555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

555. What Becomes of the Soul in the Interval between Death and the Resurrection?

There are three passages from which an inference may be drawn, in the absence of an explicit statement in the Bible. The first of these is Christ's assurance to the penitent thief (Luke 23 -43): "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." We are not sure what Paradise meant, but it was evidently a place of conscious existence, if it was not heaven itself. A second passage is contained in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Some allowance must be made for the form of picture teaching Christ used, but he certainly described the rich man as being conscious and being able to see, hear, speak and feel at a time when his brothers were alive upon earth. This indicated a conscious existence for the soul prior to the resurrection. The third passage is Paul's expression of a desire for death (Phil. 1:23). He wished "to depart and to be with Christ." It is not likely that he would have had such a wish if he expected to sleep until the resurrection. So active and energetic a man would have wished to live and work for Christ rather than to lie unconscious in the grave. He clearly expected that as soon as he died he would be with Christ. These are a few of the statements from which the inference is drawn that man goes immediately after death to his reward and does not wait for the resurrection. It is not clear that Paul expected a resurrection of the body at all. He expected to receive a new body (I Cor. 15:37)ónot the body that was laid in the grave.