THE EXILE
Part II: THE BABYLONIAN EXILE
Biblical Period 8
Lesson # 20

Eternal Father,
The world is full of such perils and such beauty.  We often feel helpless when tossed on the waves of chance and cry out in fear of being swept away by events beyond our control. It is in those times of weakness, Lord, that we seek our strength in You and cling to Your promise blessed Jesus, that You will never leave nor forsake us. As we study about the suffering of the Old Covenant Church in the lesson we pray that You will give us strength when we face adversity.  We pray in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

"For Yahweh, the God of Israel, said this to me, 'Take this cup of the wine of wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it; they will drink and reel and lose their wits, because of the sword I am sending among them.'" Jeremiah 25:14-16

"How deserted she sits, the city once thronged with people!  Once the greatest of nations, she is now like a widow.  Once the princess of states, she is now put to forced labor.  All night long she is weeping, tears running down her cheeks.  Not one of her lovers remains to comfort her.  Her friends have al betrayed her and become her enemies.  Judah has gone into exile...." Lamentations 1:1-3a

LAMENTATIONS

The book of Lamentations describes the funeral of the city of Jerusalem.  Traditionally attributed to Jeremiah (the Septuagint names him as the author and Jerome agreed), the book is a five poem dirge in which the author expresses the deep emotion of one who has experienced the horrors of the destruction of the Holy City and the Temple.  This fact suggests a date of composition shortly after 586 (7) BC.

Please read Lamentations 1:1-5:22

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS

BIBLICAL PERIOD THE EXILE
FOCUS Destruction of Jerusalem Anger of Yahweh Petition for Mercy Siege of Jerusalem Prayer for Restoration
COVENANT THE SINAI COVENANT [Davidic Covenant]
SCRIPTURE  
DIVISION Time of  mourning Cry of the Broken People Suffering Prophet Destroyed kingdom Penitent people
TOPIC Grief Cause Hope Acknowledgment of sins Repentance and prayer
LOCATION JERUSALEM
TIME c. 587/6 BC

THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET DANIEL

The Book of Daniel centers on the profound truth that God is sovereign and He is continually working out His plan of salvation for nations and for individuals.  This prophetic book works out the historical time frame for the future coming of the divine Messiah.  The name "Daniel" means "God is my judge" and the book is named after the author and principal character.  However, the authorship and date of Daniel are two of the more contested issues in the field of Biblical studies.  The Prophet Daniel claims to write this book in Daniel 12:4, and the book continues in the autobiographical first person style from 7:2 onward. The Jewish Talmud agrees with this testimony of Daniel's authorship and Jesus attributed a quote from Daniel 9:27 to "Daniel the prophet" in Matthew 24:15. Daniel is mentioned three times by his 6th century contemporary, Ezekiel, as an example of righteousness.  His entire life is characterized by faith, prayer, courage, consistency, and faithfulness to God's sovereign plan.

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL

BIBLICAL PERIOD THE EXILE
FOCUS History of Daniel God's Plan for the Time of the Gentile Nations God's Plan of salvation for His Covenant people
COVENANT SINAI COVENANT [Davidic Covenant]
SCRIPTURE 1:1--------2:1----------5:1-----------6:1---------7:1--------8:1-------9:1---------12:13-------14:42
DIVISION Daniel's  captivity and early years in Exile Vision of King #1 of Babylon Vision of King #2 of Babylon Decree of Darius the Mede Vision of the Four Beasts Vision of the Ram and Goat Vision of the 70 weeks/ prophecy of the Messiah Story of Susanna's virtue/ story of Bel and the Dragon
TOPIC Daniel's background Daniel Interprets Visions and Risks His life for His Faith Angels Gabriel and Michael Interpret Daniel's Visions Daniel defends a daughter of Israel/God defends Daniel
LANGUAGE Hebrew Aramaic [the language of Assyria & Babylon] Hebrew
LOCATION CITY OF BABYLON under the Babylonian Empire BABYLON under the Persian Empire
TIME 606/5 BC - 536 BC

