Death

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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Death

I. In the OT. 1. The Heb. term mâweth and our corresponding word ‘death’ alike spring from primitive roots belonging to the very beginnings of speech. One of man’s first needs was a word to denote that stark fact of experience the final cessation of life to which he and the whole animated creation, and the very trees and plants, were all subject. It is, of course, in this ordinary sense of the term as denoting a physical fact that the expressions ‘death’ and ‘die’ are mostly used in the Scriptures.

2. The Scriptures have nothing directly to say as to the place of death in the economy of nature. St. Paul’s words in   Romans 5:12 ff. as to the connexion between sin and death must be explained in harmony with this fact; and, for that matter, in harmony also with his own words in   Romans 6:23 , where death, the ‘wages of sin,’ cannot be simply physical death. The Creation narratives are silent on this point, yet in   Genesis 2:17 man is expected to know what it is to die. We are not to look for exact information on matters such as this from writings of this kind. If the belief enshrined in the story of the Fall in   Genesis 3:1-24 regarded death in the ordinary sense as the penalty of Adam and Eve’s transgression, they at any rate did not die ‘in the day’ of their transgression; v. 22 suggests that even then, could he but also eat of ‘the tree of life,’ man might escape mortality. All we can say is that in the dawn of human history man appears as one already familiar with the correlative mysteries of life and death.

3. From the contemplation of the act of dying it is an easy step to the thought of death as a state or condition. This is a distinct stage towards believing in existence of some kind beyond the grave. And to the vast mass of mankind to say ‘he is dead’ has never meant ‘he is non-existent.’

4. Divergent beliefs as to what the state of death is show themselves in the OT. ( a ) In numerous instances death is represented as a condition of considerable activity and consciousness . The dead are regarded as ‘knowing ones,’ able to impart information and counsel to the living. Note, the term translated ‘wizards’ in EV [Note: English Version.] in   Leviticus 19:31;   Leviticus 20:6 ,   Isaiah 8:19;   Isaiah 19:3 really denotes departed spirits who are sought unto or inquired of ‘on behalf of the living.’ A vivid instance of this belief is furnished in the story of the Witch of En-dor (  1 Samuel 28:1-25 ). So also in   Isaiah 14:9-10 , where we have a graphic description of the commotion caused in Sheol by the arrival of the king of Babylon, a description with which we may compare the dream of ‘false Clarence’ in Shakespeare’s Rich. III ., i. 4. The reference to the dead under the term ‘gods’ ( elôhim ), as in   1 Samuel 28:13 , is noticeable. Whether in all this we have a relic of ancient Semitic ancestor-worship (as e.g. Charles maintains in his Jowett Lectures on Eschatology ) or no, it seems to represent very primitive beliefs which survived in one form and another, even after the stern Jahwistic prohibition of necromancy was promulgated. They may also have affected the treatment of the dead, just as even yet there are usages in existence amongst us in regard to behaviour towards the dead which are probably traceable to very primitive pre-Christian ideas and beliefs.

( b ) Jahwism might well forbid resort to necromancers with their weird appeals to the dead for guidance and information, for in its view the state of death was one of unconsciousness, forgetfulness, and silence (see   Psalms 88:12;   Psalms 94:17;   Psalms 115:17 etc.). The present world is emphatically ‘the land of the living’ (  Psalms 27:13;   Psalms 116:9 etc.). Those that are in Sheol have no communion with Jahweh; see the Song of Hezekiah in   Isaiah 38:1-22 , and elsewhere. Sheol appears inviting to a soul in distress because it is a realm of unconscious rest (  Job 3:17 ff.); and there is nothing to be known or to be done there (  Ecclesiastes 9:10 ). It is true that here and there glimpses of a different prospect for the individual soul show themselves ( e.g.   Job 19:25 ff. and probably   Psalms 16:10 f.); but the foregoing was evidently the prevalent view in a period when the individual was altogether subservient to the nation, and the religious concerns of the latter were rigorously limited to the present life.

( c ) Other ideas of death as not terminating man’s existence and interests were, however, reached in later prophetic teaching, mainly through the thought of the worth of the individual, the significance of his conscious union with God, and of the covenant relations established by God with His people (  Jeremiah 31:1-40; cf.   Ezekiel 18:1-32 ). ‘Thou wilt not leave us in the dust.’

5. Death as standing in penal relation to man’s sin and unrighteousness is frequently insisted on. That this is something more than natural death is clear from such an antithesis as we have in   Deuteronomy 30:15;   Deuteronomy 30:19 (‘life and good: death and evil’), and this set in strict relation to conduct. Cf. the burden of   Ezekiel 18:1-32 , ‘the soul that sinneth it shall die,’ with the correlative promise of life: similarly   Proverbs 15:10 . All this points to some experience in the man himself and to conditions outlasting the present life. On the other hand, the thought of dying ‘the death of the righteous’ (  Numbers 23:10 ) as a desirable thing looks in the same direction. And why has the righteous ‘hope in his death’ (  Proverbs 14:32 )?

6. As minor matters, OT poetical uses of references to death may be merely pointed out. ‘Chambers of death,’   Proverbs 7:27; ‘gates,’   Psalms 9:13 (= state); ‘bitterness of death,’   1 Samuel 15:32 ,   Ecclesiastes 7:26; ‘terrors,’   Psalms 55:4; ‘sorrows,’   Psalms 116:3 (= man’s natural dread); ‘shadow of death,’ Job, Ps., the Prophets, passim (= any experience of horror and gloom, as well as with reference to death itself); ‘the sleep of death,’   Psalms 13:3 (to be distinguished from later Christian usage); ‘snares of death,’ Prov. passim , etc. (= things leading to destruction); the phrase ‘to death,’ as ‘vexed unto death,’   Judges 13:7; ‘sick,’   2 Kings 20:1 (= to an extreme degree).

II. In the Apocrypha. The value of the Apocrypha in connexion with the study of Scriptural teaching and usage here is not to be overlooked. Notice e.g. Wisdom chs. 1 5, with its treatment of the attitude of the ungodly towards death (‘Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die’), of the problem of the early, untimely death of the good, and of immortality in relation to the ungodly and the righteous; Sirach , in which no clear conception of immortality appears, the best that can be said, to alleviate sorrow for the dead, being that ‘the dead is at rest’ ( Sir 38:23 ): in which also the fear of death is spoken of as besetting all ranks of men (40), and we are told who they are to whom death comes as a dread foe, and again who may welcome death as a friend (41).

III. In the NT

1. The teaching of Jesus .

( a ). It is noticeable that our Lord has nothing to say directly concerning death as a physical phenomenon . He offers no explanation touching those matters in the experience of death which have always excited the curiosity of men, and in this respect His attitude is in strong contrast with that found in Rabbinical writings. He makes no use of the conception of ‘the angel of death,’ so characteristic of the latter, and traceable perhaps in language such as that of   1 Corinthians 15:26 ,   Hebrews 2:14 , and   Revelation 20:13-14 .

( b ) No stress is laid on death as an evil in itself . In the few stories which we have in the Gospels of His raising the dead to life, the raising is never represented as a deliverance and a good for the person brought back. Compassion for the sorrows of those bereaved is the prime motive: in the case of Lazarus, it is expressly added that the restoration was ‘for the glory of God’ (  John 11:4;   John 11:40 ). Still, those aspects of death which make the living and active shrink from it are incidentally recognized. Jesus in Rabbinic phrase speaks of tasting death (  Mark 9:1 ||) and of seeing death (  John 8:51-52 ): and the feeling underlying such expressions is the very antithesis of that attaching to ‘seeing life’ and ‘seeing many days.’ Death is to common human feeling an unwelcome, though inevitable, draught. This gives point also to our Lord’s promise that the believer shall never die (  John 11:26 ). At the same time, there is no reference in His teaching to natural death as the solemn end of life’s experiences and opportunities, unless an exception be found in the saying about working ‘while it is day’ (  John 9:4 ): but contrast with this as to tone a passage like   Ecclesiastes 9:10 .

