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Articles by KJ Soze

Click here for Daniel compared to Revelation research and free Bible passage comparison tables to download.

Click here for article posts about the last days of this age we live in, salvation, the afterlife and many other related topics. Please start with the Introduction then follow in order from top to bottom of the page or you may miss some important information (note – do not go in order of the date posted). You may refer to the referenced appendices at any time.

Below is an article that was extracted from The Message for the Last Days book by KJ Soze.

Hades as Sheol of the Old Testament in Relation to the Afterlife

In this article we will examine biblical usage of Hades as Sheol terminology in association with the afterlife. We will also compare the differences of soul to spirit meanings. Each of these terms have unique life and death relationships within our living realm and in the realm of the dead. 

It is important to understand life and death in our realm before we can understand what they mean in Hades / Sheol. We will apply literal renderings of physical realm interpretations to test how they can be applied to the less certain interpretations of metaphors concerning the spiritual realm. We may have no chance to understand biblical statements about the afterlife if we get the Bible’s view wrong about life and death in our current condition.

After we analyze scriptural texts defining life and death in relation to our physical realm, we will be in a better position to understand Hades / Sheol. This study will place easier puzzle pieces first to obtain an outline so a clearer picture of the afterlife will start to emerge.

We will examine literal interpretations of the Bible in terms of life and death in our present condition compared to life and death descriptions in the afterlife.

We will also examine spirit and soul definitions in our present condition compared to the afterlife.

Finally, we will examine these life, death, spirit and soul terms in relation to Hades / Sheol.

After we consider these relationships, we will be better able to understand complex scenarios such as death in the afterlife (i.e. the death of life that the Bible states as the second death).

Definition of Hades in Relation to Sheol

We will first explore the biblical definition of Hades. It will likely be different from the standard Greek usage of Hades. The New Testament (NT) Greek writers translated Hades from the Old Testament (OT) term for Sheol. Both are identical in meaning according to the NT writers.

For example, we see the apostle Peter quoting King David during Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, where the original term of Sheol was translated directly as Hades. 

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible passages below are quoted from The ESV® (The Holy Bible, the English Standard Version®). See copyright at the end of this article.  

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

Acts 2:27 ESV For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Why did the NT writers use Hades as a drop-in replacement for a Hebrew word when the Greek word invokes their myths or contrary beliefs to the OT?

The answer may be that both underlying words mean “the underworld” – the place or state of the dead, or the realm of the dead. There is no reason to bring mythological Hades into the picture if the base meaning is upheld. The NT writers often used Greek terms that were closest in meaning to original Hebrew terms.

Another issue we face today is that some translators equate Hades as Hell. This is not the case in the original language, but more than a few English translators have mistakenly swapped out Hades for Hell in some modern English Bible translations. This is a rabbit trail we do not need to go down as we can solve this with one fell swoop.

A problem lies in that Hades is also associated to Greek mythology. It has an additional meaning outside of the Bible. The early Church mostly read the New Testament in Greek while the term “Hades” must have stuck in their heads with dual meaning for a period. It then settled into a primary meaning that became a majority view as we shall examine below. 

Enter Mythology into the Church

An issue started to arise when the Church confused the original Sheol meaning of the realm of the dead with Greek mythology. There are documented records starting about 100 years after the apostles where Greek beliefs entered the writings of the early Church Fathers. Interestingly, it does not seem that confusion with Hades or Hell was the initial issue. The meaning of Heaven in relation to the afterlife started the ball rolling. Revised beliefs about Hades followed as new beliefs regarding Heaven progressed.

Click here for a thesis by Dr. Roller about competing concepts of the soul, the afterlife and immortality based upon gradual Greek influence over time; The Doctrine of Immortality in the Early Church by Dr. John H. Roller, AB, Th.M, Ph.D.  

Why is this important? The reason we should consider this right now is because the same Greek mindset that entered the early Church is still with us today, not just in the Church but in American and other cultures in general. Christians are probably not aware that there are many mythologies and beliefs from the Greeks that have entered western culture which greatly influenced Church “culture.” Similarly, Americans also may not realize that the majority belief of the afterlife came to us through the Greeks who obtained it from even more ancient cultures (another rabbit trail that is not important for this discussion).

This topic is important, even if you do not yet realize it is. 

This article is not to condemn anyone as there have been giants of the early Faith that have been susceptible to mythology just as we are still apt to fall into traps today. There is no reason to send anyone to Hades or Hell because of being deceived or because of deceiving others as most of the myth propagation was / is non-intentional. You know who is ultimately behind it.

Once the original message about the underworld, the afterlife, and related topics of Heaven and Hell are understood in biblical terms we may even see how much more awesomer God is while also being better able to spot tricks from the adversary (the one who waters down the truth by mixing it with fiction). Hopefully you are uplifted by this article.

None of these comments below should be considered as deal breakers about the Faith as we are not discussing other topics like grace or faith here. However, I have found that as I have dug deeper into this topic, compelling reasons arise where Christians should remove themselves as far as possible from mythologies that have crept into the Church. I find that the hybrid of culture meets the Bible, or mixture of mythology with truth, as a detriment to Church growth. 

The majority view for both Christians and Americans in general is the belief in the immortality of the soul. We will examine if this view is biblical or from other ancient beliefs.

Here is a survey from our 21st century where Americans were asked about their views of immortality and the afterlife – Americans Describe Their Views About Life After Death, October 21, 2003. The Barna Group. http://www.barna.com/research/americans-describe-their-views-about-life-after-death/.   

