“The last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.”—1 CORINTHIANS 15:26.
1, 2. What was life like for Adam and Eve in the beginning, and what questions arise?
WHEN Adam and Eve were created, they had no enemies. They were perfect and lived in a paradise. They enjoyed a close relationship with their Creator as his son and daughter. (Genesis 2:7-9; Luke 3:38) God gave them an important assignment. (Read Genesis 1:28.) How long would they need to live to complete this assignment? They would not need to live forever to “fill the earth and subdue it,” but they would need to live forever to care for “every living creature that is moving on the earth.” They could have enjoyed this assignment for eternity.
2 Why are things so different now? Why do we have so many enemies of our happiness, the greatest one being death? How will God destroy these enemies? The answers to these questions are in the Bible, and we will examine them in this article.
A LOVING WARNING
3, 4. (a) What command did God give Adam and Eve? (b) How important was obedience to that command?
3 Even though Adam and Eve were made to live forever, they were not immortal. To stay alive, they needed to breathe, drink, sleep, and eat. But even more important was their relationship with Jehovah, the Source of life. (Deuteronomy 8:3) They could keep living and enjoy life only if they let Jehovah guide them. Even before creating Eve, Jehovah clearly told Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.”—Genesis 2:16, 17.
4 “The tree of the knowledge of good and bad” indicated that God had the right to decide what was good and what was bad. Adam already had a sense of good and bad because he was made in God’s image and had a conscience. The tree reminded Adam and Eve that they would always need Jehovah’s direction. If they ate from this tree, they would be saying to God, “We do not need your rules.” As a result, they and their children would die, just as God had warned them.
HOW DEATH CAME TO THE HUMAN FAMILY
5. Why did Adam and Eve disobey Jehovah?
5 Adam told Eve about Jehovah’s command. She knew it so well that she was later able to repeat it almost word for word. (Genesis 3:1-3) She repeated it to Satan, who was speaking through a serpent. Satan had allowed his desire for power and independence to grow. (Compare James 1:14, 15.) He told Eve that God was a liar and that if she disobeyed God, she would not die but would become like God. (Genesis 3:4, 5) Eve believed him, acted independently by eating the fruit, and told Adam to do the same. (Genesis 3:6, 17) Satan had lied to her. (Read 1 Timothy 2:14.) Even though Adam knew it was wrong, he listened to his wife’s voice. This serpent may have seemed to be a friend, but the one speaking through it was a cruel enemy, one who knew what the terrible results of his lie would be.
6, 7. How did Jehovah handle his judgment of Adam and Eve?
6 Adam and Eve rebelled against Jehovah, who had given them life and every good thing they had. Of course, Jehovah knew exactly what had happened. (1 Chronicles 28:9; read Proverbs 15:3.) But he had allowed Adam, Eve, and Satan to show how they really felt about him. As a Father, he must have been very hurt by their actions. (Compare Genesis 6:6.) But as a Judge, he carried out justice toward the sinners.
Jehovah had allowed Adam, Eve, and Satan to show how they really felt about him
7 About the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, God had told Adam: “In the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” Adam may have thought that this meant he would die before the sun set. But later that day, Jehovah spoke to Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:8) As a righteous Judge, he first listened to what they had to say. (Genesis 3:9-13) Then he condemned the two sinners to death. (Genesis 3:14-19) If he had killed them right away, his purpose for humans would never come true. (Isaiah 55:11) Although the effects of sin began immediately, Jehovah allowed Adam and Eve to live long enough to have children who could have a better future. He viewed Adam and Eve as dead from the day they sinned. And since 1,000 years is like a day to Jehovah, they did die within one “day.”—2 Peter 3:8.
God viewed Adam and Eve as dead from the day they sinned
8, 9. How did Adam’s sin affect all his children? (See opening picture.)
8 Would the children of Adam and Eve be affected by what their parents did? Yes. Romans 5:12 explains: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” The apostle Paul adds: “Through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:19) Faithful Abel was the first to die. (Genesis 4:8) Then Adam’s other children and his grandchildren grew old and died. Humans inherited sin and death, two enemies they cannot escape. Though we do not know exactly how sin and death were physically passed on to Adam’s children, we can see the results.
9 It makes sense that the Bible compares sin and death to a “covering that is woven over all the nations” and that is “enveloping all the peoples.” (Isaiah 25:7) No human can escape sin and death. That is why the Bible says that “in Adam all are dying.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) So Paul asked the question: “Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?” (Romans 7:24) Could anyone rescue Paul?*—See footnote.
