What is the Second Death?

What is the Second Death?

Scripture speaks of a final place of punishment known as the “lake of fire.” It is where people experience the “second death.” John wrote about this in Revelation 19:20 where he said the beast, the final Antichrist, as well as the false prophet, would be sent to this place of everlasting punishment.

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

The Lake of Fire is the Second Death

In chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation, we read further of the place of punishment, the lake of fire which is the second death.

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever … Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10, 14-15).

We also read this in Revelation 21:8.

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Second Death & First Death

If there is a second death, then there also is the first death. What is the difference between the two? Death in the Bible always means separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body while spiritual death is separation from God.

When one dies physically, there will be a separation between his physical body and his soul and spirit. Physical death is what the Bible refers to as the first death and it will be experienced by both the righteous and the wicked.

Man is a tripartite being consisting of material (the physical body) and immaterial parts (soul and spirit). At death, the body which is made of dust will return to dust (Genesis 3:19) while the soul and spirit will go to one of two places: heaven (for the righteous) or hell (for the wicked).

While every human being will experience the first death, the second death has no power over those who confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior.

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).

Descriptions of the Second Death

The Bible gives us several descriptions of the Second Death.

It is Eternal

The lake of fire, which is the second death, is the final destination for all unbelievers. It is a place from which there is “no hope.” It is equivalent to saying the “last death.”

Those who had been kept in Hades, the temporary place of punishment, will eventually be thrown in this lake of fire, their ultimate destination (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14).

There is Conscious Suffering

Those suffering in the lake of fire are conscious (Revelation 20:10). Furthermore, their conscious suffering is eternal. In other words, the dead are not in a state of extinction as some teach and believe.


The Lake of Fire is a Burning Lake

The lake of fire is referred to as the burning lake. Four times, fire and sulfur are mentioned in the book of Revelation when referring to the lake of fire (Revelation 14:10; 19:20; 20:10 & 21:8).

The Wicked are in Some Type of Bodily Form

If the wicked are to suffer eternally in the lake of fire, they have to assume some type of bodily form. Jesus emphasized this fact when He said the following.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The apostle Paul also said the following about his hope for the resurrection.

“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).

If the unrighteous dead were merely annihilated, there would be no reason for their resurrection. They are raised for the purpose of judgment and then punishment.

Indeed, if they were in their final place of punishment in Hades, there would not be a need for a resurrection. Hades is temporary, while the lake of fire is permanent.

Conclusion

The Bible is clear that God will pour out His wrath upon the wicked. This will include Satan and his angels as well as wicked humanity. They will all go to a place of final punishment which the Bible calls the “lake of fire.”

The lake of fire, the second death, does exist, and it truly is a place everyone should want to avoid. The common question people ask is, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?”

We need to understand that God does not send people to hell. We are all bound for hell because of sin. But God in His grace and mercy does not want anyone to go to hell and that is why He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us (John 3:16).

Hell is never God’s choice for us. But a countless number of people will send themselves there because they reject the God of the Bible and His free gift of salvation.

Hell is an awful place, but it can be avoided. If a person trusts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior, then heaven awaits them instead of this horrific place.

Have you trusted Jesus to save you from eternal punishment in the lake of fire? If you haven’t yet and you want to receive God’s gift of salvation, pray the  Sinner’s Prayer with your whole heart.

Sinner’s Prayer

“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness and saving. I renounce my sinfulness and accept your gift of eternal life. Please forgive all my sins and cleanse me from my filthiness. I believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the grave to secure my place in heaven. I ask You now to come into my life to be my personal Lord and Savior. This I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, I welcome you into the family of God.


This article about the Second Death which is the Lake of Fire is an excerpt from Don Stewart’s book, “Hell, The Final Destination of Unbelievers.”

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