Do Dead People go to Heaven?

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Psalms 146:3-4

We all like to believe that our loved ones that have passed on from this world are in a better place. Many believe that their loved ones are looking down and smiling from a place called heaven. There are those that dream about the first people they want to meet in heaven when they die. Is this just fantasy or wishful thinking? Are these belief systems based on emotion and feelings or are they factual? If factual, how so? As far as I know, science would not entertain any of this, because according to science, we either evolved from nothing, or are a product of star dust. Therefore, we must to turn to philosophy or religion to find the answer.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher, born approximately 470 BCE. When sentenced to death, this is how Socrates addressed the court regarding one option of the after life:

“On the other hand, if death is like a journey from here to another place, and if the things that are said are true, that in fact all the
dead are there, then what greater good could there be than this,
judges? For if one who arrives in Hades, released from those here
who claim to be judges, will find those who are judges in truth —
the very ones who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthys, and Aeacus, and Triptolemus, and those of the
other demigods who turned out to be just in their own lives —
would this journey be a paltry one? Or again, to associate with
Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer, how much
would any of you give? For I am willing to die many times if these things are true, since especially for myself spending time there
would be wondrous: whenever I happened to meet Palamedes and Telemonian Ajax, or anyone else of the ancients who died because
of an unjust judgment, I would compare my own experiences
with theirs. As I suppose, it would not be unpleasant. And
certainly the greatest thing is that I would pass my time examining
and searching out among those there—just as I do to those here-
who among them is wise, and who supposes he is, but is not. How much would one give, judges, to examine him who led the great army against Troy, or Odysseus, or Sisyphus, or the thousand others whom one might mention, both men and women? To converse and to associate with them and to examine them there would be inconceivable happiness. Certainly those there surely do not kill on this account. For those there are happier than those here not only in other things but also in that they are immortal henceforth for the rest of time, at least if the things that are said are in fact true.”

Socrates believed one view of the afterlife would give him eternal access to his heroes, and the result would be inconceivable happiness. This is in line with the view of many religions today that have these ideas coming from the pantheon of gods the ancients worshipped. This is also the main Christian view in my experience. Instead of looking for Minos, a son of Zeus, Christians are planning to look for Jesus, the son of God. They also dream of seeing loved ones and their heroes, who have gone before, when they die. Are these ideas of Socrates found in the Bible in which Christianity bases its belief systems? Why does Socrates describe essentially the same view of main stream Christianity in 2021, when he lived over 400 years before the first Christians walked the Earth?

The view of dying and having a non-material part of our bodies go to a place called heaven was foreign to the early followers of the Hebrew God, Yahweh. The children of Jacob, also called Israel, were set apart from the other nations, their gods and demigods, as well as their religious practices and beliefs. The text below is from the English Standard Version of the Bible which uses the Dead Sea scroll texts instead of the later, Masoretic transcripts found in other versions. LORD is a substitution used for the name Yahweh, יהוה.

Deu 32:7 Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
Deu 32:8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Deu 32:9 But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
Deu 32:10 “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Deu 32:11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions,
Deu 32:12 the LORD alone guided him, no foreign god was with him.

God told Adam he would die if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If Adam died, would he go to paradise or heaven? He was already in paradise, so it was disobedience that brought death. Dead was dead, non existent.

Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

What did Yahweh tell us through the prophets from His chosen group of people concerning the afterlife? Let’s start with Solomon.

Ecc 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Ecc 9:4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Ecc 9:5 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.
Ecc 9:6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

Solomon tells us the dead know nothing. Job tells us something similar; however, he hints at a time when the heavens will not exist any more.

Job 14:10 But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?
Job 14:11 As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up,
Job 14:12 so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.

What do the followers of Jesus say about the dead? Peter tells us that he was confident that David was dead, buried and still in the tomb. The only one that was resurrected at this point was Jesus.

Act 2:27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
Act 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
Act 2:29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Act 2:30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
Act 2:31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Jesus tells us that no one has ascended into heaven except the one who came down from heaven. This statement alone should end the discussion.

Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. He was the first to die, then rise and ascend into heaven. One of the main views of early Christianity was that of a resurrection of the dead at the end of time. This is the time the dead will rise and be judged by the creator. Job hinted of this time and went on to explain in the following verses.

Job 14:13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Job 14:14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.
Job 14:15 You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands.

Job is speaking of the resurrection Daniel also wrote about.

Dan 12:1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Dan 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Jesus gave us an example of the resurrection. He tells the disciples that Lazarus is sleeping, then clarifies that He means he is dead.

Joh 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
Joh 11:12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
Joh 11:13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.
Joh 11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,

Jesus tells Lazarus’ sister that Lazarus will rise again. She is thinking of the time in the future Daniel spoke of when everyone will resurrect.

