Mark 12:26-27 (also see Matthew 22:32, Luke 20:38) is

"But concerning the dead rising, have you not read about the burning bush in the Book of Moses, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"

How do soul sleep adherents explain this passage? Is the idea that people who are 'sleeping' are still 'alive' in the relevant sense, albeit not conscious? Or by being a God of the living, is Jesus referring to a future state of full aliveness for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or something else?


2 Answers 2


The answer is in the context of the verse. Jesus was asked about "resurrection." He addressed that specifically, "But concerning the dead rising...". The dead will be resurrected, thus God says they are only "sleeping," from His point of view, for He will raise them from the dead, at which time they will be " awoken " See I Corinthians 15:20-28 for the order in which God will make all who died in Adam alive in Christ.

Without resurrection, there is no life after death according to the testimony of the entire Word of God.


Let's make a bit of clarity on terminology, first. If you search "soul sleep" in Wikipedia, you get redirected to Christian mortalism.

Whatever term one adopts (soul sleep, Christian mortalism) or even fancy ones (psychopannychism, thnetopsychism), the concept is quite simple: when one is dead, one is truly dead (certainly unconscious, BTW) and only God can bring back to life one's whole person.

What about the "soul"? The Bible says nothing serious about the soul apart from the body. Of course the standard questions, at this point, are: What about The Witch of Endor (1 Sam 28:1-25)? What about The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)?

As to the former, we are talking about a witch. What she "saw" (and Saul never saw) could easily be a conjuring trick and/or a satanic manifestation.

As to the latter (admitting that the parable is authentic words of Jesus, which there is no way you can say from the text) it could be, on the part of Jesus, a concession to folk tales on the "beyond" (more or less similar to the concessions that the Church has made in the course of time). What matters is the final reply that "Abraham" gives to the "Rich "Man":

‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:31)

Now we can confront the OP Question. I don't much care for the JW's (I consider them today's heirs of Arianism), but I have looked at the article linked by @Kris, and I find nothing wrong with it, neither logically, nor theologically, nor scripturally. In particular, this statement cannot be objected to:

If there were no resurrection, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would remain forever in the clutches of death.

  • 1
    Actually, the explanation I've usually seen for 1 Samuel 28 is that she actually got Samuel (and was quite shocked to do so), and that this was the exception, i.e. people claiming to speak to/for/with the dead are either charlatans or conversing with demons. (Presumably the Transfiguration was another exception.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 14:19
  • @matthew. Obviously no chance that a dead person could ever be communicative in the POV of soul sleep adherents
    – 007
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 14:59
  • @Matthew (1)... people claiming to speak to/for/with the dead are either charlatans or conversing with demons A safe assumption, indeed ... (2) Presumably the Transfiguration was another exception You may take a look at this Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 18:30
  • Matthew, the Transfiguration was a vision according to the text. Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 21:15

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