TIME LINE B.C. WORLD EMPIRES:
 --------------------ASSYRIAN'BABYLON---PERSIAN---------------------------------GREEK

Divided Kingdom---Southern Kingdom
(70 yr exile for Judah)
c.873-853  722                587/6           539               516          458            445-3              331
Elijah's        Israel            Judah            Persians     Temple     Ezra's        Nehemiah      conquest of
Ministry       conquered   conquered    conquer       rebuilt       mission     rebuilds           Persia by
                    by Assyria    by Babylon   Babylon                         to Judah/  Jerusalem's    Alexander the
                                                              -Judah's                          return #2   walls/               Great
                                                               Exiles return #1                               return #3          Battle of Arbela

Daniel's history: Born in the middle of the reforms of King Josiah, Daniel grew up during a time of renewal and recommitment to the covenant of Yahweh.  During this time Daniel probably heard Jeremiah preaching on the streets of Jerusalem [he even quotes Jeremiah in Daniel 9:2].  With the death of King Josiah and the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, Daniel and other Jewish youth of noble birth, are taken captive and deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in the first wave of deportations in 605BC. In Babylon Daniel will become a member of the Babylonian royal court early in his captivity.  While Jeremiah was ministering to the people of Jerusalem and Ezekiel was ministering to the captives in Babylon, Daniel was chosen as a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  With God's help, Daniel, like Joseph in Genesis, interpreted two of the king's dreams.  His ability solidified his place in the court of the king. Daniel successfully served as a high-ranking advisor to the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, but he was less influential under Nebuchadnezzar's successor Belshazzar.  After Babylon was conquered by the Persians, Daniel once again achieve considerable importance. He served as advisor to Persian Kings Darius and Cyrus, and even though he served for 70 years a foreign land that was hostile to Yahweh, Daniel did not compromise his faith in God.  He was truthful in his actions, constant in prayer, faithful in his service to God, and never sought personal glory even when his faithfulness might cost him his life. During that time Daniel wrote an historical account for the faithful Jews who lived in captivity, providing for them an account of how their God is still in control of heaven and earth, directing the forces of the cosmos, the destiny of the peoples of the earth, and the care of His covenant people.

According to the text of his book, it would appear to have been written during the ninth year of Cyrus c. 530BC.

Please read Daniel 1:1-6:28: The Prophet Daniel

Question: In Daniel 2:28-45 Daniel tells the king of Babylon that his dream reveals what is to happen in the final days.  How does Daniel interpret the king's dream?  What 4 nations do the different parts of the statue represent?  When are the "final days"?

Answer: The "final days" refers to the final days of the Sinai Covenant before the coming of the Messiah.

 

THE VISION OF KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR

Part of statue Material Empire Historical Period
Head Gold Babylon 606 BC - 539 BC
Chest and arms Silver Medo-Persian 539 BC -331 BC
Belly and thighs Bronze Alexander the Great 331 BC - 146 BC
Legs and feet Iron and clay Rome and
province of Judea
146 BC - 476 AD
63 BC - 70 AD

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Daniel accurately predicted the rise and fall of the world powers from the fall of Babylon to the Persians to the conquest of Alexander the Great and the Greeks to the rise and dominance of the Roman Empire.  Rome will dominate Judah, which will be renamed the Roman province of Judea [jew-day'-uh] from 63 BC until the Jewish rebellion against Rome in the revolt of 66 AD and the destruction of Judea and the final collapse of the last of the Jewish defenders at Masada in 73 AD.  At that time Jerusalem will be destroyed [9th of Av, 70 AD], most of the people will be deported and sold into slavery, and Judea will cease to exist. The land will be known as the Roman province of Syria-Palestine.  It is significant that all of these world empires will be crushed and brought to ruin, but God reveals to Daniel that in their place will rise a promised 5th Kingdom.  These "final days" to which Daniel refers are the days before the coming of the Messiah.

Question: How do you compare the images in chapter 2 with the 4-beast images in chapter 7?  What are the similarities and what are the differences?

Answer: The dream of the image in chapter 2 and the vision of the four beasts in chapter 7 both refer to four successive gentile empires under which God's people would live:  Babylon, Medo-Persian, Alexander the Great /Greece empires of Egypt and Syria, and Rome.  The "little horn" (horn represents power) of 7:8 appears in context with the fourth kingdom of Rome although what individual it represents is disputed among scholars.  Some maintain it refers to one of the Caesars and others that it is a reference to an Antichrist who rules over a Roman Empire of the future.  Protestants like to picture the "little horn" as a Pope of the Catholic Church.  The problem with this interpretation is that the Church is not an earthly kingdom but a spiritual one.  All the other 'horns' in chapters 7 & 8 refer to world leaders of earthly kingdoms.

