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I had an interesting question presented to me by a rector of a church. He asked me to find anywhere in the bible where Jesus spoke of your spirit going to heaven and then research those specific passages (find the original documents and look at different translations). While I thought about it for a while and then jumped in to do research, I found it not as easy I thought it would be.

Where does Jesus speak specifically about the spirit?

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Just to clarify, was the rector's emphasis on YOUR or Spirit? In other words, was he asking you to research whether the resurrection is personal or physical? –  Affable Geek Mar 1 '12 at 14:54
It can be arbitrary as "the spirit". I took it to be the spirit within the followers of Jesus. I believe you would consider that personal. Wax Eagle's edits are right on. –  user1054 Mar 1 '12 at 15:08

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Are you asking if, in general, Jesus taught that there is life after death? Or are you looking for specific discussion of the word or concept of "spirit"?

If the former: Matthew 22:23,29-32 "The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him ... Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. ... But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”" [NKJV]

Jesus clearly said that there is life after death. He also indicated that those who have died are experiencing that eternal life now, not that they will experience it at some point in the future. Of course Abraham and Isaac had physically died many centuries before Jesus said this, so their bodies were dead. So the "them" that is still alive must be some sort of spirit or soul or a new body.

That said, I cannot find anyplace in the Gospels where Jesus talks about a human "spirit" in that sense. Jesus often talks about the Holy Spirit, and about evil spirits. He has a few places where he talks about a person's spirit in the sense of their personality, like Mark 14:38, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak", or John 4:23, "true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth".

But Jesus seems to reject the idea that after death a person becomes a non-corporeal spirit. After his resurrection, when he appears to the discipiles, he says, Luke 24:39, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

Well, I suppose you could say that Jesus' resurrected body might not be the same as the bodies that people have after death, I don't know any place where Jesus specifically says that they are. But Paul says that our resurrection will be like Christ's, for example 1 Cor 15:20 "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." (It might not be clear from that one verse; read the whole context.) If you're asking specifically what JESUS said rather than what the BIBLE says, then I don't know of any place that Jesus specifically describes the resurrection body other than describing his own.

I conclude that Jesus uses the word "spirit" in a more specific sense then we use the word today. I don't think Jesus used "spirit" as a synonym for "soul". He appears to use it to refer to a specific category of being -- the Holy Spirit, angels and demons.

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I agree that the spirit is not the soul. This excursion has been far less trivial than I thought it would be. –  user1054 Mar 5 '12 at 13:54

Excellent question. You're right, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot on the topic in Scripture, so I'm going to give this the best try I can.

Jesus seems to imply that his spirit will be with God the Father when he died.

Luke 23:46:

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

This seems to me to be an assumption that at least his spirit will be with God the Father. We could then conclude from other passages in scripture, including those that indicate that Christ is the firstborn of all creation, and those in Romans 5 comparing and contrasting Christ to Adam, that our spirits will also be in heaven with Christ if we're found in Him.

The only other area I could find directly from Jesus mouth is when he's talking to Nicodemus in John 3, and this is probably where the greatest evidence for spirits in heaven exists.

John 3:5-6:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

It seems like these two verses can be taken together to say that the Holy Spirit is the spiritual analogue to a human mother, and nobody can enter into the kingdom of God unless they are born of the Spirit, that is, unless they have a spirit. Essentially, he seems to be saying that flesh doesn't enter into the Kingdom of God, but spirit does.

Of course, accepting this interpretation depends on your view of the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.

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You could up vote the question if you liked it :) I really thought that this would be easy... I was wrong. –  user1054 Mar 1 '12 at 19:59
Re: Your Luke 23:46 reference, many traditions believe that after Christ's death, Christ spent 3 days separated from God (some go so far as to say in Hell--possibly a restatement of the same, depending on interpretation). I'm not going to say that's necessarily the case, but it could be an argument that when Christ said "I commit my spirit," he was not claiming that his spirit was going to the presence of God, but that he meant something else. –  Flimzy Mar 1 '12 at 20:07
@Flimzy True. There's a large contingent who believe that. I don't believe that's what happened, based on Jesus' statement to the thief on the cross: "Today you will be with me in paradise." but then again, maybe he stopped by in hell on his way there. He is Jesus, after all, and he can do whatever he chooses. Great point, though. I suppose if someone believed that, then my interpretation (which is shaky at best) wouldn't work. –  David Morton Mar 1 '12 at 20:23
@David: Bear in mind that immediately after his resurrection, Jesus explicitly stated that he had not yet been to Heaven. From this we can deduce that Heaven and Paradise are two different places. –  Mason Wheeler Mar 2 '12 at 0:34
@MasonWheeler He said he had not yet ascended to the Father, not that he had not been with the Father. Those are two different things. I may not have ever driven to London, but I have been to London. That being said, the ascension itself, I believe, gives evidence of a physical place with physical beings in it, since Christ himself ascended physically. –  David Morton Mar 2 '12 at 14:30

I am unaware of any locations in the Bible that support the claim that our spirit goes to heaven upon our death, however, I'm sure Jesus was have believe the portion of the Bible that was already written at that time which stated that upon death ones spirit goes out, but a person goes in to the ground and has no thoughts (Ps 146:4; Eccl 9:5-6).

1 Co 15:52 speaks of those that go to heaven being changed to spirit beings (like angels) after their death. It makes a point of saying that on the last trumpet such ones wouldn't remain in death, but be changed instantly. However, they still died in the flesh as the concept of 'baptism into death' and other texts at Ro 6:3-4 indicate.

