In Part 1 of this article we highlighted the erro­neous view of Evolutionary Creationism (EC) relating to the subject of death. We noted that in the OT the Hebrew word for death (muwth) occurs around 800 times and always refers to the ordinary idea of death – the cessation of mortal existence – and this was the result of the sentence passed upon Adam in consequence of his sin. Accordingly, the biblical concept of “death” that came by sin is in no wise distinct from the end result of mortality and is not a judicial sentence of “eternal death” at the judgment seat of Christ as defined by proponents of EC. Clause 5 of our Statement of Faith is clear that God’s sentence of death on Adam was a physi­cal death: “A sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being”.

The Apostle Paul’s expression “as in Adam all die” refers to all humanity and is not limited, as EC insists, to those who are responsible to judgment and die eternally. Christadelphians believe that Adam was the progenitor of the entire human race and we are all physically “in Adam” from birth till death. While we conditionally become “in Christ” at baptism, ultimately the only way “out of Adam” is when “this mortality puts on immortality” and physically we become part of a new spiritual race “in Christ”.

In addition, it was shown that as EC advocates have redefined death, they also need to limit the use of the word sin to personal transgressions and, moreover, the diabolos needs to be restricted to a state of mind that is only associated with those who have sufficient knowledge of God’s laws to be responsible to the judgment seat (in contrast to Christadelphian understanding that post the fall, the diabolos exists in every single person). It was demonstrated these EC doctrines are unscriptural and completely out of harmony with the BASF.

In Parts 2 & 3, we will examine the NT’s teach­ing on death in some detail.

Death Reigns Irrespective of a Knowledge of God’s Laws

Those promoting EC views point out that “death” and “mortality” are different Greek words with different meanings and that death spoken about in the Bible is not the end result of mortality. EC pro­ponents also teach that prior to Adam’s sin, evolved humans existed, lived and died as the ‘beasts that perish’ and as God’s law was unknown to them, sin as a concept did not exist and therefore death as a punishment for sin simply could not apply. This is shown by the quotations on the previous page.

In other words, death is only a punishment if one’s sins are brought to account. But this is not taught in the Scriptures.

In the NT the Greek word “death” (thanatos) appears in contexts describing those who die with­out any knowledge of God’s laws. Here are a few examples:

  • “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (Rom 5:14)
  • “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to sal­vation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Cor 7:10)

While it is correct to say that sin results in a “spiritual” estrangement from God (Isa 59:1-3), in the book of Romans the apostle Paul is nonetheless primarily talking about physical death, as can be seen from Romans 5:14 as quoted above. Firstly, the apostle is teaching that death (thanatos) reigned over everyone born between the time of Adam and the time of Moses. Secondly, he is teaching that in this intervening period all died even though they had not sinned like Adam nor were themselves subject to the Law of Moses.

How could that be? As the apostle said previ­ously in verse 12, the sentence of death upon Adam in consequence of his sin “passed through all.” Clause 5 of our Statement of Faith explains this by stating that the sentence on Adam “became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.” It is a physical consequence run­ning through the race as a result of Adam’s sin. All of humanity were born subject to death (thanatos) even though many, if not most, had no knowledge of God’s laws. And rightly so, because even in ignorance, they were still sinning or falling short of God’s glory, as per the case of “all flesh” being destroyed at the time of Noah’s flood because “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).

1 John 3:4 contains the well-known definition of sin as “transgression of the law” (KJV), but as many other translators render it “sin is lawlessness” (RV, ESV, NIV, NASB, YLT). In Romans 3 the apostle Paul defines sin as “falling short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23), so that “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17). Hence sin is falling short of God’s glory or righteousness, and includes acts of both omission and commission, which applies to everyone including those who do not know God’s laws (Rom 2:12; Rom 3:23; Rom 5:13; Rom 14:23; Jas 4:17; Gal 3:22; 1 John 5:17). Even under the Law of Moses itself, a sin offering was required for sins of ignorance (Lev 4:2-3).

Hence, the concept of sin cannot be restricted to disobedience by those who have knowledge of God’s laws. We live in a world where all are sin­ning and falling short of God’s glory and death (thanatos) reigns over the entire human race, and this is all in consequence of Adam’s sin in the be­ginning. God’s laws serve the purpose of shining the spotlight on our sins so that the full seriousness of our sins becomes visible: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom 3:2); so that sin “might be seen in its true light as sin, in order that by means of the commandment the unspeakable sinfulness of sin might be plainly shown.” (Rom 7:13 WNT).

The New Testament Usage of Death and Mortality

Like the Hebrew word muwth, the Greek noun thanatos and the verb thnesko contain no inher­ent idea that qualifies “death” as being “eternal”. If the words “die” or “death” are replaced with “eternally dying” or “eternal death” then all that is left is confusion. For example, consider inserting the EC concept of “eternal death” at the judgment seat of Christ into the following verses where thanatos occurs:

  • “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to [eternal] death” (Matt 20:18). How is it possible for the Jewish leaders to condemn anyone, let alone Jesus Christ, to eternal death?
  • And he [Peter] said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to [eternal] death.” (Luke 2 2 : 33). Why would Peter be willing to go to­gether with Jesus to eternal death? Why would he think Christ is going to the EC concept of eternal death in the first place?
  • “This spake he, signifying by what [eternal] death he [Peter] should glo­rify God.” (John 21:19). How could Peter’s eternal death glorify God?
  • “And Pilate marvelled if he were already [eternally] dead” (Mark 15:44). How would Pilate know that Christ had suffered the EC concept of eternal death after crucifying him?
  • “But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was [eternally] dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” (Acts 25:19). The EC view that thanatos refers to eternal death at the judgment seat of Christ is completely contradicted by the existence of the resur­rected Christ.
  • “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in [eternal] deaths oft.” (2 Cor 11:23). How could the apostle Paul experi­ence “eternal death”, or be close to “eternal death”, repeatedly?

