B.C. (before Cross)

The Rich Man and Lazarus 

19 "There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man's table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 

22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 

24 'Father Abraham!' he called out, 'Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!' 25 " 'Son,' Abraham said, 'remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 

26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.' 27 " 'Father,' he said, 'then I beg you to send him to my father's house -- 28 because I have five brothers -- to warn them, so they won't also come to this place of torment.' 

29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' 30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said. 'But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31 "But he told him, 'If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'" -- HCSB.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Before Christ's death on the Cross, the afterlife consisted of human souls and spirits going to SHEOL (Hebrew), HADES (Greek), or HELL (English). Sheol/Hades/Hell is a TWO COMPARTMENT confinement. PARADISE, which also was called "Abraham's Bosom", was the compartment to which the Angels carried Lazarus. TORMENT was the compartment in which the Rich Man was assigned. According to the interaction between the Rich Man and Abraham, as related by Jesus Christ, at least at that time, there was verbal and visual interaction capabilities. In fact, the two compartments had to be separated by a "great chasm" in order to keep everyone in the compartment to which they had been assigned. Apparently, while the dead are sometimes described as "asleep", there also may have been times when the soul/spirits may have had some amount of mobility.

JWs label Jesus' story as a "parable", which was not intended to be taken literally. A parable is simply a teaching story with a point. So, I don't have a problem with "The Rich Man  and Lazarus" being labeled a "parable". The JWs' problem is that they go on to label similar secular stories about Hades/Hell being a place of the afterlife to be nothing but Greek Mythology which after Jesus' death was perpetrated and perpetuated by Christian apostates. The WatchTower's assertion is BLASPHEMOUS, because it actually was Jesus Himself who originated this first complete version of Sheol/Hades/Hell in the Bible. Even the JWs' false assertion that Jesus did not intend for this "parable" to be taken literally BLASPHEMES Jesus, in that even if such were true, then that would mean that Jesus used a fairytale taken directly from false Babylonish religion. Apparently, JWs are too STUPID to realize that every single "parable" related by Jesus used as its "setting" a real-world, real-life scenario -- just as Jesus used in this story.

A.D. (after death)

Jesus promised the thief who died alongside Him that they would be together in PARADISE that same day. PARADISE is not "heaven" as many preachers claim. The Bible reports that after His death that Jesus went to Sheol/Hades/Hell, and prepared certain occupants to go back with Him to heaven, which was not an option until His sacrificial death on the Cross. (It is possible that the thief was amongst that group.)

HEAVEN did NOT become the default destination for all those not assigned to TORMENT. It is this Editor's best guess that "heaven" did NOT replace "paradise" as an afterlife option, but rather became a third option solely for those who are "saved" as "sons of God" for good purposes  -- they assist Christ with the heavenly temple and rule with Christ in His earthly Kingdom. The souls/spirits of innocent ones such as aborted humans, and even those who are unsaved yet possibly may still be declared worthy by God,  continue to go to "paradise", which is nothing which to scoff when you consider the alternative.

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Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses: The Nature of Death
By Kevin Quick

The Nature of Death

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that:

a. [Humans don't have a separate distinct "soul". A living human IS a "soul". When a human's "spirit" exits the body, i.e., the human dies, that human, or soul, ceases to exist.] (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp. 136-137.)

b. There is no afterlife immediately following death and preceding the resurrection. (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp. 30, 101; Make Sure of All Things, p. 143.)

Scriptures commonly used by Jehovah's Witnesses:

Ps 146:3,4: Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.


Ez 18:4,20: The soul who sins will die.

See Q1

Eccl 9:3-10: UNDER THE SUN ... For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward ... UNDER THE SUN ... UNDER THE SUN ... UNDER THE SUN ... there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.



Q1. Is the term "sleep" ever applied to either the spirit or the soul in the Bible, or only to the body?

Ps 146:3,4: Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Matt 9:24: he said, "Depart; for the girl is not dead but is sleeping."

John 11:11: "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep."

Acts 7:59,60: And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon [the Lord] and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" ... he fell asleep.

Acts 13:36: "For David ... fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay"

1 Thess 4:14: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.


Q2. Does the Bible speak of an afterlife immediately following death and preceding the resurrection?

Deut 18:10,11: "There shall not be found among you anyone who...calls up the dead."

1 Sam 28:11-15: "Bring up Samuel for me"..."I see a divine being coming up out of the earth"...Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"

Eccl 12:7: the spirit shall return to God who gave it

Is 14:9,10: Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. They will all respond and say to you, "Even you have become like us..."

Matt 10:28: "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gr. gehenna]."

Matt 17:3, Mark 9:4: And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. [Matt 17:9-vision=Gr. orama-that which is seen; a spectacle-cp. Luke 24:23]

Matt 27:49: "Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him"

Matt 27:50: And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up [His] spirit.

Mark 15:36: "Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down"

Luke 12:5: "fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into Hell [Gr. gehenna]"

Luke 16:22: "the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom"

Luke 16:25: "during your life ... [as opposed to his present condition-death]"

Luke 16:30: "'if someone goes to them from the dead ...'"

Luke 23:43: "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Luke 23:46: "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." And having said this, He breathed His last.

John 2:19: Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

John 8:51: "Truly, truly I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death."

John 11:25,26: "he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die."

John 19:30: he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Acts 7:59: And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon [the Lord] and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

Acts 20:10: But Paul went down and fell upon him and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life [Gr. soul] is in him."

Rom 8:38,39: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life...shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Cor 5:8: we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Phil 1:23,24: For I am hard-pressed from both [directions], having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

Phil 2:10: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.

2 Tim 4:6: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

Heb 12:22,23: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect...

2 Pet 1:13-15: And I consider it right, as long as I am in this [earthly] dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my [earthly] dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure [Gr. exodus] you may be able to call these things to mind.

Rev 6:9-11: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

Rev 20:4: And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus...and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.


a. The term "sleep" is never applied to either the spirit or the soul in the Bible, but only to the body.

b. Immediately following death, the Bible speaks of an afterlife in the spirit. In this state the individual awaits resurrection of the body.