It should be noted that spirit in this verse and in many other locations in the scriptures refers to an animating force, or breath (as in breath of life, Ge 2:7; Compare Job 33:4), not to a being with a body like the angels.

If it weren't for the teachings of a resurrection found throughout the Bible a dead person would remain such, that is to say without thought, feeling, or capability.

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Does the Bible really say that Christians go to heaven? Let's see what the Bible really says. Let's start with the story of Lazarus' death. So Lazarus dies and Jesus is just entering Bethany. And Martha meets and has a short conversation with Jesus. "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.Jesus saith unto her, THY BROTHER SHALL RISE AGAIN.Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall RISE AGAIN IN THE RESURRECTION AT THE LAST DAY.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he WERE DEAD, yet shall he LIVE:And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall NEVER DIE. Believest thou this?She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." -- John 11:21-27. Now Martha said that if Jesus was there her brother would not have died. Jesus replied with, your brother shall rise again. Then Martha says, I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Now Martha and Jesus believed that Lazarus would "rise again" in the resurrection at the last day. What does rise again mean? It is synomous with resurrection, which means to bring back to life. Lazarus was dead. You cannot resurrect a person that's already in heaven and alive. in verse 25b - 26 Jesus promises that anyone who believes in Him, even though he is dead,yet he shall live. Jesus clearly says that that person is DEAD, YET HE SHALL LIVE. These words of Jesus are meaningless if we just live anysways either in heaven or hell. And note that Jesus says HE SHALL LIVE. He doesn't say He Will live. And in verse 26 Jesus says "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." Ovbiosly, Jesus wasn't talking of the death that Lazarus died, or else he would contradict Himself. He means you won't die the second death. And note that Jesus says the ones who live and believe in Him shall never die. Therefore, by process of elimination, the ones who don't believe in Him SHALL DIE. There are times where Jesus tells his disciples/the Jews/the crowd that where He goes they CANNOT COME (John 8:21;John 13:33). Now Jesus was going to heaven when he died but He said nobody else can come where he was going. The verse that makes it CRSYTAL CLEAR that Christians do not immediately go to heaven at death is John 14:1-4.

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YE MAY BE ALSO.And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." Now in this chapter Jesus is about to be arrested. Jesus teaches the 11 disciples about things. In these verses He said that He's gonna prepare a place for us. And when Jesus does that, he will come again, and we will be where Jesus is (Heaven, where God lives). Notice how Jesus says He will COME AGAIN. Or He will come a second time. aka the Second Coming. So only when Jesus comes again will we be with Him in Heaven. At Jesus' Second Coming we will be resurrected and be with him in heaven. And Jesus' Second Coming is the LAST DAY, or the day of YHWH. Now i only used a couple of verses. I could have used many more. If you're still confused and you wanna know the truth about death and where unbelievers go(Hint: they go to Sheol) then just google "the truth about Sheol", "is hell really eternal torture?",etc. You get the picture. THat;s how i learned the truth. Seek and you shall find.

Also. Where did Jesus go when he died? Some claim that Jesus went to heaven when he died (Luke 23:43). In the original Greek it had no puncuation marks "And Jesus said unto him Verily I say unto thee today shalt thou be with me in paradise". In the New Testament people empasizes things with the use semeron greek for this day. so the apostrephe should be after today. One question: How does Jesus save us in the first place? Jesus saves us because he suffered death, which is what every person deserves. Jesus suffered his whole life and on the cross so we wouldn't have to go to ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL. Does that sound reasonable to you? eternal torment cannot compare to anything (if you believe in it). Jesus has to suffer what we suffered in order to save us. (in this case, its hell.) So if you wanna believe in hell, then Jesus would have had to suffer it. PS. probably the most commonly quoted verse in the bible in support of hell of eternal torment is Luke 16:19-31. Most will say "oh, its supposed to be taken literally." Fine. I'll take EVERYTHING in these verses literal. if this is supposed to be taken literal then: 1. a begger somehow gets to go to "abraham's bosom"paradise 2. a rich man goes to hell and is tormented in flames 3. somehow you can hold a normal conversation in hell while you are engulfed in flames and in torment NOT possible 4. WHY DO YOU ONLY ASK FOR A DROP OF WATER WHEN YOU ARE IN FLAMES?!?!? AND HOW IS IT SUPPOSED TO COOL YOUR TONGUE?!? 5.Abraham justifies his comfort and the guys torment by MORALITY ALONE (those are not good reasons by the way abraham) 6.You somehow get to hang out with Abraham for awhile (a long while) until God decides to let you in heaven. As you can see, this story is totally ridiculous if you take it literally. Most Christians just choose and pick what they want from the story (hell eternal torment) and leave the rest alone. If you want to find out what the parabole really means, just google it. I recommend saying, "the truth about" ,"does this really support eternal torment?" and yeah

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Where in the bible does it say that you will be "engulfed in flames", to which you would take it literally. I agree with some of your points, however your answer comes across argumentative. And really doesn't answer the question on what did Jesus actually say about your spirit going to heaven. –  user1054 Apr 22 '12 at 12:57
James: I converted your second answer to be an extension of this one. Please keep in mind that you can edit your own posts (and even the posts of others) across the site. See the faq for more details. –  Caleb Apr 23 '12 at 5:39

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