Many people believe in “soul sleep”.
There are many believers today who believe that when we die, our soul and spirit go to sleep together with our body until we wake up at the Lord’s second coming.
The very essence of the soul and spirit is immortality. Why on earth would they go to sleep with the body? What purpose would it serve for believer’s to be asleep for hundreds or thousands of years? The spirit does not need rest and there is no reason for it to sleep. Only the body would have a justifiable reason to sleep because there is nothing else for it to do until it is resurrected and rejoined with the soul and spirit.
The very reason the body dies is because the spirit leaves it. If the spirit is the life force that kills the body, or rather does not allow it to continue to live when it leaves it, then why would it suddenly fall asleep. This makes no sense.
And where would it sleep? With the body? No, it left the body, remember? So pray tell, where does it sleep then all these years? Heaven? Hell (a la purgatory)? In the earth? No, none of these and certainly not in the body or it would cause it to come back to life.
Even Curry Blake talks about feeding someone right away when they are raised from the dead so that the spirit has a viable host to come back to and be able to remain. If the spirit needs a viable host to remain, then a dead body does not qualify to host it. And if the spirit cannot return to a dead body, then it certainly does not sleep with the dead body either.
James tells us in 2:26 that the body without the spirit is dead. So once we die, our body is without the spirit. There is a definite separation. So how could the spirit possible be asleep with the body when scripture clearly states that the dead body is without the spirit?
And why would the martyr Steven, after seeing the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God, have cried out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” just before he “fell asleep”?
Some actually believe that the soul and spirit are separated at death and that the spirit goes to be with God asleep and the soul goes into the grave with the body in an unconscious state. This makes no sense either since the soul and spirit are connected and cannot be separated.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
This verse confirms that soul and spirit are always joined at the hip and that only God’s word can pierce to the dividing of them to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart in life as there will be no need to do so in death. If necessary, this is only a temporary state to convict man of their innermost thoughts and attitudes towards God and fellow man for correction.
There is no way to get around this next verse either which clearly states that absence from the body equals being in the Lord’s presence.
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8.
Where else would the spirit go? One cannot interject a hiatus of sleep into this anywhere. This is further confirmed by Paul who is assured that once departed, it will be gain to him for he will be with Christ.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 1 Phi 1:21-23.
If to live is Christ and if dying were only to sleep, then how could this be gain or better than to live? The gain here is to be with Christ. Again he never speaks of being asleep at any time in between his departure and being with Christ. If he knew he would be going to sleep, then he would not have had this conflict of whether to stay or to depart. To remain would have been the only logical choice over going to sleep which would have been futile. He only talks of his departure to go to be with Christ and not of his going to sleep.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 2 Timothy 4:6-7
He does not say that the time for him to go to sleep is at hand but to depart. If Paul received more revelation than any of the other apostles, then he knew that he was departing to go to be with the Lord as he so states clearly and not to go to sleep for thousands of years.
When he says that we shall not all sleep, he is referring to the fact that not all of us will die and have our bodies “being stretched out” assuming the dead position.
Even Jesus’ spirit left his body awake and went to go preach to the angels held captive in Tartarus before His body was resurrected and glorified. His spirit did not fall asleep but only His body.
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 1 Peter 3:19
His flesh being his body was asleep and at rest in hope of His resurrection.
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Acts 2:26
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Cor 15:20
Since his spirit was alive and well, then “slept” here refers only to His body that was at rest and not His spirit. And if Christ was the firstfruits of them who slept and His spirit did not sleep, then their spirit did not sleep either nor did or does the spirit of any of them who slept or sleep after Christ.
Every statement in scripture of someone having fallen asleep referring to them having died, is of the body and not of the spirit. The body goes to dust in the ground but the spirit goes upward.
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecclesiastes 3:21
Upward where? To be with Christ of course and not in the ground or anywhere else to sleep.
Jesus said that Moses rejoiced to see His day. How could Moses have seen Jesus’s day if he was asleep? And furthermore, how could Moses and Elijah have appeared to Jesus and Peter, James and John on the mountain if they were in soul sleep? Would God have raised their spirit from sleep for this one event? Highly unlikely.
Yes, Peter uses the same manner of speech when he says “for since the fathers fell asleep” but they were not sleeping when they appeared, now were they? There is no biblical doctrine to support raising a spirit without the body or of awakening a spirit.
What about Enoch and Elijah? They were the only 2 people in all of history that have left this earth alive. Were they put to sleep the second they were caught up to heaven? I highly doubt it. That would make no sense. Then God may as well have left them to die and go to sleep.
Especially Enoch who was a friend of God. Why would he have caught him up to heaven if not to have fellowship with him?
Even the story of Saul and the witch of Endor supposedly calling up the spirit of Samuel, it was not the spirit of Samuel being awakened but a familiar spirit imitating Samuel. Read my article on this here:
There are plenty of near death, or even having died, testimonies of believers being in the Lord’s presence in spirit and not asleep. My friend Manny had this experience which you can read about here and listen to his personal testimony:
There are also non-believer testimonies of being very much awake in torment.
