Do some people go to purgatory when they die?
No, the Bible says nothing about purgatory as an intermediate state or an intermediate place.
Do people go to heaven or hell when they die?
No, bodies are placed in the ground and the spirits then reside in Hades, the place of the dead. In the Old Testament, the underworld (Heb. Sheol) is described as a place deep in the earth where the dead sleep in peace.
Who will be resurrected?
Jesus said the righteous will be raised back to life. (It’s not clear if this referred only to Jews who had died or if it included Gentiles.) Paul believed Gentile followers of Christ who had died would also be resurrected. Some books in the New Testament say all of the dead will be resurrected. Revelation is the only book that says there will be two different resurrection events separated by 1000 years.
When will the dead be resurrected from Hades?
At the return of Jesus. As Jesus is returning to earth, the dead will be resurrected.
If a person is not resurrected at the return of Jesus, is there anything resurrected family members or friends can do to cause that person to be resurrected?
Probably not. The Bible never mentions this possibility.
Could cremation prevent a person from being resurrected?
Probably not. Those who are resurrected in order to inherit eternal life will not be wearing their old bodies; instead, they will receive new immortal, imperishable bodies.
When the dead are resurrected, will they be angels?
No. Jesus said the resurrected would be like angels. According to Paul, followers of Christ who are alive at the return of Jesus will be transformed so that just like the resurrected dead, they will also have immortal, imperishable bodies.
Will those who were married resume their marriages after they are resurrected?
Jesus said those who were married, died, and are later resurrected from the dead will no longer be married, nor can they get married because they will now be like angels. It’s not clear from Jesus’ words if married couples who are alive at the return of Jesus will continue to be married. (I think Paul would likely say married followers of Christ would cease to be married at the return of Jesus, since they would also be like angels.)
What will immortal, imperishable bodies look like?
When Jesus was raised from the dead, his body still had the nail scars from his crucifixion. On the other hand, there are several accounts in the Gospels that show his followers not recognizing him immediately, so there may be continuity as well as discontinuity.
Will the resurrected have memories of their earlier life?
Probably, Jesus did.
If babies are resurrected, will they be babies forever?
We do not know.
If babies are resurrected, who will take care of them?
We do not know.
Will the appearance of immortal bodies change over time, or will they look the same forever?
We do not know.
As Jesus is coming back to earth, will the righteous (all of those with new bodies) fly up in the air to meet Jesus?
There is one passage in the Bible that says this will happen. Many New Testament scholars believe Paul was describing an ancient practice where people would go out to meet and welcome the approaching emperor or king. Because Paul often used metaphors, it’s hard to know if the part about meeting Jesus in the air is meant to be taken literally or figuratively.
When Jesus is back on earth, will there be a day of judgment?
Yes, the books in the Bible that only speak about the righteous being resurrected say that those living at the return of Jesus will be judged according to their works; the righteous will inherit eternal life and the unrighteous will be cast into fire. However, those books that say all of the dead will be resurrected, naturally include the newly raised dead in the judgment.
When the unrighteous are cast into fire, will they be burned up and cease to exist or will they experience eternal torment?
It’s not clear if Jesus believed the unrighteous would be annihilated in this fire or eternally punished; there are verses that can be interpreted to support either view.
What will Jesus’ earthly reign be like?
Jesus will reign as king from the newly restored Israel. (Many refer to this as the messianic kingdom.) According to Paul, he will reign until “all things are subjected to him” and then he will subject himself to Yahweh so that Yahweh may be “all in all.” (It’s not certain other biblical writers agreed with Paul’s view that Jesus would only reign until he had accomplished his mission.)
What will life be like while Jesus is reigning from Israel?
All Jews will return to Israel and the Jewish nation will reign over all of the earth. Every Gentile nation will be envious of Israel’s prosperity and will serve and pay tribute to Israel. And everyone on the face of the earth will worship Yahweh. It will be a time of peace.
Will Satan be released from his imprisonment at some point during Jesus’ reign?
This is only mentioned in the book of Revelation. The writer of Revelation says after 1000 years, Satan will be released and he will deceive many and cause them to revolt. This revolt will be put down. Those who joined with Satan will be destroyed, and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.
What is the lake of fire?
Although the lake of fire is only mentioned in the book of Revelation, references to Gehenna in the synoptic Gospels appear to refer to the same thing. The writer of Revelation says after Satan’s revolt is put down, all of the dead will be resurrected (the second resurrection event) and judged. Those who were unrighteous will be cast with Satan, death, and Hades into the lake of fire.
What will life be like when all things (with the exception of Yahweh) have been made subject to Jesus?
There will be no more tears, no more death, and no more pain. Everyone on earth will worship the Lord. Beyond that, we do not know.
My answers are based on information in the Bible, not on extrabiblical material.
The author of the third Gospel, who was likely Greek, has Jesus describe Hades in a way that corresponds with Greek beliefs: a two-compartment underworld–a place of reward for the righteous and a place of punishment for the unrighteous; however, there is no evidence outside of Luke that Jesus actually held this view.
The writer of the Gospel of John appears to have rejected the idea of Jesus’ earthly messianic reign (click here).
We know Jesus promised immortality to his followers, and he said the dead would be like angels when resurrected, but we do not know how Jesus expected those who were alive at his return to receive immortality. Perhaps, like the author of Revelation, Jesus believed Yahweh would bring back the tree of life that was in the garden of Eden.
Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and the Lake of Fire