The Dead Are Dead Until the Rapture or Resurrection

When a person dies, he is dead, that is, totally without life. A Christian has body, soul, and holy spirit, so we will look at what happens to each of these components if he dies. The body cannot live without the animating life force of the soul, so when the soul is gone, the body is dead. We have all seen lifeless bodies—the body is there but the soul, the life force, is gone.

Just as the body is not alive without the soul, so the soul cannot live on its own without a body. The soul is not a ghost that lives on after the body dies. Rather, it is the animating force that makes the body alive. God created the soul, the life force, for both animals and man, and it is passed down from one generation to the next. There was no “soul ghost” that God put into us when the sperm of our father and egg of our mother came together.

Every living part of a human or animal has “soul,” that is, life. Every cell of our body has soul in it, which is what makes it alive. A dead cell is a cell without soul—the soul is gone. As with every cell, the egg from my mother and the sperm from my father that became “me” each had their own cell-body and soul, and that soul was passed down to “me” when the sperm fertilized the egg. If the egg were “dead,” the lifeless egg-body would be there, but it could not be fertilized, and if the sperm were dead, it could not fertilize the egg.

When a human cell dies, the life in that cell does not go to be with God, it is just gone. Similarly, the soul that makes the egg and sperm alive does not live on in the presence of God if the sperm or egg dies. Men have millions of living sperm, sperm with soul, that die, and women have hundreds of thousands of living eggs, eggs with soul, which are never fertilized, and die. The soul in all those sperms and eggs does not “go” anywhere if the sperm or egg dies, and certainly not to be with God, rejoicing in His presence. As with the life in any cell, it just dies and is gone. On the other hand, if the sperm fertilizes an egg, then the life in them is passed on and becomes the life of the new baby. [1]

The Bible says that God created the same life force, called “soul,” for both animals and man, but it is hard to see that in most English Bibles, because the translators say “soul” when the verse refers to humans, but use other English words such as “creature,” “thing,” “life,” etc., when the verse refers to animals. [2] The soul, the life, in animals and in mankind does not “go” anywhere when the animal or person dies, it just ceases to be. Interestingly, most Christians recognize that about animals, and realize that animals do not go to heaven or “hell” when they die. [3] Their body decays, and their soul is gone. What we need to understand is that the Bible says people and animals are alike in that when they die, their body decays and returns to dust, and their soul dies too. That is one reason why there are verses, some of which we will see in this article, that say that when a person dies, his soul is in “Sheol,” the grave or the state of being dead.

Just as the soul gives us physical life, the gift of holy spirit from God gives us spiritual life. The holy spirit inside a Christian is not like a ghost with thinking capacity on its own. The holy spirit gives spirit life to the “person,” the body animated by the soul. Our holy spirit was not alive with God before we became a Christian, thinking and rejoicing in His presence, and then somehow came into us, like a ghost possessing our body, when we got saved. Rather, the holy spirit we now have was a part of God’s great reservoir of spiritual life, of which He gave us a part when we got born again. [4] The holy spirit is the spiritual life from God that infuses every cell of our body and, as our new spiritual nature, is part of who we are.

If we die, the holy spirit “returns” to God (Eccles. 12:7). Since God is everywhere, that most likely means that He remembers us and will re-energize our bodies with spirit at the Rapture. Another possibility is that God simply reclaims the spiritual life force He put in us. In any case, the holy spirit God gave us did not have a mind or memory before it was given to us, and it does not have one after we die. It is spiritual life, spiritual power, that we have from God. My “spirit” is not rejoicing with God after “I” die. A person is alive only as an integrated whole before he dies, and only as an integrated whole will he live again, when God raises him from the dead.

The Bible has a significant number of verses that let us know that when a person dies he is dead and awaiting the Rapture or resurrection. [5] Many are self-explanatory, while some need some explanation to get the most from them. It is not the purpose of this short article to replace much larger books on the state of the dead, nor can we mention every verse or argument that supports the teaching that the dead are dead, or give an answer to the more difficult verses on the subject. [6] In fact, we have tried to print only the relevant part of each Scripture section, saving space by leaving out parts of verses, so it will be helpful if you read these verses in your own Bible for a more complete understanding of them in their contexts. In this article we will give some of the important verses and pieces of evidence that the dead are not alive in any form, but are awaiting being raised from the grave.

The dead are in the grave, not in heaven or “hell.”

The verses that follow focus our attention on the fact that the dead are dead, “sleeping” in the ground and turned back to dust. They are not alive in heaven, hell, or Paradise. [7]

Deuteronomy 31:16 (KJV) [8]
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers…

God told Moses he would “sleep” with his ancestors, not that he was going to heaven to be with God or his ancestors. God made it clear that Moses was going to sleep, a state that, for Moses, will end with the Resurrection of the Just. [9] “Sleep” is an excellent metaphor for death, because a sleeping person is not participating in life’s activities, but will wake up as the same person who went to sleep. “Sleep” is often used of death (Job 7:21; Ps. 13:3, 90:5; Dan. 12:2; John 11:11; 1 Cor. 11:30, 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:14, 5:10). The fuller metaphor of sleeping with one’s ancestors occurs in 2 Samuel 7:12, 1 Kings 1:21, and Acts 13:36 of King David.

Job 7:21 (ESV) [10]
…For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.”

Job 14:12-14 (ESV)
(12) so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.
(13) Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
(14) If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.

When a person dies, he “lies down” in death and does not rise out of that sleep until his “renewal” at the resurrection. Job’s saying he would be hidden in Sheol (the state of death) makes no sense if he believed that at his death he would be with God in heaven or in a good place.

Psalm 6:5 (ESV)
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?

People who die are not in the presence of God. They are dead in every way, and in the sleep of death do not remember or praise God.

Psalm 16:10 (ESV)
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

Psalm 30:9 (ESV)
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

When we die, we return to dust, and that dust does not praise God. The psalmist is asking God to keep him alive, and reminding God that if he dies, He will get no praise from “dust.”

Psalm 49:12, 14 and 15 (ESV)
(12) Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
(14) Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning [at their resurrection]. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
(15) But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah

The “soul” in man is like the soul life in animals. It is not immortal, so it dies when the person dies. Christians who die remain in Sheol, the state of being dead, until God ransoms us from the grave at the Rapture. At that time God re-empowers our bodies, but not with the soul life we have now.

Psalm 89:48 (ESV)
What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Psalm 115:17 (ESV)
The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence.

The dead are not in the presence of God praising Him. They are in “silence” until the Rapture or resurrection.

Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 and 10 (ESV)
(4) But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
(5) For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
(6) Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
(10) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

These verses are very clear. The dead are not celebrating in the presence of God. They are in Sheol, the grave, and there they have no knowledge, no love, no hate, no work, no thoughts, no wisdom.

Isaiah 26:19 (ESV)
Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Dead people are dwelling in the dust, not in heaven. But there is a time coming when the graves will open and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Isaiah 38:18 (ESV)
For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness.

We have already seen that those in the grave have no knowledge or wisdom. There is no consciousness of any kind in death, so of course there is no “hope” either.

Daniel 12:1 and 2 (ESV)
(1) “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
(2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

The angel told Daniel that the people who were sleeping in the dust of the earth would awake in the resurrection, of which Scripture tells us there will be two: the Just and the Unjust (John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:5 and 6, 11-15).

Daniel 12:13 (ESV)
But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

As great as Daniel was, he did not go to heaven when he died, but will receive his inheritance after he sleeps and then rises from the dead “at the end of days.” The NIV makes this clearer: “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

Hosea 13:14
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?…

God does not ransom “bodies” from the grave, He ransoms the whole person, who gets up in a new body.

