Questions about the soul…

May 30, 2010

Q: What happens when we die?

The bible is most concerned with embodied life. Adam was not created as some sort of a spirit or ghost…he was created out of matter – real flesh and blood. The ultimate hope of Christians is also embodied life. The Bible talks about the resurrection of the dead (all people) that will happen at the end of the age (see 1 Corinthians 15). At this time, everyone who has been dead in the past will be raised from their graves and restored to life. So these are the two bookends of the bible – embodied life at the beginning and embodied life at the end.

So when we ask what happens when we die, the question is what happens in between embodied states? That is, in the period of time between our death and our resurrection. The bible speaks very little about this period of time but there are a few hints. The first comes in Luke 23 when Jesus tells one of the men that he is being killed along side of that “today you will be with me in paradise”. Another picture of this in between world is in 2 Corinthians 5:8 when the Apostle Paul says when we are “away from the body” we are “home with the Lord.” There are a few other hints in scripture but these two passages suggest that something happens between the two embodied periods of our existence.

Q: What happens to the soul at death?

In the Koine Greek that the New Testament was written in, the word ‘soul’ simply is another way of saying ‘self’…who we are. So the question really is “what happens to the soul [who we are] immediately after death but before we are resurrected?” The best answer that I have heard was offered by NT Wright. Wright said that our soul is like software running on the hardware that is our body. When the hardware dies. God runs the software on his hardware (where or what that is the bible doesn’t say) until he remakes our hardware so that our software can run on it again (at the resurrection).

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