Chapter 8:  This vision deals with the experiences of God's people under the rule of the Medes and Persians, represented by the ram, and under the Greeks represented by the goat.  The "large horn" of 8:8 symbolizes Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persians in 332 and died at the age of 33 in 323BC.  Alexander's empire was divided among his 4 most powerful generals – the " four notable horns" for 8:8.  Many scholars believe the "little horn" of 8:9 must represents Antiochus IV(175-163BC), a descendant of Alexander's general  Seleucid Nicator who founded the Seleucid dynasty of Syria.  Antiochus desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and caused the revolt of the Macaabees in 168BC.

Both little horns of chapters 7 & 8 are two distinct persons.  Several factors make this clear:

COMPARISON OF THE VISIONS OF THE LITTLE HORNS OF CH. 7 & 8

LITTLE HORN OF CHAPTER 7 LITTLE HORN OF CHAPTER 8
-Would come from Rome (4th kingdom) -Would come from Greece (3rd kingdom)
-Would be an eleventh horn, rooting up 3 of 10 -Would be a 5th horn, coming out of 1 of 4
-Would persecute God's people
   for 42 months or 3 ½ years
-Would persecute God's people
   for 2,300 days or over 6 years

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

It helps to sort out these fantastic images by charting and comparing them.  They are all concerned with the time of the rule of the Gentile nations over Israel/Judah:                

CORRELATION OF DREAMS AND VISIONS IN DANIEL

  Images from
chapter 2
Beasts from
chapter 7
Beasts from
chapter 8
World
Kingdoms
T
I
M
E

of the

G
E
N
T
I
L
E
S
Head of gold Like a lion with eagle's wings   Babylon
606-539BC
Chest and arms of silver Like a bear Ram with two horns Medo-Persia
539-331BC
Belly and thighs of bronze Like a leopard with four wings and four heads Male goat with one great horn, four horns and little horn Alexander the Great
-Greek kingdoms
332-146BC
Legs of iron, feet of iron and clay Incomparable beast with ten horns and little horn   Rome/ her province Judea 146BC
- the birth of Christ
Stone that becomes a great mountain Messiah and Saints receive the Kingdom of God   5th Kingdom =
Kingdom of God*

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

*The prophecy of the 5th Kingdom is found in Daniel 2:44-45: "In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms and itself last forever.."  If the 4th Kingdom is the Roman Empire the 5th Kingdom that lasts forever must be the New Covenant Church, Jesus' Kingdom of heaven on earth! 

Daniel's prophecy of the ram and goat and horns is historically fulfilled.  After Alexander the Great's death in 323 BC four of his generals divided his empire:

4 Main divisions into which Alexander the Great's empire divided after his death

  1. Macedon & Greece = Antipater & Cassander
  2. Thrace & Asia Minor = Lysimachus
  3. Syria = Seleucus
  4. Palestine & Egypt = Ptolemy

It is possible that the 10 toes of beast #4 represent 10 Roman rulers, but there were also 10 Roman provinces; in either case the reference could be to Rome.   After Julius Caesar's death in 44BC and the ascension of his great nephew as the first Roman Emperor in 29BC until the rule of Vespasian in 68BC and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD [during Vespasian's reign] there were 10 Roman Emperors: 

  1. Caesar Augustus
  2. Tiberius
  3. Gaius Caligula
  4. Claudius
  5. Nero
  6. Galba
  7. Otho
  8. Vitellius
  9. Vespasian

See Revelation Chapters 12 & 13 and the passage of the red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns [12:3] and a beast with 10 heads and 7 horns [13:1].  The dragon, who is Satan [see 12:9] and the beast are two different entities although very alike; the numbers of heads and horns are different perhaps indicating that Satan controls the beast of the sea which is probably the Roman Empire.  The connection may be the 10 Roman emperors and the 7 kings of Judea who ruled as client kings of the Romans.

7 Herodian rulers from birth of Christ to the destruction of the Temple:  the 7 heads?

  1. Herod the Great
  2. Archelaus
  3. Herod Antipas
  4. Herod of Chalcis
  5. Philip Herod
  6. Agrippa I
  7. Agrippa II

In any event the prophecies of Daniel seem to fit the Roman Empire and may be linked to the serpent and the beast in Revelation.  For more on the Revelation passages please see the Revelation study chapters 12-13.

