...step by step
Where are the Dead?
Beloved of the Lord,
Remember, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
1. Circle or Ball Earth?
2. Where are the Dead? Part 1
There is much speculation regarding the destiny of the dead. Some believe that upon death, we go to paradise; while others believe that we go into the presence of the Lord. Some may even say that we go to the lower chambers of the earth. While many ideas exist, there is only one way to know the truth; through the scripture.
"What saith the Scripture?"
"First, lets begin with the most basic question, What is a Soul?"
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
*** This is a key verse, because it paves the way for all other verses. As we can see, Adam (man) was formed from the (dust of the ground), and the LORD God breathed into his nostrils the (breath of life). For now, we will not draw our attention to what the breath of life is, but rather what a living soul is. We can understand from this verse that for man to be alive, he needs to have the (breath of life), thus becoming a (living soul). 1 Corinthians 15:45 will cross reference to this verse: (“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”) The word (soul) in Genesis 2:7 has the Hebrew meaning: נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh)- living being, life, yourself. And the Greek word for (soul) in 1 Corinthians 15:45 means: ψυχή (psychē)- life, mind, heart. The word (breath) means: נְשָׁמָה (neshamah)- breath: consider Job 37:10 (“By the breath of God, frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened.”). It is important to keep in mind that there is also another Hebrew word that can also mean (breath): רוּחַ (ruach)- breath, air, wind, spirit. Take for example, Genesis6:17 (“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”) In this verse, the word (breath) has the Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruach)-breath, air, wind, spirit. Same definition as the other Hebrew word
נְשָׁמָה (neshamah)- breath. However, one must interpret the word רוּחַ (ruach) with carefulness, since, it can also have other meanings, such as; air, wind, and spirit.
"Lets confirm that indeed, a living person is also a living soul"
“Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.”
*** Most certainly, father Abram was comparing his (soul), to his own life. In the context of this chapter, there was a famine in the land, so Abram was told to go to Egypt, but Abram feared that the Egyptians would take away his wife, Sarai. Notice the word (live), it is a reflection of the (soul).
“These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.”
***Again, the soul is a living person. Here, the word (souls) is plural (thirty and three).
36 “Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.”
*** That is, 276 (souls), or lives.
3 John 1:2
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
*** Notice the correlation between these four words (prosper), (health), (soul), (prospereth). "The (soul) is diseased with sin, and may be said to be in good (health), when all its iniquities are forgiven; and may be said to (prosper), when having a spiritual appetite for the Gospel." -Gill
Nevertheless, you are the soul; a living breathing being, and you prosper by obeying the word of God.
"As we can see, you are a soul; a living breathing being. Now, what happens to us when we die."
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
***Remember how in Genesis 2:7; the man was formed from the (dust of the ground?) Well, when we die we return back to the (ground), from where we were taken. Notice the word (thou), this is important to remember, because some believe it is only the body that returns to the ground, but here the emphasis is in the word (thou). There is no mention of the word body here, remember, Adam (became) a (living soul) after the (breath of life) was breathed into his nostrils.
8 “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.”
9 “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?”
***Job acknowledges that it was God who made him, he even uses the analogy of the potter and the clay. Job also has understanding that when he dies he will return to the (dust again). Why did Job say (again)?, because he, like Adam and everyone else, are earthly vessels that must return to the place they were taken from; a doctor should know that the elements found in the earth, are also found in the body. Think. where do we get (clay) from? the earth/the ground.
13“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”
14“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
15“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.”
***By now, it should be well settled that the word (dust) means of the ground/earth. We return to the earth when we die.
"So far, we understand what a soul is, and what happens to us when we die. Now we need to understand what the breath of life is."
“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”
***In Genesis 2:7 we first learned about the (breath of life) which is what gives life to the flesh (body). In the context of this verse, God was going to bring destruction (a flood) to (all flesh); to both, animals and men see Genesis 7:21-22: “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:”All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.”; (wherein is the breath of life), just as it was in Adam.
