What Happens After Death?


      Introduction:   We need to begin our study by asking and answering what death is.  James defines death as, "For as the body without the spirit is dead,  so faith without works is dead also" (Jas. 2: 26). Death is cessation, as far as this physical life is concerned.   However, when the spirit leaves the body, a new life is begun, as we shall see.

I. Hades, the intermediate place of the soul

  A. Two words, sheol and hades, one Hebrew, the other Greek, designate the temporary destiny of the souls of all men.

  B. Sheol is used 65 times, translated "hell" (31 times), "grave" (31), and "pit" (3). Sheol was used to denote more than just the grave (Gen. 37: 35).

  C. Hades, the Greek equivalent of sheol, is found ten times. The King James unfortunately translated hades hell on occasion (Jesus did not go to "hell," but to "hades," Acts 2: 27). Hades (and sheol) is, "the common receptacle of the disembodied spirits" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 11).

II. An analysis of Luke 16: 19-31

  A. It matters not if Luke 16: 19-31 is or is not a parable.

   a. If it is a parable, it contains teaching as to what, in detail, can happen. If it is not a parable, it contains teaching of what, in detail, did happen (there are many features of Luke 16: 19-31 that argue for it not being a parable).

  B. One, the saved, went to "Abraham's bosom," the other, the lost, went to torments (vss. 22, 23).

   a. These two compartments making up hades are separated by a great fixed gulf (vs. 26). Many scholars refer to the compartment where the rich man was as "tartarus" (the Greek word mistranslated "hell" in the King James, 2 Pet. 2: 4).

   b. Those in Abraham's bosom (corresponding to "paradise," where Jesus' spirit went, Lk. 23: 43) are comforted, those in "tartarus" are tormented (vs. 25).

III. On the Judgment Day, official sentencing will take place

  A. All will be judged according to their deeds (Rom. 2: 6; 2 Cor. 5: 10).

  B. Heaven and hell (gehenna, Mk. 9: 43 ff.) respectively will be the final  destiny of all souls (Matt. 25: 31-46, I Pet. 1: 4).

   a.  Heaven and hell will be for an eternity (Matt. 25: 46).

     Conclusion: A knowledge of death should cause us to live right in this life and take advantage of the grace that God has afforded to all men (Tit. 2: 11 ff.).  (For additional study material, be sure to read "Death and the State of the Soul")