Q&A ON DEATH
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Did Jesus and the thief go to Paradise the day they died? Luke 23:42-43
Christ promised the thief on the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. Paradise is a synonym for heaven (2Cor 12:34; Rev 2:7). 1. As translated the text reads that Christ and the thief went to heaven that Friday. However on resurrection Sunday Jesus said to Mary, “I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17. The Lord had been in the tomb. (Matt 28:6). 2. The solution to the apparent contradiction is the punctuation. The original Greek has no punctuation. If the English translators had placed the comma after “today,” rather than before it, then the verse would not appear to contradict the rest of the Bible teaching on death. Christʼs words would then be properly understood to mean, “Verily I say unto thee to day, [this day, when I am dying a criminal], thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. In harmony with Bible teaching Christ promised the thief that he would be with Jesus in paradise - a promise that will be fulfilled following the resurrection.
Does the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus show that we go to heaven or hell at death? Luke 16:19-31
This is one of the parables with which Jesus taught the people (Matt 13:34) and cannot be literal because: 1. The righteous dead are not literally in “Abrahamʼs bosom” as in this parable. 2. Heaven & Hell-fire are not within speaking distance of each other. 3. The body parts of the dead, eyes, tongues, etc. are in their graves not in hell- fire (Job 17:13; John 4:28, 29) as in this parable. 4. Those in hell-fire would not ask for just a drop of water for their tongue! How much relief would that bring!? 5. Jesus said the lost are to be punished in hell-fire at “the end of this world,” (Matt 13:40-42) not at death. 6. Scripture presents the dead as asleep, without emotion or thought (Ecc 9:5-6; Ps 115:17; Ps 146:4). This parable was to teach that: a) Fortune in this life does not necessarily mean fortune in the after life. b) There is no second chance after death.
c) Christ showed that Gentiles will enter the kingdom while some Jews will not. The rich man represented the Jews, as only a Jew would call to “father Abraham” (v 24). Lazarus, the beggar, represented the Gentiles. In Matt 15:27 the Canaanite woman acknowledged that her people were beggars at the Jewsʼ table. (d) The Word of God is the guide to salva- tion and even miracles cannot help those who refuse to accept the Word of God. (See Luke 16:31). Indeed the Pharisees refused to accept the testimony of the Scriptures which showed Jesus was the Messiah and when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead they still refused to believe!
What is the spirit which returns to God when we die? Ecc 12:7
Ecc 12:7 “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” 1. The body returns to the dust “as it was” and the spirit returns to God. If the spirit were the real conscious person which RETURNS to God, then we would be teaching that all men were pre-existent and conscious with God BEFORE coming into their earthly bodies! Is the mystery of the Incarnation repeated in every member of the human family? No. 2. The verse speaks of ALL men. The dust of ALL men, both good and bad, returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit of ALL men returns to God as it was. Are the wicked enjoying the bliss of Godʼs presence before the coming judgment or are they being tormented before the judgment and is that “as it was” before they came into their earthly bodies?! Such are the inconsistencies the incorrect view of this text creates. 3. The “spirit” (Heb. ruwach) is the “breath of life” which God first gave when we came into existence (Job 33:4; Job 27:3) and which returns to Him at death (Job 34:14, 15). It is “His [Godʼs] spirit” which He gave to us to give us life so we live and which returns to Him when we die (Job 34:14, 15).
Did Paul want to depart (die) and expect to be immediately with Christ? Phil 1:21-24
Paul did not say that he would be with Christ immediately upon dying. He wrote much on the subject of death and taught that the dead in Christ would be caught up to be with Christ in the resurrection AT THE SECOND COMING. (1Cor 15:51-54; 1Thess. 4:16,17). Phil 1:23 is not a detailed description of what happens at death. A period of unconscious rest or sleep comes in between dying and being with Christ. As far as the dead saints are concerned this ʻsleepʼ passes in an instant and the next thing they will know is rising from their grave to be with Christ.
Did Paul want to be “Absent from the body” and “present with the Lord.”? 2Cor 5:1-9
The passage mentions 3 states: 1. “At home in the body” = Mortal now. 2. “Naked” = Dead. 3. “Clothed [in] our house from heaven.” = Immortal and present with God. The immortal home will be given at the Lordʼs Coming. “...the trumpet shall sound...and this mortal shall put on immortality.” 1 Cor 15:51-53. Paul wanted to leave mortality (be absent from the body), avoid being dead, or “na- ked” as he puts it, and clothed with immor- tality which will occur at the Lordʼs coming. (See also 1Thess 4:15-17; 2 Tim 4:6-8).
Do the souls of the dead martyrs cry out from under the altar for vengeance? Rev 6:9
Like much of Revelation this is symbolic and cannot be taken literally because: 1. Martyrs are not literally confined under an altar crying in distress. 2. Saints do not smart with resentment and do not beg God for vengeance on their enemies (Luke 23:34). Solomon says the dead no longer love or hate (Ecc 9:6). 3. This verse reveals how the death of the saints calls to God for retribution. The martyred souls, like Abelʼs spilt blood are personified as calling for vengeance. (Gen 4:10, cf. Hab 2:11; James 5:4). These souls are not said to be in heaven. The altar spoken of is evidently the altar of sacrifice upon which they were slain, not the altar of incense which was never used for sacrifice. The altar of sacrifice represented the world where Jesus was sacrificed and where the martyrs fell. The dead in Christ are presently 'asleep' in the dust of the earth (John 5:28-29; Dan 12:2).
Does Matt 10:28 show that the soul is immortal and separate from the body?
The last part of the verse says, “but rather fear him [God] which is able to DESTROY BOTH SOUL and body in hell.” The verse shows that the soul is not immortal and that wicked souls will be destroyed. The word “soul” (Greek “psuche”) is often translated “life.” Substitute the word life for the word soul and the verse tells Christians not to fear man who may only destroy the body but cannot destroy the life God has promised. Rather fear Him who can de- stroy their body and their promised eternal life. (Comp. Luke 12:4-5).
Did Jesus go and preach to the spirits in hell between His death and resurrection? 1Pet 3:18-20
1Pet 3 does not say that the preaching was done by Christ or that it was done during His death. Rather it states that it occurred:
- “In the days of Noah” - “By the Spirit” that is, by the Holy Spirit which quickened (made alive) Christ from the dead. - The spirits, which were disobedient, refers to people who lived before the flood.
- In prison = In bondage to Sin. (See Ps 142:7; Isa 42:6; 61:1; Luke 4:18). Jesus, through the Spirit, preached to the disobedient men before the flood. (Gen 6:3).
Was the gospel preached to those who are dead? 1Pet 4:6
Yes. The gospel “WAS” preached to them while they were living. They are now dead.
Did Paul once leave his body? 2 Cor 12:2,3
Paulʼs “soul” did not leave his body. If it had, he would, according to popular theology, have been dead! Paul tells of his sufferings for Christ but never claims to have died and then been raised from the dead! In the passage Paul speaks of “visions and revelations.” (v 1) He speaks of his vision of heaven which seemed so real he wasnʼt sure if he had been there bodily, or only in the Spirit, i.e. in vision. Colossians 2:5 is similar “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in spirit, joying and beholding your or- der...” No one understands this to mean that Paulʼs spirit was floating around with the Colossians while his body lay dead and later came to life again when ʻPaulʼ returned.
Jesus said believers shall never die. Please explain? John 11:26
Jesus speaks here of the ultimate end. All, both good and bad, die the first death which is frequently called “sleep,” because we will awake from it. Unlike the wicked, however, the saints will never die the “second death” which only the wicked die. (Rev 20:6; 21:8).
Are the spirits of just men made perfect the redeemed now in heaven? Heb 12:22-23
The dead have not yet been made perfect (Hebrews 11:40) so Heb 12:22-23 cannot refer to us coming to the perfected dead. We come to all the things listed in the passage when we accept Jesus. We come to kindred Christian spirits, “who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Heb 10:14
Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and said God is the God of the living. Does this show these men are now alive? Matt 22:23-32
Christ spoke these words to the Sadducees, “which say there is no resurrection (see v 23) in order to prove there would be a resurrection! In verse 31 Jesus said to the Sadducees, “But as touching the resurrection...” that is, that there will be a resurrection, “have ye not read [in Exo 3:6]...I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (v 31-32). By referring to these dead men, and yet claiming God is the God of the living, Jesus proved that there will be a resurrection. His argument also proves that these men are presently dead.
Did Paul say that one could destroy the flesh, and yet save the spirit? 1Cor 5:5
The verse refers to the disfellowshipping of the worldly church members. See the context from verse 1 onwards. - Flesh = Carnal, worldly. - Spirit = ruled by the Spirit. “And if Christ be in you, the body [flesh] is dead [destroyed] because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10. The ʻfleshlyʼ are disfellowshipped, given to Satan, so to speak, in the hope this might cause them to destroy their carnal fleshly ways, then seek readmittance to the church. Salvation is NOT AT DEATH, but in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Will God bring from heaven the saints who have died? 1Thess 4:14-16
Verse 16 shows that these saints are asleep and brought from the dead. “The dead in Christ shall RISE,” NOT come down! God will bring the sleeping saints from the grave. The same place from which He “brought” Jesus: “Now the God of peace, that BROUGHT again FROM THE DEAD our Lord Jesus Christ...” (Hebrews 13:20). Where do the dead in Christ sleep? They “sleep in the dust of the earth.” Dan 12:2; Job 17:13-16.
Was Samuelʼs spirit brought back from the dead? 1 Sam 28:6-19
This apparition was not the dead prophet Samuel, but a demon impersonating Samuel because: 1. God would not answer the disobedient Saul (1Sam 28:6) and God certainly would not raise Samuel from the dead at the summons of a witch! 2. This Samuel “came UP” (v 11, 14) but good spirits arenʼt supposed to be ʻbelow.ʼ
3. Spirits, as commonly understood, arenʼt supposed to look like this apparition - an old man in robes (v 14) 4. Saul never saw this Samuel but perceived it was him (v 14). 5. This ʻSamuelʼ apparition told Saul that tomorrow he would be with him. As Saul killed himself and died disobedient (1Sam 31:4) he would, according to popular theology, have gone immediately to hell-fire. Now if Saul went to be with Samuel then we must conclude that Samuel dwelt in hell-fire! Such is the confusion of popular theology.
