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The Keys of Death and Hades

(Another Tuesday Time Travel…)

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” – Revelation 1:17-18

Ancient Keys (National Museum of Rome)
Ancient Keys (National Museum of Rome - If I remember correctly!)

Notice John’s response to the sight of Jesus described in Rev. 1:12ff. After John falls down “as dead” (ὡς νεκρός), Jesus touches him and provides words of assurance. At the end of verse 18, Jesus claims to have “the keys of death and of Hades” (τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου). The image is likely one of a gatekeeper who has authority to open and close an entrance by means of a key (cf. Revelation 3:7 and Isaiah 22:22). The One who “was dead” but is now “alive forevermore” claims authority over death itself.

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