No Soul-Sleeping Taught in Scripture

All scriptures used to teach soul-sleep clearly refer to the body which does sleep in the dust of the earth until the resurrection of the body (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29).  The body is the only part of man that dies at physical death (James 2:26).  The reason it dies is because the inner man, the life of the body, leaves the body.  It then goes back to dust and is spoken of as being asleep (Genesis 3:19; Eccles. 3:19-21; Matthew 9:24; John 11:11; 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 Cor. 15:6,18,20,51; 1 Thes. 4:13-17).

Soul-Sleeping Scriptures Examined:

Every scripture used by those who teach soul-sleep refers to the body and not to the soul and spirit, as can be seen by an examination of the so called proof texts themselves.

  1. Sleep in the dust (Job 7:21; Psalm 22:15; Psalm 146:4; Eccles. 3:19-20; Daniel 12:2).  Only the body was made of dust and that is what will return to dust again (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19; Eccles. 3:20).  The soul and spirit are not made of material substances as the body so they will not return to dust. See pt  (14), The Doctrine of Man, for the difference between the material and spiritual natures of man.
  2. Death-a falling asleep (Acts 7:60; Acts 13:36; 1 Cor. 15:6,18,20,51; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; 1 Thes. 5:10; 2 Peter 3:4).  This is true as far as the body is concerned, for the body is the only part men can see as falling asleep.  No man could see the soul and spirit, or the invisible part of man, whether it fell asleep or not.  In Acts 13:36 that which fell asleep was laid in a tomb and saw corruption.  That seeing corruption definitely refers to the flesh is clear from Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:23-32.  In these passages it was the flesh that saw no corruption while the soul went to hell.  In David’s case his flesh saw corruption (Acts 13:36).  In all the other passages above the thing that fell asleep was the flesh or body (1 Cor. 15:35).  Naturally, the body falls asleep when the spirit leaves it (James 2:26).
  3. Death is spoken of as sleep (Deut. 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:21,43).  This refers to the body falling asleep, as in points 1 and 2, above.
  4. No difference between man and beast in death (Eccles. 3:19-20).  This is used as conclusive proof by false cults that both man and beast become extinct at death, but an honest acknowledgement of facts here will show that it refers to the body, not the soul.  It says, All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.  There can be no argument against this, for both men and beasts were made of dust as far as the body is concerned (Genesis 2:7,19).  All bodies do return to dust again, but nothing is said here or in any other place that the souls and spirits (or the invisible and intangible parts) of men and beasts were made of dust. On the contrary, this same passage proves there is a distinction between man and beast as far as their spirits are concerned, for the spirit of man goeth upward, and the spirit of beast goeth downward to the earth.
  5. No consciousness in death (Psalm 6:5).  This verse must be understood with other facts.  In physical death there is no remembrance, because the body dies and has no soul or spirit in it that could cause the body to continue having memory and consciousness.  The body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26).  It is not the chemical makeup of the body that has consciousness or it would continue after the spirit leaves the body.  The soul and spirit make the body conscious so long as they are in the body, but when they leave the body it is dead and therefore cannot be conscious.

The statement in this verse about the grave (Hebrew: Sheowl (OT:7585), the unseen world of departed spirits) not containing anyone who praises God is no doubt literally true, for hell is a place of torment in fire and who would praise God in such circumstances?  That there is consciousness in sheol is clear from many scriptures (see Hell).  It does not say here or elsewhere that people in Sheol are extinct and unconscious, and could not praise God.  It is clear that in “hell” (Sheol/Hades) men do cry and desire to get out of hell, as in Luke 16:19-31; Isaiah 14:9-11; etc.

