The Bible Describes the Place of the Dead - Various Passages
September 27, 2023, 9:00 AM

Psalm 139:7-8  “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Psalm 31:17  “Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.”

Isaiah 5:14  “Therefore, the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.”

Matthew 16:17-18  17. Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Place of the Dead is described in a few ways in the Bible. different terms used in the Bible for heaven and hell—sheol, hades, gehenna, paradise, and Abraham’s bosom—are the subject of much debate and can be confusing. Space does not allow a full explanation, but I will summarize and simplify what I understand is presented. I acknowledge not all pastors agree with me.

Hebrew word “Sheol” in the Old Testament is described as a place of the dead/grave, but in some places, it can refer to where the wicked go: Numbers 16:31-35 quotes the judgment of God upon the wicked, but in contrast Sheol can also refer to the place where the righteous or godly also go. Ps 16:9-10 “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” In these examples both the righteous and the unrighteous go to Sheol/grave when they die. When it relates to the body it is appropriate to translate it grave, when it relates to the resting place or temporary dwelling of the soul then it means more is to come when Jesus returns.

The Greek word, hades in the New Testament are similar in their use. It can refer to the grave for both righteous and unrighteous and in context can refer to the holding place of the wicked. You must read the passage in context to determine the meaning used.

Jesus has referred to hades as a real place. Matthew 11:23 and Luke 10:15 divides heaven for righteous and Hades for unrighteous. In Matt 16:18 the gates of hades (hell) cannot overcome the church. It is teaching the powers of hell cannot stop the church, even by killing the saints.

There is another term described as “Abraham’s bosom” mentioned. The story from Luke 16 of Lazarus and the rich man, which I mentioned yesterday took place was in Hades, a place of torment, in contrast to Lazarus who was in Abraham’s bosom which is a for the righteous. This place of the dead for the Jews refers to a place where Abraham was and implies that those who are righteous and have passed away were there being comforted by him.

The fourth term used is “paradise”. It is the same place as “in paradise” promised to the thief on the cross. He cried while being crucified, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42-43.

No longer do people go to be with Abraham and the place of their fathers. We now go to be where Jesus is. Jews and gentiles who are believers in Jesus Christ are in His presence when they die. Paradice is a synonym for heaven, used for New Testament and Gentile saints. It is an expression for the residing place until we receive our resurrected bodies.

In my studies for this topic there is also a most interesting passage in 2 Corinthians when Paul is described as being taken up into paradise. Paul was allowed to go to this place too wonderful to describe, but then let to remain on earth to carry out the conclusion of his work. From that time on he was so confident of being with the Lord and looking at that as being far better than being here. Whether Paul had a vision in his body, or out of his body he does not know so we don’t know either, but his soul was conscious in a heavenly place.

Bible teaches that all people in their souls are conscious after death. Nowhere is purgatory mentioned on the Bible. All our sins have been paid for at the cross. Since Jesus rescued the Old Testament saints from Sheol they are now with Him in paradise with all believers who have died. It is a place of joy and peace and rest. For the unsaved there is terror.

Prayer: Lord, as I read this I am reminded of what You have done to secure my salvation. And I worship You. Holy, Holy, You are God Almighty, Who was and is and will always be.