John 3:13 (ESV)
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

This verse could not be clearer. By the first century, no one had ascended into heaven. [11]

Acts 2:29-32 and 34 (ESV)
(29) “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
(30) Being therefore a prophet…
(31) he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
(32) This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
(34) For David did not ascend into the heavens…

If David was in heaven, Peter should have said so. Instead, Peter said just the opposite, that David “…did not ascend into the heavens….” His point was not that Jesus was in heaven with a body and David was in heaven without one. His point was that David was dead and Jesus was not.

The Dead Will Get Up at the Rapture, or One of the Resurrections

When a person dies, he goes to Sheol (the grave; the state of death), and returns to dust. Therefore, the Bible rightly directs our attention to the Rapture or resurrection, which is when people will be raised to life.

Job 19:25-27 (ESV)
(25) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
(26) And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,
(27) whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

Job was excited about seeing God when he was in his new body, which would happen at the resurrection. He never spoke of being with God when he died.

Ezekiel 37:12-14 (ESV)
(12) Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
(13) And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
(14) And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

Speaking of those Old Testament Jews who believed, these verses are loaded with truth. Chief among that truth is that the people would know the LORD was God when He opened their graves and raised them up. If people’s “immortal souls” went to heaven when they died, that would be the time they knew the LORD was God, not much later when their bodies were raised.

Matthew 22:23-32 (ESV)
(23) The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question,
(24) saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’
(25) Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother.
(26) So too the second and third, down to the seventh.
(27) After them all, the woman died.
(28) In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
(29) But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
(30) For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
(31) And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:
(32) ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

This powerful section of Scripture is also recorded in Mark 12:18-27 and Luke 20:27-38. The Sadducees did not believe in any form of life after death. They rightly understood Jesus’ message that the dead would get up “in the resurrection,” so they asked whose wife the woman would be at that time. If Jesus believed that after a person died his soul lived on, this was the perfect place to say that one’s soul or spirit did not marry in heaven. Instead, because he knew dead people are dead until the resurrection, he said “in the resurrection” people will not marry.

Luke 14:14 (ESV)
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

If people went right to heaven or “hell” when they died, they would be repaid for their actions immediately after death. We are repaid after we rise from the dead, which is what Jesus taught.

John 11:21-26 (ESV)
(21) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
(22) But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
(23) Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
(24) Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
(25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
(26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Even if Martha believed her brother was alive in a good place but still wanted him to be with her, she would have said she wanted him back from heaven. Instead, she clearly indicated she believed her brother was dead, and would only live again “in the resurrection.”

The Bible has many accounts of people being raised from the dead. At no time did Elisha, Jesus, Peter, or Paul, pray to God before raising the person to see if they would be willing to leave heaven and return to this fallen world where they would only have to die again someday. Furthermore, if the people who had died were in heaven, it certainly seems that they would have had something to say about what heaven was like when they returned. Even if they promised God they would not talk about heaven, it seems that someone would have asked them about it.

John 14:3 (ESV)
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jesus told his disciples they would be with him when he came again, not when they died.

Acts 4:1 and 2 (ESV)
(1) And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,
(2) greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The Apostles were not teaching that people went to be with Jesus when they died. If they had been, that is what the religious leaders would have been upset about. Instead, the Apostles were teaching the resurrection from the dead. Other verses confirm that the Apostles taught the resurrection (Acts 17:18 and 32, 24:15).

1 Corinthians 15:42, 51 and 52 (ESV)
(42) So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
(51) …We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
(52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

It is very important to note that every believer is “raised imperishable” at the same time: “the last trumpet.” We do not have an imperishable immortal soul that lives with Jesus after we die. We become “imperishable” only when we are raised from the dead.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (ESV)
(13) But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
(14) For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
(15) For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
(16) For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
(17) Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

If Paul wanted Christians not to grieve, and knew that when people died their soul or spirit went to be with God, he would have said so here in order to help comfort people. Instead he tells us that all the dead in Christ will rise at the Rapture when the Lord comes, and comforts us by letting us know that even when a person dies, he will rise again.

Titus 2:13 (ESV)
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Our hope is the coming of the Lord, because that is when the dead are raised and can be with Jesus.

Revelation 20:4 and 5 (ESV)
(4) Then I saw…the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus…. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
(5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

These verses separate the people who come to life in the first resurrection from those who do not. The souls of the righteous, meaning righteous people, come to life after the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21) and reign with Christ.

Revelation 20:11-13 (ESV)
(11) Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
(12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
(13) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades [the grave] gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

These verses depict the Resurrection of the Unjust (Acts 24:15), also called the Resurrection of Judgment (John 5:29), and the Judgment that follows immediately afterward. At this future time, all the unjust people will get up and be judged. The souls of the wicked are not judged and thrown into Gehenna when the person dies.

The Judgment Follows the Resurrection

If people died and went to heaven or “hell,” it would mean that their judgment had already occurred, for no one could be allowed in heaven or sent to “hell,” (more properly, burned up in Gehenna) before they were judged. However, Scripture is clear that the Day of Judgment is still in the future.

Matthew 10:15 (ESV)
Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Jesus said that the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah is still future, but those people died about 4,000 years ago. It is obvious that after they died they were not judged, but still await the resurrection and Judgment along with everyone else who has died. The verses on the coming Day of Judgment are too many to print in this short article, but some clear ones that show that it is future include: Matthew 11:22 and 24, 12:36; 2 Pet. 2:9, 3:7; Jude 1:6.

Matthew 12:41 and 42 (ESV)
(41) The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
(42) The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

In these verses Jesus makes the general point that people will get up in the future at the Judgment. He was not being specific about the two resurrections (he was clear about them in other places), nor was he trying to justify or condemn any one person, but was showing that in the resurrection, when everyone gets up, they will together condemn those who rejected Jesus. All the people Jesus mentioned, “the queen of the South” (who is the Queen of Sheba and lived in the 900’s B.C.), the men of Nineveh (800-750 B.C.), and the people Jesus preached to (about 30 A.D.) all will, in the future, get up with each other at the Judgment. All the dead will be raised and judged at the same time, in the judgment appropriate to them.

Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV)
(47) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.
(48) When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.
(49) So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous
(50) and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus taught in this parable that the Judgment is future, “…at the close of the age….” It is then and only then that evil people will be separated from righteous people. Jesus taught a similar lesson in the parable of the weeds of the field (Matt. 13:36-42).

Matthew 16:27 (ESV)
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

People are repaid for what they have done in life when Jesus comes and they are raised from the dead, not when they die.

John 5:22 (ESV)
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,

Every person who has ever lived will be judged by the Son, which will occur in the future. Before Jesus died and rose again, these words could not be fulfilled.

John 5:28 and 29 (ESV)
(28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
(29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Right now, dead people are “in the tombs.” In the future, they will be a part of the Rapture of the Church or one of the two resurrections. Jesus spoke of the “resurrection of life” because in that resurrection people are raised to everlasting life, while in the “resurrection of judgment” the vast majority will be condemned to Gehenna and burned up.

Acts 17:31 (ESV)
because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (ESV)
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?

2 Timothy 4:1 (ESV)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

The Greek text of this verse is very clear that the Judgment is coming in the future. Some English versions say “will judge,” some say, “is going to judge,” and some say “is about to judge.” This verse shows that people who have died have not been judged yet, so it goes without saying that they cannot be in heaven or condemned to Gehenna yet.

