After Death -- Then What?

A querist asks, “I know that we will all be judged someday at the time of Christ’s return. My question is, what happens to people after they die, while the soul waits for judgment?”

The Bible teaches that there is an intermediate state (hadesLuke 16:23). Hades is the realm or region of departed spirits where the righteous and unrighteous go and remain there until the judgment. The King James version unfortunately translates the word, hades as “hell” in Luke 16:23, which is incorrect. Other versions such as the ASV, ESV, and NKJV translates the Greek term correctly.

Within the realm of hades, righteous souls reside in “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) or “Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43). To the Jew, “Abraham’s bosom” was equivalent to being with Abraham in paradise. This was a name given to that part of the unseen world of departed spirits which indicated blessedness, happiness, or bliss.

Unrighteous souls reside in that part of hades known as “torment” (Luke 16:23). The Greek word for torment is “odunao“, which signifies “to suffer intense pain, be in anguish, be greatly distressed” (Vines, p. 28). This anguish is illustrated by the rich man in Luke 16:24-25. Also, in the hadean realm, there is a “great gulf fixed” which separates the two dwelling places (Luke 16:26).

For additional study purposes, these biblical articles here and here, written by faithful teachers of God’s Word, are provided along with a chart for illustration purposes.

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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