SIN AND DEATH WILL BE BROUGHT TO NOTHING
10. (a) What Bible verses show that Jehovah will bring an end to death? (b) What do these verses teach us about Jehovah and his Son?
10 Yes, Jehovah could rescue Paul. We read in the Bible: “He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8) Like a father who removes the cause of his children’s suffering and dries their eyes, Jehovah takes great joy in bringing death to nothing! Jesus cooperates with him. We read at 1 Corinthians 15:22: “In the Christ all will be made alive.” Paul also answered his own question “Who will rescue me?” with the words: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) It is clear that Jehovah did not stop loving mankind when Adam and Eve sinned. And Jesus, whom Jehovah used to make Adam and Eve, still loves humans. (Proverbs 8:30, 31) But how would the human family be rescued from sin and death?
Jehovah did not stop loving mankind when Adam and Eve sinned
11. What did Jehovah do to help mankind?
11 When Adam sinned, Jehovah sentenced him to death. As a result, all humans inherited imperfection and death. (Romans 5:12, 16) Romans 5:18 explains: “Through one trespass the result to men of all sorts was condemnation.” What could Jehovah do to help humans without ignoring his own standards? Jesus answered this question when he said that he came “to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) As a perfect human, Jesus could provide a ransom. How would this ransom satisfy justice?—1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
A perfect life was exchanged for a perfect life
12. What was the ransom that satisfied justice?
12 Jesus, as a perfect man, could have lived forever. This is what Jehovah had wanted for Adam. Out of deep love for his Father and Adam’s descendants, Jesus sacrificed his human life, which corresponded to what Adam had lost. Later, Jehovah resurrected Jesus to heaven as a spirit. (1 Peter 3:18) The ransom satisfied Jehovah’s justice because a perfect life was exchanged for a perfect life. Jesus made it possible for Adam’s descendants to have everlasting life. That is why Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam,” who is now a life-giving spirit.—1 Corinthians 15:45.
13. What will “the last Adam” do for those who have died?
13 Very soon, “the last Adam” will give everlasting life to Adam’s descendants. This will include most of those who have died in the past. They will be resurrected, brought back to life on earth.—John 5:28, 29.
14. How will it be possible for humans to be freed from imperfection?
14 How will it be possible for humans to be freed from imperfection? Jehovah set up a heavenly government to accomplish this. The rulers are Jesus and 144,000 chosen from mankind. (Read Revelation 5:9, 10.) Because the 144,000 were imperfect humans, they will be able to understand their subjects. For 1,000 years, Jesus and those ruling with him will help humans to become perfect.—Revelation 20:6.
15, 16. (a) What does the Bible mean by “the last enemy, death”? When will it be brought to nothing? (b) What does 1 Corinthians 15:28 say that Jesus will do?
15 At the end of the 1,000 years, obedient people will be free from sin and death. Paul explains: “Just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ [those ruling with him] during his presence. Next, the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. And the last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:22-26) Finally, death inherited from Adam will be removed. This “covering” that envelops mankind will be gone forever.—Isaiah 25:7, 8.
At the end of the 1,000 years, obedient people will be free from sin and death
16 Paul continues: “When all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.” (1 Corinthians 15:28) The purpose of Jesus’ rulership will have been completed. So he will be happy to give his authority back to Jehovah and present to him the perfect human family.
17. What will happen to Satan?
17 What will happen to Satan, the one who is to blame for all human misery? We find the answer at Revelation 20:7-15. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be allowed to try to mislead perfect humans in a final test. Then, Satan and any who choose to follow him will be destroyed permanently. This is called “the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) This death will never be “brought to nothing” because those who die “the second death” will never live again. If we are faithful to Jehovah, we do not need to worry that this “second death” can harm us.
All humans will be perfect and approved for everlasting life
18. How will the assignment God gave Adam finally be completed?
18 All humans will then be perfect and completely approved by Jehovah for everlasting life. All enemies of human happiness will be gone. The assignment that God gave Adam will have been completed without him. His descendants will enjoy taking care of the earth and the animals. How happy we can be that Jehovah will soon bring the last enemy, death, to nothing!
The book Insight on the Scriptures says that when scientists try to find a physical explanation for why we grow old and die, they miss an important fact. They do not recognize that it was the Creator who sentenced the first humans to death. For this reason, they cannot fully understand the process.—Volume 2, page 247.