Hebrews 6:1 and 2 (ESV)
(1) Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
(2) and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Note in these verses how the foundational and elementary doctrines of the Christian faith do not include going to heaven or “hell” when we die, but rather the “resurrection” and the “eternal judgment” which follows it.

2 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Jude 1:6 (ESV)
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Some of the angels (fallen angels, which we sometimes refer to as demons) sinned so grievously that God is not allowing them to be free, but instead is keeping them in chains until the Day of Judgment. Thus, even angels are not judged immediately, but await Judgment Day. Another verse saying some angels are awaiting the Judgment is 2 Peter 2:4. When the demons spoke to Jesus, they asked if he were going to torment them “before the time,” meaning before the Day of Judgment (Matt. 8:29).

We have now seen a large amount of Scriptural evidence that those who have died are not alive, but are dead and awaiting the resurrection. On the other hand, the Devil has a vested interest in getting people to believe that the dead are alive. For one thing, it allows his demons to impersonate the dead and communicate untruths to mankind. For another, it makes the stark reality of death seem less of an enemy than it actually is. It also promotes ancestor worship, taking people’s attention off the true God. And it causes great confusion and concern about how people died and whether or not their “ghosts” are peaceful now. Thus, well meaning people try to discern how to make “dead people’s ghosts” peaceful or satisfied, rather than simply realizing they are dealing with demons and casting them out by the power of Jesus Christ.

The stark reality is that dead people are dead, and that death is a terrible, horrific enemy, stealing our most valuable possession—our very life. The great comfort to Christians is that death is not the end of our existence, because God will raise us from the dead in new, imperishable bodies, and we will be with Him and the Lord forever.

Endnotes

[1] Since science cannot examine “soul,” we do not know exactly what happens to the soul life of the egg and sperm in fertilization. Does one die and the other provide the life for the new individual, or do the soul life of the egg and sperm somehow blend? We do not know. We do know that the sin nature in mankind is passed on through the male side, which is how Jesus could be born of a woman yet be without the sin nature inherited by all the rest of Adam’s descendants.
[2] In the Hebrew text, Genesis 1:20, 21, 24, and 30 clearly show that animals have a soul. The Hebrew word is nephesh, Strong’s number 5315. Many modern versions do not even use “soul” for the verses regarding mankind either. Studying this subject in the KJV helps somewhat, because it does use “soul” quite often, but a tool such as: The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, MA, reprinted 2006) [which is in English, not Hebrew] is most helpful.
[3] We put “hell” in quotes because the concept of a place where people are eternally tortured is not biblical. For more information see Edward Fudge, The Fire that Consumes (Providential Press, Houston, TX, 1982).
[4] God is the great source of spirit, and when a person gets saved, God gives us a part of His spirit. Acts 2:17 and 18 do not say, as per many versions that God will pour out “my Spirit.” The literal is like the KJV, that God will pour out “of my Spirit,” i.e. a part of His spirit (cp. 1 John 4:13). The measure of holy spirit that any Christian receives is the fullness of what God makes available in this Grace Administration. Thus, every Christian, while receiving a part of God’s great reservoir of spirit, still receives a full measure of holy spirit.
[5] We say Rapture or Resurrection because Christians will be in the Rapture, while others will get up in one of the two resurrections.
[6] One book that covers the state of the dead in more detail is our book, Is There Death After Life? Also there is some important material on the subject in another of our books, The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul, pp. 127-135. Also, in this short article we do not mention all the different Judgments, such as the Sheep and Goat Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46), but have kept the subject to the Rapture and the two major resurrections that will occur in the future.
[7] We add “Paradise” here because many theologians recognize that no person could “go to heaven” before Jesus did, for if so, his death was not really necessary. Thus what is commonly taught is that before Jesus made heaven available, the righteous people went to “Paradise,” and then all the “immortal souls” in Paradise went to heaven after Jesus died and rose from the dead.
[8] We use the KJV here because it uses “sleep.” In different verses the Hebrew text uses different words to convey the state of sleep. In this case and context, the Hebrew means “to lie down in sleep,” so many versions say “lie down” instead of “sleep.”
[9] There are three times when people rise from the dead: the Rapture, for Christians (1 Thess. 4:16-18); the First Resurrection, or the Resurrection of the Just, for the righteous who died before Pentecost or after the Rapture (Rev. 20:5); the Second Resurrection, or the Resurrection of the Unjust, for all others (John 5:29; Rev. 20:11-15).
[10] Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
[11] John 3:13 is a very important verse in letting us know the dead are dead. It appears in red letters in most versions, but should not be. It was not spoken by Jesus, but narrated by John. This point is made much clearer in versions such as the KJV: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” By the time John narrated the gospel of John, Jesus was in heaven, as the KJV says. It seems likely that as the tradition developed that it was Jesus who had spoken these words, the last phrase was dropped by copyists, because it made no sense to them that Jesus could be on earth speaking with Nicodemus and in heaven at the same time. Most modern versions translate the verse in its shorter version, because that seems to make the most sense to them also. Bullinger has some good notes about this section in The Companion Bible.

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145 comments

  1. I love the way you updated this site! It mad me so easy to find articles. I love to translate these short articles in Korean language and every time I do I keep en English copy in my persona file.
    Again I said this arrangement made my work some much easier.

    Thank you Ryan.

  2. I have been thinking a lot about this topic of late and it makes sense because why else,would people be longing for the resurrection.
    My question, though I have not finished your article yet, is what about the martyrs under the throne of G or mentioned in Revelation?
    Thank you.

  3. 2 King 2:11, Hebrews 11:5,
    I cannot for the life of me understand why man thinks they can explain every thing written in the Word of God. Jesus himself said humanity will always see things that are spirtual as in a fog. WE will never know the truth until Christ return and we were not meant to. Why do you put stumbling blocks before God’s children. God did not say for us to not to believe in Heaven after death, nor did he tell us not to teach hell after death. What difference does it make for a believer in Jesus to die thinking they will go straight to Heaven? I believe it is one of the reasons Christians should not fear death. I really do not care if this is true or not, just the fact that as a believer in Christ will allow me entrance into Heavens whenever is good enought for me. It did not take me long after I started reading your article that my spirit became sad. I teach my children that if they except Christ as the Son of God and that he died and rose again so their sins will be forgiven they will go to Heaven when they die.

    1. Hi Jerry, It is true that there are many things that we will never understand about God and the spiritual realm, but God also clearly tells us that “the secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever…” Duet 29:29. There is a reason God revealed the truth concerning death, and life after death. Make no mistake, lies always have negative consequences, whereas there is always freedom in truth. I understand that many people find it comforting to believe the lie about heaven being available now, but it comes at the price of people being lead astray by deceiving spirits. Many Christians I know who believe this lie pray regularly to their departed loved ones, and look to signs and communication from them. I have always taught my children (all 7 of them) the truth about death and we all find it just as comforting to know that when we die we are dead, and the very first thing we will know is being raised to be with Christ. This is biblical and there is no unintended negative consequences from teaching it, because it is the truth.

      1. Your right….100%

        Jesus said to the Thieve on the Cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Not in some shallow grave

        Lou

        1. Actually, that’s not entirely correct. Remember, WE added the punctuation to help us after 1500 AD. The actual quote is “Verily I say unto thee today thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” That is the original translation. The proper punctuation, however, is most likely “Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” This is supported by the Bible, as we know Jesus wasn’t in ‘paradise’ that day. He told Mary (three days after that – John 20) that he had not yet ascended to the Father. Jesus is not wrong. So it’s safe to say, we placed the comma in the wrong place in 1500 AD, and some people made an entire doctrine out of it.

