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Death is the end of all functions of life, namely, the opposite of life. (Deut. 30:15, 19) Within Scripture, the same Hebrew words of the Old Testament and Greek words of the New Testament are used with humans, animals, and plants. (Eccles. 3:19; 9:5; John 12:24; Jude 12; Rev. 16:3) However, as we have already learned in other blog articles, the Bible shows the essential purpose of the blood in preserving life, stating, “The soul [life] of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11, 14; Gen. 4:8-11; 9:3, 4) The Bible says,
Genesis 7:21-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus he blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
Notice that the Bible says that both humans and animals died, i.e., perished. Literally, that means ‘breathing out’ the breath of life (Heb., nishmath´ chaiyim´). (Gen. 7:21, 22; see Gen. 2:7.) Moreover, the Bible shows when both human and animals suffer somatic death (Death of the entire body), where there is a loss of “a breath of spirit of life,” i.e., the “animating force; spirit.” (Heb., ruach chaiyim´)—Gen 6:17; 7:15, 22; Eccles. 3:19
What is death?
Under this heading, we will repeat what was penned earlier, as repetition for emphasis. It is recommended that you read these few Scriptures and paragraphs again. When we die, what happens to the soul? If you recall from above that the “soul” is the person, the being, the creature, i.e., us, and the life that we have. If you recall from above, the Human soul = body [dust of the ground] + active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God. In other words, the “soul” is we as a whole, everything that we are, so the soul or we humans can die. Let us look at a few verses, which make that all too clear.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
19 For the fate of the sons of men [humans or people] and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.
In other words, when we breathe our last breath, our cells begin to die. Death is the ending of all vital functions or processes in an organism or cell. When our heart stops beating, our blood is no longer circulating, carrying nourishment and oxygen (by breathing) to the trillions of cells in our body; we are what are termed, clinically dead. However, somatic death has yet to occur, meaning we can be revived, after many minutes of being clinically dead, if the heart and lungs can be restarted again, which gives the cells the oxygen they need.
After about three minutes of clinical death, the brain cells begin to die, meaning the chances of reviving the person is less likely as each second passes. We know that it is vital that the breathing and blood flow be maintained for the life force (ruach chaiyim) in the cells. Nevertheless, it is not the lack of breathing or the failure of the heart beating alone, but rather the active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God.
Psalm 104:29 (ESV)
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
Psalm 146:4 (ESV)
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
Ecclesiastes 8:8 (ESV)
8 No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.
Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV)
4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
Leviticus 21:1 (ASV)
21 And Jehovah said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, There shall none defile himself for the dead [Or “for a soul.”] among his people;
Numbers 6:6 (ASV)
6 All the days that he separates himself unto Jehovah he shall not come near to a dead body [Or “soul.”].
Again, the death of a “soul” means the death of a person …
1 Kings 19:4 (ASV)
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper-tree: and he requested for himself that he [Or “his soul.] ”might die, and said, It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life [soul]; for I am not better than my fathers.
Jonah 4:8 (ASV)
8 And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die [Or “that his soul might die.”], and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
Mark 3:4 (ASV)
4 And he said to them, Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? to save a life [Or “soul.”], or to kill? But they held their peace.
As you can see from the above texts, a “soul,” or person can die, and the difference between clinical death and somatic death.
What Causes Human Death?
Genesis 2:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (ASV)
16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, “From every tree of the garden you may freely eat, 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
Here we have the first mention of dying within Scripture. It would seem that the death of animals was already the case, as they were not designed to live forever. Thus, when God mentioned the sentence of death for disobeying, Adam knew full well what death was, as he likely had seen many animals die. When Adam disobeyed, he actually rebelled against the sovereignty of God, and this resulted in his death (Gen. 3:19; Jam. 1:14-15) From the moment that Adam ate, his sinful rebellion and its consequences, i.e., death, spread to all of his descendants.
Romans 5:12 (UASV)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—.
Romans 6:23 (UASV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Some texts are often used to support the idea that physical death was all a part of God’s plan; it was an eventuality for humans. One example would be Psalm 90:10, saying, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years” Another would be Hebrews 9:27, where Paul says, “inasmuch as it is appointed (Lit laid up) for men to die once and after this comes judgment …”
Was physical death all a part of God’s plan for Adam and Eve, since Hebrews 9:27 says, “inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment”?
Yes, these texts were written after the fall of man, after “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men. (Rom 5:12) We look at those who lived before the flood such as Methuselah, the father of Lamech and grandfather of Noah; he lived 969 years, the longest of Bible record. (Gen. 5:27) This is evidence that God’s original intentions were for humans to live forever here on earth.
Humans are alienated from God and are in “slavery to corruption.” (Rom. 8:21) This is because sin, missing the mark of perfection is at work within them, resulting in “the works of the flesh.” (Gal 5:19-21) Paul tells us, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Then he asks, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:12, 16, See 19-21) Satan “has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14-15) John called him a “murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) This is not to say that Satan has the capacity to kill humans at will, but because he does so through deception and luring of humans into sin, by prompting or motivating wrongdoing that leads to corruption and death (2 Cor. 11:3), and also by engendering murderous thinking in the minds and hearts of humans. (John 8:40-44, 59; 13:2; See also James 3:14-16; 4:1, 2) Death is the “enemy” of humanity, and not what God had intended for us. (1 Cor. 15:26) The only ones who have ever desired death, even in imperfect bodies and an imperfect world, are those that have suffered immense pain.—Job 3:21, 22; 7:15; Rev. 9:6.
What is the Condition of the Dead?
A Brief Summary
There are numerous passages in the Bible that address the condition of the dead. In general, the Bible teaches that death is a natural part of the human experience after the sinful rebellion of Adam.