( c ) Jesus speaks of death as a sleep (  Mark 5:39 ,   John 11:11-13 ); but the same euphemistic use is found in OT and in extra-Biblical writers. It did not of itself necessarily lessen the terrors of death (see   Psalms 13:3 ); but we owe it to Christ and the Christian faith mainly that such a representation of death has come to mitigate its bitterness, such a use as is also found elsewhere in NT ( e.g.   1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff.). This conception of death is, of course, to be limited to its relation to the activities and interests of this world. It is a falling asleep after life’s day and ‘we sleep to wake’: but there is nothing here to shed light on such questions as to whether that sleep is a prolonged period of unconsciousness or no.

( d ) Natural death is lost sight of in the much larger and more solemn conception of the condition of man resulting from sin , which in the Fourth Gospel is particularly described as ‘death’ (see   John 5:24;   John 6:50;   John 8:21;   John 8:24 ). The exemption and deliverance promised in   John 11:25 f. relate to this spiritual death, and by that deliverance natural death is shorn of its real terrors. This condition, resulting from sin and separation from God, may he regarded as incipient here and tending to a manifest consummation hereafter, with physical death intervening as a moment of transition and deriving a solemn significance from its association with the course and state of sin (see Beyschlag, NT Theol ., Eng. tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ii. p. 56 f.). The corresponding language of 1 Ep. of John is not to be overlooked (  1 John 3:14 ) as exemplifying Johannine phraseology. The conception, however, is not found exclusively in the Johannine writings. Note the saying in   Luke 9:60 as bearing on this point. In   Matthew 7:13 f. ‘destruction’ is the antithesis of ‘life’ (and cf.   Matthew 5:29 f.,   Matthew 18:11 ,   Mark 8:35 ,   John 3:16 etc.); but the conception of ‘perishing’ covers the deep experience of spiritual death, the loss of all that really makes the man.

(The phrase ‘die the death’ in EV [Note: English Version.] , in  Mark 7:10 and parallel, may be noticed as being not a literal translation of the Greek, but a mid-English emphatic expression,’ now archaic.)

2. The rest of the NT . We may notice the following points: ( a ) The Pauline doctrine that natural death is the primitive consequence of sin , already referred to, is to be explained as the common Jewish interpretation of the OT account of the Fall, and finds no direct support in the Gospels. The feeling that ‘the sting of death is sin’ is, however, widely existent in NT. ( b ) The use of the term ‘death’ as denoting a certain spiritual state in which men may live and he still destitute of all that is worth calling ‘life,’ is quite common (  Ephesians 2:1;   Ephesians 2:5;   Ephesians 5:14 ,   Colossians 2:13 ,   1 Timothy 5:6 ,   James 1:15 ,   Judges 1:12 ,   Revelation 3:1 ). ( c ) A mystical and figurative use of the notion of death as denoting the change from a sinful to a new life is noticeable. The believer, the man spiritually alive, is also ‘dead to sin’ (  Romans 6:2 ,   1 Peter 2:24 ), is ‘dead with Christ’ (  Romans 6:8 ,   Colossians 2:20 etc.). ( d ) The expression ‘ eternal death ’ is found nowhere in NT, common as its use is in religious and theological language. It is the correlative, easily suggested by the expression ‘eternal life’ which is so conspicuous a topic of NT teaching, and it serves loosely as an equivalent for the antitheses to ‘life’ or ‘eternal life’ that actually occur, such as ‘destruction’ (  Matthew 7:13 ), ‘the eternal fire’ (  Matthew 18:8 ), ‘eternal punishment’ (  Matthew 25:46 ). Cf. also ‘the second death’ in   Revelation 21:8 . If we substitute for ‘eternal’ some other rendering such as ‘of the ages’ or ‘æonian,’ it but serves to remind us of the profound difficulties attaching to the predication of eternity in relation to the subject of man’s destiny or doom.

J. S. Clemens.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

The Old Testament does not, however, teach that persons were annihilated at death. Rather, the dead in some sense remained in Sheol, the place of the dead located deep beneath the earth. This belief is expressed in the  Genesis 25:8 report of Abraham's death. Abraham survived after a fashion with and in the vicinity of his ancestors because he was buried in the family grave (  Genesis 15:15;  Genesis 35:29;  Judges 8:32 ). Existence in Sheol was a “shade” existence, symbolized by the bones which remained and survived in the grave.

To the Israelite, death and Sheol were both acceptable and unacceptable. Especially when life was long and blessed (Abraham,  Genesis 25:8; David,  1 Chronicles 29:28 ), the Israelites accepted death with some degree of grace. They found consolation in long life, many children, remembrance of the family name, and burial in the family grave ( Genesis 15:15 ).

When death occurred in the prime of life or without children or without proper burial, it was strictly understood as a curse. In fact, because of the Hebrews' love of life and conviction that Yahweh was the Author of life, death and Sheol always represented either a potential or actual threat. The Old Testament calls Sheol “the pit” ( Isaiah 38:17-18;  Ezekiel 26:19-21;  Jonah 2:1-6 ), personifies it as “the king of terrors” ( Job 18:13-14 ), and describes it as a house or city with bars ( Job 17:16 ) where gloomy darkness prevails ( Psalm 88:12 ).

Furthermore, because of the Hebrews' emphasis on group identity, death could be accepted in that the group survived. Injustice could be accepted in individual lives (for example, prosperity among the wicked, misfortune among the righteous) because it was assumed that justice eventually prevailed in the group . By the time of the Babylonian Exile, this pattern of passive acceptance began to change. Job and Ecclesiastes questioned the idea that justice is always served in this life. Ezekiel and Jeremiah affirmed that God's justice could not be satisfied simply by reference to the group, but had to apply to the individual ( Jeremiah 31:29-30 ,Jeremiah 31:29-30, 31:33-34;  Ezekiel 18:19-20 ). Finally, the Book of Daniel teaches that to serve justice in individual lives, the dead had to be raised by God, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” ( Daniel 12:2 ). Some Bible students see resurrection hope suggested or even clearly taught in other Old Testament passages. See Resurrection .

The Old Testament recognized the theological meaning of death as well as its physical meaning. The account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden ( Genesis 2:1;b13 ) clearly points to sin as the reason humans must experience death ( Genesis 2:17;  Genesis 3:3 ). Other passages echo the same teaching ( Numbers 18:22;  Proverbs 6:12-19;  Jeremiah 31:29-30;  Ezekiel 18:1-32 ).

Death in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts Several passages in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and Acts imply a positive, or at least neutral, attitude toward death. In Luke's birth narrative, for example, Simeon asked God to let him “depart in peace” because he had seen God's salvation ( Luke 2:29 ). Similar to the Old Testament accounts of some of the partriarchs, Simeon's death would be the peaceful resignation of a life dedicated to God. In a Sermon on the Mount saying ( Matthew 6:27;  Luke 12:25 ), Jesus counseled His hearers with a rhetorical question, “and which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?” (NAS). If this translation is correct (some interpreters prefer “stature” to “span of life”), the teaching implies that mortality is a fact which must be accepted by Jesus' followers and entrusted to God.

In other passages death is seen as ominous and threatening. In the account of the stilling of the storm ( Matthew 8:23-27;  Mark 4:35-41;  Luke 8:22-25 ), the disciples cried out desperately against the raging water. In  Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira died because they committed perjury against the Holy Spirit.  Luke 1:79 and   Matthew 4:16 use the phrase “shadow of death” as a negative image. In   Luke 7:22-23 , Jesus vindicated His ministry in the face of John the Baptist's question by revealing His power against the realm of death: the dead are raised, the demons are cast out, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see.

The most striking feature of the Synoptic Gospels' understanding of death is the central place given to Jesus' death. In His death the positive and negative aspects just discussed come together: Jesus overturned death in the community and ran toward His own death; He agonized over His fate in Jerusalem and wished it were already accomplished; He announced with word and deed the Resurrection Age, but He could not completely welcome His own accursed death which resurrection would vindicate. Above all else, death in the Synoptic Gospels is interpreted by the paradoxical death of the Servant who found life through the means of death.