        2. Lou. This is a very interesting counter point that is clearly a strong context that Paradise was an immediate occurrence when referenced as “today”. I like this comment.

      2. That was amazing!!!!!!

      3. 😀 Truth will set us free, not cause confusion. Thank you 🙂 I am just relearning this now. It’s amazing!!

    2. What difference does it make for a believer in Jesus to die thinking they will go straight to Heaven? Simply put it makes a lot of difference if it is not Biblical. You have to take into account that in death there is no time frame. So with that said when we die there are a lot of things we stop one surely is keeping track of time, it might just be us as soon as we die we are present with God because time will be nothing to us in death. It is not like you are waiting around for a clock to sound an alarm, you will be asleep.

      1. Gary, that is true. When a person dies their entire consciousness stops. They have no experience of time. So as a person closes his eyes and takes his or her last breath, the very next moment in time , from their perspective, is that they are raised and with the Lord.

    3. I would not consider any one’s translation from a book that was translated from the Bible from a person in this day and age. Get a AUTHORIZED KJV and you will find many of the verses are different to the point the content is changed by the ESV, NIV etc…

      1. They are different Joe because there are more accurate texts that they are translated from then the KJV, which relied upon the only one they had FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO!

      2. KJV is actually not a completely accurate translation. Just look at Hosea 13:14 – The KJV has the complete incorrect meaning, going against what the verses before and after it say. It literally makes no sense to read it. However, direct translations like NET have the correct translation that agrees with the context 100%. While some modern translations are indeed worse than KJV – there are now much closer to the original Hebrew and Greek translations (with much more accuracy.) Many “old-fashioned” Christians think very highly of the KJV for some reason, but it is no longer the most accurate to the original texts.

    4. I have been bothered by this as well. Why would Jesus tell the theif on the cross ” TODAY you will be with me in paradise” if he would not immediatley go there? Maybe if we are just sleeping it wont be as any time passed. We just wake up like it is the next day even though maybe 50 years have passed while we were just sleeping…like Rip van Winkle kind of thing. I agree with you, I dont care if we are sleeping or in Glory. I know that is my final home and it does my soul well to claim that as my immediate home after death and teach my children the same!

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  5. Where does the story of Lazarus and the rich man fit in? I apologize if this was already addressed, I skimmed over the article rather quickly here at work and has proved to spark a very thoughtful, provocative conversation amongst coworkers.

    1. It’s only a story, a parable, not necessarily true in all the facts that are used to illustrate a point.

      1. Do you not realise you are accusing the Saviour of being deceitful.

        1. Deceitful? the telling of a parable to make a spiritual point is deceitful? When he made up a story about the Good samaritan was he being deceitful because the men did not actually exist? Was he deceitful when he spoke of a woman who lost a coin, but there wasn’t a real woman? Don’t be silly? HE was making a point and the details of the story do not need to be true in fact for the point to be made!

      2. What about the conversation of Christ with the thief on the cross about meeting him in Paradise?

        1. Jesus didn’t say the thief would meet him that very day. After all, on that day Jesus was dead and in the grave, not in prardise. It is a reference to a future event, and the use of today was to add emphasis on the words he spoke on that day.

        2. Well done arcilte that. I’ll make sure to use it wisely.

    2. Fidinng this post. It’s just a big piece of luck for me.

  6. All of these verses refrence the body being ressurected. Nowhere do these scripture give reference to our spirit which goes to heaven to be with our Lord at the very instance we die. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” ” Today you will be withme in paridise”.

    Pastor James Bergquist

    1. When Paul said,”to be absent from the body,” he was not referring to his physical body but the Body of Christ. And like all of us desire, he too would rather be with the Lord, but there is no indication in this verse that this happens immediately upon one’s death. Also the meaning of the “today you will be in paradise with me” quote changes dramatically depending upon where the comma is placed. For instance, as quoted from the NIV, Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luk 23:43) NIV. With the comma placed before the word “today” it makes the sentences mean that you will be in paradise that very day. But change the comma to after today and what happens is that Jesus is making the man the promise “today,” that he will be in paradise. The other thing to note is that heaven is not paradise. Paradise is a reference to the restoration of Earth in the Millennial Kingdom, clearly a future event and not something that was even available “the day” Jesus spoke the words, further proving our point that when people die, they are dead and everyone is waiting for the resurrection.

      Note: Luke 23:43 is stated correctly in the REV )Revised English Version, “Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

      1. That’s just silly. Why would it take being absent from the body of Christ to be present with Him? Also, as the article quoted, Jesus said “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” That means they are living. How could you get anything else out of it? I think it’s all a mystery, but the soul can live without the body.

        1. Sorry Patti, but he statement “He is not the God of the dead, but the living,” does not mean that the dead are alive. rather it is a reference to He will raise up those who have died, otherwise what is the purpose for the resurrection of the dead?

          How do you explain Isaiah 26:19? “But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. (Isa 26:19 NIV) or Ezekiel 37? and the overwhelming verses that indicate when you die you are dead?

          1. Hi there, yup this paragraph is truly nice and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging.
            thanks.

      2. No commas Dan in the Greek a misdirection on your part.

        1. Jimmy, no misdirection intended. Yes, there are no commas in Greek, but there is punctuation in English and they make a huge difference for us in the understanding conveyed in a translation. The understanding of Jesus statement must be understood in light of the whole of scripture, which clearly teaches that when you die you are dead, which is why there is a resurrection.

    2. That came from paganism.

    3. Actually, the Bible never says that. It’s a shame people quote tradition like this. That’s not even what the Bible says. That is very much twisting it to fit a meaning. I mean, you even cut off half of the verse to fit your narrative. Please re-read it. It says “Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” That is NOT AT ALL “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” That quote does not exist. A pastor should know this…Same with “today you will be with me in paradise.” You’re leaving out half of the verse, and we know Jesus wasn’t in paradise that day; he told Mary three days later he had not yet ascended (John 20). The full verse is “Verily I say unto thee today thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” There is no punctuation in the original text, as we all know (we added that in 1500). Since we know he didn’t ascend yet, three days later, I think it’s safe to assume the comma (in English) belongs here : “Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with Me in paradise.”

    4. are you considering the part about the Spirit being the Holy Spirit (His Spirit) that dwells in us and returns to Him immediatel..but the spirit doesn’t have memory, it’s His power…so no, we aren’t up in Heaven praising God until we all are resurrected together. When He separates the wheat from the chaff, then we’ll be in paradise.

  7. Thank you many people sat that when someone dies they go straight to heaven which is not real. Thank God for your articles.

    Love from Uganda(East Africa)

  8. As we all know but often hate to admit, a popular viewpoint or opinion is not always correct.
    Thank you for pointing out (clearly) what most of us do not want to think about.
    At present, our personal accountability is something that is easier to overlook than address, but we will all have to face the music.
    At that time, may God be merciful to us all and forgive us for being wilfully being ignorant in this life.

  9. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

    Preparing For Eternity    

  10. I enjoy the audio cd teachings, books and other items you offer. I thank God daily for everyone at Spirit & Truth, and for the all the hard work and research that john schoenheit, dan gallagher and others put into each audio and dvd teaching that they release. I believe that Spirit & Truth offers the most accurate(that i’ve found to date) teachings re; the Word of God, and i just wanted to let you know how much i appreciate the effort and time they spend in their endeavors. Thanks and God Bless.

