From the book "Life and Immortality" by the late Basil
Compiled by Keith Hunt
.......We must now complete the picture (the first part of
the picture from Akinson's book is under the studies called
"Death, Hell and Immortality" and "The Resurrection") by
examining carefully what the Scriptures teach us about the
judgment and ultimate condition of the lost. As we sought to show
that victory over death in RESURRECTION at the COMING of the Lord
is a so much happier and more satisfying prospect than that
of survival in a disembodied state, so we shall hope to show that
the teaching of Scripture about the final state of the lost is
far less burdensome, more satisfactory and more reasonable than
the idea that springs from belief in natural immortality.
Before we turn to the teaching of Scripture about the lost
it is worth reminding ourselves that in addition to the teaching
that we are seeking to establish and the widespread theories that
we seek to overthrow there is a third view of the eternal destiny
of the wicked. This is the view that all men, whether believers
or not, will be ultimately saved, believers in the way in which
the Bible teaches us, unbelievers after long period of suffering
and purgation. We need not be ashamed of casting a wistful glance
at this view. God Himself would have all men to be saved (1
But no one can honestly find it in the Bible. It can be
traced back at least as far as Origen, a church father of the
third century, a man who also held strange views on various
There are liberals both ancient and especially modern who
have adopted and taught it. There a few isolated texts in the
Bible which appear superficially to support it, and a few
evangelical Christians have desperately clung to them, but the
support quickly crumbles before a serious examination of the
teaching of Scripture as a whole on the subject.
We will not therefore take up space by seeking to refute
this view, which is not likely to be held by more than a very few
of those readers to whom this book is primarily addressed......
DEATH THE WAGES OF SIN
We will begin with the great principles laid down in BOTH
Testaments: "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6: 23); "the soul
that sinneth it shall die" (Ezek. 18: 4,20). This punishment of
sin of course comprises the death with which we are all so sadly
familiar, but reaches far beyond it to include the final
retribution, which the Bible calls the second death (Rev. 20: 14;
In our second section (under "Death, Hell and Immortality"
on this Website -Keith Hunt) we examined carefully the Hebrew and
Greek words used for death and found that the meaning of death in
the Bible was the CESSATION OF LIFE. the minority of occurrences,
we saw, in which the words are used in a figurative sense take
their point from the literal meaning of the word and enhance it.
Thus when we read of the second death the natural inference
is that, whatever differences in detail there may be, the
principle is the same in both cases. Our friends who believe and
teach NATURAL immortality make SEPARATION the underlying
principle to be found in the word "death" as (and only as) it is
found in the Scripture. To them the FIRST death means the
separation of the "soul" from the body and the SECOND death means
the separation of the person from God.....When they speak of the
death of their dog, they mean the cessation of life......
No seeker coming fresh to the Bible would understand death
in any sense but its ordinary and natural one. Some have thought
that the second death is defined as THE LAKE OF FIRE, but an
intelligent, even a quick reading of Revelation 20: 14 and 21: 8
will show us that the OPPOSITE is true. The lake of fire IS the
.....death as we know it is a cessation of life, and would
indeed be cessation of being if it were not for the fact of
RESURRECTION (1 Cor. 15: 18). Resurrection turns death into a
sleep, from being final to being temporary. But there is NO
resurrection from the SECOND death. It is FINAL cessation of
An argument to explain the term "second death" and similar
expressions has sometimes been seriously put forward which says
that the lost do not live in hell but EXIST there. This is a
CONTRADICTION in terms. An INANIMATE object can EXIST
without LIVING, but a LIVING being in which life is inherent,
part of its essence, cannot CEASE TO LIVE without ceasing to
After natural death a dead body may of course exist for some
time, but if a living being is consumed by FIRE, cessation of
existence follows at once, unless one may say that a person or an
animal may exist in the form of smoke or ashes. These are the
very two substances to which, as we shall see, the Bible directly
informs us the wicked are reduced. A living being cannot exist
without living. Indeed we may accept our friend's definition of
the SECOND death as being SEPARATION from God. In a spiritual
sense the lost cannot be more separated from God than they were
before. God is everywhere.
Therefore to be separate from Him in an absolute sense can
only mean to be nowhere.
THE SECOND DEATH
The ordinary Hebrew and Greek words for "death" and "to die"
are used in a MINORITY of instances to define the SECOND death.
The Hebrew word MAVETH, which we examined......has reference to
the second death altogether about FIFTEEN TIMES.
In deuteronomy 30: 15 and 19 we find Moses saying to the
people, "I have set before thee this day life and good, and death
and evil;" "I have set before you life and death, blessing and
cursing." If we think of these words as addressed to the nation
as a whole, MAVETH means loss of NATIONALITY and independence,
but if we think of them as primarily applied to the individual,
as we surely must, MAVETH must signify the SECOND death. It is
set in CONTRAST with life and equated with evil and cursing.
There is a possible reference to the second death in Psalms
56: 13. This passage may certainly be taken in an evangelistic
sense as a reference to it, but David was perhaps thinking
primarily of deliverance from murder or assassination at the
hands of his enemies.
