Theology: Who Holds the Power of Death?


Hell and Death and the DevilWhile reviewing some Scriptures I have memorized, I came across a verse that really jumped out and demanded attention. Hebrews 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

How many times have I read this?

Why, after so many years, was I thrown by the words, “him who had the power of death?”

Is this verse in the Bible literally suggesting that the Devil has the power of death?

Who Holds the Power of Death?

I realize that many people believe this or pay homage to the devil on Halloween by dressing up in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. Many people are under the impression that the devil is the warden of Hell. He stands strong and mighty amidst the flames, unpenetrated by the heat.

I promise you, this is a gross misinterpretation of Hell. Hell is not some furnace with Satan as a victorious resident manager. Hell is eternal separation from God, a place of eternal suffering and darkness in the outermost reaches of creation, as far away from the Glory of God as possible.

So, why, then, do we get the impression that the devil is mighty and holds the guest list of all those destined for hell? If he does not have the power to destroy the flesh, what is Hebrews 2:15 addressing? What power of death does he hold?

Satans Roll on Earth

Let us unpack this a bit. This will require us to go way back to the book of Job, which is considered to be one of the earliest settings in the Bible. The scene is the heavenly realm. We have Heaven, the dwelling of the Almighty. We have a throne. We have angels. And Satan is there, too. While we are well aware that he was the most beautiful of all God’s creation, do we realize what other roll he had?

Take a look at Job. Job 1:6-7, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth…’”

We can pick apart these two verses in detail. There are some poignant questions that arise from some key words. Bondage to Sin

Who were the ‘sons of God’ here? In this particular passage, they were angels, and Satan was included as one of them. Whatever he was doing ‘going to and from the earth”, he was watching men intently.

It is in this passage that we learn Satan was more than the master musician we have been taught; he was the accuser of men. We also learn that he is under the order of God as part of creation, and not in any way equal or slightly equal or even just a little below God; he is subject to him. Satan has no power to kill the flesh.

This being true, then Satan cannot hold the power of death as we might imagine after reading Hebrews 2:15.

God Holds All Power

According to John 8:44, Satan has held this power of death from the beginning. In Luke 10, Jesus tells His disciples He was “watching Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” Where did he fall to? He fell to earth, and this fall was somewhere after earth was created, but before Adam and Eve. And even after Satan was evicted from Heaven, he had access to the throne of God, though no longer a resident.

Genesis chapter 3 gives us an account of the temptation of Satan and Eve’s first sin. But recognize who actually committed the first sin. It was Satan, and just as Adam and Eve were banished from their home in Eden, so was Satan banished from his place in Heaven. Earth became his domain and he became the “Prince of the Air” passing through waterless places.

He is the ambassador of death, the deceiver, the one who instills fear of death into humans. This fear puts us in bondage, giving him power. His ammunition is lies and deceit and we all fall victim to it, just like Eve. Because of Eve, and Adam, we are all Eve and Adam.

We are in spiritual bondage, banished from eternity with God, that is, unless we come under the covering of Christ Jesus, who broke us away from our chains. He is the Great Redeemer because he bore no sin. Not any. Therefore there is no attachment to death in him, like there was with Satan.

Jesus links us to the Father of Mercy, the Almighty that holds all the power. All of it.

Written by Jori Sams

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Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun… 

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