The quality or state of being exempt from death. In the true sense of the word, only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16; see
1 Timothy 1:17;
2 Timothy 1:10), for only God is living in the true sense of the word (see Life). Humans may be considered immortal only insofar as immortality is the gift of God. Paul points us in this direction. In
Romans 2:7, Paul says, “To those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (NRSV). Paul also explained that the perishable nature of human life will put on the imperishable and that the mortal nature of human life will put on immortality. When that happens, the saying concerning victory over death will have been fulfilled (1 Corinthians 15:53-55; see
Hosea 13:14). As it is, humans in their earthly life are mortal; they are subject to death.
Thus, eternal life is not ours because we have the inherent power to live forever; eternal life and immortality are ours only because God chooses to give them to us. Most of the time, we are given immortality after death. Those who did escape death—Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:10-11)—did so only by the power of God and not by some inherent power they had to live forever. See Eternal Life.