Most Americans it turns out, whether Christian or not, share the same basic view of their afterlife being eternal (79% from this survey believe in their immortal soul). Other surveys examined were not as specific about “soul” questioning. However, people generally believe in eternal afterlife (~80%) whether the majority still defines it as a soul or not.

Even if the number dropped to 50%, how can it be that someone who is not identified as a Christian have a similar belief about eternity or their soul in the afterlife as a professed Christian? The methods used by humans or God to achieve or grant the afterlife is not the point in this argument; the ultimate view of life after death seems to be very similar for most Americans no matter how a person obtains the afterlife.

This can be understood as a direct result of blending Greek beliefs with culture (including Christian and Jewish cultures) based upon historical documentation. Is it possible that Americans in general and westernized Christians mostly share the same view of the afterlife based upon Greek influence? We will not answer where most Americans got their beliefs about the immortal soul from. This article will present where Christians obtained their beliefs. Christians used to have a greater effect on American culture so there is probably a correlation in many cases though it is not related to this article.

Please refer to the thesis mentioned above by Dr. Roller for documentation. This is not meant to be a promotion of his beliefs but to his research. He simply states historical facts via transitioning beliefs from Greek influence into the early period of Church development. History can be misinterpreted, however in this case there is no bias seen that is forcing ulterior motivations to misinterpret beliefs of early Church Fathers’ writings. His thesis primarily consists of their writings related to the soul and afterlife without interpretation.

Dr. Roller’s and other’s similar work is important to understand the history of developing Church beliefs about the afterlife within the Greco-Roman world. We learn that the earlier Church Fathers did not use words like “Greeks” or “Plato” in their writings while later groups started to use Greek philosophy and beliefs to find a balance between the Romanized world they lived in with a blending of Christianity. 

The Greek terms in their writings are not hard to find. We do not need to be a rocket scholar. Before the middle of the second century we don’t see Greek cultural or philosophical terms being used, while after this period these expressions pop up, side by side within Christian writings.

There is an evident transition from apostolic beliefs during the early formation of the Church to Greek influence over a few hundred years. None of this happened overnight.

Here is one example from Origen (a Church Father) that stated a parallel between scriptural belief and Greek belief in the afterlife as being complimentary (although each used different terminology to get to the same result).

“We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. We are therefore to suppose that the saints will remain there until they recognize the twofold mode of government in those things which are performed in the air….

“I think, therefore, that all the saints who depart from this life will remain in some place situated on the earth, which holy Scripture calls paradise, as in some place of instruction, and, so to speak, class-room or school of souls, in which they are to be instructed regarding all the things which they had seen on earth….

“If anyone indeed be pure in heart, and holy in mind, and more practiced in perception, he will, by making more rapid progress, quickly ascend to a place in the air, and reach the kingdom of Heaven, through those ‘mansions,’ so to speak, in the various places which the Greeks have termed spheres, i.e., globes, but which holy Scripture has called heavens.” (emphasis added here and in all highlighted text below)

—Origen, De Principis, II, ch. xi

One of the earlier sources of direct Greek influence on Christianity was Athenagoras (born AD 127 in Athens). In his early days as a philosopher, he practiced Platonism (which contains a belief of the soul’s natural immortality). He initially opposed the claims of Christianity; in an effort to develop his counter-arguments, he studied Christian writings, only to find himself persuaded by what he read. Following his conversion to Christianity, he continued to cling to a belief that the soul outlives the body. In chapter 31 of his A Plea for the Christians, he says, “We are persuaded that when we are removed from the present life we shall live another life…as heavenly spirit…or, falling with the rest, a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us…that we should perish and be annihilated.”

Perhaps never in orthodox Christianity had it been taught that upon death we immediately live as a heavenly spirit in the next life. While the Gnostics were denounced for demonizing the body, this softer teaching of a post-spirit afterlife had a lasting imprint on orthodoxy. The issue I find with Athenagoras is that he does not speak of the resurrection in biblical terms but speaks more in Greek terms of a spirit afterlife.

Comparison of Biblical Views about the Afterlife

Instead of tracking the long and painful history of mythology creep, let’s go back to the biblical texts. We will survey if the modern Church has gotten off track when compared to the original intent derived from literal interpretations and figurative renderings.

First, let us compare a few possibilities for the afterlife in relation to the realm of the dead.

1. Holding Place – The realm of the dead is, or was, a temporary holding place for souls or spirits of those who have gone before us in this view. Hades / Sheol consists of a divided underworld where there is a chasm separating good and evil spirits or souls. The good side of Hades is called Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise, while the bad side of this chasm is called Hell. There are two popular variations within Christianity today:

a. Adherents of this first view believe the dead from the good side of the chasm have been released to Heaven when Christ conquered death. Since that time every “believer” goes to Heaven immediately upon death while those on the bad side of the chasm are still in temporary Hell waiting for judgment before final Hell.

Revelation chapter 20 mentions Hades and everyone remaining in it will be thrown in the Lake of Fire (final Hell) if they are not written in the book of life. There is figurative language but many Christians take this more literally than others so there are extreme variations of interpretation.

Revelation 20:12-15 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.And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.  

b. This view is like variation 1.a except that Abraham’s Bosom is still located in Hades. The good souls or spirits remain waiting in bliss. Those spirits in the good side of the chasm will be released in the future at the resurrection of the dead to enter Heaven (Christ did not release them when He conquered death in this variation).

2. Resting State – this view points us back to a different understanding of Sheol / Hades as a state of being. Hades is still considered as a “holding” in one regard of this view. The key difference is revealed when comparing Hades as a place in both variations of view 1 to a state of being of the soul or spirit in this view 2.

For simplicity, we can contrast a Holding Place to a Resting State. A Holding Place is a location with spirit beings or soul bodies beings while a Resting State does not require a body. We will research various “being” terms below.

We will also compare a departed person’s soul or spirit enjoying Heaven or Paradise (temporary Heaven) vs. a departed soul or spirit that does not immediately enter a state of bliss. To bliss or not to bliss?

The main difference of a Holding Place is that it has a spirit body in bliss where the spirit is not active in a Resting State.

I propose that the Resting State possibility is the oldest view with vast support of biblical text while 1.b appears to have started about 100 years after the time of the apostles. 1.a is the newest viewpoint on record with the least biblical support from a literal interpretation perspective (but is today’s majority view as shown in surveys).

Certainly, the proposed oldest view has some figurative language that speaks of an actual place or location of the dead so it is not a completely literal underworld in view 2. However, location is generally not the main thrust of these passages surveyed. The state of the dead is usually the literal focus while location terms can be considered as figurative. Examples will be cited below with metaphorical underworld terms defined.

Christian Terms for the Afterlife

Here are some biblical terms to consider before we further examine the afterlife as a place for spirit beings compared to a state of being.

Abraham’s Bosom – was a parable based upon Christ’s teaching of what some Jews believed at that time – not necessarily what Christ believed. Paradise is not synonymous with Abraham’s Bosom in the passage that Christ spoke of in Luke 16:19-31. However, some Christians directly associate Paradise with the good side of the Hades chasm as the same place called Abraham’s Bosom. These are locational interpretations for spirit bodies within the Holding Place view.

The complete passage about Abraham’s Bosom is found here in Luke 16:19-31.

Paradise – the term Christ used with the thief on the cross just before their deaths mentioned in Luke 23:43. There is no need to force the meaning of Paradise into the good side of the Hades chasm. This text is very short and doesn’t convey much information.

Luke 23:43 And he [Christ] said to him, “Truly, I say to you [thief], today you will be with me in paradise.”

This verse is generally used by Christians to justify that a person either:

1.a. goes immediately to Heaven upon death (if they believe like the thief in faith by grace, as granted by Christ); or

1.b. goes immediately to the good side in the holding place of Hades and is rewarded (in bliss) while waiting for all believers to meet at the end of the age (the resurrection of the dead).

Modern confusion of the verse about Paradise with the thief on the cross is perpetuated due to a comma placed before “today” in most English translations. This eludes to that Christ and the thief were going to party in paradise right away after their deaths. However, there is no comma in the original text so we could just as easily place the comma after “today” to render a broader time frame allowance.

For more information about the Thief on the Cross argument click here to see – “The Comma of Luke 23:43” by Grace Communion International. This article addresses the need to interpret the passage without relying on the arbitrary comma in English translations, though it ultimately equates Paradise with Sheol as a place, not a state of the dead.

Another approach to interpret this passage can be considered – first, please note the Greek renderings of Luke 4:21 (biblehub.com/text/luke/4-21.htm) and Luke 19:9 (biblehub.com/text/luke/19-9.htm). In both verses, Jesus announces an event that has unambiguously happened in that moment: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled”; “Today salvation has come to this house.” The Greek conjunction hoti appears in each verse to connect “today” to the event. But Luke 23:43 does not contain this conjunction. By declining to use hoti in this instance, Luke decided not to explicitly connect “today” to the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to the thief on the cross.

I believe the term Paradise was used by Christ to remind us of the Garden of Eden based upon usage of the older Persian term parádeisos (literally “garden”). Paradise can also be considered part of the Promised Land considering the OT understanding that the Garden of Eden would make a comeback in the newly restored earth (after Messiah comes). 

Some interpret that this garden concept is figurative language while some believe that this will literally occur in the future, but neither of these interpretations tell us the whole story of the afterlife or the realm of the dead.

The garden concept of Ezekiel is repeated for us in the last chapter of Revelation. The new earth mentioned by Isaiah is repeated by Peter. Let’s assume these are future events in order to shorten our discussion. We can base this upon 2 Peter because he states righteousness will finally dwell on earth after the second advent of Christ, even if the other passages may look to contain figurative language that could be broadly interpreted.

Ezekiel 47:12 repeated in Revelation 22:2

Isaiah 65:17-25 repeated in 2 Peter 3:13

We also know that Paul wrote about the transformation of the earth in Romans 8 (see below) while this verse in 1 Corinthians 7 states the earth will be changed.

1 Corinthians 7:31b For the present form of this world is passing away. 

Individual beliefs tend to match widely accepted views because people are heavily affected by cultural belief. There is “peer pressure.” This pressure can force an interpretation of Paradise to parallel cultural beliefs with Christian beliefs instead of letting the Bible reveal the literal meaning without cultural bias. Yet, it is difficult to go against the power of culture. People tend to want a celestial Heaven, not a restored earth. 

We see that Christ is coming to earth, the dead are raised on the earth, that New Jerusalem is coming to earth, and other passages with focus on the earth itself; not any focus or clear statements that we go to Heaven when we die while the earth blows up in the end (this is what Plato and other Greeks believed).

The Master Plan is laid out for us in Ephesians 1:7-10 where Heaven and earth unite in the “fullness of time.” This plan parallels Peter, Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. None of these passages ever speak about the earth blowing up as the Greeks described.

Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  

We cannot understand Paradise or Heaven if we do not consider the end plan.

I would suggest that Christ was simply making an argument in the Bosom parable that his listeners didn’t know who will be rewarded in the afterlife. He used their mythological belief about death to prove a point. Christ did not use the parable to prove the myth in my view because this passage goes against the rest of Scripture in terms of Hades / Sheol.

