED in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." This verse conclusively proves that Enoch, one of these faithful, died along with the others.
Genesis 5:23 also conclusively states: "ALL THE DAYS of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years." This same phrase, "all the days," is used throughout this chapter about generations of people who died.
In speaking of Enoch, the Bible records that he "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24), and "he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). Because of this and because of the rebellious society in which Enoch lived, God "took" him away, so that he "should not see death" (Hebrews 11:5, Authorized Version). God "translated" or transported him to another place on earth, in order to spare him from the second death. John 8:51 confirms that if we keep God's word, we shall "never see death" -- the second death, that is, as it is appointed to men once to die the first death (Hebrews 9:27). We do know for certain, based on the Biblical teaching and evidence, that Enoch did die at a relatively young age for his day and that he did not ascend to heaven!
Paul also said in Hebrews 11:5 that Enoch was "not found." This does not mean that he lived on forever. Moses died, and God buried him at a secret place, and he was not found, and "no one knows his grave to this day" (Deuteronomy 34:6).
We need to both consider and believe the clear statements of Scripture. Like David and many other people who have faithfully served God, Enoch awaits the hope of the resurrection to righteousness (compare Hebrews 11:39-40), and a time in which he will indeed not see death -- the second death of eternal destruction.
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-Matthew 5:14