Some believe that the dead remain as dead until the day of resurrection. While others believe that the good will go to heaven and the bad to hell. In this post, we will explore where the dead are now based on the teachings of Jesus.
The dead remain dead until resurrection
Resurrection is on the last day
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.John 6:40
Jesus taught us that resurrection is on the last day.
Before resurrection, they remain dead
But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.Luke 20:35-36
When Jesus mentions about resurrection, He refers as resurrection ‘from the dead’ and worthy to attain the age to come. Hence, it is the dead who will be resurrected, not someone living in heaven. The same is repeated in other gospels as well – Matt 22:30-32 and Mark 12:25-27.
Resurrection prior to Judgment
The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah [is] here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon [is] here.Matt 12:41-42
Jesus taught that resurrection is in judgment or just prior to it. He mentions that the men of Nineveh and the queen of the South will rise up with the generation during the time of Jesus and condemn it.
The dead are alive now
Thief on the cross was in paradise
Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”Luke 23:42-43
The thief on the cross wants Jesus to remember him when He come into His kingdom (i.e., refering to a future event). However, Jesus revelaed that he will be with Him in paradise on the same day, immediately after death. While the thief was not resurrected back in this world, Jesus revelaed that he will be alive with Him in paradise. We really don’t know much about what paradise mean but based on Rev 2:7, it seems to points the garden of Eden.
The hour has already come
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.John 5:25
Jesus also said that the dead will hear the voice of Him and those who hear will live. Matthew records in Matt 27:51-53 where dead saints where resurrected after His resurrection and they appeared to many.
Parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus
And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’Luke 16:30
The parable of the rich man and lazarus suggests that Abraham is currently alive. While the parable can be rejected as just ‘parable’, Jesus did reveal that Abraham is still alive.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw [it] and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”John 8:56-57
Jesus said, Abraham rejoiced to see His day, saw it and was glad. He wasn’t talking about Abraham’s day but His day. But the Jews didn’t get it.
Moses and Elijah in transfiguration
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. … Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”Matt 17:1-3,9
Peter, James and John saw Moses and Elijah in a vision during the transfiguration. While it can be rejected as just a vision and not necessarily resurrected, the point that Jesus was the same person speaking to Moses and Elijah suggests that they were alive.
- There are teachings of Jesus that suggest the dead will remain dead until the resurrection. These talk about resurrection as a general future event.
- There are also His teachings that susggest the saints are already alive with Him. These talk about saints who are alive with him
Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.John 8:51
Hence, there is a resurrection of the dead and until that event, nearly all will remain dead. However, His saints are alive with Him right now.