Where did their myth of Abraham’s Bosom come from? Not anywhere in the Old Testament; it can’t be found there. It doesn’t show up until apocryphal references (the intertestamental period). Please see this link from the Jewish Encyclopedia that provides references to some original sources.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/362-abraham-s-bosom

Let us consider that Abraham’s Bosom came from mythology. We may then notice that the remaining scriptural references about the afterlife fit a coherent theme, where the Bosom story does not. What did Christ believe if the Bosom parable was just a story?

There are many descriptions of the underworld and ancient beliefs of the afterlife. We do not have time or space for a detailed comparison in this short article. We can move on to the biblical background for our answers based upon literal interpretations and an understanding of what the figurative language means. We will see what Christ and the apostles believed along with what other historians have found.

For another ancient belief of the underworld – see the ending of the Epic of Gilgamesh in which Gilgamesh steals, and promptly loses, a rejuvenating plant from the underworld –

http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htm

Biblical View of Life and Death

There is a significant amount of detail in Scripture about Sheol (Hades), the soul, the state of the dead, etc., so let’s analyze some key passages to see if Scripture goes against Abraham’s Bosom myth view. There should not be any conflict with what Christ states in the NT against other Scripture so we should resolve what the OT foundation is in comparison to what Christ stated.

One key point to consider is the biblical definition of life and death. Life directly coincides with the definition of a soul and relates to spirit. There are different meanings for soul and spirit but they both are associated to life. 

It always helps to go back to Genesis where we learn what a soul is. To understand the biblical definition of a soul, we need to consider that it is a “living being” not a spirit. We will compare living as a soul in our physical realm to a soul in the afterlife.

There is a lot of confusion today about soul vs. spirit meanings yet the definition of soul seems obvious based upon the Hebrew term – nephesh.

Genesis 1:21 tells of the “souls” with which God populated the seas, though most English translations render this “living things” or “living creatures.” However, the term is from the same root word as with the creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7. God created animals as souls as stated in Genesis 1:21 – 

So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 

Genesis 2:7 is where we learn the original definition of man as a soul (translated as a creature or living being in some translations).

The King James Version translates the Hebrew root word (nephesh) as “soul” – we also notice soul and spirit as separate terms in this verse. This is based upon a breath root word being synonymous with spirit. This is demonstrated throughout the Bible.

“Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [spirit] of life; and man became a living soul.  —Genesis 2:7, KJV

God put “spirit” into Adam. Adam’s soul came into being only after God’s breath entered the dust of the earth. Spirit plus physical matter equals life on earth in this case.

The same base formula is true for every human as stated in other passages. Our bodies, comprised of physical elements, combine with His spirit to form a soul.

King Solomon stated the process that occurs when we are born if we understand his words in terms of the breath of life. It is the same concept as the creation of man except the womb replaces the earth – God breathed into our mother’s womb at conception (see Ecclesiastes 11:5).

It is very important to understand the breath of God as spirit. We can say breath is a metaphor if we want but ultimately it means God gave us something we didn’t already possess. The Bible writers never stated we obtain life or immortality before conception; life is granted, not inherent. Similarly, the soul is not immediately and inherently immortal in the afterlife since immortality is granted at a specific time according the Scripture.

We can consider death to learn more. The opposite of life is described in Ecclesiastes. Solomon gives us a short definition of death in this verse.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

This fits perfectly with other passages that state what happens to a person when they die. This is one of many examples that carry over with the same concept into the NT.

To bring this back in perspective – we need to understand a Holding Place of a spirit being compared to spirit in a Resting State.  We can now view how a spirit going back to the Creator doesn’t relate well to the original variations of 1.a and 1.b – 

1.a God resided in the good side of the Hades chasm and gathered the spirit beings of those departed, but then Christ conquered death for the saints so nobody is there anymore (Abraham’s Bosom is now empty, or it moved or it doesn’t exist anymore).

1.b God still resides in the good side of the Hades chasm in the underworld with the good spirit beings. Since God is omnipresent, is He in the underworld right now?

An issue we can immediately notice by upholding the Holding Place view is that the underworld, Paradise in Hades, Abraham’s Bosom and Heaven all get muddled in terms of location if a spirit being goes to God upon their death. God was never associated to the underworld as a location. The language of a spirit in the underworld compared to polar language of a spirit resurrecting to Heaven does not allow for compatibility. 

Gerhard Kittel et al. help us to understand the transition from ancient underworld beliefs to the now more popular Heaven beliefs.

“When the concept of the soul was further developed in the Greek world, a sharp distinction was made between the mortal body and the immortal soul which originates in the divine world. Only the latter journeys in the world to come. The idea of a journey of the soul now makes its appearance in Greek literature. According to the Orphic writings (6th  5th century [BC]), which introduce the idea, the goal of souls is to return to their heavenly home after long travels. Hades now becomes the place of punishment, hell. Plato introduced into Greek philosophy the belief of the immortality of the soul and its many [re]incarnations up to the goal of final purification. According to the myth … the soul goes to the place of judgment after leaving the body. There the judges order the righteous … to ascend to Heaven … The idea gradually changes from a descent of the soul to the underworld, to an ascent of the soul into Heaven.”

Kittel, Gerhard. Theological Dictionary of the N.T., Vol. VI, p. 568

Condition of Death as Reported in the New Testament

View 2 makes more sense if we understand soul and spirit meaning upon death. Let’s test if the OT concept stated by Solomon matches what was reported in the NT by Christ’s and Stephen’s final statements as they “gave up the Ghost.”

Just before Christ’s death on the cross (Luke 23:46) and Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7:59), each asked God to receive their spirit. There is a perfect match to the OT view in these examples. Our spirit goes back to God when we die in all cases surveyed throughout the OT and NT. 

