A lot of modern Protestants (typically evangelical protestants) don't really teach an intermediate state or holding place. Many of the major protestant churches, Catholic, and Orthodox churches teach some type of holding place. I understand that Hades/Sheol is the "realm of the dead" and that there are two parts, Paradise and Gehenna. I have heard that the Bosom of Abraham was removed after Jesus descended into the realm of the dead. Is Hades (realm of the dead) still in existence until Judgement Day? I hope I worded this correctly.

  • Just to confirm, are you asking for an answer from the perspective of Protestant (Reformed) theology?
    – Peter Turner
    Apr 9 '20 at 13:47
  • @PeterTurner That does not matter to me. Any perspective works as long as it answers the questions of is it still in existence and stuff.
    – Dash Ivey
    Apr 9 '20 at 13:49
  • You need to pick one.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 9 '20 at 13:53
  • @curiousdanni Protestant then because I understand the Catholic view already.
    – Dash Ivey
    Apr 9 '20 at 13:55
  • 2
    There are multiple protestant views. Some teach of a conscious intermediate state, others teach soul sleep/mortalism. Some might precisely delineate hades, sheol, paradise, the bosom of Abraham, etc, and others would lump them all together.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 9 '20 at 13:58

Some Protestant Christians take Jesus' words in Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus to show that after the body dies, the soul exists in a conscious realm while awaiting the resurrection. The rich man didn’t ask for his brothers to pray for his release from some purgatorial middle ground, thereby expediting his journey to heaven. He knew he was in hell, and he knew why. That’s why his requests were merely to be comforted and to have a warning sent to his brothers. He knew there was no escape. He was eternally separated from God, and Abraham made it clear to him that there was no hope of ever mitigating his pain, suffering, or sorrow:

Abraham replied... between us [Abraham and Lazarus] and you [the rich man] a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us. (Luke 16:25-26)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, U.K. Baptist preacher, had this to say about the Catholic view of Purgatory being an “intermediate state” where souls are purified before being allowed into heaven:

Sermon # 384 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon - Full Assurance - April 28, 1861: “Purgatory is an impossibility, if full assurance be possible. If a man knows himself to be saved, then he is not to be troubled with a silly fear about waiting in the intermediate state, to be purified with fire, before he can enter into heaven... I speak then, to the whole of you who never knew that you were saved; and first I say to you how foolish you are! O sirs! you are to die soon, and you are to go to heaven or to hell,—to splendours and glories, or to glooms and horrors, and yet you do not know which is to be your portion... Sure to die, and yet not sure whether you are saved! Sure to appear before the bar of God, and yet not know whether you shall be acquitted or condemned? O miserable men, uncertain as to your future state... O my hearers, if you are not sure of being saved, what if you are sure of being damned! And you are either—mark this—not to your own apprehension perhaps but in fact; you are sure of one or the other. Which is it? Which must it be? Source: https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/full-assurance#flipbook/

One Protestant view is that the transition to our eternal state takes place the moment we die (2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23). When believers die, they are immediately in the conscious fellowship and joys of heaven. When unbelievers die, they are just as immediately in the conscious pain, suffering, and torment of hell. These Bible verses speak of what happens after death and before the resurrection. First, for believers who die, their expectation is to be with the Lord:

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord... For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)

Second, those believers who had been killed because of their faith are under God’s altar in heaven and are described as “souls.” If there is a biblical answer for the intermediate state, it would seem that believers in heaven are in spiritual/non-corporeal form until the resurrection:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer... (Revelation 6:9-11)

The concluding paragraph in an article about the “intermediate state” says this:

The heaven that ultimately awaits believers is the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22). Heaven will indeed be a physical place. Our physical bodies will be resurrected and glorified, made perfectly fit for eternity on the New Earth. Currently, heaven is a spiritual realm. It would seem, then, that there would be no need for temporary physical bodies if believers are in a spiritual heaven. Whatever the intermediate state is, we can rest assured that believers in heaven are perfectly content, enjoying the glories of heaven and worshiping the majesty of the Lord. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/intermediate-state.html

The article in the link below explains, briefly, how there are many different views about what happens after death. It draws this conclusion in the final paragraph:

After death, a person resides in a “temporary” heaven or hell. After this temporary realm, at the final resurrection, a person’s eternal destiny will not change. The precise “location” of that eternal destiny is what changes. Believers will ultimately be granted entrance into the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Unbelievers will ultimately be sent to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). These are the final, eternal destinations of all people—based entirely on whether or not they had trusted Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36). Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/what-happens-death.html

Please be aware that this is only one Protestant view of what happens after the body dies. You must draw your own conclusions, but please allow the Bible to inform you.

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