state

rose_coffin

PART ONE

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.
You may click on any of the sections to go right there although it is recommended
you read from the beginning to the end.
 

  1. Reports of After-Death or Near-Death Visions
  2. Foundational Scriptures
  3. Genesis 5:24 — “[Enoch] was not, for Elohim took him”
  4. Genesis 35:18 — Rachel’s soul was departing
  5. 2 Kings 2:11 — “Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”
  6. Matthew 10:28 — Those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul
  7. Luke 16:19-31 — The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
  8. Luke 23:43 — “Today you will be with me in paradise”
  9. 2 Corinthians 5:1 — “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven

Reports of After-Death or Near-Death Visions

Our culture commonly teaches that the dead go to heaven when they die. Influencing this belief are the many reports of after-death or near-death visions in which people claim to have visited heaven. Such stories are sometimes referred to as “heavenly tourism.”

Consider that these reports could result from brain activity producing a dream-like condition while the person is close to death but does not die. The things we learn and think about affect our thinking and our dreams. Accordingly, a person's thoughts about going to heaven when they die could affect the things reported in these occurrences.

Another possibility is that these stories can be fabricated. For example, Alex Malarkey claimed to visit heaven in the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and then retracted his story in an open letter. For those unfamiliar with The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, the publisher’s description from the book’s back cover follows (Tyndale House, 2010):

book_coverIn 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered a terrible car wreck. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex―and it seemed impossible that he could survive.

“I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad.

When Alex awoke from a coma two months later, he had an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. Of the angels who took him through the gates of Heaven itself. And, most amazing of all . . . of meeting and talking with Jesus.

THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN is the true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see Heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.

On January 3, 2015, pulpitandpen.org published an article entitled “‘The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers,” which includes Alex’s open letter. The article states:

The co-author of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven – the boy himself – has written an open letter to Lifeway and admonished them for not holding to the sufficiency of Scripture, and has recanted his tale.

alex_malarkey

[Alex’s open letter:]

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey.

“‘The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers,” pulpitandpen.org, 1/13/2015. URL (accessed 10/6/2019).

Remarkably, in the Biblical accounts of people raised from the dead, not even one of these persons said anything about going to heaven. These accounts include people who were dead for hours or days, such as:

    • The Shunammite woman’s son - 2 Kings 4:8-37
    • Jairus’ daughter - Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
    • The young man from Nain - Luke 7:11-15
    • Lazarus - John 11:1-44

Foundational Scriptures

We must base our doctrine on the Scriptures; what do they say?

From Dust to Dust, All are Appointed to Die

Genesis 3:19 (Yahweh speaking to Adam), In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.
Psalm 146:4, His spirit [Hebrew "ruwach" Strong's #H7307; KJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NET: “breath”] departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.

NOTE: "Plans perish - There is no consciousness in death.

Ecclesiastes 12:7, Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit [ruwach, breath] will return to the Elohim who gave it.
  • The spirit, or the breath of life, returns to Yahweh, but your breath is not you. It is what empowers you to be a living being (cp. Genesis 2:7):
Genesis 2:7, And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [here, “breath” is translated from "neshamah" Strong's #H5397, another Hebrew word for breath]; and man became a living being [KJV: “a living soul”, nephesh H5315].


Notice: This verse does not say that humans have souls; instead, they are souls or living beings.

  • According to the Bible, not only are human beings souls, but animals are also souls (Heb. nephesh):
Genesis 1:20-21, 24, 30: 20) Then Elohim said, Let the waters abound with an abundance of living [nephesh] creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens. 21) So Elohim created great sea creatures and every living thing [nephesh] that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And Elohim saw that it was good. 24) Then Elohim said, Let the earth bring forth the living [nephesh] creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind; and it was so. 30) Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life [nephesh, i.e., they are living creatures] I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.
  • In harmony with the Hebrew word nephesh, the Bible also uses the corresponding Greek word, psuche (sometimes also spelled psyche) to describe both humans and animals:
Acts 2:41: Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls [psuche (G5590); NRSV; "persons"; NET: "people"] were added to them.
Revelation 16:3: Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature [psuche] in the sea died.
  • Even in the English language, we find clear evidence that people are souls. On April 15, 1912, a ship called the Titanic (and billed as “unsinkable”) sank on its maiden voyage. Notice how newspaper headlines reporting this event used the words “souls” and “lives” interchangeably to refer to people:

    The front page of The Washington Post, April 16, 1912, the day after the Titanic sank:
    titanic_post
    The front page of The Times Dispatch, Richmond, VA, April 16, 1912

    titanic_times

  • In contrast to the Biblical understanding of soul, what does the pagan Greek culture tell us? The Merriam-Webster dictionary reports:

    To the Greeks, psyche also meant “butterfly”, which suggests how they imagined the soul.