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
***Two major key points here, first, man returns back to the earth (dust return to the earth/ground) when he dies. Second, the (spirit) shall return back to God. Notice, the word (spirit) is not capital (Spirit), this means, it is not speaking of the Holy Spirit as in Genesis 1:2: ("...And the Spirit of God..."). Rather, the word (spirit) here means, the (breath of life). Because without it we have no life.
Take for example...
“And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.”
***This is the case of a damsell who was dead and Jesus revived her; brought her back to life. The word (spirit) in Luke 8:55 means: πνεῦμα (pneuma)- wind, breath. The word (spirit) in Ecclesiastes 12:7 means: רוּחַ (ruach)- breath, wind, spirit. In both cases, it is the (breath of life). The word (breath) means: רוּחַ (ruach) breath, wind, spirit; it has the same definition as in Ecclesiastes 12:7 for the word (spirit). And this word (breath) is the same word found in Genesis 6:17: (...“to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life,...”). The confusion in Luke 8:55 is with the words (her) and (spirit); the word (spirit) is not a possessive noun to the word (her). As it was stated in Ecclesiastes 12:7: (..."the spirit (breath, wind,) shall return unto God who gave it.”).
“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;”
***The (breath) of a man is his (spirit), and the (spirit) is of God, who gave it; the Father of spirits; he first breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul,- Gill. If you pay close attention, throughout the scriptures you will normally read the words (my spirit) instead of (my breath). This verse is a unique verse because both, (breath) and (spirit) are used interchangeably; one cannot be without the other.
Look at verse (3) in the 1611 kjv; it has a
star(*) before the word
(*the spirit of God...). Now look at the
side margin, and this is what it says:
* That is, the breath which God gave him. - which is a cross reference to Genesis 2:7
59“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60“And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
***Our Brother Stephen was stoned for professing Christ. Notice how he does not say "receive my soul"; but rather; (receive my spirit). As already defined in Luke 8:55, the word (spirit) means: breath, wind, this is the same word as in Ecclesiastes 12:7 (..."the spirit (breath, wind,) shall return unto God who gave it.”). Stephen was surrendering his (spirit) that was given to him by God. In doing so, he fell (asleep). Or if we reverse the process, then we can go back to Genesis 2:7 in which the man (Adam), became alive after he received the (breath of life); Remember that the word (breath) means: רוּחַ (ruach)-breath, wind, spirit; it has the same definition as in Ecclesiastes 12:7 for the word (spirit). So when the (spirit-(breath of life) came out of him, he fell (asleep). I would like to side track for a little bit and say that the (breath of life (spirit) that God gives to all flesh is not the (soul), the (soul) is your being; who you are. Consider the following verses: Matthew 22:37 (“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”). Deuteronomy 6:5 (“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”) Luke 10:27
(“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”) Did you notice that it does not say to love with all thy spirit (breath of life). The (soul) needs the (breath of life) to live, but it is returned to he (god) who gave it, when we die (fall asleep).The Hebrew word for (soul) in Deuteronomy 6:5 is: נָפַשׁ (naphash)- living being, life, yourself. And for Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:37 the word for (soul) in the Greek is: ψυχή (psychē)- life, mind, heart.
Here is an example of the soul (life, being) returning to a child:
1 Kings 17:21-22
21“And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.”
22“And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.”
***We know that the word (soul) means to live and to have life as in Genesis 2:7 (..."and man became a living soul.”). The word (soul) in Genesis 2:7 means: נָפַשׁ (naphash)- living being, life, yourself. The word (soul) in 1 Kings 2:21-22 has the same definition as in Genesis 2:7. The child received his (soul)-life, being) again. This is exactly what Genesis 2:7 teaches: the breath of life (wind, spirit) gives life to the body, thus becoming a living soul (being). In context of this verse, the petition was that the (child's soul come into him again). The logical thing to say is that the spirit (breath of life) came back to the child again.
"So far, we have learned about what a soul is, what the breath of life is, and how man returns back to the dust of the earth. Now we need to understand what happens to us when we return to the ground."
