1 Thess 4:13 (Douay-Rheims) says:

For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with him.

Or, in a more modern English 1 Thess 4:14 (ESV):

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

This verse implies that after we die we sleep until the general resurrection. How then, can there be the intercession of the dead for the living?

Question: How would the Catholic Church reconcile 1 Thess 4:13 (or 1 Thess 4:14 in Protestant Bible), which suggests soul sleep, with the doctrine of Intercession of Saints?

  • It is unclear why the quoted verse was specifically selected (Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; John 11:11-13; Acts 13:36; 1 Corinthians 11:30, 15:51; Ephesians 5:14).
    – user46876
    Jul 15, 2021 at 6:43
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  • For a related, Biblical argument contra soul sleep, I shared this post on Hermeneutics. It's not a strictly Catholic perspective, but all verses cited are in both the Catholic & Protestant Bibles. Jul 16, 2021 at 16:35
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    @HoldToTheRod When researching more into soul sleep, it looks like the correct meaning of NT "sleep" doesn't rule out consciousness after death. It's the body that is sleeping, not the soul. See this article. Jul 16, 2021 at 16:59
  • The Catholic Church believes in a soul resurrection before a bodily resurrection. Here, they're largely in sync with full preterists - whatever Paul means, those people are no longer 'asleep' in a relevant sense because a resurrection has already occurred. Jul 16, 2021 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


From the NET Bible:

The verb κοιμάω (koimaō) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for death when speaking of believers. This metaphorical usage by its very nature emphasizes the hope of resurrection: Believers will one day “wake up” out of death. Here the term refers to death, but “sleep” was used in the translation to emphasize the metaphorical, rhetorical usage of the term. This word also occurs in vv. 14 and 15.

With this in mind, we shouldn't see "sleep" in the Bible and jump to the concept of soul sleep. The passages that mention "sleep" aren't teaching the doctrine of soul sleep.

  • Your conclusion seems to be the exact opposite of what the quotation says. Jul 24, 2021 at 23:32
  • @RayButterworth the quotation literally says that the Greek word is often used in the bible as a euphemism for death. Hence, soul sleep (the concept that the souls of the dead are literally unconscious) is not implied by the use of this word to refer to those who have passed on. His conclusion is exactly what the quotation implies.
    – jaredad7
    Nov 8, 2021 at 15:24

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