There are several prophecies about the impending punishment of Satan and other evil spirits. These prophecies point to one climactic event far into the future during which Satan will be terminated. This biblical study reveals both why and when Satan will cease to exist in any dimension of God's vast realm.
THE SOVEREIGN GOD
One of the first things to understand is that there is a vast difference between eternal life and immortal life. Before one can begin to understand the subject of eternal life and immortality, one must understand who controls eternity and immortality and what constitutes being eternal and immortal.
In Paul's acknowledgment of the majesty of God, he reveals that the God he refers to is the king:
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1.Tim.1:17 KJV).
Here, the English word King is translated from the Greek word baslou, which conveys the sense of one who is the foundation of power (i.e., the sovereign authority).
Paul also says that this sovereign God is eternal, immortal, and invisible, and must be given honor and glory forever. In this verse, the English word 'eternal' is a translation of the Greek word aion, which means ages (i.e., perpetuity or eternal). And the English word immortal is a translation of the Greek word aphthartos, which means 'will not decay', 'continuance of life', or 'ever-living'.
he God Paul refers to in this verse is God the Father, the Sovereign God, who has authority and control over all that exists and all that is eternal or immortal.
As Paul continues to instruct Timothy, he says the following:
“I charge you before God [God the Father] who makes all things alive, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good witness for God to Pontius Pilate, that, you keep the commandment, spotless and blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who in his own time will reveal the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; the only One who has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen” (1.Tim.6:13-16 Para.).
Verses 13 through 16 also show that God the Father is sovereign over all things, including Jesus Christ and the qualities of life defined as eternal and immortal.
Verse 13 reveals that there is a God who has the power to give life to all things, and that this God is someone other than Jesus Christ.
Verses 14 and 15 show that it is Jesus Christ who reveals the Sovereign God who is “the only potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Although Jesus Christ is also called the King of kings and Lord of lords, he is never called the only potentate. In these verses, the English word, potentate is a translation from the Greek word dunastes, which means 'one of great authority'.
Jesus was to reveal the one with great authority. And the only being who is greater than Jesus is God the Father. Jesus refers to God the Father as the sovereign over all things in heaven and earth:
“You have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said I go to the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (Jn.14:28 KJV).
“And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape” (Jn.5:37 KJV).
In verse 16, Paul also reveals that the Sovereign God (God the Father) who is the only potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords has all authority and control over immortality. The English word, has in verse 16 is a translation of the Greek word eho, which means 'to hold', 'to posses', or 'to own'. Moreover, the English word immortality in verse 16 is a translation of the Greek word athanasia, which means 'deathlessness', 'never dying', 'a continuance of life.'
No Man has Seen the Sovereign God
“No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (Jn.1:18 KJV).
Here, John cannot be referring to the Mighty One of ancient Israel, because men did see, hear, and speak to him face to face; John is speaking of the Sovereign God—God the Father. See our study paper about the identity of God and the God family.
It is clear from what Paul says in 1.Timothy 1:17 and 6:13-16 that God the Father not only is eternal and immortal but also has sovereign authority and control over the conditions of existence defined as eternal life and immortality. The following are qualities of the Sovereign God to whom Paul refers:
What are Eternal Life and Immortality?
Who Controls Life and Death?
This study shows that God the Father has reserved to himself the power to destroy spirits-beings as well as humans who violate his principles, precepts, and laws. The following scriptures show beyond a doubt that God the Father has absolute control over life and death:
Jesus said , “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt.10:28 KJV).
Although the Creator God who became Jesus Christ had authority and control over life and death (Deut.32:39-40; 1.Sam.2:6; 2.Kg.5:7), God the Father has absolute control over all life:
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (Jn.5:20-23 NIV).
The God Who Cast Off Immortality
The apostle John reveals that, as the Creator God, Jesus cast off his immortality in order to become human and experience life and death as a human:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shined in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. . .He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” (Jn.1:1-14 KJV). See also Matthew chapters.1-4.
Despite the many scriptures that speak of Jesus being a member of the God family, many people still feel that he was only a human being who did not pre-exist. John records Jesus telling the Jews of his pre-existence:
"Jesus said to them, (AMEN AMEN LEGO HUMON PRIM ABRAHAM GINO-MAI EGO EIMI [I am]) Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (Jn.8:58-59 KJV).
The reason the Jews tried to kill Jesus is that he said he had existed before Abraham, so they believed he was claiming to be the Creator God of Abraham. The Jews considered Jesus' claim to be blasphemy.
“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (Jn.16:28; 3:13 KJV).
