The Expository Files


"You Will Not Be Harmed By The Second Death"

“I Will Give You The Crown Of Life

Revelation 2:11

(Second of Seven in Series)

Ever since the beginning, there have been successes and failures when it comes to how men and women have approached their relationship with God. Not all of the failures failed due to idolatry or atheism. Sometimes it is merely a matter of neglect, or stubbornness, or arrogance. Some have simply not taken the time to prepare for a successful life of true faith. All who fail do so for a reason. Those that succeed likewise do so for a reason. Success or failure do not happen in a vacuum. Neither randomly “just happens.”

Last month we looked at the promise of Jesus to allow those who overcome access to the tree of life in the paradise of God and some of the things that entailed. Let's continue to consider what we, in Christ, receive if we overcome. Jesus said, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11).

About the First Death
One of the costs of sin is death. It might be more accurate to say that the costs of sin include death, both physical as well as spiritual death. In the previous article we saw how the tree of life, or the key to immortality, was taken from the human race (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24). We also saw that the consequence of disobedience had been stated (Genesis 2:16-17). On the day of their disobedience, man died spiritually because of that sin, and also became mortal due to the consequence of being separated from the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-6; 19). Understand that there was more than one type of death going on here.

But we also saw the blessing in the curse-at least the physical death part of it. Through Jesus becoming a man and redeeming us by His death, our salvation is made possible. Without death, it would not have been so. Apart from mortality, there could be no redemption-as is the case with the fallen angels (Hebrews 2:12-17).

We have mentioned here two types of death:
Spiritual death - a soul separated from God due to transgressions (Ephesians 2:1; 12,13; Isaiah 59:1,2).

Physical death - A separation of the spirit from the body; the inner person from the outer. (James 2:26; Luke 23:46; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:4). Note that the “inner person”, or spirit, does not cease to exist at death, but is described as being “unclothed”… having no body.

The spirit will receive a new body at the resurrection, but continues to exist in a conscious state until then, longing for the new body which the Lord will prepare (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). The part of man that “sleeps” is the body, not the spirit. The spirit goes to God for judgment. Physical death is universal in its scope, and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

The Sadducees of Jesus' day denied life after death and the resurrection. Jesus let them know that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continued to exist after their physical deaths (Matthew 22:31,32).

About the Second Death
While the first death is universal and cannot be avoided, the good news is that the “second death” can be avoided, and in fact it ought to be made life's priority to do just that! Many would like to avoid the first as well, but, as they say, that horse is already out of the barn. However, in Jesus it can lose its’ sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

But the “second death” can be avoided, and again, it must be through Jesus. People, you must ensure that the course of your life is leading you to avoid the second death. It's imperative. It's more important than anything. Everything good and all the potential for good hangs in the balance, and Jesus is the answer, and we need to take Him seriously. Now!

The “second death” is the eternal separation from God. It is separation from His mercy, kindness and goodness. It is darkness and wailing. It is the complete loss of all good things. It is the opposite of eternal life (Matthew 25:41;46). One only needs to see how the Scriptures describe the second death to understand the importance of the promise Jesus makes. We read of judgment and see the second death is also described as a “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-14). Let us avoid falling into that lake! Overcoming means that you and I will not be hurt by the second death! This is made possible by the grace of God made available through the atoning death of His Son.

We also learn that Satan and His servants are there, not to rule as often depicted, but to also be punished consciously and eternally. (Revelation 20:10). It is so important to overcome in Christ! (Revelation 21:3-8). Now, I could put some effort into making the second death sound less threatening than the Scriptures of God describe it, but why would I? Many do just that. Lots of people appreciate a softer approach to judgment, at least for now. But I am certain such appreciation will vanish in eternity by all who, because of this, have neglected preparing for the judgment to come.

“Born Once - Die Twice; Born Twice; Die Once”
If we are to overcome the evil one, it must be by our faith (1 John 2:13-17). We overcome by being buried and raised up with Christ (Romans 6:4,5; 8,9). Being raised with Christ from baptism is important. We are not ready for the second resurrection until we undergo this first, spiritual resurrection, rising from baptism to walk in newness of life. The book of Revelation figuratively describes this new life as a thousand year reign with the Lord (Revelation 20:6). This spiritual resurrection is also called a “new birth”. Jesus said one must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). We are born again through our obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22,23). In this way, we overcome by faith. We must be “born of God” (1 John 5:4) and walk in our new life in Jesus. This is living each day by faith. This is the means to our victory bought by God's grace.

Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Jesus has shown us the way. But this is not something to be casual about. Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life and that the second death will not hurt them.


By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 18.2; February 2011