“So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
***This entire chapter is filled with understanding regarding the condition of man while he lives and when he dies. Notice that when a man dies (sleeps), he cannot be awaken from his (sleep) (till the heavens be no more). This is important to know because it teaches us that no man has risen to heaven. Notice how it says (lieth down) and (riseth not) (till the heavens be no more). There is a strong emphasis in the word (till). As we continue, it will become more clear as to when the dead do rise up/awaken from their (sleep). In the preceding verses (Job 14:10) it speaks about yielding up the (ghost): (“But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”) This is not refering to the Holy Ghost, but rather, the meaning of the word (ghost) is a parallel to the word (dieth); The Hebrew word for (ghost) in Job 14:10 means: גָּוַע (gava`)- die, dead, perish, expire, gasp out. Here is another example of yielding up the (ghost) in the Greek: Acts 5:5 (“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.”) In this verse the Greek word for (ghost) is ἐκψύχω (ekpsychō)-to expire, to breath ones's last, to gasp out; same definition as in the Hebrew for the word (ghost) in Job 14:12: גָּוַע (gava`)- die, dead, perish, expire. However, the word (ghost) has different uses and definitions according to the context of scripture (or the translation of the manuscript). Take for example Matthew 27:50 (“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”) In this verse, the word (ghost) does not have the same definition as the word (ghost) ἐκψύχω (ekpsychō)-to expire, to breath ones's last, to gasp out, expire. The word (ghost) in Matthew 27:50 means: πνεῦμα (pneuma)- spirit. The cross reference to Matthew 27:50 is John 19:30: (“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”) The word (ghost- πνεῦμα (pneuma)- spirit) in John 19:30 is the same Greek word as in Matthew 27:50: ("...yielded up the ghost.”). Interestingly enough, two witnesses (Matthew and John) used the word (ghost- πνεῦμα (pneuma)- spirit. Now, on the other hand, (Mark and Luke) use a different Greek word for (ghost) ἐκπνέω (ekpneō)- to breathe out, breathe out one's life, breathe one's last, expire. First, in Mark 15:37: (“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”). Luke 23:46 uses the same Greek word for (ghost): (“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”) As we can see, (spirit) πνεῦμα (pneuma)-spirit and (ghost)- ἐκπνέω (ekpneō)- to breathe out, breathe out one's life, breathe one's last, expire) do not have the same definition. Notice also, our Lord Jesus did not say ("into thy hands I commend my soul"); that's because his soul descended into hell (the unseen world): see Acts 2:27 (“Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”). And finally, if we cross reference Matthew 27:50 and John 19:30 with Luke 23:46, then we can see the parallel of the word
(ghost- πνεῦμα (pneuma)- spirit with the word (spirit) πνεῦμα (pneuma)-spirit; both have the same Greek word: πνεῦμα (pneuma)-spirit, although one says (ghost) and the other (spirit); neither one means soul.
“Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;”
***This verse gives a good definition for the word (sleep). Beautifully enough, it compares (death) to a (sleep); this understanding will become clear in the following verses. However, to sleep also means to rest, to repose, to refresh the body when tired, such as in Genesis 2:21: “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;”. Furthermore, We can learn that when man dies, he does not vanish or perish into thin air, but rather, he sleeps; however, not as the living sleep. As we continue to unwrap this topic we will understand what the condition of the dead is while they (sleep).
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
***In this verse, the prophet Daniel is receiving a revelation for the end times. He is told that (many of them)- only God knows how many; that (sleep- present tense) in the graves (the dust of the earth) (shall awake). Did you notice the correlation between (sleep) and (shall awake)? The second clause talks about the resurrection of the dead. Lo, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We will get into more detail about the return of the lord Jesus in Part.2. The important thing to remember here is that no one has has left the grave once they have fallen asleep (died); they await
for the resurrection. Notice how it says that the Lord will (descend from heaven with a shout). The resurrection of Lazarus in (John 11:43) was a "type"; a figure of what was to come when the Lord Jesus descends from Heaven. Lazarus heard the shout of Jesus and he arose from the grave, in like so manner will be for (them that sleep in the dust of the earth). Notice, it says (shall awake) just as you would from your every day sleep.
This will also be the case for Daniel:
“But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
***Daniel, like all other men has fallen asleep and (rest) (till the end be), which is not yet; but is near. Without a doubt, I can say that Daniel will hear the voice of the Lord Jesus when he returns for his saints. In this verse, we learned a new word (rest), it goes hand on hand with (sleep) and (awake).
The following verses will reaffirm that to (sleep) means; to be dead.
11“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.”
12"hen said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.”
13“Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.”
14“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”
***This case of Lazarus is a perfect example of what it means to (sleep). As we can see, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus (sleepeth), note: the word (sleepeth) is in the present tense. take for example 1 Kings 18:27 (“And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”) In the context of this verse, the Prophet Eliiah and the prophets of Baal were calling upon the name of their God/god to see which God/god was real. So Eliiah makes the remark that (peradventure he (Baal) sleepeth, and must be awaked). In verse 14, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus was not (taking of rest in sleep); as in reposing, but rather, dead. As stated earlier, this occurrence with Lazarus is but a shadow of what is to come; when the Lord Jesus descends from heaven with a shout and awakes them that (sleep) in the (dust of the earth); and they that sleep in Christ, will hear his voice; just as Lazarus hear the voice of Jesus in John 11:43: (“And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.”).
There are many more instances in which the word (sleep) is used, but I will give you one more example.
1 Corinthians 15:3-6
3“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”
4“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
5“And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:”
6“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”
***Verse 6 is our key verse. Paul is speaking after the cross (in the new covenant). It matters, because he says that (some) brothers have (fallen asleep). Paul does not say that they are with the Lord now; for they too, await the resurrection of the dead. Consider the following verse in John 14:2-3, Jesus said (“In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”). This is in reference to his departure back to heaven and also of his return for his church/believers/saints who have fallen (asleep); as well as for believers who remain alive when he returns. The common misconception among Christians today is that when a believer dies, he goes into the presence of the Lord; for this they use Philippians 1:23 or 2 Corinthians 5:8. These two verses will be addressed in Part. 2.
"It is time to move on. Now we need to understand what the status of the dead is while they (sleep)"
5“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”
6“Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
*** This is a key verse. two comparisons are given, that of (the living) , and that of (the dead). The (living) are well aware that they (shall die) some day, and while they still live, they have their (memory, reward, love, hate, and envy); among other things. The opposite is also true for the (dead), the (the dead know not any hing); they have no (memory). Neither do they have feelings, such as (love, hatred, envy); all has (perished- undone, flee, destroyed, void). In summary, many other topics can derive from just these two verses, such as: communication with the dead, reincarnation, ghosts, purgatory, etc. But the main point here is to know that when a person dies (believer or non believer) he/she has no recollection of his/her formal life.
“The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.”
***This is another verse that explains the condition of the (dead). The question is; why can't the dead praise (the LORD)?. As it was stated in Ecclesiastics 9:5-6, the dead cannot praise nor do anything else, for they are no longer conscience; alive. Furthermore, how can they?, if they have no memory, nor do they know any thing. I suppose the comparison here is to that of someone who has fallen into a deep sleep after a long day of work, and has no sense of time; oblivious to the life that surrounds him, not even the alarm clock can awaken him. Also, another interpretation can be said for the first clause (The dead praise not the LORD), that is; the (dead) are those who are spiritually dead; without God; unregenerate; therefore, they cannot praise the God, whom they have not known. And if you are incline to believe that this is the correct interpretation, then is okay, because the second clause still talks about those that have died, our clue is in the word (neither). Notice: it says (neither any that go down into silence), the emphasis is in the words (any) and (silence), this means that 1) the word (any) applies to everyone; there is no segregation between the lost and the saved 2) The word (silence) which has the root word; to be dumb as in Judges 3:19 (“But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.”). 3) If we compile all the words that we have learned (sleep, rest, silence, awake) then we can grasp the meaning of what a death is.
Some brothers have used the parable of Lazarus and the rich man to explain that the rich man did have recollection (memory) of his formal life and that he is suffering in torment. I will briefly explain this parable in part.2.
“So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
***This verse was already explained, but we will look into it with more detail. This verse confirms again what happens to a man when he dies (sleeps). Reader, take notice, it says that a man does not rise up again (till the heavens be no more). We can cross reference these words to
2 Peter 3:10 (“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”) And also with Isaiah 34:4 (“And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”) And with Revelation 6:13-14 (“And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”). In all three examples, the context suggest: the return of the Lord. Much more can be said about the Lord's return, but this too will be explained in part. 2. Nevertheless, notice the last part of this verse (nor be raised out of their sleep). that means that they remain in the grave (asleep) even up to this present hour.
"As you have noticed, this question about the dead, requires a lengthy answer. But the end is not yet, I have much more to say. Next, we need to ask: who has ascended into heaven?"
29“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.”
30“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;”
31“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
32“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
33“Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
34“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,”
35“Until I make thy foes thy footstool.”
***Much, much can be said from these verses. First, look at verse (29), Peter is saying that (the patriarch David) is both, (dead and buried), and if we skip to verse (34) it confirms that even David has not (ascended into the heavens). Interestingly enough, it says (heaven(s), that way, no one can say that David is in the third heaven, or any other heaven. We can cross reference this words to Acts 13:36: (“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:”). The corruption here spoken of, is that of the body, unlike Jesus, whose body was not left in the grave long enough to rot and putrefy. Next, I would like to briefly put an emphasis to the word (soul) in verse (31), notice it does not say "spirit". We already know that a (soul) is who you are; your being. Verse (31) is a topic of its own; but we will not address it here. Verse (32) is the resurrection of his Son. Verses (34) and (35) are important; Peter was quoting Psalms 110:1, in other words, the Father (the LORD) said unto my Lord (Jesus- (the Son) Sit thou on my right hand, (Until) I make thy foes thy footstool. This was a prophesy foretold by the Patriarch David, and its partially fulfilled (and I say partially) because the last clause says (until) I make thy foes thy footstool, which is yet happening as God fulfills all things.The point I am trying make here is 1) David (is)- present tense) not ascended into the heavens. 2) Our Lord is at the right hand of God (Until) all his enemies are subdue.
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
*** This is another key verse, that should not be overlooked. This verse has a two fold meaning, Saint John tells us that (no no man hath ascended up to heaven), Though Enoch and Elias had, yet not by their own power, nor in the sense our Lord designs; whose meaning is, that no man had, or could go up to heaven, to bring from thence the knowledge of divine and heavenly things- Gill. The second truth is that only (the Son of man) has (ascended up to heaven). Which confirms two more truths, 1) No men, other than the Lord Jesus has resurrected from the dead with a glorious body, 2) the (dead) are still in the (grave) waiting for the resurrection.
"As we can see, only the Lord Jesus has ascended up to heaven. Well, what about Lazarus, and Jairus' daughter, and Tabitha, or Eutychus; Where did they go when they died, before coming back to life again?"
***The entire chapter of John 11 must be read to understand the occurrence of Lazarus. But for the sake of proving my point, I will only select key verses.
“Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
***Martha, the sister of Lazarus had knowledge of the resurrection. She goes as far as to mention that her brother Lazarus would be (rise again in the resurrection) at the (last day); see John 6:40 for a cross reference: (“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”); but this is nothing new; this is what the Word of God teaches. After the encounter between Martha and Jesus, Lazarus was resurrected from the dead (sleep), which is a shadow/type/figure of the resurrection that is to happen (at the last day).
