Humanity was created to be immortal, to never die. There are two deaths, a first death and a second death. Then there are two types of death, one death will be permanent and one death will be a transition to life. Some people will find permanent death, but others will find immortality. The Living God, our Creator, did not make death. Our Heavenly Father takes no pleasure in the destruction of the living. But there are some who have made a covenant with death, calling death a friend. Many will perish, but there is a way to immortality. Who will live immortally and who will not? The disciples always asked about the time of the new heaven and earth, they were not concerned with the immediate future of paradise and heaven. Why is that? There are some Apocryphal writings that explain these ideas with more detail. When we look at them we can see a broader picture of immortality and why people attempted to hide these works from us.
Paul told us that when Jesus calls from the clouds at the time of the harpazo, the living righteous mortals will put on immortality. The righteous dead will put on incorruption making them immortal. One day we will be able to announce that death and the grave have no victory. When will that day be? At the end of the age, the day death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire at the end of seven thousand years. Let’s look at these words for immortality and incorruption and see what we can learn.
I Cor 15:53G1163For it is necessary G1063 G3588 G5349this corruption G3778 G1746to put on G861incorruptibility, G2532and G3588 G2349this mortal G3778 G1746to put on G110immortality.
54G3752But whenever G1161 G3588 G5349this corruptible G3778 G1746should have put on G861incorruptibility, G2532and G3588 G2349this mortal G3778 G1746should have put on G110immortality, G5119then G1096shall come to pass G3588the G3056word G3588 G1125having been written, G2666[2was swallowed down G3588 G22881Death] G1519in G3534victory.
110 LSJ Gloss: ἀθανασία immortality
Dodson: ἀθανασία immortality immortality, imperishability, freedom from death.
1) undying, immortality, everlasting
ἀθανασία athanasia ath-an-as-ee'-ah From a compound of G1 (as a negative particle) and G2288; deathlessness KJV Usage: immortality.
861LSJ Gloss: ἀφθαρσία incorruption
Dodson: ἀφθαρσία indestructibility, incorruptibility, immortality
indestructibility, incorruptibility; hence: immortality.
1) incorruption, perpetuity
2) purity, sincerity, incorrupt
2) purity, sincerity, incorrupt
ἀφθαρσία aphtharsia af-thar-see'-ah From G862; incorruptibility; generally unending existence; (figuratively) genuineness KJV Usage: immortality, incorruption, sincerity.
862 LSJ Gloss: ἄφθαρτος uncorrupted, incorruptible
Dodson: ἄφθαρτος imperishable, incorruptible indestructible, imperishable, incorruptible; hence: immortal.
1) uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable
1a) of things
2a) of the risen dead
1a) of things
2a) of the risen dead
ἄφθαρτος aphthartos af'-thar-tos From G1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of G5351; undecaying (in essence or continuance) KJV Usage: not (in-, un-) corruptible, immortal.
Immortality is freedom from death. Some people will not experience death because Jesus will call from the clouds before they die. Others will only die the first death, a death from their earthly body. Righteous people will change to become immortal. They will become imperishable. Jesus has become imperishable, incorruptible, and immortal. Paul calls Jesus the King of the eons. If one is a king of the ages, one has to be immortal and that is what Paul tells Timothy.
1 Tim 1:17G3588And to the G1161 G935king G3588of the G165eons, G862incorruptible, G517unseen, G3441only G4680wise G2316God, G5092be honor G2532and G1391glory G1519to G3588the G165eons G3588of the G165eons. G281Amen.
If we are going to be immortal and Jesus is immortal, we have something to look forward to. Shouldn’t immortality be taught so that everyone can make the choice? What if one chooses something else?
Solomon is the individual who can expand our understanding of immortality. How do we attain immortality? What details should we know? Why do some choose death?
Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-7 (KJV Apocrypha)
1 Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good (heart,) and in simplicity of heart seek him.