Please read Daniel 7:9-27: Daniel's Vision of the Messianic King and the 5th Kingdom

Daniel's vision in Daniel 7:9-14 is the Son of Man image to which Jesus constantly refers and identifies Himself in the Gospels.  The "Son of man" is Jesus' favorite title for Himself [see Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; 12:8, 40; 13:41; 16:13, 27, 28; 17:9, 12, 22; 19:28; 20:18, 28, 24:27, 30, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31*; 26:2, 24, 24, 45, 64;  Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 21, 41, 62; Luke 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 26; 18:8; 19:10; 21:27*; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; John 3:13, 14; 5:12; 6:27, 53; 6:62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34, 34; 13:31]. *= direct reference to Daniel 7:13-14.

Question: The term "Son of Man" refers to one who is of human form but what is unique about the "Son of man" in Daniel's vision?

Answer: In this vision of the "Son of Man" as Messiah, He is led into the heavenly court of Yahweh on the Glory Cloud.  He is led into the presence of Yahweh who confers on him kingship over all the nations of the earth and is promised an everlasting kingdom that will never pass away.  This is the vision of Jesus Christ at the Ascension.  He disappears from the site of the disciples in the Glory Cloud in Acts 1:9!  Daniel received the privileged vision of Jesus' entrance into the heavenly kingdom where He was accepted by the Father and given His kingdom and eternal rule.

In chapter 9 Daniel, recalling Jeremiah's prophecy of the 70 years of exile [see Jeremiah 25:11, 12 & 29:10], calculates the time and realizing the time is coming to an end prays to God to bring about the promised return of His people to their land.

Question: How did Daniel go about offering this petition to God?

Answer: Daniel knew how to pray.  He prayed, he fasted, he confessed his sins, and he prayed in complete surrender that God would reveal His will to His servant. Daniel's humility and openness with God is a good example for us all.

In Daniel 9:21 the angel Gabriel appears to Daniel for the second time.  It is significant that Gabriel comes to Daniel at the hour of the second Tamyid sacrifice, at 3 in the afternoon [it will be the same hour of the crucifixion of Jesus nearly 500 years later].  Gabriel is the heavenly messenger God used to explain Daniel's visions.  He also was sent by God to announce the birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1:11 and Jesus in Luke 1:26. In Daniel 8:17 Gabriel had come explain to Daniel that his vision "shows the time of the End." Daniel's vision referred to the whole period from the end of the exile until the end of the Old Covenant and the coming of the "anointed one" who would usher in the New Covenant prophesized by Jeremiah in 31:31-34.  The angel Gabriel then sets a time frame for the coming of the Messiah in 9:25-27.

Question: What are the circumstances and the time frame?

Answer: Each of the 70 weeks, or seventy-sevens, may represent one year.  Round numbers are often used in the Bible to make a point, not to give an exact count.  For example Jesus told Peter he must forgive 77 times, meaning not that he should literally forgive 77 times but that forgiveness should be abundant. Some scholars see this figure of 70 weeks as a symbolic time period while other scholars see this as a literal 70 weeks or 490 years, which corresponds to the number of years the Sabbath year was not observed in Israel before the fall of Jerusalem.  It has been observed that Jesus' death on the cross came approximately 483 years later, or at the end of 69 weeks of years and therefore could indicate a prophecy of the Advent of the Messiah.

Question: In 9:26 Gabriel does speak of the Anointed One.  What does Gabriel prophesy about the Messiah?

Answer: The Messiah, "the Anointed One" will be rejected and killed by His own people.  Another ruler's people will come who will destroy the city and the Temple.  This ruler will set up an abomination in the sanctuary.  In 30 AD Jesus the Messiah was rejected and killed by His own people.  In 70 AD Titus the Roman General and son of the Emperor destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and set up the Roman legion's standards, depicting false Roman gods, in what had been the Temple sanctuary.

In 546 BC Cyrus II [means "shepherd" in Persian] began a campaign against Babylonia which ended with the surrender of Babylon in 539 BC.  Two centuries earlier Isaiah the Prophet had prophesied his rise to power and called him in Isaiah 44:28 "the shepherd of Yahweh" who will accomplish Yahweh's will.  It is God who grants Cyrus his conquests in order that Cyrus may restore His people Israel [Isaiah 45:1ff].  This prophecy was fulfilled in 538 BC when Cyrus permitted the Jews of Babylon to return of Judah and to rebuild both the city and its Temple [see 2 Chronicles 36:22ff; Ezra 1:1-4 and 6:3-5]. 