“And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
*** Lazarus, who (was-past tense) dead came back to life. I must say, there is no record of Lazarus ever confessing/ professing/ or claiming anything about his death (sleep). But then again, what could he possibly had said, for scripture already teaches that there is no memory, nor anything to do when dead (asleep). I chose these two verses because once again they prove that the resurrection is something that is yet to occur, and also, because it proves that even when someone is brought back to life, the scriptures are proven right. As you have noticed, Lazarus was brought back to life before Jesus died. This event also proves that although there is no memory in the (grave), Lazarus received back his (soul-life, being); that is, everything that he was before he died (slept); what a phenomena.
Here is a list of other individuals that were resurrected by Jesus:
The son of a widow in the city of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
Jairus' Daughter (Luke 8:49-56)
In each of the above cases, the word of God gives no testimonial record of their death experience. This proves what has been said all along; the dead know nothing. If I may speak freely, I would say, that God made it to be this way, so that men would not venture into spiritual dark magic. Sadly enough, men still think that they can communicate with the dead, however, it is devils they summon.
"The following verses depict events in which individuals receive back their life after the resurrection of our Lord."
First, we will analyze the case of Tabitha, a disciple of Christ. Please read Acts 9:36-42 to understand this event in its entirety. For the sake of making my point, I will only use key verses.
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
***First, we need to understand who this woman is. Tabitha is a (disciple), meaning, she had the knowledge of Christ. A (disciple) is a learner, a student, a pupil of the word of God. Also, she was (full of good works and almsdeeds), these words alone, are a topic of their own, but in summary it is referring to her acts of love, which reflects the reformation of the heart. Bear in mind all of this key points.
“But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”
***We know, that God worked a great miracle through the Apostle Peter. We can learn much from this verse as well, but the focus here is Tabitha. The fashion in which Tabitha arose from her (sleep) is very similar to that of Lazarus. in both cases, there was a command spoken. And in both cases, the deceased hear the words and responded. The point that I am trying to establish here is that 1) Tabitha was a (disciple); a believer. 2) If it is true that upon death, the believer is present with the Lord; as it is commonly believed (Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8), then this notion contradicts the doctrine of the resurrection. 3) Tabitha was (asleep) in the (grave) as all other saints are, waiting for the (resurrection) of the (dead) in Christ, which is the first resurrection. While Tabitha was in the grave, she had no memory, nor any knowledge of anything. 4) it was in the will of God to bring Tabitha back from the grave (her sleep) so that many might believe in the Lord: (“And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” - verse 42.)
A similar event took place in Acts 20:7-12 with a young man named Eutychus.
"So far I have given you two examples of a resurrection, the first, from the times in which the Law was still in effect; in which Jesus himself brought back to life certain individuals. The second, was done in the New Covenant by the Apostle Peter, after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Now, the following example is a peculiar one, because it happened after Jesus died and resurrected."
“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,”
***This verse has many key words. The grave is the place where one sleeps; is buried. However, here the word (graves) is plural and it might be referring to bodies in sepulchers, or tombs. In all honestly, I am not sure if the (graves) also include the saints buried under the earth (ground) or just those that were in visible tombs and sepulchers; Nevertheless I am not suggesting that God is unable to bring back to life a saint from the ground. Our cue is in the word (opened) which mainly applies to tombs and sepulchers. Furthermore, the (bodies)- giving reference to their original physical body (just as Lazarus came back to his own body). The (saints)- It is uncertain if this saints include old testament individuals, or simply recent believers that had died while Jesus was still with them. But one thing is certain, the word (saints) is not reserved for the wicked. This saints, which (slept), arose. The word (arose) is a key word; it needs to be defined properly. Consider Matthew 8:15 for the use of the word (arose): (“And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.”) or 1 Kings 3:20 (“And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.”). In either example, the word (arose) means to rise up. As you can see, I have placed a strong emphasis to the word (arose), why? I bring this to your attention, because some believe that after the earthquake that happened in verse (51), the bodies of the saints were simply shaken off; out of place, and don't really believe that they came back to life. Lastly, I believe that the reason why (many) of the saints awoke from the (grave) was to teach us and also to give assurance that death was conquered, and that the Lord Jesus will come back for his saints.
End of part 1.