  1. The dead don’t praise the Lord (Psalm 115:17).  This is true as far as the body is concerned, for it is lifeless, unconscious, and goes into dust again when the soul and spirit leave it (James 2:26).  The souls of the righteous continue to praise God in full consciousness after leaving their bodies (Hebrews 12:22-23; Rev. 6:9-11), but the wicked who go to hell will have no praise for God.  Their sole interest will be to escape such a literal burning hell and that will be impossible (Luke 16:19-31).
  2. In the day of death “his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4).  This also is true as far as the body is concerned.  The body cannot possibly have thoughts when the inner man leaves it (James 2:26).  After leaving the body souls and spirits continue to have thoughts in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-23; Rev. 6:9-11) and in hell (Isaiah 14:9-11; Luke 16:19-31; see Hell).
  3. “The dead know not anything” (Eccles. 9:5-6; Job 14:21).  Again, we repeat these facts are true regarding the body, but not the soul and spirit.  How could a dead body of dust be conscious, have memory, love, hatred, and envy with the soul and spirit gone from it?  Dust cannot have these experiences whether it is shaped into physical form or otherwise.  The soul and spirit continue to know and they have emotions and desires after leaving the body, as proved in many scriptures on Hell.
  4. The dead come out of the graves (Matthew 27:52; John 5:28-29).  As to the bodies which die at physical death, they are put into graves; but the souls and spirits never go to graves, as proved in many scriptures on Hell.  If one knew that a body was still alive because the spirit was still in it, he would not put that body in the grave.  It could not see corruption with life in it.  Furthermore, it would be breaking the law to bury a live body; this would be murder and incur the death penalty.
  5. David is not yet ascended into heaven (Acts 2:34).  This is true as to his body, but not true as to his soul and spirit, for all souls who died before Christ’s resurrection were taken to heaven as captives (Psalm 68:18; Ephes. 4:8-10).  Every just man’s spirit is in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-23).  Every righteous person who dies goes to heaven as an inner man (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-24; Rev. 6:9-11) and the body is buried in the grave to await its resurrection (John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2).  One does not die spiritually a physical death, for he is either dead or alive spiritually in his lifetime. If he is spiritually dead in sins (Ephes. 2:1-9; 1 Tim. 5:6), at physical death his soul will go to hell and his body in the grave to await their reunion in the second resurrection (Rev. 20:6,11-15).  If he is alive spiritually at physical death, his soul will go immediately to heaven and his body to the grave until their reunion in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6; 1 Thes. 4:13-17).  To prove that David’s body is what is referred to as the part which has not yet ascended, see Acts 13:36 where it plainly reveals what it was that saw corruption.

Thus, it is clear that soul-sleeping is a fallacy, but body-sleeping is a reality.


Fourteen Proofs of the Future Immortality of the Body:

  1. The Bible promises immortality for the body in the resurrection.  See Romans 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:42-54; Phil. 3:21; 1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Tim. 1:10.  The body is the subject of these passages and therefore will be resurrected immortal to house the immortal soul and spirit.  See Twenty-five Proofs of the Immortality of the Soul.

The Scriptures throughout teach even present immortality of the soul and spirit (note, 1 Peter 3:4).  Bible writers made many references to a future resurrection judgment, and life beyond the grave for both the righteous and the wicked in body, soul and spirit (Job 19:25-27; Psalm 16:9-11; Isaiah 26:14-19; Daniel 12:2,3,13; Matthew 6:20; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:50; Matthew 18:8-9; Matthew 19:27-30; Matthew 22:23-33; Matthew 23:15; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-31; Luke 23:43; John 11:24-26; John 12:24,48; Acts 1:3; Acts 2:25-36; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:2,10,33; Acts 5:31; Acts 7:59; Acts 10:40-42; Acts 13:34-37; Acts 17:31,32; Acts 23:8; Acts 24:15,21; Acts 26:8; 1 Cor.__1 Corinthians__15; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4; Hebrews 11:8-19,35-40; Hebrews 12:23; Rev. 20:4-15; Rev. 21:8; Rev. 22:15). These are just a few of many scriptures teaching a life after death-the wicked in eternal hell (notes, Psalm 9:17; Luke 12:5), and the righteous with eternal life (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41,46; John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:21-54; Rev. 20:11-15).  Jesus and Paul illustrated the resurrection by seed (John 12:24; 1 Cor. 15:35-54).  Just as every seed can live again when it dies, so every man will live again in the resurrection, and physically like the seeds.

The greatest proof of the immortality of the body is Jesus Christ (Luke 24:39; John 2:19; John 10:17-18).  His resurrection is the guarantee of that of all men (1 Cor.__1 Corinthians__15; __2 Corinthians__2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-24; Phil. 3:20-21).