2 For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and sheweth himself unto such as do not distrust him.
3 For froward thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise.
4 For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin.
5 For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.
6 For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: for God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
7 For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.
The first key to immortality is loving righteousness. We are to seek the Lord with a simple heart. We engage with the Spirit of Wisdom, the Holy Spirit. Solomon is contrasting bad behaviors here with the right behaviors. Then he says something interesting.
Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-15 (KJV Apocrypha)
12 Seek not death in the error of your life: and pull not upon yourselves destruction with the works of your hands.
13 For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.
14 For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:
15 (For righteousness is immortal:)
Do not seek death. Do not harm yourself. God did not make death. God has no pleasure in the destruction of the living. Righteousness is immortal. Those ideas are life changing. How many times do we question Yahweh as to why people have died tragically and suddenly? How many times have we tried to ease the burden of our own sting of death by saying “God is in control”? Yahweh has no pleasure in death, and He did not create death. He would rather humans live eternally. Now look at the next verse.
Wisdom of Solomon 1:16 (KJV Apocrypha)
16 But ungodly men with their works and words called it to them: for when they thought to have it their friend, they consumed to nought, and made a covenant with it, because they are worthy to take part with it.
Ungodly men with their works and words called death to them. They wanted death as their friend. The ungodly consumed death for nothing. They essentially gain nothing. Even though in this life they seem to gain something, riches, pleasures, they truly gain permanent death. They made a covenant with death. The ungodly are worthy to take part with death. Notice how the ungodly reasoned themselves into a covenant with death.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:1-21 (KJVApocrypha)
1 For the ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave.
2 For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart:
3 Which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air,
4 And our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof.
5 For our time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again.
This is why the ungodly made a covenant with death. They did not believe there was any type of life after this life on earth. This is a perspective that imagines that there is nothing but this life to live, so why not live to satisfy our own selves. Live for pleasure, live for lust, what else is there? It is a faulty logic that causes many to perish of their own accord.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:6 Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth.
7 Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments: and let no flower of the spring pass by us:
8 Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered:
9 Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness: let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and our lot is this.
The ungodly do not stop here. They move on to become oppressors of the righteous. There is an interesting progression of behavior to be aware of. This is the broad path to destruction and the behaviors along the way tell us just how close to death the ungodly really are.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:10 Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged.
11 Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.
Now the ungodly and their covenant of death are attacking the righteous, the widows, and the elderly. They are using the law, frivolous lawsuits and litigations to dominate others because the ungodly deem others as feeble and worthless. Solomon could have been writing this today, couldn’t he? It gets better. Remember, this is the ungodly who have made death their friend and made a covenant with death.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:12 Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education.
Maybe we see this happening today and we did not have an explanation for it. We generally want to think of others as good rather than malevolent. We may have talked ourselves out of the truth; the ungodly are attacking the righteous because of their covenant with death. Solomon tells us why the ungodly hate the righteous.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:13 He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord.
14 He was made to reprove our thoughts.
15 He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men's, his ways are of another fashion.
The righteous profess to have the knowledge of God. The righteous call themselves children of the Lord. The righteous reprove the ungodly peoples’ thoughts. The ways of the righteous are of another fashion. This is why the ungodly hate the righteous. Solomon goes on.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:16 We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father.
The ungodly actually know the truth. They understand that the righteous know that they, the ungodly, are counterfeits. The righteous pronounce their own end, their end to life on earth, to be “blessed”. The righteous boast that God is their Father. The ungodly know this, but they still made a covenant with death. The ungodly made death their friend.
If we wonder why the media is in such turmoil today, and it seems that no one can tell the truth, nor report a story without hateful emotions, Solomon goes on to explain. Again, it is as if Solomon is writing for our time, the age we live in. This is what the ungodly say:
Wisdom of Solomon 2:17 Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him.
18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.
19 Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience.
20 Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.
