Deaths (plural)

*This blog is dedicated to the memory of Vincent “Vinny” Saccone (1965-2020), who had been encouraging me to publish it…

Have you ever thought about the fact that the Bible talks about more than one death? We know that there is more than one death because of the four references to the second death in the book of Revelation…

Revelation 2:11 (HCSB)
Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.

Revelation 20:6 (HCSB)
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

Revelation 20:13-15 (HCSB)
Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:5-8 (HCSB)
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars — their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

These verses reveal several things about the second death:

1) The one who listens “to what the Spirit says” (a believer) is considered to be a “victor.” Such a person is “not harmed by the second death.” In other words, the second death is not experienced by those who have “an ear,” which means that such people will end up living forever and not die again at the judgement.

2) The second death has no power over those who share in the “first resurrection” (Christ Himself). Jesus had described Himself to Martha as being “the resurrection” (John 11:25-26). He was also the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23) and He is the “firstfruits” (1 Corinthians 15:23). Those who are in Him (in Christ) will rise just as He did (1 Corinthians 6:14), sharing with Him that same firstfruits status (James 1:18). “The one who shares in the first resurrection,” are considered to be of the “priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him…”

3) The second death is pictured in the Bible as a “lake of fire.” Not only will death itself and Hades (the grave) be thrown into it, but “anyone not found written in the book of life,” will also be thrown into it. This includes all who are still alive at the time of Christ’s return who had sinned but did not repent and give their allegiance to Christ during their lifetime (those from the sea), and also those who had already died prior to the post-resurrection judgement who had sinned during their lifetime but did not repent and give their allegiance to Christ (those in the grave/Hades). At the judgement, how such people lived will then be evaluated based upon “their works,” and not anyone else’s.

4) The “thirsty” (those in Christ), will be given “water as a gift” from “the spring of life.” However, those not in Christ, “the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars,” they will all not be given that gift. Instead, they will die a second time.

Our Fault

It is important to understand that for those who will die the second death (at some point in the future), it is not anyone’s fault but their own. No one dies this second time because of what someone else did. At the judgement (as referenced above), “all were judged according to their works.”

The simplest way to say it is…

The second death is our fault.

The only way to avoid this death is by giving allegiance to Yahweh through repentance and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ prior to dying the first death or before His return (if such a person is still alive at that time).

“The First Death”

Now, you will not find the phrase “the first death” anywhere in the Bible. I am using it here to help to differentiate between the death which occurs prior to the judgement (the first death) and the death which occurs after the judgement (the second death). The writer of Hebrews offers some insight about what I label as the first death with regards to those who have repented and put their faith in Jesus prior to their life coming to an end…

Hebrews 9:27-28 (HCSB)
…just as it is appointed for people to die once — and after this, judgment — so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

The point being made here is that “those who are waiting for Him,” those who have both repented and placed their faith in Jesus, will only experience the first death (unless they happen to be alive when Christ returns). However, such people (priests of God) will not experience the second death. As was shown earlier, it has no power over them…

Revelation 20:6 (HCSB)
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

Adam’s Fault

This brings another question to mind…

If the second death is our fault, then whose fault is the first death?

The simplest way to say it is…

The first death is Adam’s fault.

Due to Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, Adam and his wife (Eve) were then kicked out, taking away their access to the tree of life…

Genesis 3:22-24 (HCSB)
The LORD God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

This meant that both they and their progeny (their future generations, which includes us) were then going to experience life on a cursed ground, in a chaotic environment, forced to labor for their sustenance, all while being influenced by the behind the scenes, “powers of darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). And then, after they would die (the first death), they would then be brought back to life to be judged by God as to how they had lived their lives; to then either receive eternal life or to face the second death. Again, as I had referenced earlier…

Hebrews 9:27a (HCSB)
…just as it is appointed for people to die once — and after this, judgment…

Deaths (plural)

Regardless of which death you might have in view, both deaths (plural), the first and the second, are each the wages of sin:

Romans 6:23a (HCSB)
For the wages of sin is death…

Again, the simplest way that I could put it is…

The first death (the pre-judgement death) is Adam’s fault.
The second death (the post-judgement death) is our fault.

In other words…

Our mortality is the wage of Adam’s sin, where one’s dying a second time is the wage of their sin.

Hope

Don’t forget though, Paul had also offered hope in the second half of that same sentence when he had written to the believers in Rome. It is bolded below. (I also included the previous verse as well)…

Romans 6:22-23 (HCSB)
But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification, — and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Some Final Thoughts…

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (HCSB)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Death came through Adam. He made our life temporal. How we lived that temporal life is what we will each (individually) be judged for when we are resurrected to be judged after the first death. For those found in Christ at the judgement, they will be made alive forever, because “the second death has no power over them.”

Some Final Questions…

Will you be found with “the one who shares in the first resurrection”? Or, will you be found with those whose “share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”?

Have no doubt (as Luke had quoted Paul, when Paul was defending himself before the Roman Procurator of Judea in Caesarea for the turmoil that he had created in Jerusalem due to his public proclamation about the resurrection)…

Acts 24:15b (HCSB)
“…there is going to be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Again, I must ask…

Which group will you be found with?

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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