  11. Thanks for this article. and i know that God is leading us to the TRUTH. to all Christians i pray to GOD to pour out his Spirit to us and give us more Wisdom. God bless us all.

  12. i agree with this i when i read these verses in the bible i see (sleep) meaning an unconsious state…i tell people all the time we will be raised at the same time as abraham…here is another way to look at it…if someone died with the spirt of christ in them 5000 years ago and i die today in the year 2015 having christ as my savior that person that died 5000 years ago will awake with me at the same time…5000 years went by for them but it will be like the blink of an eye for them because there is no comprehention of time when you die untill you are raised…

  13. Great Article, you nailed it. I have also done a study on this on my website and came to the same conclusion, but with not as many scriptures as you have here. One thing I would like to add regarding what happens to our soul after we die is this: “For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:3-4 Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us that the body goes back to dust, the spirit goes back to God, and now we know what happens to the soul. It is “stored” with God until the resurrection/rapture and will be given back to us then when we get eternal life and our new bodies.

  14. Do you have an explaination of how Jesus could legally die for the sins of the world?

    1. The legal basis by which Jesus could die for one’s sins is called the principle of substitution and it is a major theme in the Bible. God instituted it immediately after Adam and Eve sinned (Gen 3:21). It is also the basis for the Levitical Laws of sacrifice (Ex 29:41-42; Num. 29:2; and the scapegoat of Lev 16). Isaiah 53 also makes the substitution of Christ’s perfect life and blood for our sins very clear, especially verse 5. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5 NIV)

  15. Thanks so much for this. I was filled with a hope as I was reading this. A light. I am reading a lot of articles on your site, but this was the first.

  16. I confused you by this other comment. What I mean is there are many books out of people who have died and claimed they saw loved ones and a white light and a sense of peace. Is this all of Satan?

    1. Jody, Thanks for the question. We believe God’s word is truth and it is clear that it teaches when we die we are dead awaiting the resurrection. There are lots of possible explanations for people who say they have had Near Death Experiences (NDE) or after death experiences (ADE). IT is always possible that their heart may have stopped but brain function didn’t, thus they are having some mental/visual imagery. People may also have had a spiritual revelation via God, or from demons. But the experiences do not invalidate the clear teaching of scripture. Instead we must explain our experiences through he window of God’s Word.

  17. That was so Accurate… I learned exactly what you taught in the way international! Wow I’m going to fellowship with the way international forever! Thank you for sharing the Word of God. Danny

  18. I’ve always struggled with this question: If sinners are to be judged, why do they go straight to hell after death?
    When people talk about seeing Jesus, Heaven, or Hell during near-death experiences, are they having revelations of future events? Why do some people describe things they’ve seen and heard while clinically dead?
    It’s easier to believe our loved ones are immediately in Heaven after death, but either belief is reason to rejoice.
    Thank you for the very detailed and clear (backed-up by Scripture) explanation.
    And, folks, It’s o.k. to disagree.

  19. After we buried our grandmother, I was walking down the graveyard with my aunt who is a Christian and reads the bible daily, she pointed out the fact that all of the graves were pointed in a certain direction, west or east I cant remember which, but she was talking about how that was done on purpose because when Christ comes back, the body in the grave is risen during the rapture? I just understood that to mean that the spirit will be in heaven after death but that we would get a different type of body after resurrection. Now it looks like that was untrue but that we are neither in spirit or a physical body in heaven afterward but a time and space of nothingness until the resurrection? I have heard of this doctrine before but rarely do you ever hear about this being preached???

    1. Your understanding makes much more sense than a “disappearing soul.” And when Christ comes, he will come from the east, that is why graves are facing that direction. So we can rise up and see Him.

  20. You fail to explain how and why Jesus would tell the thief on the cross that Todsy you will be with me in Paradise.
    Was this thief given special dispensation???

    Luke Chapter 23, verse 43

    1. You are misreading Jesus statement because of the punctuation that was added. Consider changing the location of the coma and you get an entirely different meaning, one that is consistent with the testimony of the rest of Scripture on the state of the dead. “Truly I say unto you today, (COMMA) you will be in Paradise with me. It is a promise of a future event. PUNCTUATION really matters.

      1. HCSB: 43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
        AV KJ: 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
        BBE: 43 And he said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in Paradise.
        CEVUK: 43 Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.”*
        ERV: 43 Then Jesus said to him, “I tell you for sure, today you will be with me in paradise.*”
        ESV: 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
        HCSB: 43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
        REB: 43 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you: today you will be with me in Paradise.”
        RSV: 43 and he said to him, “truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

        All versions say that “today you will be with me in Paradise” not “I say today that….”

        1. Vogel, and that translations say that because the translators translated according to their bias, which is that when you die you are alive. But that is contrary to what the Bible says. There is none that praise God from the grave (shoel).

  21. How were Elijah and Moses present with Jesus at the Transfiguration if they had not been yet resurrected?

    1. It was a “vision” given to Jesus for encouragement and to strengthen him to do what was ahead of him.

      1. I think you have done a great job explaining most of your points, but in your effort to cover every base you fail to give an adequate explanation of Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah. It may be that there are some who who are already resurrected. e.g. at Christ’s death there were some OT saints resurrected. It’s ok to admit there are some points that are not clear… it doesn’t undermine the stronger points of your argument.

        1. Jesus made it clear when he told the three that they were not to speak of the “vision.” The NIV mistranslates the Greek word “horama.”ESV Matthew 17:9 abAnd as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the VISION, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” (Mat 17:9 ESV)

  22. I under what you’re attempting to explain. But how do you reconcile Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah before the crucifixion? And Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind. And the saints ask the Lord, how long must we wait?

    1. Hebrews 11:13 says that all these (included in the list is Moses and Elijah) died. The prophets saw Elijah taken up in a whirlwind to heaven, meaning in the air above the earth. God transported him to another place where he died, which is why they wanted to go searching for him. Moses dies too,a nd when you die you are dead until the resurrection. What happened on the Mt. of Transfiguration was a “vision” to encourage and strengthen Jesus.

      1. The Bible doesn’t say that’s where Elijah went to die you added that to scripture

        1. Jimmy, that is true, but he Bible says in Hebrews that all those listed died,a nd Elijah is included in that list. “All these people were still living by faith when they died.” (Heb 11:13 NIV)

          1. 2nd Chronicles 21 v 12 indicates clearly that Elijah wrote a letter to King Jehoram some 10 years after he [ Elijah ] was taken up into the air and obviously taken to another location on the Earth.

          2. Hi James, 2 Chronicles has been confusing to many because it does make it appear as though Elijah sent a letter ten years after he was translated. Elijah was translated during the reign of Jehoram, son of AHAB (852 to 841 bc). Whereas 2 Chron 21:12 is referring to Jehoram, son of JEHOSHAPHAT (848-841 bc). Since he was translated during the reign of Jehoram of Israel, it makes sense that he could have sent the letter to Jehoram of Judah. The confusion is simple, same name but different people.

          3. Elijah is not on that list. With regards to Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises , the context is related to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They died before seeing the fulfillment of the promise of a “great nation of Israel”

          4. Good points Josh, but even if Elijah isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean he didn’t die. Its false reasoning to think the list is meant as a complete identification of all who have died, especially since the the Bible still clearly teaches that when we die, we are dead, and will remain so until we are raised at the ressurection.