  1. The difference between the material and spiritual natures of man proves the immortality of the soul and spirit and the future immortality of the body.  See A-U, The Doctrine of Man.
  2. The doctrine of the future immortality of the body has never been disproved.  We have more proof for this doctrine in Scripture than we do for what life is.  We have no scripture explaining what odor is, what electricity is, and what atoms are, yet we believe in them.  It is a law of logic that a faith not discredited has a right to exist.  Faith in God and immortality is native to the soul.  It has a right to exist just as much as nature has a right to exist.  Both were created to exist and both do exist as proved by actual demonstrations, illustrations and continued reproductions in nature.
  3. Natural laws demand immortality of the body.  Hundreds of thousands of creations prophesy and proclaim the resurrection of the body to a future existence either in heaven or hell.  The invisible things are clearly seen by the visible (Romans 1:20).  Innumerable seeds and plant life rise again to live and reproduce their own kind eternally.  Each seed and each plant verifies the doctrine of immortality and a future life.  Paul used seeds to illustrate the future and eternal life of the body (1 Cor. 15:35-54).  Bad and poisonous seeds also reproduce the same as good ones do.  So also is the resurrection of the dead (John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2).  Man was created to live forever in body, soul, and spirit, and he would have done so from Adam’s time on, if he had not sinned.  Resurrection is necessary to bring the body back from dust to be punished for sin or rewarded for righteousness (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:4-6,11-15; Daniel 12:2).
  4. Spiritual laws prove immortality of the body.  The soul and spirit are the immaterial parts of man which know, reason, and make one conscious of things about him.  By these faculties man knows there is immortality.  He is fearful of the reality of immortality of the body if he sins, and is happy about it if he lives right, proving that the laws of consciousness and of being know and recognize a future life of rewards and punishment.

The wicked have described in horror the damnation of the damned in hell and proclaimed in the dying hour their eternal destiny to be one of torment and remorse.  Newport, Voltaire, Paine, Hume, Altamont, Allen, Hobbes, Mason, and others have all testified at death about their wrathful destiny in the hands of an insulted God.  Numerous are the dying testimonies of saved men regarding the glory and wonders of the beautiful world they were going into eternally.  Not only men named in Scripture but men in all generations have died in the peace and glory of heaven.  Man is the only earth creature that has faculties to make him capable of self-consciousness and God-consciousness.  This is the line of demarcation between man and beast.

  1. Death is a blunder and an abortion if there is no resurrection of the body to immortality.  Death is real (Hebrews 9:27).  It is an enemy (1 Cor. 15:24-28).  The vindication of God as a perfect Worker and a just Judge requires life after death.  The present is too brief to receive justice and meet opportunities that come.  Men merely begin a work and leave it undone. Thousands die in infancy.  What incompleteness and waste of life if death ends all.  Life becomes a hopeless mockery and an infinite series of abortions under these circumstances.  But with immortality, all who desire life and continuation of their greatest plans, find life takes on a new meaning (1 Cor. 15:19).
  2. Justice demands that all men live again eternally that they might receive of the things done in the body whether they be good or bad (Matthew 10:41-42; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 19:28-30; Romans 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; Hebrews 9:27; Rev. 20:11-15).  Mere extinction of being would be unjust and improper as a penalty.  It would be a guarantee of freedom from punishment and would encourage sin and rebellion.  Such would never permit the degrees of punishment corresponding to degrees of guilt (Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:22; Matthew 12:41; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 23:14; Mark 6:11; Mark 12:40; Luke 10:14; Luke 11:31-32; Luke 20:47; Rev. 20:11-15).  Extinction of being for each rebel would make lies of all these scriptures.  Degrees of guilt demand immortality of the body as well as the soul of the wicked, just as obedience to God demands life for the saints to enjoy the fruit of their works.  If death ends all, the conscience and the Bible tell many lies and they are a cheat and a farce.  Here some sinners prosper through sin and cheating and many saints live in poverty partly because they do not seek unjust gain as sinners do.

The ungodly steal, cheat, get gain by every conceivable means and live off the labor and ignorance of the poor.  The brewer lives off the society which he damns by his product.  Thousands of the poor are robbed and forced to support him.  The arrogant mistress lives in pleasure and sin while the virtuous girl toils in the sweatshop denying herself pleasure of sin because she has a hope of the future.  Life is so inequitable and changeable.  The wicked take advantage of the righteous and thousands cry for help, refusing to break God’s laws to get revenge.  Where is justice going to be meted out if not in a life to come?

  1. The purpose of existence teaches immortality.  If the universe exists only for itself, it is abnormal and a deviation from the common rule of all creation as demonstrated in nature.  If it exists for anything less than itself, it is waste.  If it exists for something greater than itself, what is that something?  The answer is that it exists for God, to glorify Him and carry out the purpose for which He created it (Rev. 4:11).  Man was given dominion on earth to rule it forever (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).  He was ceated an eternal creature in order to rule it forever.  Man’s fall and continued sin do not do away with God’s eternal plan.  They only postpone it until the final restitution of all things (Acts 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ephes. 1:10).  Then man will become eternal in body as he is in soul and spirit now.  This will be necessary for him to rule forever (Daniel 7:18,27; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 22:4-5), for that requires immortality of body, soul, and spirit.
  2. The brevity of life demands immortality of the body.  Man never ceases to live in soul and spirit (note, 1 Peter 3:4), so brevity of life could only refer to the body that is soon cut down and goes to dust again.  The works of man outlive him, so if he should never live again, then his works are better and greater than he is, and this is unreasonable to believe. Everything in nature and creation operates contrary to this belief.  Does the life of flowers cease to exist in the future because they have died in the winter?  Does the falling of the leaves in autumn prove the tree is forever dead and lifeless?  Shall the seeds be powerless to produce if the tree falls in death?  No, indeed.  Over 80,000 seeds testify constantly of an eternal existence.  They are lower forms of life than man and yet when they die they live again, for this is the creative purpose and natural law for each one of them.  Are they greater than man, the highest of creation? Shall the works of man’s hands be more eternal than he is?  Shall his plans end because he is temporarily cut off due to Adam’s sin?  This would be a creative blunder, for the brevity of life demands life again for all men to correspond with their own creative makeup.
  3. Man’s greatness demands immortality of the body.  Elephants can live much longer than man; trees thousands of years; and other parts of creation lower than man exists eternally.  Shall we accuse God of creating and running a world out of balance?  Shall we accuse Him of making the lower creations to outlive the higher?  Shall moral and spiritual creations live less than the brute and material creations?  Such would condemn the Creator and insult creation as represented by man, the lord over creation on earth. There must be another life for all men for these inequalities to be adjusted.  Man could have lived forever had he not sinned.  He will live again and forever in the final restitution of all things-some to everlasting shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29).
  4. The universal human desire demands immortality of the body.  This desire is in every man, even the lowest rebels against God.  God has made hungers in the human breast, each of which has a corresponding satisfaction: water for thirst; food for hunger; friends for the social nature; home for homesickness; God for spiritual hunger; and immortality for the desire of a future life.  We accept justice and believe in it because of universal conscience.  Why not accept belief in immortality because of the universal hunger for it?  If you should find a dog yearning for eternal life, thinking about it, and reasoning how to get it, you would say that the animal had a high nature and spiritual faculty you never thought possible.  Take away that power in man and he will die like one. No man of sound mind will agree that he has a nature lower than a dog, incapable of higher and spiritual things.  This proves he knows he has natural and higher faculties than an animal.  Such power not only teaches immortality to him and demands it for him, but guarantees it to him.
  5. Moral nature in man demands immortality of the body.  No man can explain the origin of moral nature and moral obligation apart from the truth of immortality.  Moral nature demands a set of laws based upon rewards and punishments for obedience and sin.  Nations who have conformed to moral law have advanced to the highest culture and those who have denied it have sunk into depravity (Romans 1:18-32).  Nations that endure must not only have mentality but morality.  Our moral nature affirms in many ways that there is a future life and that we must prepare to get the good out of it or we will suffer the consequences of sin forever (Psalm 9:17; Rev. 14:9-14; Rev. 20:11-15).
  6. Universal instinct to worship God and meet certain standards that will better the future and eternal existence proves immortality of the body. Nature causes the birds to go north and south and to know when to mate. The ants, bees, and all other creatures know by instinct how to carry on their own particuliar life for the future.  Everything in creation obeys its natural instincts except unregenerated man.  He is capable of choosing to better himself or to degenerate to unnatural living, now and forever. He has outstanding instincts to worship and prepare for eternal life.  Is man the only creature fooled by nature?  Why do not animals have the same natural craving for immortality?  This proves man capable of worship and preparing for eternity to better himself (1 John 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 7:1; Hebrews 12:14-15; Galatians 5:24; 2 Cor. 5:17-21).
  7. Man’s constitution demands immortality of the body.  He was created to live forever physically, as well as in soul and spirit.  Sin cut him off from this and hindered the original plan.  Jesus came to restore all to man.  Being constituted to live forever proves the possibility of immortality.  Man being created in God’s own image and likeness demands it; the eternal purpose of God demands it; and the eternal plan of God provides for it; but sinners forfeit their part in the glorious plan by sin (Proverbs 1:22ff; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 6:16-23; Romans 8:12-13).  Even they will exist physically forever as an eternal monument of God’s justice to all coming generations throughout all eternity (Isaiah 66:22-24; Rev. 14:9-11; Rev. 20:10-15; Rev. 21:8; Rev. 22:15).

The contempt and punishment of the wicked are equal to the bliss of righteousness in length and consciousness.  See Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29, notes.