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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)

Angels in the End Times - Part 3

Angels in the End Times - Part 1
Angels in the End Times - Part 2
Angels in the End Times - Part 3
Angels in the End Times - Part 4

One Final Note about the Devil and Abaddon One last thing that we must take note of with regard to the Devil and Abaddon in the end times is that Abaddon's work is repeatedly described as following or "after" that of the Devil. There are several descriptions, which indicate this. First, Abaddon does not begin to work until the Devil has already been cast out of heaven to earth and releases Abaddon from the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1-11, Revelation 12:7-14). Second, Abaddon's destructive work through the Antichrist follows the satanic lying signs that the Devil will perform through the False Prophet (2 Thessalonians 2:3, Revelation 13:1-18). Third, with respect to his end time presence, Abaddon is described as the eighth king, while the Devil is the seventh king, thus the Devil precedes Abaddon slightly in the end times chronology (Revelation 17:10-11). So, we are repeatedly told that first comes the Devil and second comes Abaddon.

Having concluded our study of the chief adversarial angels, the Devil and Abaddon, we will now move on to the second aspect of our study identifying Death and Hell.

Death and Hell - Who are they?

Revelation 6:7-8 introduces two figures into the end times events. The beings referred to in this passage are called Death and Hell.

Revelation 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

To understand who these two figures are we must (as proper Bible interpretation always requires) put ourselves in the mindset of the writer and the audience to whom the text was given. To do this we must understand how the ancient world used and understood Death and Hell as beings.

The ancient world, with its pagan mythologies and deities, understood death and hell on several levels. In the first case, they understood these terms in a common manner in much the same way as we might now. Death was the state of man when the spirit is separated from the physical body. Hell is the place where dead humans and some supernatural beings reside. However, the ancient world also thought of Death and Hell as real supernatural beings; specific gods who held dominion over the things that they were named after.

In the Greek mythology Death was known as the god, Thanatos, and Hell, called Hades, was the god of the underworld (which was also called Hades). The Romans also knew these deities. To them Death was named Mors and Hell was Somnos. Of course, these are only examples to illustrate the point that Death and Hell were commonly thought of as figures or supernatural beings in ancient cultures.

Death and Hell in the Old Testament

But, the heathen were not alone in these concepts. The Jews and Christians of Old and New Testament times also understood Death and Hell as real beings. There are several passages in the Old Testament for instance that describe death and hell (or destruction) in this manner.

Job 28:22 Destruction (11) and death (4194) say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

Job 28:22 describes Destruction and Death as speaking. Isaiah also ascribes personal abilities to them.

Isaiah 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death (4194), and with hell (7585) are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

Isaiah 28:18 And your covenant with death (4194) shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell (7585) shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

In Isaiah 28, Death and Hell are said to be parties with whom the Jewish leadership would make a covenant. Since, the first party involved in this covenant are meant to be understood as real beings (the Jewish leadership) and covenants take place between multiple real parties, not mere poetic devices or states of being, we can likewise assume that the other parties (Death and Hell) are also meant to be understood as actual beings. (Further support that this conclusion is valid will follow below.)

The Hebrews words that are employed in these passages for Death and Hell are:

011 'abaddown {ab-ad-done'}
intensive from 06; TWOT - 2d; n pr loc
AV - destruction 6; 6
1) place of destruction, destruction, ruin, Abaddon

04194 maveth {maw'-veth}
from 04191; TWOT - 1169a; n m
AV - death 128, die 22, dead 8, deadly 1, slay 1; 160
1) death, dying, Death (personified), realm of the dead
1a) death
1b) death by violence (as a penalty)
1c) state of death, place of death
07585 sh@'owl {sheh-ole'} or sh@ol {sheh-ole'}

from 07592; TWOT - 2303c; n f
AV - grave 31, hell 31, pit 3; 65
1) sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit
1a) the underworld
1b) Sheol - the OT designation for the abode of the dead
1b1) place of no return
1b2) without praise of God
1b3) wicked sent there for punishment
1b4) righteous not abandoned to it
1b5) of the place of exile (fig)
1b6) of extreme degradation in sin

(NOTE: There is no need at this point to distinguish between Hell and Destruction since as we have seen from the definitions in Revelation regarding Abaddon, these two terms are closely related and can be equally applied to a single being. That this is the case in the above passages will become apparent as we continue our study.)