  23. Yes, the dead are dead until the resurrection to Life. All who dwell in the world of death are dead and know nothing. They don’t even know they are dead. Adam (mankind) died when he was cast out of the land of the living. The entire Bible, from front to back, is concerned with releasing Adam (Man) from his sentence of death, from his imprisonment in the world, which is “beneath”, and restoring him to his former estate. That is when the Resurrection occurs.

  24. Jesus told the thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Not at the Resurrection you will be with me. It also says that Moses and Elijah were taken up into heaven and appeared with Jesus at the Transfiguration. It implies that Enoch was taken into heaven by God without knowing death. Catholic doctrine declares that Mary the mother of Jesus was also taken into heaven, although there is no Biblical support for this. If you are correct in your interpretation of Scripture then heaven currently has only 4 or 5 people inhabiting it with God and the angels.

    1. Sorry Rev. David, but you are misquoting the Bible. It says, “I SAY UNTO YOU today you will be with me in Paradise.” add a comma after today and you have the truth of the statement and then it lines up with the testimony of the Old Testament that when we die we are dead.

  25. Is cremation ok…..?

    1. Of course. Otherwise those who died in a fire would be in tough place when it comes to the resurrection.

    2. Awesome! Its genuinely awesome paragraph, I have got much clear idea about from this piece
      of writing.

  26. Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    1. Nope

  27. I live IN GLOBE AZ. 80 miles east of Phoenix az. You guys are right on the money. I wish I had heard about you before. Do u have any fellowships or gatherings in or around Phx Ariz?

    1. I’m in your general area.

  28. I enjoyed the article and have always held firm to these truths. Unfortunately, I came across this because I have lately been in a disagreement with my local pasture (A man for whom I have the upmost respect and appreciation .) I was looking for all the scriptures to base my doctrinal theory. I only have one question. The one scripture that has always been used in opposition is Luke23:43. What is Jesus referring to “paradise” and how does this not contradict my idea of death.

    1. We’ve answered this many times, just read through the comments and you will see the misunderstanding is a result of punctuation, or the lack thereof.

  29. The main problem with your position on this is that it doesn’t fit with Christ telling the thief on the cross that today he would be in Paradise with him. You can’t have it both ways. I will stay with the bright light path and let you believe you will be laying in a whole and that is the end of things until the resurrection

    1. Hi Martin, We are not “having it both ways,” as you say. Please go back and read the actual verse because Jesus did say, “You will be in Paradise today.” It says, “I say unto you today you will be in Paradise.” The phrase, “I say unto you today,” was a common statement mande to add emphasis to the words. Add a comma, as it should be, and you get the correct emphasis he was placing on his words, and a promise that the thief would one day be with him. “I say unto you today, (pause) you will be with me in paradise.”

  30. Here’s something I don’t understand and yet to have find an article or person who can answer this. If what the Bible says is true, that those who believe in Jesus will be resurrected, where are all those people going to fit on Earth? Billions of people have died before us and many more will die after us. Let’s say that even a fraction of those people were believers, there is no possible way that the Earth would be able to hold that many people. So either A) people do indeed go to heaven after they die or B) we die and that’s it, no God, no heaven, etc. The Earth cannot physically hold every single believer up to this point and beyond.

    1. Your position that “The Earth cannot physically hold every single believer up to this point and beyond” is flawed. The reality is that the historical numbers of people through antiquity who have believed in Jesus, or who have lived righteously, is not really Billions and Billions of popped. At the present time we have 7 billion people on this planet and we are not anywhere near running out of room. OF the 2.3 billion who say they are Christian, not all have actually confessed Jesus as their Lord, but only claim that because that is how they were raised. If we add up all of those from the first century church to today we would probably have less than 2 billion people, a number far less than are even alive on the Earth today.

  31. Thank you for taking the time to teach this. Even as a small child It didn’t make sense to me that people died and went right to Heaven before judgment. I also thought why are we going to church on Sunday when Jesus went on Sabbath which is Saturday.GODS chosen people are going on Sabbath I wanted to go then too. Funny as a small child I knew more than most adults. I believe GOD can put these ideas in children’s minds. Of course now as an adult I do go to church on Sabbath. What a blessing I get from going on the day the LORD made.

  32. i am prepared for everything and my friends are so come on and get it over with while we are still here and you need to prepare like me and my friends.

  33. For those who are still confused about whether or not the Dead immediately enter heaven or hell you need to take into consideration what the word CLEARLY says. Among them in 1st Thess. 4 Where it states that “The Dead in Christ shall rise first and THEN We who are alive shall be caught up TOGETHER WITH THEM to meet our Lord in the air. So shall we ever be with the Lord. If you enter heaven (or God forbid- Hell) upon death then there is no way we’d be rising up together with those who’ve gone on before us…. They’d already be gone.

    Then lets talk about the “Comma Conundrum” Yes, Jesus told the thief “For verily I say unto you today that you shall be with me in Paradise. You need to take into consideration that when these accounts were recorded punctuation as we know it didn’t exist. When the Bible was eventually translated into English, those who were charged with the task of translation added their punctuation’s where THEY saw fit. Often times cutting into sentences, restructuring paragraphs, and even changing books mid paragraph. So it is entirely possible that the comma was in fact placed wrongly. This can also be explained by the fact that Jesus , once he gave up the ghost, did NOT go directly to heaven upon his death. As prophesied, he was buried in the earth for three days and nights. THEN he was Ressurected, and walked the earth again reassuring his disciples that he was indeed the Messiah that God had foretold of. During that time Jesus was teaching his disciples what THEY needed to be preparing for on what would become known as the day of pentecost. After which Jesus THEN ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God. so, if we’re being accurate There is no possible way that the “thief” entered into heaven that same day that Jesus died, which would imply that by Jesus saying “Verily I say unto you TODAY, Thou shalt be with me in Paradise. He was talking about a future time.

    Confusions like this are what Paul was referring to when he pointed out that we needed to Study to show ourselves approved “RIGHTLY” dividing the word of Truth.

    1. THANK YOU

  34. i agree with all of this but there are a few verses that say to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord i would rather be with the Lord but you need me here and i long to put off this earthly tent and put on a heavenly body and rather be with the Lord i know im not wording these correctly but those few verses are the main ones that back up when paul died he expected to be with God.and they are pretty convincing how can you explain these? thank you

    1. Eric, people commonly quote those sections of Paul in an attempt to disprove that the dead are alive. we do not believe Paul was expressing the thought that when he died he would be with the Lord. It was his preference to be with jesus, compared to being in this world, which is all of our preferences too. But we aren’t with him until the rapture, or until the resurrection.

    2. Your right Eric. Alot if these people are talking nonsense and blaming a comna!!! If your confused don’t listen to people. Read the word of God and He will answer you!!
      God bless you°°°°

  35. Jesus met with Moses and Elijah; were they sleeping?

    1. No, not likely.We believe the KJV has it properly translated. It was a vision, not literal physical presence of the individuals. KJV Matthew 17:9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. (Mat 17:9 KJV)

      1. You are right in that Sheol is a resting place for the dead. When the Hebrew was translated into Greek, they used the word Hades for Sheol. In Greek, Hades was the land of the dead. Notice how Sheol is only mentioned in the Old Testament. In the new, there is no mentioning of it or anything relating to it. This is because Sheol was the place for the dead before Jesus died on the cross, and paid our ransom. Before this happened, everyone went there, the holy and the unholy. In the new testament it has changed, as shown in the story of Lazarus in Luke 16. There is a split in what was once Sheol (Hades as said in Luke 16), and there was then a place of torture (where Lazarus went) for the unholy, and Paradise where Abraham and the beggar went. There is also a great chasm between the two which separates them. When Jesus died for our sins and paid our debt, that was the main event. The holy people in the Paradise or what was once Sheol were sent to heaven to be with God, as evidenced by Matthew 27:52 where the dead rose after Jesus died. There is no Sheol now, no place where we wait. If we live our lives for Christ, we go straight to heaven to be by God’s side. Those who do not live by Christ go to Hades with the other unbelievers, and at the end of time will be set before the white throne to be cast into the lake of fire as it says in Revelation 20. All this to say in the new testament, after Christ’s death, there is no mention of Sheol or sleep or a resting place for the soul, only of heaven after death, or of being by God’s side–evidence that there is no longer Sheol for believers, we are with God. For non-believers, there is Hades, which is essentially Hell, or torment. That is what I believe and what many others I know have found through scripture. But, I am always open to other views and to any wisdom I can find. Please let me know what you think!