Death in the Letters of Paul Paul's understanding of Jesus' death and resurrection determined his depiction of death as a quality of human existence. The most fundamental facet of this understanding is that death has been defeated ( 1 Corinthians 15:26;  2 Timothy 1:8-10 ). Paul's conviction was confirmed: (1) through his assurances to the Thessalonians that their dead were not disadvantaged ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ); (2) through his concept of the firstfruits ( Romans 8:23;  1 Corinthians 5:20 ); (3) through his doctrine of the eventual transformation of the resurrection body ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 ), and (4) through his conviction that the proper Christian response to death and all of its signs is an indomitable hope ( Romans 8:31-38;  1 Corinthians 15:58;  1 Thessalonians 4:18 ). Simply put, Paul pictures the Christian's death as nonfinal and nonthreatening.

Death is nonetheless an enemy. It is intimately connected with sin ( Romans 3:23;  Romans 5:12-21 ). Paul used death imagery to characterize sinful existence ( Romans 6:13 ,  Romans 7:7-25 ,  Romans 8:6-8;  Ephesians 2:1 ,  Ephesians 2:5;  Colossians 2:13 ). If the “old” existence should be thought of as death, conversion to Christ is nothing less than rebirth ( Romans 6:5-11;  Galatians 2:20 ). Paul's image of rebirth is realistic to the extent that he acknowledged the incompleteness of our death and resurrection with Christ. In the same paragraph that he announced our union with Christ, he felt compelled to remind Christians that they should consider themselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ ( Romans 6:11 ).

Death in the Writings of John As much or more than Paul, John redefined death (and life) in relationship to Jesus. In the fourth Gospel especially, how the hearers respond to Jesus is a matter of life and death: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” ( John 5:24 ). The account of Lazarus' resuscitation in  John 11:1 makes this point more dramatically. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days and declared to Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (  John 11:25-26 ). Jesus went on to call Lazarus from the tomb; but in doing so, he ironically sealed His own death in the plans of the Jewish authorities ( John 11:45-53 ).

Conclusions The New Testament assumed the Old Testament concept of body-soul unity and the late Old Testament and intertestamental concept of resurrection. Unlike Greek philosophers who downplayed the significance of death by emphasizing the immortality of the soul, the biblical writers affirmed that death is real. Because the Bible also affirms the value of life as a gift from God, death is sometimes depicted as threatening and never entirely desirable. The doctrine of resurrection is an affirmation that even the realm of the dead belongs to God and that death is overcome only at His gracious command.

The distinctive contribution of the New Testament is that it relentlessly defines human life, death, and resurrection in light of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Thus death is removed from its normal context at the end of life and placed in the very middle of life; in Christ we die and are raised as we commit our lives to Him.

Joe Haag

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [3]

Is generally defined to be the separation of the soul from the body. It is styled, in Scripture language, a departure out of this world to another,  2 Timothy 4:7 . a dissolving of the earthly house of this tabernacle, 2. Cor. 5: 1. a going the way of all the earth,  Joshua 23:14 . a returning to the dust,  Ecclesiastes 12:7 . a sleep,  John 11:11 . Death may be considered as the effect of sin,  Romans 5:12 . yet, as our existence is from God, no man has a right to take away his own life, or the life of another,  Genesis 9:6 . Satan is said to have the power of death,  Hebrews 2:14; not that he can at his pleasure inflict death on mankind, but as he was the instrument of first bringing death into the world,  John 8:44; and as he may be the executioner of God's wrath on impenitent sinners, when God permits him. Death is but once,  Hebrews 9:27 . certain,  Job 14:1-2 . powerful and terrific, called the king of terrors,  Job 18:14 . uncertain as to the time,  Proverbs 28:1 . universal,  Genesis 5:1-32 : necessary, that God's justice may be displayed, and his mercy manifested; desirable to the righteous,   Luke 2:28-30 . The fear of death is a source of uneasiness to the generality, and to a guilty conscience it may indeed be terrible; but to a good man it should be obviated by the consideration that death is the termination of every trouble; that it puts him beyond the reach of sin and temptation: that God has promised to be with the righteous, even to the end,  Hebrews 13:5 . that Jesus Christ has taken away the sting,  1 Corinthians 15:54 . and that it introduces him to a state of endless felicity,  2 Corinthians 5:8 . Preparation for death.

This does not consist in bare morality; in an external reformation from gross sins; in attention to a round of duties in our own strength; in acts of charity; in a zealous profession; in possessing eminent gifts: but in reconciliation to God; repentance of sin; faith in Christ; obedience to his word: and all as the effect of regeneration by the Spirit. 3 John 3: 6.  1 Corinthians 11:3 .  Titus 3:5 . Bates's four last Things; Hopkins, Drelincourt, Sherlock, and Fellowes, on Death; Bp. Porteus's Poem on DEath; Grove's admirable Sermon on the fear of Death; Watts's World to Come. Spiritual Death is that awful state of ignorance, insensibility, and disobedience, which mankind are in by nature, and which exclude them from the favour and enjoyment of God,  Luke 1:79 .

See SIN. Brothers of Death, a denomination usually given to the religious of the order of St. Paul, the first hermit. They are called brothers of death, on account of the figure of a death's head which they were always to have with them, in order to keep perpetually before them the thoughts of death. The order was probably suppressed by pope Urban VIII. Death of Christ. The circumstances attendant on the death of Christ are so well known, that they need not be inserted here. As the subject, however, of all others, is the most important to the Christian, a brief abstract of what has been said on it, from a sermon allowedly one of the best in the English language, shall here be given. "The hour of Christ's death, " says Blair (vol.i. ser. 5.) "was the most critical, the most pregnant with great events, since hours had begun to be numbered, since time had begun to run. It was the hour in which Christ was glorified by his sufferings.

Through the cloud of his humiliation his native lustre often broke forth, but never did it shine so bright as now. It was indeed the hour of distress, and of blood. It is distress which ennobles every great character, and distress was to glorify the Son of God. He was now to teach all mankind, by his example, how to suffer, and how to die. What magnanimity in all his words and actions on the great occasion! No upbraiding, no complaining expression escaped from his lips. He betrayed no symptom of a weak, a discomposed, or impatient mind. With all the dignity of a sovereign, he conferred pardon on a penitent fellow-sufferer: with a greatness of mind beyond example, he spent his last moments in apologies and prayers for those who were shedding his blood. This was the hour in which Christ atoned for the sins of mankind, and accomplished our eternal redemption. It was the hour when that great sacrifice was offered up, the efficacy of which reaches back to the first transgression of man, and extends forward to the end of time: the hour, when, from the cross, as from an high altar, the blood was flowing which washed away the guilt of the nations. In this hour the long series of prophesies, visions, types, and figures were accomplished. This was the centre in which they all met. You behold the law and the prophets standing, if we may speak so, at the foot of the cross, and doing homage. You behold Moses and Aaron bearing the ark of the covenant; David and Elijah presenting the oracle of testimony. You behold all the priests and sacrifices, all the rites and ordinances, all the types and symbols assembled together to receive their consummation. This was the hour of the abolition of the law, and the introduction of the Gospel; the hour of terminating the old and beginning the new dispensation.

It is finished. When he uttered these words he changed the state of the universe. This was the ever-memorable point of time which separated the old and the new world from each other. On one side of the point of separation you behold the law, with its priests, its sacrifices, and its rites, retiring from sight. On the other side you behold the Gospel, with its simple and venerable institutions, coming forward into view. Significantly was the veil of the temple rent in twain; for the glory then departed from between the cherubims. The legal high priest delivered up his Urim and Thummim, his breast-plate, his robes, and his incense; and Christ stood forth as the great high priest of all succeeding generations. Altars on which the fire had blazed for ages were now to smoke no more. Now it was also that he threw down the wall of partition which had so long divided the Gentile from the Jew; and gathered into one all the faithful, out of every kindred and people. This was the hour of Christ's triumph over all the powers of darkness; the hour in which he overthrew dominions and thrones, led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men; then it was that the foundation of every pagan temple shook; the statue of every false god totterd on its base; the priest fled from his falling shrine, and the heathen oracles became dumb for ever!

This was the hour when our Lord erected that spiritual kingdom which is never to end. His enemies imagined that in this hour they had successfully accomplished their plan for his destruction; but how little did they know that the Almighty was at that moment setting him as a king on the hill of Sion! How little did they know that their badges of mock royalty were at that moment converted into the signals of absolute dominion, and the instruments of irresistible power! The reed which they put into his hands became a rod of iron, with which he was to break in pieces his enemies; a sceptre with which he was to rule the universe in righteousness. The cross, which they thought was to stigmatize him with infamy, became the ensign of his renown. Instead of being the reproach of his followers, it was to be their boast, and their glory. The cross was to shine on palaces and churches throughout the earth. It was to be assumed as the distinction of the most powerful monarchs, and to wave in the banner of victorious armies, when the memory of Herod and Pilate should be accursed; when Jerusalem should be reduced to ashes, and the Jews be vagabonds over all the world."

See ATONEMENT; Person and Barrow on the Creed; Owen's Death of Death in the Death of Christ; Charnock's Works, vol. 2: on the Necessity, Voluntariness, &c. of the Death of Christ.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

The Bible teaches that human death is a result of sin ( Genesis 2:17;  Romans 5:12). God does not desire death for those he created in his image. Death is therefore the enemy of God as well as the enemy of the human race ( 1 Corinthians 15:26;  Hebrews 2:15).

Results of Adam’s sin

Physical and spiritual death are not completely separate. When sin entered the world through Adam, it changed everything. All human life is now affected by the certainty of death ( Romans 5:12-17). This involves physical death and spiritual death. The truth of this is demonstrated by the fact that the work of Christ, which reverses the effects of sin, brings the gift of spiritual life now ( Romans 6:23) and in the end will bring victory even over physical death ( 1 Corinthians 15:21-22;  1 Corinthians 15:44-45).

Some may think that since human beings are creatures of the natural world, physical death is inevitable. After all, death was apparently part of the world of nature before Adam sinned – leaves fell off trees, fruit was picked, and animals lived by eating other forms of life ( Genesis 2:15-16;  Genesis 3:1). But it is not death in general that is the result of Adam’s sin; it is human death. The truth that the Bible emphasizes is that human beings are not merely creatures of the natural world like the other animals. They are related to God in a way that makes them different from all other created things. They are unique, for they are made in God’s image ( Genesis 1:27).

If physical death were merely the end of existence, people would have no need to fear it. The reason they fear it is their awareness that, when they die, they do not escape the consequences of his sin, but go to face them ( Hebrews 9:27; see also Sheol ).

It has been suggested that, before Adam and Eve sinned, the spiritual life within them was so dominant that it prevented the natural physical deterioration that we today might expect. But when sin overcame them, it so changed human life that the spirit no longer had control over the body, and physical deterioration resulted. Physical death was at the same time completely natural and completely the result of sin ( Genesis 3:19 b). Physical effort and bodily functions that should have brought pleasure brought pain and hardship instead ( Genesis 3:16-19).

There is no need to imagine the chaos of an over-populated world had human beings never sinned and no one ever died. It is death, not the termination of earthly existence, that is the enemy; and it is sin that makes death so hateful ( 1 Corinthians 15:26;  1 Corinthians 15:55-56). There are examples to suggest that God could readily have brought a person’s earthly existence to an end without the person having to pass through death ( Genesis 5:24;  2 Kings 2:11;  1 Corinthians 15:51;  Hebrews 11:5; cf.  Acts 1:9).

Present experience; future victory

The Bible uses the picture of an evil ruler to denote both death and the devil. Death is a sphere in which the devil rules ( Hebrews 2:15). All people, being sinners, are slaves of sin and therefore under its power ( Romans 5:14). They are not free to decide whether they will die or not. Physically they are condemned to death, and spiritually they are dead already ( Ephesians 2:1;  Ephesians 2:5;  Colossians 2:13;  1 John 3:14). They are so under the dominion of death that their tendency towards sin is itself called death ( Romans 7:24;  Romans 8:6;  Romans 8:10). Sin cannot exist without death as its consequences ( Romans 6:16;  Romans 6:21;  Romans 7:5;  Romans 7:13;  James 1:15). To continue in sin is to continue in death; for sinners are in the sphere of death till they are saved out of it ( Romans 8:23;  1 Corinthians 15:54).

Although this connection between sin and death may seem natural and inevitable, it can be broken. People are not the helpless victims of mechanical laws, but the subjects of divine compassion. The same God who sends death as sin’s penalty can give life as his gift ( Romans 6:23).

Through the death of Jesus Christ, God has completely dealt with sin and death. Jesus died in the place of sinners to take away their sin and deliver them from the sphere of death ( Romans 6:9-10;  2 Corinthians 5:21;  Hebrews 2:9;  Hebrews 2:14;  1 Peter 2:24). Satan uses death to bind people in fear, but God uses death to release them from Satan’s power. Christ came to conquer death, and he did this by means of his own death. All who by faith belong to Christ share the benefits of that death ( Romans 6:3-8;  2 Corinthians 5:14;  Colossians 2:12-15). All who refuse Christ die in their sins, and so ensure for themselves an unalterable destiny that the Bible calls eternal destruction, outer darkness, the lake of fire and the second death ( Matthew 8:12;  Matthew 25:46;  John 8:24;  Revelation 20:14; see Hell ).

Christ’s saving work means that believers need no longer fear death. They know that one day it will be destroyed ( Romans 6:9;  1 Corinthians 15:26;  1 Corinthians 15:54-57;  Revelation 2:11;  Revelation 20:6;  Revelation 21:4). Although they still live in the sphere of death’s influence, they have already passed out of death into life. They are free from the law of sin and death ( John 5:24;  Romans 8:2;  2 Timothy 1:10;  1 John 3:14). Like other people, they may experience physical death, but they will never die in the sense that really matters ( John 11:25-26; see Heaven ).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [5]

Mâveth ( מָוֶת , Strong'S #4194), “death.” This word appears 150 times in the Old Testament. The word mâveth occurs frequently as an antonym of hayyim —(“life”): “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live …” (Deut. 30:19). In the poetic language, mâveth is used more often than in the historical books: Job-Proverbs (about 60 times), Joshua-Esther (about 40 times); but in the major prophets only about 25 times.

“Death” is the natural end of human life on this earth; it is an aspect of God’s judgment on man: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Hence all men die: “If these men die the common death of all men … then the Lord hath not sent me” (Num. 16:29). The Old Testament uses “death” in phrases such as “the day of death” (Gen. 27:2) and “the year of death” (Isa. 6:1), or to mark an event as occurring before (Gen. 27:7, 10) or after (Gen. 26:18) someone’s passing away.

—“Death” may also come upon someone in a violent manner, as an execution of justice: “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree …” (Deut. 21:22-23). Saul declared David to be a “son of death” because he intended to have David killed (1 Sam. 20:31; cf. Prov. 16:14). In one of his experiences, David composed a psalm expressing how close an encounter he had had with death: “When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me” (2 Sam. 22:5-6; cf. Ps. 18:5-6). Isaiah predicted the Suffering Servant was to die a violent death: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa. 53:9).

Associated with the meaning of “death” is the meaning of “death by a plague.” In a besieged city with unsanitary conditions, pestilence would quickly reduce the weakened population. Jeremiah alludes to this type of death as God’s judgment on Egypt (43:11); note that “death” refers here to “death of famine and pestilence.” Lamentations describes the situation of Jerusalem before its fall: “… Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death” (Lam. 1:20; cf. also Jer. 21:8-9).