Here, Jesus says that he came from the Father into the world AGAIN. What did Jesus mean by again? If we understand that Jesus was the Creator God (Jn.1:1-12; Heb.1:1-3), this statement is not a mystery. The word again is translated from the Greek word palin, which means 'once more', 'repetition', or 'again.' As the Creator and the God of ancient Israel, he came to earth many times. Remember, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and many others talked, ate, and fellow-shipped face to face with the Creator.
Clearly as the Creator God, Jesus had existed before his creation of humanity. Moreover, he set aside his position as second in authority in the God family to become a human being. This is shown in his prayer to the Father before his death and resurrection:
“And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (Jn.17:5 KJV). See Jn.8:38-59; 17:24.
Jesus, The God Who Died
Despite the fact that there are many scriptures that clearly state that Jesus was totally dead, some still believe the totality of Jesus did not really die. In the first chapter of Revelation, the apostle John records his encounter with Jesus Christ who says he is the God Alpha and Omega (Rev.1:8):
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev.1:17-18 KJV). See also Rom.6:8-10, Acts 2:24-32; 3:15,26.
The Greek Interlinear Bible translates the phrase was dead, in verse 18, as I became dead. The Greek word used for dead here is corpse. The Alpha and Omega says he was a dead body, but is now alive forever.
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things says the first and the last: who became dead [was a corpse], and lived” (Rev.2:8 Para.). Notice again that the Alpha and Omega (the Savior) says that he was totally dead at one time.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb.2:9 KJV).
“Your attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not think it was wrong to be as the Sovereign God. Jesus did not cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his power and glory, taking on the form of a man: And humbled himself even further, by allowing himself to unjustly be put to death as a criminal on the cross” (Phil.2:5-8 Para.).
Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things (Jn.1:1-3), was an immortal spirit-being that inherently possessed the highest form of existence: life that springs forth from itself, never dying or decaying. A being who was not subject to death emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man. Then, he, allowed his creation to murder him. Not only did this immortal being voluntarily give up his life but also died an agonizing physical death and completely ceased to exist as a living entity for a short time. See Lk.24:1-7.
“Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal.1:1 KJV). See also Acts 4:10, 5:30, 10:40; 13:30.
Jesus was completely dead; he ceased to exist. All that remained of him was the spirit and physical records of his existence. Even these could have been completely destroyed and erased, if the Father had willed it (Matt.10:28; Lk.12:4-5). It is important to understand that Jesus would have remained dead forever—never to live again—if his Father had not resurrected him from the dead.
It is also important to understand the enormity of what had taken place during Jesus' life and at his death. During this time, God the Father was the only eternal and immortal being in existence.
CAN SPIRIT-BEINGS DIE?
The Bible says that God the Father and Jesus Christ are immortal and the Father controls who is given eternal life and immortality. Presently the only immortal spirit-beings are God the Father and Jesus Christ. Although many people believe that all spirit-beings are immortal because they are composed of spirit, this is not true. As Jesus explained the punishment that will be given those who refuse to live righteously after they are called to salvation, he reveals the punishment reserved for Satan and other evil spirits:
“Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt.25:41 KJV).
Why is a fire prepared for Satan and the evil spirits under his control? It makes no sense to prepare a fire to cast evil spirits into unless they can be harmed by this fire.
Angelic Beings are Eternal, not Immortal
Many assume that angels have immortal life and cannot die because of the following statement Jesus made about those accounted worthy of eternal life not being subject to death and being equal to the angels:
“And Jesus answering them said, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, do not marry, nor are given in marriage: Nor can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Lk.20:34-36 Para.).
In verses 34 and 35, Jesus is only answering the Sadducees' question of marital status in the Kingdom of God; he is not addressing the question of eternal life or immortality. He explains that marriage is only for humans and is not necessary in the spirit world. Angels are created beings, which do not procreate as humans do. Likewise, when the children of God are transformed into spirit-beings, they will neither marry nor procreate.
Verse 36 does not say angelic beings are immortal. It just says that the resurrected saints will be in a condition similar to the angels. However, unlike the angels who have eternal life which can be destroyed, people who participate in the first resurrection are given immortal life as sons of God. Because these children of God are immortal, they have life that springs forth from itself which never dies or decays and is not dependent on any other source to sustain it; therefore, they cannot die (1.Tim.1:17, 6:12-16, Heb.2:9:10; 1.Cor.15:50-56).
Angels are not immortal spirit-beings; they are eternal beings, which have their life sustained by the power of God. Eternal life can be terminated, which is documented by the many scriptures that show the destruction of evil spirits.
Spirit-beings Can Die
Can spiritual beings die? Yes, spirit-beings are subject to death under certain conditions. God the Father has ultimate power and authority over all that he has caused to be created, including evil spirits. However, evil spirits want us to believe that they are immortal beings that will live forever. Nevertheless, they are not immortal; they are only eternal.
While explaining the necessity for a child of God to have faith with works, the apostle James makes an interesting statement about evil spirits and their fear of God:
“What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute not having daily food, and one of you says to them, depart in peace, be warmed and filled, and does not give them the things which are needful to the body. What does it profit? Therefore, faith, without works, is dead, being alone. Yes, man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (Jms.2:14-19 KJV Para.).
What is it that evil spirits know about God that would make them tremble in fear? This question is answered in Mark's account of Jesus meeting a man in a synagogue who was possessed with a demon:
“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with you, you Jesus of Nazareth? are you come to destroy us? I know you, you are the Holy One of God” (Mk.1:23-24 KJV; Lk.4:33-35).
In verse 24, the English word destroy is a translation of the Greek word appolumi, which means 'to destroy fully', 'complete destruction', 'to perish', or 'to die'. This same word is used many times to describe the utter destruction of individuals and places (Matt.10:28, 12:14, 21:41; Lk.17:29). All of these examples of the word apollumi are used to convey utter or complete destruction. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for destroy mean 'the destruction and cessation of existence'.
The question the demon asks is important because it tells us three essential facts about evil spirits:
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev.20:1-3 KJV). See also Isa.24:21-22.
At the beginning of the millennium, this powerful evil being will be bound and held in a prison for a thousand years, after which he will be released for a short time. But what will happen to him after his release? Will he be allowed to continue his existence or will he be destroyed?
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev.20:7-10 NIV).
If this translation of verse 10 is taken at face value, it seems to say that Satan will be cast into a lake of fire to be tortured for eternity. But, does the phrase for ever and ever mean an eternity in the original Greek language?
For Ever and Ever
The English phrase for ever and ever in verse 10 is a gross mis-translation of the original Greek phrase eis tous aeonas ton aionon, which means, 'to the ages of the ages'. A more correct translation of verse 10 is as follows:
“And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were. And shall be tormented day and night until the age of ages.”
Satan will not endure everlasting punishing; he will have his existence terminated; he will cease to exist forever. The age spoken of in verse 10 is the termination of an age. It is the time when the existence of physical humans on earth will end. Moreover, it is a time when a new age will begin and the mystery of what God is doing here on earth will be revealed.
Satan Will Die
After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, the Creator God gave a prophecy about the termination of Satan's existence:
“And I will put enmity [separation] between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen.3:15 KJV). The woman's seed is a reference to Christ.
The Hebrew word for bruise' is 'shoof ', which means 'to crush' or 'strike at'. Because Satan is referred to as a serpent, it makes sense that Satan is the serpent that would try to distroy the Savior. Almost all Bible scholars agree that this verse is speaking about the Savior who will come and triumph over Satan. Satan would strike at the heel and damage it a little bit. But, Christ will crush the head of Satan; thereby, he will destroy him.
“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Rom.16:20 KJV).
The Greek word suntribo translated as bruise in verse 20 means 'to crush' or 'to completely shatter.' In other words, it means 'to destroy'.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb.2:14 KJV). See also 2.Thes.2:8.
In verse 14, the English word destroy is a translation of the Greek word katargeo, which comes from the root argeo, which means 'to render entirely useless.' It can also mean 'to abolish', 'to cease', 'to vanish away', or 'to utterly destroy'. Christ will utterly destroy Satan.
There is nothing in the Greek word katargeo that indicates anything other than destruction; it does not show that Satan will continue to live. Indeed, it indicates he will be utterly destroyed. Verse 14 also shows that Jesus has the power to destroy Satan.
Satan the Lawbreaker
“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jn.8:44 KJV).
Satan and other evil spirits were cast out of the Kingdom of God because of their rebellion (Rev.12:1-9). They are against the law of God and will not conform to it willingly. Moreover, they willfully break the laws of God and obey only what God imposes upon them by force.
A Covering Cherub Will Die
Ezekiel chapter 28 contains the prophecy about the physical king of Tyrus and the destruction of the evil cherub who possessed him.
“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers . . .” (Ezk.28:12-14 KJV).