    — “psyche,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (accessed 6/11/2021):  
    • Butterflies flit around, lightly flying here and there; this is the Greek idea of “soul.”

    • According to Scripture, a soul is a physical, breathing creature, not an immortal, invisible, eternal entity.

    • Living souls consist of body and breath.

    • When the breath of life leaves us, we are dead:

      James 2:26, For as the body without the spirit [Gr. pneuma (G4151), breath] is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    • Souls die:

      Ezekiel 18:4, Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul [nephesh] who sins shall die.

      Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Yahweh is eternal life in Messiah Yahshua our Master.

      Yahweh said: The serpent said:
      "You shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17b) "You will not surely die."
      Which report shall we accept?
  • All are appointed to die:

    Hebrews 9:27, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

    Psalms 89:48, What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave? Selah

    Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--

    1 Corinthians 15:22–23, 22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive. 23) But each one in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah’s at His coming.

    • Anyone descended from Adam, which is everyone, dies.
    • The good news is that in Messiah, we can be raised from the dead to everlasting life! When? “At His coming.”

    1 Corinthians 15:36, Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
  • Death is an undeniable fact.

  • Death is the absence of life, not the continuance of it.

  • Death is not life in another place.

The phrase “immortal soul” is not in the Bible.

Voy Wilks wrote extensively on this subject. He states:

The view that man has within him an immortal soul which flits off to heaven or to hell at the moment of death is not a biblical doctrine. It has been adopted from pagan religions. Believing in the immortality of the soul is one step toward believing in reincarnation, a pernicious doctrine. Let us drop all paganism and believe the Sacred Writings which were inspired by Yahweh, the Most High El (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

— Voy Wilks, “Philippians 1:21-23,” undated paper, pp. 3-4.
  • We do not yet possess immortality; instead, we must “put on immortality” at the resurrection:

    1 Corinthians 15:53-54, 53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

According to the Scriptural evidence thus far:

  • We are souls (nephesh); animals are also souls.

  • A soul is a physical, breathing creature, not an immortal, invisible, eternal entity.

  • Living souls consist of body and breath.

  • All are appointed to die.

  • We then await the resurrection.

  • Numerous Scriptures lay the foundation that all are appointed to die. If one, or a few, Scriptures seem to contradict many, shall we accept the few and ignore the many, or shall we accept the many and seek explanations for the few? We should accept the many and seek explanations for the few.

Note: For additional evidence that human beings are souls, see Appendix — Soul — Additional Evidence

A cautionary note about psuche (G5590) in Strong's dictionary: 

  • In its definition for psuche, Strong’s dictionary mentions “immortal soul,” which probably reflects the personal views of James Strong, who was a Methodist minister. Strong’s dictionary entry is shown below:

    • G5590. psuche, psoo-khay'; from G5594; breath, i.e. (by impl.) spirit, abstr. or concr. (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Heb. H5315, H7307 and H2416[*]):--heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

      [*] Note: Interestingly, Strong’s definitions of the Hebrew words referred to do not mention immortal soul.

The Dead Know Nothing

Ecclesiastes 9:5, For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
Psalm 6:5, For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?
Psalm 146:4, His spirit [KJV: “breath”; Heb. ruwach] departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.

"Plans perish" - There is no consciousness in death.

The Dead do not Praise Yahweh

Psalm 115:17, The dead do not praise Yahweh, nor any who go down into silence.
Psalm 30:9, What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth?
Psalm 88:10-12, 10) Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah 11) Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? 12) Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Isaiah 38:18-19, 18) For Sheol [i.e. the grave] cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. 19) The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day; the father shall make known Your truth to the children.