Question: What was the length of time that Judah was condemned to be in exile? 

Answer: 70 years.  The 70-year period has been calculated two different ways:

  1. From the first captivity in 605 BC [2 Kings 24:1] until the altar was rebuilt by the returned exiles in 536/5 BC [Ezra 3:1-6]; a period of 70 years or
  2. From the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC until the exiles finished rebuilding the Temple in 516 BC; a period of 70 years

Most Biblical scholars prefer the second calculation because the Temple in Jerusalem was the heart of the nation of Israel.  Without the Temple the covenant people did not consider themselves a reestablished nation, a source of continuing heartache for Jews in modern Israel.

Daniel 12:1-13: Daniel and the Secret Prophecy of the Last Days

In chapters 10-12 Daniel is given the last of his visions.  It is the year 536BC [10:1].  In his final vision he is given further insight into the great spiritual battle between God's people and the "seed of the serpent".  By this time many Jews had returned to their homeland but Daniel chose to remain in Babylonia.

Question: In Daniel 10:5-6 Daniel sees a man dressed in white linen, the garment of a priest of Israel.  Who is he?

Answer: He is a heavenly being.  Some commentators believe this is an appearance of the pre-Incarnate Christ [see Revelation 1:13-15], but other scholars think he is an angel. 

Some of Daniel's visions concerned the flow of history from the fall of Persia to the Greeks and the rise of the Greek Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt and the Greek Seleucids of Syria, both of whom would rule over Judah before the coming of the Romans.  For example in 11:9-11 the king of the North is a historical fit with Seleucus II the king of Syria and the King of the South is a historical match with Ptolemy IV.  But in chapter 12 Michael the Archangel speaks of "the end times" when "everyone whose name is found written in the book --will be delivered.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."

This passage is a clear reference to the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked at the Last Judgment, a teaching which was not common in Daniel's time.  Up to this time teaching about the resurrection was not common even though the covenant people believed that one day they would be included in the restoration of the New Kingdom of the Messiah. 

Question: In 12:4 what does Michael tell Daniel to do with the scroll that tells the secrets of the End Times?

Answer: He is told to seal it up and wait because the mysteries are not to be revealed until the time of "the End."

Question: When Daniel asks when the time of revelation will come what is he told? See12:7.

Answer: Not for the time span of 3 1/2 years (?) when the power of the "holy people", meaning the Old Covenant people, has been broken and the daily Tamyid [perpetual] sacrifice comes to an end.  The perpetual sacrifice, called the Tamyid in Hebrew, was the most important of all the sacrifices.  Two lambs were offered in sacrifice daily for the people in the Temple.  The whole daily prayer time revolved around this sacrifice.

In the New Testament Book of Revelation chapter 10:7 the prophet John is told that the time of waiting is over!  In Revelation 5:5 John is told that the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David" has triumphed and so He will open the scroll.  Another link to Daniel is the 3 1/2 time frame which is repeated in Revelation 11:9! Daniel's secret may concern the revelation Jesus will make concerning the end of the Old Covenant.  In 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem the daily Tamyid sacrifice ended for all time.  It was what the writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote of in 9:8-9 before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans: "By this, the Holy Spirit means us to see that as long as the old tent [Tabernacle/Temple] stands, the way into the holy place is not opened up; it is a symbol for this present time."  The New Covenant is not fully in place until the Old Covenant Temple is removed.

In Daniel 12:11-13 the archangel Michel tells Daniel from now until the coming of the period of oppression when the perpetual Tamyid sacrifice is abolished and the "appalling abomination" is set up in the sanctuary will be1,290 days, "but blessed is he who perseveres and attains 1,335 days." Scholars have long debated the meaning of these numbers.  I have noticed a relationship to the 430 years given in Exodus 12:40 as the time of oppression in Egypt and the 45 years from the Exodus from Egypt to the conquest of the Promised Land in Joshua 14:6-10.  Could these numbers mean symbolically that the coming period of oppression, compared to that of the Egyptian oppression, will be brief -- days instead of years, but 3 times more intense [3 x 430 = 1,290]?  But those who preserver in faith and obedience like the new generation who were victorious in the conquest of Canaan will attain to the 1,335th day of victory and dominion [1,290 + 45 = 1,335]. (?)  This is one of those Bible mysteries.

