What happens to me when I die? Do I go to Heaven, Hell, or someplace else?
(Open www.BibleGateway.com/keyword/ in a new window and you can do your own "key word" research on this topic as we study together.)
The Bible actually has a lot to say about what happens to us when we die, so let's define "death" and "hell" using only the Bible. You may hear one thing from one person and something totally different from another person, but all we are wanting to know is what the Bible has to say. And because we have proved the Bible to be true we know that we can totally trust what it says.
When the Bible talks about a "first resurrection" and a "second death" in Revelation 20:5, 6, what is it talking about? Revelation 20:4 talks about a "judgment" and about reigning "with Christ a thousand years". How does this all relate to the subject of "death" and "hell"? Revelation 20:3 talks about a "bottomless pit", is this related also? In Revelation 20:5 it says that the "rest of the dead" did not come to life until after the 1,000 years were over, who are the "rest of the dead"?
Is "death" in the Old Testament different than it is in the New Testament? Now that Jesus has died for our sins, do we "go" someplace different, or do both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of death as being the same thing?
The purpose of the above timeline is to help sort out what is being said in all of the Bible and to show how all of these things are related. Below are many texts, taken directly from the King James Version of the Bible, that speak about the subject of "death ".
Please keep in mind that to understand what the Bible is really saying, we must take what is plainly said and use that to help us to understand what the "hard to understand" texts are trying to say. In other words, let the Bible tell us what It is actually saying.
At the bottom of this page is a link to a short summary of what the Bible teaches about Death and Hell, and you will also find a link to a comparison of what the Old and New Testaments have to say.
Bible texts related to what happens to me when I die:
14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he?
14:11 [As] the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14:14 If a man die, shall he live [again]? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
19:26 And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God:
19:27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me.
21:30 That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.
21:31 Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him [what] he hath done?
21:32 Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.
6:4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
6:5 For in death [there is] no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
115:18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
NOTE: It appears, in the text above, that when King David is speaking about "for evermore" he is talking about only while he is still alive and not for "eternity", because he has just said that the "dead praise not the LORD".
116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon [him] as long as I live.
146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun.
9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can [not] celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
38:19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I [do] this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
NOTE: In verse 26 above Jesus says that we "shall never die", what is He saying? The answer is that Jesus was seeing Lazarus as "sleeping", not as being "dead". Jesus sees all of the dead as sleeping. I Cor. 15.22,23 tells us that everyone comes back to life in his own time. Those who sleep in Jesus will be awakened at His 2nd Coming. The first "death" is only a "sleep" according to Jesus, because we will "wake up" at His Second Coming which is the 1st Resurrection. It will be the same as if we had just been "asleep".
In the texts below, the Apostles Luke gave us an example of one who had died and was still in the grave even after Jesus had gone back to heaven. Remember that King David was a man after God's "own heart" (Acts 13).
2:29 Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
(The verses below show that we are not immortal. When we die, we die, or as noted above we "sleep".)
6:15 Which in his times he shall show, [who is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom [be] honour and power everlasting. Amen.
NOTE: The verse below shows that we are not "reincarnated". In other words, we do not come back as someone else and live another life. We only live once, and then the "judgment".
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Bible texts related to the Second Coming of Jesus and the death of the wicked:
24:1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upshellide down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, [and] my curtains in a moment.
4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.
4:24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
4:25 I beheld, and, lo, [there was] no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place [was] a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, [and] by his fierce anger.
4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
25:31 A noise shall come [even] to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them [that are] wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.
25:32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.
25:33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.
12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.
12:13 But go thou thy way till the end [be]: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
15:26 The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.
15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.
15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
15:55 O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?
15:56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.
15:57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
4:17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Bible texts related to "hell fire":
37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked [shall] not [be]: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it [shall] not [be].
37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD [shall be] as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: [there shall] not [be] a coal to warm at, [nor] fire to sit before it.
1:9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.
1:10 For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts.
