State of the Dead

Doctrinal Statement: When a person dies they remain dead until Jesus returns. They have no awareness of anything. The body returns to the earth and the life giving spirit from God returns to God.


Bible Verses Pertaining to the state of the dead.

*   (Gen 2:7 KJV)  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.

*   (1 Cor 15:45 KJV)  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

*   (Eccl 12:7 KJV)  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Man consists of a spirit that gives life to the material body. That spirit is the life giving force from God, the breath of life. In other words man does not “have” a soul, man “is” a soul.


Here are a few Bible verses that show that being dead is a state of unconsciousness, sometimes referred to as a sleep.

*   (Eccl 9:4-6 NIV)  Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! {5} For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. {6} Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

*   (1 Cor 15:52 KJV)  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.

*   (Psa 115:17-18 NIV)  It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence; {18} it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD.

*   (Psa 146:3-4 KJV)  Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. {4} His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

*   (Isa 38:18 NIV)  For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.

*   (1 Th 4:16-17 NIV)  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Notice in the last verse that at the resurrection the dead in Christ rise to meet our Lord. In other words they were still in the grave at the time of the return of Christ.


But what about…

*   If Jesus was dead, how do you explain this.

*  (Luke 23:43 NIV)  Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Before I give you the answer consider these three statements.

*  A woman without her man is nothing.

*  A woman, without her man, is nothing.

*  A woman: without her, man is nothing.

The words are identical in all three statements but the meaning has changed due to the punctuation. Since the verse above had no punctuation in the original we need to add it based on our understanding and the context. Here is how it should read.

*  (Luke 23:43 NIV)  Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.”

When will the man be in paradise? It does not say. All we know is that someday he will be in paradise


OK, how about this.

*   (1 Pet 3:18-20 NIV)  For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, {19} through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison {20} who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,

Then, also consider this.

*  (2 Pet 2:4-5 NIV)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; {5} if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

And also this.

*  (Psa 146:7-8 NIV)  He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, {8} the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.

The verse in question is referring to Noah preaching by the Spirit not to the Lord being alive when was dead.


And finally consider this.

*  (2 Cor 5:5-8 NIV)  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. {6} Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. {7} We live by faith, not by sight. {8} We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

This verse does not say that the dead are with the Lord. Paul says simply that he would prefer (rather) to be with the Lord. This next verse clearly says no ordinary man has ever gone to heaven.

*  (John 3:13 NIV)  No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.

The reason for this statement is simple. When you die you are dead, until the Lord returns at the time of the resurrection.


Some Conclusions

*  Man is a living being, or soul, that is made from earth and spirit.

*  The spirit that made the man alive returns to God when the man dies. The man does not return to God because the man was never with God.

*  The body remains dead until the day of resurrection when the Lord returns.

*  While a man is dead he has no awareness of time, his thoughts perish.

*   When the Lord returns the bodies of the dead in Christ rise to meet Him in the air. At this point they receive an immortal body and receive a new life. Those of us who are alive in Christ join them at that time.

*   Time has no meaning for the dead. When they are resurrected it will seem as if they had just died no matter if it has been hours or days or years or even centuries since their death. As it says in Ecclesiastes, the dead know nothing.

A Few Closing Thoughts

Knowing the state of the dead is an important concept. Once you get the idea you will know why the Lord forbids consulting the dead. Those being consulted are actually evil spirits. You will know why it makes no sense to pray to saints, they can’t hear you because they are dead. The concept of the dead being actually dead means we don’t become angels when we die, we don’t become ghosts either. The Lord died for our sins and was in the grave three days and three nights just as He said. It was not until he was resurrected by His Father that He regained what He gave up for us. Now there is a reassuring thought, we will be resurrected just as He was and be with Him forever more. Praise God!