Finally, the word mâveth denotes the “realm of the dead” or che’ol . This place of death has gates (Ps. 9:13; 107:18) and chambers (Prov. 7:27); the path of the wicked leads to this abode (Prov. 5:5).

Isaiah expected “death” to be ended when the Lord’s full kingship would be established: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isa. 25:8). Paul argued on the basis of Jesus’ resurrection that this event had already taken place (1 Cor. 15:54), but John looked forward to the hope of the resurrection when God would wipe away our tears (Rev. 21:4).

Teumtah means “death.” One occurrence is in Ps. 79:11: “Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die [literally, sons of death]” (cf. Ps. 102:20).

Mâmoth refers to “death.” Mâmoth appears in Jer. 16:4: “They shall die of grievous deaths …” (cf. Ezek. 28:8).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • "I go whence I shall not return" ( Job 10:21 ); "Make me to know mine end" ( Psalm 39:4 ); "to depart" ( Philippians 1:23 ).

    The grave is represented as "the gates of death" ( Job 38:17;  Psalm 9:13;  107:18 ). The gloomy silence of the grave is spoken of under the figure of the "shadow of death" ( Jeremiah 2:6 ).

    Death is the effect of sin ( Hebrews 2:14 ), and not a "debt of nature." It is but once (9:27), universal ( Genesis 3:19 ), necessary ( Luke 2:28-30 ). Jesus has by his own death taken away its sting for all his followers ( 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ).

    There is a spiritual death in trespasses and sins, i.e., the death of the soul under the power of sin ( Romans 8:6;  Ephesians 2:1,3;  Colossians 2:13 ).

    The "second death" ( Revelation 2:11 ) is the everlasting perdition of the wicked ( Revelation 21:8 ), and "second" in respect to natural or temporal death.

    THE Death Of Christ is the procuring cause incidentally of all the blessings men enjoy on earth. But specially it is the procuring cause of the actual salvation of all his people, together with all the means that lead thereto. It does not make their salvation merely possible, but certain ( Matthew 18:11;  Romans 5:10;  2 co  5:21;  Galatians 1:4;  3:13;  Ephesians 1:7;  2:16;  Romans 8:32-35 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Death'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/d/death.html. 1897.

  • Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [7]

     Romans 7:13 (a) This describes the effect of wickedness and sinfulness upon the natural human heart and soul in the sight of GOD. Our sinful natures in our natural state send up sins, trespasses, transgressions, evils, wickedness and iniquities until they form a thick, dark cloud between the soul and GOD. (See  Isaiah 44:22).

     Romans 8:6 (a) Here we see the result of setting the mind on the things of earth so that it cannot receive nor comprehend the things of Heaven.

     2 Corinthians 4:12 (a) Paul uses the word here in order to describe the crushing and destructive effects of persecution and prosecution of his own life.

     1 John 3:14 (a) This describes the state of being unsaved and without eternal life. (See also under "DEAD").

     Revelation 20:14 (a) The first death is the death of the body because of which the person cannot longer enjoy the earthly blessings of life. This second death is called by that name because the body and the soul have at the Great White Throne been brought before GOD for a final judgment. The individual is taken away from this short appearance in GOD's presence to be eternally and forever shut out of ever seeking GOD again.

    Here are some references to death as used in the Scriptures:

    Dead to sin -  Romans 6:2

    Dead with Christ -  Romans 6:8.

    Dead in sin -  Ephesians 2:1

    Dead to the world -  Galatians 6:14.

    Dead to GOD -  Luke 9:60

    Dead works -  Hebrews 6:1.

    Dead to this life -  Romans 5:12  Hebrews 9:14.

    Paul said "I die daily"  1 Corinthians 15:31. By this he was showing that he himself was fulfilling  Romans 6:11. The meaning of all of this evidently is that the believer in Christ Jesus takes his place with CHRIST in His rejection from the world, and identifies himself with this rejected Lord. He does not now take part in, nor love, the things that this world offers to the unsaved.

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

    Is taken in Scripture, first, for the separation of body and soul, the first death,  Genesis 25:11; secondly, for alienation from God, and exposure to his wrath,  1 John 3:14 , etc.; thirdly, for the second death, that of eternal damnation. Death was the penalty affixed to Adam's transgression,  Genesis 2:17   3:19; and all his posterity are transgressors, and share the curse inflicted upon him.  Romans 5:12-21   1 Corinthians 15:1-58 .

    Natural death is described as a yielding up of the breath, or spirit, expiring,  Psalm 104:29; as a return to our original dust,  Genesis 3:19   Ecclesiastes 12:7; as the soul's laying off the body, its clothing,  2 Corinthians 5:3,4 , or the tent in which it has dwelt,  2 Corinthians 5:1   2 Peter 1:13,14 . The death of the believer is a departure, a going home, a falling asleep in Jesus,  Philippians 1:23   Matthew 26:24   John 11:11 .

    The term death is also sometimes used for any great calamity, or imminent danger threatening life, as persecution,  2 Corinthians 1:10 . "The gates of death,"  Job 38:17 , signify the unseen world occupied by departed spirits. Death is also figuratively used to denote the insensibility of Christians to the temptations of a sinful world,  Colossians 3:3 .

    Webster's Dictionary [9]

    (1): ( v. i.) The cessation of all vital phenomena without capability of resuscitation, either in animals or plants.

    (2): ( v. i.) Total privation or loss; extinction; cessation; as, the death of memory.

    (3): ( v. i.) Manner of dying; act or state of passing from life.

    (4): ( v. i.) Cause of loss of life.

    (5): ( v. i.) Loss of spiritual life.

    (6): ( v. i.) Anything so dreadful as to be like death.

    (7): ( v. i.) Personified: The destroyer of life, - conventionally represented as a skeleton with a scythe.

    (8): ( v. i.) Danger of death.

    (9): ( v. i.) Murder; murderous character.

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

    This is referred to in scripture under various aspects.

    1. The general appointment for sinful man — the death of the body by the separation of the soul from it.  Hebrews 9:27;  Romans 5:14;  Romans 6:23 .

    2. The spiritual condition of fallen man, 'dead in trespasses and sins.'  Ephesians 2:1,5;  Romans 7:24 .

    3. Death personified as a power of Satan: the last enemy to be destroyed.  1 Corinthians 15:26;  Revelation 20:13,14 .

    4. THE SECOND DEATH:eternal punishment.  Revelation 2:11;  Revelation 20:14;  Revelation 21:8 .

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

    Dead, Death

    There is a threefold sense of death; natural, spiritual, and eternal. That which is natural, respects the separation of soul and body. "The body without the Spirit is dead." ( James 2:16) Spiritual death means, the soul unquickened by the Holy Ghost. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." ( Ephesians 2:1) And eternal death implies the everlasting separation both of soul and body from God to all eternity. "I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." ( Luke 12:5)

    See Hardness of Heart.

    Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection [12]

    'Paid the debt of nature.' No; it is not paying a debt; it is rather like bringing a note to the bank to obtain solid gold in exchange for it. In this case you bring this cumbrous body which is nothing worth, and which you could not wish to retain long; you lay it down, and receive for it from the eternal treasures: liberty, victory, knowledge, rapture.: Foster.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [13]

    See Life and Death.

    King James Dictionary [14]

    DEATH, n. deth.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

    (מות , māweth  ; θάνατος , thánatos ):

    Physiological and Figurative View

    The word "Death " is used in the sense of (1) The process of dying ( Genesis 21:16 ); (2) The period of decease ( Genesis 27:7 ); (3) as a possible synonym for poison ( 2 Kings 4:40 ); (4) as descriptive of person in danger of perishing ( Judges 15:18; "in deaths oft"  2 Corinthians 11:23 ). In this sense the shadow of death is a familiar expression in Job, the Psalms and the Prophets; (5) death is personified in  1 Corinthians 15:55 and   Revelation 20:14 . Deliverance from this catastrophe is called the "issues from death" ( Psalm 68:20 the King James Version; translated "escape" in the Revised Version (British and American)). Judicial execution, "putting to death," is mentioned 39 times in the Levitical Law.

