SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Sunday September 15, 1996

What is death?
(John 11:11)

What did Christ's great miracle, the raising of Lazarus, reveal about the state of man in death? To what did Jesus liken death? John 11:6, 7, 11-14.

Throughout Scripture death is represented as an unconscious state. Consistently, death is compared to sleep. (See Deut. 31:16; Job 14:10-12; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 27:52; Mark 5:39; Acts 7:60.) There is no indication in Scripture that part of a person sleeps in death while another part remains alive and conscious.

What do the following passages teach regarding the degree of knowledge possessed by the dead?

How does the Bible answer the question Where are the dead?

The dead are not in heaven or hell in spirit form. They are resting in their graves, waiting for the resurrection morning.

The sleep of death is a blessing. If the dead were in heaven seeing the struggles and suffering of their living loved ones, how could they ever be happy? If the dead were in hell suffering the torture that popular belief depicts for those who have not served Christ, how could we ever accept the Bible message regarding the love of God?

The concept of life immediately after death is never taught in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures. It originated with Greek philosophy and came into Jewish thought in the Hellenistic period (the fourth through the first centuries B.C.). The Pharisees borrowed the doctrine of the immortality of the soul from Greek sources. This doctrine came into the Christian church largely through the influence of the Jewish author Philo and the Alexandrian Christian theologians Clement (c. 150-c. 215) and Origen (c. 185-c. 254). The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is the basis of modern spiritism, including the New Age philosophy.