Their are a variety of beliefs and teachings on the soul and death. Because of this many are not sure of the condition of dead loved ones. What always made me question this is the bible teaches there will be a resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous. Many are taught that when you die you go to Heaven or Hell. If that is the case then loved ones would not be dead but would be in another place and would not need to be resurrected. When teachings are not based on the bible it makes the bible appear to contradict itself. This is why it is very important to base the teachings on the bible and to look at the whole context of scriptures. It is also important to consider if it is to be taken literal or be taken as symbolism. For example the bible says we are the clay and God is the potter. We know that is not literal but shows how if we are obedient he can shape and mold us for the better.
(Isaiah 64:8) 8 And now, O Jehovah, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our Potter; and all of us are the work of your hand.
Now to rid ourselves of the confusion we need to break down and understand each aspect and focus on what the bible really teaches. The soul is one of the most misunderstood teaching and most teachings on this do not conform to what the original word used in the Hebrew and Greek text meant. The meaning of the original word used was not soul but meant person or living being as a whole. For example when God created the living creatures they became living souls. When he breathed the breath of life into Adam he became a living soul.
(Genesis 1:20, 21) 20 And God went on to say: “Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls and let flying creatures fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heavens.” 21 And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind.
So when the breath of life is present the soul exist.
(Genesis 2:7) 7 And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.
The bible says the blood is the soul not some spirit inside of us. So when we lose blood we lose life.
(Genesis 9:4) 4 Only flesh with its soul—its blood—YOU must not eat.
(Genesis 1:30) 30 And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so.
So based on what the bible says we can conclude that when the breath and blood are present the soul exist but when there is no breath or blood then you cease to exist.
(Genesis 7:21-23) 21 So all flesh that was moving upon the earth expired, among the flying creatures and among the domestic animals and among the wild beasts and among all the swarms that were swarming upon the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything in which the breath of the force of life was active in its nostrils, namely, all that were on the dry ground, died. 23 Thus he wiped out every existing thing that was on the surface of the ground, from man to beast, to moving animal and to flying creature of the heavens, and they were wiped off the earth; and only Noah and those who were with him in the ark kept on surviving.
In the day a person or animal dies their thoughts perish.
(Ecclesiastes 9:5) 5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.
We need to ask ourselves when Adam and Eve disobeyed God what did he tell them would happen. He told them they would return to the earth, he did not say they would live on somewhere else.
(Genesis 3:18, 19) 19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.
Even Jesus did not teach such a thing but talked about destruction of the soul not some eternal suffering when judged. Gehenna was a garbage pit outside of the city. They would throw sulfur into the pit to make it burn hotter so things would burn to ash and there would be nothing left.
(Matthew 10:28) 28 And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Ge·hen′na.
So we learned that the dead are aware of nothing and the soul that sins will die. So death means we no longer exist but return to the earth.
(Ezekiel 18:3, 4) 4Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.
Since all sin and we inherited sin from Adam and Eve we are born imperfect and the end result is death. This is why we needed the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.
(Romans 6:23) 23For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.
So those who accept Jesus and the ransom will have the opportunity to live forever. Those who do not will be destroyed and remain dust. Some will have an opportunity to repent when resurrected and what they do during that time will decide if they live or die.
(Matthew 25:45, 46) 45Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did not do it to one of these least ones, YOU did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.
(John 5:28, 29) 28 Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.
This is why some will experience a second death but others will enjoy eternal life.
(Revelation 21:1-8) 21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” 5 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also, he says: “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And he said to me: “They have come to pass! I am the Al′pha and the O·me′ga, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free. 7 Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.
So when did the lie that you do not die but continue to live as a spirit get started. It was one of the original lies Satan told in the Garden of Eden and it has been retold in a variety of ways but is still the same lie that we do not die.
(Genesis 3:4) 4 At this the serpent said to the woman: “YOU positively will not die.
Since many fear death, Satan uses this to his advantage and uses it to deceive many just as he deceived Eve. The fact that the dead are aware of nothing makes the teachings about Hell and Heaven contradict the bible.
(2 Corinthians 11:2-6) . 3But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, YOUR minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ. 4 For, as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or YOU receive a spirit other than what YOU received, or good news other than what YOU accepted, YOU easily put up [with him]. 5 For I consider that I have not in a single thing proved inferior to YOUR superfine apostles. 6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge; but in every way we manifested [it] to YOU in all things.
Hell and why it is not what people are taught.
The original Hebrew word for Hell was Sheol which meant grave or pit. The Greek word Hell had the same meaning. So when and how did the meaning of the word change? Many pagan religions teach of an eternal burning and suffering. So over the years some how the meaning of the word Hell has changed from what the original meaning of grave or pit.
(2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) 6 This takes into account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for YOU, 7 but, to YOU who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels 8 in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. 9 These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.
The false teaching of being tormented for ever most likely came from a misunderstanding of the scripture in Revelations which we must keep in mind much of Revelations is a book of signs so not all of it is to be taken literal. By knowing your bible it will be clear what is literal and what is to be a sign or symbol.
(Revelation 20:9, 10) . . .But fire came down out of heaven and devoured them. 10 And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet [already were]; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Here we see a clue in Jude. The punishment of Sod’om and Mo.mor’rah was everlasting. So it was total and they were never restored so their destructions was everlasting. They were reduced to ashes. The fire is going to consume those who do not obey or know God it does not say it will consume everyone.
(Jude 6, 7) 7So too Sod′om and Go·mor′rah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before [us] as a [warning] example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.
