When Isaiah informed Hezekiah that he was shortly to die, Hezekiah did not
take it very well. He prayed to the Lord for an extended life: "Remember
now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a
whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept
bitterly. (Isaiah 38:3). The Lord gave Hezekiah fifteen more years of life.
Paul was in prison and facing possible death. His attitude was quite
different from that of Hezekiah! He said, “For to me, to live is Christ and
to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).
It wasn't really Hezekiah's fault he did not face his death with the same
grace that Paul faced his. Hezekiah was a man of great faith in God. But
God's revelation was incomplete during his lifetime. To Hezekiah, death was
a foreboding and dreaded mystery. There would be additional revelation in
the coming centuries that would be of great comfort to people of faith. But
information available to Hezekiah was relatively quite scant.
Does Luke 16 show that the righteous dead go to the paradise side of Hades?
I believe that Luke 16 is true. I do not believe it to be a parable, as some
suggest, but that is another topic of study. I believe that it accurately
portrayed the state of the righteous dead (albeit with some figurative
language) before Christ's own resurrection/ascension. But I also believe
that the Bible shows that many things changed with the death, burial &
resurrection, and one of those changes is the state of the righteous dead.
They're not descending to Hades any longer. Rather they now go to be with
Think about these two rather “provocative” statements and their
1. No New Testament Christian is ever spoken of as being in Hades, or as
headed there when he dies, or as ever coming from there, period.
2. Every person mentioned in the New Testament as still being in Hades after
the resurrection and ascension of Christ are said to be being 'kept under
punishment' awaiting the judgment where they will be 'cast into the lake of
Until Christ's Resurrection
There is an Old Testament prophecy of Christ's victory over the grave. The
Psalmist prophesied of a time when the Lord would lead "captivity captive"
(Psalm 68:18). Frankly, I would have no idea what this verse means if not
for the announcement in the New Testament explaining its fulfillment. We'll
look at that later, except to say it was yet in the Psalmists future.
We recall the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22,23) Here we
see Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek- “unseen place”) and both terms refer to
the place of the dead. Jesus plainly talked of two segments of Hades; one
was a place of relative comfort, the other of torment
Also, there is the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43). Jesus promised the
penitent thief that both He and the thief would be together in paradise that
very day. This, too, was before Christ's own resurrection.
But Jesus was not the only one that left paradise and returned to earth on
that first day of the week. Other tombs, those of the righteous, were opened
as well (Matthew 27:50-54). Jesus brought company with Him when He returned
from the dead! The saints who had died also made their appearance at
Jerusalem at that time. Where did they come from? Obviously from Hades;
specifically from paradise. That is where they had been. Matthew does not
tell us where these saints went after their appearances in Jerusalem.
But Paul does later shed more light on the subject (Ephesians 4:8-10). He
announces that the prophetic Psalm about the lord “leading captivity
captive” was fulfilled and says it was fulfilled at the resurrection and
ascension of Christ. So Paul affirms that the "captives were led captive"
when Christ was raised. We know from the above passage from Matthew that
"many" of the spirits of the saints held in paradise were brought forth from
there, and it was by the power of Christ. The word "many" in the Bible can
refer to "all" as it does, for example, in Romans 5:19.
After the Resurrection
The Bible teaches that the souls of wicked are still in Hades (torment) (2
Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 3:18,20). There is a prison holding the spirits of the
wicked following their departure from this earth.
But what about the souls of the righteous? The souls of the righteous are
still awaiting the change (redemption of our bodies) when we will receive
our new spiritual bodies (Romans 8:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
In John's vision of the souls of the martyrs (Revelation 6:9-11); those that
have “come out of the great tribulation” are described this way: 1) “The
ones that have come out of the great tribulation.” 2) “For this reason they
are before the throne of God.” 3) “They serve day and night in His temple.”
4) “He who sits on His throne spreads His tabernacle over them.” 5) “They
will hunger no more…thirst no more…sun will not beat down upon them.” 6)
“The Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd.” 7) “Shall
guide them to the springs of the water of life.” 8) “God shall wipe all
tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:14-17).
Members of the churches of Christ in New Testament times expected to be with
Jesus upon their deaths. Stephen requested that the Lord receive his spirit
upon his death (Acts 7:59). The Revelation passage above tells us exactly
where Stephen went.
The Bible describes two possible states of the righteous: alive and dead.
Notice how the two states are contrasted:
Alive>In the body>Absent from the Lord
- Dead>Absent from the body>Home with
(2 Corinthians 5:6,8)
Alive >live on in the flesh >not with Christ
Dead> depart (leave the body) > Be with Christ
Is there a “third” state for the righteous? “Absent from the body” and
absent from the Lord? No, there is not.
Note also what happens with Hades at the end. “Death and Hades” will be cast
into the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-15). This makes sense because only
the wicked are there now.
If the souls of the righteous dead are “with Christ”, then what will happen
when Christ comes again? They will come with Him when He returns. Jesus will
return with: His angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7) and those of His whom have
fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:14). These are the “holy ones” who will
return with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 14). The angels will execute
the Lord's judgment (Matthew 13:41-43) while the redeemed will descend, be
clothed with new bodies, and rise, to be followed by the righteous living (1
Thessalonians 4:13-18). Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
From The Bradley Banner 10/22/2006
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915