Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 51.--Why the Devil is Said to Hold the Power and Dominion of Death.
Hence the Lord Himself willed to die, |in order that,| as it is written of Him, |through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.| From this passage it is shown with sufficient clearness that even the death of the body came about by the instigation and work of the devil, -- in a word, from the sin which he persuaded man to commit; nor is there any other reason why he should be said in strictness of truth to hold the power of death. Accordingly, He who died without any sin, original or actual, said in the passage I have already quoted: |Behold, the prince of this world,| that is, the devil, who had the power of death, |cometh and findeth nothing in me,| -- meaning, he shall find no sin in me, because of which he has caused men to die. As if the question were asked Him: Why then should you die? He says, |That all may know that I am doing the will of my Father, arise, let us go hence;| that is, that I may die, though I have no cause of death from sin under the author of sin, but only from obedience and righteousness, having become obedient unto death. Proof is likewise afforded us by this passage, that the fact of the faithful overcoming the fear of death is a part of the struggle of faith itself; for all struggle would indeed be at an end, if immortality were at once to become the reward of them that believe.