        1. Hi Drew, Thanks for the reply but we don’t agree with you. to say that Sheol no longer exists because it is not mentioned in the NT is fallacious based on a reasoning from the negative. It is like saying I don’t have a dog because you have never seen me with one. The fact is that Sheol is only mentioned int he OT because it is a Hebrew word, which is wha the OT was written in whereas the NT is Greek. They are two entirely different languages. Also, there is no need for God to reconfirm every truth in the NT when it is so clearly established in the NT. There is no justification for your position that it change, which is why there will be a resurrection of the “dead.” The reason is, because the dead are dead, they cease to exist until raised agin to life.

  36. IS THAT ESSENTIAL TO BURIAL THE DEAD BODIES?
    COZ SOME CHRISTIAN FIRE OUT THE DEAD BODIES LIKE WE DO IN INDIAN TRADITION. PLZ EXPLAIN
    IF WE FIRE OUT THE BODIES CAN THEY RESRRUCTION AT THE END

    1. It makes no difference it one is buried or burned (cremated). All our bodies return to dust and at the resurrection we are given new bodies.

  37. “and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” In all your ranting and insisting that people die and are not alive again until the resurrection…did you happen to “hear” the verse you quoted from Jesus? because based on Jesus, Lazarus “never died” and neither will anyone else that believes in Him because “HE is the resurrection” not some “day” in the future.

    1. “Will never die,” in the sense of suffer everlasting death. Since Christ ascended his followers have been dying for 2,000 years so it can mean physical death. And there is nothing to modify the truth of the OT concerning the nature of shoel (Hebrew for grave). The dead are dead and he will raise them when He returns.

  38. I and my daughter are currently looking for a church and I would like to go to worship some where that have the same views as this article, I always believe that the dead is dead until the rapture, or resurrection, I do not like the teaching that we are judge when we die, but too many churches around here keep teaching this lie, but the Bible teach differently, can you help me find a church that teach the truth. I live in Georgia Metro Atlanta area.

    1. Hi Cathy, I wish we knew of a church near you but unfortunately we don’t. Here is a link to the listing of the churches and fellowships affiliated with us.

      http://www.stfonline.org/churches/find-a-church-usa You might even want to consider checking out one of our online virtual fellowships.

  39. Thank you, I already see two churches in the area, do you have a church maybe in the Douglasville area or Paulding County.

  40. Dan, do you have any teachings on “the chosen ones?” Your explanation of everything you have said lines up with my spirit and I’m so excited to read truth and truth with boldness. Thank you!

    1. Hi Sheila, can you elaborate more on your question?

  41. I do think your statement about the dead is dead does not explain and give a good coordination about Transfiguration Matthew 17:2, but also it doesn’t relate well with Mathew 12:32 , that explains that some sins can be forgiven now and the world to come . I don’t believe that your explanation about the dead is dead is right

    1. Samuel, Well we never expected that all would agree. We are putting forth our best understanding and those that have ears to hear will hear and those that don’t won’t. That’s a choice we are all free to make. God bless you.

  42. I would also want to know from Dan is Christ for the living alone or for both .Romans 14:7-9.

    And Romans 14:9 , for Christ died and rose to life in order to be the lord of the living and of the dead.
    That tells you that Christ as the supreme King has stake in both worlds and therefore purgatory Exists for cleansing your souls for forgivable sins Mathew 12:32.

    1. Samuel, how do you get that purgatory exists from that verse? Christ is truly King of all, both the living and the dead, which is how he can raise the dead. But make no mistake here, the dead are dead, which is why they need a resurrection.

  43. I think part of the problem of understanding this is that there is no “time” on the heaven side. Therefore we could possibly be in heaven at the same time we are here, or dead. When we lose “time” everything changes. Just like the laws of physics change on the quantum level, without time, everything changes. I have no problem believing that we can be “with the Lord” at the same time we are “sleeping with our fathers”.

    1. Hi Jerry, seriously? How can someone be in heaven and dead at the same time. If words have any true meaning then what you are saying is completely contradictory. When you die you are dead. That is clearly what the OT teaches.

  44. Thank you

  45. So the thief on the cross is still waiting for judgement like we are?

    1. Yes, but he was given the promise from Jesus of making it into the Kingdom.

  46. As a Catholic, I am constantly reminded to pray for the dead? Why would they need our
    prayers if they are asleep in the grave? I was taught to pray for those who have died to lessen their time in purgatory. How can they be in purgatory if their souls are dead?

    1. The dead are dead and there is no biblical basis for the Catholic tradition of purgatory. There is no need to pray for the dead because,a s the Bible says “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.” (Etc 9:5 NIV) The choice you must make is do you want to follow tradition of the truth of God’s word.

  47. Jesus Himself said on the cross to the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Yes, without a body… paradise does not mean a long nap.

    1. I say to you today, you will be in Paradise. Not, today you will be in paradise. there must be a comma because Paradise was not available on that “day,” hence no “today.” Punctuation is the difference between truth and error.

  48. what is the earliest version of KJB THAT is Readable, not the 1611 though. would it be 17th or 18th Century. I don’t want any KJB from the 20th and 19th century. They have made too many changes to suit the times. I want the oldest version that is Readable.

    1. There is only one KJV ever made, and it was done in 1611. There is a “NKJV” which is the New King James Version with more modern language.

    2. I think you are referring to a King James Version (KJV) which was made in 1611. There is no KJV other than that. The NKJV (New King James Version) is merely an adaptation of the 1611.

  49. I really appreciate everyone for these thoughtful expressions. Especially Bro. Gallagher who painstakingly attempted virtually every question. All of you are talking about same thing to me, just that, one is saying, it occurs almost immediately after death, and another is talking of the future. From what i understand, you all believed LIFE after death. That’s the central message of Christianity. Time and space is immaterial with God, when we die, the body goes to the dust from which it was made, but, the spirit goes to God who owns it. The questions you should ask your self is; where is God? Where is heaven? And where is your self( spirit) while you’re asleep? There are too many mysteries behind our lives. Let us live believing that this body is the workshop, factory,or industry where your eternity is fashioned, the end product can’t be different from the quality of your life here. There is heaven and hell. The bible say so. But, Bro. Galla said something about sinners been burnt up at once? Did I hear you right sir? Please explain. The dead whether in grave are not really there, escavate a 50yrs old grave and confirm what you see, God knows where the soul is kept till He’s ready to raise it for judgement. Those who died in faith of the resurrected Christ to be rewarded with crown of life and sinner condemned to eternal suffering. God is too big to be literally understood. Do good, live for Jesus and obey His provisions for salvation then wait for promised life after death. Which kind of body God will give at resurrection is His prerogative. God bless.

