When Jesus Christ returns, those who belong to Christ who are dead at that time will be resurrected from death into glorious, eternal bodies. But what about Christians who are dead now – before Jesus returns? What is the condition of believers between death and resurrection? We don’t know everything but we know several things.
We will be with Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
To be away from our present, earthly bodies – in death – means to be present with the Lord.
We will be aware.
Based on the picture given us in the book of Revelation, we will have cognitive abilities and will interact with others.
Revelation 6:9-10 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”
The writer sees people who had been martyred for Jesus. That means they were dead, but not yet resurrected (Revelation 20:4-5). But they have curiosity. They are aware of what is going on. They have the ability to speak.
Will we have a physical body?
In Revelation, the people awaiting resurrection seem to be portrayed in physical terms – like those speaking in Revelation 6:10.
Revelation 7:9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
If people in the intermediate state can stand, wear clothes, and wave branches in worship, does this imply some kind of embodied form? Or are these descriptions purely figurative? Some have speculated that God may give believers some temporary physical form leading up to the resurrection. But this is only speculation. And we must be careful not to minimize the glory and importance of the resurrection itself.
We are not asleep.
Believers don’t fade out of existence or go into some kind of unconscious state between death and the resurrection.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What did you grow up believing about the resurrection? Do you still believe the same thing today?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:8. How do you understand this verse? What is your reaction to it?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.