Those are excellent questions. Let’s consider Genesis 2:17 first. God told Adam, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for IN THE DAY that you eat of it you shall surely die.” We know from reading on in Genesis chapter 3 that Adam (and Eve) did NOT die the same day they ate of the forbidden fruit, but they “began to die” and thus God told Adam, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE….In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread TILL YOU RETURN TO THE GROUND, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (3:17, 19). This clearly teaches us that Adam received a “physical death” sentence for eating the forbidden fruit and yet it was “progressive” and not “immediate.” Yet the reading of Genesis 2:17 seems to also imply an immediate death. This is where the “spiritual death” sentence comes in, for Adam (and Eve) surely “died spiritually” the moment they partook of the forbidden fruit. What is “spiritual death?” The word “death” means “separation.” Physical death is the “separation of the spirit from the body” as we see in James 2:26, “For as the BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT IS DEAD, so faith without works is dead.” Spiritual death is the “separation of the spirit from God,” which means that man’s sin caused his human spirit to die and this causes man to have no desire to have fellowship with God. Ephesians 2:1, (where the Apostle Paul is teaching believers of their new birth and former condition) speaks to this, “And you He made alive, who were DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS.” Just as Adam ran away and hid from God after he sinned (because he no longer desired to communicate with Him), so all sinners turn away from God with no desire to please Him but rather to “do their own thing” here on earth. We see this truth in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.”

Now let’s look at Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Though the word death here includes “physical and spiritual death,” I believe it is also includes “eternal death,” for it is in contrast with “eternal life.” We saw that “physical death” is the “separation of the spirit from the body.” We saw that “spiritual death” is the “separation of the spirit from God in this life on earth.” Now we can say that “eternal death” is the “separation of the spirit, soul and body from God in hell, the lake of fire.” This is spoken of in Revelation 20:13-15, “The sea gave up the dead who were in them, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is THE SECOND DEATH. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Here we learn the fate of all Christ-rejectors. When they DIED PHYSICALLY, they had never been born again; they were still SPIRITUALLY DEAD. At the end of time Christ will raise their bodies from the sea or the grave, and Hades will deliver up their souls/spirit to be reunited to their bodies. They will then stand before Christ at the Great White Throne (see verses 11-12) and since their names are not in the Book of Life they will be “cast into the lake of fire” where they will be ETERNALLY SEPARATED FROM GOD. This is the SECOND DEATH. Their FIRST DEATH included both their “spiritual death” and “physical death” (just as Adam and Eve experienced both of these as a result of their eating the forbidden fruit). The “second death” is their eternal punishment in the lake of fire, which is eternal separation from God. We also see this solemn truth in 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-9, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, and from the glory of His power.” There are no more solemn words in all of Scripture these passages in Revelation and 2nd Thessalonians. Has my reader been born again or are you still “spiritually dead” and facing possible “eternal death” in hell?  (DO)  (552.5)