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What Is the "Second Death" as Discussed in the Bible?

Updated on July 15, 2019
CliftonHRodriquez profile image

Clifton H. Rodriquez is a certified public accountant (CPA) by profession, but a passionate Bible scholar. He believes in studying the Word.

The Image of Death

Angel of Death
Angel of Death

Nothing Says Finality Like the Angel of Death

Whether you call him the "Angel of Death", or the "Grim Ripper" nothing adds finality to a person's life like death. It is a road that every human being since the dawn of creation has walked and will walk. A person's life will always end in their death, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. The grave is never satisfied. Of course, the death that we speak about is the death brought on by Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Up until Adam's disobedience, the man had conditional immortality. God made the man a free moral agent prior to him disobeying God and receiving knowledge of good and evil. God wanted the man to trust and obey Him without this knowledge. The angels had been given free will, knowledge of good and evil and immortality. If they choose to do evil or even disobey God, God knew that they could not destroy them. Thus, God decided to try a different approach with the man. God, however, had a backup plan in the event that the man disobeyed. The man did disobey and that plan had to be implemented. However, the man's disobedience ensured that he would not continue living while defiled by the very act of disobedience. Thus, God expelled the man from the only home he had known and prevented him from eating from the Tree of Life. The man immediately went into a separation or exile from God's presence and a state of "spiritual death". Many men today are still in a spiritual death; God's Holy Spirit does not guide them in any manner. Many men's hearts are so hard and callous that God has completely abandoned them and turned them over to Satan.This spiritual death would soon be followed by a physical or biological death at the end of the man's life. If they never turned back to God (ended their separation) then they would have died in their sins, and would only be resurrected for their Final Judgment which would end in their second and permanent death in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone.

Adam's Death vs. the "Second Death" of Revelation

Adam's Death All Men
Second Death
Transgression of the Law
Their lives end in death with no exceptions. Resurrection will occur, but on God's timetable
Permanent death from which there is no resurrection. Designed to punish the Wicked and those who refuse God's Amnesty
Genesis 2:17
Ezekiel 18:4, Matthew 10:28, Revelation 20:1-15, 21:8, John 3:16, Romans 6:23
John 3:16, 6:54, Job 14:13-15, Psalm 16

Return of the Conquering King and Judge

A part of the return of Christ to the earth is almost never discussed by theologians and biblical scholars is the fact that he would come to dispense the Second Death to the wicked, i.e., those who foolishly rejected God's amnesty and died in their sins. Christ will return to the earth as a conquering king who will judge the wicked and dispense their final punishment, a second or final death in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone. John, the supposed author of the Book of Revelations, clearly described how he saw the dead great and small standing before God to be judged in accordance with the life that they led while on the earth. Jesus described the very same judgment process at John 5:24-29.

Christ Will Return As Conqueror & Judge
Christ Will Return As Conqueror & Judge

Understanding the Reward of Eternal Life vs. Eternal or Second Death

Despite the Christian believers' constant reference to "entrance into Heaven" as a reward for those who would accept God's amnesty, the reward is indeed eternal life or immortality. Reference to eternal life was initially mentioned in John 3:16 where it states that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish (die the Second Death), but shall have everlasting life. The reward is repeated again in Romans 6:23 where the Apostle Paul stated that "the wages of sins is death (i.e., the Second Death), but the gift of God is eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ". Jesus expounded on this eternal life vs. eternal death in John 11:1-44. Martha and Mary, Lazarus sisters, were upset with the Lord because they believed that if Jesus had come when they sent for him, their brother would have not died. They did not know that Jesus had power over the death of Adam. He not only told them that the Second Death will have no effect on those who believed in him and accepted him but demonstrated his power over Adam's death. He resurrected Lazarus to their amazement. Prior to the resurrection of Lazarus, he explained to Martha that those who accept God's amnesty would never die. It was obvious that Christ was not referring to the death of Adam, but the Second Death. Remember that Lazarus believed in Christ but he had succumbed to Adam's death as well as all men, except that generation that will be alive and not taste Adam's death at the time of Christ's return to earth. However, what Christ tried to explain to everyone present was that the Second Death could not prevail against those who have faith, hope, and trust in him. Although their bodies will see corruption, it was not the end of their existence. As he raised Lazarus from the dead, he would raise countless millions and billions on the Last Day (John 6:54). Those who died faithfully would be immediately changed from corruptible to incorruptible as he was when he was resurrected and transformed (see Romans 8:29). Those who died without the benefit of the Blood of the Lamb would only be resurrected to stand before God's Final Judgment. Their "good deeds" would not outweigh the sins which would cause them to fall short of God's glory (Isaiah 59:2).

Scene of the "Second Death"

Lake of Fire & Brimstone-the "Second Death"
Lake of Fire & Brimstone-the "Second Death"

Conclusion: Amnesty For the Obedient

The Bible states in Hebrews 9:17 that it is appointed once for a man to die, and then the Judgment. The Judgment is necessary because God is just and will not punish any sinner until they have had their "day in God's Court". However, God has made a way for the condemned to be completely pardoned and avoid this pending Final Judgment. However, acceptance of God's amnesty is essential to redemption. Obedience must be exercised prior to departure from this life. Those who obey the Gospel, live and die faithfully in Christ are automatically pardoned from sins; they will be raised to life eternal as Christ was when he was resurrected (see Romans 8:29 and John 5:24-29). The Bible states that there is no condemnation for those covered in the Blood of the Lamb. Obey God, for now, is the acceptable year of the Lord.


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