Now it is possible that these passages are simply employing the literary device of personification for the purposes of dramatic emphasis. As we move on we will see why there is no need to consider this to be the case, because the Bible does, in fact, refer to Death and Hell as actual beings. To prove this we will go on to the New Testament passages, which describe Death and Hell as actual beings. (We have already looked at the one of them Revelation 6:7-8.)

Death and Hell are Angels

We have just stated that it is possible that the Bible merely personifies Death and Hell as a poetic device. However, there are five reasons that compel us to conclude that these two figures are, in fact, angels.

1) First, the New Testament Greek words used for Death and Hell were those used for the Greek gods of Death and Hell. Because these words were used in the pagan culture of the time to refer to specific deities, they carried the notion of Death and Hell as persons, not just experiences or places. When they are used in the Bible then we cannot leave out this meaning that would have been known and understood by the original audience.

2288 thanatos {than'-at-os}
from 2348; TDNT - 3:7,312; n m
AV - death 117, deadly 2; 119
1) the death of the body
1a) that separation (whether natural or violent) of the soul and the body by which the life on earth is ended
1b) with the implied idea of future misery in hell
1b1) the power of death
1c) since the nether world, the abode of the dead, was conceived as being very dark, it is equivalent to the region of thickest darkness i.e. figuratively, a region enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and sin
2) metaph., the loss of that life which alone is worthy of the name,
2a) the misery of the soul arising from sin, which begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body in hell
3) the miserable state of the wicked dead in hell
4) in the widest sense, death comprising all the miseries arising from sin, as well physical death as the loss of a life consecrated to God and blessed in him on earth, to be followed by wretchedness in hell

86 hades {hah'-dace}
from 1 (as negative particle) and 1492; TDNT - 1:146,22; n pr loc
AV - hell 10, grave 1; 11
1) name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions
2) Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead
3) later use of this word: the grave, death, hell
In Biblical Greek it is associated with Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits. Usually Hades is just the abode of the wicked, Lu. 16:23, Rev. 20:13,14; a very uncomfortable place. TDNT.

2) Second, we have seen that angels do in fact reign and are granted dominion. Likewise, Romans informs us that Death has power and dominion (Daniel 8:12-13, 20-21, Luke 4:5-6, Job 1:12, Job 2:6, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, Revelation 13:2, 1 Corinthians 2:6, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:16, Colossians 2:15).

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death 2288 reigned 936 from Adam to Moses.

Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence death 2288 reigned 936 by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign 936 in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death 2288 hath no more dominion over 2961 him.

3.) Third, Death is described in 1 Corinthians as an enemy. This same word for enemy is used to describe the angelic adversaries. This further indicates that Death and Hell are two of the angelic adversaries.

1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy 2190 [that] shall be destroyed [is] death 2288.

The word enemy that is used to describe Death in 1 Corinthians 15:26 is the Greek word echthros (Strong's #2190).

2190 echthros {ech-thros'}
from a primary echtho (to hate); hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); TDNT - 2:811,285; adj
AV - enemy 30, foe 2; 32
1) hated, odious, hateful
2) hostile, hating, and opposing another
2a) used of men as at enmity with God by their sin
2a1) opposing (God) in the mind
2a2) a man that is hostile
2a3) a certain enemy
2a4) the hostile one
2a5) the devil who is the most bitter enemy of the divine government
When we compare the definition for echthros with other Greek words that are used to describe the adversarial angels we can see that there is much correspondence with lends to the idea that Death is a particular angelic adversary or enemy.

4567 Satanas {sat-an-as'}
of Aramaic origin corresponding to 4566 (with the definite affix); TDNT - 7:151,1007; n pr m
AV - Satan 36; 36
1) adversary (one who opposes another in purpose or act), the name given to
1a) the prince of evil spirits, the inveterate adversary of God and Christ
1a1) he incites apostasy from God and to sin
1a2) circumventing men by his wiles
1a3) the worshippers of idols are said to be under his control
1a4) by his demons he is able to take possession of men and
inflict them with diseases
1a5) by God's assistance he is overcome
1a6) on Christ's return from heaven he will be bound with chains for a thousand years, but when the thousand years are finished he will walk the earth in yet greater power, but shortly after will be given over to eternal punishment
1b) a Satan-like man

