2 Timothy 1:10
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death…
He must have had strong faith who, writing amidst the signs of death ever near him in a populous city, could write, Jesus Christ hath abolished death. He felt within him the inspiration of an immortal life; and it gave a new character to all things around him. In his prison in Rome, heaven was his home. Adhering to a religion whose first preachers were martyrs, he saw no death in martyrdom. Having finished his course, and ready to be offered up, his time of departure — not of death — was at hand. Let us meditate upon this great subject, and see if we can understand the apostle. There is one doctrine of Christianity to which our hearts have not done justice, because our faith has not felt its power; that doctrine is, that "Jesus Christ has abolished death."
I. THE FACT — "Jesus Christ hath abolished death."
1. If you observe the connection, you will see this was the consequence of an everlasting purpose of grace. See the preceding verse. This glorious truth is not a thought of yesterday, not a thought that entered the mind of God on occasion of the fall of man, but a purpose made before man fell, before the world began. And this everlasting purpose is the firm and immutable rock on which rests the whole fabric of our salvation. I know some persons are afraid to think of an everlasting purpose, an immutable decree of God, as if it were an awful, an unapproachable mystery. It is, indeed, awful, as is every attribute of Him who dwells in light inaccessible, but it need not be terrible. Observe the words: "according to His own purpose and grace." The purpose and the grace are intimately associated. The grace is as old as the purpose. Both are from everlasting. The purpose flows out of the grace, for the grace is the nature of the eternal God from which His purpose flows, and must be gracious like Himself. What is there to fear in a purpose of grace? Would you not be comforted in the trials of life, if you found in every emergency that your earthly father had made ample provision by a kind purpose before you were born? If for your infancy comforts were provided at his expense by a mother's care; and if you found a fund set apart to pay the expense of your good education, should any casuality deprive you of his immediate care; and when you came of age you found a sum insured at your birth to enable you to commence business with respectability and good success; and everywhere else, as parental forethought and love could foresee, a purpose appeared in a present supply of your wants; — would not all this he an assurance and perpetual memorial of your father's good will? would it not endear him the more to your heart? and would you not cherish the memory of him who with so much forethought had provided for you with affectionate and loving regard? Just so with the gracious purpose of God.
2. But the fact of the abolition of death, connected with an everlasting purpose, was manifested in time by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. But how was it manifested? Wherein did Christ appear to abolish death? When did He accomplish this gracious purpose? We naturally look for the answer to His own death. Was that not really death? Was it a departure rather than a death? Did He ever say with regard to Himself that death was abolished? Did He meet death as if He had already destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil? Go to Calvary and observe. What signs are there but true signs of death? He died, He tasted death. But, then, in dying He abolished death for all believers. It is as if He absorbed all the venom of the sting of death into His own soul and left none to distress the souls of His people; so that death, so dreadful to Him, is to them without a curse, without a sting, and but a shadow. Scripture has found for it a new name, a name of pleasant association, and calls it sleep (1 Thessalonians 4:14). In saying Jesus really endured the pains of death, I refer not chiefly to the extreme bodily sufferings which He endured, but to the mental conflict and agony which to Him were the bitterness and curse of death. Christ hath abolished death, as every spirit in heaven feels with delight; and if we know it not now, we shall know it hereafter with rapturous delight. But must we wait till we reach the blissful life of heaven before we can say in the fulness of a joyful heart, "Our Saviour Jesus Christ hath abolished death"? Well, I fear we must — at least, many of us. Our faith seems as if it could not grasp and feel this great text. We are but sorry Christians if thus we pass our lives grovelling in clay, in bondage through fear of death. Worldling! you are right in fearing death, for it will strip you of all your beloved and prized possessions. Unpardoned sinner! you are right in fearing death, for to you it will be the dreadful doom and beginning of endless woe. Lover of pleasure! you are right in your fear, for it will turn your pleasure into pain, remorse, consternation, anguish. Worshipper of Mammon! you are right, for it will take away your gods, and what have you left? But Christians, are we not ashamed of ourselves? Christians, unworthy of the name, are you afraid of death? Do you not believe that Christ hath abolished it? Yes, you believe it as a fact; at least, you say so, and you think so. But do you know it as an experience — A truth of the heart as well as of the creed — A truth in which you rejoice as the conquest of the last enemy?
II. THE EXPERIENCE THAT OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST HATH ABOLISHED DEATH. Paul rose out of these earthly shadows, awoke from these carnal dreams; saw the world, not as we see it, a substantial form, but as an evening cloud whose tints were fading, as a flickering flame whose glory was passing away. New light from the excellent glory came around him and gave new colour and character to all things about him. His prison was fading, and he scarcely saw it in the surrounding glory; his chain was melting off his hand and he scarcely felt it, for the day of his great deliverance was rising. Caesar's tribunal, its attendants, pomp, lictors, sergeants, soldiers, executioners, what were they all in the full light of the great salvation all around him? They were virtually abolished too. Heaven was near, he could hear its sweet music. Eternal life was within him, he could feel its power. Immortality was brought to light, he could see it and rejoice in it. There was no more death, to obscure that light of unfading glory. They could not kill him, could not destroy that which he had learned to call himself, and which felt and knew everything in its relation not to time but to eternity. And there have been many others like him.
(R. Halley, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: