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? Commented Mar 1, 2012 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
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


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.

  • You could up vote the question if you liked it :) I really thought that this would be easy... I was wrong.
    – user1054
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 19:59
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    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
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 20:07
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    @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. Commented Mar 1, 2012 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
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 0:34
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    @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. Commented Mar 2, 2012 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.


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.

  • I agree that the spirit is not the soul. This excursion has been far less trivial than I thought it would be.
    – user1054
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 13:54
  • But where does it say that we/spirit/soul/whatever go to heaven? Why does New Jerusalem come here? Why do we pray for the kingdom to come here? Why would we need a new body if we/soul/spirit/whatever was in heaven? Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 16:56
  • @edwinaoliver Nowhere does the Bible say that we go to Heaven when we die. It says that we go to be with Christ, and we go to Paradise, and we go to the New Jerusalem, but nowhere does it say that any of this happens in Heaven. That said, the New Jerusalem doesn't come "here", it comes to the New Earth, after God destroys this Earth. (Revelation 21:1-2) And Christ's kingdom is already here, and has been since Jeus came. See, e.g. Luke 17:20-21. I don't understand your last sentence. Whether after death we are in Heaven or elsewhere, what does that have to do with whether we need a new body?
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 21:26
  • I agree. If we were in heaven we would be spirits and not need a new body. If we are on the new earth then a new body would be appropriate. Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 17:48

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