Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (July-Sept. 1991) 288-97

Copyright 1991 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.

 

Enoch, a Man Who Walked

with God

 

 

Timothy J. Cole

Senior Pastor, Grace Bible Church

St. Petersburg, Florida

 

The account of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is placed in the

third section of Genesis1 and is announced by the major structural

word of the book tOdl;OT, generally expressed as "these are the gener-

ations of. . . ." However, as Woudstra has demonstrated,2 the tOdl;OT

structure announces the historical development from the ancestor

mentioned and should be understood as, "this is what became of

(person's name)," or "this is what happened to the line of (person's

name)." Genesis 5:1 would then read, "This is the book of what be-

came of the family tree of Adam."

What did become of Adam's family tree? Whatever happened

to the human race? Did God's promise of death (2:16-17) come true?

Whatever became of the curse (3:19)? Would man, due to his rebel-

lion, die after all? Before 5:1 no one had died (though Abel was

murdered by his brother and Lamech killed a man for wounding him

and a boy for striking him, 4:23).

The theme of chapter 5 is the end of life. "No reader of Genesis

5 . . . fails to be impressed by the recurrent phrase 'And he died;'

which baldly and emphatically concludes the entry for each of

these antediluvians. The whole movement of the regular form of

these notices is toward death."3 In other words the answer to the

 

1 The first section is 1:1-2:3 and the second is 2:4-4:26.

2 M. H. Woudstra, "The Toledot of the Book of Genesis and Their Redemptive-His-

torical Significance," Concordia Theological Journal 5 (1970): 185.

3 David J. A. Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch (Sheffield: Sheffield Univer-

sity Press, 1978), p. 66.

288



Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 289

 

questions, Whatever happened to Adam's family tree? or Whatever

happened to the human race? is that they all died. Did God's prom-

ise of death ("in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die,"

2:17) ever come true? Yes, Adam's line died successively. Whatever

became of the curse? "The answer is that, in spite of human

achievements (the achievements of chapter 4), the curse of death

reigned as king from Adam's time on through the generations."4

The account of Enoch, then, the one who walked with God, is

placed in the midst of the reign of death. This theme of death har-

monizes well with the author's overall theme in Genesis 1-11, the

spread of sin and the spread of grace.5 "Thus Genesis chapter 5 de-

scribes something like a transitional period, during which death

caused by sin only slowly broke the powerful physical resistance of

primitive human nature."6 In other words in spite of human progress,

civilization, and prosperity, in spite of mankind's aspirations, he

died.7 So the setting of Enoch's walk with God is the spread of sin,

ending with death.

The two chief components of narrative are characters (people)

and events.8 Events make up the plot, and the characters are the ac-

tors who carry out the plot. The plot of Genesis 5, a plot whose struc-

ture is carried along with the monotonous phrase "and he died" (re-

peated eight times) and whose actors are Adam's family tree (10

men), is a masterful backdrop against which is recorded this re-

markable sentence, "Enoch walked with God." In a plot where a fu-

neral bell continually tolls out its mournful drone there is a disjunc-

tive ray of hope, another example of the spread-of-sin, spread-of-

grace theme. The plot unfolds in the following way.

The prologue (5:1-2) of this "Genealogy of Death" recalls the

creation of Adam. Moses wrote that man, created male and female,

made in God's likeness, was blessed by God and named "Man" (this

naming here mentioned for the first time in Genesis). Adam also be-

came the father of a son in his own likeness (mentioned for the first

time in Genesis), a son made according to Adam's image, a son whom

Adam named Seth (v. 3).

 

4 Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), p.

171.

5 Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, pp. 64-73.

6 Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, rev. ed., trans. John H. Marks (Phila-

delphia: Westminster Press, 1973), pp. 69-70.

7 Allen P. Ross, "The Exegetical Exposition of the Pentateuch: Genesis" (class notes

in 117 Exegesis in the Pentateuch, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983), p. 18.

8 Shimon Bar-Efrat, "Some Observations on the Analysis of Structure in Biblical

Narrative," Vetus Testamentum 30 (1980): 155-73.



290 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991

 

The effect of the prologue, as Sailhamer points out, is to cast

God in the role of a father.9 He made a son in His own likeness. He

named His son. He blessed His son. He is like the Genesis patri-

archs who also did the same for their children. This same pattern is

duplicated by Adam. One important point emerges in the genealogi-

callist in chapter 5: God is shown to be the Father of all mankind.

