If there's immediate life after death in Christ, why in the second coming, will he raise those who died in Christ Jesus?

John 11:25

I am the resurrection & the life those who believe in me, even though they die will live.

1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:16

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Wilfredo, and for this interesting question. On this site, evidence of research behind the question is appreciated. If, for example, you could quote a Bible verse or two that imply immediate life after death in Christ, and then a couple that speak of Christ raising from the dead believers at his second coming, that would encourage replies. As it is, you have made two claims without any substantiating evidence. This site encourages research and evidence, both for questions and for answers. If you could enlarge on your question, that would be really good.
    – Anne
    Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 17:21
  • 2
    The question needs to observe four definitions. 1. 'Life' meaning human life on earth. 2. 'Life' meaning spiritual life, a regeneration, a being born again, due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 3. 'Death' in Christ meaning being 'crucified with Christ' and being 'dead unto law'. 4. 'Death' in the body, that is to say the cessation of human life and the soul departing from the body. The question appears, to me, to be not observing these definitions. Some more detail and more clarity is, I would say, required.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 17:31
  • John 11:25 I am the resurrection & the life those who believe in me ,even though they die will live . Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 17:39
  • “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:16 Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 17:48
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 22:27

4 Answers 4


There is immediate life after death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). The saints who have died in the Lord are already in heaven. They are, however, in an intermediate state.

The apostle Paul calls that intermediate state being "naked" (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). Being naked in that sense is temporary. Both the saints who have died and the saints who are taken up into heaven with the Lord's return in the clouds will both be clothed then.

In other words, the spirits of the dead in Christ--who are in heaven already, and the spirits of those who are alive on earth when Christ returns will then be clothed in spiritual bodies, like unto our living Lord Jesus.

A natural question follows: How--if at all--will the experience of the saints in heaven, who were already with the Lord at His return, be different once their bodies are resurrected and ascend into heaven? (Remember, the dead in Christ will rise first.)

Frankly, I do not know how to answer that question! One thing will not change, however, when that transformation occurs: We will be like our Savior, bearing His image in a way that was not fully possible on earth.

  • 1
    The answer should indicate which denominations believe this. It certainly isn't the view of all Christians. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 20:45
  • 1
    @RayButterworth: Well, my denominational dossier includes a number of denominations, including Plymouth Brethren, Independent Baptist, Free Methodist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, and Presbyterian (PCUSA). I'm pretty confident in saying those denominations would likely agree with my views as expressed above. Oh, there may be a few outliers, but not many. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 21:24
  • 1
    The answer would be much better if it were presented as the position of those Churches rather than as your personal view. (Note that my comment isn't about what you said, but how you said it.) That also allows people to up-vote the answer even if they disagree with its position. See my recent two comments under @JamesBall's answer. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 21:35

When the believer dies his soul departs to be with Christ in heaven, but his body goes into the grave. On the day of resurrection his body and soul will be reunited to live forever in glory. The body will be transformed to be an everlasting resurrection body.. but it will be recognisably the same body which will be transformed.. for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Cor 15:53). It is the body then that sleeps in the grave, while the spirit is alive in glory.

The same is true for the lost, except they will be in hades in spirit, awaiting reunification with their body, which will also be transformed to live forever, but for them it will be in the everlasting flames.

Where denominations have an official view then this is the official doctrine in the overwhelming majority of Trinitarian Protestant denominations.


I can only guess what the person means by "Immediate life"? I think the quick answer is NO. But let me mention a few items or common misconceptions people have as to what happens when we die.

Scripture says that after we die, our soul (spirit) immediately appears before God for judgement (Hebrews 9:27). That judgement determines our eternal fate - heaven for the elect, or hell for the reprobate.

Now lets take a more detailed look at this topic, and see what happens to the soul between death and resurrection? What state or mode of existence will it be in?

There is a teaching or belief that when a person dies that his soul just goes to sleep until the time of the future resurrection. In this condition, the person is not aware or conscious of anything. Such a belief is incorrect and very unscriptural. First, a few definitions.

What is man? Man is a composite being consisting of both a material and a spiritual component. Man differs from God and the angels in that we have a material body, while they do not.

The spiritual portion of man (the soul) is what gives life to the body, it is the animating principle of human life.

When does life begin? It begins at conception. When the female egg cell, and the male sperm cell unite in the mother’s womb, the first cell combination (called a Zygote) is formed. At this precise instant, God infuses the soul into the fertilized egg, and a new human being is created.

When does death occur? As life begins by the joining of body and soul, death is the reverse of that process. Death occurs at the separation of body and soul. At that point, the body dies, but the soul does not die. Once created, the soul will exist forever.

In other words, once created, the human person will exist for all eternity. True, our physical bodies will die (temporarily) and then be reunited with our soul at the general resurrection at the end of the world – a glorified body for the elect – a dammed body for the reprobate.

