The Second Death
By David J. Stewart
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” —Revelation 21:8
The Bible, God’s Word, clearly proclaims that there is a “second death.” The first death is the physical death, when a man’s soul and spirit are separated from his body. The second death is a physical and spiritual death, suffering in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. We see this clear distinction in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
There is much debate over the word “hell,” but a careful study of the Bible leaves no doubt as to it’s true meaning. Psalm 9:17 warns, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” This Scripture PROVES that “hell” is not just the grave. If “hell” were only referring to the “grave,” then why would God say that the wicked shall be turned into hell? Do not also the righteous go to the same grave, if “hell” just means grave? As you can see, the Bible would make no sense if “hell” were just the grave. God warns that the wicked shall be turned into hell, meaning fire and torment.
The Word of God plainly states in 1st Thessalonians 1:8, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What’s there not to understand? “Flaming fire” sounds hot to me! Jesus said in Matthew 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…” “Everlasting” means forever. Jesus said again in Mark 9:45-46, “…to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Biblically, Hell is a PLACE of woeful suffering and eternal torment. The Word of God makes numerous references to Hell fire, torment, and eternal suffering. But you say, “I don’t believe in Hell.” Revelation 21:8 lists unbelievers as part of the group who will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Please consider carefully the prophecy in Revelation 20:11-15…
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Lake of Fire is the Second Death. What does the Bible mean when it says that “death and hell” were cast into the Lake of Fire. Well, “hell” (Hebrew: “Sheol,” which is the equivalent of the Greek: “Hades”) is a place within the earth where the dead go when they die. In the Bible “hell” has different meanings. Sometimes it refers to “Gehenna” which is the Lake of Fire. In 2nd Peter 2:4 “hell” means “Tartarus” and is a special place of punishment for certain fallen angels (demons).
Hell (Hades) is composed of two compartments: Torment and Paradise. The Old Testament saints went to paradise when they died; but all saints go to Heaven today. The unsaved today still go to the place of torment, in Hades. All those who die today without Christ will go to the place of torment (Hades), and one day in the future WILL be cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna) after The Great White Throne of Judgment.
“Death” in Revelation 20:14 simply means that once the last soul is cast into the Lake of Fire, death will be no more … and the memory of the wicked shall be forgotten, “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverb 10:7). Do you want to be forgotten and abandoned in the fires of Hell forever? If you think this earthly life is unfair, you haven’t seen anything yet! But God is fair. No one has to go to Hell. Jesus said in John 6:37, “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” What a Wonderful Savior! The choice is yours alone to make.
Spiritual Death is Not the Second Death
Most Bible students refer to the second death as “spiritual death.” However, we were already spiritually dead the day we were born. In Genesis 2:17 God instructed Adam and Eve, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” When Adam and Eve sinned they didn’t die physically, they died spiritually. Romans 5:12 informs us that Adam’s sin allowed sin to enter the human race, bringing death into the world, and so death passed upon all men. Thus, we’re already spiritually dead from birth. By nature, the human race is spiritually dead. It is for this very reason that a man MUST be born again if he is to enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).
The Great White Throne of Judgment mentioned in Revelation 20:11 will be a judgment OF THE DEAD. When a lost sinner dies, leaving this world without Christ, he enters into eternity DEAD–he is now dead physically and spiritually. Notice what Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God…” The “second death” will immediately follow The Great White Throne Judgment, when the dead shall be cast into the Lake of Fire to pay for their sins. The Lake of Fire is an eternal prison sentence, with no hope of parole.
The first death is when Adam sinned, and mankind’s soul was separated from God spiritually; but in the second death, mankind will be separated body, soul, and spirit from God for all eternity. The second death is the final doom of the damned, the dead.
If you are not a born-again Christian, then you are ALREADY DEAD spiritually.
Escaping the Second Death
Do you have Jesus? Have your sins been forgiven? Has the precious blood of Christ washed away your sins (1st Peter 1:18-19)? Have you believed upon the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16)? Listen friend, you are a rotten sinner, and so am I (Romans 3:10,23). We all deserve to burn in Hell for eternity because of our sins (Romans 5:12, 6:23). But praise be to God, Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay (Romans 5:12). God Almighty came to this sin-cursed world in the form of a man, Jesus Christ (1st Timothy 3:16).
He was despised and rejected of man, ridiculed and mocked, beaten and crucified as a criminal for no crime other than preaching the Truth (John 8:45). Have you called (trusted) upon the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12; Romans 10:13)? All you have to do to be saved is to come to the Lord Jesus Christ as a Hell-deserving sinner, and believe upon Him, to forgive all your sins through the blood that He shed. You don’t need to die the second death. If you’re born twice, you die only once; but if your born only once, then you die twice.
In other words, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:3). When a lost sinner comes to Christ for the forgiveness of sins, believing upon Jesus that He is the Son of God–that person becomes born again, and the Holy Spirit of God enters the body. All the religion and good works in the world won’t spare a sinner the second death. Your sins MUST be forgiven, and that can only happen in Christ the Lord.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” -Revelation 20:6