Did the spirits of Moses and Elias appear with Jesus? Matt 17:3
Matt 17:3 “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” 1. Nothing is said here about immortal spirits or souls. 2. Elias [Elijah] was taken bodily to heaven without seeing death. 3. Moses died and was buried (Deut 34:5- 6) and yet he was seen here on the mount. This indicates that he was resurrected. Jude 9 apparently refers to the resurrection of Moses when Satan disputed with Michael over Mosesʼ body. This event when Peter, James, and John saw Moses and Elias with Christ took place to fulfil Christʼs prophecy in Matt 16:28 that, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Elias represented those who will be alive at Christʼs coming and be translated without seeing death. Moses represented those who will be resurrected when the Lord returns.
Does not our outward man perish, while our inward man is renewed? 2Cor 4:16
2Cor 4:16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.” Nothing here says we have an immortal soul or spirit. The outward man = The flesh. The inward man = The new nature, new heart. While our flesh perishes our new Christian nature or heart is renewed daily. (Comp. Eph 3:1-17; Col 3:9-10).
Did Jesus & Stephen ask God to receive their spirits as they died? Luke 23:46; Acts 7:29
Jesus and Stephen asked God to receive their spirit (Greek “Pneuma”). Pneuma has the primary meaning of wind or air. e.g. pneumatic. Nothing in the word “pneuma” suggests an immortal entity. They did not say, “receive ME.” Rather they committed their life breath to God. They asked God to receive the life breath He had given them. Those whose “life is hid with Christ in God” will receive life back when Christ returns. (Col 3:3-4 ).
Does the spirit of man go upwards, while the spirits of the beasts go downwards? Does this show that man is immortal and the beasts are mortal? Ecc 3:19-21
1. Verse 19 says animals and men all have the same “breath” (Hebrew ruwach. The word “spirit” in verse 21 is also from ruwach). Animals are mortal and so also is “mortal man.” Job 4:17. However men may receive immortality at the second coming (Rom 2:7; 1 Cor 15:53-54). 2. Verse 19 says dead animals and dead men GO TO THE SAME PLACE. 3. The question, “Who knoweth...” is a challenge to anyone who disputes the above statement that men and animals go to the same place. It is a question. The ASV translates it “Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth down- ward to the earth.” 4. Verse 21 refers to all men, but popular theology teaches that the wicked go DOWN at death, not upward to heaven. 5. Nothing here states that the breath men and animals have is immortal.
Man is made in Godʼs image. (Gen 1:26) As God is immortal isnʼt man also im- mortal?
1. If man is in the image of God in all par- ticulars, then man is also all-knowing and all-powerful because God is! All Christians reject this astonishing idea. As man is not all God is, then man is not necessarily immortal. In fact we are clearly told: 2. God “ONLY hath immortality.” (1 Tim 6:16) 3. We must “seek...immortality” (Rom 2:7) showing that we do not yet have it except as a promise if we believe. 4. Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Tim 1:10) 5. At the Second Coming “This mortal must put on immortality.” (1Cor 15:54).
Does the word “soul” (Hebrew “nephesh” & Greek “psuche”) ever mean anything other than a body?
Yes. It may mean a living being or life, or the mind, or intellect. It even refers to sea creatures (Rev 16:3). None of these are naturally immortal. The Bible speaks of “dead bodies” i.e. dead “nephesh,” literally dead souls, in the following verses: Num 6:6; Lev 21:11; Hag 2:13
How can the soul be the whole person when we read of a soul [Hebrew “nephesh”] departing a dead woman? Gen 35:18. Also, how could a childʼs soul come into him again? 1 Kings 17:21-22
Here soul [Heb. nephesh] should have been translated “breath.” 1. Gesenius, the greatest of Hebrew lexicographers, tells us that the primary meaning of “Nephesh” is breath, e.g. Job 41:21. When the breath of life leaves, people die. When the breath of life returns people revive. 2. The word translated “soul” in these verses is “nephesh.” 3. Gen 1:30 says beasts have “life” [nephesh]. If nephesh is an immortal entity, then beasts have immortal entities! This we reject. 4. Elijah called the child “him” even without the ʻsoul.ʼ Elijah did not ask for “himʼ to return, but for his nephesh (breath) to return.
5. He, the child, was dead, and he, the child, revived when his soul (breath) returned.
When Abraham died he “was gathered to his people.” As he was buried far from them doesnʼt this verse refer to his spirit joining them in heaven? Gen 25:8
1. As Abrahamʼs people were idolaters (Josh 24:2) popular theology would have them in hell-fire. We do not believe that Abraham was gathered to them in hell-fire!
2. Acts 13:36 says that David, “Fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.” This is the equivalent of being gathered to his fathers. As “David is not ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:34), being gathered unto oneʼs fathers does not require going to heaven. David, like Abraham, went to the grave where his people sleep.