In the book of Proverbs the word MAVETH refers TEN times to
the second death.
The references are Proverbs 8: 36; 11: 19; 12: 28; 13: 14;
14: 12, 27; 16: 25; 18: 21; 21: 6; and the heart searching 24: 11
with the following verse.
The word MAVETH occurs in all about a hundred and fifty
times and we sought to prove, we hope convincingly......that
apart from a few instances of figure of speech it bears the
natural and ordinary meaning of death as cessation of life. This
fact provides a strong inference that its meaning is the same
when it refers to the second death.
We find the same situation when we come to the Greek word
THANATOS in the New Testament. The expression "the second death,"
HO DEUTEROS THANATOS, occurs four times in the book of
Revelation: 2: 11; 20: 6, 14; 21: 8.
In addition to this we find THANATOS referring 19 times to
the second death, on 10 occasions in direct connection with sin:
Matt.4: 16; Luke 1: 79; John 8: 51, 52; James 1: 15; 5: 20; 1
John 5: 16, 17; Romans 1: 32; 6: 16, 21, 23; 7: 5, 10, 13
(twice): 8: 2; 2 Cor. 3: 7; 7: 10.
THANATOS occurs between seventy and eighty times and, as we
sought to show....bears with only about nine exceptions to the
natural and ordinary meaning of death as cessation of life. The
exceptions are not due to any change of meaning but to figurative
Again the natural inference from the use of the same word is
that the second death means cessation of life.
MUTH and APOTHENEIN
The Hebrew word MUTH meaning "to die" is used in the
ordinary sense of both men and animals......We also find it in 11
passages in which it either alludes exclusively to the second
death or includes it in a single reference with earthly death.
These passages are Genesis 2: 17; 3: 4; @ Samuel 12: 13;
Jeremiah 31: 30; Ezekiel 3: 18-20; 18: 4-31; 33: 8 ff; Psalm 34:
21; Proverbs 19: 16; 21: 25; Job 5: 2.
Again the inference is the same. The second death is the
same in principle as that which we know here. If the death that
we know is the cessation of life, which comprises, as we sought
to show, cessation of consciousness, how can the same term be
used for both it and for the second death, without comment or
explanation, if the latter means something totally different? How
can the same be used for cessation of life and ceaseless life in
Exactly the same hold good in the case of the Greek word
APOTHANEIN. It is used twice in reference to the second death, in
John 6: 50 and Romans 8: 13.
We have thus not yet found anything in the expression "the
second death" or in the language in either Testament to define
In 2 Thessalonians 1: 9 we find that the ultimate punishment
of the wicked is everlasting destruction. This actual passage we
will examine in greater detail later. In our own language the
word "destruction" has a range of meanings depending upon the
nature of the person or thing destroyed and upon the agency which
effects the destruction. Thus we may speak of the destruction of
a reputation, of a nation, of an animal, or of a person.
In all these cases the sense of the word is, or may be,
different. Again the result will be different if a person is
destroyed by a blow on the head, by drowning, or if he is
consumed in flames, but it may in all these cases be called
destruction. Again we may speak of a man being destroyed by
What sort of destruction is the second death?
Let us examine ALL the words that bear upon this final
destruction in Scripture.
DESTRUCTION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
There are twenty-eight Hebrew words for which the
translation "destruction" among others occurs in the Old
testament and of these 14 bear certainly or probably on the
second death. We will begin with these and then pass on to deal
with verbs meaning "to destroy."
There are four forms which stem from the great root AVD
meaning "to destroy," "to lose," "to perish" and corresponding
almost exactly to the Greek APOLEIA, APOLLYMI (see Rev.9: 11).
The forms are AVADDOH, AVADDON, AVDAN, and AVDAN (slightly
different in pronunciation). We may add OVED translated "perish."
OVED is used only of nations. Of the other forms there are 9
occurrences altogether, of which 8 refer to death that we know
and one (Job 31: 12) to final destruction in the second death.
This confirms the testimony of the words used for death that
death and final destruction in the second death are the SAME in
The word ES is usually translated "calamity," in a minority
of cases "destruction." It is used 4 times in a general sense.
These occurrences do not add anything to our argument. It is used
9 times of peoples, where it means "downfall." It occurs in 2
samuel 22: 19 and Psalm 18: 18, two recensions of the same psalm.
The psalm is Messianic and is one of the wonderful type psalms in
which the psalmist under the Spirit's inspiration composed words
suiting the situation of Christ Jesus Himself on the cross and to
be thought of as spoken by Him in that situation. Thus the
"calamity" here is the crucifixion, suffering and death of the
Lord Jesus. It is significant that this can be defined by the
same word as that used for the second death. It fits with the
facts, which we shall examine later, that the Lord Jesus suffered
the very punishment due to sinners.
The word ED is used 9 times out of its total of 24
occurrences of the second death. The passages are (1) Deut. 32:
35, "the day of their calamity is at hand." (2 and 3) Proverbs 1:
26, "I also will laugh at their calamity." The calamity is
described in the following verses as fear, desolation,
destruction, a whirlwind, distress and anguish. The wicked will
be slain and destroyed (verse 32).
