While studying Matthew; I came to:

Mat 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

So that began a search for more definitive scriptures and only came up with these:

Deu_31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.

2Sa_7:12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

1Ki_1:21 Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.

Job_14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

Dan_12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Joh_11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

Joh_11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

Act_13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

Can anyone shed more light on the subject?

  • Could you clarify what is 'the subject' on which one should shed more light? Oct 13, 2013 at 19:35
  • @ Elberich Schneider The subject I am referring to if there is some Scripture which addresses whether or not those who sacrificed animals were forgiven their sins at that sacrifice or not. Since if my understanding of those cited appear to indicate that all before his death seemed to be in a state of sllep or as we commonly know it suspended animation.
    – BYE
    Oct 13, 2013 at 19:52
  • Sorry, I cannot yet understand what is being asked here, but this could also depend on my limited knowldege of English. -1, anyway, since I suspect this is not a real question, though. Oct 13, 2013 at 20:25
  • 1
    I wonder if you might edit the question to incorporate the clarification made in comments above. Also, there seem to be at least two questions here - efficacy of the sacrifices, and what happened to people after they died but before the Cross. I know they are related but perhaps an edit can bring out a precise and focused question.
    – James T
    Oct 13, 2013 at 20:59
  • @ James T I cannot think of any way to simplify the question, other than just to ask if these people were asleep or dead, but that is really not what my inquiry is about. Perhaps someone who does understand what I'm asking and more adept at phraseology could edit it for me?
    – BYE
    Oct 14, 2013 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


The sacrificial system was a mere shadow of the true sacrifice, Jesus Christ. This is why the animals used must have no blemish or spot, because they represented Christ. As John the Baptist said,

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

John 1:29

Jesus takes away the sin of the world. The sins of those that were before Jesus were forgiven in credit, and they were to look forward towards the Messiah who would come and truly pay for their sins. Many forgot this and simply made it a routine.

We look back at the one who paid our sins and look to sin no more as we know what it cost.

Those who have trusted Jesus to take their sins, and have walked as He walked, will be raised in the last day, to everlasting life. This is why many of the texts you provided speak about the last day and why Jesus and Martha have this conversation:

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 11:23-27

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were very close friends of Jesus. He visited them often. He taught them many things, and it was obvious that this is one of the things He taught them. This is also what He taught others.

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...'"

Matthew 25:31-34

Whether they lived before Jesus, or after Jesus, those who believe on Him, repent of their sins, and then walk according to the will of the Father, when they die, they sleep until the coming of Jesus where they will be resurrected unto everlasting life.

EDIT: After reading the comments, I realize i should be more precise. According to the Bible, only a very few number of people are alive in heaven right now. These are Elijah (2 Kings 2) and Enoch (Genesis 5:24) who did not die, but were taken by God; Moses (Jude 1:9), who died but was resurrected by God and taken to heaven; and probably the people who resurrected with Jesus (Matthew 27:52-23) as witnesses.

Everyone else, like David, is "sleeping" awaiting the Second Coming.

"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day... For David is NOT ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand..."

Acts 2:29,34

  • Thank you for your answer, I know and agree with it in it's entirety, however that still leaves me to wonder why Matthew sys that graves were opened and sleeping Saints walked around, since the second coming is yet to happen.
    – BYE
    Oct 14, 2013 at 14:50
  • @CecilBeckum yes, this is the last of the exceptions that I listed in the edit. They were witnesses that Jesus was who He was and that He did resurrect, and resurrected them along with Himself. So not only did Jesus make appearances after His resurrection, but resurrected patriarchs were also witnessing! Therefore many believed. Oct 14, 2013 at 15:08
  • Thank you it seems totally rational that that event was in witness to Jesus divinity.
    – BYE
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:22

The sacrifices themselves were done for unintentional sins, not all sins. Flour could be used as a substitute for the same effect. The sacrifices were not the only means of forgiveness, nor the most effective, and by itself did nothing.

Intentional sin can only be atoned for through repentance, unaccompanied by a blood sacrifice- Psalms 32:5, 51:16-19.

There's even a specific holiday God set up called Yom Kippur specifically for atonement (Lev. 23:26.)

So either during or after the time of sacrifices there was no issue with being forgiven by God.

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