Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
As is often the case in John’s Gospel Jesus is recorded as using the same words with subtlety different meanings.
In verse 25 Jesus uses life to refer to resurrection life. So even the one who’s body is buried, if he is a believer, will live despite his death. He will be resurrected.
But in verse 26 Jesus speaks of one who lives and believes never dying. Here “lives” is probably referring to eternal life. John it is clear that eternal life is not something that believers will get in the future; it is something that believers have now.
So Jesus is saying that even if the outer man dies, the believer will live in the outer man again since Jesus is the resurrection. But more than that, the believer already has eternal life in the inner man and he will never die in the inner man.
This passage then can help shape our understanding of death at the Fall. Genesis 3:19 records the pronouncement of the coming death of the outer man. Genesis 3:7-13 records the effects of the death of the inner man: shame (3:7), separation from God (3:8), failure to love others as one’s self (3:12). Of course, standing over the entire event is the failure to love God.
The language of inner man/outer man comes from 2 Corinthians 4:16.
Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (i-xii), Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), 434.
D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 412-11.