Volume 21, April 1959

A friend in Scotland has very kindly sent me some notes upon the above subject, with permission to publish his ideas. He lists them thus: 1.: Those who have passed from death to life (John 5:24 ; 1. John 3:14) did so without resurrection. The latter verse says, "He who is not loving (the brethren) is abiding in (the) death." What kind of death? Certainly not physical. II.: The death mentioned above is now (since our Lord's resurrection) the only real Enemy. Its subjects are farther from God than those who sleep in Christ. III.: Physical death associated with Hades and corruption (Acts 2:27) necessitates resurrection. IV.: If the second death is a duplicate of the above, then Hades must still exist, and resurrection must be predicated. V.: But if the second death is not to be taken literally, but somewhat along the lines of John 5:24, then those under its authority (Rev. 20:6) are consciously undergoing a process of discipline or chastening. VI.: Note that the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, has been in operation for at least a thousand years before the Great White Throne (Rev. 19:20; 20:10). VII.: If the Olethron aiOnion (falsely rendered as "everlasting destruction" or "eonian extermination," 2. Thess. 1:9) is established as a process (see The Differentiator, December, 1953 and February, 1954), and is comparable if not identical with the kolasis (chastening or beneficial discipline) of Matt. 25:46, then Matt. 25:41 gives the answer. VIII.: The eonian fire prepared for the devil and his angels is the portion of the "goat" Gentiles. This is the second death, although not termed so until after the general resurrection. IX.: The messengers of the devil, that is, the beast and the false prophet, are punished in the same way at the same time. The difference is probably only in degree. X.: The punishment: The rule of righteousness with a rod of iron.

My friend points out that the transition from death to life does not always require a physical resurrection, the subjects not being physically dead. Thus there is a parallel application to the second death, which is not a physical death at all. This answers the common argument that no resurrection from the second death is revealed in Scripture.

But why is the lake of fire only called the second death in Rev. 20:14-15 after the Great White Throne? Can it be that it deals here with those once dead, but now resurrected subjects? Whereas, in Rev. 19:20, as in Matt. 25 the subjects are still alive! As has been pointed out before, that eonian fire prepared (or rather, preparing itself automatically) for the devil and his angels is indeed the same fate as the "goat" class Gentiles meet with in Matt. 25:41.

The second death does in fact operate (a) over the Beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19:20); (b) over the goat class Gentiles (Matt. 25:41); (c) over those whose names are not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15); and (d) over the devil himself (Rev. 20:10).

My friend continues thus: "We have been mesmerised into thinking that the second death only appears after the Great White Throne, when in fact it is clearly revealed to have been in operation a thousand years before it (Rev. 19:20; Matt. 25:41). Death and Hades end at the Lake of Fire. It is evident that a literal destruction would perpetuate them! It is this idea of a repetition of the first death which is found unacceptable."

My friend is good enough to say that the train of thought was begun in his mind some time ago in line with the articles on "Olethros" in The Differentiator. But I must state that the study of this peculiar Greek word was undertaken by me at the request of an elderly lady in California. Had she not asked me to undertake this rather difficult study more than five years ago, I would probably never have undertaken not only it, but that of other Greek terms dealing with disciplinary treatment by God.

Yes; we have been mesmerised, and the whole of Christendom has been even more mesmerised by all the sad mistranslations of Greek terms in the Bible, which one might term "Satanic." God's saints ought to arise in strong protest against such wicked mistranslations, which have long darkened the glories of the Gospel, and multiplied enemies of it. If we resist the Devil, he will flee from us; so if we resist his lies, they will disappear.

Recent questions and studies have made me more and more think that we should expect to find the clues to difficult questions in contexts which we might never suspect. And I have been wondering whether John, when he wrote Revelation 19 and 20, expected readers to turn to ch. 5 of his Gospel, verse 24, to find a clue. The perfection of the Scriptures is to be proved by the fact that one text is often to be explained by another text which remains silent and quiet until we query it.

My friend also remarks on the idea which some hold, that there will be a literal lake of fire, consisting of the subterranean fires within the earth. But he answers this supposition by stating that the earth and the heaven flee from the face of Him sitting upon the Great White Throne, and no place is found for them.

Attention is also called to the figurative language of Rev. 19:15, a sharp sword, a wine trough, a rod of iron; also, a lake of fire. These are pictures or figures of dread realities in store for God's enemies.

Well do I recollect the Satanic teaching found in a publication which taught what was meant to be advanced teaching. It said of babes that if they were not saved, they would be cast into a real lake of living fire, but "would not suffer much," just for a few seconds. "Let no one shrink with horror at this fact, as though it entailed excessive suffering and agony. A death by fire is not necessarily painful. God has allowed many to die the first death by means of fire. Some are unconscious before they have time to feel the flames. Others, especially His own witnesses, have suffered agonies at the stake. . . . . Death will probably be so instantaneous that suffering will be practically unknown." It was also stated that "Any attempt to apply figurative language concerning death to the lake of fire will not stand the test." This is simply not true, as we have proved time after time in The Differentiator. This is just what the devil would like to see. Divine Love will not utterly destroy, but it will utilize chastening.

Possibly the above statements will cause readers to ask questions, or perhaps to give suggestions. These will be welcomed. Just as my friend and informer was able to present the necessary information which I would never have discovered by myself, so others may find more useful information waiting patiently in some obscure part of the Holy Scriptures.

Should anyone wish copies of the issues of The Differentiator dealing with the Greek word Olethros, I shall be pleased to send them. A.T.