This paper deals with some of the ambiguities that are associated with the intermediate and final states after death. Whereas many in the church have dismissed these concepts as myths of the ancients, this discussion shows how the grounding of such beliefs in the Hebrew mindset was the key to Jesus’ own teachings about the afterlife. The argument begins by developing a biblical anthropology over against the modern naturalistic anthropologies that have largely dominated the philosophical and theological scenes. From here we look at the Old Testament concept of the afterlife, and how the modern view that the Hebrews were ambivalent about such a concept is plainly false. Then it is argued that the New Testament doctrines of heaven and hell, which become very specific at this point, are thoroughly indebted to Jewish underpinnings. Without this foundation there would be no clear divisions within the realms of the dead, but because Jesus and his followers assume the validity of the Old Testament material they are able to flesh out such eschatological questions as where Jesus went after death, and where the saint and reprobate will go today. Far from being a stale theological issue, this study has direct bearing upon how one evangelizes today. For when the specific concepts are grasped, the believer will realize that the lost are not going to hell, at least not yet.


Christopher Paul Davis (BBS, BS, MDiv, ThM [IP]) has written on numerous topics in the fields of theology and biblical studies. His areas of focus are patristics, biblical studies, and eschatology. He is currently working on a project that seeks to defend the Byzantine text-type from the onslaught of scholarly activity since Wescott and Hort. Other works have dealt extensively with the Montanist heresy, the necessity of inerrancy, and the cosmogonies of the ANE and their bearing upon Genesis 1-11.

Christopher P. Davis