The ungodly person attacks those that are righteous, expecting that God will help him. The ungodly don’t seem to mind God delivering the righteous out of the hand of their enemies. Isn’t that strange? Knowing that righteous people have a God that delivers them does not make the ungodly fearful. Why? It may be as Paul told Timothy; their conscience has been seared due to their covenant with death.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (KJV)
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
If people sear their own conscience, then they have made a choice. They have chosen death intentionally, rather than life. They are holding on to the devil’s side and the devil leads them to death. Solomon tells us their own wickedness has blinded them.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:21 Such things they did imagine, and were deceived: for their own wickedness hath blinded them.
Then Solomon goes on telling us that the ungodly don’t know the mysteries of God. They are willing to attack the righteous for being righteous. They are not afraid of the God who delivers the righteous. The ungodly do not understand that man was created to be immortal.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:22-24 (KJVApocrypha)
22 As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls.
23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.
24 Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.
Solomon tells us that whoever wants to hold the devil’s side will find death. That is a shame because Jesus is giving everyone multiple opportunities to avoid permanent death. Jesus took the keys to the kingdom of death and hell. At the end of the millennial kingdom, everyone in death and hades will be judged. There are three places mentioned here, the sea, death, and hell.
Revelation 20:12-15 (KJV)
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Death and hell are abolished along with the ungodly. This is the permanent death. Then comes the new heaven and the new earth. This is what the disciples kept asking about. This was their vision of the future. They were not concerned with paradise, heaven, or the end time war, they always asked about the new heaven and the new earth. Why? Because there will be no death and no evil there.
Solomon goes on. He is quite adept at explaining our world and the future to come.
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 (KJV Apocrypha)
1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them.
2 In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery,
3 And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace.
4 For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.
5 And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.
6 As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering.
7 And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.
Solomon tells us that the righteous will judge nations and have dominion over the people. Isn’t that the song the redeemed saints sing when they get to heaven and are watching Jesus take the scroll?
Wisdom of Solomon 3:8 They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
9 They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth: and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him: for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect.
There is always a choice given to mankind. While it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to make a covenant with death, we know that people do it. We know that evil still permeates our world, but evil is not immortal. Evil comes to an end at the end of the age.
To gain immortality one has to have the Spirit of Wisdom.
Wisdom of Solomon 8:1-4 (KJVApocrypha)
1 Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily: and sweetly doth she order all things.
2 I loved her, and sought her out from my youth, I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty.
3 In that she is conversant with God, she magnifieth her nobility: yea, the Lord of all things himself loved her.
4 For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and a lover of his works.
Wisdom is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God. If we want to know the mysteries we should ask the Spirit of Wisdom.
Wisdom of Solomon 8:13-17 (KJV Apocrypha)
13 Moreover by the means of her I shall obtain immortality, and leave behind me an everlasting memorial to them that come after me.
14 I shall set the people in order, and the nations shall be subject unto me.
15 Horrible tyrants shall be afraid, when they do but hear of me; I shall be found good among the multitude, and valiant in war.
16 After I am come into mine house, I will repose myself with her: for her conversation hath no bitterness; and to live with her hath no sorrow, but mirth and joy.
17 Now when I considered these things in myself, and pondered them in my heart, how that to be allied unto wisdom is immortality;
To be allied unto Wisdom is immortality. We need the Holy Spirit of Wisdom to be immortal.
Wisdom of Solomon 15:1-3 (KJVApocrypha)
1 But thou, O God, art gracious and true, longsuffering, and in mercy ordering all things,
2 For if we sin, we are thine, knowing thy power: but we will not sin, knowing that we are counted thine.
3 For to know thee is perfect righteousness: yea, to know thy power is the root of immortality.
To know the Living God is perfect righteousness and to know His power is the root of immortality. We can know about His power or we can know His power. The ungodly know about His power because they know He will deliver the righteous, and interestingly enough the ungodly have no fear of the Living God.
