What Hope for the Dead?
A YOUNG family was traveling to the South African east coast for a vacation. The wife’s parents were in another car just ahead. Suddenly, a tire burst. While they were preparing to change it on the side of the road, a drunken driver plowed into the two cars. The elderly man and his wife died. The younger man died a few days later. His wife suffered broken ribs and other injuries. Her baby suffered paralyzing brain damage.
What a tragedy for this unfortunate family! When Carolann, the young wife’s sister, heard the news, she felt numb. Tragedies like this happen in all countries. Grief-stricken relatives and friends often wonder, ‘Are the dead really dead,’ or . . .
‘Are the Dead Alive?’
Almost all religions teach that the soul is immortal. Hence, their followers believe that those who die are not really dead but are still alive in heaven, purgatory, or hell. As taught in many churches, those in the latter place suffer horribly for all eternity. But would a God of love really inflict such suffering on his creatures?—1 John 4:8.
It would seem not, but how can we be sure? Consider carefully the following Bible proof. “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Does this inspired statement say that the first man, Adam, was given a soul? No, he came to be a soul, a living person. This is confirmed by the apostle Paul, who wrote: “The first man, Adam, as scripture says, became a living soul.” Paul was quoting from Genesis.—1 Corinthians 15:45, The Jerusalem Bible.
Can the human soul die? The prophet Ezekiel wrote: “All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) Obviously, if the soul is dead, then the person knows nothing, hence cannot be suffering. In his first public talk after Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter declared: “Indeed, any soul that does not listen to that Prophet [Jesus] will be completely destroyed from among the people.” So the soul is mortal.—Acts 3:23.
Will the Dead Live Again?
All those who believe that the Bible is true know that Jesus died and was resurrected on the third day. (Acts 10:39, 40) How could this happen? By the power of God’s holy spirit.
Was the resurrection of Jesus an exception? No. As Paul wrote to the congregation in Corinth: “Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man . . . Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22) Hence, many will be raised from the dead. Jesus also said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life.” (John 5:28, 29) This guarantees the resurrection of millions.
If the above explanation has aroused your interest in the resurrection, you may ask, ‘For whom is the resurrection, and when?’ Let us consider those vital questions.