The Dead are at Rest

Deuteronomy 31:16, And Yahweh said to Moses: Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the elohim of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
Job 3:11-19 (Job laments his birth because of his troubles), 11) Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? 12) Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? 13) For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest 14) With kings and counselors of the earth, who built ruins for themselves, 15) Or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver; 16) Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light? 17) There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. 18) There the prisoners rest together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor. 19) The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master.
Psalm 13:3, Consider and hear me, O Yahweh my Elohim; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.
1 Thessalonians 4:13, But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

The Dead will not Live Again until the Resurrection

Prophesies of the Resurrection

Psalm 49:15, But Elohim will redeem my soul [nephesh] from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah
Isaiah 26:19, Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Ezekiel 37:12-14, 12) Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Master Yahweh: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13) Then you shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14) I will put My spirit [ruwach] in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, Yahweh, have spoken it and performed it, says Yahweh.
Daniel 12:2, And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel 12:13, But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.

Asaph's Testimony

Asaph understood that he had no deceased relatives who were in heaven waiting for him:

Psalm 73:25 (A Psalm of Asaph), Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

Job's Testimony

Job indicated he would not live again until the resurrection:

Job 14:10-15, 10) But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? [Comment: This rhetorical question emphasizes that the dead are nowhere except oin the grave.]11) As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, 12) So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. 13) Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14) If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. 15) You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.

Yahshua's Testimony

Yahshua taught that the righteous will receive their reward at the resurrection:

Luke 14:12-14, 12) Then He also said to him who invited Him, When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13) But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14) And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
    • Since the righteous receive their reward “at the resurrection,” they do not immediately go to heaven and receive their reward when they die.

    • Also, see: John 5:28-29, 28) Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29) and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

    • Notice: The dead, both righteous and unrighteous, are in their grves and do not regain life until the resurrection.

Paul's Testimony

Paul believed in a future resurrection of the dead:

Acts 24:14-16, 14) But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15) I have hope in Elohim, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16) This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward Elohim and men.
    • Paul hoped for a resurrection of the dead.

    • Hope refers to waiting for something in the future (cp. Romans 8:23-25):

      Romans 8:23-25, 23) Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24) For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

    • If the dead are not really dead but instead are alive in heaven, there is no need to hope for the resurrection of the dead.

Paul said if there is no resurrection, the righteous perish (not go to heaven upon death)

1 Corinthians 15:16-18, 16) For if the dead do not rise, then Messiah is not risen. 17) And if Messiah is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18) Then also those who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished.

Paul specified the resurrection (not death) as the time when believers will be gathered to Yahshua:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 13) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14) For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so Yahweh will bring with Him those who sleep in Yahshua. 15) For this we say to you by the word of the Master, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Master will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16) For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Yahweh. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. 17) we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air. And thus [that is, because of the resurrection] we shall always be with the Master. 18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Compare:

1 Corinthians 15:52-54, 52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

Peter's Testimony

Peter said David did not go to heaven when he died:

Acts 2:29, Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Acts 2:34a, “David did not ascend into the heavens
Acts 13:36, For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of Yahweh, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.
Cp. 2 Samuel 7:12 (Yahweh speaking to David), When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

Has the state of the dead changed since the Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection?

Paul stated that the dead in Messiah “shall be made alive … at His coming”:

1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 20) But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21) For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive. 23) But each one in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah’s at His coming.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 13) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14) For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so Yahweh will bring with Him those who sleep in Yahshua. 15) For this we say to you by the word of the Master, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Master will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16) For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Yahweh. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. 17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Master. 18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Foundational Scriptures - Summary

When taken together and in context, the Scriptures overwhelmingly show that the dead are dead, not alive.

Geneses 5:24 - "[Enoch] was not, for Elohim took him"

Genesis 5:24, And Enoch walked with Elohim; and he was not, for Elohim took him.

See: Hebrews 11:5 — “Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death”

Rachel's soul was departing

Genesis 35:18, And so it was, as her soul [nephesh] was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

At first glance, this verse sounds as though Rachel's soul flitted away as her body died.

But notice:

    1. The verse itself explains the meaning, "for she died."

    2. The Hebrew word translated as "soul" is nephesh, which can also be translated as "life." For example, Lot was wraned to escape from Sodom for his life (nephesh):

      Genesis 19:17, So it came to pass, when they had brought them otuside, that he said, Escape for your life [nephesh]! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.

    3. Likewise, in the context of Genesis 35:18, nephesh refers to life. Rachel's life was departing from her, which means she was in the process of dying.

    4. To reitrate, the verse itself explains the meaning,"for she died."

    5. This conclusion agrees with numerous founadtional Scriptures covered earlier in this study, see Foundational Scriptures.

2 Kings 2:11 — “Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”

Overview

2 Kings 2:11, Then it happened, as they [Eliyah and Elisha] continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
  • When isolated from the rest of the Bible, a casual reading of this verse might sound as though Yahweh took Eliyah to eternal life in heaven, Yahweh’s dwelling place, and Eliyah never died.

  • However, a study of the Scriptures, detailed shortly, shows that:

    • Yahweh lifted Eliyah to the sky (i.e., the heavens surrounding the earth) and transported him to another location on earth.

    • At a later time, Eliyah sent a letter to King Jehoram, thus confirming that Eliyah continued to reside on planet earth.

    • Moreover, remember the foundational Scriptures covered early in this study, which inform us that all are appointed to die (see Foundational Scriptures). If one, or a few, Scriptures seem to contradict many, shall we accept the few and ignore the many, or shall we accept the many and seek explanations for the few? We should accept the many and seek explanations for the few.

Levels of Heaven in the Bible

  • Scripture reveals that there are different levels of heaven.

  • Context determines to which heaven a Bible passage refers.
  1. The Sky

    • Genesis 1:20, Then Elohim said, Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.

    • Psalms 147:7–8, 7) Sing to Yahweh with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our Elohim, 8) Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

  2. Outer Space

    • Deuteronomy 1:10, Yahweh your Elohim has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude.

  3. Yahweh’s Dwelling Place

    • Deuteronomy 10:14, Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to Yahweh your Elohim, also the earth with all that is in it.

    • Deuteronomy 26:15, Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Eliyah “went up by a whirlwind.”
Whirlwinds occur within the earth's atmosphere.
This evidence shows that a strong whirlwind carried Eliyah up to the sky.

Eliyah “went up,” but later sent a letter to King Jehoram.

  • Eliyah “went up” during King Jehoshaphat’s reign.

  • At a later time, Eliyah sent a letter to King Jehoram, who was king after Jehoshaphat.

Here is the order of events:

  1. 2 Kings 2:11 — “Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

  2. 2 Kings 3:11-18After succeeding Eliyah, Elisha prophesied victory over the Moabites to King Jehoshaphat and the kings of Israel and Edom, with whom Jehoshaphat joined forces. See especially v. 18:

    • 2 Kings 3:18, And this is a simple matter in the sight of Yahweh; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.

  3. 2 Chronicles 21:1 — Jehoshaphat died, leaving the kingdom to his son, Jehoram:

    • 2 Chronicles 21:1, And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Jehoram his son reigned in his place.

  4. 2 Chronicles 21:4, 11 — Jehoram murdered all his brothers and led the people into idolatry:

    • 2 Chronicles 21:4, 11, 4) Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel. 11) Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, and led Judah astray.

  5. 2 Chronicles 21:12-15Jehoram then received a letter from Eliyah that detailed his judgment, thus showing that Eliyah was alive and dwelling on earth:

    • 2 Chronicles 21:12–15, 12) And a letter came to him from Eliyah the prophet, saying, Thus says Yahweh Elohim of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13) but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father’s household, who were better than yourself, 14) behold, Yahweh will strike your people with a serious affliction—your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15) and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.

Timeline illustrating order of events from Eliyah “going up” to writing a letter to King Jehoram:

timeline

Additional evidence from the sons of the prophets,

  • This informed group knew that Eliyah would be taken (2 Kings 2:3, 5):

    • 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 3) Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, Do you know that Yahweh will take away your master from over you today? And he said, Yes, I know; keep silent! 5) Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, Do you know that Yahweh will take away your master from over you today? So he answered, Yes, I know; keep silent!