All this is a vivid description of the effect of the day of
judgment upon the wicked. In the course of this description
appears the suffering which we learn from certain New
Testament passages that the wicked with undergo before their
destruction. We shall be noticing this later in the course of
this section. (4) Proverbs 6: 15, "Therefore shall his
calamity come suddenly." The day of judgment shall come
unexpectedly and instantaneously. (5) Job 18: 12, "destruction
shall be ready at his side." These are words of Bildad, which we
may take as Scripture in site of Job 42: 7, which means that the
three friends applied their words wrongly in Job's case and the
Lord's dealings with him, not that all that they said was untrue.
This cannot be so, as we find words of Eliphaz the Temanite
quoted by the apostle Paul as Scripture (Job 5: 12,13; and 1
Cor.3: 19). (6) Job 21: 17, "how oft cometh their destruction
upon them?" It comes to every wicked man when he dies, because
once he is in the grave his final destruction is inevitable...In
the same passage we have sorrows, destruction and the wrath of
the Almighty (verses 17,20). (7) Job 21: 30, "the wicked is
reserved to the day of destruction They shall be brought forth
(i.e. from the grave) to the day of wrath." (8) Job 31: 3, "Is
not destruction to the wicked ? and a strange punishment to the
workers of iniquity?" The word "punishment" is not represented in
the original. The fate of the wicked is called strange probably
because it was not God's original intention for mankind. (9) Job
31: 23, "destruction from God was a terror to me."
Thus we learn from the use of this word ED that the
destruction of the wicked is accompanied by suffering and that
there is an analogy between it and the suffering of the death of
In Micah 2: 10 the word GHEVEL translated "destruction"
could perhaps be applied to the sinner and the second death, but
it does not throw light on our argument. Its meaning is A CORD
and the sense stretched very wide. The best translation in this
verse would perhaps be "snare," as in Job 18: 10.
It is right here to mention the word KID and its interesting
occurrences in Job 21: 20, "His eyes shall see his destruction."
It does not seem certain that the pronouns in this sentence refer
to the same person, but assuming that they do it would not be
right to rely on this verse for the doctrine that the wicked is
conscious after destruction. The word KID occurs nowhere else,
and there is therefore no analogy by which we can understand its
exact meaning. Even if we insist that it refers to the
destruction of the wicked an the last day, it remains true that
he will see his destruction up to the last moment of losing
consciousness. The verse says nothing about what happens
subsequent to destruction.
The word M'GHITTAH occurs 11 times. It is translated twice
"terror," once "dismaying," once "ruin," and seven times
"destruction," all seven in the book of Proverbs.
It is only in Proverbs 21: 15 that we might think that the
word refers to the final destruction of the wicked. Terror,
dismaying and ruin are certainly accompaniments of this, whatever
be its form and nature.
The word MASHNOTH is used once of the destruction of the
wicked in Psalm 73: 18. It occurs again only in Psalm 74: 3,
where it means "destruction," and this is probably its root
The form QOTEV from the root QTV is found once in Hosea 13:
14 and applied to SH'OL, "the grave." It conforms what we read in
Revelation 20: 14, that SH'OL (Greek HADEES) will be cast into
the lake of fire.
In Isaiah 1: 28 the word SHEVER, translated "destruction,"
refers to the judgment of the wicked. Its meaning is "breaking,"
as many of its other occurrences show.
Another word sometimes translated "destruction" is SHOD. We
might think that in Joel 1: 15 it referred to the final judgment
of the wicked. Its root meaning is "robbery," "wasting,"
The word SHOAH occurring 12 times in all means destruction
or ruin and is sometimes translated "destruction." It is 6 times
translated "desolation" or "desolate," once "storm" (Ezek. 38:
9). It is used once as death as we know it (Psalm 63: 9) and 4
times of the second death (Psalm 35: 8, twice, Proverbs 1: 27 and
Prov. 3: 25).
In Proverbs 1: 27 we are brought back to a context in which
we found the word ED (see above). The use of this word shows us
that the second death is of the same nature as earthly death and
describes its onset as violent ruin. We must look to other
Scriptures to define and describe the second death more
Finally we have the Hebrew word SHAGHATH.This corresponds to
Greek DIAPHTHORA meaning "corruption," by which it is translated
in Acts 2: 27 from Psalm 16: 10.
It is used 3 times in a general sense and translated "pit"
or "ditch." Twice it refers in poetic language to the captivity
of Judah and is translated "pit" (Ezek. 19: 4, 8). It appears in
Psalm 16: 10 in David's famous prophecy of the resurrection of
Christ, "neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see
8 times it is used of death as we know it; (1) Isaiah 38:
17, which is Hezekiah's reference to the pit of corruption, out
of which he had been "loved;" (2) Isaiah 51: 14, referring to
death in the pit; (3) Jonah 2: 6, JONAH'S THANKSGIVING TO THE
LORD FOR BRINGING UP HIS LIFE FROM CORRUPTION; (4) Psalm 30: 9,
"what profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit ?"
(5) Psalm 49: 9, "that he should still live forever, and not see
CORRUPTION." This is a very significant verse.
It denies the immortality of man and says that instead he
will see CORRUPTION in the grave. (6) Job 17: 14, where the word
is again translated "corruption;" (7) Job 33: 18, "he keepeth
back his soul from the PIT."
We have looked at this chapter in out first section (under
"Death, Hell and Immortality"). (8) Job 33: 22, "Yea, his soul
draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers."
This same word is used 8 times in reference to the second
death. Its use clearly shows that like the grave the second death
is a place of CORRUPTION, the EXTINGUISHING if LIFE. The
references are Psalm 7: 15; 9: 15; 55: 23; 94: 13; 103: 4; Job
33: 24, 28, 30. This last verse seems more likely to refer to
PRESERVATION FROM eternal death, then of course it is the grave,
not eternal death that is spoken of.
GREEK WORDS FOR "DESTRUCTION"
The regular word used for the destruction of sinners in the
New Testament, often translated "perdition," is APOLEIA. It is
used 15 times of the second death.
The passages are: (1) Matthew 7: 13, where we find the broad
way leading to destruction and destruction contrasted with life
(2) John 17: 12, where Judas Iscariot is called "the son of
perdition," that is, the one destined for perdition.....(3) Acts
8: 20. Here the apostle Peter says: Thy money perish with thee,"
literally, "be with into perdition." (4) 2 Peter 2: 1: "damnable
heresies," that is, heresies which bring men to perdition (5) 2
Peter 2: 1 again. Those who introduce such heresies bring on
themselves swift destruction (6) @ Peter 3: 7. Here the apostle
speaks of the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (7)
2 Peter 3: 16, where the apostle speaks of those who wrest the
Scriptures to their own destruction (8) Romans 8: 22. Here the
apostle Paul speaks of "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction."
Destruction is contrasted with glory (9) Philippians 1: 28. The
apostle says that the calmness of believers in the face of their
adversaries is an evident token of destruction to the
adversaries. Destruction is contrasted with salvation (10)
Philippians 3: 19. The end of the enemies of the cross of Christ
is destruction. It is contrasted with the transformation of our
vile bodies to be fashioned like His glorious body, that is, with
a glorious resurrection (11) 2 Thessalonians 2: 3, where the man
of sin is called like Judas Iscariot the son of perdition (12)
Hebrews 10: 39. Here the apostle contrasts drawing back unto
perdition with believing unto the saving of the soul (13) 1
Timothy 6: 9, where the apostle speaks of foolish and hurtful
lusts which draw men in destruction and perdition (14 and 15)
Revelation 17: 8, 11. In both these verses we read of the beast
who finally goes into PERDITION. The beast is the great Roman
empire, spoken of as a whore in verse 8 and thought of in its
final form as the papacy in verse 11.
We see that in Romans 9: 22 APOLEIA is contrasted with
glory. Some may feel that this points to its meaning life in
ETERNAL MISERY. But this is not possible when we find it
contrasted in Matthew 7: 13 with LIFE, unless we strain the
meaning of the word "life away from its natural sense to mean
"eternal happiness," for which we have NO Scriptural warrant. If
we do so, we force meanings on to words found in Scripture which
they do not bear in any other literature (except theological
literature embodying this idea), nor in ordinary speech, and so
bring CONFUSION into the minds of readers. The opposite of LIFE
Again we find APOLEIA twice contrasted with salvation
(Phil.1: 28; Heb. 10: 39). In the latter case the Scripture says,
the salvation of the soul." We hope that those who have followed
our first section will understand that this means the
preservation of a man as a LIVING and CONSCIOUS personal entity.
The use of the word "drown" in Timothy 6: 9 may perhaps be
felt on the whole to strengthen our view of perdition, and the
two verses (8 and 11) of Revelation 17 makes it reasonably
certain. They speak of the great political and ecclesiastical
power going into perdition, and this can nothing but its total
destruction and extinction. This shows us the way to the true
nature of APOLEIA.
There are THREE further occurrences of APOLEIA which we need
to study. We find it in Acts 25: 16, where EIS APOLEIAN is
translated "to die." This refers to the death of course with
which we are so sadly acquainted. It is true that some ancient
texts do not contain these two words, but even if we accept their
absence the argument is unaffected, for the word had this meaning
for those who inserted it in the text.
Finally, we have TWO IMPORTANT instances of the use of the
word APOLEIA in two parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels.
Matthew 26: 8 and Mark 14: 4 we find, "To what purpose is
this waste?" The word "waste" represents APOLEIA. Our friends who
teach natural immortality make much of these two passages.
They say quite rightly that the ointment was not destroyed
or put out of being, actually did it change its form in any way.
What happened to it was that it was put to use which those who
asked the question considered a wrong one. To them it was a
waste, the equivalent of being poured down the gutter. Our
friends go on to argue wrongly that this is, or at least may be,
the meaning of the word in ALL its occurrences and that therefore
the WICKED, when DESTROYED, CONTINUE TO LIVE, but not for the
purpose for which they were created.
They do not see that in these TWO passages the word refers
to an INANIMATE substance but in ALL the other 16 occurrences to
PERSONS. This fact makes a fundamental DIFFERENCE to the MEANING
of the word. The final loss of a PERSON is something quite
different from the final loss of some ointment. The meaning
"waste" is an extension of the meaning "loss" and even in English
there is a great difference of meaning between the expression "I
have lost my pencil" and "I have lost my husband."
When we come in a moment to examine the words meaning "to
destroy" or "to perish," we shall see the senses in which the
words "loss," "lose," and "lost," can be properly used of
The SECOND NT word meaning "destruction," OLETHROS, occurs
only 4 times, but it is important from our point of view because
it is the word used in the phrase "everlasting destruction" (2
Thes. 1: 9), with which we began this part of our discussion.
This is the description of the PUNISHMENT of the WICKED. Now
of WHAT does this EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION consist? For those
ready to understand the word in its simple sense and natural
meaning there can be no doubt. It can only mean LOSS OF
LIFE and BEING. But our friends who believe in natural
immortality are obliged to interpret the word in the light of
that idea. Have they any justification for doing so?
The occurrences of the word in 1 Thessalonians 5: 3 where it
refers to the same thing as 2 thessalonians 1: 9 does not define
OR EXPLAIN THE DESTRUCTION, SO WE GET NO HELP. In 1 Timothy 6: 9
the word is joined with APOLEIA in a way that suggests that the
meaning of the TWO WORDS is the SAME.
This seems to be put beyond doubt by the first of the four
occurrences, which we find in 1 Corinthians 5: 5. Here we find
the apostle speaking of a man delivered to satan for the
destruction of the flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the
day of the Lord Jesus. Now what can the destruction of the flesh
mean but its total elimination? So here we find a proof of the
meaning of the word OLETHROS.
(I do not agree with Atkinson here. I do not see 1 Cor.5: 5
as proving that this Greek word in that passage means total
elimination. destruction of the flesh, in the way Paul uses it in
! Cor.5: 5 can mean less than total elimination or death as we
know it. Paul may have been simply saying that the man would be
put out of fellowship with the church, out of the covering
protective hand and Spirit of the Lord, because of his
unrepentant sin, and so could have Satan doing many things to his
flesh or physical life, yet not dying from such physical
troubles. The purpose being for such disfellowshipping and
allowing the man back into the world of Satan, was to bring him
to repentance and so back into a saved condition. The troubles of
the flesh this man could experience would be destruction
to a point, but not necessarily total elimination in death -
Everlasting destruction means the total elimination of those
subject to it. We shall find ample proof of this as we continue
our study of the use of words in the original languages.
(This is how some of the words will need to be understood.
In the light of the totality of the Word of the Lord on this
particular matter. And within that totality Atkinson is very
correct - everlasting destruction is total elimination in the
lake of fire which is the second death - Keith Hunt).
On the OTHER NT word translated "destruction." It is
SYNTRIMMA. It occurs only ONCE, in Romans 3: 16 in a quotation
from Isaiah 59: 7 and represents the Hebrew SHOD. Its underlying
meaning is "breaking." The verse does not seem to point to
eternal destruction but rather to the hard way of transgression
in this life.
HEBREW VERBS MEANING "TO DESTROY" OR "TO PERISH
There are 23 Hebrew verbs in the OT which are sometimes
translated "destroy," of which 13 refer in one or more instances
to the second death.
The MAIN word in this connection is the great root AVAD,
which occurs about 150 times. It refers directly to the second
death 7 or 8 times.
The word refers 9 times to the destruction of inanimate
objects, such as pictures, images, places of heathen worship,
gates and bars.....It is worth noting that no one would
think of the idols when cast into the fire as existing in the
flames for ever.....
In 9 passages the word means "bring to ruin" rather than
physical destruction.....It will be noticed that no person is the
The word is used about 43 times of the destruction of the
nation of Israel.....It is used over 30 times to mean "fail" or
"perish" of such things as counsel, wisdom or heathen
gods....Nothing that is spoken of as failing or perishing
continues AFTER it has done so.
The word is used once of a plant (Jonah 4:10) and once of
animals (Ezek.32:13). All will agree that there is no question of
It is used about 40 times of ordinary death.......
The passages in which we may see a direct reference to the
second death are as follows: (1) Numbers 24: 19.....(2) Deut. 7:
9, 10.....(3) Judges 5: 31.....(4) Psalm 9: 5.....(5) Psalm 9:
6.....(6) Proverbs 11:7.....(7) Job. 18: 17.....
Twice the great root appears in the form OVED. Though the
reference in each case is to a nation, the passage (Num.24: 20,
24) are striking and significant. They speak of perishing forever
and well illustrate the phrase "everlasting punishment."
There are 7 passages in which the word means "lost" in a
literal sense. Except for one general reference in Ecc. 3: 6 they
all refer to lost animals, oxen, asses or sheep.
We must not make these references a bias for forcing the
meaning "lost" or "lose" on the word as a whole. It is quite easy
to distinguish its meaning in Ezekiel 32: 13 from that in Ezekiel
34: 4, 16.
