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What the Bible Says About Death

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Some people don't like to think or talk about death, but death is in the Bible from the beginning to the end. Not only did people die in the Bible, but the word death is also mentioned 124 times.

It is estimated that about 163,898 people die every single day over the world. That turns out to be 6,829 people every hour. Even though doctors predict when extremely sick people will die, some people recover and live many years after doctors said they would die. God is the only one who knows for sure when a person will die.

Death: Definition

Death is defined as "cessation to live." It is the end of life for people, animals, and all of God's creation. Death is the permanent stopping of all vital organs, such as the heart, respiration, and brain activity. It is the end of life.

Physical death is the one thing that all people have in common. It is an inevitable, unavoidable process that eventually happens to all living organisms. Everyone will die regardless of age, gender, race, creed, religion, profession, or status in life.

Death in the Bible

All of the people in the Bible are dead after thousands of years. There were many causes of those deaths. One of Jesus’ most significant miracles recorded in John Chapter 11 is about the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus raised His friend after he had been dead for four days. Jesus referred to the dead man as "sleeping" (John 11:11-13).

The Bible compares death to sleep more than fifty times. Therefore, we can believe that dead people in their graves are asleep and not aware of what is going on in the world among the living.

The Bible says, “for the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing… their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, Psalm 146:4; 115:17). The Bible speaks of the kings as "sleeping" when they died.

Man's 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” (Genesis 2:7).

The above scripture proves that people have a soul only as long as they are living. God formed the body from the dust of the ground, but He breathed His spirit into the body which gave the body a soul. When a person dies, the events take place in reverse order.

  1. The breath of life departs from the body first, and the soul no longer exists.
  2. “The dust returns to the ground, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Two Resurrections

The Bible says that the righteous and wicked will be raised to life in one of two resurrections.

  1. First resurrection: The righteous will be raised to life at Jesus’ Second Coming. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Contrary to myths, this verse proves that the righteous do not go to heaven immediately after death. They remain asleep in the grave until Jesus returns and raises them to immortal life (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).
  2. Second resurrection: The wicked are raised to life in a second separate resurrection. Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The prophets never mentioned that the righteous immediately go to heaven or the wicked immediately go to hell when they die. Jesus and His disciples never taught it. When Jesus left His disciples to ascend to heaven, He told them, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). In other words, no one will go to heaven until Jesus returns in His Second Coming.

When Jesus returns, those who are asleep in Christ will awake first and will be caught up in the air with Him. Even though they might have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years, the Bible says the time will seem like just a moment to them.

Things the Bible Says About Death

1. Souls will live forever.

The Bible teaches that after death our present physical bodies will decompose, but our souls will live forever, either eternally in God’s presence or eternally separated from God. People who have confessed with their mouth and believed in their heart that Jesus died and God raised Him from the dead will receive eternal life, and those who rejected Him will receive eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:45).

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2. God does not want us to fear death.

Some people are afraid of death. It should bring comfort and put us at ease when we accept that Jesus defeated death when He died for us on the cross.

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)

3. Jesus overcame death for us.

Jesus became our first fruit for death when He died on the cross. Since we have been united with Him in His death through faith, we will also be raised to life as He was (Romans 6:5).

4. Death is a separation.

According to the Bible, death causes our physical bodies to stop functioning, but the body does not go immediately into God's presence. Our spirit goes back to God. Our souls are eternal and do not die. Our bodies and souls separate. However, our souls do go immediately into God’s presence. Later, when Christ returns, our souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies.

5. Death was never God’s intent.

Physical death is inevitable. It is unavoidable. Therefore, everyone should be prepared because it could happen at any time. Physical death was never God’s intent. He created us to live forever with Him. Man's sin brought death into the world.

6. Sin won’t always reign.

The way things are going in the world right now, it seems as if evil is winning. However, that will not always be the case. One day Jesus will return. Revelation 21:4 promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, no mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." That should give us hope as we endure all the evil in this broken world.

7. We mourn with hope.

We grieve when a loved one dies, but those who know the Lord don't grieve as those with no hope. Scriptures promise that Jesus’ death and resurrection proved that we will see our loved ones if they died in Christ. If they didn't die in Christ, we will not remember them. They will be as if they never existed.

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

8. We can't imagine what heaven is like.

In our finite minds, we cannot imagine what heaven will be like. We have nothing to compare heaven with. Heaven will be much better than any earthly pleasure we have experienced. The Bible says, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Additional Readings

Important Things the Bible Says About Death

  • My Views About Death, Dying, and Heaven
    I think about death and dying all the time. I am not afraid of death. I don't want my friends and family to mourn my death because my soul is ready whenever God calls me home.
  • What Do You Believe About the Rapture?
    The word rapture is not in the Bible, but the concept is there.
  • What Heaven Is Like
    Many things are asked about heaven. The answers to these questions are found in the Bible. There is no other infallible source of revelation about heaven or anything else. There are many things about heaven that are told to us in the Scriptures.


Brian from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on August 25, 2021:

This is an interesting read that really enlightens me on the topic which is quite a taboo. It's true that no one can pinpoint when they will leave this world except God. He is the one with the power to decide when our time is up or not, given that we have fulfilled His purpose here on earth.

It is something new for me to learn that our souls do not immediately go to Heaven upon death, but remain here until His Second Coming. That is truly a new revelation to me. Thanks for sharing this information, Rev Margaret.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 24, 2021:

If we don't go to heaven then where did Moses and Elijah come from for the transfiguration? Ive always wondered about that. i have also heard that the term sleeping is a metaphor because dead bodies decay and are not breathing and turn to dust. i wish i knew for certain.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 24, 2021:

This is great information

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