Questions about “the second death” (3)12-12-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet
9. Why would the second death be a literal death? Doesn’t the Bible, at times, speak of death in a figurative sense”?
Indeed, the concept of “death” is sometimes used figuratively, in the Bible. Therefore says the father in the well-known parable of the prodigal son to the eldest son, “your brother, here, was dead and is alive again” (Luke 15:32). Of course, the prodigal son was not literally dead, but for the father, he was as if dead. And Jesus says to a man who, with a certain reservation, wants to follow Him: “Let the dead bury their dead” (Mat.8:22). People, who do not know God, Jesus calls them, here, to be dead. They are not aware of God and actually have no life. Paul speaks in a similar context of “one being dead while living” (1Tim.5:6). But is the fact that a word, at times, is figuratively used, a reason that we always, in advance, have to call into question the literal meaning? Were the animals in Noah’s ark, perhaps, not literal animals, because the Bible also speaks figuratively about animals? Was the water of the Red Sea or the Jordan River, through which the Israelites passed, not literal water, because the Bible also quite often speaks figuratively about water? Was the desert, in which the Israelites moved around for forty years, not a literal desert, because the Bible, sometimes, also speaks about deserts, metaphorically? Everyone understands that such an approach would mean the end of normal communication. We have to take the Bible literally, unless the context, itself, dictates otherwise. As in the example above: the prodigal son had not been literally dead and so the father meant his statement, metaphorically. This belongs to the ABC of reading information, comprehensively. At the first question, we already saw that “the second death” needs no explanation, but precisely is the explanation. “That is the second death”, we read on two occasions. There is no need for an interpretation, because it is the interpretation. 10. Does not Rev.21:14 and 15 intimate that those in the second death, under certain conditions, may enter the city through its gates? In Rev.22:14,15, it states:
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (KJV)
Concerning the grammar in these verses, (i.e. in the original text), we find two tenses: the imperfect present tense and the future tense. In most translations, this distinction is not clearly evident and therefore, it looks as if John suggests that there are ungodly actions practiced outside the city, of which one can cleanse himself. But that is not what the text says. When we make the tenses more explicit, then it says:
Happy are those who are rinsing their robes, that it will be their license to the log of life, and they may be entering the portals into the city. Outside are curs, and enchanters, and paramours, and murderers, and idolaters, and everyone fabricating and fondling falsehood. (CLV)
In other words, John addresses in these verses those that, in the present time, pursue ungodly lifestyles and he speaks of their future fate. 11. If the second death is a literal death, how can there be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”? The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of which (among others) Mat.8:12 speaks, has nothing to do with the judgment at the Great White Throne. Mat.8:12 is about the time that the Kingdom will be established, but “the children of the Kingdom”, i.e. members of the people for whom that Kingdom primarily is intended (=Israel; Acts 3:26), will be excluded. They probably thought to have a prominent role in that Kingdom, but in reality many of them will not even experience the kingdom (Acts 3:23). They will perish with “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This judgment will take place on the living, before the thousand years, while Rev.20:11-15 is about resurrected dead, after the thousand years.
12. If the second death is a literal death, how can it be called a “chastening” (Mat. 25:46)?
The last part of Matthew 25 is about the judgment of the nations, based on what they have done with the least of the brothers of the King. Matthew 25:46 then closes with:
And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian.”
The life eonian is the life of the coming age or eon (Luke 18:30). The ‘goats’ will not experience that Kingdom, but will perish in the vicinity of the “lake of fire”, where, also, will be sealed the fate of the diabolos and his messengers (=the Beast and the False Prophet; Rev.19:20; 20:10, cp Mat.25:41). Perishing in this fire and, therefore, not experiencing the future eon, is the eonian punishment or chastisement. Not the death state, itself, is the chastisement, but the way in which they end up in it. Moreover, the judgment of Mat.25:46 precedes the thousand years. Those who perish on that occasion, die for the first time. At the Great White Throne, after the thousand years, there is mention made of “the second death.” 13. If the second death is a literal death, how can they be hurt by the second death (Rev.2:11 – KJV)? The dead do not know anything, right? The dead indeed know nothing and therefore cannot suffer, either. Has death occurred, then the suffering is over or past. The word translated “be hurt” in Revelation 2:11 (adikeo; Strong 91) is composed of the elements UN-JUST and is so shown in Luke 16:11; and in Rev.22:11. The other eight times this word occurs in Revelation, it is rendered in the KJV as “hurt”’. E.g. in Revelation 6:6:
…hurt not the oil and the wine. See also: 7:2,3; 9:4,10;19 en 11:5
Oil and wine, of course, do not suffer pain, but can be subjected to loss and be hurt that way. The hurt (loss) that the second death inflicts is that those who end up in it, will miss out on the glory of the coming eons. To be continued