Sirach 19:18-20 (KJV Apocrypha)
18 The fear of the Lord is the first step to be accepted of him, and wisdom obtaineth his love.
19 The knowledge of the commandments of the Lord is the doctrine of life: and they that do things that please him shall receive the fruit of the tree of immortality.
20 The fear of the Lord is all wisdom; and in all wisdom is the performance of the law, and the knowledge of his omnipotency.
Jesus gives the overcomer to eat from the tree of life. Where is this tree? It is in paradise.
Revelation 2:7 (KJV)
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Ezra’s revelation is a wonderful comparison to John’s revelation.
2 Esdras 2:42-48 (KJV Apocrypha)
42 I Esdras saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs.
43 And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly.
44 So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these?
45 He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms.
46 Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands?
47 So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord.
48 Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.
This compares to Revelation 11 after Jesus is crowned. Now Ezra has more insight for us. We might understand this section as Jesus’ words regarding the narrow straight gate and the broad path to destruction.
2 Esdras 7:1-9 (KJVApocrypha)
1 And when I had made an end of speaking these words, there was sent unto me the angel which had been sent unto me the nights afore:
2 And he said unto me, Up, Esdras, and hear the words that I am come to tell thee.
3 And I said, Speak on, my God. Then said he unto me, The sea is set in a wide place, that it might be deep and great.
4 But put the case the entrance were narrow, and like a river;
5 Who then could go into the sea to look upon it, and to rule it? if he went not through the narrow, how could he come into the broad?
6 There is also another thing; A city is builded, and set upon a broad field, and is full of all good things:
7 The entrance thereof is narrow, and is set in a dangerous place to fall, like as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water:
8 And one only path between them both, even between the fire and the water, so small that there could but one man go there at once.
9 If this city now were given unto a man for an inheritance, if he never shall pass the danger set before it, how shall he receive this inheritance?
Understand, the Angel is describing the narrow path to enter into something better. As Jesus also said, it is easier for a rope (not a camel) to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. This is Israel’s path to walk. It is also the path of the followers of Jesus.
2 Esdras 7:10-17 (KJV Apocrypha)
10 And I said, It is so, Lord. Then said he unto me, Even so also is Israel's portion.
11 Because for their sakes I made the world: and when Adam transgressed my statutes, then was decreed that now is done.
12 Then were the entrances of this world made narrow, full of sorrow and travail: they are but few and evil, full of perils,: and very painful.
13 For the entrances of the elder world were wide and sure, and brought immortal fruit.
14 If then they that live labour not to enter these strait and vain things, they can never receive those that are laid up for them.
15 Now therefore why disquietest thou thyself, seeing thou art but a corruptible man? and why art thou moved, whereas thou art but mortal?
16 Why hast thou not considered in thy mind this thing that is to come, rather than that which is present?
17 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, thou hast ordained in thy law, that the righteous should inherit these things, but that the ungodly should perish.
After Adam’s sin, the paths to immortality were made narrow. Ezra says the entrances of the past were wide. Remember the tree of life in the garden? That was the reason Adam had to leave the garden after he sinned, otherwise he would have been in an eternal death state, out of the sight of the Creator. Death is not eternal, it has an end. People will not be left in eternal death or hell and tormented for eternity. The people who choose a covenant with death will eventually cease to exist. So, on the one hand it is true what some believe, that there is no life after they die. That is true for them; they chose to cease to exist after awaiting judgment and being tormented in hades.
The Angel goes on to explain that only the righteous will see the wonders that are to come, such as the Bride of Christ. The angel continues explaining that the Messiah will come to earth, will die, and after the seven thousand years all the dead will be judged.
Ezra then makes a good point, he mentions all those who have prayed for others and were spared. Shouldn’t we pray for the ungodly? The Angel goes on.
2 Esdras 7:41-53 (KJV Apocrypha)
41 Even so now, seeing corruption is grown up, and wickedness increased, and the righteous have prayed for the ungodly: wherefore shall it not be so now also?