    Figuratively: Death is the loss of spiritual life as in  Romans 8:6; and the final state of the unregenerate is called the "second death" in  Revelation 20:14 .

    Theological View

    1. Conception of Sin and Death

    According to  Genesis 2:17 , God gave to man, created in His own image, the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and added thereto the warning, "in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Though not exclusively, reference is certainly made here in the first place to bodily death. Yet because death by no means came upon Adam and Eve on the day of their transgression, but took place hundreds of years later, the expression, "in the day that," must be conceived in a wider sense, or the delay of death must be attributed to the entering-in of mercy ( Genesis 3:15 ). However this may be,  Genesis 2:17 places a close connection between man's death and his transgression of God's commandment, thereby attaching to death a religious and ethical significance, and on the other hand makes the life of man dependent on his obedience to God. This religious-ethical nature of life and death is not only decidedly and clearly expressed in Gen 2, but it is the fundamental thought of the whole of Scripture and forms an essential element in the revelations of salvation. The theologians of early and more recent times, who have denied the spiritual significance of death and have separated the connection between ethical and physical life, usually endeavor to trace back their opinions to Scripture; and those passages which undoubtedly see in death a punishment for sin (  Genesis 2:17;  John 8:44;  Romans 5:12;  Romans 6:23;  1 Corinthians 15:21 ), they take as individual opinions, which form no part of the organism of revelation. But this endeavor shuts out the organic character of the revelation of salvation. It is true that death in Holy Scripture is often measured by the weakness and frailty of human nature ( Genesis 3:19;  Job 14:1 ,  Job 14:12;  Psalm 39:5 ,  Psalm 39:6;  Psalm 90:5;  Psalm 103:14 ,  Psalm 103:15;  Ecclesiastes 3:20 , etc.). Death is seldom connected with the transgression of the first man either in the Old Testament or the New Testament, or mentioned as a specified punishment for sin ( John 8:44;  Romans 5:12;  Romans 6:23;  1 Corinthians 15:21;  James 1:15 ); for the most part it is portrayed as something natural ( Genesis 5:5;  Genesis 9:29;  Genesis 15:15;  Genesis 25:8 , etc.), a long life being presented as a blessing in contrast to death in the midst of days as a disaster and a judgment ( Psalm 102:23 f;   Isaiah 65:20 ). But all this is not contrary to the idea that death is a consequence of, and a punishment for, sin. Daily, everyone who agrees with Scripture that death is held out as a punishment for sin, speaks in the same way. Death, though come into the world through sin, is nevertheless at the same time a consequence of man's physical and frail existence now; it could therefore be threatened as a punishment to man, because he was taken out of the ground and was made a living soul, of the earth earthy ( Genesis 2:7;  1 Corinthians 15:45 ,  1 Corinthians 15:47 ). If he had remained obedient, he would not have returned to dust ( Genesis 3:19 ), but have pressed forward on the path of spiritual development ( 1 Corinthians 15:46 ,  1 Corinthians 15:51 ); his return to dust was possible simply because he was made from dust (see Adam In The New Testament ). Thus, although death is in this way a consequence of sin, yet a long life is felt to be a blessing and death a disaster and a judgment, above all when man is taken away in the bloom of his youth or the strength of his years. There is nothing strange, therefore, in the manner in which Scripture speaks about death; we all express ourselves daily in the same way, though we at the same time consider it as the wages of sin. Beneath the ordinary, everyday expressions about death lies the deep consciousness that it is unnatural and contrary to our innermost being.

    2. The Meaning of Death

    This is decidedly expressed in Scripture much more so even than among ourselves. For we are influenced always more or less by the Greek, Platonic idea, that the body dies, yet the soul is immortal. Such an idea is utterly contrary to the Israelite consciousness, and is nowhere found in the Old Testament. The whole man dies, when in death the spirit (  Psalm 146:4;  Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), or soul ( Genesis 35:18;  2 Samuel 1:9;  1 Kings 17:21;  Jonah 4:3 ), goes out of a man. Not only his body, but his soul also returns to a state of death and belongs to the nether-world; therefore the Old Testament can speak of a death of one's soul ( Genesis 37:21 (Hebrew);   Numbers 23:10 m;   Deuteronomy 22:21;  Judges 16:30;  Job 36:14;  Psalm 78:50 ), and of defilement by coming in contact with a dead body ( Leviticus 19:28;  Leviticus 21:11;  Leviticus 22:4;  Numbers 5:2;  Numbers 6:6;  Numbers 9:6;  Numbers 19:10;  Deuteronomy 14:1;  Haggai 2:13 ). This death of man is not annihilation, however, but a deprivation of all that makes for life on earth. The Sheol ( she'ōl ) is in contrast with the land of the living in every respect ( Job 28:13;  Proverbs 15:24;  Ezekiel 26:20;  Ezekiel 32:23 ); it is an abode of darkness and the shadow of death ( Job 10:21 ,  Job 10:22;  Psalm 88:12;  Psalm 143:3 ), a place of destruction, yea destruction itself ( Job 26:6;  Job 28:22;  Job 31:12;  Psalm 88:11;  Proverbs 27:20 ), without any order ( Job 10:22 ), a land of rest, of silence, of oblivion ( Job 3:13 ,  Job 3:17 ,  Job 3:18;  Psalm 94:17;  Psalm 115:17 ), where God and man are no longer to be seen ( Isaiah 38:11 ), God no longer praised or thanked ( Psalm 6:5;  Psalm 115:17 ), His perfections no more acknowledged ( Psalm 88:10-13;  Isaiah 38:18 ,  Isaiah 38:19 ), His wonders not contemplated ( Psalm 88:12 ), where the dead are unconscious, do no more work, take no account of anything, possess no knowledge nor wisdom, neither have any more a portion in anything that is done under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 9:5 ,  Ecclesiastes 9:6 ,  Ecclesiastes 9:10 ). The dead ("the Shades" the Revised Version, margin; compare article Deceased ) are asleep ( Job 26:5;  Proverbs 2:18;  Proverbs 9:18;  Proverbs 21:6;  Psalm 88:11;  Isaiah 14:9 ), weakened ( Isaiah 14:10 ) and without strength ( Psalm 88:4 ).

    3. Light in the Darkness

    The dread of death was felt much more deeply therefore by the Israelites than by ourselves. Death to them was separation from all that they loved, from God, from His service, from His law, from His people, from His land, from all the rich companionship in which they lived. But now in this darkness appears the light of the revelation of salvation from on high. The God of Israel is the living God and the fountain of all life ( Deuteronomy 5:26;  Joshua 3:10;  Psalm 36:9 ). He is the Creator of heaven and earth, whose power knows no bounds and whose dominion extends over life and death ( Deuteronomy 32:39;  1 Samuel 2:6;  Psalm 90:3 ). He gave life to man ( Genesis 1:26;  Genesis 2:7 ), and creates and sustains every man still ( Job 32:8;  Job 33:4;  Job 34:14;  Psalm 104:29;  Ecclesiastes 12:7 ). He connects life with the keeping of His law and appoints death for the transgression of it ( Genesis 2:17;  Leviticus 18:5;  Deuteronomy 30:20;  Deuteronomy 32:47 ). He lives in heaven, but is present also by His spirit in Sheol ( Psalm 139:7 ,  Psalm 139:8 ). Sheol and Abaddon are open to Him even as the hearts of the children of men ( Job 26:6;  Job 38:17;  Proverbs 15:11 ). He kills and makes alive, brings down into Sheol and raises from thence again ( Deuteronomy 32:39;  1 Samuel 2:6;  2 Kings 5:7 ). He lengthens life for those who keep His commandments ( Exodus 20:12;  Job 5:26 ), gives escape from death, can deliver when death menaces ( Psalm 68:20;  Isaiah 38:5;  Jeremiah 15:20;  Daniel 3:26 ), can take Enoch and Elijah to Himself without dying ( Genesis 5:24;  2 Kings 2:11 ), can restore the dead to life ( 1 Kings 17:22;  2 Kings 4:34;  2 Kings 13:21 ). He can even bring death wholly to nothing and completely triumph over its power by rising from the dead ( Job 14:13-15;  Job 19:25-27;  Hosea 6:2;  Hosea 13:14;  Isaiah 25:8;  Isaiah 26:19;  Ezekiel 37:11 ,  Ezekiel 37:12;  Daniel 12:2 ).

