What the Bible says about the State of the Dead
How did God create mankind in the first place?
Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Job 33:4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
So human life can be shown by this equation
Body (dust) + Breath (spirit) = A Living Soul
What is death?
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest
freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day
that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...
So "Death" is the penalty for disobeying God’s Law. It is the natural result of violating God’s Law. Sin separates humanity from God (who is the Source of Life). Just like disconnecting a light bulb from a battery - sin disconnects a human being from the Source of Life. Just as the “light” from the light bulb goes out, just so, disconnecting a human from his “Source of Life” brings “death”.
How is death accomplished?
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Psalm 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
So human death can be shown by the reverse of the “life” equation
Body (dust) - Breath (spirit) = A Dead Soul/No Soul
Notice the difference between the “spirit” and the “soul”.
Job 27:3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
Job 34:12-15 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly...If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.
The “spirit” of a human being is simply the “breath” that God gave him to make him a “living soul.” It is not some “out of body” ghost like apparition like many people have been deceived into believing. The “body” is simply made from the elements of the earth (dust) and then God gives that inanimate body “life” by sharing His own “breath” (what the Bible translates in Job 27 as “spirit”). And the Bible also makes it very clear that it takes the combined union of both the inanimate body and the breath of God to make or produce a “living soul!” According to this Bible equation, the “soul” does not exist separate from the body and breath.
Can a dead person do anything, go anywhere, or haunt houses like the world believes?
Psalm 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
Job 7:9-10 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
What happens to the thoughts, feelings, and consciousness of a person when they die?
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they
any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Psalm 146:3-4 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
In other words, a dead person is not conscious. A dead person does not “know anything!”
How does the Word of God describe the state of the dead?
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
John 11:11-14 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but
I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
So Jesus compared “death” to “sleep” - a period of time where the person is totally unconscious and unaware of what is going on in the world - they are not aware of the passing of time.
When a person goes to sleep, they are totally unaware of the passing of time - they close their eyes, and in what seems to them as just a moment, their alarm clock is going off to wake them up. They have been asleep for 6-8 hours, but to their conscious mind, it was all only a moment in time. And this is how the Word of God describes “death.”
From the dead person’s perspective, the amount of time they are unconscious for (whether it is for just a few weeks, a hundred years, or a few millenniums) it is only a split moment in time to them. They just close their eyes in death, and the next moment they are aware of, they are awakened by the voice of Jesus Christ at the resurrection.
Where do the dead sleep?
Job 17:13-16 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness...They shall go down
to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,
and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing,
ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Is the first Death a permanent condition?
John 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves
shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life;
and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that
there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Job 19:25-26 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
So everyone who dies the first death, will be raised back to life in the future, either in the Resurrection of Life (for the saved to be taken to heaven) or in the Resurrection of Damnation (for the wicked to be punished with the second death). Revelation refers to these two resurrections which take place 1,000 years apart.
Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
(See also: What the Bible says about Hell)
Is a soul immortal or can it die?
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine:
the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither
shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and
the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Genesis 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
Revelation 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man:
and every living soul died in the sea.
So a person’s “soul” does not possess “immortality” - which means that there is no such thing as an “immortal soul”. When the “breath” is taken away from the “body” - death occurs - and the “soul” ceases to exist.
Where is the only source of immortality?
1 Timothy 6:15-16 “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
The Bible specifies that only God possesses inherent “immortality” and that He gives it as a “gift” ONLY to His people who truly seek for it by placing their faith in Jesus Christ.
When do God’s people receive the gift of immortality?
Job 14:10-14 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
So if we are faithful to God, He has promised to give us the gift of “immortality” at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, when He returns to resurrect the righteous dead and take all of us to heaven to live with Him!
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be.