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Where does the Spirit Go When You Die?

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Gen. 2:7

Referring to the physical body Solomon states “For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” Eccl. 3:19-20

He then states in Ecclesiastes. 12:6-7 when speaking of both the body and spirit “ Remember him-before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (NIV)

If a man dies, shall he live again? Job 14:14

From our experiences in life it is easy for us to understand the truth that when a person dies, his body begins its decay back into dust. But what about a man’s spirit? Where does it go at death? This study presents a couple of possible answers derived from Scripture. Then it answers the most critical question: “What must I do to be saved from my sins and receive forgiveness and eternal life?”


Surely the greatest comfort for us as we face the end of our days on this earth is the knowledge of where we will go when we die. What will happen to us? Will we still exist even without a physical body? The answers to these questions can only be answered by God and I believe He has answered them in His word to us, the Bible. We are not left in the dark about the unseen world that awaits us.

So where does a person go when he dies? There are several ideas from different theological perspectives but one of the most logical ones, based on reasoning from several scriptures, is that all people go to Hades when they die. Hades is understood to be the unseen abode of the spirits of the dead as they await the return of the Lord and the resurrection. Consider these scriptures and then follow them to their reasoned conclusion:

1. Luke 23:43 – Jesus said to the thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” So Jesus went immediately to Paradise when he died.

2. Acts 2:27,31 “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption … he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.” Jesus died and while his physical body reposed in the tomb, he (his soul) went to Hades (the unseen world of the dead). He did not remain in Hades, however. On the third day he returned from Hades, being raised from the dead.

3. Luke 16 and the story of the rich man and Lazarus – “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom … Abraham said, … between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. ”

We see here that Paradise was not the same as Hades, but rather one of two compartments located within Hades. Lazarus died and went to “Abraham’s bosom”. That should correspond to Paradise where the thief on the cross went when he died. The rich man died and went to Hades, but he was in torment and not Paradise. There was a division between the two places, Torment and Paradise, so that no one could pass from one to the other.

4. The reasoned conclusion is that all the spirits of all who died went to Hades, the place of the dead. Some (the forgiven, the just, the righteous) were in a good situation and some (the unforgiven, the unjust, the evil) were in a bad situation.

5. One day, Jesus will return to raise the bodies of those who died, both the saved and the lost (“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28,29) and then He will judge all men “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31).6. The lost (those in the torment side of Hades) will go to their eternal punishment (Hell) but the saved (those in the Paradise side of Hades) will go to their eternal reward in Heaven. “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – (Matthew 25:46).

The conclusion is the result of logically reconciling the various verses that speak about the destiny of people when they die. There is no clear, unified statement in the Bible.

Shown below is a simple diagram of the idea.

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