Revelation 1:18 – And the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
“Death” here represents the death we all are dying in Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19) “Hades” is the condition that results from that death, as described in Ecclesiastes 9:10.
To those who believe that hades here means a place of eternal suffering, there is no comfort in these words. One might wonder why Jesus has the keys of death and hades? Does it mean that Jesus will forever make sure that those in hades will remain locked up there for eternity? This cannot be true, because Revelation 20:13 plainly tells us that all in death and hades will be brought forth for a judgment.
In reality, the words of Revelation 20:18, that Jesus has the keys to death and hades, are meant to be a comfort to the church. These words imply that the Lord’s people go to hades (oblivion) when they die, but as promised by the Lord, “gates of Hades will not prevail against” his church. (Matthew 16:18) In other words, Jesus’ having the keys of death and hades indicates that he will use those keys to unlock the gates of hades so that the church may be released therefrom in the last day as part of the first resurrection. — John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; Revelation 20:6.
In preaching at his first advent, he quoted the prophecy of Isaiah respecting himself, which declares that he will open the prison-house, and set at liberty the captives, and declared this to be the Gospel. (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) It is the Gospel of the resurrection, the message, the good tidings of deliverance of all the captives from the oblivion of death, from the power of the Adversary, “him who had the power of death.” Thus, as Jesus promised, not only will he bring the church from death and hades, but there is also to be a resurrection of the unjust. (Acts 24:15) It is concerning these that Jesus spoke in John 12:47,48: “If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.” Thus, because Jesus came and gave his life as an atoning sacrifice for, not only for the believer, but also for those who do not believe (1 John 2:2), the Revelation tells us that those of the world will be raised for judgment in the last day. — Revelation 20:13.
See our studies:
The Day of Judgment
Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment
How full of meaning are these scriptures, when viewed from the proper standpoint; how confusing and absurd when viewed from any other standpoint, except when the ignorance is so dense as to cover and hide the inconsistencies!