Friday, December 14, 2012 4:40 AM

Aspects of Death for the Unbeliever

Friday, December 14, 2012 4:40 AM
Friday, December 14, 2012 4:40 AM

The Bible always speaks of the second death, but there are aspects of this second death for the unbeliever. Believers experience the first death and the unbeliever experiences the first and second death.

Bodily Death

First there is bodily death. There is a sense, though, in which the body is already dead even before its decisive separation from the spirit. “The body is dead because of sin” (present tense), says Paul. Romans 8:10 refers to the physical death to which the body is already a prisoner. Even though it is presently alive, it is already subject to death, smitten with death, under the curse of death, doomed to die. It is already experiencing the harbingers of death in the form of a multitude of diseases, deformities, infirmities, aches, and attacks.

Leon Morris points out that Romans 8:6 does not merely say that the unbeliever’s body is headed for death or deserves death; rather, it is death. And in the next verse (Romans 8:7) this is equated with enmity or hostility against God, “which seems to give the essence of death as enmity with God,” which is “the real horror of death”.

Eternal Death

The next aspect of death’s curse follows the final judgment. It is called eternal death because it takes the form of eternal punishment in hell.  Jude 13 seems to equate it with “the blackness of darkness” that has been forever reserved for the wicked. Those who are eternally lost will experience this death both in their sinful spirits and in their reconstituted sinful, unredeemed bodies (Matt 10:28).

In the final state the wicked will experience the true essence of death in its full intensity, i.e., an eternal, irreversible separation from God and therefore an absolute absence of life and hope. “Depart from Me” will be among the final words they hear from the Judge (Matt 7:23; 25:41). They will spend eternity “away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:9). [1]

[1] Cottrell, J. (2002). The faith once for all : Bible doctrine for today (204). Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub.

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