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Soul Sleep or What Happens to Christians When We Die?

I realize there is some disagreement about this in various churches, but I am convinced the Bible provides a straightforward answer. When Christians die physically, we (or our soul or spirit, however you want to say it) go to be with Christ in the heavenly places. To the thief beside him on the cross, Jesus said, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). In the Jewish teaching of the day, “Paradise” was simply another name for the presence of God, enjoyed by the faithful upon death.

Likewise, Paul says in Phil. 1:23, that he has a desire to depart (=die) and be with Christ, that he “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). And, in Revelation, there is a description of “souls” under the altar in heaven who are awaiting the return of Christ and his judgment. Because sleep is a common biblical euphemism for death, we certainly can say that our bodies “sleep” in the grave. Indeed, the word “cemetery” comes from the Greek word that means “sleeping place.” Our bodies sleep but our souls are with Christ. On the Last Day, at the second coming of Christ, our souls will be reunited with our resurrected and glorified bodies.
Let these words be your comfort: when we Christians close our eyes in death, we will immediately open them again to behold the face of our Savior.

Written by Chad Bird, 1517 Scholar