42 He answered me, and said, This present life is not the end where much glory doth abide; therefore have they prayed for the weak.
43 But the day of doom shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is past,
44 Intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up.
45 Then shall no man be able to save him that is destroyed, nor to oppress him that hath gotten the victory.
This present life is not the end. The day of doom is the end of the seven thousand years. Remember that Jesus will have been reigning on the earth for the previous thousand years when satan is loosed one last time. The satan will go out to deceive the nations and there will be some, even under Jesus’ rule, that will perish. The beginning of immortality will start after the white throne judgment. Ezra comments:
2 Esdras 7:46 I answered then and said, This is my first and last saying, that it had been better not to have given the earth unto Adam: or else, when it was given him, to have restrained him from sinning.
47 For what profit is it for men now in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment?
48 O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee.
49 For what profit is it unto us, if there be promised us an immortal time, whereas we have done the works that bring death?
50 And that there is promised us an everlasting hope, whereas ourselves being most wicked are made vain?
51 And that there are laid up for us dwellings of health and safety, whereas we have lived wickedly?
52 And that the glory of the most High is kept to defend them which have led a wary life, whereas we have walked in the most wicked ways of all?
53 And that there should be shewed a paradise, whose fruit endureth for ever, wherein is security and medicine, since we shall not enter into it?
Ezra’s lament is exactly what we might consider today. Why give such responsibility to Adam, and then why not stop him from turning over the earth to the devil? And what good is it for people to die and enter into punishment? What good is it if people are promised immortality, but have only lived the works of death? This is where we wish Yahweh would just take control over everyone and make everyone good and righteous, and give all people eternal life. But it doesn’t work that way. As Paul told us, it is like the casting of lots or the rolling of the dice as to who will choose immortality or permanent death. All are given the choice; what will people choose? If people have made a covenant with death, then after their bodies expire, all there is for them is torment until the time death, hell, and the unrighteous are consumed in the lake of fire.
Ezra also points out that we have become vain, or we think too highly ourselves because we have been promised an everlasting hope; immortality. We are promised dwellings of health and safety, but we are living wickedly. We must live a wary or cautious life. We have been shown paradise, but we have to walk the narrow path to enter it. Ezra is saddened over the prospect that even with this knowledge of our future (that is immortality and paradise to come), we might not enter in if we forsake righteousness.
The Angel explains this is what Moses meant when he said; “…choose life that you might live”. He was speaking of eternal life, immortality. But people didn’t believe him then and still don’t believe Moses’ words today. Ezra then recounts the goodness of our God.
2 Esdras 7:59-70 (KJVApocrypha)
59 For this is the life whereof Moses spake unto the people while he lived, saying, Choose thee life, that thou mayest live.
60 Nevertheless they believed not him, nor yet the prophets after him, no nor me which have spoken unto them,
61 That there should not be such heaviness in their destruction, as shall be joy over them that are persuaded to salvation.
62 I answered then, and said, I know, Lord, that the most High is called merciful, in that he hath mercy upon them which are not yet come into the world,
63 And upon those also that turn to his law;
64 And that he is patient, and long suffereth those that have sinned, as his creatures;
65 And that he is bountiful, for he is ready to give where it needeth;
66 And that he is of great mercy, for he multiplieth more and more mercies to them that are present, and that are past, and also to them which are to come.
67 For if he shall not multiply his mercies, the world would not continue with them that inherit therein.
68 And he pardoneth; for if he did not so of his goodness, that they which have committed iniquities might be eased of them, the ten thousandth part of men should not remain living.
69 And being judge, if he should not forgive them that are cured with his word, and put out the multitude of contentions,
70 There should be very few left peradventure in an innumerable multitude.
2 Esdras 8:1 (KJVApocrypha)
1 And he answered me, saying, The most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few.
Ouch! The Angel’s words sting. The world was made for many, but immortality is only for a few. Jesus gave us an option. We can choose either life with him as Messiah and Lord, or we can choose the covenant of death. There is an in-between, one where neither choice is made. That future is left up to the white throne judgment. Remember, unsaved people are in two places after they die on earth, either death or hell.