The Second Death

The Bible teaches that those who are judged unworthy of eternal life at the return of Christ will be subject to a “sec­ond death (thanatos)” (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14). If thanatos by itself means “eternal death”, how is it possible to die eternally twice? This verse can only make sense if one has first been subject to the nor­mal thanatos associated with mortality this side of the return of Christ, and then sentenced to a “second thanatos” (ie to die again) after be­ing resurrected at the judgment seat of Christ. Importantly, on occa­sions where the Bible is referring to a second death at the judgement seat of Christ, it indicates this specifically with the word “second”. Hence, EC advocates have no basis to assume that the word “second” is prefixed to any other instances of “death” (thanatos) in the NT.

Death and Mortality Are Interchangeable Terms

There are at least two occasions in the NT where both words “death” (Gk thana­tos) and “mortal” (Gk thnetos) are used in the same context as related words to de­scribe the same con­cept:

  • So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54)
  • “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal (2 Cor 4:11)

Note that 1 Corinthians 15:54 clearly informs us that the terms “mortal” (thnetos) and “corrup­tible” (phthartos) are interchangeable with “death” (thanatos). The swallowing up of death is contextu­ally defined as the change from being mortal and corruptible to being immortal and imperishable. There was no conceptual difference between death and mortality in Paul’s exposition. He uses them as related terms. From a concordance perspective, the words “death”, “corruptible” and “mortal” are all different Greek words, but this does not mean they are referring to different unrelated concepts any more than the hope for those in Christ to be “made alive” (v22) or “quickened” (Gk zoopoieo), is unrelated to the hope of incorruption (aphtharsia) and immortality (athanasia). In each case, different, but interchangeable Greek words are used to refer to the same concept.

Moreover, the phrase “death will be swallowed up in victory” (v54) is echoed by a similar phrase in 2 Corinthians 5:4 – “that mortality might be swal­lowed up of life”. In both cases the same Greek word “swallowed up” (Gk katapinō) is used, the overall meaning of a change in nature to immortality is the same, the only difference is that 1 Cor 15:54 has “death” (Gk thanatos) whereas 2 Cor 5:4 uses mortality” (Gk thne­tos). Once again, this proves that death and mortality are directly related and refer to the same process.

The very phrase “O death (thanatos) where is thy sting” (1 Cor 15:55) is expressed in the context of a physical change from mortality to immortality and refers to the ultimate victory achieved by Christ over the problem of sin and death. It is a clear reference to Genesis 3:15 when God announced the “enmity” that would exist between the serpent (a creature that has a venomous sting) and the seed of the woman in consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, and at the same time promised that the seed of the woman would gain the ultimate victory by delivering a fatal blow to the serpent and remove its ability to “sting” and inflict death.

Christ Destroyed that which has the Power of Death – The Diabolos

Genesis 3:15 speaks about the “enmity” that would exist between the serpent (a symbol of lies, deceit, sin, and our sin prone nature) and the woman (a symbol of truth), between the seed of the woman (those who follow truth) and the seed of the serpent (those who follow their sin prone nature), as well as the ultimate conflict between a singular seed of the woman (the Lord Jesus Christ) and the serpent (his sin prone nature or the diabolos).

We know that the promise in Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled when Christ finally destroyed the diabo­los on the cross after he had lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father’s will. The “enmity” in Christ’s case was the conflict that existed between his Father’s will on the one hand, and the oppos­ing promptings of “the serpent”, “the diabolos” or his fleshly thinking on the other. This conflict was evident every day of his life, as he suppressed and put to death the flesh or the diabolos, and lived to do the will of his Father. The “works of the diabolos” (1 John 3:8) are actual sins, but the diabolos itself is the root cause of the problem and stands for our sin-prone death-stricken nature. We are all born with this nature in consequence of Adam’s sin, and it is constantly prompting us to sin (Luke 4:2; John 8:44; James 4:7; Rev 20:2).

By his own death Christ was able to destroy or “crush the head” of “that which has the power of death, that is the diabolos” (Heb 2:14). This was possible because he was a sinless bearer of our identical sin prone nature. He “resisted” even “unto blood” (Heb 12:4) the enemy of the diabolos that he was born with in consequence of Adam’s sin, which enemy has produced sin in every other member of Adam’s race. His sacrificial act, which was a temporary “bruising of the heel”, in turn meant that his nature would be changed from mortality to immortality following his resurrection and the diabolos completely destroyed.

In part 3 we will look in detail at how Jesus himself was subject to death (thanatos), which makes the EC understanding of Eternal Death simply impossible, and examine what the Apostle Paul was teaching in Romans 6 where he concludes that the “wages of sin is death.”