According to the Bible, the dead are unconscious and do not experience anything. In the book of Ecclesiastes, it is written: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). This passage suggests that the dead are not aware of anything and do not have any consciousness or perception of their surroundings.
The Bible also teaches that the dead will be resurrected on the last day. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the dead, saying: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29). This passage suggests that the dead will be resurrected and judged according to their actions in the life to come under the thousand-year reign of Christ.
When the Bible talks about the condition of the dead, it presents it in five senses, (1) knowing nothing, (2) asleep-like state, (3) being powerless, (4) returning to the dust of the ground, (5) and awaiting a resurrection.
Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [gravedom], to which you are going.
John 11:11 (ESV)
11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
1 Kings 2:10 (ESV)
10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
Proverbs 2:18 (ESV)
18 for her house sinks down to death,
Isaiah 26:14 (ESV)
14 They are dead, they will not live;
Genesis 3:19 (ESV)
19 By the sweat of your face
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 (NASB)
19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.
John 5:28-29 (ESV)
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Acts 24:15 (ESV)
15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
In death, Scripture shows us as being unable to praise God. The Psalmist tells us, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol [gravedom] who will give you praise?” (Psa. 6:5) Isaiah the prophet writes, “For Sheol [gravedom] cannot thank you [God], death cannot praise you; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. ‘It is the living who give thanks to you, as I do today; a father tells his sons about your faithfulness.’” – Isaiah 38:18-19.
Passing Over from Death to Life
John 5:24 English Standard Version (ESV)
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Regeneration is God restoring and renewing somebody morally or spiritually, where the Christian receives a new quality of life. This one goes from the road of death over to the path of life. (John 5:24) Here he becomes a new person, with a new personality, having removed the old person. (Eph. 4:20-24) This does not mean that the imperfection is gone, and the sinful desires are removed, but that he now has the mind of Christ, the Spirit and the Word of God to gain control over his thinking and his fleshly desires. Therefore, if one has truly experienced a conversion, it will be evident by the changes in one’s new personality from the old personality, his life, and his actions. If this is the case, he will be fulfilling the words of Jesus, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
Can we see one as truly a man of faith, a committed Christian, who attends the meetings, but he never carries out any personal study, never shares the gospel with another, never helps his spiritual brothers or sisters (physically, materially, mentally, or spiritually), nor helps his neighbor, or any of the other things one would find in a man of faith? James had something to say about this back in chapter 1:26-27, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. A Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” One who does not possess real faith, will not help the poor. He will not separate himself from worldly pursuits. He will favor those that he can benefit from (i.e., the powerful and wealthy), and ignore those that he cannot make gains from (i.e., orphans and widows). Moreover, he will not know the love of God, nor his mercy. – James 2:8-9, 13.
Titus 3:5 Lexham English Bible (LEB)
5 he saved us, not by deeds of righteousness that we have done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
The Greek word polingenesia means to a renewal or rebirth of a new life in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless someone is born of … Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). At the moment a person is converted, he is regenerated or renewed, passing over from death to life eternal. Jesus explains this in John 5:24, “the one who hears my word and who believes the one who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” The principal feature of the rebirth of a new life in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, regeneration, is the passing over from death to life eternal.
At that point, the Spirit dwells within this newly regenerated one. From the time of Adam and Eve, God has desired to dwell with man. God fellowshiped with Adam in the Garden of Eden. After Adam’s rebellion, he chose faithful men, to walk with him in their life course, to communicate with them. Enoch, Noah, and Abraham walked with God. In the Hebrew language, the tabernacle is called mishkan meaning “dwelling place.” In both the tabernacle and the temple, God was represented as dwelling with the people in the Most Holy. He also dwelt with the people through the Son, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) After Jesus’ ascension, God dwelt among the Christians, by way of the Holy Spirit, in the body of each individual Christian, which begins at conversion.
Death Thrown into the Lake of Fire
What is the Second Death?
Although the expression “first death” does not occur, the concept is implied in Rev. 20:6, which states that “the second death has no power” over “the one who shares in the first resurrection.” Sharing in the first resurrection would be impossible unless they had previously died. (Brand, Draper and Archie 2003, 1457)
We have been studying about the first death, namely Adamic death, that which we have inherited from Adam and Eve. If that was the first death, the second death must be distinct from that death. It is clear from the Scriptures that there is a resurrection hope from the first death, but not from the second death.
Revelation 2:11 English Standard Version (ESV)
11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
The ones who conqueror are guaranteed of immortal heavenly life, which cannot be affected by death.—1 Corinthians 15:53-54.
Revelation 20:6 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Again, the ones who conqueror that share in “the first resurrection” are guaranteed of immortal heavenly life, which cannot be affected by the second death, which will mean annihilation, destruction without hope of a resurrection for those who experience it.
Revelation 20:13-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Notice that death, which is what we inherited from our first parents Adam and Eve, as well as Hades (gravedom), is going to be “thrown into the lake of fire.” Is not death and Hades abstract, are they able to be tormented and suffer forever. No. However, the fire does picture their eternal destruction, which will take place once they ‘give up the dead who were in them.’ Note that Paul clearly said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)
The fire and burning within Scripture are merely representing annihilation or eternal destruction. Therefore, there is no eternal torment in Sheol (gravedom), Hades (equivalent of Sheol) hell (English translation), Gehenna (symbol of destruction), or the lake of fire (symbol of destruction). What about the parable of the sheep (righteous) and the goats (wicked), which has the goats, or the wicked going away into eternal punishment?
Revelation 21:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
John speaks of a “lake that burns with fire and sulfur,” where the wicked are thrown. It would seem that if hellfire were the truth, this would be the place. However, we are simply told by John, this is “the second death,” which will mean annihilation, destruction without hope of a resurrection for those who experience it.