    4. Spiritual Significance

    This revelation by degrees rejects the old contrast between life on earth and the disconsolate existence after death, in the dark place of Sheol, and puts another in its place. The physical contrast between life and death gradually makes way for the moral and spiritual difference between a life spent in the fear of the Lord, and a life in the service of sin. The man who serves God is alive ( Genesis 2:17 ); life is involved in the keeping of His commandments ( Leviticus 18:5;  Deuteronomy 30:20 ); His word is life ( Deuteronomy 8:3;  Deuteronomy 32:47 ). Life is still for the most part understood to mean length of days ( Proverbs 2:18;  Proverbs 3:16;  Proverbs 10:30;  Isaiah 65:20 ). Nevertheless it is remarkable that Prov often mentions death and Sheol in connection with the godless ( Proverbs 2:18;  Proverbs 5:5;  Proverbs 7:27;  Proverbs 9:18 ), and on the other hand only speaks of life in connection with the righteous. Wisdom, righteousness, the fear of the Lord is the way of life ( Proverbs 8:35 ,  Proverbs 8:36;  Proverbs 11:19;  Proverbs 12:28;  Proverbs 13:14;  Proverbs 14:27;  Proverbs 19:23 ). The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death ( Proverbs 14:32 ). Blessed is he who has the Lord for his God ( Deuteronomy 33:29;  Psalm 1:1 ,  Psalm 1:2;  Psalm 2:12;  Psalm 32:1 ,  Psalm 32:2;  Psalm 33:12;  Psalm 34:9 , etc.); he is comforted in the greatest adversity ( Psalm 73:25-28;  Habakkuk 3:17-19 ), and sees a light arise for him behind physical death ( Genesis 49:18;  Job 14:13-15;  Job 16:16-21;  Job 19:25-27;  Psalm 73:23-26 ). The godless on the contrary, although enjoying for a time much prosperity, perish and come to an end ( Psalm 1:4-6;  Psalm 73:18-20;  Isaiah 48:22;  Malachi 4:3 , etc.).

    The righteous of the Old Testament truly are continually occupied with the problem that the lot of man on earth often corresponds so little to his spiritual worth, but he strengthens himself with the conviction that for the righteous it will be well, and for the wicked, ill ( Ecclesiastes 8:12 ,  Ecclesiastes 8:13;  Isaiah 3:10 ,  Isaiah 3:11 ). If they do not realize it in the present, they look forward to the future and hope for the day in which God's justice will extend salvation to the righteous, and His anger will be visited on the wicked in judgment. So in the Old Testament the revelation of the new covenant is prepared wherein Christ by His appearance hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ( 2 Timothy 1:10 ). See Abolish . This everlasting life is already here on earth presented to man by faith, and it is his portion also in the hour of death ( John 3:36;  John 11:25 ,  John 11:26 ). On the other hand, he who lives in sin and is disobedient to the Son of God, is in his living dead ( Matthew 8:22;  Luke 15:32;  John 3:36;  John 8:24;  Ephesians 2:1;  Colossians 2:13 ); he shall never see life, but shall pass by bodily death into the second death ( Revelation 2:11;  Revelation 20:6 ,  Revelation 20:14;  Revelation 21:8 ).

    5. Death in Non-Christian Religions and in Science

    This view of Scripture upon death goes much deeper than that which is found in other religions, but it nevertheless receives support from the unanimous witness of humanity with regard to its unnaturalness and dread. The so-called nature-peoples even feel that death is much more of an enigma than life; Tiele ( Inleiding tot de goddienst-artenschap , Ii (1900), 202, referring to Andrew Lang, Modern Mythology , chapter xiii) says rightly, that all peoples have the conviction that man by nature is immortal, that immortality wants no proof, but that death is a mystery and must be explained. Touching complaints arise in the hearts of all men on the frailty and vanity of life, and the whole of mankind fears death as a mysterious power. Man finds comfort in death only when he hopes it will be an end to a still more miserable life. Seneca may be taken as interpreter of some philosophers when he says: Stultitia est timore morris mori ("It is stupid to die through the fear of death") and some may be able, like a Socrates or a Cato, to face death calmly and courageously; what have these few to say to the millions, who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage (  Hebrews 2:15 )? Such a mystery has death remained up to the present day. It may be said with Kassowitz, Verworm and others that the "cell" is the beginning, and the old, gray man is the natural end of an uninterrupted life-development, or with Metschnikoff, that science will one day so lengthen life that it will fade away like a rose at last and death lose all its dread; death still is no less a riddle, and one which swallows up all the strength of life. When one considers, besides, that a number of creatures, plants, trees, animals, reach a much higher age than man; that the larger half of mankind dies before or shortly after birth; that another large percentage dies in the bloom of youth or in the prime of life; that the law of the survival of the fittest is true only when the fact of the survival is taken as a proof of their fitness; that the graybeards, who, spent and decrepit, go down to the grave, form a very small number; then the enigma of death increases more and more in mysteriousness. The endeavors to bring death into connection with certain activities of the organism and to explain it by increasing weight, by growth or by fertility, have all led to shipwreck. When Weismann took refuge in the immortality of the " einzellige Protozoën ," he raised a hypothesis which not only found many opponents, but which also left mortality of the " Körperplasma " an insoluble mystery (Beth, Ueber Ursache und Zweck des Todes , Glauben und Wissen (1909), 285-304, 335-348). Thus, science certainly does not compel us to review Scripture on this point, but rather furnishes a strong proof of the mysterious majesty of death. When Pelagius, Socinus, Schleiermacher, Ritschl and a number of other theologians and philosophers separate death from its connection with sin, they are not compelled to do so by science, but are led by a defective insight into the relation between éthos and phúsis ̌ . Misery and death are not absolutely always consequences and punishment of a great personal transgression ( Luke 13:2;  John 9:3 ); but that they are connected with sin, we learn from the experience of every day. Who can number the victims of mammonism, alcoholism and licentiousness? Even spiritual sins exercise their influence on corporal life; envy is a rottenness of the bones ( Proverbs 14:30 ). This connection is taught us in a great measure by Scripture, when it placed the not yet fallen man in a Paradise, where death had not yet entered, and eternal life was not yet possessed and enjoyed; when it sends fallen man, who, however, is destined for redemption, into a world full of misery and death; and at last assigns to the wholly renewed man a new heaven and a new earth, where death, sorrow, crying or pain shall no longer exist ( Revelation 21:4 ).

    Finally, Scripture is not the book of death, but of life, of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It tells us, in oft-repeated and unmistakable terms, of the dreaded reality of death, but it proclaims to us still more loudly the wonderful power of the life which is in Christ Jesus. See also Decease .

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

    (properly, מָוֶה , Θάνατος ). No logical definition of death has been generally agreed upon. This point was much contested in the 17th century by the Cartesian and other theologians and philosophers. Since death can be regarded in various points of view, the descriptions of it must necessarily vary. If we consider the state of a dead man as it strikes the senses, death is the cessation of natural life. If we consider the cause of death, we may place it in that permanent and entire cessation of the feeling and motion of the body which results from the destruction of the body. Among theologians, death is commonly said to consist in the separation of soul and body, implying that the soul still exists when the body perishes. Among the ecclesiastical fathers, Tertullian (De Anima, c. 27) calls it "the disunion of the body and soul." Cicero (Tusc. Dis. i) defines death to be "the departure of the mind from the body." The passage  Hebrews 4:12, is sometimes cited on this subject, but has nothing to do with it. Death does not consist in this separation, but this separation is the consequence of death. As soon as the body loses feeling and motion, it is henceforth useless to the soul, which is therefore separated from it. (See Dead).