(2 Peter 2:4-9) 4 Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tar′ta·rus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment; 5 and he did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people; 6 and by reducing the cities Sod′om and Go·mor′rah to ashes he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come; 7 and he delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct— 8 for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds— 9 Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.
When Israel was burning their children in the fire God said such a thing had not come up into his heart. He is a God of love. To cause eternal suffering would not be something a loving God would do.
(Jeremiah 7:30, 31) 31 And they have built the high places of To′pheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hin′nom, in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart.
So the everlasting torment is an everlasting destruction and the remembrance of that destruction.
What about the parable of Lazarus? Does it teach an eternal suffering in a Hell like place?
We get a clue to this with a statement made by John the baptist. He is speaking of how Jesus and his separating of the wheat and the chaff.
(Matthew 3:7-12) 7 When he caught sight of many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptism, he said to them: “YOU offspring of vipers, who has intimated to YOU to flee from the coming wrath? 8 So then produce fruit that befits repentance; 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘As a father we have Abraham.’ For I say to YOU that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 Already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, then, that does not produce fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I, for my part, baptize YOU with water because of YOUR repentance; but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off. That one will baptize YOU people with holy spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will completely clean up his threshing floor, and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.
So it becomes clear how those who put wealth over love for their neighbor will not fair well when God’s great day arrives. The contrast between those who are being resurrected to a resurrection of life and those who will experience a resurrection of judgment is being shown. Since we know those in the grave are aware of nothing at all we know the torment must be speaking of the experiences of the resurrection of the unrighteous. It also speak of the gap there will be between the wealthy who put wealth over the love for their neighbor. So they convince themselves because of their blood line or because they appear not to be sinful they are fine. To leave others go without when you have the means to help is not taken lightly by God and just as the pharisees looked down on the less fortunate many will fall into this trap.
(Luke 16:22-26) .“Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23 And in Ha′des he lifted up his eyes, he existing in torments, and he saw Abraham afar off and Laz′a·rus in the bosom [position] with him. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Laz′a·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you received in full your good things in your lifetime, but Laz′a·rus correspondingly the injurious things. Now, however, he is having comfort here but you are in anguish. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and YOU people.
So clearly it is speaking of a time of judgment. Notice in this time of judgment many things will be revealed about this system and it’s works.
(2 Peter 3:10) 10 Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.
When that day comes none of their wealth will be able to save them.
(Isaiah 13:9) “Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate [the land’s] sinners out of it.
(Zephaniah 1:18) Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth
Heaven, and why not all will go to Heaven but have another hope.
Many base their belief that when we die we may go to heaven based on the mention of those who will go to heaven. The key here is they are the first fruits. This indicates there will be others and Jesus himself mentioned the other sheep.
(Revelation 14:1-5) 14 And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound out of heaven as the sound of many waters and as the sound of loud thunder; and the sound that I heard was as of singers who accompany themselves on the harp playing on their harps. 3 And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth. 4 These are the ones that did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins. These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, 5 and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.
(Romans 8:22-24) . 23 Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom. 24 For we were saved in [this] hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it?
They would be the ones providing true spiritual food and real spiritual healing. They would work very hard to provide for the sheep and not worldly things like fame or fortune. These are ones appointed by God.
(Matthew 24:45-47) 45 “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. 47 Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings.
They will be resurrected first to rule with Jesus over the earth.
(Revelation 5:8-10) 9 And they sing a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”
(Revelation 20:6) 6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.
What of those who are not a part of the first resurrection?
What about those who are not a part of the first resurrection? We find clues to that from the proceeding scriptures.
(Romans 6:7) 7 For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin.
We know there will be a resurrection of righteous and unrighteous. What will be involved with that resurrections. As we read the scriptures we see that the righteous will have a resurrection of life and those who were unrighteous will have a resurrection of judgment. So judgment will be based on their actions when they are resurrected.
(Revelation 20:12) And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds
(John 5:27-29) 28 Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.
(2 Peter 3:6, 7) 7 But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.
What about the other sheep Jesus mentioned?
(John 10:16) 16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.
We learned previously that those in the first resurrection would rule with Christ over the earth but who are they going to rule over? We find a clue to this in Revelation. Here we learn there will be a new earth just as there was a new earth after the great flood.
(Revelation 21:1-5) 21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” 5 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.
In Psalms we learn who will dwell on the new earth.
(Psalm 37:10, 11) 10 And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. 11 But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.
Jesus will crush all governments and the easily corrupt and imperfect humans will not cause all the misery that is being caused now. Man lacks the wisdom and foresight to rule ourselves and even if we have good intentions we just do not have what it takes to make the earth what it was originally intended to be and that is like the Garden of Eden.
(Daniel 2:44) 44 “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.
It is then the original purpose for the earth will be fulfilled.
(Genesis 1:27, 28) . 28 Further, God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”
(Genesis 2:8) 8 Further, Jehovah God planted a garden in E′den, toward the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed..
The earth will experience a peace that even man could not achieve , even the animals will be at peace with each other.
(Isaiah 11:6-9) 6 And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. 7 And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. 8 And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. 9 They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.
People will no longer get ill or die.
(Isaiah 35:5-7) 5 At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. 6 At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness. For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain. 7 And the heat-parched ground will have become as a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground as springs of water. In the abiding place of jackals, a resting-place for [them], there will be green grass with reeds and papyrus plants.
Work will make people happy instead of making profit for others. Prayers will be answered before they are fully stated.
(Isaiah 65:17-24) 17 “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. 18 But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. 19 And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry.” 20 “No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him. 21 And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. 22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. 23 They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. 24 And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall.