Euphemisms for Death

Text: Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

The Bible uses several expressions (euphemisms) for death. A euphemism is a milder word/phrase used in place of a stronger one. The euphemisms for death used in the Bible teach us some lessons. We would do well to take them to heart.

Going the Way of All the Earth (1 Kings 2:1-2)

  • Before David died, he encouraged his son Solomon to be faithful to the Lord – “I am going the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2)
  • This phrase indicates that death is common to all people (Hebrews 9:27) – we will not live forever (Psalm 90:10; James 4:14-15); consequence of Adam’s sin in the beginning (Genesis 3:22-24)
  • All of us will “go the way of all the earth” unless we are alive when the Lord returns (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Breathed His Last (Mark 15:37)

  • When Jesus died on the cross, He “breathed His last” (Mark 15:37) – “gave up the ghost” (KJV)
  • This phrase shows us that death occurs when one’s spirit leaves his physical body (James 2:26)
  • When God created Adam, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7) – all people have this life (Acts 17:25-26); different from the life/breath of animals (Ecclesiastes 3:21); at death, our spirits return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and await judgment (Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Gathered to His People (Genesis 25:8)

  • When Abraham died he was “gathered to his people” – does not refer to his burial (Genesis 25:9); “his people” were buried in Ur and Haran (Genesis 11:28, 32)
  • This phrase tells us that there is life after death – though not explicitly stated, the Old Testament faithful understood the concept of an afterlife (2 Samuel 12:22-23; cf. Matthew 22:31-32)
  • After death, if we are faithful, we will be gathered together in paradise with the people of God (Luke 16:22) – after the Lord’s return, we can be with Him and His people for eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1)

Fallen Asleep (John 11:11-14)

  • Jesus used this phrase to refer to the death of Lazarus – at first His disciples did not understand
  • This phrase reminds us that death is temporary – many live their lives as if this is all there is; not wrong to enjoy life, but remember that we will be judged for our deeds (Ecclesiastes 9:11); resurrection will be for either life or judgment/damnation (John 5:28-29)
  • Those who die in the Lord have “rest from their labors” (Revelation 14:13) – when the Lord returns, the dead will be raised and we will all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-54); if we are faithful, we can have eternal life (Romans 6:23)

Conclusion

  • Death is a sad reality of life – but it is good to consider it (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
  • We need to live in such a way that the day of death is better than the day of our birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
  • How can we do this? … fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

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