That is, what happens between our death and the Ressurection?
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
It was helpful indeed, What about the children who die and where do they go? & What about the person who commits suicide?
What about the resurrection of the physical body of those who burn the bodies on fire (paganism ritual) but not buried on the earth? Their physical body is made to ashes and scattered to the ground right!!!
Why not ask someone who has actually died and came back what happened? It's very clear to those who have experienced it. Lightning fast! Hint - S. Michael Houdmann is right = "First, for the believer in Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that after death believers" souls/spirits are taken to heaven, because their sins are forgiven by having received Christ as Savior (John 3:16, 18, 36). For believers, death is to be "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). However, passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 describe believers being resurrected and given glorified bodies". All of this happened even 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Including glorified body. If glorified bodies is the best word we have for it, I like, perfect in every way and beyond imagination. First stop unfortunately was HELL. What of the Lost Scrolls? - Mary Magdalene purported to have asked Jesus after the Resurrection this very Question) - HELL FIRST, THEN HEAVEN. Don't worry about it, If you are truly a Christian, and FEAR GOD, instinct will take over, and heaven is next and final destination - unless your told you have to go back of course! I don't know why death is held as such a secret? But it is.
Much of how we answer what happens after death is tied up in our perception of what constitutes a person. If we think that we are 2 or 3 divisible 'elements': a body that gets buried after death, and a soul/spirit that continues to exist after death, then we will take certain scriptures that hint at the afterlife and read in to them a paradigm that reinforces this notion.
If something of us lives on after death, it must go somewhere, we reason, which is either heaven or hell (or purgatory for RCs).If, however, we see man as an indivisible unity of soul (the word soul being used primarily in the OT as a term for a living, breathing creature) then there is no need to seek an afterlife destination in scripture.
When taken as a broad whole, the bible speaks overwhelmingly in favour of the grave (sheol/hades = death) as a place of silence, having all the opposite qualities of life, and of waiting for resurrection. Resurrection is the key theme throughout the bible. To Jesus it was his central message and he underscored it repeatedly (take John 6 and the continual reference to 'raising up at the last day). It speaks in illustrative segments only about an intermediate existence between death and resurrection, but nothing with the sharp clarity of the reality of resurrection. For example, Lazarus and Dives parable, the raising of Samuel, Moses and Elijah, the souls under the altar in Rev 6.
However, all these can be explained in a straightforward reading of the context and not strained to support an unbodied afterlife (one which Paul shuddered at the thought in 2 Cor 5 when he rejected the nakedness of an unresurrected 'life'. To be naked was a shameful thing). Lazarus and the rich man was a Jewish-Greek mythological setting for a message about how the Pharisees loved present day luxuries and ignored the teachings of Moses; 'Samuel' was likely a familiar spirit controlled by a medium; Jesus said to the disciples that Moses and Elijah were a vision; the souls under the altar are the illustrative means to get a message across about the timing of God's vengeance (like the blood of Abel crying out), not an accurate image of heavenly reality.
I think the correct reading of what constitutes man is in Genesis 2. We are dust (solid natural substance) + God-given breath = living soul. The soul that sins shall die (that's all of us), but faith in Christ provides (conditional) immortality. Only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16), not man. It's simply that the devil has been saying to man since the fall that he won't die - there's more after death. It's a lie, but that hasn't stopped the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans from constructing their many myths and gods of the afterlife.
Adam and Eve could have remained connected to the Tree of Life, but chose the banned one, so we have to come back to the Tree of Life to receive eternal life - it comes by no other path. We die, we are raised, we are judged, we are rewarded or condemned. Those who die 'in Christ' ie had the seal of the Holy Spirit, are regarded by the living as peaceful sleepers awaiting their reward at the last day. They, however, know nothing other than passing straight into the presence of the returning Lord and rising with new spiritual bodies (ie Holy Spirit animated bodies, not reliant on blood for life). Also, Jesus returns to earth, not we go 'up to heaven'. God made physical bodies and a physical earth and he will recreate both in perfection and dwell amongst us again as he did in Eden.
The condemned awaiting their judgement resurrection which is the lake of fire. It's purpose is solely to destroy (John 3:16). The pain, anger, wailing and gnashing as they see what they could have possessed had they accepted Christ will be awful, but due to the mercy of God, fairly brief.
What happens after death largely depends on what you think we are made of. I err on the side of the Hebraic point of view, not the mystery religions and Plato.
There will be no sun and moon as the light of God will shine. In a few ways, the afterlife is like Earth - no crime, hurricanes, hail, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc... Looks like Earth but it's not Earth. God's radiant glory is the light. Jesus is the Shepherd in charge.
I tell my daughters: We are the sheep, Jesus is the Shepherd, and GOD owns the RANCH! Oh, we can recognize ourselves and others we knew on Earth that made passage; however, we too, are uniquely different such as no pain, no hunger, no bleeding, no thirst, no disease, no sickness, no boredom, just total contentment.
Those of you who feel you were not born in this world as pretty or as handsome as you would have liked, well, that won't be an issue in Heaven; we are all beautiful and perfect there.