(NOTE: It is important to understand that the Greek word "satanas" (Strong's #4567) is applied generally and does not have to convey the Devil himself. It is used to speak of anyone acting in an opposing manner, including Peter (Matthew 16:23), and is also applied in general to the adversarial angels (Matthew 12:26, Mark 3:23, Mark 8:23.) One of the reasons we know this is that Jesus tells us in John 12:31 that the prince of this world would be cast out then and yet we see in Revelation 12:7-14 that the chief adversary is not cast out of heaven until 42 months before the coming of the kingdom of god. This means that there is more than one angel that is called by the description "satan." To be precise, as we have covered earlier, there are at least seven that would fit this title (Revelation 12:3, Revelation 17:10).)

4.) Fourth, the word "echthros" (2190) that is used to refer to Death in 1 Corinthians 15:26 is used elsewhere in the New Testament as a reference to the angelic adversaries and even to the Devil himself.

Matthew 13:39 The enemy 2190 that sowed them is the devil 1228; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Additionally, we know that the angelic rulers will all be made subject to Jesus, just as also Death will be made subject to Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:26). Earlier we covered several New Testament verses, which referenced Psalm 110. All of these passages spoke of Jesus enemies being made subject to him. Of particular note was Hebrews 1:13's use of the Greek word "echthros" to refer to these angelic enemies. (Again, this is the same word 1 Corinthians 15:26 uses to refer to Death.)

Psalm 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." 2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies (2190) thy footstool?

Hebrews 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor 8 and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

These passages tell us that the enemy is the Devil and all of the angels allied with him and his kingdom. But specifically this would include the succession of seven angelic kings explained in Revelation 17. As we recall, each of these angelic kings is cast from heaven in connection with their coming to rule on earth (Revelation 17:10, Revelation 9:1, Revelation 12:7-14).

In the same manner Psalms 110 explains that Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father's throne in heaven until all of his enemies are made subject to him. Yet Hebrews tells us that at the present time (when that epistle was written) not all had been made subject to him. This is similar to Revelation 17:10 where we are told that only five of the seven angelic kings had fallen at the time of the writing of that book. Since then, Abaddon, the sixth angelic king has been bound in the bottomless pit. This leaves the seventh angelic king, the Devil himself, who remains in heaven until 42 months before the coming of the kingdom of God, and is not bound until the kingdom comes. And also, Death, which 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us will be the last enemy to be destroyed.

5.) Fifth, the lake of fire, the second death was intended for the devil and his angels and this is where Revelation ultimately places Death and Hell. (The first two verses from Revelation are included in order to demonstrate the precedent that exists in this book in referring to Death and Hell as persons, the first of which we have already covered.)

Revelation 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Revelation 9:6 And in those days shall men seek death 2288, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death 2288 shall flee from them.

Revelation 20:14 And death 2288 and hell 86 were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Now, the interesting thing about Revelation 20:14 comes by way of Matthew 25:41's statement to the "goats."

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

In this passage Jesus informs us that the everlasting fire is prepared for the Devil and his angels. Here in Revelation 20 we see that Death and Hell are cast into this eternal fire, identified as the lake of fire. Therefore, we know that Death and Hell are actual beings. But we also have further reason to make this conclusion because this place of eternal fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. And Revelation 20 tells us that Death and Hell are, in fact, among these satanic angels who will find their place in the eternal fire. Although many humans will unfortunately also end up there, Death and Hell, cannot be interpreted as men, since this would not fit well with what the Bible tells us about them. For instance, Death and Hell are said to exist and act over a large period of human history, yet men have very short life spans. Romans 5:14, 17, for example, states that Death reigned from Adam until Moses. Clearly an angelic ruler is in mind here and not a man.

From all of these verses we can see that the Bible identifies Death and Hell as two of the angelic adversaries since Death and Hell reign and have dominion. Second, both the angelic adversaries and Death and Hell are identified as enemies using the same Greek word. Third, both the angelic adversaries and Death and Hell are or will be made subject to Jesus Christ. And fourth, Jews and Christians during the writing of the Old and New Testaments understood Death and Hell, not just as concepts, but also as specific beings, using the names of pagan gods to refer to them in the Bible, and writing about their activities.