Articles Home

Enoch, Elijah and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Rev. Daniel R. Jennings, M.A.


There is a longstanding tradition that the two ancient prophets, Enoch and Elijah, will return at some point in the future to continue their earthly ministries.  This is not a new conclusion.  It was an ancient Jewish prophecy which predicted that Elijah would return before Judgment Day[1] and the belief that both of them would return together was held by Tertullian (145-220AD)[2] and Hippolytus (d. c.236)[3] who based their suppositions, at least in part, upon their interpretation of Revelation 11:3-13.

Enoch was the seventh from Adam, an early Bronze Age citizen.  He lived, according to Masoretic Biblical chronology, between 3377 and 3017BC. 


And Enoch lived sixty five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him...By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Gen 5:21-24, Heb 11:5


            Elijah is the only other Old Testament character to have a similar experience.  Maybe he can give us a clue as to how and where God would have taken a man.  Elijah was a ninth century prophet who ministered circa 869 to 849BC.  Then, after roughly fifteen years of prophetic ministry, we have the following account of him:


And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal… they two stood by Jordan...And it came to pass, when they were gone over…as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. 2Ki 2:1-12


            The text says simply that “Elijah went…up into heaven.”  But where is heaven?  Looking at the text more closely will give us the answer.  The Hebrew word for heaven here is Shamayim and it is actually in the plural so this passage could really be read “Elijah went up…into the heavens”.  So, why is it in the plural you ask?  In the ancient world they had a concept of various heavens.

            “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1 tells us.  “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God,” we are informed by Deuteronomy[4].  There is a “farthest part of the heavens,” according to Nehemiah[5] and the Apostle Paul knew “a man in Christ who…was caught up to the third heaven.”[6]

            So, just where are these heavens?  The book of Genesis gives us a clue. 


Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;  and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.  Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.  God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. 1:14-18


From these verses it is clear that the heavens include what modern science has termed outer space.  Thus, the text seems to imply that Elijah, being taken up into the “heavens”, was taken into outer space.  So, what would a trip through outer space be like for our two prophets?  According to the Bible outer space is a populous place.  “For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD?” the Psalmist asks.[7]  Revelation sends a message to the “heavens, and you who dwell in them[8].  John wrote about “every creature which is in heaven[9] and occasionally even God the Father is said to transverse the universe.[10]

            So just who are these heavenly inhabitants?  Quite often the Bible seems to indicate them to be angels.  In Genesis “the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven”.[11]  Abraham heard as “the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven”.[12]  Jesus spoke of “the angels which are in heaven[13] and on the day of his resurrection the angel of the Lord “descended from heaven”.[14]  In Luke, after the shepherds had their angelic encounter, the angels went “away from them into heaven”.[15]  John “heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven[16] and also saw a “mighty angel come down from heaven”.[17]

Now the question must be asked how do these angels travel through the universe.  The Bible is not clear but some have suggested that they may have special vehicles, designed by God, for this very purpose.  We can’t say for sure but all one has to do is look at how the Bible describes an angelic encounter -- Bright lights (Lk 2:8-9; Rev 18:1), traveling through the sky (Lk 2:15; Rev 14:6), inciting fear into those who see them (Lk 2:9, 24:5; Jdg 13:6) -- and one has all the workings of a classic UFO sighting.  Now, without getting into government conspiracy theories and alien abduction scenarios, it seems at least somewhat plausible that aliens do use vehicles to travel throughout the universe and that sometimes these vehicles have been seen and labeled as UFOs.

            Now, if Enoch and Elijah were taken into outer space in a flying saucer at respectively 3017BC and 849BC we are faced with yet another problem.  How could these two men still be living thousands of years later?  Even if Judgment Day were this year, that would make them 5024 and 2856 years old respectively.  Here is where Albert Einstein comes into play.

            Between 1905 and 1915 Einstein began to publicize his general and special theories of relativity.[18]  Simply put, these theories put forth the idea that our perceptions of motion and time were relative to our location.  For example, if you are in a car driving on a two lane road and then turn left to you it will be left but what about the traffic coming in the opposite direction?  To them it will appear that you have turned right.  Another example includes one man on a boat and another on the shore.  To the man on the shore the man on the boat is floating down the river while he stands still.  To the man on the boat the shoreline is moving upstream while he floats downstream, standing still on the boat. 

As noted, relativity also has to do with time.  The faster one is traveling and the further away from earth’s gravity that one moves the slower time goes by for the individual.  According to Einstein’s theory the closer one comes to the speed of light, the slower time will go by for that individual.  The usual scenario given to illustrate this is the twin paradox.  If one of the twins entered into a space ship and sailed away into outer space traveling close to the speed of light and then returned after a few years, he would find that while he was only a few years older his twin had aged many more years than him.  This is referred to as time dilation.

