The intermediate state

133 the intermediate state

The intermediate state is the state in which the dead are until the resurrection of the body. Depending on the interpretation of relevant scriptures, Christians have different views on the nature of this intermediate state. Some passages say that the dead consciously experience this state, others that their consciousness has died out. The Worldwide Church of God believes that both views should be respected. (Isaiah 14,9-10; Ezekiel 32,21; Luke 16,19-31; 23,43; 2) Corinthians 5,1-8; Philippians 1,21-24; Revelation 6,9-11; Psalm 6,6; 88,11-13; 115,17; Preacher 3,19-21; 9,5.10; Isaiah 38,18, John 11,11-14, 1, Thessalonian 4,13-14).

What about the "intermediate state"?

In the past, we have usually held a dogmatic attitude to the so-called "intermediate state," that is, whether a person is unconscious or conscious between death and resurrection. But we do not know. Throughout Christian history, the opinion of the majority was that after death, man is consciously conscious of God or consciously receiving punishment. The opinion of the minority is known as "soul sleep".

When we examine Scripture, we see that the New Testament does not offer a reassuring view of the intermediate state. There are some verses that seem to indicate that people are unconscious after death, as well as some verses that seem to indicate that people are conscious after death.

Most of us are familiar with verses that describe death as "sleep," as in the Book of Preachers and in the Psalms. These verses are written from a phenomenological perspective. In other words, looking at the physical phenomenon of a dead body, it seems that the body is asleep. In such sections, sleep is a picture of death that relates to the appearance of the body. However, when we read such verses as Matthew 27,52, John 11,11, and Acts 13,36, it seems that death is literally equated with "sleep," even though the authors were aware that there is a significant difference between death and sleep.

However, we should also pay serious attention to the verses that point to consciousness after death. In 2. Corinthians 5,1-10 seems to refer Paul to the intermediate state with the words "unclothed" in verse 4 and "to be home with the Lord" in verse 8. In Philippians 1,21-23, Paul says that dying is a "gain" because Christians are leaving the world "to be with Christ." This does not sound like unconsciousness. This can also be seen in Luke 22,43, where Jesus says to the robber on the cross: "Today you will be with me in paradise." The Greek is translated clearly and correctly.

Ultimately, the doctrine of the intermediate state is something that God has decided not to describe accurately and dogmatically in the Bible. Maybe it just exceeds the human ability to grasp it, even if it could be explained. This teaching is certainly not a question that Christians should argue about and divide. As the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states, "Intellectual speculations should never diminish the certainty that comes from the cross or the hope of the new creation."

Who would want to complain to God when he is fully conscious with God after death and say, "I should sleep until Jesus returns - why am I conscious?" And of course, when we are unconscious, we will not be able to sue. Either way, in the next conscious moment we will be with God after death.

by Paul Kroll


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