What does our spirit going back to the Creator (at a location) have in relation with our soul resting in the underworld (a state of being)? This is a grand question at hand since we should not see any conflicts with Scripture against Scripture.

We should consider King David as a primary example with reference to his afterlife condition at the time of Pentecost. This was just after Christ was risen from the grave and supposedly released all the captives from the good side of Hades (a myth in my view).

David’s case is clearly explained for us by Peter when we look to Acts 2:22-35. This passage states that Christ was risen from the dead and David was not. Peter also stated that David did not ascend to Heaven when he had the perfect opportunity to mention David being in bliss (his harp playing, etc.) if he was released from Hades to Heaven.

A much shorter case about David compared to Christ is reported in Acts 13:36-37 –

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up [Christ] did not see corruption.

The opportunity to state that David was resurrected as spirit was not mentioned in either passage of Acts. No concept of a spirit in bliss is found anywhere in the Bible outside of Abraham’s Bosom. There is a reason for this that we will examine more.

While it may at first seem possible that spirit bodies enter in Paradise (bliss) immediately upon death, there is not enough information in the cases of Stephen and Christ. These passages do not exclude or promote the possibility that they may not have immediately entered as bodies in bliss.

However, David’s case provides the most information about the state of the dead. Christ and David were directly compared while in agreement with OT references. The passage in Acts 2 should be the basis for our understanding.

Biblical Interpretation Methods

Location of the underworld is not a concern if Sheol / Hades is a Resting State of spirit. Perhaps “underworld” was simply a metaphor for the state of the dead so we are back to where we started with the original definition. Figurative language of location may ultimately mean something literal in a state of being.

Example of dual meaning – Underworld is a metaphor so it does not mean a literal chasm under the earth. The metaphor describes the physical location of bodily remains with the spirit state at rest. In this case, Hades, Sheol, or underworld terms describe two different components of a departed person (corpse and spirit). Only one term is needed to describe the location of a body and an inactive spirit.

Perhaps the reason it was originally called the underworld or Sheol is that the corpse is located under the earth. There may be no need to search for a deeper meaning since the ancients spoke of bodily resurrection out of the earth. A concept of a spirit body ascending to Heaven came later.

Interpretation methodologies can be found here – these methods relate to the earthly, heavenly and spiritual realms. Our language used in the earthly realm often needs to be figurative in order to describe something literal in another realm.

We can summarize that Sheol is a metaphor for life being at rest in View 2. We do not need to consider a soul or a spirit as a being with a body at a location. We also do not need to consider a spirit body existing immediately upon death, or a soul being conscious immediately upon death. None of these concepts are detailed for us in the Bible with the sole exception of Abraham’s Bosom (the Book of Revelation uses symbolic language in many cases, one with a picture of souls in Heaven that will be discussed in a future article).

The Soul at Death

The concept of a spirit departing a living being upon their death can be explained within a counter-intuitive soul “death” definition; dozens of passages about animals, humans and fish convey that these souls can die. Can souls really die? 

Does this also seem odd that animals and humans are placed into the same soul package? It is not strange if the true definition of a soul is simply a living being.

A dead soul, perhaps, is not technically a living soul anymore because it is considered at rest until the life-giving Spirit breathes back into a body of mass (physical realm). 

Revelation reports the death of fish souls (this fish soul root word comes from the same Greek term as a human soul). There are many cases of animals as souls and cases of souls dying in the Bible.  

In Revelation 8:9, we read, “A third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died” (NASB); psyche, the word translated as “life” in this passage, appears elsewhere as “soul” – these terms are often interchangeable.

Most people (including some translators) seem to have a mythological view of the soul as being something immortal (see Barna survey above). A soul dying doesn’t make any sense if it is immortal so people tend to avoid speaking of soul death.

We may also not like to be considered as a soul in the same terms as an animal being a soul. However, it is simple to adjust our understanding that we do not “have” souls as we “are” souls (if we have the breath of life).

The historian George Ladd reports that non-biblical concepts of the spirit and soul were developed in the interim period between the writing of the Old and New Testaments.

“In the intertestamental period, a distinct development is to be noted; both pneuma [spirit or breath] and psyche [soul] are conceived as entities capable of separate existence. The Pauline usage of psyche is closer to the Old Testament than is the intertestamental literature. Paul never uses psyche as a separate entity in man, nor does he ever intimate that the psyche can survive the death of the body. Psyche is ‘life’ understood against a Hebrew background.” 

Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament, 459­–60. 1974

Let’s now get back to Hades as the place, or state of the dead, to see how these concepts relate to the OT understanding. Here are other passages to consider – 

Psalm 88:10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

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

Ecclesiastes 9:5 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.

We need to consider the OT understanding of Sheol within their mindset. Hezekiah provides a detailed summary of death and offers metaphorical references of resting while in the state of Sheol. See Isaiah 38:9–20 – here King Hezekiah describes what he expects to experience in Sheol if he were to die. This is another great glimpse into the mind of the ancients.

The metaphor for resting means death – the body and spirit are not joined so they are waiting, sleeping or resting until being rejoined.

The Soul as Life

The problem with many soul definitions is that sometimes a metaphorical use of soul confuses the technical meaning.

Example of metaphorical use – “my soul is silenced in Sheol.” This means “my life is over.” However, it may seem like a person has some part of their being that they possess called the soul. Do we own our soul, or do we only have a life spirit within us?

Here is a good example in 2 Kings 7:7 that demonstrates the root word for soul in a different context so we can see another perspective.

Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life [nephesh from the Hebrew root, psyche from the LXX Greek translation]

The Syrians were extremely interested in saving their “souls” in this passage.

The same root word for soul is translated as “life” here.

It would be silly to translate this passage as “they fled for their souls” so the English translator correctly translated this within the context.

The Bodily Resurrection

Let’s move on to the next topic of life compared to the afterlife. Is there a correlation or similarities of physical life compared to eternal life? What is the eternal life-giving Spirit?

This is the million-dollar question – what about eternal life? Does the Bible clearly answer our questions about the state of the dead and the afterlife?

Do we have a spirit body or a physical body in the afterlife? Yes. We will not consider both types of bodies as a progression since the Bible doesn’t discuss that we get a spirit body at death then a physical body at the resurrection. Abraham’s Bosom is not in the context of the poor man being resurrected so both types of bodies are not referenced.

A point to consider is that spirit and physical matter seem to be the intended combination for life. There is no real meaning for life found in the Bible outside of spirit and body being joined. This may also be true for eternal life when we look at bodily resurrection meanings within the context of the resurrection of the dead.

Here is a passage that attributes Christ (the last Adam) as a life-giving spirit. Please note that the context of the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is based upon a bodily (physical) resurrection to achieve eternal life. This is a different type of resurrection than a spiritual resurrection used elsewhere in the Bible (we will look at both concepts below).

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Notice that we “will bear the image” of Christ in the future based upon this chapter’s focus on the second coming. We will also read about Christ commanding the resurrection of physical matter later in this discussion. This is when Spirit meets dust again, but unlike our birth, to transform us into an eternal living being.

Paul stated that our resurrection will be like Christ’s resurrection. Is this metaphor for a spiritual resurrection or bodily resurrection?

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

There are numerous passages listed below that repeat the concept of obtaining eternal life in the future at the physical transformation of our bodies. These are compared to spiritual types of resurrections that we can receive at present.

We find several NT occurrences when Christ (the life-giving Spirit) is predicted to breathe (speak) life back into our body or corpse at the second coming –

John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [Christ’s] voiceand come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 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.

We can also compare OT passages about the resurrection. Ezekiel 37:7–14 is one example but some people say this is mainly figurative language. However, it seems like the resurrection of the dead based upon similarities will other OT passages such as Job 19:25-27, Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2-3. There is some poetic language, yet the literal sense of the resurrection of the dead can be seen throughout the OT as the same concept carried over to the NT. We will learn more about the progression in the book of Acts below.

Here is a list below of several NT resurrection passages – there are many common threads between them where Messiah comes, there is a voice or a shout, flesh or dust is transformed at that time, then finally judgment.

Luke 14:1420:36

John 5:28–296:4011:24

Acts 24:15

1 Corinthians 15:2352

Philippians 3:21

Colossians 3:4

1 Thessalonians 4:16

1 Peter 1:3–95:4

1 John 3:2

These passages do not all use the exact same wording but there are many synonymous terms and overlaps to consider. The order of events is always the same. Within complete context we notice the resemblance and repetition of the second coming to judgment events in all these related passages. We can have confidence that the authors were speaking of the same events even though some different terms were used such as “appearing” instead of “coming.” 

I do not think it is a coincidence that the same method of creating Adam, or us being given life by God when in the womb, is also used for bodily resurrection; where breath from the life giving Spirit (Christ’s voice or command) is used to speak life back into the physical realm.

There is no good metaphorical interpretation of being resurrected in future at the second coming as figurative to mean we get a spirit body in Heaven immediately when we die. Enter the two-step process, whereby in many Christian views it now means that there is a spirit body rising to Heaven at death then there is another body received at the resurrection of the dead. Other Christians don’t even consider the physical resurrection of the dead anymore as they just focus on the spirit body in Heaven.

We see a dividing issue that a bodily resurrection went from being a primary focus to secondary, or even eliminated as a future event. A resurrection of the body sounds as foolish now as it did at the time of the apostles – 

Acts 17:18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Acts 17:32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

Acts 23:6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”

Acts 26:6-8 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers,to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?  

Acts 26:22-24 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.
   And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 

We will seriously need to consider a physical resurrection of the body compared to a spiritual resurrection. Notice in Acts 26:7 that Paul stated the hope for Israel was the resurrection of the dead. Christ did not release the saints from Sheol at the time of Acts. Paul also stated to Timothy that the resurrection had not yet occurred (2 Timothy 2:18).

The strongest case for a bodily resurrection was made by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. He stated that Christian faith is in vain if there is no bodily resurrection.

Verses 17-18 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 

In Verse 18 we see the saints still asleep (resting). They have no hope for eternal life if it were not for Christ. The timing for this is when He comes again to save them from death.

Verses 20-23 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 

Verse 23 states that these saints from verse 18 won’t be “made alive” until his second coming. Life in the afterlife doesn’t occur until that time as they are still “perished.”

Another case for a bodily resurrection (including a voice from Christ to raise the dead) was foreshadowed with Lazarus as an example in John 11:43.

We should also notice Martha’s understanding that the true resurrection for Lazarus comes at “the last day.” The last day (Day of the Lord) is when Messiah comes again.

John 11:24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

A key concept to remember is that speaking and breathing are interestingly connected in the Bible within the dual meaning of the life giving Spirit. We are told that we receive the Spirit through the word of God for spiritual life and we receive the Spirit through Christ at our bodily transformation into eternal life. Coincidence? Life is intimately tied to the Spirit in all cases of physical or spiritual life, whether at birth, or rebirth or resurrection.

