DeathAid to Bible Understanding
compare 2 Peter 1:13-15.) In the meantime, death “is at work” in them, while, by their ministry, they bring a message of life to those to whom they minister.—2 Cor. 4:10-14; Prov. 18:21; see BAPTISM, Baptism into Christ Jesus and into His Death.
Jesus speaks of himself as having “the keys of death and of Hades” (Rev. 1:18) and he uses these in releasing those held by death. (John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:13) Jehovah God’s release of Jesus from Hades serves as a “guarantee to all men” of this hope. (Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 15:20, 21) Those inheriting God’s kingdom in immortality are described as triumphing over death in their resurrection, so that its “sting” is overcome.—1 Cor. 15:50, 54-56; compare Hosea 13:14; Revelation 20:6.
THE DESTRUCTION OF DEATH
At Isaiah 25:8 the prophetic promise is made that God “will actually swallow up death forever, and the Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” The sting producing death is sin (1 Cor. 15:56) and thus all having sin and its accompanying imperfection have death working in their bodies. (Rom. 7:13, 23, 24) The abolition of death, therefore, would require the abolition of that which produces death: sin. By the removal of the last trace of sin from obedient mankind, the authority of death will be abolished and death itself destroyed, and this is to be accomplished during the reign of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:24-26) Thereby death, brought upon the human race by Adam’s transgression, “will be no more.” (Rom. 5:12; Rev. 21:3, 4) Its destruction is figuratively likened to its being hurled into a “lake of fire.”—Rev. 20:14; see LAKE OF FIRE.
The “lake of fire” into which death, Hades, the symbolic “wild beast” and “false prophet,” and Satan, his demons, and the persistent practicers of wickedness on earth are cast is shown to mean “the second death.” (Rev. 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8; Matt. 25:41) Initially death resulted and was passed on to mankind by Adam’s transgression; hence the “second death” must be distinct from this inherited death. It is evident from the cited texts that there is no release possible from the “second death.” The situation of those in the “second death” corresponds to the outcome warned of in such texts as Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26, 27; and Matthew 12:32. On the other hand, those represented as gaining the “crown of life” and having part in the “first resurrection” are free from any possibility of harm by the second death. (Rev. 2:10, 11) These, who are to reign with Christ, receive immortality (deathlessness) and incorruption and hence are beyond the “authority” of the second death.—1 Cor. 15:50-54; Rev. 20:6; compare John 8:51.
Death is personified as a “king” ruling over mankind from the time of Adam (Rom. 5:14), along with the rule of “King Sin.” (Rom. 6:12) Thus, these kings are spoken of as exercising their “law” over those subject to their dominion. (Rom. 8:2) With Christ’s coming and the provision of the ransom, undeserved kindness began exercising a superior kingship over those accepting God’s gift, “with everlasting life in view.”—Rom. 5:15-17, 21.
Though men, disregarding God’s purposes, may try to make their own nonaggression pact or covenant with King Death, it will fail. (Isa. 28:15, 18) Like a horseman riding behind war and famine, death is pictured as bringing mass mortality to earth’s inhabitants.—Rev. 6:8; compare Jeremiah 9:21, 22.
Those spiritually sick or distressed are described as “arriving at the gates of death” (Ps. 107:17-20; compare Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13), and those passing through such “gates” enter the figurative “house of meeting for everyone living” (Job 30:23; compare 2 Samuel 12:21-23), with its “interior rooms” (Prov. 7:27), and a capacity for victims that is never completely filled. (Hab. 2:5) Those going into Sheol are like sheep shepherded by death.—Ps. 49:14.
The “pangs of death”
At Acts 2:24 the apostle Peter spoke of Jesus as being ‘loosed from the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to continue to be held fast by it.’ The Greek word (o·dinʹ) here translated “pangs” is elsewhere used to mean the pains of childbirth (1 Thess. 5:3) but may also mean travail, pain, calamity, or distress generally. (Matt. 24:8) Additionally, it was used by the translators of the Greek Septuagint Version in rendering the Hebrew word hheʹvel in texts where the evident meaning is “rope.” (2 Sam. 22:5, 6; Ps. 18:4, 5) A related Hebrew word means “birth pangs,” leading some commentators and lexicographers to suggest that the Greek term (o·dinʹ) used by Luke at Acts 2:24 also had this double meaning, at least in Hellenistic Greek of apostolic times. Thus some translations render the phrase in this verse as “the bands [or bonds] of death.” (NC Spanish]; Segond, Ostervald [French]) In numerous texts the danger of death is represented as reaching out to snare the threatened one (Prov. 13:14; 14:27) with ropes that encircle him and bring him down into “the distressing circumstances of Sheol.” (Ps. 116:3) Whereas other texts, already considered, show that there is no consciousness in death, and it is obvious that Jesus was not in any literal pain while dead, nonetheless death is presented as a bitter and distressing experience (1 Sam. 15:32; Ps. 55:4; Eccl. 7:26), not only in the pain usually preceding it (Ps. 73:4, 5), but in the loss of all activity and freedom that its paralyzing grip brings. So, it may be that it is in this sense that Jesus’ resurrection ‘loosed’ him from the “pangs of death,” being freed from its distressing grip.
Change in spiritual state or condition
The death state is used to illustrate the spiritually dead condition of the world in general, so that Jesus could speak of the ‘dead burying the dead,’ and the apostle could refer to the woman living for sensual gratification as “dead though she is living.” (Luke 9:60; 1 Tim. 5:6; Eph. 2:1) And since physical death discharges one from any debts or obligations existing up to that time (Rom. 6:7), a Christian’s being freed or liberated from sin (Rom. 6:2, 11) and from the condemnation of the Mosaic law (Rom. 7:2-6) is also likened to death, such one having ‘died’ to his former situation and obligations. The one figuratively dying in such a way, of course, is still alive physically and is now free to follow Christ as a slave to righteousness.—Rom. 6:18-20; Gal. 5:1.
The use of death to represent a change in one’s state or condition throws light on prophetic visions, such as that in the book of Ezekiel wherein God’s people in exile in Babylon are likened to dried-out bones and to persons dead and buried. (Ezek. 37:1-12) They were to “come to life” again and be settled on their own soil once more. (Vss. 13, 14) Comparable illustrations are found at Revelation 11:3, 7-12 and Luke 16:19-31.
DebirAid to Bible Understanding
(Deʹbir) [innermost room or inner sanctuary].
1. The king of Eglon, one of four petty kingdoms allied with the king of Jerusalem to attack the city of Gibeon for making peace with Joshua. (Josh. 10:1-5) Gibeon’s surrender to Joshua caused fear since it likely weakened any united front against Israel (Josh. 9:1, 2), and at the same time apparently gave Joshua greater mobility between northern and southern Palestine, allowing for conquest of the land section by section. Gibeon’s siege brought Joshua’s army to its rescue and, aided by miracles, Joshua routed the Canaanite military, forcing Debir and the other kings to take refuge in a cave. Here they were trapped until later executed.—Josh. 10:6-27.
2. A royal Canaanite city (Josh. 10:38, 39), also