THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
Here are the possible explanations as given by
various Christian groups regarding the period between death and
Sleep, Christian Mortalism, thnetopsychism
from θνητός (mortal)
and ψῡχή (soul)
fall asleep until the resurrection"
The soul sleep and remain with the body until the final resurrection on the Last
Day? The Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some
evangelical Christians hold this view. Since the soul is sleeping,
the soul has no consciousness and is unaware of anything until
they are resurrected by God in the last days.
are two words in the Greek New Testament for “sleep.”
term katheudo occurs 22 times in the New Testament. In a literal
sense it is used of “natural sleep” (Mt. 13:25; 25:5).
term is found in the story of the raising up of Jairus, (Mk.
5:35). Here Jesus asserts that “the child is not dead, but is
sleeping” (v. 39) and story ends up as her “spirit returned”
and she rose up immediately (Lk. 8:55) implying that the spirit
was still alive while her body was sleeping.
same is applicable in the story of Lazarus:
Jesus said “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep (kekoimetai—
the perfect, passive of koimao); but I go that I may awake him out
of sleep” (Jn. 11:11).
term in the New Testament for “sleep” is koimaomai . The word
is found 18 times. The word is used for normal sleep as in (Mt. 28:13; Lk. 22:45),as well as figuratively for the “sleep” of death (see Mt. 27:52; 1
Cor. 15:20; 1 Thes. 4:13-15).
term probably refers to the dead body which is inert and without
life as a person is in deep sleep.
doctrine asserts that when the body dies, the soul also dies, and
that both are to be called back to life at the Day of Judgement.
This was first recorded as taught by the Thnētopsȳchītæ,
a third century sect of Christianity in Arabia, and is based on I
Timothy 6: 16, an epistolary doxology addressed to the God who
alone has immortality.
Tim 6:15-16 which He will bring about at the proper time-- He who
is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of
lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in
unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be
honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
This doctrine is held by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's
"When somebody dies, the spirit (life force) ceases to animate the
body cells, much as a light goes out when the electricity is
turned off. When the life force stops sustaining the human being,
man-the soul-dies." Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life
(Brooklyn: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania,
"Therefore, God's Word refers to the dead as being asleep. For
example, upon learning that his friend Lazarus had died, Jesus
Christ told His disciples 'Lazarus our friend has gone to rest,
but I am journeying there to awake him from sleep.'"
Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) also holds the same view
"The grave is not a place of consciousness. Since death is a sleep,
the dead remain in a state of unconsciousness in the grave until
the resurrection, when the grave (Hades) gives up its dead (Rev.
20:13)." A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines
(Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., 1988)
Some of the proof texts include the following where death is referred to
Ecclesiastes 3:19-21; 9:5, 6; 12:7; Job 14:10-12; Psalm 115:17; Matthew
9:24; Mark 5:39; John 11:11-14; Acts 7:20; 1 Corinthians 15:51,
52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; and 2 Peter 3:4.
John 5: 28-30 is probably the final proof text of all:
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in
their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have
done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will
rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as
I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself
but him who sent me."
Daniel 12:2 "Multitudes
who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting
life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."
This theory of "soul slumber" was defended by the Nestorians and
Copts, and later by the Anabaptists, Socinians, and Arminians.
Calvin (Inst. III, 25) holds that the final destiny is not decided
till the last day.
traditional Christians believe that death is a period of dormancy,
or sleep in the body, or an Intermediate state, on Earth, or in
the Bosom of Abraham, in which there is no consciousness and no
Heavenly activity has yet begun...no judgment, no trip to heaven
nor hell based on their interpretation of the following
(Eccl. 9:5): "The dead know not anything ... Their love,
their hatred, and their envy is now perished"
(Psa. 6:5): "In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the
grave, who shall give thee thanks?"
(Psalm 115:17): "The
dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into
silence" (Isaiah 38:18). "The grave cannot praise thee:
death cannot celebrate thee"
The soul receives a temporal place of pre-judgement.
