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What Happens at Death?

What Happens at Death?

 The Bible’s Viewpoint

What Happens at Death?

GOD’S human sons were not meant to die. (Romans 8:20, 21) In fact, when Jehovah first spoke of death to Adam, it was mentioned, not as the outcome that man should normally expect, but as the punishment for disobedience to God. (Genesis 2:17) Adam understood what death meant, since he would have seen animals die.

Adam sinned, and he paid the price for it by dying at the age of 930 years. (Genesis 5:5; Romans 6:23) Having been expelled from God’s family for disobedience, he was no longer considered a son of God. (Deuteronomy 32:5) The Bible says this about the sad consequences for mankind: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.”​—Romans 5:12.

 What Happens to Our Thinking?

The Bible also says: “There is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beast, and they have the same eventuality. As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit, so that there is no superiority of the man over the beast, for everything is vanity. All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20) What does returning to the dust mean?

The expression “returning to the dust” reminds us of God’s statement to the first human: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) This means that humans, like animals, are physical creatures. We are not spirits that merely inhabit a body of flesh. Our thinking faculties cannot survive the destruction of our body. Of a man who dies, the Bible says: “He breathes his last breath, he returns to the dust; and in that same hour all his thinking ends.”​—Psalm 146:4, The New English Bible.

If that is what happens, in what condition does that leave the dead? God’s Word gives a clear answer: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Rather than being like a friend welcoming us to a better life, death is called “the last enemy,” according to the Bible, for it halts all of our activity. (1 Corinthians 15:26; Ecclesiastes 9:10) Does this mean that death is a hopeless condition?

Good News About Death

For millions of humans, death is like a sleep from which they will awaken. Jesus once said to his disciples about their friend who had died: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.” When Jesus was on his way to the memorial tomb, he met a crowd of mourners. On arrival at the tomb, he gave orders for it to be opened and called out: “Lazarus, come on out!” The man who had been dead for four days came out. (John 11:11-14, 39, 43, 44) Since Lazarus’ body was already decomposing, Jesus thus demonstrated that God can remember everything about the dead​—their personality, their memory, and their appearance. He can make them live again. On another occasion Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [that is, Jesus’] voice and come out.”​—John 5:28, 29.

Providing us with further good news, the Bible states: “As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) Never again will grief-stricken people have to go to a cemetery to bury a loved one. The Bible says: “Death will be no more.” (Revelation 21:4) Do you not agree that the Bible’s viewpoint on what happens at death is a comforting one?


▪ Are the dead conscious?​—Ecclesiastes 9:5.

▪ Is human death a hopeless condition?​—John 5:28, 29.

[Blurb on page 29]

“He breathes his last breath, he returns to the dust; and in that same hour all his thinking ends.”​—Psalm 146:4, “The New English Bible”