The plot continues with a lengthy genealogical list (vv. 3-32)

and concludes in 9:28-29 (with the account of the Flood spliced into

the record of man from Adam to Noah). The list in Genesis 5 follows

this pattern:

Component 1: Person A lived X years and then became the fa-

ther of B.

Component 2: Person A lived Y years after he fathered B, fa-

thering other sons and daughters.

Component 3: Person A's entire life lasted X and Y years; then

he died.

The same pattern is followed again in 11:10-26, beginning with

Shem (Noah's son). However, in the record of Enoch, the third com-

ponent is missing. No mention is made of death. But with the other

patriarchs in chapter 5 death is emphasized. Why, for instance,

add "and he died" when that fact is understood? If a person's entire

life consists of X number of years, it is assumed (logically) that he

died. Yet the writer underscores each man's death by repeating the

words "and he died." The purpose is to highlight by contrast the

account of Enoch. Enoch, seventh in the line from Adam, breaks the

structural pattern--he did not live (Component 1), he walked with

God; he did not die (Component 3), he walked with God and God

took him. The reversal is stark and bursting with theological truth.

Obviously the author crafted the genealogy in this way to make it a

theological commentary.10 Theological truth about life and death

(under the curse) is being taught by means of this recurring literary

pattern and the subsequent break from it. The pattern expresses the

author's value system.11

The prologue (vv. 1-2) followed by the monotonous genealogical

list of death (vv. 3-32) juxtaposes two opposing themes. The sons and

daughters of God the Creator, children made in His own likeness,

children designed to be blessed, as a father blesses the children he

loves and cares for, fall prey instead to a curse. Those who were once

 

9 John Sailhamer, Genesis, 2 vols., The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand

Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 2:70.

10 Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington, IN: Indiana

University Press, 1985), p. 120.

11 Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), p. 95.



Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 291

 

blessed are now cursed. Those made in His likeness, those made to

live are now destined to die, returning to dust, thereby also falling

prey to the serpent who will eat dust (3:14). All the children of God

the Father die.

The spread-of-sin motif is evident. But where is the accompa-

nying spread-of-grace motif? Where is the sense of hope in the

midst of all this death?

 

The Account of Enoch, Seventh from Adam

 

The account of Enoch (5:21-24) marks an exception to the pattern

in Genesis 5. In contrast to the smooth, repetitious sequence of the

rest of the genealogy, there is an abrupt disjuncture at 5:22. Instead

of "And Enoch lived" (which would be the regular pattern up to this

point), Moses wrote, "Enoch walked with God three hundred years."

Also in verse 24 the author dropped the regular phrase "and he

died," replacing it with, "And Enoch walked with God; and he was

not, for God took him."

The effect of this abrupt change at verses 22 and 24 is to place

Enoch's life outside the regular sequence of the chapter. "A study of

the author's style in Genesis shows that when he wants to begin a

specific topic much narrower than the preceding subject matter, he

uses such a technique of disjuncture."12 The change in structure re-

veals an exception to the accounts of the others. In contrast to the

formulae of the others, who lived and died, Enoch walked with God.

He did not simply "live"; he walked with God. This suggests that

walking with God was a step above mere living.13 Furthermore

Enoch did not die; he walked with God (stated for the second time),

and God took him.

The hithpael stem of the verb j`lahA (waw plus Hithpael pret-

erite) recalls the Lord God walking in the garden (Hithpael partici-

ple, 3:8)14 and in some way corresponds to it.15 Whenever the author

of Genesis (and of the Pentateuch) used the Hithpael stem of j`lahA,

one of the subjects of the narratives is God. (The only exception is Ex-

odus 21:19.) Like Enoch, Noah also walked with God (Gen. 6:9).

When Abram arrived in the land, the author picked up the thought

 

12 John Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes: Genesis 1:1-2:4a," Trinity Journal n.s. 5

(1984): 76.

13 Ross, Creation and Blessing, p. 175.

14 Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word

Books Publishers, 1987), p. 127.

15 A. Dillmann, Genesis, trans. William B. Stevenson, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T. & T.

Clark, 1897), 1:224-25.



292 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991

 

of walking once again: "Arise, walk about the land" (13:17); "Walk

before Me" (17:1; cf. 24:40; 48:15). Walking with God involves the

idea of continuity or habitual manner of life, and all these examples

employ the Hithpael stem (cf. Deut. 23:14).

The mention of the longevity of Enoch's walk-300 years-adds

to the force of the verb. So the expression "walked with God" was

the author's summary of Enoch's life. Bullinger notes that "walk" is

"used of one's continued course of action and life: i.e., the habitual

habit and manner of life."16 Today one might say that walking with

God was Enoch's lifestyle.