Using the term fallen asleep rather than saying that someone was dead or had died was nothing more than a sensitive manner of speech. Just like today when we say “he passed away” instead of saying “he died”. Even Jesus used this manner of speech when he spoke about Lazarus being asleep and only upon the disciples’ insistence, did he plainly state to them that Lazarus was dead.
Paul used this term too when he spoke about those who have fallen asleep who believed in Jesus. He goes on to assure them that those who died in Jesus, He will bring with Him at His return at Jesus’ second coming at the end of the tribulation proving that they are alive in heaven or else He could not bring them “with” Him.
And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, that ye may not sorrow, as also the rest who have not hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also God those asleep through Jesus he will bring with him, 1Thes 4:13-14
Scripture also tells us plainly that Jonah had died, was buried in the deep and was resurrected to life as a true type of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and he being in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights while Christ was in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:40.
Jonah testifies that “out of the belly of hell cried I” and “the earth with her bars was about me for ever” and “yet thou brought up my life from corruption” all prove that he was physically dead while his spirit was alive in hell and praying to God and God raised Him up from corruption.
The story of Lazarus the beggar must also be accepted as truth or otherwise Jesus is a fanciful storyteller speaking untruths just for “shock value”. Just like when He truthfully revealed what happens when the evil spirit goes out of a man, here Jesus truthfully revealed what takes place after death. He said that He only does those things which His Father shows Him.
Paradise before the resurrection was under the earth together with hell side by side with a great gulf fixed between them just as Jesus described it. Once Jesus paid the price for sin, He set the captives free by “leading captivity captive” and taking them to heaven in the northern parts above the earth. They were all very much awake all this time and not asleep.
Both sleep and asleep is the Greek word:
g2837. κοιμάω koimaō; from 2749; to put to sleep, i.e. (passively or reflexively) to slumber; figuratively, to decease: — (be a-, fall a-, fall on) sleep, be dead.
Strong’s says it is from the Greek word:
g2749. κεῖμαι keimai; middle voice of a primary verb; to lie outstretched (literally or figuratively): — be (appointed, laid up, made, set), lay, lie. Compare 5087.
If we combine the meaning of these words we could easily say that they were put or laid to sleep and/or laid up stretched out. Since the spirit would not fit this description, only the body would be dealt with as such. Our spirit flies away.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalms 90:10
Again, our spirit does not sleep but it flies away either to be with Christ after the body dies and it goes to sleep, or to descend into hell, both to await the resurrection and be rejoined with the body.
This is further supported by:
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7
When Jesus told the thief on the cross next to Him:
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
He meant today as in this day they would both be in paradise. Nowhere else does Jesus speak like this saying “I tell you today,…” except here. The clue is in the prior verse where the thief says:
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Luke 23:42
Which literally translated sounds more like “be you being reminded of me Master whenever you may be coming in the kingdom of you.” Jesus was answering the thief’s “whenever” when he emphatically said to him “today”.
Here is probably the best proof souls of slain bodies are in heaven awake and well and their bodies not yet resurrected.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Revelation 6:9-11
How could they cry with a loud voice if they were asleep? That they should rest does not mean that they need rest but rather to repose and wait for a little while until their fellow servants are also killed and caught up to heaven.
In his famous Psalm 23, King David confirmed that once this life is over, he will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” After a lifetime full of goodness and mercy following him. He did not say that he would sleep before his dwelling forever in the Lord’s house. If there would be any psalm to convey this “truth”, if it indeed were a truth, it would be this psalm to convey that He makes me lie down in sleep before I dwell in the house of the Lord forever, which of course it does not say at all.
He also said God would guide him with His counsel and afterward, right afterward and not with a hiatus of sleep, God would receive him to glory. There is no glory in sleep. There is also no receiving in sleep.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Psalms 73:24
When his child from Bathsheba died, he not only confirmed that the child was with God and did not say that the child was asleep, but he also confirmed that he would be going to the child without any mention of sleep before doing so.
But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. 2 Samuel 12:23
Bring him back? Back from where? Certainly not from sleep. One does not return from sleep either.
Paul says that whether we wake, or are alive, or whether we sleep, or rather are dead, we should live together with him. We know that as believers, we live together with Him in spirit every moment of every day. But how would we live together with Him if we are in soul sleep? We cannot possibly live together with Him if we are asleep for thousands of years.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
When John tells us about what he saw that death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, it had to occur at the same time together with the sea giving up the dead that were in it. This is the best picture we have of the second resurrection. The souls of the dead in hell came together with their dead bodies that were either in the sea or dead elsewhere and so stood in judgement. And if they were in hell, they were not asleep with their bodies but awake.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. Revelation 20:13
In conclusion, there is no scriptural support for soul sleep. There is overwhelming support for the body sleeping until it is raised at the rapture which you can read about here:
Franciscus M. Dartee
Grow in Faith | Walk in Power
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