Hebrews 2:14—Does the devil have the power of death or does God?

Problem: The writer of Hebrews speaks here about Christ’s coming so “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” But in other places the Bible asserts that only God has the power over life and death: “I kill and I make alive” (Deut. 32:39; cf. Job 1:21).

Solution: God is sovereign over all life. Only He can create it, and only He has determined the number of our days (Ps. 90:10–12) and has “appointed” the day of our death (Heb. 9:27). But by tempting Adam and Eve, the devil succeeded in bringing on the human race God’s pronounced judgment of death for disobedience (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12). So, in this sense, the devil may be said to have had the power of death (Heb. 2:14). However, by tasting death for every man (Heb. 2:9) and rising triumphantly from the grave (Rom. 4:25), Christ now holds “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18), having “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.