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Are there three kinds of death?

Submitted: 8/7/2008
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Question: I have heard some teach that there are three kinds of death: 1. physical death, 2. spiritual death, and 3. eternal death. How are these kinds of death connected with our salvation?

Answer: Physical death occurs when a person stops breathing and his heart stops beating. When this happens, the Bible says, 'Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
and the spirit will return to God who gave it' (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Spiritual death could be referring to either of two things. First, it could be describing the condition of unsaved people whom the Bible describes as being 'dead in trespasses and sins' (Ephesians 2:1). This means that a person is alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18)and has nothing to look forward to but death (Romans 6:23).

Spiritual death could also be referring to repentance, which is a death to self and sin. As Paul said in Romans 6:2, 'How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?' This spiritual death is a prerequisite to water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, which is described as a burial (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12).

As for the term 'eternal death,' we believe the more accurate term is 'the second death.' Revelation 21:8 says, '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.' This is the death that we should all desperately want to escape from.

Thankfully there is an escape. In Revelation 2:11 Jesus says, 'He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.' How do we overcome? 1 John 5:5 says, 'Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?' Jesus is our salvation from the second death. He is the resurrection and the life. 'Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power...' (Revelation 20:6).