Paul said in Romans that Death reigned from the time to Adam to the time of Moses.
Death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14).Who was this Death that reigned on earth. Death was a name of god of the people of Canaan. He was opposed to a better-known god called Baal, who represented life. This suggests that Death was the name of prominent spiritual principality and power. This controlling spiritual power ruled the spiritual powers of wickedness from the time of Adam to the time of Moses.
God had given authority over the earth to Adam and Eve. When they sinned, they surrendered to the powers of evil, so they gained authority over the earth that God had given to humans. However, the spirit who deceived them was not strong enough to gain control, so an evil spirit called Death rose to dominate the spiritual forces of evil. He focussed on destroying the people and earth that God had created.
For if by the one man’s offense Death reigned through the one (Rom 5:17).
Sin reigned in Death (Rom 5:21).The powers of evil are not united, so they are always fighting amongst themselves for dominance and control. The giving of the law brought a shift in control over the powers of evil, as once God had given his standards in a written form, along with curses for disobedience, Satan, the accuser, ascended to dominance. He was able to go into the presence of God and accuse humans of sinning, and demand the right to implement the curses required by the law. This skill enabled him to regain control over the powers of evil.
When Jesus died on the cross and ascended into heaven, the accuser lost his place and was thrown out of heaven and cast down on the earth (Rev 12:10). Satan now has to work by deception, persuading humans that he is not defeated and persuading or tricking people into sinning.
This clarifies the Hebrew expression translated as “you shall certainly die” in Genesis 2:17. The Hebrew doubles the word death/die for emphasis. It uses the “infinitive absolute with an imperfect” and the presence of the infinitive absolute intensifies the meaning of the imperfect verb. This is quite common in the Hebrew Bible.
A literal translation would be
To Death, you will die.Once we realise that Death is a powerful, controlling, spiritual power, we can understand that God was warning that if they sinned, they would destroy their lives, by placing themselves under the control of Death, a nasty evil spiritual power. That is what happened.
By rejecting the wisdom of God, they surrendered to the authority the spiritual powers of evil and these spiritual forces were controlled by an evil spirit called Death. He would reign until the time of Moses, when Satan rose to dominance again. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, they were still free, but they were battered and beaten by the powers of evil controlled by their leader called Death.
Paul said something similar in his letter to the Corinthians. He was explaining that brother, who was deliberately sinning and rejecting correction, should be excluded from the fellowship.
Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 5:5).When the man was excluded from the fellowship, he lost the spiritual protection that came through the oversight of the elders and the other Christians standing with him against attacks of evil. Because he would lose his spiritual protection and continued to sin, he would be in a situation where he was extremely vulnerable to Satan and his spiritual powers. This is exactly the same as what happened when Adam and Eve were excluded from the safety of the garden, except that the controlling spiritual power was Satan , rather than Death.
Therefore, “to death you will die” means being excluded from spiritual protection and being made vulnerable to Death and his spiritual powers. It is the same as being handed over to Satan (1 Cor 5:5).
The letter to the Hebrews contains a similar message.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil (Heb 2:12).Jesus came to earth and went to the cross to destroy the physical power of the devil. He also destroyed the power of the spirit called Death.
In John’s first letter, he explains that Cain was controlled by the evil one.
Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother (1 John 3:12).Adam had surrender to the powers of evil, so his son Cain was also controlled by the “evil one”, aka Death. That is why he put his brother to death.
However Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).John then explained that we know we have been saved from the power of Death, because we love each other.
We know that we have passed from Death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in Death (1 John 3:14).Literally, we have changed our residence to the place of life in Jesus, from the place controlled by Death.