The State of the Dead

by J. Mark Martin

Man Is Made Up of Three Parts: Spirit, Soul and Body

1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

There is a difference between man's breath and spirit: "Thus says the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it." Isaiah 42:5

Destination After Death

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." Philippians 1:21-24

"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good courage, I say ... and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

The Soul Is Conscious After Death

Revelation 6:9-11 "And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also."

Obviously a person's soul is more than his breath. These robed souls under the altar, crying out to God, are not "breaths." Note that these souls are conscious after death. They were martyred and after death are very much alive in Heaven. They have the ability to cry out to God and to wear white robes. God Himself tells them that more of their brethren will join them after they are killed.

Again in Revelation 20:4 "And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."

Additional Scriptures Indicating the Consciousness of the Soul After Death

Job 26:5-6
Matthew 22:31, 32
Luke 16:19-31
1 Thessalonians 5:10
Isaiah 14:9-11, 15-17

When the Soul Leaves the Body, the Body Sleeps

The term "sleep" is never applied to the soul or the spirit, but only the body. The soul and the spirit continue to exist after death. The body "sleeps" and goes back to dust. The following verses refer to the state of the body's death as sleep:

Matthew 9:24 "He began to say, 'Depart; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.' And they were laughing at Him." John 11:11 "This He said, and after that He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.'"Acts 7:59-60 "And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord do not hold this sin against them!' And having said this, he fell asleep." Acts 13:36 "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay." 1 Thessalonians 4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

Man's Soul and Man's Spirit Are More than Breath

1 Samuel 18:1 "Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself."

2 Samuel 5:8 "And David said on that day, 'Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel.' Therefore they say, the blind or the lame shall not come into the house."

Mark 14:34 "And He said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.'"

Psalm 107:26 "They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depth; their souls melted away in their misery."

Luke 2:35 "... and a sword will pierce even your own soul to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

Man's Spirit Is What Is Regenerated

John 3:6-7 "That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"

God Works Through Man's Spirit

Proverbs 20:27 "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being."

Man's Spirit has:

INTELLIGENCE (1 Corinthians 2:11)
"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God."

EMOTIONS (John 11:33)
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled."

The Soul and the Spirit Are Separated From the Body at Death

Luke 8:54-55 "... He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, 'Child arise!' And her spirit returned, and she rose immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat."

Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and the body in hell."

James 2:26 "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

1 Kings 17:21-22 "Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord, and said, 'O Lord my God, I pray to Thee, let this child's life return to him.' And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived."

The term "death" which is "thanatas" in Greek, does not mean to be non-existent or unconscious, it rather means to be separated. Some examples:

Colossians 2:13 "And when you were dead (separated from God -- not "unconscious") in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh ..."

Ecclesiastes 9:5 "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten."

The context of this verse is "under the sun." It is saying that the dead do not know anything that is going on "under the sun" (on earth) vss. 3, 6 -- after they die and are in Heaven. (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

See also Ephesians 2:1 and Revelation 3:1

These scriptures clearly teach that the soul and spirit are more than breath. People's souls and spirits are separated from their bodies when they die. The soul is conscious in Heaven after death, awaiting the resurrection of the body.

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