  • Eliyah then “went up” (see vv. 7-11):

    • 2 Kings 2:7-11, 7) And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them [Eliyah and Elisha] at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8) Now Eliyah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9) And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Eliyah said to Elisha, Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you? Elisha said, Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. 10) So he said, You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. 11) Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

  • The sons of the prophets then expected Eliyah to be at another location on earth, not in Yahweh’s heavenly dwelling place (vv. 15-17, esp. v. 16):

    • 2 Kings 2:15–17, 15) Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Eliyah rests on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. 16) Then they said to him, Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the spirit of Yahweh has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley [Note: Locations on earth]. And he said, You shall not send anyone. 17) But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send them! Therefore they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days but did not find him.

  • To reiterate, the sons of the prophets knew that Eliyah would be taken and expected him to be at some other location on earth. While the search team did not find Eliyah, fifty men can cover only a limited amount of territory in three days. Yahweh could have carried Eliyah miles away or even hundreds of miles away.

Eliyah and the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36)

Matthew 17:1-3, 1) Now after six days Yahshua took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2) and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3)And behold, Moses and Eliyah appeared to them, talking with Him.
  • To be transfigured is to change in appearance (cp. Luke 9:29):

    • Luke 9:29, As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

  • The transfiguration was a “vision,” not a literal event (Matthew 17:9):

    • Matthew 17:9, Now as they came down from the mountain, Yahshua commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.

  • This vision included a representation of Moses, who had died and whom Yahweh Himself had buried centuries earlier (Deuteronomy 34:5-6):

    • Deuteronomy 34:5-6, 5) So Moses the servant of Yahweh died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Yahweh. 6) And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.

  • Since the transfiguration was a vision, it could include representations of Moses and Eliyah without them being alive.

Matthew 10:28 — Those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

Matthew 10:28, And do not fear those who kill the body [G4983 soma] but cannot kill the soul [G5590 psuche]. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [i.e. Gehenna, a place of destruction, not hades, the grave].

On the surface, this verse sounds as though the soul can live without the body. However, a deeper investigation reveals that this verse does not speak of “the soul” as having a separate existence from the body, in agreement with numerous foundational Scriptures covered previously (see Foundational Scriptures).

  • The Greek word translated “soul” is psuche.

  • Interestingly, psuche is also translated “life” elsewhere in the Bible. For example:

    • Acts 20:24, But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life [psuche] dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Master Yahshua, to testify to the gospel of the grace of Yahweh.

    • Acts 27:9-10, 9) Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10) saying, Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives [psuche]

  • As these verses demonstrate, psuche refers to life in these contexts.

  • Also, compare 1 John 3:16:

    • 1 John 3:16, By this we know love, because He laid down His life [psuche] for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

    • When Yahshua laid down His life [psuche] for us, He died. In other words, His psuche was not immortal.

    • Likewise, in the context of Matthew 10:28, psuche means "life" and refers to future everlasting life, which will be the reward of the righteous.

    • Those who kill the body in the present have no power to take everlasting life; their victims will live again at the resurrection!

    • However, Yahweh has the power to destroy both body and life, from which there is no resurrection. The Bible calls this death the “second death”—

      • Revelation 21:8, But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Luke 16:19-31 — The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

In this passage, Yahshua told a parable about a rich man in a place of torment having a conversation with Abraham, who was presumably in heaven.

Merriam-Webster defines a parable as:

A usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.
--(“parable,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (accessed 10/5/2019).
Luke 16:19-31, 19) There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20) But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21) desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23) And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24) Then 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. 25) But Abraham said, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. 27) Then he said, I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28) for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. 29) Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30) And he said, No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent. 31) But he said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.

Factors indicating that this is a parable, not an actual event:

  • Verses 22 and 23 say that the rich man was “buried” and in “Hades,” which is the grave, not Gehenna, a place of destruction.

  • Is the place of torment within sight and speaking distance of heaven?

    • Verse 23 says the rich man “saw Abraham afar off,” and a conversation then ensues.

    • Verse 26 says that there was a “great gulf” between the locations of the rich man and Abraham.

  • Could anyone be burning alive and hold a conversation with others?

  • If this were not a parable but an actual event, the rich man surely would not ask for a mere drop of water from Lazarus’ fingertip to cool his tongue (v. 24); instead, he would ask for copious amounts of water to extinguish the flames in which he was tormented.

The takeaways:

  • Don’t behave like the rich man did; if you do, you will reap the punishment.

  • Hear and believe Moses and the prophets (vv. 27-31).

