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The Bible records several accounts of resurrections. A gotquestions' article titled How many people were raised from the dead in the Bible? lists several examples:

  • The widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17:17–24)
  • The Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:18–37)
  • The man raised out of Elisha’s grave (2 Kings 13:20–21)
  • The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11–17)
  • Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40–56)
  • Lazarus of Bethany (John 11)
  • Various saints in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:50–53)
  • Tabitha (Acts 9:36–43)
  • Eutychus (Acts 20:7–12)
  • Jesus (Mark 16:1–8)

If people remain conscious after bodily death, it stands to reason that the resurrected individuals from these stories had to be conscious while they were dead. Therefore, they had to get to experience the afterlife, even if it was only for a few hours or a few days. For example, Lazarus of Bethany (John 11) was dead for 4 days. That means 4 days of conscious experiences on the "other side". Or think about the resurrection of the various saints in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:50-53). These folks were probably in Abraham's bosom for a very long time, possibly hundreds of years. That is, hundreds of years of extraordinary conscious experiences in the afterlife.

With this in mind, a natural question to ask is: Where are their testimonies? How come we can't find even a single Biblical account of the afterlife experiences of any of these resurrected individuals?

If the dead are conscious, then why is the Bible silent about the afterlife experiences of those who were resurrected and had the chance to tell us about it, but for some mysterious reason didn't?

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    – curiousdannii
    Jan 15 at 3:56
  • Can you clarify some points, there? Why should the dead being conscious mean there were reports about afterlife experiences by Lazarus or anyone else? Jan 15 at 23:14
  • @RobbieGoodwin - if you die, go to heaven for 4 days, and then come back (through a miraculous resurrection), would you tell others about it? Would you tell others about your experiences in heaven? Jan 16 at 0:01
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator That would depend on how I felt at the time. More usefully, how could that help any Answer to this Question? Bluntly, what would be wrong with "Lazarus, et al, had other things to do, or just couldn't be bothered, or both"? How could that be unreasonable? Jan 20 at 21:36
  • @RobbieGoodwin - Would you really not tell anyone, ever? Not even to your close ones that saw you die, and stay dead, for 4 days? Would you really have other things to do or not "feel like it" all the time, without a single exception, including friends and relatives, for the rest of your life? Jan 20 at 21:46

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If the dead are conscious, then why is the Bible silent about the afterlife experiences of those who were resurrected and had the chance to tell us about it, but for some mysterious reason didn't?

What made you think they didn't share their "conscious while physically dead" condition to many of their closest family members, priests, and contemporaries? It was the natural thing to do as many resuscitated survivors even wrote books about the experience nowadays. There are even institutes and conferences dedicated to study them scientifically such as IANDS.

The right question to ask is why the Bible book authors didn't include reports of these experiences? This can be answered by asking ourselves what purpose was each final redactor of each Bible book aiming to do (under the providential work of the Holy Spirit) to preserve just what God wants to preserve for us, no more no less. Remember that many books referred in OT historical books have not been preserved, such as the Book of Jasher. Some authors like John gave us a hint of why they leave certain things out (cf John 21:25).

One possible answer to that question is to consider a combination of what the individual authors and God himself are trying to do, because in Christianity the writing of the Bible is a joint effort instead of simple dictation (see Biblical inspiration).

  1. From a book author's perspective. Possible reasons:

    • The Biblical book final redactor didn't find it necessary.
    • Unlike modern audience who use today's journalistic/historiography/empirical-science standard, in the ancient writer's view, adding reports of those subjective experiences didn't add credibility of the miracle.
    • They didn't want the reports to be part of their teaching.
    • Papyrus was very expensive, they have selected what to them was more important to preserve.

    All we can do now is to try to reverse engineer their editorial policy, historiographical principle and literary strategy. These are standard topics in the introduction section of good Bible book scholarly commentaries.

  2. Possible reasons why the Holy Spirit influenced the authors to leave them out of the Bible:

    • God wants us to focus more on preparing for heaven (our sanctification).
    • God wants us to trust Him 100% for our journey in the intermediate state by leaving things unanswered. He wants us to be satisfied with the authoritative 1 Cor 15 teaching of the eventual resurrection of the body (see Heaven Tourism).
    • God doesn't want Christians to make a doctrine out of a person's "coming back from death" experience. This is a hint that groups which frame experiences recorded in books about visiting hell / heaven as additional revelation or preachers / prophets who use their heaven/hell vision/tourism experience to bolster their teachings are to be avoided.
    • It's a test of faith, since I have known people who became too much interested in these things ended up leaving Christianity.
    • God does different things to different people depending on their life on earth and their religions, so He keeps his freedom by NOT including a normative type of experience.
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  • "God wants us to trust Him 100% for our journey in the intermediate state by leaving things unanswered." Really? How does this notion fit in with a literal reading of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? Seems to me God revealed a lot in that parable about the afterlife. A great chasm, torment in Hades, Abraham's bosom being right next to those tortured such that conversations can be had between the two(i.e. conversation between Abraham and rich man). If God revealed that much about the afterlife in the parable, why couldn't He include a single verse of any testimony of Paradise?
    – Rajesh
    Jan 14 at 17:28
  • @Rajesh Obviously I cannot speak for God, so I cannot answer your question. Whether the story is parable / doctrine is still debatable, see the wikipedia article. Don't get me wrong, I still do research on the after life: surveying research in ancient near east and 2nd Temple literature, early church father, and the evolution of the Catholic tradition on hell, heaven, purgatory, communion of saints, visions of canonized saints, etc. But given the uncertainties, as a Christian, I have to go back to the possible reasons I put in my answer. Jan 14 at 17:46
  • "surveying research in ancient near east and 2nd Temple literature, early church father, and the evolution of the Catholic tradition on hell, heaven, purgatory, communion of saints, visions of canonized saints, etc." Oh, unbiblical sources, i.e. sources not inspired by God and thus not deemed as trustworthy as the word of God, the scriptures themselves... But I'm sure you'll find the truth there... "Obviously I cannot speak for God, so I cannot answer your question" Neither can I, but my premise of the dead being unconscious is orders of magnitude more fitting with all the data.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 14 at 17:49
  • @Rajesh I study those as seminary students or Bible scholars try to gain a clearer picture of the worldview context of each original Bible book author. It's standard practice. Of course, it's not as trustworthy as the canonized books. I also use the discipline of historical theology, analytic theology, and hermeneutics to expose all philosophical, literary, and church-fed assumptions we have been "groomed" to bring to our reading of the Bible. You said "my premise of the dead being unconscious is orders of magnitude more fitting with all the data". You may want to recheck that. Jan 14 at 18:00
  • "try to gain a clearer picture of the worldview context of each original Bible book author" I 100% understand that, I have no problem with that. In fact, in can be incredibly helpful at times. What I have a problem with is going to such sources to find out truth, especially with regards to eschatological matters. For me, the Bible is the only trustworthy document for that. "You may want to recheck that" I did. You show me why it doesn't.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 14 at 18:08
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Arguments from silence are no arguments at all.

With Lazarus, who had been dead 4 days, three highly significant factors are often overlooked. First, that Jesus delaying the resurrection of him until that stage would prove to even the most severe doubter that it was a previously rotting corpse that emerged, uncorrupted and entirely as Lazarus used to be. There would be no arguing that Lazarus had been brought back from the dead, as the grave-cloths were still wrapped around him. Second, that this miracle was "for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:4). And it truly was, for "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him" (vs. 45). Thirdly, that Jesus used this miracle to convince people that there was more to a future day of resurrection, at the last day, than Martha's thinking was confined to. This is where Jesus teaches living awareness despite physical death.

"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. Believeth thou this?" (John 11:24-27)

Those who have that kind of faith in Jesus "shall never die", Jesus promised. Oh, but their physical bodies must die, sooner or later. Yet THEY shall continue living. Do you believe this?