Mark 12:26-27, Jesus states that those who have lived in obedience
to God are resurrected upon death. According to Luke 23:43, the
resurrected dead are taken to paradise right after resurrection.
paradise is not heaven. An explanation is found in the following
about the death and resurrection Jesus Peter 3:18- 19 says
“...being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by His
Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the SPIRITS IN
PRISON...”. Also Ephesians 4:9, “...He also descended first
into the lower parts of the earth?”.
is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many
captives and gave gifts to his people."
(Plper's detail verse study is appended.)
believers having "died in faith, not having received the
promises, but having seen them afar off,
" (Hebrews 11:13). indicates that those dead in Christ
did not enter the promised land of Heaven but yet see it from far
just as Moses did/
The soul leave the body at death, and depending on the
Soul's relationship with Jesus they are either given the Paradise
(if Christian), or to a place of punishment (if he is not a
Catholics, and most Protestants hold this view.
The following passages refers to the dead as still alive:
are the scriptural basis of this view
Matthew 22:31-32, Jesus says:
"Have you not read that which was spoken to you by
God, saying 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the
At the transfiguration (see Matt. 17:1-8; Mark
9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36; and 2 Pet. 1:16-18). Peter, James, and John
sees Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. Moses clearly died, at Mount Nebo, in Jordan (dated as 1272 BC) years before Jesus (Deut. 34) Elijah
was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot
(2 Kings 2:11).
Luke 23:39-43 in the events that transpired at the time of crucifixion,
Jesus assures the repentant thief on the cross
"Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in
Paradise." Here the thief was with Jesus after death and the
place is called Paradise.
John 11:25 Jesus says: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me
shall live even if he dies."
Corinthians 5:6-8 "Therefore,
being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at
home in the body we are absent from the Lord--for we walk by
faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, I say, and prefer
rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the
1:21-24)"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor
for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed
from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with
Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the
flesh is more necessary for your sake"
(I Thess. 5:9-10 )."For God has not destined us for wrath,
but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who
died for us, that whether we are [present tense] awake [alive] or
asleep [dead], we may live together with Him."
the book of Revelation John saw a vision of the “souls” of
those who had been slain upon the earth (Rev. 6:9-11).
L. Moody said before he died, "Soon you will read in the
papers that Moody is dead. Don't believe it. For in that moment I
will be more alive than I have ever been."
explanation is that God creates a body for those believers who
have died and are in Heaven and this explains how the redeemed in
Heaven can relate to Christ and to one another.
departed believers can sing praises to God we can assume that they
have a spirit through which they can communicate with other
spirits and to God. If
the dead can communicate with one another, they must have some
kind of body in which to do so.
Errors of Soul Sleep
WHAT HAPPENS TO US AFTER DEATH?
At death, the soul and
spirit leave the body.
the Old Testament, the spirit and soul of an unbeliever went
immediately to the torment of hell, which is inside the earth.
Notice these verses showing that people are conscious in hell, and
that hell is inside the earth.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about. (Psalm 18:5) Note: Hell
The pains of hell got hold of me. (Psalm 116:3) Note: Hell has
The wicked shall be turned into hell. (Psalm 9:17) Note: Hell is
for the wicked.
It is as high as heaven ... deeper than hell. (Job 11:8) Note:
Hell is deep.
A fire ... shall burn to the lowest hell. (Deuteronomy 32:22)
Note: Hell has fire.
Hell and destruction are never full. (Proverbs 27:20) Note: Hell
is like destruction.
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from
hell. (Proverbs 23:14)
Hell from beneath ... stirs up the dead for thee. All they shall
speak and say unto thee, art thou become weak as we? (Isaiah
14:9-10) Note: People's souls in hell can stir, speak and say.
proves that soul sleep is false for unbelievers.
Unto the nether (lower) parts of the earth, with them that go down
into the pit. (Ezekiel 32:18) Note: The pit and hell are in the
lower parts of the earth.
The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of
hell. (Ezekiel 32:21) Note: People in hell can speak, showing that
they are not asleep.
The Zidonians which are gone down with the slain ... Pharaoh shall
see them, and shall be comforted, even Pharaoh and all his army
slain by the sword. (Ezekiel 32:30-31)
Pharaoh, after being killed in battle is comforted in hell by
seeing the Zidonians, who have also been killed in battle, enter
hell with him. People can see in hell, have comforting thoughts of
other people suffering and thus, are not sleeping.
The rich man in Hell, could see, hear, taste and touch.
times it says that he is tormented.
in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeing
Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (v.23). And he cried
and said, father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that
he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for
I am tormented in this flame (v.24). But Abraham said, ...now he
(Lazarus) is comforted, and thou art tormented (v.25).
he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send
him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may
testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment
(v.28)." (Luke 16:19-31)
2. Old Testament Believers.
Old Testament, the spirit and soul of a believer went immediately
to the comfort of paradise in the lower parts of the earth.
Now he (Lazarus) is comforted. (Luke 16:25)
Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be
with Me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)......
Samuel's spirit came up out of the earth after his death to tell
Saul that tomorrow Saul, Jonathan and his other sons would be
killed in battle, and would be with Samuel in paradise. "...
The woman said to Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth ...
What form is he of? And she said, an old man cometh up: and he is
covered with a mantle. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou
disquieted me, to bring me up? ... Tomorrow shalt thou and thy
sons be with me." (1 Samuel 28:12-19)
Samuel was resting in paradise in the earth, and resented Saul
disturbing him by bringing him up. Samuel was not asleep, just
resting, not soul sleep, but conscious.
Jesus died, He descended into the lower parts of the earth, and
after preaching to spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19), He led all
Old Testament believers out of paradise (inside the earth) and up
to heaven. " ... when He ascended up on high, He led
captivity captive ... (now that He ascended, what is it but that
He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?)"
which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (1
would not waste His time preaching to spirits imprisoned in the
underworld if they were sleeping and could not hear Him. You only
preach to those who are conscious.
3. New Testament
the New Testament, the spirit and soul of believers go immediately
upon dying to heaven. We know this because of these reasons:
To depart and to be with Christ in heaven is far better.
I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and TO BE
WITH CHRIST; which is far better." (Philippians 1:23)
desired to depart his body by dying, so that he could be with
Christ IN HEAVEN, which is far better than staying on the earth.
is far better to go to soul consciousness with Christ in heaven.
When we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord in
knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent
from the Lord: we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be
absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2
Corinthians 5:6, 8)
we are out of our body (death), we are present with the Lord.
Where is the Lord now? In heaven.
believer's spirits and souls go to heaven on dying.
Spirits of just men made perfect are now in heaven.
ye are come unto ... the heavenly Jerusalem ... to the general
assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,
and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of just men made
perfect." (Hebrews 12:23-24) This clearly tells us that when
believers die, their spirits go to heaven immediately.
Christ at the Second Coming brings departed believers' souls with
Him to the air.
Thessalonians 4:14 tells us that the spirits of believers who have
died, are waiting in heaven until the day when Jesus Christ will
bring their spirits and souls with Him at the second coming in the
air to be rejoined with their resurrected bodies. "... them
also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." Their
dead bodies, buried in the grave will be resurrected to rejoin
their spirits and souls which Christ will bring with Him from
heaven. Christ bringing their spirits and souls, shows that they
are with Christ in heaven after death awaiting the resurrection.
Souls of departed believers are in heaven crying out for revenge.
the rapture (catching away of believers to heaven) many people get
saved in the seven year tribulation. Many of these are killed by
the Antichrist. Do their souls go to soul-sleep in the grave? No!
Their souls are seen under the altar in heaven: "I saw under
the altar the SOULS of them that were slain for the word of God
... they cried with a loud voice, saying ..." (Revelation
souls of dead believers are in heaven. They can cry out with a
loud voice. They have memory of their death on earth, crying for
revenge. They are not unconscious or soul-sleeping in the grave.
Some verses come close to saying that the dead are unconscious
(e.g. Psalm 30:9, 115:17, 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah
38:18-19). These say that a dead body can't praise God, but the
soul is still alive. How do we understand these verses in the
light of the vast majority of verses that teach that human souls
are conscious after death?
"What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?
Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? (Psalm
The Old Testament saints had a gloomy view of death. Death to them
was seen as an interruption in their communion with God, even for
believers. They saw death as a continuation of existence (Isaiah
14:9-11), but on terms which robbed it of all that deserves to be
called life. David shared the common view, and he uses it as part
of his appeal to God.
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into
silence. But we will bless the Lord." (Psalm 115:17)
Jesus had not yet brought life and immortality to light through
the Gospel. "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our
Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought
life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Timothy
now have eternal life and an immortal soul. The Holy Spirit used
Old Testament believers' limited understanding of the afterlife to
urge them to praise God while they could.
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that
very day his thoughts6250 perish." (Psalm 146:4)
When a person dies, his earthly plans, ambitions and thoughts
perish with him. When you are dead, you cannot contribute anything
to fulfill your earthly ambitions. "Thoughts" in Hebrew
mean "polished, sleek, plans formed in the mind".
"His thoughts perish" means that his ambitions perish.
"Eshtonah"6250 from "ashath"6245 is only ever
used of "thoughts" here in Psalm 146:4.
most commonly used in the Old Testament is
"machashabah"4284, a different Hebrew word to that word
used in Psalm 146:4.
that perish" are the wicked man's plans and purposes which
come to naught at his death. The thoughts which go to the grave
are his vain projects. (e.g. the thoughts of the rich fool of
building bigger barns and of many years of ease and prosperity.)
All his selfish, worldly schemes, perished in that same night.
9:30-31 show that Moses and Elias lived after death to talk with
Christ on the Mount Transfiguration.
20:38 "He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for
all live unto Him."
3:2 The New Testament tells believers to "set your affections
on things above." This means that we go to heaven at death.
"... the dead know not anything ..." (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now
perished." (Ecclesiastes 9:6)
is no work, no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave
where thou goest." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Ecclesiastes 9:4, 6, 10 is written from the standpoint of
knowledge "under the sun", from the viewpoint of natural
man who lives without thoughts for God. This restates the
philosophy of unbelievers that "when you're dead, you're
the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they
that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." (Isaiah
term "sleep", when applied to death, refers to death of
the body only. After the resurrection of Christ, believers went
into the presence of Christ at their death.
of the reports from those who had a back to life experience says
that they saw departed relatives awaiting their arrival. If this
is true it could indicate that the dead believers in Heaven
already have recognizable bodies.This is better understood if we
take the life forms as a series of sheath in which one sheath is
soul all containing the spirit.
The Bible has a great many references to dead believers
having recognizable bodies.
the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus
in some kind of body though neither yet had his permanent
resurrection body. Yet there they were, talking and communicating
with Jesus and evidently very recognizable to Peter, James, and
John. You have to ask yourself, does this not indicate that there
is not a life after our physical death occurs, considering that
Moses and Elijah were still around after so many thousands of
the story of the Rich man and Lazarus as told by Jesus, Abraham, Richman and Lazarus recognized each other.
Revelation 6:9-10, the saved souls of those that were martyred and
that were beneath the Altar had a voice with which they were able
to cry up to God. These
souls were given white robes to wear and they could think and
8:51 "Most truly I say to you, if anyone observes my word he
will never see death."
11:25-26 "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes
in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and
believes in Me shall never die."
like this tell us that if we put complete faith in our Lord Jesus
Christ, then even though our human body will eventually die, our
spiritual body - our soul - will never ever die."
there is the story of the dying thief, to whom Christ said, "
Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise."
I believe it
is dangerous to dogmatize. Here is the real situation:
of body, soul and spirit as we have discussed earlier.
Just look at the function of each part. Body is necessary
for the soul to communicate with the material world using the
senses. Devoid of
these sense organs, the soul cannot interact with the material
world. If soul existed, it is still in existence but it cannot
interact with the world now.
Bible also affirms that the spirit returns to God who gave
it. This will leave
the soul without body and without spirit .
This would mean the souls have no open communication to
either the material world or to the spiritual world.
This will be best described as sleep.
When a man
body returns to earth and goes back into material elements.
Spirit of man returns to God.
This much is
As such the
Soul is left alone which of course contains memories. All the life
data is still in that hard disk.
Since within itself it is conscious, - or is it? - the soul
can still dream.
dogmatists miss out is the function of God.
God can join
this soul with the spirits by placing it in the Spirit realm if
God wants to.
Or God can
make the soul and spirit return to the material realm if God can
create a new body with the DNA codes afresh for that soul. This
body can be material or immaterial in any dimension of existence.
Man is man only with material body.
Can God make a ghost of the Man.
Certainly, if He wants that.
We would not call him Man.
We will call him a ghost or spirit.
It is still a resurrection of the soul.
Does God give a temporary
body while we await for the resurrected glorified body?
Church Fathers, apparently including Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian
and Clement of Alexandria, believed that, in general, the saved
did not enter heaven until Judgment Day, and during the interval
between death and the resurrection they dwell happily in a
delightful abode, awaiting their final glorification.
What kind of bodies do the believers who have died in
Christ have now? Since
the resurrection of the body is in the future, are the present
dead believers in heaven "disembodied" spirits or do
they have some kind of temporary "intermediate" bodies ?
Of course exceptions were admitted by God for the martyrs
and some other classes of saints, who were admitted at once to the
supreme joys of heaven.
this "particular judgment", according to Orthodox
dogmatic theology, the soul experiences a foretaste of the
blessedness or the eternal torment that awaits it after the
Tertullian (c. 200) wrote that, even
before final judgment, a soul "undergoes punishment and
consolation in Hades in the interval, while it awaits its
alternative of judgment, in a certain anticipation either of gloom
or of glory"
pictured a particular judgment of souls in Hades, by which the
righteous are assigned to "a locality full of light" and
the unrighteous are "forced down into the lower parts".
(d. 430), one of the Church fathers of the Catholic Church, wrote
that the human part of the city of God (as opposed to the part
composed of the angels) "is either sojourning on earth, or,
in the persons of those who have passed through death, is resting
in the secret receptacles and abodes of disembodied spirits".
He said that the dead are judged at death and divided into
the place of the truly virtuous, such as saints and
martyrs, is Paradise;
the unmistakably evil are damned to eternal
punishment in Hell;
the two intermediate groups, the not completely
wicked, and the not completely good.
These could be helped by the prayers of the living, though it seems that
for the former repentance and the prayers of the living created a
"more tolerable" hell, while the latter would pass
through a penitential fire before being admitted to heaven at the
time of the Last Judgment.
This idea which finds no scriptural verification became a dogma leading to
the building up of Purgatories
in the Roman Catholic Church.
Unless the hell itself act as a purgatory it will remain
faith of the Church concerning Purgatory is clearly expressed in
the Decree of Union drawn up by the Roman Catholic Council of
Florence (Mansi, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the
Roman Catholic Council of Trent:
the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the
sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers [of the
Catholic Church], taught, in sacred councils, and very recently in
this OEcumenical Synod, that there is a Purgatory, and that the
souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the Faithful,
but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar [i.e.,
the Mass]..." (Roman Catholic Council of Trent, Decree
Concerning Purgatory, Session 25, Wednesday, December 4, 1563).
(haer., lxxv, P.G., XLII, col. 513) complains that Acrius (fourth
cent.) taught that prayers for the dead were of no avail. In the
Middle Ages, the Cathars and the Albigensians, and also the
Waldenses, and Hussites, each of which rejected the actual
existence of Purgatory. Saint Bernard (Sermon 66 On the Canticles,
P. L. CLXXXIII, col. 1098) states that the so-called Apostolici
denied Purgatory and the utility of prayers for the departed. In
the 16th century, Martin Luther, O.S.A. [Schmalcaldic Article,
Pars. II. Art. II, Sec. 12-15], and John Calvin [Instit. III 5,
6-10], denied the existence of Purgatory. The Eastern-Rite Orthodox, e.g., the Greek Orthodox, seem to
have a vague and indefinite notion of Purgatory [cf. Confessio
Orthodoxa of Petrus Mogilas, P.I., q. 64-66-revised by Meletios
Syrigos, and the Confessio of Dositheos, Decr. 18].
the dead begin their eternal fates after death, either immediately
or after being purified in purgatory. On judgment day, the dead
are reunited with their bodies and their eternal fates continue.
is why Christ could say, "And do not fear those who kill the
body, but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear him who is
able to destroy both soul and body."Matthew10:28.