Luke 23:43 — “Today you will be with me in paradise”

Luke 23:32-33, 39-43, 32) There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33) And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they impaled Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.

39) Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Messiah, save Yourself and us. 40) But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, Do you not even fear Yahweh, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41) And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. 42) Then he said to Yahshua, Master, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. 43) And Yahshua said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.
  • A misplaced comma skews the meaning of this verse.

  • The comma should be placed after the word “today” instead of after the word “you” to align with other Biblical evidence.
  • Sir Anthony Buzzard reports:

    Many of the Greek manuscripts of the Bible do not have punctuation. However, some very early manuscripts do have some marks of punctuation. In the Vatican Codex (4th century) there is evidence of a comma after the word “today.” And in the Curetonian version of the Syriac translation of Luke (5th century), we read “Amen, l say to you today, that with me you will be in the Garden of Eden.”
    --“Bible Study: Fitting the Pieces Together into a Harmonious Whole,” Sir Anthony Buzzard, editor, Focus on the Kingdom, Vol. 2, No. 3, December 1999, p. 5, (accessed 10/7/2019).

  • The Rotherham Bible reads:

    Luke 23:43, And he said unto him--Verily,I say unto thee this day: With me, shalt thou be in Paradise.

  • Yahshua equated Paradise with the coming kingdom, in which the criminal requested a place (cp. Revelation 2:7).

    Revelation 2:7, He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of Yahweh.

  • The criminal requested Yahshua to remember him in the future, but Yahshua graciously told the criminal that he was already being remembered that day.

  • Yahshua made an emphatic statement, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  • A possible paraphrase is: “I am telling you this right now, you will be with Me in Paradise!”

  • Also take into account Yahshua previously stated that he would be in the grave three days and three nights:

    Matthew 12:40, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

  • Moreover, after this three-day and three-night period and His resurrection from the dead, He said He still had not yet ascended to the Father:

    John 20:17, Yahshua said to her [Mary Magdalene], Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My El and your El.

2 Corinthians 5:1 — “…a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Verses 1-8 are cited for context:

2 Corinthians 5:1-8, 1) For we know that if our earthly house, this ten, is destroyed, we have a building from Yahweh, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3) if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4) For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is Yahweh, who also has given us the spirit as a guarantee. 6) So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Master. 7) For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Master.

Please notice:

  • Verse 1 states, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”

  • Verse 2 further explains that our habitation “is from heaven.”

  • These statements harmonize with Peter’s account that the believer’s inheritance is “reserved in heaven”:

    • 1 Peter 1:3-5, 3), Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master Yahshua Messiah, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yahshua Messiah from the dead, 4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5) who are kept by the power of Yahweh through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    • Thus, the believer’s inheritance:

      1. is reserved in heaven,

      2. and will come from heaven.

  • Returning to 2 Corinthians 5, verses two and four mention that we “groan” so that, ultimately, “mortality may be swallowed up by life.” Romans 8:22-23 also mentions this groaning:

      • Romans 8:22-23, 22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23) Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

2 Corinthians 5 and Romans 8 agree:

    • We groan “that mortality may be swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

    • And we groan waiting for “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23)

    • When will these events occur? At the resurrection of the dead:

      1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Yahweh; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—[i.e., instantaneously passing through death to the next life; more on this below] 52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

    • The harmony of Scripture shows that these rewards are received in the future, not when a person dies.

    • Also, see:

      Matthew 25:31-34, 31) When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32) All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33) And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

    • Additional comments on 1 Corinthians 15:51, "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed":

      • Based on the Scriptural foundation that all die, I assert that this chanage consists of instantaneously passing through death to the next life.

      • A change must occur.

      • What is this change?

      • The change from mortal to immortal (v. 53b: "this mortal must put on immortality").

      • Verse 36 informs us that this change necessitates death:

        1 Corinthians 15:36, Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.

      • Thus, death will be "swallowed up in victory" (v. 54) not only for those in the grave, but also for those who undergo this instantaneous change.

This concludes Part 1. Click here to continue reading in Part 2.

The final installment of Joshua is now available, click here. It's been quite awhile, but there's a new article on, click here. What happens when a person dies? Click here to see what the Scriptures say. Do you enjoy history as it pertains to belief structures? Check these two out, click here. For an in-depth study regarding the Trinity, click here!