In this life knowledge and information reach the intellect through the medium of our five senses, which tend to inhibit our ability to comprehend spiritual matters. St. Paul talks about this imperfect human condition of ours when he says: “…For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

After death, the soul will be very much awake, and aware of its own true identity. As the soul is now detached from the body, the dampening or inhibiting effect of the body, which it previously exerted upon the soul, is now removed. The question is often asked concerning those who suffer from mental illness. As was just indicated, after death, these people will be free of the inhibiting effect of the body, and their mental faculties will be perfectly normal.

As soon as our soul is separated from our body, we will see ourselves, know ourselves with perfect clarity, and we will remember everything we have ever experienced during this life (including our sins) with startling vividness.

At this point we will see ourselves as God sees us. We will see and know if our loyalty to Christ and his teachings has been true, or if we have allowed ourselves to be seduced by the errant ways and false teachings of the world, and we will know what our eternal fate will be – heaven or hell – and that for all eternity.

This instant is called the particular judgement (Hebrews 9:27), as opposed to the general (social) judgment where everyone will see the perfect justice and mercy of God. (Matthew 25:31-46). Consider the following scripture passages which relate to this discussion.

In Matthew 17:1-8 - The Transfiguration – “…And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him…” We see here that Moses and Elijah were both very much alive even though their bodies were dead.

In Luke 16:19-31 - The story of Lazarus and the rich man. We see that after each has died, both were conscious and aware of their situation. Abraham also converses with the rich man in hell.

In 2 Cor. 5:8 “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Here, Paul is telling us that he would rather be outside of his body, "absent from the body", and be at home with the Lord. If soul sleep is a true doctrine, then how is it possible to be at home with the Lord and asleep at the same time?

Revelation 6:9-12 – “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (holy and true) until you judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; and it was said to them, that they should rest for a little time, till their fellow servants, and their brethren, who are to be slain, even as they were, should be filled up”. Obviously these souls are not asleep if they were “crying out”

In 1 Peter 3:18-20 we see Christ preaching to the spirits who were in prison. Obviously these souls were also not asleep.

So now referring back to the original question and the term "immediate life". I know from personal experience that some Protestants have told me that (they believe) they are going to heaven the minute they die. Their belief is based on a false understanding of the scriptural requirements for salvation.

  • 2
    Many assertions are made here without proper substantiation. This renders them opinion-based. {For example the assertion about soul and 'zygote'. And the assertion we will remember everything we have ever experienced during this life (including our sins) with startling vividness.) And you also have the opinion that persons will not 'go to heaven' (I take it that means 'be with the Lord') the moment they die. Thus, a down-vote from me.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 9:50
  • 2
    Yes, too much of this answer is presented as personal opinion. It would be much better received if it included specific citations to denominations that hold the same view. ¶ This doesn't mean what you say is necessarily wrong, only that it is inappropriate for this site. Readers need to see something like "The [name of denomination] believes that … [link to their doctrinal statement web page]". Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 14:21
  • Dear Ray, Can you be more specific, and point to something that you believe is "personal opinion" so I can have a better idea as to what you are talking about. Thanks. JB
    – James Ball
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 17:01
  • Dear Nigel. Thank you for your comment. FYI. All information in my answer is based on, and in agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church. In regard to my statement: "we will remember everything we have ever experienced during this life (including our sins) with startling vividness.", it is based on paragraph 2516 of the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
    – James Ball
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 17:48
  • The following website gives more details. thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/… More of your thoughts here would be appreciated. JB
    – James Ball
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 18:16

To be quick. I think you answered your own question with 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:16.

But wait, there's more:

The short answer is no! The Bible is clear that nobody goes to heaven when they die.

John 3:13 NKJV

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

So basically, we get to wait until Jesus comes down and pulls us up. That might be next week or next year or a million years from now.

Time has no meaning for a dead person. It is like a dreamless sleep. If you have ever been sedated for surgery, you do down then you are awake three hours later (sort of) and it is a dreamless sleep where you wake up with no recollection of the time passing. I found it very relaxing personally. But, the dead have no clue.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 NKJV

For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.

One last note: This part might add some confusion on deeds versus faith. Just know that in this the deeds mentioned are the faith in Jesus. If you deny Christ then you have done evil in this context.

John 5:28-29 NKJV

28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Source: Quick Q&A: Do we go immediately to Heaven when we die?

  • 2
    The answer should indicate which denominations believe this. It certainly isn't the view of all Christians. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 20:46
  • It's best not to be quick when answering deep doctrinal Qs e.g. blithely claiming that Jn.3:13 clearly says "that nobody goes to heaven when they die". It doesn't. Jesus, the Son of Man, was the first to go to heaven, opening it up for believers thereafter. Also, why didn't you quote Eccl.12:7 about the spirit returning to God when the body dies? That is the conclusion of the matter. But don't launch into a defense in the comments section. My comment is in line with requirements, to suggest how to improve an answer. You could improve your answer by showing biblical balance.
    – Anne
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .