The word sometime erroneously used by some as being “defeated” is never used in scripture. The word defeat means that in the battle or contest one opponent triumphed over the other opponent, allowing the other to survive to fight another day and in some cases the foe is thoroughly vanquished in that it cannot rise again to fight another day. .
The actual word used is katargeó: to render inoperative, abolish: καταργέω: Verb: katargeó: (kat-arg-eh’-o) Short Definition: I bring to naught, sever, abolish Definition: (a) I make idle (inactive), make of no effect, annul, abolish, bring to naught, (b) I discharge, sever, separate from.
2673 katargéō (from 2596 /katá, “down to a point,” intensifying /argéō, “inactive, idle”) – properly, idledown, rendering something inert (“completely inoperative”); i.e. being of no effect (totally without force, completely brought down); done away with, cause to cease and therefore abolish; make invalid, abrogate (bring to naught); “to make idle or inactive” (so also in Euripides, Phoen., 753, Abbott-Smith). [“2673 (katargéō) means ‘to make completely inoperative’ or ‘to put out of use,’ according to TDNT(1.453)” (J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology “God, the World & Redemption,” 389).]
So now we must ask what death is being “done away” with, or rendered inoperative. Spiritual death is what all people are born into; spiritual death is a severed relationship with God, no communion and no fellowship, hence the need for man to be born again of the Spirit, man is made alive in Christ. Yet, in the unregenerated man spiritual death continues and does not end from one generation to the next.
Once man had been made spiritually alive can they again become spiritually dead? That is an argument for the ages. Scriptures reveals that a man can “go back to his vomit” but it also say’s God will not ever “lose” any of His sheep. So in the example of Judas, was he a sheep or a pretender? The question of final Judgment of salvation cannot be answered by man for another man as God is the judge who knows all things.
The question then remains as long as people are being born from the seed of Adam they will continue to be born “spiritually” dead. The only way for this death to end is if no more people are born. People will continue in the state of Spiritual death until either they die or they are “reborn” of the Spirit. In heaven no one is “given in marriage” so it would be safe to say that procreation does not happen in heaven. So for the believer Spiritual death is overcome or defeated but it is not “done away with” or abolished upon this earth as long as people are being born with a fallen human nature.
So our next question is, “Is death to be destroyed in unregenerated man, as the promise, and thus removing all Spiritual death or is it only for the “elect”?
Now if the last enemy is physical death, as in context;
Rev 21: 4 John repeats the same thought, from I Cor 15:26 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” The word “death” has the implication of both spiritual and physical death, so we must look to the context of Rev 21.
In the prior chapter we have the Great White throne Judgment where every living soul from off the earth, of every person who has lived, stands before God and was judged. Those whose names were not found in the Lambs book of life were cast into “outer darkness”. Those who remain are the elect, they have all ready been “spiritually made alive” in Christ.
Further we know a “soul” or Spirit of any man will never be annihilated, or cease to exist. They will either be eternally punished or have eternal life. Those in “outer darkness” will continue to live in a state of spiritual death. There are no persons remaining on the earth as every person was brought before the throne for the final judgment. Meaning there is no further judgment. No one else is to be “born” thus ending spiritual death that is passed on through Adams seed. If “more people” are to be born then they too must be judged based on their deeds, (Rev 20:13) “they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done”, not will do. No where in scripture does it teach or show that people are judged before they are born.
His elect are chosen before the foundation of the world, and their names are put in the Lambs book of life, but judgment always comes after life is over. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27 so if people continue to be “born” on earth then GWT is not the last judgment. It further renders scripture as being contradictory in stating ALL souls were judged, not just some.
So now we have the elect, the bride, all ready made alive, who are in heaven with God, either because they had all ready died or were “changed” at His return (and given a new glorified body) are being told they will not mourn, cry, or have any pain, and no more death. May I point out there was never “death” in heaven of any kind, spiritual or physical, both kinds can only exist on earth, and in a body. So why would He remind these saints or inform them there is no more death? In the New Heaven and Earth?
One, because upon their resurrection they were given a glorified body. Two, they are to dwell with God on a recreated Earth, with a new heaven or sky above, cleaned and made new. In this new heaven and earth no more people will be “born.” There will be no sorrow, no pain, sickness, or disease, or death of the body, as this can only exist on an earth in bodies of flesh.
Therefore we come to the end of all things, the last enemy defeated, is physical and spiritual death. As long as people are being born human and then die, either spiritual or physical death will never be abolished. In the New Heavens and Earth, both are defeated, abolished, and brought to not.