The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Intermediate state

Hello everyone,

I hope I am posting my question in the correct forum section. I am new to this concept, so if my questions seem to elementary, please pardon me. Thanks.

My questions come from a post-millennial, or a-millennial (realized) perspective. (I’m sure there may be dispensationalists or full preterists who believe in Universal Reconciliation but my question is more suited for the post-mil, a-mil positions) :

By intermediate state, I mean the time between the death of the human body and the resurrection of the human body on the last day.

  1. Are those who have died in conscious existence in the intermediate state?

  2. If yes to number 1: Can those who consciously exist in hell/hades (or whatever you call the intermediate state for those who die unbelievers) be converted (regeneration, faith and repentance - as a Calvinist, I’ll put regeneration first logically, though you may re-organize it if you like) prior to the resurrection on the last day?

  3. If yes to question 2: Are those who are converted prior to the resurrection immediately translated into the presence of Christ, or must they remain in a state of suffering until the resurrection?

  4. If you answered that they are translated into the presence of Christ, is there any Biblical references that point to this? or, if you answered that they must remain in a state of suffering until the resurrection on the last day, why?

  5. If you answered yes to question 2, would they be included in the “dead in Christ” who would rise first on 1 Thes 4:14 ff ?

  6. If you answered “no” to question 1, any other question, or if UR implies something totally different, then what?

I hope my questions make sense and you are able to see the overall jist of what I am asking.

I found the answers to the above question in the following thread.

[Proportionate to the crime?)

I have always tended to sympathize with Luther and Tyndale on the soul sleep idea, so it makes sense to me. That is, I have always wondered whether when someone dies, in their consciousness they may be immediately ushered to the last day.

It seems that on the thread I found, I’m not alone in that.



Hi, Dan

I’m sorry you didn’t get any responses (yet). I read your question, and while I’ve asked the same questions myself (not here), I don’t think there’s really any air-tight scriptural answer to them. Soul sleep is as good as any as far as I can see, but maybe someone else will weigh in.

Blessings, Cindy

Hi Dan,

The idea of “soul sleep” makes the most sense to me, but it’s not a topic I feel any certainty about.


Another position which is often confused with “soul sleep” is simply that the dead are dead and will remain dead until they are raised to life. I don’t have a name for this position, but it is my position.

It can’t be called “soul sleep” since I don’t hold to the Platonic idea of a “soul” separate from the body which somehow survives death whether it is awake or asleep in some intermediate state. I think this concept of an “immortal soul” which inhabits the body and survives death has been imported into Christendom from Greek philosophy.

Paul wrote to Timothy that God alone has immortality (I Tim 6:16)

I agree with your position on this, Paidion.
I think that dead is dead and that is what we are until…we aren’t again. The same One who imparts life to us in the first place imparts it again when we are resurrected. Somehow I liked the idea that we could step “out of” time and right into the next life but even though the effect may be similar I cannot find biblical language that permits me that.
graymuzzledog :nerd:

This is very insightful.
We became a living soul when God breathed his breath (spirit) into clay.
The Greeks were very interested in foreign philosophies and I think they borrowed eternal life of the soul from Egypt.
One of the Christian myths that disappeared when I first read the Bible at age 49 was eternal life. Only the serpent argued for eternal life.
There are hundreds of Biblical examples that when we die we sleep with the fathers and only a handful of problematic text.
I have asked Dr. Michael Brown (Messianic Jewish Biblical scholar) what if anything changed regarding an afterlife when Christ completed his earthly mission and Dr. Brown answered the question on his radio broadcast. His answer put to rest the question for me even though he thought there was enough scriptural evidence to support an afterlife, I looked at his evidence and found it uncompelling and unsatisfying. I only needed the best argument for an afterlife and Dr. Brown provided it. It wasn’t good enough. When we die, we die.
It’s not a totally closed subject for me as I’m still curious what happens to our (life) breath of life when we die. Where is the scripture saying it goes back to God?

Hi Robert
Unless I’ve misunderstood your question, I believe the text you are inquiring after is:
Ecc 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

You understood perfectly, That’s the text I was looking for. Thanks.

Just to throw a monkey wrench into this discussion:

I have to ask a question of you. What is eternity? Is it endless time, or timelessness?