    1. Thank you Williams. Yes, we believe that Hell is not a place of eternal torment, but a place of annihilation as the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:13) where people are forever destroyed and cease to exist. Edward Fudge has done extensive work and documentation in his book, The Fire that Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study on the Doctrine of Final Punishment. The Abyss mentioned in revelation 20:1 is not the Lake of Fire. It is a prison like place where some disobedient spirits now reside. It is also where the Devil will be cast for 1,000 years. The scripture does say that Satan will burn forever but that he will burn for a long time because, wee believe, it will take a long time, but not eternity, for him to be destroyed.

      1. “And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire,”

        1. The translation “eternal fire” should actually be “everlasting fire,” meaning it will burn for a very long time, not forever. Those who are cast into the lake of fire are destroyed, burned up. They don’t burn forever. There are many good resources out there if you want to know more about how to properly understand hell and the Lake of Fire. Recommend Edward Fudges work, The Fire that Consumes.

  50. I have liked this website and I want to be part of it.

  51. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    1. Thank you Mary Beth, but what is your point? Yes, you can put the comma before “today” and it indicates the criminal would be with Jesus that very day in Paradise. But the problem with this is that Jesus is supposed to be “three days and three nights in the grave,” not in Paradise. So now you have a conflict and also you contradict the entire teaching of the OT that when a person dies they are dead, ceasing to exist until God raises them from the dead at the resurrection. YOUr improper positioning of the comma means that when Jesus dies he wasn’t really dead. Change the comma to after today, (which makes it an emphatic statement emphasizing the promise to the criminal, and your scriptures are all consistent. Jesus died, was buried, and remained dead for three days and three nights, and then was raised FROM AMONG THE DEAD.” (proper translation of Luke 2:46).

  52. So, if “Hell is not a place of eternal torment, but a place of annihilation,” then if one commits suicide, which is a mortal sin, they will go to sleep with the rest of the dead until the Rapture or Resurrection. At that time, they will be annihilated in Hell, not tormented, which would be what they wanted anyway when they committed suicide. Correct?

    1. Your proposition makes it appear that if someone that has accepted Christ as their Lord (according to Romans 10:9,10) commits the sin of suicide that the blood of Christ is not big enough to save them from everlasting destruction. Is it a sin? Yes, I believe it is. But “mortal sin” is a Roman Catholic concept, not a biblical one. They will be saved, and rewarded according to their actions.

  53. Good and interesting replies from Dan Gallagher. I am impressed, I must say. But I would like to know where the dead sinners are before rapture.
    I await your reply with relevant bible references where applicable.
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Jackson, Thanks for your question. We believe the OT clearly teaches that when a person dies they completely cease to exist in any form. The error people make is thinking that humans have a “soul” that can exist outside of the body, but this is based on Greek mythology and not on what scripture teaches. The Hebrew term for the “place of the dead” is “Sheol”, and it merely means the grave (as in the dirt).

      There are many verses that those who die are in the grave, a place of silence, no thought, and non-existence. Consider:

      ESV Psalm 115:17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. (Pst 115:17 ESV)
      ESV Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? (Pst 6:5 ESV)
      ESV Psalm 88:10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Seals (Psa 88:10 ESV)
      NIV Psalm 30:9 “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
      NIV Job 14:12 11 As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (sleep is a metaphor for death).
      NIV Job 7:21 Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

      There are many, many more verses I could cite but I think you get the point that the dead are dead, they cease to exists. By “dead sinners” I am assuming that you are speaking of the “unsaved,” those who have not accepted Christ. They, like every human who has ever lived, are in the grave “Sheol” and they will be resurrected for judgment.

  54. Thank you Dan, I am happy to receive your reply.
    Since, the unsaved would be resurrected to face judgement, I have some questions that needs clarification.
    1) Can one say that they will take part in the great tribulation since rapture will precede it or they will remain in the grave. If yes, when will they be resurrected and what form of body would they wear, mortal or immortality?
    2)Again, since grace would be no more at period of tribulation, how true is the assertion that only some of Biological Isreal(Jews) would be able to withstand the torture?
    3) In hell fire, would sinner be tormented for eternity or be totally consumed? Pls, you can support your points with biblical references as usual.
    Thanks for your anticipated response.

  55. On judgement day will only the sinners be judged. The saved Christians sins have been forgiven….right?

    1. We have to remember that there are a few judgments mentioned in the scriptures. One is the Sheep and Goat judgment, which we think will happen at the end of the Battle of Armeggedon and prior to entrance into the Millenial Kingdom, a time when Jesus rules physically on Earth for 1,000 years. The Sheep and Goat judgment is also thought to be the Ressurection of the Just. It is thought by many that this is when all the righteous of the Old Testmanet are raised, judged, and allowed to enter the Millenial Kingdom. Then there are also those who are alive at the end of the Great Tribulation and they will need to be judged. The righteous will enter and the unrighteous sent off to destruction. The other Judgment is the Great WHite Throne Judgment and this is when all the remaining people (all the unrighteous that have ever lived) are raised from the dead, judged, a sent to their destruction. Those who have accepted Christ as their savior also will appear before his judgment seat, but we are not judged on righteousness based on ourselves but with him as our substitute. We will be judged to determine what rewards we are to receive, but not if we get to live or not because he is our complete substitute for our salvation.

  56. I have enjoyed this article and I came here seeking some answers. I tend to agree on Dan’s points on Hell being a place of annihilation. How could a loving God send people created in his own image to a place they would be tormented for eternity. I’ve always struggled with this teaching. And what about the people in all corners of the world that never have the opportunity to hear about Christ. I don’t believe that everybody has that chance because it’s just not possible in all corners of the earth. I also struggle with the concept that we are “dead” or sleeping when we die, but the scriptures have always seemed to lead me to that concept, with the hope of acceding to heaven on Jesus’s return. I do however disagree with the rapture references. I’ve studied this teaching and it’s simply NOT mentioned in the bible. I would like to hear what Dan has to say about that. Thanks

  57. I’m so glad….so grateful I know the truth. God gives us wisdom and discernment. What is it you thnknthe Bible is for if you believe we are not supposed to understand what it’s saying. Oh how very confusing life would be if w could not count on the Word of God to be our guide to make it through the mess all around us down here!! So glad that I know what I know!! So glad,too that this is not all there is!! Heaven is my true home!!! And I can hardly wait to get there!!!

  58. I loved and agreed with your position on the state of the dead. At what date did we get the idea that everyone is heaven bound? What happened to the earthly kingdom? Was the New Jerusalem a “given” or a prize for those that went on to perfection? But here is my real question…why I ran into your site. I Cor 15. The resurrected dead versus the living at the parousia. Paul uses two different words to describe what happens to the dead versus the living. We all assume that both dead and living get the same body! What say you?

  59. Dan Gallagher So what is your understanding on 2Co 5:8 we are of good courage, and are well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Master.

  60. What is your opinion, if your theory is correct in that none are yet in Heaven or hell, about why Jesus descended into hell for three days after he died. To get the key from the devil, but then what else?

  61. Thanks for the information. I’ve been studying daniel 11 and think the book of truth is open
    now in 2018. Search out Daniel 11.

  62. If the dead are dead then please explain the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Confused.

  63. The Hebrew word you translate soul is nepesh. Nepesh means life force. When nephesh was gone one was in Sheol. Darkness. Deuteronomic thought which began to change w job. Also other prophets. Greek soul came into thought after 200bc. This is where soul came into Hebrew thoughts.

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