    Scriptural representations, names, and modes of speech respecting death.

    (1.) One of the most common in the O.T. is to return to the dust, or to the earth. Hence the phrase The Dust Of Death . It is founded on the description in  Genesis 2:7;  Genesis 3:19, and denotes the dissolution and destruction of the body. Hence the sentiment in  Ecclesiastes 12:7, "The dust shall return to the earth as it was, the spirit unto God, who gave it."

    (2.) A withdrawing, exhalation, or removal of the breath of life ( Psalms 104:29). Hence the common terms to "give up the ghost," etc.

    (3.) A removal from the body, a being absent from the body, a departure from it, etc. This description is founded on the comparison of the body to a tent or lodgment in which the soul dwells during this life. Death destroys this tent or house, and commands us to travel on ( Job 4:21;  Isaiah 38:12; Psalm 53:7). Hence Paul says ( 2 Corinthians 5:1), "our earthly house of this tabernacle" will be destroyed; and Peter calls death a "putting off of this tabernacle" ( 2 Peter 1:13-14). Classical writers speak of the soul in the same manner. So Hippocrates and AEschines. Compare  2 Corinthians 5:8-9.

    (4.) Paul likewise uses the term Ἐκδύεσθαι , To Unclothe One'S Self , in reference to death ( 2 Corinthians 5:3-4), because the body is represented as the garment of the soul, as Plato calls it. The soul, therefore, as long as it is in the body, is clothed, and as soon as it is disembodied is naked.

    (5.) The terms which denote sleep are applied frequently in the Bible, as everywhere else, to death ( Psalms 76:5;  Jeremiah 51:39;  John 11:13 sq.). Nor is this language used exclusively for the death of the pious, as some pretend, though this is its prevailing use. Homer calls sleep and death twin brothers (Il. 16:672). The terms likewise which signify to lie down, to rest, also denote death.

    (6.) Death is frequently compared with and named from a departure, a going away. Hence verbs of that import signify to die ( Job 10:21;  Psalms 39:4). The case is the same in the New Testament ( Matthew 26:24), and even among the classics. In this connection we may mention the terms Ἀναλύειν and Ἀνάλυσις ( Philippians 1:23;  2 Timothy 4:6), which do not mean Dissolution , but Discessus (comp.  Luke 12:36).

    Death, when personified, is described as a ruler and tyrant, having vast power and a great kingdom, over which he reigns ( Job 18:14). But the ancients also represented it under some figures which are not common among us. We represent it as a man with a scythe, or as a skeleton, etc.; but the Jews, before the exile, frequently represented death as a hunter, who lays snares for men ( Psalms 18:5-6;  Psalms 91:3). After the exile they represented him as a man, or sometimes as an angel (the angel of Death), with a cup of poison, which he reaches to men. (See Destroyer). From this representation appears to have arisen the phrase, which occurs in the New Testament, to taste death ( Matthew 16:28;  Hebrews 2:9), which, however, in common speech, signifies merely to die, without reminding one of the origin of the phrase. The case is the same with the phrase to see death ( Psalms 89:48;  Luke 2:26). See Knapp's Christian Theology, by Dr. Wood; Waltirer, De origine phrasium I videre et gustare mortem" (Giess. 1745).

    The "gates of death" ( Job 38:17;  Psalms 9:13;  Psalms 107:18) signify the grave itself; and the "shadow of death" ( Jeremiah 2:6) denotes the gloomy silence of the tomb. See Wemyss's Clavis Symbolica, s.v.; Zeibich, De vocibus, צִלְמָוֶת , Σκία Θανάτου (Vitemb. 1739).

    Death may be considered as the effect of sin ( Romans 5:12). In  Hebrews 2:14, Satan is said to have the power of death; not that he can, at his pleasure, inflict death on mankind, but as he was the instrument of first bringing death into the world ( John 8:44), and as he may be the executioner of God's wrath on impenitent sinners where God permits him. Death is but once ( Hebrews 9:27), yet certain ( Job 14:1-2), although uncertain as to the time ( Proverbs 27:1); universal ( Genesis 3:19); necessary, in order that God's justice may be displayed and his mercy manifested; desirable to the righteous ( Luke 2:28-30). The fear of death is a source of anxiety and alarm to many, and to a guilty conscience it may indeed be terrible; but to a good man it should be obviated by the consideration that death is the termination of every trouble; that it puts him beyond the reach of sin and temptation; that God has promised to be with the righteous, even to the end ( Hebrews 13:5); that Jesus Christ has taken away the sting ( 1 Corinthians 15:55-56); and that it introduces him to a state of endless felicity ( 2 Corinthians 5:8).

    Death, when applied to the animal nature, properly signifies a dissolution or failure of all its powers and functions; so, when applied to the spiritual nature, or souls of men, it denotes a corresponding disorder therein, a being spiritually dead in trespasses and sins ( Romans 8:6;  Ephesians 2:1;  Ephesians 2:3;  Colossians 2:13;  Judges 1:12).

    The term death is metaphorically applied to denote an utter failure of customary functions, so that the thing spoken of can no longer act according to its nature. Thus, in  Amos 2:2, "Moab shall die with tumult" that is, the king and government shall lose their power, and the nation be brought into subjection and slavery. So in  Romans 7:8, "Without the law, sin was dead" that is, without the law, sin does not exert its power; and, on the other hand, it is said ( Romans 7:9), "Sin revived and I died" "Sin got strength to act, and I lost my power to resist. I was not the same man as before; sin destroyed my power."

    The "second death" ( Revelation 2:11) is so called in respect to the natural or temporal as coming after it, and implies everlasting punishment ( Revelation 21:8).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

    Since death can be regarded in various points of view, the descriptions of it must necessarily vary. If we consider the state of a dead man, as it strikes the senses, death is the cessation of natural life. If we consider the cause of death, we may place it in that permanent and entire cessation of the feeling and motion of the body which results from the destruction of the body. Among theologians, death is commonly said to consist in the separation of soul and body, implying that the soul still exists when the body perishes. Death does not consist in this separation, but this separation is the consequence of death. As soon as the body loses feeling and motion, it is henceforth useless to the soul, which is therefore separated from it.

    Scriptural representations, names, and modes of speech respecting death:

    (a.) One of the most common in the Old Testament is, to return to the dust, or to the earth. Hence the phrase, the dust of death. It is founded on the description; , and denotes the dissolution and destruction of the body. Hence the sentiment in , 'The dust shall return to the earth as it was, the spirit unto God who gave it.'

    (b.) A withdrawing, exhalation, or removal of the breath of life .

    (c.) A removal from the body, a being absent from the body, a departure from it, etc. This description is founded on the comparison of the body with a tent or lodgment in which the soul dwells during this life. Death destroys this tent or house, and commands us to travel on (;;;; ).

    (d.) Paul likewise uses the term to be unclothed, in reference to death because the body is represented as the garment of the soul, as Plato calls it. The soul, therefore, as long as it is in the body, is clothed; and as soon as it is disembodied, is naked.

    (e.) The terms which denote sleep are applied frequently in the Bible, as everywhere else, to death (;; , sqq.).

    (f.) Death is frequently compared with and named from a departure, a going away (;;;; ).

    Death, when personified, is described as a ruler and tyrant, having vast power and a great kingdom, over which he reigns. But the ancients also represented it under some figures which are not common among us. We represent it as a man with a scythe, or as a skeleton, etc.; but the Jews, before the exile, frequently represented death as a hunter, who lays snares for men . After the exile, they represented him as a man, or sometimes as an angel (the angel of Death), with a cup of poison, which he reaches to men. From this representation appears to have arisen the phrase, which occurs in the New Testament, to taste death , which, however, in common speech, signifies merely to die, without reminding one of the origin of the phrase. The case is the same with the phrase to see death .

    References