Why did Moses state twice that Enoch walked with God? Why

underline the death of the preceding and succeeding patriarchs?

Sailhamer cogently answers these questions:

 

Why does the author want to point to Enoch so specifically as an excep-

tion? It is not merely because he did not die. That in itself is reason

enough to merit special attention, but it does not sufficiently explain

the purpose of the author in this case. The author's purpose can be

better seen in the way he has emphasized, through repetition, that

Enoch "walked with God" (vv. 22, 24). The phrase "walked with God". . .

clearly means something to the author, for he uses the same expres-

sion to describe Noah as "a righteous man, blameless among the peo-

ple of his time" (6:9), and Abraham and Isaac as faithful servants of

God (17:1; 24:40; 48:15). Its use here shows that the author views it as the

reason why Enoch did not die. Enoch is pictured as one who did not

suffer the fate of Adam ("you will die") because, unlike the others, he

"walked with God."17

 

Here then is a glimpse of grace in the midst of the spread of sin

(death being a result of sin). Here the funeral bell stops tolling. One

man walked with God and God took him.18 He escaped the clutches

of death. Clearly the pathway to life, the road one is to travel to

escape the sting of death, is the one of the pilgrim, in which a person

walks with God.

At this point Moses did not explain what it means to walk with

God. He cited no method or formula. Though he held Enoch up as a

model for others to follow, he communicated no descriptive explana-

tion of this "walk." Moses held that explanation until later in the

narrative. He uncovered an inherent relationship between the past

and the future, using the lives of God's people. "That which hap-

 

16 E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (London: Eyre and Spottis-

woode, 1898; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), p. 832, See also E, A,

Speiser, "The Durative Hithpael: A Tan-Form," Journal of the American Oriental

Society 75 (1955): 118-21,

17 Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 74.

18 The same terminology, "God took him," is used of Elijah's transport to glory in

which he escaped death (2 Kings 2:1, 5, 9-10).



Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 293

 

pened to God's people in the past portends events that still lie in the

future. Or, to say it another way, the past is seen as a lesson of the

future."19 Enoch's walk, then, though yet unexplained theologi-

cally, is a lesson the author will present at a later time, a lesson

(from the past) designed to be learned by future generations of God's

people, for they too will live under the curse.

Walking with God, then, incorporates several theological

ideas. First, the one who walks with God is a creature made in God's

likeness and linked to the Creator in a Father-son relationship. Sec-

ond, walking with God occurred during the reign of death, thereby

making the walk an exception to the normal pattern of living and

dying. Thus simply living and dying is portrayed as below the norm

in quality. And conversely, walking with God is a step above mere

living. It is the way to overcome the curse. Third, the walk is de-

scriptive of a lifestyle, a pattern of life with continuity and dura-

tion. Fourth, this walk or way of life is designed to be a lesson for

God's people in the future.

In writing of Enoch's life Moses' aim was to communicate hope.

Death is not the final answer; for Enoch God overruled death. The

black cloud of death, hovering over the human race, a cloud

promised by God Himself, a dark cloud expressing the essence of the

curse, is split wide open with the brilliant rays of Enoch's life.

There is rescue from death. There is rescue from the effects of the

curse. There is hope. There is a road back into the garden; there is a

method of bypassing the guardian cherubim and flaming sword-

there is access to the tree of life. One can indeed live forever. It is

possible after all once again to fellowship with and worship the

Lord God in the garden. How? By walking with God; thus the lesson

of Enoch (placed in the genealogy of death) is this: Life comes

through walking with God.

 

A Pastoral Response

 

Israelites approaching Canaan needed the lesson of Enoch's life.

Etched in their own history was the tragic account of an entire gener-

ation lost (to death) in the wilderness (cf. the Book of Numbers; 1

Cor. 10:1-13), a generation that overlooked or ignored the lesson that

life with God (eternal life) comes by walking with God.

Enoch's life is also a model for the people of God's New

Covenant to follow in their earthly pilgrimage.20 The finality of

 

19 John H. Sailhamer, "The Canonical Approach to the OT: Its Effect on Under-

standing Prophecy," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 (September

1987): 311.

20 Ross, Creation and Blessing, p. 174.



294 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991

 

death caused by sin, and so powerfully demonstrated in the geneal-

ogy of Genesis, is in fact not so final. Man was not born to die; he was

born to live and that life comes by walking with God. The tentacles

of the curse, reaching over the entire scope of Genesis 1-11 (except for

1:1-2:3) and causing unrelieved gloom21 are thwarted at the seventh

from Adam. Walking with God is the key to the chains of the curse.