That third point is the one that those denying awareness after physical death seem to have disbelief in. They explain it away with different interpretations, insisting they do, really, believe everything Jesus said about the resurrection. Yet they also have to explain away other statements Jesus made, such as his detailed description of the state of two dead Jewish men in Luke 16: 19-31.

Nobody needs to know how people who have died can remain conscious in an invisible way, living on until the future day of Resurrection and Judgment. The Bible does not give details on the how, only on the fact that death is not the end; and that living awareness goes on in a different way (invisible to humans remaining alive on earth). Those who accept by faith Jesus' promise that "he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die", have all the assurance they need.

Doubters seek for tangible evidence, of written, signed and sworn statements, before-and-after photographs, of ghostly voices telling them at a seance that a deceased loved one is now speaking, saying how happy they are in "the spirit world". That sort of thing.

Believers in Jesus simply believe the promises of Jesus, for he is the resurrection and the life, and he proved that by what he did 4 days after the death of Lazarus. Who needs Lazarus to add to that stupendous account? What was recorded for us was what the Holy Spirit knew we needed to know.

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    Indeed, the apostles assuredly lived and believed in him. They died bodily yet, unless Jesus was mistaken, they never died. +1 Jan 14 at 14:41
  • "This is where Jesus teaches living awareness despite physical death." Opinion. Jesus' words make no sense under your interpretation because you cannot be dead and alive simultaneously, that is to say, there are only two types of death mentioned in the Bible, and they're ordinary death and spiritual death. I'd like you to find even one scripture that makes a distinction between body and spirit, such that ordinary death is mere, as you call, "body death", and the spirit continues living, the "living awareness goes on in a different way." I've yet to find a scripture as such, but if you can...
    – Rajesh
    Jan 14 at 17:18
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    @Rajesh That sounds like a different question. You could ask it (though it might be better received if it were a little less harshly phrased).
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 14 at 17:38
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    @Rajesh Luke 16:19-31 comes to mind. Whether you believe it is a literal story or a parable, it would make no sense if there were not consciousness after death.
    – reirab
    Jan 14 at 18:26
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    This answer makes several very good points: 1) The parable of Lazarus; 2) what is recorded in Scripture is what God wanted us to have, full stop. There are lots of things even in mundane life that we know happen but that the Scripture doesn't go into detail about. That doesn't imply that those things in fact don't happen, just because Scripture is silent about them. So "silence" arguments are risky, and as this answer points out, the Bible isn't silent about this question--the parable of Lazarus makes no sense without awareness post-death.
    – bob
    Jan 14 at 20:27
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The person, of whom Paul speaks, who was 'caught up to the third heaven' saw things 'not lawful to utter' and did not utter them.

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

[2 Corinthians 12: 2-4 KJV.]

Would one not suppose the same of those who had received the esteemed privilege of being so singularly raised from the dead : that they would be discrete regarding their experience and would only do so if it were lawful to do so and if they had authority from the Spirit so to do.

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    @Rajesh I have stopped responding to your comments that violate the purpose of "Comments". They are not to be a platform for anyone explaining what they believe, in order to disagree with an answerer. You can post your own answer explaining your beliefs as they relate to the POs Q, but comments must not be used for trying to prove yourself right, and the answerer wrong. That is why I did not respond to your comments to me (above) but others did, and I hope you take note of their constructive comments. This site is not a debate forum.
    – Anne
    Jan 15 at 11:53
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    @NigelJ Thanks. That was a slip… Jan 15 at 23:14
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I would say that none of those people were tapped by the Holy Spirit to author Scripture therefore, even if they did relate their experiences to others, they had no part in their inclusion or exclusion from Scripture. The ones who did author the Scriptures were certainly not led to record every single scrap of information they had at hand:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:30-31

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. - John 21:24-25

As much as we think it would be edifying to have the testimony of these people regarding the hereafter, the Holy Spirit apparently did not think that we needed that particular information. In a similar way it would seem so beneficial to our understanding of Scripture to have the details of the Emmaus road conversation laid out for us:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. - Luke 24:25-27

Our souls must be satisfied not only with what God provides but also with what He withholds.

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