Monday, 2 August 2021
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:14
In the previous verse, it noted the sea giving up its dead and Death and Hades delivering up the dead in them. That was in order to judge those in them. With that complete, John now provides a description of an amazing finish to this process saying, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”
Again, Death and Hades are being personified. These great foes of humanity are now facing their own demise – never to be seen again for all eternity. John’s words are perfectly in accord with Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 15 –
“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26
Death, the great enemy of mankind, will be destroyed. Hades, the place where the dead resided, will also be destroyed. As death will no longer reign in man, there will never again be a need for storing the souls of the dead. In this, John says, “This is the second death.”
Some manuscripts repeat the previous words as an explanation and for emphasis –
“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.” BSB
The proverbial saying “Born twice, die once; born once, die twice” is seen in this verse. For all who come to Christ and are born again, there is only one death to be anticipated. For those who never come to Christ, they will see death someday, and they will also be a part of the second death when they are cast into the Lake of Fire along with Death and Hades. But understanding the process requires thought concerning death.
Considering the Greek of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:26, light will now be shed on what Paul was conveying. The verb he uses for “will be destroyed” is in the present indicative middle or passive voice. And so rather than “will be,” the action has already begun, and it will continue on until a fixed point.
A good way to understand it would be to consider a major league baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant. They have lost the right to play in the World Series, and yet they continue to play because other teams still have a chance. Until the baseball season is ended, they continue in order to meet a set plan which was initiated at the beginning of that season. Though they are defeated, their defeat will continue until the plan is finished.
Therefore, Paul is conveying the thought that Death “is being destroyed until it is finished.” Further, there is a definite article in front of “death.” Therefore, “death,” like in Revelation, is being personified by Paul. Tyndale’s version renders the verse, “Lastly, Death the enemy shall be destroyed.”
In support of the ongoing (and yet inevitably completed) nature of the action, several pertinent verses from the New Testament which concern the work of Christ should be reviewed. These are only a few among many which show us that Death is defeated, but that it will continue in this defeated condition for a set amount of time. First, from Paul’s second letter to Timothy –
“…but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10
Paul shows that in Christ’s first appearance death was abolished. However, death still exists as is quite evident from the world around us. To understand this, again think of the baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant, and yet, it still plays during the regular season. And so even though this action is done, it is awaiting a future fulfillment.
In Hebrews 2, it is seen that it was through Christ’s death that this came about. In this, “death” is tied in with the devil, showing that it is the devil who had “the power of death” –
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15
Next, in John’s first epistle, he shows that death is tied to sin. This takes us back to the very beginning when the devil deceived the man. In so doing, man sinned. In this, death entered the world. As the wages of sin is death, it shows that the work of the devil is what brought death about –
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
Jesus Christ came to undo this. He accomplished it at the cross, destroying the power of the devil in all who believe. But why didn’t He just toss the devil into hell right then? The answer is that He is building a church out of the redeemed of the world. After that, He will fulfill the Old Testament prophecies promised to Israel during the millennium.
If He simply destroyed the devil at that time, there would be no church and thus no “living temple.” There would also have been unfulfilled prophecies promised to Israel. Instead, the victory was won, but the devil has been allowed to continue in the world until a time determined by God. In this, we can think of the team that will eventually win the pennant. It is comprised of people who are winners, but they are not winners until the end of the season.
Those who come to Christ are “in Christ” and can never die again. But those who are not will both physically die and be eternally separated from God in the process, because Death continues to reign over them. Thus, we see why there is an ongoing nature to the work of Christ. But some wondrous day, even Death will be eliminated forever. As John says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
Life application: In John 3:16, we read the wonderful words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
How can life be eternal? Eternal life is guaranteed because God will destroy death and also the place of death, known as Hades. Hades is the place where the lost go now, and it is the repository of those lost souls. After the final judgment of those in Hades, it will be thrown into the lake of fire because there will be no more need for it.
The logical deduction to be made from John’s words is that, if death is no longer present and Hades is also no longer present, those who are alive in Christ can no longer die. The promise given by Jesus is realized in its fullness. However, it can be assured to any person willing to accept it right now.
God has spoken and what He has said is more certain than the ground under our feet. He has given His word, which cannot be broken, that all who look to the Son – believing in His work and accepting what He has done for them – will never die. Though our bodies may wear out, and though they may cease to function, our souls will continue forever, waiting for the moment when they are reunited with eternal bodies. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55 –
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’”
God has a marvelous plan for the people of the world if they will only accept it by faith. There is no other way to be reconciled to Him, except for faith in what He has already done through Jesus. When we believe that gospel message, and proclaim with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, God is pleased to call us His own and grant us eternal life.
If you have never accepted the gift of eternal life, now is the time of God’s favor and today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait another moment but call out to JESUS!
Lord, we are fully convinced that Your word is true and that what it proclaims will come about exactly as You have stated. We trust in Jesus alone for our salvation, and we are confident in the promise of eternal life that You have offered through His shed blood. What a great and marvelous God You are! Hallelujah and amen.