Furthermore walking with God is a step above mere living; it is also

the answer to man's deepest need and greatest fear (death).

The New Testament gives a theological commentary on Enoch's

life.

 

WALKING WITH GOD INVOLVES FAITH IN HIM

 

The writer of Hebrews bolstered the hearts of his readers by

communicating the concept that faith is the key to perseverance in

the furnace of suffering (Heb. 10:32-39). After giving a brief defini-

tion of faith (11:1), he cited an impressive list of people who gained

God's approval (v. 2) and won spiritual victories by means of faith.

Faith enables believers to understand creation (v. 3, referring to Gen.

1-2). Abel gained a righteous standing with God by means of faith

(Heb. 11:4, referring to Gen. 4). And next is Enoch, who by faith "was

taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found be-

cause God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his

being taken up he was pleasing to God" (Heb. 11:5). The next verse

(tucked between references to Enoch and Noah, both of whom are

said in Genesis to have walked with God) is critically placed and

theologically significant: "And without faith it is impossible to

please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and

that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (v. 6).

Hebrews 11:5-6 is a divinely inspired commentary on Genesis

5:22-24. The analysis of Enoch's walk with God focuses on his faith

in God. Faith then was the theological description of his walk and

the instrumental cause of his pleasing God. Two features of Enoch's

faith are stressed: his faith in the reality of God ("for he who comes

to God must believe that He is," v. 6), and his faith in the respon-

siveness of God ("and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him,"

v. 6). Walking with God requires faith in Him, faith in the reality

of His existence, and faith in the reality of His responsiveness (to

one's faith). Walking with God inspires believers to look to God's

future rewards based on their present faith and life.

The writer of Hebrews did not say that Enoch thought about God

or speculated about Him. He did not read about God or talk about

God and thereby gain His favor. Rather, Enoch believed God and

thereby pleased God.

 

21 Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, p. 66.



Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 295

 

It seems then that the intent of the author of Genesis (using

Enoch's life) was to anticipate the account of Abraham, the man of

faith, the paragon of righteousness, the one who displayed faithful

obedience to the will of God. He is the author's profound illustration

of the meaning of faith. So Enoch was used to prepare the reader by

encouraging him to ask, What does it mean to walk with God?

 

WALKING WITH GOD PLEASES HIM

In Genesis 5 the Septuagint translates the words "Enoch walked

with God" as "Enoch pleased God." The same is true of Noah. The

Hebrew reads, "Noah walked with God," but the Septuagint has,

"Noah pleased God" (6:9). The account of Abraham has the same in-

terpretation in the Septuagint (17:1; 24:40; 48:15). Bruce suggests

these changes were made "from a desire, no doubt, to make the lan-

guage less anthropomorphic."22 The writer of Hebrews (with the

Septuagint as his foundation) went along with this interpretation of

"walking with God" as "pleasing God" (linked inextricably to the

concept of faith as the instrumental cause of pleasing Him). This

suggests an important lesson from Enoch's life: walking with God in-

volves living by faith and brings God's favor. He is pleased with be-

lievers when they believe Him, when they live by faith. "To please

the Lord and to walk with Him are inseparable factors."23

 

WALKING WITH GOD IS NOT LEGALISTIC ADHERENCE TO THE LAW

A profound lesson in regard to legalism and faith can be mined

from the account of Enoch. Sailhamer speaks to this point.

 

It is important to see that for the author of the Pentateuch "walking with

God" could not have meant a mere "keeping" of a set of laws. Rather it

is just with those men who could not have had a set of "laws" that the

author associates the theme of "walking with God." By choosing such

men to exemplify "walking with God," the author shows his desire to

teach a better way to live than merely a legalistic adherence to the law.

. . . For him the way to life was exemplified best in men like Enoch

("Enoch walked with God," 5:22), Noah ("he walked with God," 6:9), and

Abraham ("Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righ-

teousness," 15:6). It is to these Patriarchs who lived long before the giv-

ing of the law at Sinai that the author of Genesis turns for a model of

faith and trust in God.24

 

In pastoral ministry the message of living each day by faith--

regardless of the circumstances--must continually be communicated

to God's people. Faith is the modus operandi of both salvation and

 

22 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish-

ing Co., 1964), p. 287.