Thus we have examined the usage and occurrences of the great
root word AVAD. There are passages from which we might gather the
meaning to be "ruin," "fail," or "lose," but it can scarcely be
doubted from the majority of occurrences that the root meaning of
the word is to DESTROY in its literal sense......The use of the
word so often with reference to ordinary death confirms its
meaning and we shall find it further confirmed by other Hebrew
words and the NT.
The next word to which we call attention is BALA. It means
"to swallow up." It is used of the second death once in Psalms
21:9. The whole passage is found in verses 8 to 10. David says
that the Lord's hand will find out all His enemies and His right
hand those that hate Him. The time when this happens is the day
of judgment at the end of the world. "Thou shall make them as a
fiery oven in the time of thine anger." The time of His anger is
the day of judgment. Now does being made a fiery oven mean being
preserved and suffering in fire for ever? How does David go on?
"The Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall
To swallow up can only be a figure for disappearance and the
fire does to them what fire as we know it, always does, and what
we should naturally expect it to do.
There is no hint anywhere in Scripture that the eternal fire
functions in substantially any other way than the fire we
know......The palmist goes on to say that the Lord will destroy
their fruit from the earth and their seed from among men. If the
palmist wished to convey to us the consumption and extermination
of the wicked, what other language could he have used?
Surely anyone coming simply to the Bible without
preconceived ideas would understand this, and to force the
psalmist's words to mean life in eternal misery is simply
to twist his language.
If it be argued that the NT teaches differently, we have a
direct contradiction between the Testaments, an idea that no
Bible-believer ought to entertain for a moment.
Now we come to the word DACHA, translated "destroy" in Job
6: 9. It has a reference to the second death in Psalms 72: 4, "He
....shall break in pieces the oppressor." The root meaning is to
break. We may allow the reference to be figurative, but what does
it sound more like a figure of? Eternal life in misery? Or
Another word used in reference to the second death (Psalms
144: 6) is HAMAN. It is translated "destroy" both here and in
Exodus 23: 27, where it refers to the nations of canaan. "Cast
forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and
destroy them." The root meaning is to "break." We can hardly
imagine the shooting of arrows to lead to life in eternal misery.
In Psalm 28: 5 David is speaking of the wicked and the
workers of iniquity. He calls upon the Lord to destroy them and
not build them up. "Destroy" here is HARAS, which means "to break
down." If this were an isolated passage, we might regard it a
neutral to our argument. Our other passages explain the form and
meaning of the breaking down.
The word KATHATH is translated "destroyed" with reference to
the wicked in Job 4: 20. Its root meaning is to "beat down" or
"break in pieces." It occurs in deut.1: 44. We have already seen
that the fact of its occurrence in a speech of Eliphaz the
temanite makes no difference to its inspiration.
The last end of the wicked is referred to by David in Psalm
58: 7, "Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when
he bends his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be cut in pieces."
"Cut in pieces" represents the Hebrew MUL, which is translated
"destroy" in Psalm 118: 10, 11, 12. The root meaning is "cut in
All will probably agree that this is a figure of speech, but
is it is more likely to represent violent destruction, or eternal
life in misery? It is worth continuing through to the following
verses, "As a snail which melts, let every one of them pass away;
like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the
sun. Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them
away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath" (Ps.58:
8, 9). We will leave the reader to judge what picture he forms
from the words "melt," "pass away," "the untimely birth of a
woman," "take away as with a whirlwind."
We examined the great Hebrew word MUTH in a previous
section. We shall remember that it stands for death in general as
a result of sin, thus covering both ordinary death and the second
In Psalm 9: 5 we find another reference to the destruction
of the wicked, "Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast
destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and
ever." To destroy here is the Hebrew MAGHAH, which means "to blot
out." In the light of such a statement can the idea of the
eternal conscious like of the wicked in misery be any further
entertained? They are blotted out and their name put out for ever
and ever. If the psalmist wished to convey to us the idea of
extermination, what other language could he have used?
The word NATHATZ means to break down. It is translated
"destroy" in a reference to the second death in Psalms 52: 5.
David here says that the wicked man will be broken down for ever
and ever. He will be taken away and plucked out of his home and
rooted out of the land of the living. Here is another consistent
The word TZAMATH means to cut off. In three instances
(Lam.3: 53; Ps. 88: 16; Ps. 119: 139) it appears NOT to indicate
the end of life, as the writer can speak of having been cut off.
These can scarcely be taken as a norm, far less are they
sufficient to build a doctrine of the second death upon a view of
the unmistakeable meaning of the other words that we have
examined. In other instances TZAMATH is just as clear as they.
See for yourself Job 6: 17, where it is parallel with "be
consumed" or "be extinguished." Other occurrences are in Psalm
54: 5; 69: 4; 101: 5; 8; 143: 12; Job 23: 17. It is used of the
second death in 2 samuel 22: 41; Psalm 18: 40; 73: 27; 94: 23
Our next word SHAVAR means "to break." It occurs in Daniel
11: 26, translated "destroy." It is used of the second death in
Jeremiah 17: 18; Proverbs 6: 15; 29: 1.
