OceanSide church of Christ

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I Thessalonians 4:13, Death Is Sleep

Victor M. Eskew


            The Bible often refers to death as sleep.  “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (I Thess. 4:13).  The Seventh-day Adventists teach that this is literal sleep.  They do not believe that an intelligent entity is capable of existence apart from the body.

            The following are some exerts from a book entitled, Seventh-day Adventists Believe…


·        Death is not complete annihilation; it is only a state of temporary unconsciousness while the person awaits the resurrection.  The Bible repeatedly calls this intermediate state sleep (p. 352).

·        …the dust of the ground minus the breath of life yields a dead person or dead soul without any consciousness (Ps. 146:4)…The soul has no conscious existence apart from the body, and no scripture indicates that at death the soul survives as a conscious entity (p. 352-353)).

·        The grave is not a place of consciousness.  Since death is a sleep, the dead will remain in a state of unconsciousness in the grave until the resurrection… (P. 353).


Two texts involving our Lord Jesus Christ refute the doctrine of soul-sleep.  The first       

involves events on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him into a high mountain.  In the mountain, He was transfigured before them (Matt. 17:1-2).  We then read the following:  “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him” (Matt. 17:3).  Elijah had been translated into heavenly realms (II Kings 2:11).  Moses, on the other hand, was buried by God (Deut. 34:5-6).  In the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses was alive and well.  He was a conscious entity who spoke with the Christ.  This definitely refutes the idea of no consciousness while in the grave.

            A second text is found in Luke 16.  Here, Jesus teaches us about two men whose lives end in death.  “And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom:  the rich man also died and was buried.  And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).  The rich man was awake after death.  He could speak.  He could feel.  He could also remember (Luke 16:25).  He was a conscious entity.  His body was buried, but in the hadean realm his soul was a conscious, rational entity.  His soul did not sleep.