23 F. S. Parnham, "Walking with God," Evangelical Quarterly 46 (1974): 118.

24 Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 74.



296 Bibliotheca Sacra / July-September 1991

 

sanctification and therefore it must become the flour (the essential

ingredient) in all the meals prepared for and served to God's flock.

If faith is the steam in the boiler which moves the locomotive down

the track, then Christian leaders must continually and faithfully

stoke the fires of faith in the hearts of their people.

Worship services should be designed to contribute to that faith-

building process. Hymns and Bible expositions must certainly feed

the faith of the sheep. Meetings for intercessory prayer should also

help build faith in the One to whom believers pray. Rather than

allow people to leave prayer meetings with despairing hearts--see-

ing the size of the difficulties and the nature of the problems--it be-

hooves leaders to focus their people's hearts on the name of the Lord

("May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high. . . and

in the name of our God we will set up our banners. . . we will boast in

the name of the Lord, our God," Ps. 20:1, 5, 7). To focus on the name of

the Lord (the sum total of His attributes) helps build people's confi-

dence and trust in Him (cf. Matt. 21:18-22).

Pastors and other Christian leaders are to build people's faith

in the Triune God of Scripture. To build people's faith is to help

them walk with God. To help them walk with God brings God's fa-

vor. He is pleased with them. And by nurturing their walk of faith,

their pilgrimage of trust, they will walk right into eternity to con-

tinue that unabated walk with God-forever. Spurgeon's comments

on Enoch are appropriate here:

What a splendid walk! A walk of three hundred years! One might de-

sire a change of company if he walked with anybody else, but to walk

with God for three centuries was so sweet that the patriarch kept on

with his walk until he walked beyond time and space, and walked into

paradise, where he is still marching on in the same divine society. He

had heaven on earth, and it was therefore not so [unusual] that he

glided away from earth to heaven so easily.25

 

WALKING WITH GOD OVERCOMES DEATH AND BRINGS LIFE

 

The reason God overruled death for Enoch was that he walked

with God. Walking with God is the way to life, the way to victory

over the curse for today and tomorrow. Enoch's life depicts the fact

that the reign of death will come to an end and the faithful will

reign in life through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:12-21).

 

Conclusion

 

Walking with God involves having faith in Him, and that

faith pleases God. And, walking with God is the way to eternal

 

25 Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the Old Testament (London: Marshall,

Morgan & Scott, 1934), 1:35.



Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God 297

 

life, the way back into the presence of God, to worship Him and en-

joy fellowship with Him forever.

 

Dods's commentary on Enoch's walk with God provides a fitting

conclusion to this discussion.

"Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him." The phrase

is full of meaning. Enoch walked with God because he was His friend

and liked His company, because he was going in the same direction as

God, and had no desire for anything but what lay in God's path. We

walk with God when He is in all our thoughts; not because we con-

sciously think of Him at all times, but because He is naturally sug-

gested to us by all we think of; as when any person or plan or idea has

become important to us, no matter what we think of, our thought is al-

ways found recurring to this favourite object, so with the godly man ev-

erything has a connection with God and must be ruled by that connec-

tion. When some change in his circumstances is thought of, he has

first of all to determine how the proposed change will affect his connec-

tion with God-will his conscience be equally clear, will he be able to

live on the same friendly terms with God, and so forth. When he falls

into sin he cannot rest till he has resumed his place at God's side and

walks with Him again. This is the general nature of walking with God; it

is a persistent endeavour to hold all our life open to God's inspection

and in conformity to His will; a readiness to give up what we find does

cause any misunderstanding between us and God; a feeling of loneli-

ness if we have not some satisfaction in our efforts at holding fellowship

with God, a cold and desolate feeling when we are conscious of doing

something that displeases Him. This walking with God necessarily tells

on the whole life and character. As you instinctively avoid subjects

which you know will jar upon the feelings of your friend, as you natu-

rally endeavour to suit yourself to your company, so when the con-

sciousness of God's presence begins to have some weight with you, you

are found instinctively endeavouring to please Him, repressing the

thoughts you know He disapproves, and endeavouring to educate such

dispositions as reflect His own nature.26

 

To walk with God is to open to Him all one's purposes and hopes,

to seek His judgment on one's scheme of life and idea of happiness, to

be on thoroughly friendly terms with God.

 

26 Marcus Dods, The Book of Genesis, The Expositor's Bible (New York: A. C. Arm-

strong & Son, 1893), pp. 51-52.

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

3909 Swiss Ave.

Dallas, TX 75204 www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: thildebrandt@gordon.edu