Proclaim. Mobilize. Equip.
Call 866-865-6253

Bible Q&A: What Happens After Death for the Christian?

March 11, 2016

Question: What happens after a Christian dies? Do we just not exist anymore? I’ve heard other people say we enter into a soul sleep.


This is Pastor Tim from Unlocking the Bible. Thanks for your good question.

The simple answer to your question is “No.” After we die, our souls do not cease to exist, nor do we enter into “soul sleep.”

There is a lot of confusion at this point, I think, because the Bible often refers to death as “falling asleep.” Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

And when Lazarus died, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep” (John 11:11).

I believe Jesus and others use this language as a physical description of the human body after death, rather than a description of the soul.

The idea of “soul sleep” does not square with what the rest of the Bible says about life after death for the Christian. As the apostle Paul contemplates his own death, he says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In other words, if he continues to live, he gets to serve Christ, but if he dies…well, that’s even better!

He goes on to explain why: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23). It is not “far better” because he’s tired and his soul gets to sleep. It’s “far better” because he gets to be with Christ.

He has lived by faith all these years, but when he dies his faith will finally be turned to sight—he will see and be with Christ! Paul is describing his anticipation of a conscious enjoyment of the presence of Christ.

I hope and pray that this is helpful to you, my friend,

Pastor Tim

What Happens After Death

The Author
Tim Augustyn

Tim serves as the resident pastor, writer, and editor of Unlocking the Bible. He was born and raised in northern Wisconsin, came to faith in his 20's while working in the business world, and received a Master's in Divinity from Trinity International University. He is author of the children’s book Man on the Run, and co-author of The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional with Colin Smith. Tim and his wife, Janna, and their four kids live in Arlington Heights, Ill. Contact Tim at

Explore this topic further

Three Ways A Soul Can Be Lost

“Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36)  Jesus confronts humanity with a profound reality: Your soul can be...

Read Post

Five Reasons Why Your Soul Matters

When our children were very young, we spoke about the soul like this: “I have a soul. My soul is inside me. I can’t see it, but it lasts forever.”  Jim Packer says that your soul is your “conscious personal self,” the “I” that knows itself as “me.” Your soul is the identity...

Read Post
For your gift of any amount

Who Am I?

Identity in Christ

Get Unlocking the Bible's Weekly Email

"This Week at Unlocking the Bible" features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.