Questions for group discussion

Question: What are the two major themes of the Book of Daniel?

Answer: The two themes of this book are God's sovereignty and Daniel's utter faithfulness to God no matter what the risk.  From his decision not to eat the King's food (1:8-16) to his refusal to pray to the king (6:4-24), Daniel put this entire trust in God with the result that offered God the opportunity to display His power on Daniel's behalf.

The other theme is God's sovereign control over the affairs of world history.  The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans will come and go, but God will establish His eternal kingdom through His "Anointed One" who will rule His Covenant people forever.

Question: In the Creed we recite at Mass every Lord's Day we say the words "And He shall come again to judge the living and the dead."  What do these words mean to you and how do they affect your daily life?

Answer: These words remind us that Jesus will return to collect His Bride, the Church and then will come the Final Judgment.  Most of us don't give a second thought to this major event but we should.  We should live each day as though Christ was coming tomorrow!

Question: Daniel 7:10 warns of a Final Great Judgment "A stream of fire poured out, issuing from his presence.  A thousand thousand waited on him. Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was in session and the books lay open."  The Bible also tells us that there will be 2 judgments as well as 2 births, 2 resurrections, and for some, 2 deaths.  What does this mean?

Answer: First there will be2 births, 2 judgments and 2 resurrections.  The first birth is our natural physical birth.  The second occurs at our baptism when we are reborn into the family of God.  This is also the first resurrection.  The second resurrection will come at the End of Time when the just will receive their glorified bodies.  There are also 2 judgments. The first at the time of our physical death is called the individual judgment. We will stand before the judgment throne of God and Jesus will stand with us as our advocate.  The second judgment comes at the End of Time.  It is called the Final Judgment [CCC#678; 681] and is a general judgment that all mankind will face [also see Malachi 3:19; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 13:24-37]   For some there are also 2 deaths.  The first is physical death which we all will experience, but for those who reject Christ there will be a second death'spiritual death which will mean total and eternal separation from God [see Revelation 2:11 & 21:8]. 

Question: The Fathers of the Church often cautioned "Born once, die twice; born twice; die once." What did the Church Fathers mean by this statement?  See John 3: 5-6; Revelation 2:11; 20:6; 20:14; & 21:7-8 for your answer.

Answer: In the sacrament of Baptism we are re-born into eternal life.  We die with Jesus to sin and are resurrected to a "new life" in Christ.  This is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Our second birth gives us the promise, if we are obedient and faithful and strive to remain free of the stain of mortal sin, that we will only face a physical death at the end of our journey of faith.  However, without the sacramental union with the Most Holy Trinity through baptism we run the risk of facing not only physical death but also the second death, eternal death, which is eternal separation from God.  See Revelation 2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8.  See CCC# 1033-41

Revelation 2:11 "Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: for those who prove victorious will come to no harm from the second death."
Revelation 20:6 "Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection; the second death has no power over them but they will be priests of God and of Christ and reign with him for a thousand years."
Revelation 20:14 "Then Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged as his deeds deserved.  Then Death and Hades were hurled into the burning lake. This burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the burning lake."
Revelation 21:7-8 "Anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But the legacy for cowards, for those who break their word, or worship obscenities, for murderers and the sexually immoral, and for sorcerers, worshippers of false gods or any other sort of liars, is the second death in the burning lake of sulfur."

Resources and Recommended Reading:

  1. The Navarre Bible Commentaries: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings
  2. Anchor Bible Commentaries: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1 Chronicles
  3. "Is the Temple Scroll the Sixth Book of the Torah?", Hartmut Stegemann, Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, edited by Hershel Shanks
  4. Bible History: Old Testament, Alfred Edersheim
  5. Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie, S.J.
  6. The Book of Isaiah, Edward J. Young, vol. I-III, [  William Eerdmans Publishing, 1997].
  7. God's Prophet God's Servant: A study in Jeremiah & Isaiah 40-50, John Goldingay, The Paternostre Press [1994].
  8. Images of The Spirit, Meredith G. Kline, [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980].

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.