“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
For us to understand this very important phrase, we need to understand the meanings of the words “death” and “hell”.
- The meaning of the word “death”…
The word “death” comes from the Greek word “thanatos” which describes the condition of a body when the life has departed from it. Please notice “thanatos” does not speak of a place, it speaks of a condition. It refers to the condition of the body that no longer has the spirit of life within it.
The meaning of the word “death” in English carries the same idea. When a person’s spirit leaves their body, we commonly say the person is now dead, in other words the person’s body no longer has their spirit within it.
- The meaning of the word “hell”…
The word hell comes from the Greek word “hades”. Hades describes the condition of the spirit when it is no longer inhabiting a body. Just like the word “thanatos”, the word “hades” never refers to a place but always refers to a condition. A spirit that is disembodied is said to be in the condition of “hades”. It is given this title because, when a spirit is outside a body, it can no longer be seen. It has entered an “unseen condition”. This is the basic meaning of “hades”.
Unfortunately, due to the influence of Greek idolatry, false teaching, and the passage of time, the word “hades” is now used to refer to a place. However, it is extremely important to note that the Biblical use of the word “hades” exclusively refers to a condition.
If we stop and think about it the words “thanatos” and “hades” we can see that they are truly inseparable and basically, two-sides to the same coin. You cannot have a body without a spirit in it unless you also have a spirit that no longer has a body around it. At physical death, the body enters the condition of “thanatos” and at the same instant the spirit enters into the condition of “hades”.
Please keep in mind, although the word “hades” does not describe a place of eternal punishment, the Biblical phrase “Lake of Fire” clearly does describe such a place. An eternal place of damnation, The Lake Of Fire, exists and will be the eternal dwelling place of Satan, demons, and lost mankind.
If we understand the meaning of these terms, we can now come to a sound understanding of what is meant by the phrase “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.”
Basically, this phrase is teaching us that, following the resurrection of the saved, and at a later time the resurrection of the lost, physical death and its effects have come to a complete end. Never again will a body be separated from the spirit, nor will the spirit ever leave a body again. In other words, death (thanatos) and hell (hades) will be utterly destroyed. This principle of the doing away of physical death is seen in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, Luke 20:36, Rev 21:4
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
This text simply tells us, following the resurrection, death will be rendered ineffective, with the Lord gaining the victory over it!
“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
May we all praise and honor our Lord for bringing an end to physical death, allowing all of His people to enjoy an eternity with Him as a united being body, soul, and spirit!
For an in depth look at these sections of the Revelation: