Monday, November 28, 2011

What Is Death?

In recent years there has been the spawning of a new academic specialty – thanatology, a study about death. Some invaluable work has been done in this field that has been of great help to those whose loved ones have died.

The Bible has much to say about death. It records a variety of ways in which people have passed from this world. For instance, James, the son of Zebedee, was killed with the sword. Absalom, the son of David, was pierced with darts. Achan was stoned by his peers. The aged Eli fell backward off a stool and broke his neck. The earth swallowed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The handle of Abner’s spear killed Asahel, the fleet-footed brother of Joab. Samson perished under the rubble of Dagon’s temple.

Secular records relate that the apostle Paul was beheaded, Peter was crucified upside down, Thomas was pierced with darts in India, and James, the Lord’s brother, was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem.

No one knows the circumstances under which he will die. One may die peacefully having reached old age. He may die tragically or in much pain. Regardless, unless Jesus returns before we die, all of us are going to die (Hebrews 9:27).

What is death? Some teach that it is annihilation or cessation of existence. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection because they were not convinced that man has a spirit (Acts 28:8; Matthew 22:23). Jesus told them they were ignorant of the scriptures and of the power of God (Matthew 22:29). He said that God is the God of the living, not of the dead (Matthew 22:31-32).

Death is a consequence of sin. It was introduced to the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin and is presently experienced by mankind (Romans 5:12).

Death is a power that is stronger than woman’s charm and beauty. It is more powerful than position and prestige. It is stronger than earthly might or money. It invades all cultures, all social strata, every race and language, the good as well as the evil.

Death is a mystery from the viewpoint of our nature. None want to die. We take preventive measures to delay it, though it will occur some day.

Death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Yet, there is a sense in which it is a blessing for the child of God. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Psalms 116:15). Heaven even announces, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

Death is a tragedy for the unprepared for they will be consigned to hell “…where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

Enoch and Elijah are the only two people who have escaped the throes of death. Unless Jesus comes first, we shall all die. When or under what circumstances we shall die is unknown. How long one lives is unimportant, but it does matter for whom one lives. This world is not a playground but a schoolroom. A person cannot live wrong and die right. Time is the stuff of which life is made…use your time wisely!


  1. Well said, Roger. I might add that how we approach death is in direct correlation to our faith in a loving God and how we have lived our lives--we face our own death with greater ease if we are confident if eternal life for ourselves and we face the death of loved ones with greater ease if they--and we--are in Christ and faithful to Him. Thank God He gives us the privilege of being His children. 1 John 3