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

We notice in statements like John 5 referenced above that Christ will speak and the dead will rise. We also see that Christ is bringing something with Him at the second coming as pictured for us in 1 Thessalonians 4:14. This is presumably the preserved spirits (not spirit bodies) of those departed to be awakened from the state of Sheol at the resurrection of the dead as we just examined in 1 Corinthians 15.

We know from several passages that Christ is currently in the heavenly places, and we know from other passages that the spirit of a person deceased person returns to God upon death. It makes literal sense that Christ brings the spirits of the saints with him to earth at the second coming to speak their spirit back into the physical realm.

Ephesians 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

The concept of Christ’s location and what happens upon His return is more thoroughly explained by Peter as a complimentary passage –

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:3-9

First, we are to have hope – why would we need hope if we already have an immortal soul? Also, see Romans 8:23-25 – the same concept of needing hope for transformation.

Second, the inheritance (the promise of eternal life in the Promised Land) is kept in Heaven with Christ (Heir of Abraham; keeper of the promise for co-heirs – Romans 8:17).

Eternal life is being kept in Heaven until “the last time” at “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (the second coming to earth).

We receive “the salvation of our soul” at the second coming.

The convergence for salvation mentioned in the Bible is centered around bodily resurrection with the culmination of salvation as a future event. It is not merely that we are saved today in spirit as the meaning of salvation.

There is another point that can be studied further regarding the difference of the Greek terms for spiritual salvation compared to physical salvation. Two unique root words are used. Ephesians 2:6 and Colossians 3:1 offer spiritual salvation as being “raised” (meaning spiritually “lifted”) which is different from the “resurrection” term that means to “stand up” at the bodily resurrection.

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Paul states we won’t appear in glory until the second coming when considering a futurist view. This is confirmed by many passages about the next appearing in NT context. Here is one example in 1 John about Christ’s appearing equated to the future –

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

Verse 28 states that Christ “appears” at His next coming. This is an “optical” root word and is the same word used for His appearances after His resurrection such as Acts 1:3.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Verse 2 gives us a futurist view that Christ has not yet visually appeared. We must differentiate from non-optical root word usages of spiritual appearings in our heart.

The physicality aspect of the future resurrection is of utmost importance to understand for our ultimate salvation. We know verb tenses used in salvation passages state past, present and future timing where the primary tense points towards a bodily resurrection at the second coming.

See Appendix 2 of my book for a listing of passages using different verb tenses to help us understand the timing for salvation. These verbs determine whether a passage is focused on present salvation, future salvation at the resurrection, or both. Spiritual salvation and physical salvation are mentioned side by side with different contextual meanings in several passages. This helps us to know they are different terms.

I believe since only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15-16) we can surmise that immortality is granted, not inherent. This fits with many passages stating we obtain the crown of life, immortality, etc., after our bodily resurrection which always follows Christ’s coming in the texts. 

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Many passages state that we only receive immortality when Christ comes, that we are to be patient towards salvation, and that judgment occurs after the 2nd advent. 

1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd [Christ] appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Here in 1 Corinthians 4 we see that we do not get rewarded until the second coming so these concepts about rewards or crowns are against people being rewarded or obtaining eternal life in Abraham’s Bosom, Heaven or Paradise before Christ comes again to earth.

The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (DPHL) states this about Paul’s beliefs regarding the resurrection:

“Paul’s teaching about the bodily resurrection arises out of a Jewish anthropology in which the ‘soul’ [Hebrew: nephesh; Greek: psyche] is the animating principle of human life. In mainstream Jewish thought human beings do not have souls, they are souls….

“Given this background it is perfectly understandable how in Romans 8:23 Paul describes the effects of the resurrection in terms of the ultimate ‘redemption of our bodies.’”  p 810. InterVarsity Press, 1993

The Holy Spirit’s Life Giving Work

Perhaps the reason people struggle with a literal interpretation of a mortal soul is because of the widely held belief in immortality of the soul at present vs. obtaining immortality in the future at the second coming. 

The biblical answer is that there are two aspects to consider about this important topic – we are saved today, we are saved in the future. It is a paradox according to the Bible since both are conveyed.

A believer is saved today in Spirit (if they are born again into the Spirit) and they are ultimately saved at the resurrection of the dead. This makes sense when considering passages that state we are kept or preserved in the Spirit today as a guarantee for future salvation (stated as the inheritance, which is known as eternal life in the Promised Land). 

Ephesians 1:13–14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The Church Fathers started to separate from each other regarding beliefs in immortality concepts as shown in historical records listed by Dr. Roller. He compared those who believed in conditional immortality (ultimately saved at the resurrection of the dead) vs. unconditional immortality (fully saved now and immortal today).

Perhaps due to preconceived notions from Church tradition or cultural pressure, people tend to force the immortal soul immediately into Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise, or Heaven upon death. A soul that is deemed to be immortal needs to be conscious and needs to be located somewhere in these views.

We can consider our immortality in terms of sharing Christ’s immortality but not having inherent immortality as something we “posses” now since we are always called mortals in the Bible. See Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:54 and 2 Corinthians 5:4 (this verse is based upon Isaiah 25:8).

Why would there be any need of a bodily resurrection of the dead at the second coming if a departed soul is alive in Paradise or Heaven? A spirit body seems to eliminate any need for a physical resurrection at all. 

William Tyndale summarized this confusion for us in his dialogue with Thomas More. This argument is nothing new, yet some things are forgotten. He made a very simple, logical argument about the resurrection and the state of the dead where he summarized the biblical concept concisely. Tyndale starts with sarcasm, then ends with very sound logic. Notice the last sentence in particular.

“Nay, Paul, thou art unlearned; go to Master More, and learn a new way. ‘We be not most miserable, though we rise not again; for our souls go to Heaven as soon as we be dead, and are there in as great joy as Christ that is risen again.’ And I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine, if he had wist [known] it, that the souls of their dead had been in joy; as he did with the resurrection, that their dead should rise again. If the souls be in Heaven, in as great glory as the angels, after your doctrine, shew me what cause should be of the resurrection.”

—Tyndale, William. An Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue, bk. 4, ch. 4, p. 118. Parker 1850.

Here is a modern summary: What need is there for the resurrection if a person believes they go to Heaven or Paradise when they die then immediately receives a spirit-body? Why have a resurrection at the second coming at all? Why didn’t Paul comfort the Thessalonians with statements like “Don’t worry, your loved one is now in bliss enjoying Paradise in a spirit-body”?

Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord

There is no all-encompassing passage that I can find in the Bible to support an immortal soul concept outside of Abraham’s Bosom. Are there other pieces of the immortal soul puzzle passages to consider? Perhaps several verses can piece together? There are some stretches with “absent from the body – immediately present with the Lord” approaches taken out of context in my opinion. These are used as proof texts for those who believe that a person is immediately in heavenly bliss upon their death. 

First, let’s examine this verse below as an example of Paul’s view of body and spirit –

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus…

—1 Corinthians 5:3–4

Paul could be in two places at once. This is a basis for other body-spirit passages.

Philippians 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

These two verses, in conjunction with Abraham’s Bosom and Paradise, are the main passages in the NT that are used to support an immortal soul or a spirit body in Heaven immediately upon death. However, these passages are ambiguous.

Consciousness just after death is a big question. If we are conscious immediately at death in the state of Sheol then it goes against OT beliefs. If we are unconscious we simply die then awake at the resurrection so it is instantaneous. The concept of resting is used more than any other to describe our state upon death. This is a good metaphor because death is like going to sleep then waking up at the resurrection without any thought of time.

It is hard to believe all passages state the dead are not conscious or don’t mention being conscious but Abraham’s Bosom states consciousness. We need to look at the entirety of Scripture to interpret whether we are in bliss in Hades or Heaven.

Another issue of consciousness immediately after death while in Hades or Heaven is that it bypasses judgment if we are awarded any crowns or gifts before the second coming and the resurrection. I cannot find any passage that states any rewards or bliss before the second advent with the sole exception of Christ’s parable. Christ’s statement to the thief on the cross about Paradise does not provide any information within the text itself about the afterlife.

Either Christ was proving in the parable a literal Hades chasm, where everything else related in Scripture seems to contradict this, or Christ was simply stating the parable myth example to prove a point. I think the latter is the only explanation that matches the rest of Scripture.

Conclusion

Why is any of this important? Many people just believe that whatever the afterlife is, it will be good. Who really cares about waking up at the resurrection in Heaven compared to with ascending to Heaven immediately upon death? They are both good options.

There are many reasons why this topic is important. It is important that Christians and Messianic Jews realize that God’s promises from thousands of years ago have not changed. His promises to the Patriarchs, David and the rest of the OT saints are still intact while all of them are waiting to be resurrected to receive the promises as we see in Hebrews 11:39-40 –

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Being made perfect is another term for having a resurrected body (Philippians 3:8-14).

We see more information in Hebrews 11 about waiting for the heavenly city and country as Abraham and the saints did not receive their inheritance as of this writing –

Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

The big issue we face is interpretation. New Jerusalem is important to understand if Abraham is living there now or if he is resting while waiting for us to join him there. He was certainly promised the promised land and never received it in his life, so we are left with two options –

  1. Mystical – God never really promised a land on earth to Abraham so he is enjoying, or will enjoy, the mystical promised land that the Greeks spoke about as Heaven.
  2. Literal – Abraham will be raised from the dead to enter his promised inheritance on earth.

Even if the promised land is a metaphor for celestial Heaven he still didn’t have it as of this writing in Hebrews 11. This would mean he is still on the good side of the Hades chasm waiting until his release into mystical Heaven since there is no physical body or earth in this view 1. However, this concept is completely against 1 Corinthians 15.

We should remember that Christ mentioned leaving earth to prepare a place for us that He is bringing with him when he comes again (John 14:2-3). We it see arrive in Revelation 21:2-3. This is the same heavenly city in Hebrews 11. There will be a feast on earth with Abraham when this occurs (Matthew 8:11).

The reason we should seriously consider this topic is that the gospel for Christians and Messianic Jews is to reach our Jewish and our Gentile friends. This message about Sheol and related topics can be shared in two different ways:

  1. Don’t steal the Promised Land – if you want to reach Jews don’t replace the land promise with a mystical Heaven. A physical land inheritance to be delivered after Messiah comes is the most powerful message we can use to reach Jews. No human leader on earth can deliver this promise. The whole earth will witness the arrival of the true Messiah to begin the promised kingdom of Heaven on earth. See Matthew 24:30-31 and Revelation 1:7.
  2. Separate from the world – if you want to reach Gentiles show them how the Bible has a different view about the afterlife than the typical “every good soul” goes to Heaven belief. Most people believe that everyone good goes to Heaven so there is not a big difference in afterlife beliefs in their minds. However, the “foolishness” of the resurrection of the dead is exponentially more powerful in transformation.

More about these topics in these links below –

https://kjsoze.pressbooks.com/chapter/resting-and-waiting/

https://kjsoze.pressbooks.com/chapter/cultural-myths-of-life-after-death/

For a PDF copy of this article, you can download here.

2 Corinthians 5:1–10 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent [body] we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by lifeHe who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”  

© 2019 by K.J. Soze