Soul sleep is the novel idea, originating recently in history, that when a man dies his soul ceases to exist. The cults twist the meaning of a few verses of the Bible to support this novel idea. The Watchtower Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses and some of the Seventh Day Adventist Churches are chief among the modern promoters of soul sleep. Some well-known youtube presenters also promote this false doctrine of soul sleep.

In the ancient, Biblical world of the Near East and Mesopotamia the idea of soul sleep did not exist. Every culture in the region believed in an afterlife abode for disembodied souls of men. This abode was called Hades in Greek and Sheol in Hebrew. It is important to note that the concept of soul sleep did not exist in the ancient culture. Every culture believed in a conscious existence after the death of the body. Nothing like the idea of soul sleep was known to these ancient peoples.

The Bible has copious passages referring to conscious life after death. There are many verses in both the Old Testament and the New Testament showing the people and the Prophets believed in a conscious spiritual existence after the death of the body.

To examine all of these scriptures would require a very lengthy paper at least a few dozen pages in size. For brevity herein we will examine only a fraction of these passages from the New Testament. This small fraction of passages destroys the concept of soul sleep and proves the promoters of soul sleep are teaching contrary to the Bible.

The book of Acts defines “falling asleep” as a man’s spirit going to heaven to be with God the Father and Jesus Christ. We learn this definition in the book of Acts:

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:55-60)

From this passage of the book of Acts we learn several key facts:

  1. As Stephen was about to die, God the Father and Jesus opened the view of heaven to Stephen so Stephen could see them. It is very clear that God and Jesus considered this man so dearly as he suffered death by stoning that they were preparing to personally receive Stephen into their realm.
  2. Jesus was STANDING at the throne of the Father, indicating he is eager to receive Stephen upon Stephen laying down his body and ascending to heaven. This indicates that Jesus is going to personally greet Stephen at the very throne of God. This is a grand reception. It is virtually a standing ovation by the King of Kings for the faithful martyr, Stephen.
  3. Stephen testifies, full of the Holy Ghost, that his spiritual soul is going to shortly ascend to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be fully conscious and alive after his body dies, and he knows it because he sees Jesus watching him at the ready. Stephen clearly states he has a spirit that will be shortly separated from his body and that he will go to be with Jesus.
  4. The last verse of this quoted selection defines “sleep” when applied to death. It is only the body that is falling “asleep”. The application of “sleep” has nothing to do with the spiritual soul of the redeemed saint, who will be immediately taken into heaven, fully alive and conscious in a spiritual form of existence.

This one story from Acts alone completely negates the “soul sleep” doctrine of the cults. It is important to note here that the Bible clearly defines “sleep” as the death of the body, and not the death of the conscious, spiritual element of man. “Sleep” is a metaphor for death describing the appearance of the physical body, and has nothing to do with the spiritual soul. When Stephen’s body died, it is said that he, “fell asleep”. This is only a reference to his body, not to his spirit. By the written testimony of the Holy Ghost, Jesus was ready to receive Stephen into heaven in Stephen’s spiritual form.

We also know that man has another body, or a spiritual body, or a spiritual soul, beside the physical one. It is of a form that is not visible to the normal human senses, but can be made visible by the power of the Holy Spirit, as in the transfiguration on the mount. This spiritual soul is mentioned several times in both the Old and New Testaments. In the transfiguration on the mount the Apostles were given the ability to see the spiritual soul of Jesus, which was very bright. Jesus is truly, “The light of the world” and in his spirit he shines like the sun.

When the thief prayed to Jesus at the crucifixion, Jesus told the thief:

“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Paradise is in the heavenly realm. It is an afterlife abode of those who are faithful to God, who have received the love of Jesus. Jesus and the thief both went there, conscious, and fully alive. We learn that Paradise is in heaven from the Apostle Paul:

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

We learn some key points here:

  1. Paul teaches that a man can be conscious in his body and “out of the body.”
  2. The senses of the invisible spiritual body of man are similar enough the the physical body that when overwhelmed in a vision of heaven a man can’t tell if he is in the physical body or out of it.
  3. Paul was caught up into paradise.
  4. Paradise is in the third heaven.
  5. A physical body can possibly visit heaven but not stay there.
  6. Paul is trying to be modest by differentiating himself in the flesh from himself in a transfigured form experiencing visions from God. He also says God gave him persecution and struggle (a thorn, or a goad) to keep his head from getting too big from his experience, as Paul was quite a crusader personality.

So when Jesus told the thief they would end up together in Paradise on that very day, this means the thief was going to heaven, a conscious being, and not at all unconscious in a state of “soul sleep.” The thief was going to the Paradise that Paul later saw.

Paul the Apostle gives another testimony stating that the souls of dead Saints are already in heaven:

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named …”

This verse proves these key points:

  1. The family of God is already ascended to heaven.
  2. This family is named for Jesus, since they are his brethren.

All men who repent and believe on Jesus Christ become sons of God and members of this, “family in heaven and earth”:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name …” (John 1:12)

In this verse we see the name of the family (Jesus) and who the sons are–those who repent and believe on Jesus. Because believers are sons of God, they will never die, just as Jesus promised:

“He that liveth and believeth on me shall never die.”

There is no soul sleep for those who believe on Jesus Christ. The Old Testament calls this being, “gathered to my people.” Of those of us who are saints, those washed and sanctified by the faith of Jesus, all our fellow believers are, “our people” or “the family in heaven and on earth.” When we return our mortal remains to the dust our souls are “gathered to our people” in the Paradise of God.

We have read three witnesses that categorically deny soul sleep: Jesus, Stephen, and Paul. All three witnesses give emphatic testimonies of immediate conscious existence after death. These testimonies of the Bible disprove the modern idea of soul sleep. Jesus and his disciples clearly believed and taught a conscious state of existence immediately after the flesh body “goes to sleep.”

We have read that those who believe on Jesus never die. They cannot die, for they have inherited eternal life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

We are warned about false teachings that contradict the promise of eternal life, such as soul sleep:

“And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” (1 John 2:25-6)

The soul sleeper cults are “seducing” men with their false doctrine.

We have the promise of eternal life from the moment we trust Jesus:

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:11)

This eternal life is the hope of the gospel:

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began …” (Titus 1:2)

Belief in the true gospel gives eternal life:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

Cults concoct cockamamie doctrines like “soul sleep” to set themselves apart, sow division, and appear “smarter” than others. They do this to draw attention so they can make converts and poach victims from other cults and churches. This way the cultists can heap up followers for themselves and get rich. They twist a few scripture verses to support their false doctrine because they don’t divide the word with the Spirit. Soul sleep is a modern spook. Eternal life is real and it is in Jesus Christ.

Victims of the false soul sleep doctrine need to repent from believing their teachers and learn the true gospel of Jesus Christ:

“He that liveth and believeth on me shall never die.”

Those who trust in Jesus Christ instead of religion will truly never die. The moment their flesh body goes to sleep they will go to the Paradise of God in heaven to be with their people and await the final resurrection. They will be awake forevermore.