3:12 Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell
10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
NOTE: It is important when reading the texts above, that we also look at what Jonah said about the three days he was in the fish. Jonah 2:6 talks about "for ever" even though it was only 3 days. The fire that is "not quenched", spoken of above, cannot be quenched until it has done its job. And in Matthew 25:46, "everlasting punishment" is not the same thing as burning forever. The wicked are forever gone, punished forever with death. This is plainly stated in Matthew 10:28, "but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell". Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, not a life of constant burning and torture. As quoted in John 3:16, God does not want us to perish but have life.
3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;)
2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
NOTE: When the whole Earth is on fire, as is indicated in the text above, where will the smoke go? "Up" of course, never to come back down (forever).
1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
NOTE: In the verse above Jude gives us an example of eternal fire. Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning today, but the results are "eternal".
14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection.
20:6 Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea.
20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
NOTE: Remember Jonah's "for ever" was only 3 days. The Bible says that the Devil will be ashes under the feet of the Saints, so at some point in time the torment will stop and the wicked will become "ashes". Revelation also says that the burning and torment will happen in the presence of the "holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb". This torment will not take place way off in some remote spot in the universe. Revelation 21:4 says that, "the former things are passed away", and that "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain". Their "torment" will stop, but their punishment will never end because they will never be alive again. The results, the wages, of sin is not an eternally tormented life, but (eternal) death according to Romans 6:23
20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Bible texts specifically related to the destruction of Satan:
28:14 Thou [art] the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
28:15 Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
28:16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
28:17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
28:18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
28:19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never [shalt] thou [be] any more.
Bible texts specifically related to "out of body" experiences:
2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
1:20 According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death.
1:21 For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.
1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you.
1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
5:6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
5:8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
NOTE: This can be a little confusing because Job said, as noted above, "And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me". Please remember, in order to understand difficult portions of the Bible we must use the whole Bible to find what is meant, letting the plain texts tell us what the "hard to understand" texts mean. The Apostle Paul appears to be saying here that because we "walk by faith, not by sight" we would still rather be with the Lord in our minds, even if we did not have a body to go with it. Remember that Saul, before he became Paul, had seen the Lord in a vision on the road to Damascus. At that time he must have felt like he was absent from the body. Remember, also, that James 2:26 says that "the body without the spirit is dead", and as we have read, when you are dead you do not know anything. Surely Paul is NOT saying that he would rather be with the Lord even if he didn't know anything. Be sure to let the Bible tell you what the Bible is saying.
The theory of the immortality of the soul was one of those false doctrines that Rome, borrowing from paganism, incorporated into the religion of Christendom. Martin Luther classed it with the "monstrous fables that form part of the Roman dunghill of decretals."--E. Petavel,
The Problem of Immortality, page 255
Commenting on the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, that the dead know not anything, Reformer Martin Luther says: "Another place proving that the dead have no . . . feeling. There is, saith he, no duty, no science, no knowledge, no wisdom there. Solomon judgeth that the dead are asleep, and feel nothing at all. For the dead lie there, accounting neither days nor years, but when they are awaked, they shall seem to have slept scarce one minute."
Exposition of Solomon's Booke Called Ecclesiastes, page 152
What's Your Choice, Life or Death?
God has given each of us something that we have not asked for. In fact, life is something we could NOT have ask for, ever. None of us asked to be born, but because God has given us free choice we have the right to choose to cease to exist.
In the end it will be our choice whether we will be in heaven and live forever, or die. We each have the God-given right to say one of two things:
- We can say, "Yes Lord, I trust you. I want you to do whatever it is that you want to do with me."
- We also have the God-given right to say, "No, I do not trust you, I will do it my way."
Either way, God will respect our choices. Those who trust Him will find that He only wants us to be totally free, happy and full of life. Those who do not trust Him for life will no longer be given life.
Either way, it is our choice to live or to die. In fact, we each have the choice right now to die if that is what we want, but God has so much He wants to do for us if we will only let Him.
Trust the One who created you to give you what you really want: life, health, happiness & real freedom! It's FREE and all it takes is for you to say, "Yes Lord, I trust you. Help me to trust you completely. I want you to do in me whatever YOU want to do because I believe that you only want the best for me."
- Can Our Dead Speak to Us?
- Ancient and Modern Sorcery
- Agency of Evil Spirits
- Comparison and Summary of "death" in Old and New Testaments