John Bray wrote an article entitled, “Were Enoch and Elijah Raptured to Heaven” (http://www.purelybiblical.com/ftp/E/Elijah_and_Enoch.pdf) where he questions the truthfulness of Enoch’s account that the prophet Enoch was kept alive when he was translated. Bray objects to Enoch based on John 3:13’s requirement that at the time of Christ no man had ever bodily ascended up to heaven.
There are some things that John Bray apparently does not know about heaven and those things affect the results of reasoning about Enoch and Elijah. If he had ever read the the non-canonical works like the Ascension of Isaiah and the book of Enoch, he would understand that some of the things he says are wrong. For one thing, the Ascension of Isaiah says there are seven heavens (Asc Isa 3:13), and God rules in the highest, the 7th. Enoch says he went to be with the Watchers, which is the lowest heaven. So, Jn 3:13 is not violated by Enoch being caught up to the lowest heaven. Another thing is that the Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah will be killed during the reign of the Antichrist. They will be killed in Jerusalem (Rev 11:8), and they will be resurrected there (Rev 11:11). If Enoch was killed when “he was not, for God took him” (Gen 5:24), then he dies again in Rev 11:8, and that is double jepordy. God promised that it is appoint unto men ONCE to die, and after that the Judgment. The book of Enoch clearly shows Enoch alive and well in the realm of the Watchers after he was taken (Enoch 12:1-5), even as the Bible says (Heb 11:5). My presumption is that the three ancient men that have never died (Enoch, Elijah and John) went to the same place. There they receive food and care that will keep them alive until the end times when they will all return. There is no reason to presume they are dead when the Bible does not say that they are. Mal 4 says God will send Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the day of Christ’s return (II Thes 1:7-9). I believe him, and I believe Enoch when he says they will return.
51 And again I saw those sheep that they again erred and went many ways [in the days of King Ahab], and forsook that their house, and the Lord of the sheep called some from amongst the sheep and sent them to the sheep [prophets], 52 but the sheep began to slay them. And one of them was saved and was not slain [Elijah], and it sped away and cried aloud over the sheep; and they sought to slay it, but the Lord of the sheep saved it from 53 the sheep, and brought it up to me [Enoch], and caused it to dwell there.
And thereafter those three [archangels] who were clothed in white and had seized me by my hand who had taken me up before, and the hand of that ram [Enoch and Elijah!! the two witnesses and two candlesticks Rev 11:3] also seizing hold of me, they 32 took me up and set me down in the midst of those sheep before the judgment took place.
and the first among them became a lamb [Jesus Rev 5:6], and that lamb became a great animal and had great black horns on its head [Jesus comes as conqueror of the earth Rev 19:16]; and the Lord of the sheep 39 rejoiced over it and over all the oxen [the Jews have finally accepted their Messiah]. And I slept in their midst: [Enoch is to be killed Rev 11:7] and I awoke and saw everything.
Critics raise at least two objections to the above position. They claim that Hebrews says ALL of the folks mentioned in Hebrews 11:13 died. That would include Enoch. Critics claim it also is not vaild to use God’s pronouncement of man only being apointed to die ONCE (Heb 9:27) as an argument to show that because Rev 11:7 says he will die in Jerusalem at the end of the age, then Enoch must still be alive. There are several resurrections recorded in the Bible and the presumption is that these all died again. The widow of Nain’s son died twice. Jairus’s daughter died twice. Eutychus died twice. We can’t prove they all died again but we certainly don’t read about their being taken alive, and it seems we would.
In answer to the objections we note that Hebrews says “these” all died in faith. “These” who? The ones that Hebrews talked about that died. All these that died, died in faith. Enoch is specifically excluded (“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death”–Heb 11:5 NIV). Also, the non-canonical works agree with the inspired writer of Hebrews and say Enoch is not dead, and Revelation implies he is one of the two witnesses coming back at the end of the age.
Those people mentioned that were raised from the dead had all been dead less than one week. The non-canonical works say that a departed soul is left free for one week following his death in order that he might know what is going on. Jesus called this transition condition “sleep” (LK 8:53–she is not dead, but sleepeth; Jn 11:11–Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep). Apparently, people recalled during the transition state are not considered fully dead. It is more like an out of body experience or a near death experience, so they don’t count as getting double jepordy.