Scientifically this has actually been proven.  In October of 1971 J. C. Hafele and Richard E. Keating placed four cesium-beam atomic clocks aboard commercial airliners and flew twice around the world in opposite directions, then compared the clocks against those of the United States Naval Observatory.  The results were astounding and confirmed Einstein’s theory of time dilation.  The clocks on the airplane flying east, though just minutely, had moved slower than the clocks on the earth.[19]  This experiment was repeated in 2005 by the National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom and received similar results.[20]

Scientists have even figured out a mathematical formula to calculate just how much slower time would go for a near light speed traveler in comparison to those remaining on earth. 

t' = t√(1-[ V2/c2])

Where: t'   =  dilated time (shortened time in space)

             t    =  stationary time (normal time on earth)

             V   =  velocity (speed in relation to the speed of light)[21]

             c   =  speed of light[22]


In layman’s terms what this equals to is that to determine the amount of time for a space traveler in comparison to the time which will pass on earth all one has to do is multiply the time on earth times the square root of one minus the percentage of the speed of light that one is traveling squared divided by the speed of light squared.  (We will break this down step by step in just a moment).

Now, in relation to our two prophets this has amazing bearing.  According to Einstein’s theory if Enoch was picked up in 3017BC and traveled for only six hours and fifty five minutes at a velocity of 99.99999999999876% of the speed of light he would return to an earth that had aged 5024 years.  Millennia would have passed on the earth but he would only be a few hours older.  Let’s break this down using the above formula.


t' = t√(1-[ V2/c2])

t' = 5024√(1-[99.999999999998762/1002])

t' = 5024√(1-[9999.9999999997520000000000015376/10000])

t' = 5024√(1-0.99999999999997520000000000015376)

t' = 5024√(0.000000000000024799999999999847)

t' = 5024 x 0.00000015748015748023572

t' = 0.00079118031118070425728


Round this number up and one sees that 5024 years on earth would equal 00.079% of one year in space traveling at the above speed.  Do a little more math and one can see that 00.079% of one year equals six hours and fifty five minutes.

            Now, let’s take Elijah.  He lived a long time after Enoch, ministering up until approximately 849BC.  According to our formula, if he were taken on a whirlwind trip of the universe traveling at the same speed as Enoch he could return to our time, 2856 years later, in only three hours and fifty six minutes.

            So there we have it, scientific proof that the story of Enoch and Elijah is possible.


            After researching this I can clearly see that it is scientifically possible for Enoch and Elijah to have lived for thousands of years traveling at high speeds throughout the universe.  However, I must admit that I am not sure if this is the actual case.  Just because something is possible does not mean that it is true.  I say this because, if I understand the Scriptural accounts of Enoch and Elijah correctly, it appears that they actually went outside of the heavens and are now standing in the presence of God.[23]  Regardless of how He will do it, one can rest assured that all of the prophecies regarding Enoch and Elijah will be brought to pass in accordance with God’s plan for humanity.


[1] Mal 4:5-6

[2] A Treatise On The Soul, Ch. 50

[3] Of Christ And Antichrist, Ch. 43; Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture, The Interpretation By Hippolytus, (Bishop) of Rome, of the Visions of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, Taken In Conjunction, Sec. 22

[4] 10:14

[5] 1:9

[6] 2Cor 12:2.  For references to multiple heavens in early Christian literature the reader is referred to Irenaeus of Lyons, The Proof Of The Apostolic Preaching, 9; Victorinus, On The Creation Of The World; Origen, Against Celsus, 6:21; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 4:25; Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christian Topography, 4; and John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith, 2:6.

[7] 89:6

[8] 12:12

[9] Rev 5:13

[10] Deu 33:26: “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you…”

[11] Gen 21:17

[12] Gen 22:11

[13] Mar 12:25

[14] Mat 28:2

[15] 2:15

[16] Rev 8:13

[17] Rev 10:1

[18] Relativity: The Special and General Theory, by Albert Einstein.  Translated by Robert W. Lawson.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920.

[19] The flying clocks lost 59 ± 10 nanoseconds during the eastward trip and gained 273 ± 7 nanoseconds during the westward trip.  The results of this experiment were published in Science Vol. 177, No. 4044, pp. 166-170, July 14, 1972 under the articles entitled Around-the-World Atomic Clocks: Predicted Relativistic Time Gains and Around-the-World Atomic Clocks: Observed Relativistic Time Gains both by J. C. Hafele and Richard E. Keating.

[20] The results of this experiment were published in Metromnia, Issue 18, Spring 2005 which is available online at the time of this writing at

[21] For practical purposes this can be expressed in a percentage (i.e. 99.99 percent of the speed of light) and then plugged directly into the formula.

[22] This will always be constant, as the speed of light never changes and for practical purposes can be expressed at 100 percent.

[23] Zec 4:1-14, Rev 11:3-12 (note verse 4)