Joh 11:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
Joh 11:22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Joh 11:23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Joh 11:24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Joh 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
Joh 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus did not come out of the grave speaking of the marvellous things he experienced in heaven when he was dead. There was no mention of seeing Yahweh on the throne or any dead relatives. Lazarus was dead, wrapped in grave clothes.

Below is a fragment from the second book of Esdras, which was removed from most Bibles around 1647. This is sometimes called the missing fragment because even Bibles that contained second Esdras were sometimes missing these verses. Some of these removed books contain information that explain passages that are in the sixty-six book Bible. Somewhat like the “rest of the story”. Many of the books that are missing in modern Bibles largely supported keeping the commandments of God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons they went among the missing.

88 Now this is the order of those who have guarded the ways of El Elyon, when they shall be separated from their mortal body. 89 During the time that they lived in it, they labouriously served El Elyon, and withstood danger every hour, that they might guard the Torah of the Torah giver perfectly.
90 Therefore this is the teaching concerning them: 91 First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders.
92 The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought which was formed with them, that it might not lead them astray from life into death. 93 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the wicked wander, and the punishment that awaits them.
94 The third order, they see the witness which he who formed them bears concerning
them, that while they were alive they guarded the Torah which was given them in trust.
95 The fourth order, they understand the rest which they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory which awaits them in the last days.
96 The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible and
shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toil from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty which they are to receive and enjoy in immortality. 97 The sixth order, when it is shown to them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
98 The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they hasten to behold the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.

The language in these verses speak about resting in profound silence waiting for the last days, presumably the resurrection. Paul tells us the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable. We are mere mortals until we are changed at the last trumpet. This is the hope we have. We are not hoping to be unclothed as a spirit.

1Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
1Co 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

I am suggesting we do not put on immortality until the last trumpet when the dead are raised. As mortals, we die dead. Without the hope of the resurrection, we would stay dead forever. This is why it is such a big deal that Jesus resurrected from the dead conquering death and the grave. If some non-material part of us went to heaven, why would we need a resurrected body? Jesus tells us He will raise the dead at the last day.

Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Right now, the reader is thinking about the thief on the cross whom Jesus said would be in paradise with him that very day, supposedly.

Luk 23:42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The problem with this theory is that Jesus spent three days and three nights in the grave, so He was not in a place called paradise that day for the thief to be with Him. If Jesus wasn’t really dead like a man, then He didn’t resurrect from the dead. This would be very problematic. Jesus cannot be saying “I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise”, because he had an appointment with death as did the thief. Since there are no commas in the Greek, it likely should read, “I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise”. Depending on what the translator believes, determines where the comma is placed.

When Jesus was found by Mary after He resurrected, He specifically said He had not ascended to the Father yet. This puts to rest any thought that Jesus may have been somewhere other than “hades”, or the grave, after He was removed from the cross and placed in the tomb.

Joh 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Joh 20:17 Jesus said to her, Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Another verse that is quoted to argue that a non-material part of us goes to heaven when we die, is found in Paul’s writings.

2Co 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Now let’s look at this verse in context:

2Co 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2Co 5:2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
2Co 5:3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
2Co 5:4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2Co 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
2Co 5:6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
2Co 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
2Co 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2Co 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

This is all resurrection language. We have an earthly tent, our mortal body, and we are longing for our heavenly dwelling, which is our resurrected body. We are given the Spirit as a guarantee that we are getting a resurrected, immortal body. Paul specifically says we do not want to be found naked, that is without either an earthly tent or resurrected, immortal body.

Jesus told a parable where a man was found without a wedding garment at the King’s wedding banquet. We must have our wedding garment, or resurrected body, to be at the wedding.

Mat 22:10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Mat 22:11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.
Mat 22:12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Finally, the resurrections of the dead are mentioned in Revelation, the first resurrection of the saints, and the general resurrection, just as it was mentioned of by Daniel.

Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Rev 20:5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

The language “they came to life” would appear to indicate they were not alive anywhere in any form. “The rest of the dead did not come to life” also is language indicating they were not alive anywhere. If a person was in a conscience state in some form, how could it be said “they came to life”. All of this language points to dead being dead.

Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

The truth is, no one can say for sure what happens to us when we die. The evidence in scripture seems to point to death, and then a time of future resurrection where we get our heavenly body, or face the second death. As Peter said in Acts3:19, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out”.

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One thought on “Do Dead People go to Heaven?

  1. I gathered, earlier in life, that I didn’t put myself here, nor do I remember how I came to be. Therefore, I’ve gathered, He Who Made me knows more about me and what’s best for us than perhaps I ever will. I’ll trust in Him.


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