Humility is key, not vanity. There are a great many mysteries that the righteous will see take place, and a great many miseries for the ungodly. Paradise is opened and the tree of life is planted.
2 Esdras 8:46-55 (KJV Apocrypha)
46 Then answered he me, and said, Things present are for the present, and things to cometh for such as be to come.
47 For thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I: but I have ofttimes drawn nigh unto thee, and unto it, but never to the unrighteous.
48 In this also thou art marvellous before the most High:
49 In that thou hast humbled thyself, as it becometh thee, and hast not judged thyself worthy to be much glorified among the righteous.
50 For many great miseries shall be done to them that in the latter time shall dwell in the world, because they have walked in great pride.
51 But understand thou for thyself, and seek out the glory for such as be like thee.
52 For unto you is paradise opened, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, plenteousness is made ready, a city is builded, and rest is allowed, yea, perfect goodness and wisdom.
53 The root of evil is sealed up from you, weakness and the moth is hid from you, and corruption is fled into hell to be forgotten:
54 Sorrows are passed, and in the end is shewed the treasure of immortality.
55 And therefore ask thou no more questions concerning the multitude of them that perish.
As we looked at repentance last week we noted that we should not manipulate the unsaved into salvation. We looked at simply stating what is to come and allowing others to make that decision. We can see why people tried to destroy the apocryphal works. We can also see why the disciples always looked ahead to the new heaven and earth, rather than to paradise or heaven. These “apocryphal” writings were available in their day. The disciples knew what Solomon and Ezra wrote.
The intensity of Solomon and Ezra’s words are scary and yet informative. Paul sums this up quite well, but when we compare it to what Solomon and Ezra have said we get a broader picture.
Romans 2:5-9 (KJV)
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
Without the background knowledge that Solomon and Ezra provide, we see this section of Romans rather flatly. There is no dimension to Paul’s words. But once we understand there is a covenant people make with death, we comprehend Paul’s words far better. People intentionally choose to hold on to the devil’s side. The path to immortality is narrow, and the future immortality will only be for a few because people will choose death. Yet our Creator did not create death, nor did he choose for man to perish. Our Creator made humans to be immortal, but when sin entered in by way of Adam, humans could have been left in a state of eternal death. Instead, the tree of life was closed off to Adam and his heirs until the righteous enter paradise at the time of their earthly death. The unrighteous and ungodly await final judgment in either death or hell before the new heaven and new earth are made available.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul points out that Jesus abolished death. Not at this moment, but Jesus set the course in motion by His own death so that death will be abolished in the lake of fire. Jesus has made a way for death to have a final end. There will be no more death for humankind in the new heaven and earth. This is why the disciples looked ahead to this point in time. They saw life and immortality in the future.
2 Timothy 1:6-14 (KJV)
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
Paul takes us full circle. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, the Spirit of Wisdom; and Wisdom only dwells with the righteous. The ungodly will persecute us just like they were persecuting Paul. To them we look feeble and death looks strong. Yet the ungodly simply contend that the God of the righteous will deliver his own from their hand, so they do not care to stop persecuting the righteous. This is the narrow way to immortality. It was not created this way, the way to immortality used to be broad and wide. It was not intended for humankind to die a permanent death, but people make their own choices. We who are on the narrow path have nothing to fear.
When our earthly life comes to an end we will either enter death, hell, or paradise. This is the first death. Those who enter paradise are given immortality from the tree of life. Those who enter death or hell will enter through Jesus who has taken the keys from satan. These people will await judgment at the end of the seven thousand year age. Death and hell will be permanently abolished along with the ungodly. This is the second death. The new heaven and earth will begin in the eight thousandth year. This is what the disciples knew, and why they asked about this time period. Humans were originally intended for immortality and not created for death.