Verses 13-14 do not describe the physical King of Tyrus; they describe someone completely different. The only kind of being that could fit this description has to be from the spirit realm of existence. These verses show the magnificence and beauty of a powerful spirit-being who was created to hold a powerful position within the Kingdom of God.
“And I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezk.28:14-16 KJV).
The English word destroy in verse 16 is a translation from the Hebrew word abad. In the Old Testament this word is translated as destroyed, perished, and to destroy and to perish. As it is used in Ezekiel 28, the word abad, cannot mean anything other than total destruction. These scriptures prove beyond doubt that this powerful spirit-being will have his life terminated and will cease to exist.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more” (Ezk.28:17-19 KJV). Note: A more correct translation of the last part of verse 19 is, “You shall never be a terror anymore.”
The fire that will come from within this powerful spirit-being will consume him; he will be destroyed and turned to ashes. The judgment and punishment for this spirit-being has already been made—his fate is sealed. He will be destroyed by fire for his rebellion. Remember, the penalty for committing willful sin is death (Rom.6:23).
It is important to understand that the Lake of Fire in which evil spirits and humans will be cast is a physical place that burns with physical fire. Because both evil spirits and people will be destroyed by the same physical fire (Matt.25:40-41; Rev.20:7-10) and turned to physical ashes that will be trodden under the feet of the righteous (Mal.4:1-3), it seems likely that God will change evil spirits into fleshly beings before they are destroyed by this fire.
IS THERE A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH?
We have learned that evil spirits can be destroyed; however, is there a fate worse than death reserved for some evil spirits? Notice what some evil spirits asked Jesus:
“When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. ”What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs were feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs” (Matt.8:28-31 NIV). See also Lk.8:26-33.
What did these demons fear? Did they fear death or something worse than death? They asked Jesus if he had come to torture them before their appointed time. What torture and what time were they referring to? Actually, some of these evil beings will suffer a fate far worse than death.
Raging Waves and Wandering Stars
Jude's letter is mainly a warning to the elect about the false brethren who were among them. But it also includes information regarding two types of punishment for evil spirits.
Jude verses 5-7; 13 KJV
“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day [See 2.Pet.2:4]. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (vs.5-7).
What Jude reminds them of was common knowledge at that time. Verse 6 shows that some of these rebellious angels are chained in a prison of darkness until the day they will be punished by fire. However, in verse 13, Jude makes a statement about a second group of rebellious angles. His statement explains what torture the demons who met Jesus at the tombs were concerned about:
“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (v13).
The following are translations of words from the original Greek text that show the severity of the punishment noted in Jude, verse 13:
Because there is no reference to the death of these evil spirits, the indication is that this prison of blackness and darkness is a place they will never leave. Moreover, it is probably where they shall be confined to wander alone forever.
For a sentient being, there could be no greater or torturous punishment than to be totally cut off from all other beings and left alone with one's thoughts in total darkness forever. This is the torment that demons fear more than death. Some demons are already experiencing this torture, which is indicated in Jude 6 and 2.Pet.2:4.
There are scriptures that say no evil will be allowed in the new heavens, the new earth, or the Holy City (See 2.Pet.3:10-13; Rev.21:1-27). This seems to contradict the scriptures that say some of the demons will be punished by being left alive in total darkness. However, not allowing any evil presence in the new heavens and earth does not preclude the existence of another dimension of time and space outside of where the God family exists (See 1.Pet.3:18-20; 2.Pet.2:3-5).
The current physical and spiritual realms are an example of two separate dimensions of time and space that exist concurrently; therefore, there is no reason to believe that God cannot design and create as many separate dimensions of time and space as he deems necessary for whatever purpose he desires.
It is obvious from the scriptures that all spirit-beings do not have immortal life. If they did, they could not be destroyed. All spirit-beings besides the Father and those of the New Creation can only possess eternal life as long as they are obedient to the Father. Although the majority of evil spirits will be destroyed in a Lake of Fire (Matt.25:41), some will suffer a fate worse than death for their rebellion against God.
God's prophetic plan for humanity is right on schedule and Satan's death is sure; he will die for his rebellion against the Sovereign Father. The fulfillment of prophecies concerning Satan's death and the punishment of all evil spirit-beings and wicked humans will bring to a close the Sovereign Father's plan for his human creation which began with the first two humans in the garden of Eden. We are not told what will happen after Satan's death; however, the apostle Paul said, “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (1.Cor.2:9 KJV).
Whatever the Sovereign Father has planned for the
future after the final climactic event that destroys all evil from his kingdom,
we can be sure that it will be extremely interesting, exciting, and enjoyable.
By B.L Cocherell
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