P.S. Hell is nothing like most people think--worst feeling one can ever imagine, but wouldn't appear painful at all to one that has never experienced it. Those that get away with denying God here on Earth, (even those that emphatically believe in evolution over creationism) will feel what it's like to be out of God's presence, as all humans are in God's presence here on Earth whether they want to believe in him or not.
In the afterlife, that blanket of security that many are unaware they even have, will vanish. Kind of like - but much worse - being marooned on an island with no hope of rescue. Deserted and Alone! For Eternity? Perhaps?
Luke 23:46: "Into Your hands I commit My spirit..."
There's your model...the body dies, spirit (soul) goes into the presence of the
So Cindy, if the Greek word 'pneuma', translated as 'spirit' in this verse, means 'breath' or 'life' here, the model becomes: 'I give you my last breath Father.' No entity then has to go back up to Heaven. Surely what was happening at that awful moment was Jesus choosing to lay down his life knowing that the exact reverse of Gen 2:7 would happen next, as expressed clearly in Ecc 12:6-7.
Jesus was about to die, be buried in the grave/sheol/hades and rise 3 days later as our firstfruit. He did not become Jesus the body and Jesus the immaterial entity. The word 'spirit' should not be taken as always meaning what the Greek philosophers pictured ie immaterial entities escaping the now dead fleshly shell. That's not how Jesus, Paul, Peter would have thought, so why do we persist in such skewed thinking?
There is so much speculation and interpretation on this matter - I look to what Jesus says when I am confused. On the cross He said to the thief, "today you will be with Me in paradise". That's good enough for me.
Marty my brother - you said it all, or rather, Jesus said it all = PARADISE!!!!
Except Jesus knew exactly where he was going that day...into the belly of the earth, just as Jonah was in the whale Matt 12:40. He didn't state anything else. Those were his prophetic words.
So why did Jesus say 'today' alongside 'paradise'? He was answering the thief who said 'WHEN you come into your kingdom, remember me'. There are many scriptures that say we have eternal life now, but actually we still die. Gen 3:19 still applies. So Jesus was reassuring the thief that his faith qualified him for a future resurrection unto eternal life, and 'the kingdom', which only happens when Jesus returns.
Being alive eternally is a bodily existence not some immaterial state Rom 8:11. I hope you can see the thief's conversation with Jesus doesn't actually back an instant appearance in heaven after death. But that lie is hard to shake Gen 3:4.
The serpent (Satan) knew that Adam and Eve would not immediately die PHYSICALLY but SPIRITUALLY. We are now all born spiritually dead.
We have a physical body but an immaterial soul and spirit, which live on past our physical death.
See Gen 35:18.
When God gave us eternal life at the moment we believed in Christ as our Savior, it wasn't, "eternal life except for all of the years your physical body lies in a grave and until I resurrect you into your glorified body." Nowhere does it say that our soul "sleeps" for centuries--nowhere!
Rather, we see souls in heaven in Rev 6:9-11, clearly physically dead but alive in the presence of God.
James 2:26 also refers to the difference between our material and immaterial beings.
In fact, this is what atheists believe--that all we are is material, random atoms coming together. But this is not what the Bible teaches because we are made in the image of God with free will, reason, emotion--these are all immaterial things. These are part of the immaterial part of us that go on after the death of our physical bodies that begin dying as soon as we are physically born.
Heb 4:12 distinguishes our immaterial beings--our soul and spirit, which are used interchangeably.
Our resurrection is into our final glorified body that will be like Jesus.
Just because our human minds have a hard time grasping a living soul without a physical body does not make it not true.
This subject definitely has its two camps - those who say we are made of physical substance (our bodies) but with either two or three immaterial elements, the soul and spirit, that survive bodily death and continue to exist in 'heaven' or 'hell'.
The other side believes that we are a holistic being and when we die there is nothing intrinsically immortal about us and we have to wait for God to resurrect every person, at his appointed time, and gift eternal life or mete out his justice of everlasting death as a punishment.
There are slight variations on those themes, and both sides claim scripture supports their view. The problem is they are diametrically opposed and both can't be right.
I moved from the first camp to the second during a period of study and became convinced that, on balance (which includes ambiguous or unclear verses), the bible supports the notion that we are created mortal, like Adam, to dust we return on death (the whole of our person) and, while being out of conscious time awareness in the grave/sheol/hades, await a miracle - that of resurrection unto eternal life.
In doing so, I had to clear away all ideas of what the words soul, spirit, mind, flesh, body, heart meant to my Western way of perceiving them. We have been conditioned down the centuries to think in Greek linear ways, and allowed pagan religious mythologies and philosophy to distort interpreting the bible properly. Non-linear Hebrew concepts flow and interweave, and so do those words.
I believe I've read through 90% of the answers and responses to this question. It has most definitely been debated with all sides referencing the verses supporting their beliefs. BUT, nowhere have I found the most basic answer of all: We may not understand an issue, but it doesn't matter as long as we keep faith in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:8: “But we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent (ekdémeó) from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
https://biblehub.com/greek/1553.htm Strong’s Greek 1553 ekdémeó defined as ‘absent’, ‘to live abroad’, ‘to emigrate, depart from the body’. This is supported in Genesis 35:18 "it came about as her soul was departing (for she died)".