I have recently been thinking about what we experience when we die. I understand that information on this is extremely limited and most answers are speculations.  Also, it is my understanding that people do not possess a soul but “are” in fact a soul. God says that when man was first formed it took the dust of the earth and his breath of life and man became a living being or a soul. Consequently I think that when we die these 2 components separate and we no longer have any consciousness at all. This is based upon what Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 says. Therefore, I think that when the resurrection comes it will seem as though no time has passed. It would similar to being put under anesthesia before surgery, I have personally been put under anesthesia. Could it be that when Jesus told the thief on the cross that on that day he would join him in paradise that this could have been what he meant?


You are right that the biblical information on this is fairly limited.   However, I am doubtful that our experience between death and the final resurrection is simply unconsciousness.  I know of no passage that teaches this directly

It is true that passages such as Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 might possibly be consistent with this idea of unconsciousness.  However, I believe that here Solomon is talking about what we here in this life experience with respect to the dead.  For us, we know nothing of the dead and they know nothing of us.  We naturally forget about the dead over time.  Like Solomon says, “Never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun (in other words here on the earth) That is what Solomon is talking about.  He is not teaching that we are unconscious in Hades.   Some do teach “soul sleep” but I disagree with this teaching.

On the other hand, information in the New Testament is stronger in the other direction–that we will be conscious in Hades.  There is the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, as well as 1 Peter 3:18-20 which seem to settle the question of simply being unconscious after death, but before Jesus comes back.  Who is Jesus preaching to in 1 Peter 3?  How is the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to be interpreted if we are simply unconscious after we die?  Also, there are scenes in Revelation in which elders and those who have been martyred speaking, as well as the thief who will be “with Jesus” that day.  Add to that the visit of Samuel to Saul when he was summoned when Saul went to the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel.  I do not know much about Hades/Paradise, but I am almost certain that we will be conscious when there and I am certain that Hades is a real place.  I suggest you pick up a copy of Doug Jacoby’s book “What Happens When we Die?  It is at

I do agree that as souls, we have a body–that we exist apart from our body, but this does not imply that we will be unconscious while in Hades.  Will we have physical bodies there?  Maybe.  I am prepared to go so far as to say probably.  However, even if we do not have physical bodies, this does not in any way at all imply that we would be unconscious.  Your claim that the body and the soul the soul are distinct (to which I agree), does not imply that we will simply be in a state like sleeping.

As for the thief, the place Jesus told him he would be in “that day” was Paradise, not heaven.  If we reference the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, this is not the final place we will go when Jesus comes back.

I could be wrong, and our salvation certainly does not depend on this doctrine, but that is how I see it.

John Oakes

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