Having just completed reading the voluminous Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism, 200 BCE – CE 200, I’m convinced of one thing: there sure were a few different thoughts on what happens after death from the perspective of the nation of Israel, who worshiped a single, Almighty God.

Not much different from today, actually.

Because, quite simply, nobody knows.

Except one person, for the believer: Jesus of Nazareth, who was raised from death, becoming a glorified heavenly being as witnessed by his closest disciples.

But you can scour the pages of the Bible for any mention of someone asking Jesus “What’s it like, being dead,” and you won’t find a single person wanting to know. He mentions at one point in his ministry that believers will be experiencing a heavenly existence when he explains that they will be(come) such as angels. [citation needed]

Even Lazarus— no person wants to know?! “Hey, Laz, what was it like, being dead?”

I suspect that the lack of the question being put to any person restored to earthly life means that there was nothing to tell. There was simply nothing. Nonexistence apart from the surreal imprisonment of Sheol until the Covenant of Moses was ended, with redemption coming by the sacrifice of Jesus, or, more properly Yeshua. The common grave of mankind.

Whatever turns out following our last breath and thought in this earthly realm, I doubt anyone will be disappointed who has been declared righteous, entering into the presence of God that has been lost to us since the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

Like Jesus, the apostle Paul believed that the resurrection of believers would be in a spiritual body rather than one of flesh and bones, a literal translation of passages found in the Bible, including Ezekiel’s Valley of the Dry Bones.

In fact, there were a number of Jew during the first century that believed that not only was one resurrected into the same mortal coil, but if one had been maimed, these would remain.

I imagine my first question would’ve been— and the fella who was chopped to pieces, too?

But there is an abundance of evidence to demonstrate that there were a diverse set of beliefs and expectations in the days of Jesus, the apostles, and other first century believers.

For the believer, of course, we place hope and faith in the description of the life that awaits those who abide in the Way, informed by Jesus and the apostle Paul as well as the other apostles (although Paul’s really the only one who gives exposition on the resurrection, I think?).

Like I wrote earlier, I don’t see how any one of us will be disappointed.

And if, perchance, there is nothing… well, that won’t matter, either, will it?

—Timothy B. Kline
February 3, 2020