I have always seen it described as timelessness…but when practically considered, treated as endless time. Well, here we have the same problem, because I would bet that if I left the first question by itself the vast majority of you would say “timelessness.” (without the constraints of time).

So if eternity IS timelessness, there is no need for an intermediate state, for regardless of “when” we depart this life, we arrive in the afterlife at the exact same “time.” Think about it. Wait for it. Wait for it. BAM!

yeah, that’s the ticket. Can you imagine “waking up” after you have died and you find yourself with ALL of those whom you have loved, even your children and grandchildren, etc.? There would be no “wait for me” among long term lovers. We could even exist simultaneously in this life and in the afterlife (similar to what Origen taught). Reincarnation becomes a real possibility while loved ones remain in “heaven” together…

There are many implications of this view…none of which involve what happens between dying and this supposed future resurrection -

“Timelessness” makes no sense to me. “Time” is the measurement of the temporal distance between events. If there were no time, there would be no events.

I believe that all people will be raised to life in a resurrection. Paul made this defence before Felix:

  • "…but this I admit to you, that according to the way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the law and that is written in the prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Acts 24:14-15 NASB)*

When one dies, and is raised from death, it will seem to the one who died as if no time has passed between these two events, even if a thousand years have passed.

I recall being in a room where I was about to have surgery. I looked at the clock. It was about 1 P.M. Then I thought I heard a kind of tinkling sound. I glanced at the clock again and it was about 3 P.M. I said aloud, “This is amazing”. It seemed to me that I had glanced at the clock once, and immediately glanced at it again. But, in fact, two hours had passed, and the surgery had been performed.

I began to think that our experience (or should I say non-experience) will be much the same between our death and resurrection.

I’m guilty of fuzzing the lines of my Monist position by using the term soul-sleep, but it does carry a lot of meaning quickly to mind.

Question: What are your own personal ‘problem verses’ for post mortem continuance? For me it’s not an actual didactic verse per se, but the implications derived from narratives. Such as the Repentant Thief. Was he(whatever we think ‘he’ was) in paradise in the 24 hr period following his ‘death’? My response is a mix of grammar class and shedding doubt on the questioner’s view of Jesus Himself being in paradise in the same 24 hr period. I must admit that even I find my explanation under-whelming.

So, What is your Monist Nemesis?

The only Biblical nemesis of which I am aware is that of the apostle Paul referring to our body as the “tent” in which we live.

Of course 2Cor 5:8 would be the BIG one, if it actually made the statement as it is misquoted:

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (Misquote of 2 Cor 5:8)

If this were a true quote, it would demolish Monism. However, when you read this verse as it is actually written, and if you observe the context, you will see that it is actually about the resurrection.

Tonight is apparently the time for me to share more perhaps heterodox theology.

If you are living, you are in time. If you are dead, you are in eternity. I don’t believe there is any intermediate state. In eternity you are timelessly present, as God is.

I’m not a conventional rapture believer. I believe that death is rapture, as you move from time into eternity. To you, it will feel like “you are caught up in the air with Christ” and to those still in time, you just died.


I keep seeing you post that “Timeless” doesn’t make sense to you. Then you attempt to refute it. Can you clarify - A)Do you mean you don’t understand it, therefore it is wrong or B) You don’t understand it and this is why it doesn’t make sense to you?

Thank you for that Trey.
For some time I too have considered that view of death/the rapture. It seems to make sense both scripturally and logically.

Neither. I mean that I don’t understand it because I OUGHT NOT to be able to understand it. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense.
What if I claimed that there is an “existless state of existence” after death. Could anyone accept it?

Time is but a measurement of the temporal distance between two events. As long as there are events, there will be time.


OK so you believe A. Thanks.

I’m sure this can be explained away by whatever position it doesn’t suit, but here’s one to consider…

Rev 8:1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. :mrgreen:

Thanks for that verse, Davo. Bye-bye “timelessness in heaven”!

I checked the Greek, and it is “in the heaven” (singular)— not “in the heavens” (the sky).
And, yes, ἡμιωρον (hāmiōron) means “half hour”. It is derived from ἡμισυ (hāmisu—“half” which occurs 5 times in the NT) and ὡρα (hōra—“hour” which occurs 100 times in the NT.

By the way, “ἡμι” is usually transliterated into English as “hemi” (for some reason “ā” become “e”) and has become the English prefix “hemi” as in “hemisphere”.