SHAMAD is a word of fairly frequent occurrence, usually
translated "destroy." It is used 56 times of a family, once of a
land and 8 times of inanimate objects. It has 18 references to
death and 6 to the second death. These are in 2 Samuel 22: 38;
Isaiah 13: 9; Lamentations 3: 66; Ezekiel 34: 16; Psalm 37: 38;
TO "DESTROY" IN THE GREEK NT
The main word expressing this idea in the NT and covering
all but a very few of the occurrences of the English word
"destroy" is APOLLYMI. It corresponds in its various shades of
meaning almost exactly to the Hebrew AVAD. We shall do well to
examine its usage and search out its meaning very carefully.
It is used 9 times of inanimate objects. Wineskins are
destroyed when they burst (Mat.9:17). In the parallel passage in
Mark 2: 22 both the wine in the skins and the skins are
destroyed. I the further parallel passage the skins are again
destroyed on bursting (Luke 5: 37).
In Luke 21: 18 we have the Lord's promise that not a hair of
our head shall perish. This is best taken in a figurative sense
meaning that we shall not ultimately be touched or hurt in the
very slightest by our enemies or by evil.
I John 6: 27 the Lord contrasts the food that is perishing
with the food that abides unto life everlasting. This means food
that is connected with a perishing world.
The apostle James speaks of the flower that fades and the
beauty of its appearance perishes or is lost (James 1: 11).
Again the apostle Peter speaks of gold that perishes
(because it belongs to this world) (1 Peter 1: 7).
Finally in Hebrews 1: 11 quoting Psalm 102 we find that the
heavens will perish.
In these 9 instances we have meanings ranging in emphasis
from waste and loss through fading away and disappearance to
complete literal destruction (Hebrews 1: 11) and it is
significant that this last passage alludes to destruction by fire
(2 Peter 3: 7). All of these senses are applicable to the
destruction of the lost.
Linked with these 9 passages is the meaning "to lose." We
find 18 occurrences with this meaning, which we remember to have
been shared with the great Hebrew root AVAD. In the NT all the
passages are in the Gospels with one exception (2 John 8). It
is interesting and significant that 11 of these occurrences refer
to the losing of things, or to lost things, which can
subsequently be recovered or found, and 7 to a final loss from
which there is no recovery. This shows how the meaning of the
word changes with context and should prevent us from forcing a
single meaning on all occurrences of the word.
Among things lost which can be recovered are the lost sheep
of the house of Israel (Mat.10: 6; 15: 24); that which was lost
that the Son of man came to save (Mat.18: 11; Luke 19: 37); the
lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son of Luke 15 (verse
4 (twice), 6, 8, 9, 24, 32). This shows God regards sinners as
lost now already but found by Jesus and recovered by the Gospel.
This state of present spiritual loss or death is not however
to be identified with the final condition, as the usage in the
remaining 7 passages shows. These are Matt.10: 42 with its
parallel in Mark 9: 41 and all 5 Johannine passages (John 6: 12,
39; 17: 12; 18: 9; 2 John 8). In all of them the word expresses
finality and in numbers 2, 3 and 4 of the five refers to the
final loss of the wicked. I John 6: 39 it is contrasted with
being raised up at the last day. In John 17: 12 the noun APOLEIA,
translated "perdition," is used in close connection with the
The word occurs 10 times in the Gospels in the famous and
heart-searching sayings of the Lord about losing or destroying
the soul (Greek PSYCHE) in contrast to saving or finding it (Mat.
10: 39; 16: 25; Mark 8: 35; Luke 9: 24; 17: 33). We have
covered these passages before. The word carries in them the sense
Once it is used of the death of animals (sheep as
representing men) (John 11: 50).
APOLLYMI AND DEATH
There are about 28 cases in which human death is expressed
in the NT by the word APOLLYMI. The passages are quite
straightforward. They are Mat.2: 13; 8: 25; 12: 14; 21: 41; 22:
7; 27: 20; Mark 3: 6; 4: 38; 9: 22; 11: 18; 12: 9; Luke 8: 24; 9:
56; 11: 51; 13: 33; 15: 17; 17: 27, 29; 19: 47; 20: 16; John 18:
14; Acts 5: 37; 2 Peter 3: 6; Jude 5; 1 Cor. 10: 9; 15: 18; 2
Cor. 4: 9; Heb.11: 31.
Only 4 of these passages require any comment.
In John 18: 14 the word APOLESTHAI "perish" has an
alternative reading APOTHANEIN "die." This shows the identity of
the idea expressed by the two words.
In 1 Cor. 15: 18 the APOLONTO "are perished," though
covering the death with which we are familiar, carries in itself
the idea of finality. This passage shows us that only the fact of
resurrection prevents death from being final extinction.
In 2 Cor. 4: 9 in using the word APOLLYMENOI "destroyed" the
apostle is presumably referring to death. He may be speaking in
very general terms.
In Hebrews 11: 31 the word "with" is expressed by the prefix
to the main verb, so that we have the compound verb SYNAPOLETO.
The meaning is the same.
Thus in the minds of the NT writers to kill was to destroy
and to die was to perish. They would hardly have used such words
if they had thought of death as automatic translation to glory
and survival there in eternal happiness. The significance for our
present argument is that the same word is used to express both
death as we know it and the final second death.
The word refers in about 30 passages to the second death,
which it would be well to study one by one.
(1) Matthew 5: 29; the evangelist speaks of the perishing of
a member of the body, which results from its being taken out and
thrown away. The parallel is the whole body being cast into hell.
(2) Matthew 5: 30. This is the same in slightly variant
(3) Matthew 10: 28; both soul and body are destroyed in
(4) Matthew 10: 38; whoever find his life (Greek PSYCHEE,
"soul") will destroy it.
(5) Matthew 16: 25; again the same in rather different
(6) Matthew 18: 14; the heavenly Father does not will any
little ones to perish.
(7) Matthew 26: 52; the Lord's reference here to perishing
with the sword is presumably a reference to the final perishing
in the second death. It may include temporal judgment.
(8) Mark 1: 24; the unclean spirit asks if the Lord has come
to destroy them.
(9) Mark 8: 35. see number 4.
(10) Luke 4: 34; the same as number 8.
(11) Luke 6: 9; APOLESAI "destroy" in this verse is perhaps
best taken as a reference to death.
(12) Luke 9: 24; the same as number 4.
(13) Luke 9:25; parallel with the last.
(14) Luke 13: 3; an important passage. The Lord speaks of
perishing finally as identical with a violent death. This makes
the conclusion certain that ordinary death and the second death
have in common the destruction of life.
(15) Luke 13: 5; the same as the last.
(16) Luke 17: 33; the same as number 4.
(17) Luke 17: 33; the same as number 4.
(18) John 3: 15; to perish is the opposite of having
everlasting life. Here is a simple contrast between death and
life. There are no grounds in Scripture for twisting the word
"perish" here or elsewhere to mean everlasting life in misery, or
for twisting the words "everlasting life" to mean "everlasting
happiness." There are of course passages in Scripture to show
that those who possess everlasting life will enjoy everlasting
happiness, but the two concepts are distinct.
(19) John 3: 16; the same as the last.
(20) John 10: 28; here everlasting life is again opposed to
(21) John 12: 25; the same as number 4.
(22) James 4:12; salvation is again opposed to destruction,
not to misery or suffering.
(23) 2 Peter 3: 9; again the final destiny of the lost is
shown to be perishing.
(24) Jude 11; Though the word here is in the past tense for
grammatical reasons or literary effects, it clearly refers to the
final fate of the wicked. The following verses show that the men
of whom the apostle wrote alive at the time of the writing.
(25) Romans 2: 12; to perish is the consequence of sin. The
following sentence says this will happen at the judgment.
(26) Romans 14: 15; the use of the word APPOLLYE "destroy"
in this passage raises difficult theological problems, discussion
of which does not come within our scope here. Perhaps the
translation "lose" should be substituted, the word being used in
the evangelist Luke's sense as applicable to something or someone
that is recoverable though lost. If "destroy" is the correct
translation, the reference is presumably to the second death.
(27) 1 Cor. 8: 11; the facts and problems are the same here
as in number 26.
(29) 2 Cor. 2: 15; salvation is again contrasted with
(30) 2 Cor. 4: 3; as it stands in our version we again have
a reference to the final fate of the lost. It is possible that
the real meaning is "hid BY THE THINGS that are PERISHING."
(31) 2 Thes. 2: 10 ; the perishing are again of course the
The reader will have noticed that in the foregoing passages
there has several times (we might say many times) been a contrast
between salvation or eternal life and destruction or perishing,
and that never once has salvation or eternal life been contrasted
with everlasting misery or suffering. Some have thought that they
have seen it in Matthew 25: 46, a passage we shall take up in its
appropriate place and shall see that no such idea is there
carried. Now if the sinner were really faced with eternal misery
or suffering, is it conceivable that this should never be
directly stated or made clear when the contrast is made in
scripture, so faithfully and lovingly full as it is of warnings,
between the destines of the saved and the lost?
FURTHER GREEK WORDS IN THE NT
In the apostle Peter's sermon in Solomon's porch occurs the
word EXOLETHREUTHEESETAI, "shall be cut off," quoted from
Leviticus 23: 29. It refers in the OT to death and here to final
destruction, showing how the two can be spoken of in the same
terms. This word has the same root as OLETHRON, the word for
everlasting destruction in 2 Thes. 1: 9.
Another word is PHTHEIREIN. It occurs twice in 1 Cor.3: 17,
translated both "defile" and "destroy." Its original meaning is
"to corrupt," e.g. morally, or by false religion or propaganda. A
recognised sense is "to destroy." The form or method of
destruction is not specified.
A stronger word of the same root and meaning is
DIAPHTHEIREIN, used twice in Rev.11: 18, the first time meaning
to destroy and referring to the judgment and the second death. It
is used with reference to ships in rev.8: 9.
Finally the word KATHAIREIN is used of the destruction of
the seven nations in Canaan (Acts 13: 19) (in quotation from
Deut. 7: 1). It is not used of the final destruction of the
End of part one from the chapter called "The Doom of the Lost" in
Basil Atkinson's book entitled "Life and Immortality." To be
continued with part two from the same chapter.