What is the meaning of the phrase “going to sleep” that is used many times in the New Testament.  Also, what happens when we die?


This was a common euphamism for saying that someone died in their culture.  We also use euphemisms for talking about death.  We say someone “passed away.”  Or we say that someone “is no longer with us.”  This is an example of a euphemism, as we think it is not polite to simply say that someone died.

As for what happens when we die, biblically, when we die we go to a waiting place, sometimes known as Hades, other times as Paradise or Sheol.  Revelation 20:11-15, Daniel 12:4-5 and other passages appear to teach that final judgement will wait until the end-times.  When we die, we go to Hades, which is neither heaven or hell. Most helpful here are Luke 16:19-31 and Luke 23:43. What I will do is copy and past a Q & A from my web site which includes many passages on this topic.  There are other Q & As on this topic at my website if you do a search.

John Oakes


I recently looked over an essay from Douglas Jacoby. Towards the end of the essay he talked a little bit about paradise and I have always wanted to find some verses on it but I don’t really know where to look. I know there isn’t much on life after death before judgment but I wanted to do some research on it regarding what the OT says and the NT. Can you help me?


The best way I can help you is to point you toward the little book by Doug Jacoby on the topic, which is “What Happens When We Die?” (available at Relevant passages are dozens about Hades, Paradise, Sheol and Abaddon, mainly in the Pslams and some in Proverbs, plus 1 Pet 3:19-20, Luke 16:19-31,

And a few more (see below). There may be more on this than you think. I hope this helps.

John Oakes

Revelation 1:18 ESV

And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Luke 16:23 ESV

And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Revelation 20:13 ESV

And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

Revelation 19:20 ESV

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Acts 2:27 ESV

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Matthew 16:18 ESV

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Acts 2:31 ESV

He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Revelation 20:14 ESV

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Matthew 25:41 ESV /

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 10:28 ESV /

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Psalm 86:13 ESV /

For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Psalm 16:10 ESV /

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

Revelation 21:8 ESV /

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 6:8 ESV

And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

James 3:6 ESV

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

Luke 16:19-31 ESV

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Matthew 11:23 ESV

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Luke 10:15 ESV

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

Matthew 23:15 ESV

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Revelation 20:10 ESV

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Luke 23:43 ESV

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Helpful Not Helpful
Jonah 2:2 ESV / 8 helpful votes

Saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.

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