The Unconscious Intermediate State | Scaling the Wall (part 2)

Unconscious Intermediate StateThe Unconscious Intermediate State

Sleep is the predominant way that the Bible describes death.  That leads conditionalists to assume that death is a period of un-consciousness that everyone will experience until resurrected for judgment.  Yet when we assert that assumption, opponent are often quick to build a wall of evidence, consisting of texts which appear to support some kind of conscious survival after death.

We do not believe that any of the evidence presented in favour of a conscious intermediate state is incontrovertible. We are convinced that the popular interpretations of those texts are misinterpretations.  We are determined to scale this wall of evidence because we are convinced that it has led our brothers and sisters in Christ to believe something the Bible does not teach.

These articles address some of the more popular texts which are part of that wall of evidence.  They reveal those inconsistencies that exist with the popular interpretations of the texts when compared to the actual texts themselves.  At no point will it be conceded that the actual text itself is in error.  We expect the Bible to present a coherent, consistent theology of the intermediate state.

In part 1, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 was examined, and the text was shown to be in agreement with Paul’s theology in 1 Corinthians 15 and elsewhere. His desire to put on his heavenly dwelling was not a desire to go to heaven when he died, but a desire to be resurrected when Jesus returns.

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) was shown to be a parable that Jesus taught the Pharisees. Its purpose was not to explain the inter-mediate state, but to warn the Pharisees not to presume that since they are rich in this life it is proof that God approves of their behaviour.  Jesus’ clear teaching is that death is a sleep from which one must be raised to live again.

Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross as they appear in our English Bibles “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) are a mistranslation.  Neither Jesus nor the thief went to heaven that day.  Jesus assured the thief that they would be in Paradise on the day about which the thief asked: the day he comes in his kingdom.


The Bible consistently describes the intermediate state between death and resurrection as an unconscious sleep, from which good and evil must be awakened before beginning to experience their eternal destiny.  The story of Saul’s consultation with the medium at Endor seems to contradict that theology, but it really does not.

If this was really a revival of Samuel, it was a miracle of God. The medium herself was surprised to see him.1 She probably expected a demon pretending to be him.  The demons are deceivers, and one of their favourite forms of deception is pretending to be dead relatives, or ghosts.  They use this tactic to incite fear, bring confusion, and keep their control over people.  The LORD knows of this tactic, and for that reason expressly forbids attempts to communicate with “the dead”.  Saul, himself, prohibited all such attempts at necromancy.  ((1 Samuel 28:3.))  When faced with an absence of communication from the LORD due to the death of Samuel, Saul attempted to break his own rule.

Note that she did not see Samuel descend from heaven.  She said she saw him “coming up out of the earth”.2  This makes sense in light of biblical cosmology which has all the dead in Sheol, the grave, awaiting a resurrection.  Normally, the only way to awake from this state of unconscious sleep is to be resurrected.  Apparently Samuel was allowed to wake up without being raised, but this is an obvious exception, which should not be taken as evidence against the normal biblical cosmology.

Samuel’s question to Saul was not “why have you interrupted my bliss in heaven and brought me down”? It was “why have you disturbed me by bringing me up”?3 These are the words of an old man aroused from a deep sleep. They are certainly not what one would expect from someone already experiencing eternal joy at God’s side.  Samuel’s partial resurrection was not at all what God had promised.  He did not appreciate it.  Like Paul, he did not enjoy this idea of being alive apart from his promised resurrection body.  Paul made it absolutely clear that he did not desire to be “unclothed” – that is, to be a disembodied spirit.4

By contrast, many today seem to cherish the idea of being set free from the confines of their bodies so that they can fly to heaven, released from their physical prison.  When people talk like that, they sound more like Plato than Paul.  The eschatological blessed hope of the return of Christ appears to be replaced by an anthropology – or even a thanatology.  But the Christian hope is Christ himself.  Christians put their hope in Christ, not death.

If Samuel had been in heaven when aroused by Saul, why did he tell Saul “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me” (19)?  Was God judging Saul for his disobedience, and then accepting him in heaven anyway?  If that was the case, why did that lead to such fear for Saul?  The evidence does not match the traditional concept of death.  It makes perfect sense if Samuel intended to resume his sleep in Sheol awaiting a resurrection.  Saul and his sons (including Jonathan) would join him in that sleep, and be raised at the return of Christ.

There is only one other option that fits both what is said in 1 Samuel 28 and the traditional cosmology of going to heaven or hell at death.  If Samuel had been “brought up” instead of “brought down” he must have been in hell.  Samuel served God well in life, but just for the sake of argument, let us assume that it was not enough and he wound up being tormented in hell.  Would that scenario rescue the text of 1 Samuel 28 from its apparently contradictory state? No, even if we assume Samuel is in hell, it doesn’t explain what Samuel actually said to Saul:

And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy?  17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbour, David.  18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.  19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”5

These are the words of a prophet who defends God for his justice, who condemns Saul for his disobedience, and who champions David for his faithfulness.  Perhaps one might imagine Samuel in hell gloating over the fact that Saul and his other sons would soon be joining him, but that would include Jonathan as well – a man whom the Scriptures approves.

No, Samuel could not be in hell.  He is approved by God, yet he is somewhere that requires him to be “brought up” so that he can communicate with Saul.  Sheol is that place.

People sometimes casually cast forth this story as part of that wall of evidence proving that people are alive after they die.  They go on to use this as prove of their assumption that this disembodied state is part of God’s reward to believers.  Death should not be the reward for which the believer seeks.  We should seek our reward in resurrection life.

The story of the medium at Endor is the exception that proves the rule.  It is an example of someone who apparently did experience life apart from his resurrection body (although briefly).  Samuel went back to sleep.  He is part of that group who were “all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.  For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.”6  He will experience resurrected life when all believers do – at the second coming.  His unusual experience at Endor is not the norm.



Yet another Old Testament prophet appears to have been sent to the wrong place.  The King James Version of Jonah 2:2 reads “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”  Some actually have the audacity to quote this text as proof, not only that there was such a thing as hell in Old Testament times, but that people were alive in it.

Most modern translation correct the foul-up, which is merely a translation issue.  The King James translators were apparently all traditionalists, and sought every opportunity to place the concept of hell-at-death in the Bible.  When they encountered the Hebrew word Sheol, and the context made it possible for them to translate it as hell, they did so.  But numerous times the word Sheol obviously referred to the place that a righteous person went at death.  No fear, they simply translated Sheol in those passages as “the grave.”  For example:

“And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”7

“The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.”8

“O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.”9

But when the bad guys were getting theirs, these KJV translators saw a good opportunity to show people that when a bad guy dies, he goes consciously to hell, not unconsciously to the grave.  So they translated the same Hebrew word – Sheol – as hell. For example:

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”10

“Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.”11

“Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”12

Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?”13

Translating the same word in such a different way was dishonest, and – to be fair – some modern translations have sought to correct it.  The NLT has Jonah speaking from “the land of the dead” which is OK, except that it gives the impression that Sheol is some kind of physical territory.  The NIV simply says “From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”  That is a much better translation, since it parallels the previous stich “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.”

But most modern translations (e.g. ESV, NASB, NET, NKJV, NRSV, HCSB, LEB) simply choose not to translate the word Sheol.  Not wanting to appear as watering down the traditional concept of hell, they leave the word untranslated – which leaves its interpretation up to the reader.  The problem with that is it refuses to correct the misconceptions that readers have had in the past.  So, people are still free to imagine Jonah and David and Jesus and others in some place called hell, when all the Scripture says is that they all went to the grave.  The difference is that Jesus was raised from Sheol (or its Greek equivalent, Hades).14

Those of us who are convinced of the unconscious intermediate state are not going to change our minds because others quote texts which have been mishandled and abused.  We ask for actual didactic evidence from the Bible that people survive death.  Lacking that, we will trust what the Bible actually says about our hope.  It is not survival of the soul, but the return of the Saviour.


{to be continued}


  1. 1 Samuel 28:12. []
  2. 1 Samuel 28:13. []
  3. 1 Samuel 28:15. []
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:4. []
  5. 1 Samuel 28:16-19  ESV. []
  6. Hebrews 11:39-40  NET. []
  7. Genesis 37:35 KJV (also Genesis 42:38; 44:29, 31). []
  8. 1 Samuel 2:6 KJV. []
  9. Psalm 30:3 KJV (also 49:15; 88:3; 89:48). []
  10. Psalm 9:17 KJV. []
  11. Psalm 55:15 KJV. []
  12. Proverbs 5:5 KJV. []
  13. Proverbs 15:11 KJV. []
  14. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27-31. []

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is a missionary with Advent Christian General Conference, and elder at Takanini Community Church in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a teacher, Bible translator, and avid blogger. "My hope is that everyone who reads this blog will have an opportunity to understand the gospel, and will know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior." He has written books on theology and Bible commentary. You can read more of Jeff's writing at Devotions  |  Jefferson Vann | Commands of Christ | Learning Koine Greek Together


  1. On a side note, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and King James I were all in agreement that the apparition at Endor was not actually Samuel but a demonic illusion.

    1) Martin Luther is on the record as being accused (accurately, it seems) that “All souls lie and sleep ’till doomsday” (him and William Tyndale) so I imagine this affected his understanding.

    2) John Calvin thought it absurd that a witch would be able to manipulate happy souls in heaven, and besides, what type of description was it where he was identified merely by wearing a mantle? This is the same John Calvin that wrote a tract called “Psychopannchia ” where he attacked any that taught or believed in “the imaginary sleep of the soul” including “that nefarious herd of Anabaptists” (although he admitted that he had never read or listened to any of their arguments.)

    3) James Stuart (via his characters in the Daemonologie) said that the concept was profane and against all theology, and that only the ignorant, necromancers, or witches would believe that it would be Samuel, for the soul went to its own resting place upon death until it would be raised at a future date. Although these are not definitive statements concerning “conditional immortality” I could find nothing in any of his writings (of said Daemonologie) that placed souls “in heaven” or in an otherwise conscious state in death.

    So it would seem that a “genuine” Samuel at Endor produces problems regardless of how one stands on the issue.

  2. Your analysis of the word “hell” as it appears in the King James translation, including imputed movies, is wrong on multiple counts. This may take a little space, but I will try to address them here.

    No, Samuel could not be in hell. He is approved by God, yet he is somewhere that requires him to be “brought up” so that he can communicate with Saul. Sheol is that place.

    First, Samuel most certainly was in hell (and still is until the resurrection.) As Peter informs us in Acts, he compares Jesus with David, but points out an important difference that the soul of Jesus was not left in hell. If David and Jesus lay in hell, then this would be the resting place of Samuel as well.

    Act 2:31 Tyndale
    (31) he sawe before: and spake in the resurreccion of Christ that his soule shulde not be left in hell: nether his flesse shuld se corrupcio.

    Second, Tyndale’s translation also renders the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hades as “hell” and he is hardly one that can be accused (honestly, at least) of siding with the traditionalist arguments that men are happy and alive (or bored or cursed) while they are dead. Sir Thomas Moore accused both Tyndale and Luther of believing that “all souls lie and sleep ’till doomsday” and Tyndale did a very good job of defending “soul sleep” in the process, using arguments that it would well behoove Conditional Immortality defenders to read today.

    So… since you said that the King James translators were horribly biased and seeking ways to insert a paganized hell into scripture, will you consistently impute these same motives to William Tyndale?

    Jon 2:2 Tyndale
    (2) And he sayde: in my tribulacion I called vn to the lorde and he answered me: out of the bely of hell I cried ad thou herdest my voyce.

    That’s not a “foul-up” or bias in favor of pagan doctrine (as Tyndale would have called it) but rather honest translation.

    Third, I think it might help to consider why the word hell is appropriate, even often the most suitable translation for sheol (and hades). The word hell itself is derived from the Hebrew sheol (try pronouncing them) and the earlier English forms derived from a goddess Hel of an imaginary underworld, which bears a remarkable similarity to the origin of Hades in the Greek vocabulary. Even the word root “hel” can be observed as it means “unseen” or “hidden” (as in the “unseen state”) as observed in a common word like “helmet” (it hides the head.)

    Tyndale (as a translator) noted that the English language had very extremely high agreement with the Hebrew (and it can also be observed that Hebrew puns sometimes carry over, like “man” and “woman” from Genesis.) It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that other basic words carry over as well.

    Refusing to provide a translation of the word into English does not help the matter of understanding, but rather results in a theological hodgepodge of imaginary locations, as if they were Official Political Locations.

    No, it is not dishonest to render a word with multiple word choices in translation. One might account for differences of cadence within speech, or even specific flavors of meaning. When considering a word like sheol, you may think of it this way: “It’s hell if it’s the gravedom, otherwise it’s grave or pit.” That seems to be the pattern of translation, not whether they wished good or ill of their subject (or did they wish ill of Jesus by placing him in hell?)

    I strongly suggest that you be willing to read that King James version you are criticizing with an open mind and observe the word “hell” in context, and see how scripture defines the word itself. It is the general state of death, the gravedom, where things are forgotten or cast away. Thus Jonah is easily understood when he says “From the belly of hell prayed I.” Jonah had been cast away into the realm of death. He may not have been dead yet, but he was as good as dead, and the smell might have made him think that a swift death would be preferable. A reasonable person is not confused by the passage, and it stands as a defining example of the proper meaning of the term “hell.”

    When hell is accepted in its biblical context of the gravedom, where the dead have been cast away or buried and await resurrection, it should also be noted that the pagan religions have their own version of hell that is somewhat different. The Greeks imagined that the dead could tour hell and escape, and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man sends a very Jewish rich man to a very gentile hell very much like the Greek Hades (except Abraham takes the place of the deity Hades, and the gentile is accepted and granted a very Jewish reward.)

    This all begs the question, when you say that hell did not exist in the time of Samuel, or that the bible shouldn’t use the word hell, where are you obtaining your understanding of hell? If one starts with the bible and lets it define its own terms it is very clear. If one starts with a pagan religion and lets it define all the important terms first, then of course one will wind up with a different picture.

    Num 16:30 Tyndale
    (30) But and yf the Lorde make a newe thinge and the erth open hir mouthe and swalowe them and all that pertayne vnto them so that they goo doune quycke in to hell: then ye shall vnderstod that these me haue rayled apon the Lorde.

    I use Tyndale again because he is beyond any reasonable accusation of “traditionalist bias” to point out that the first instance of “hell” in his translation defines it where people are buried en masse, where the earth opens and swallows people whole. It does not require pagan-colored glasses to interpret. They are regulated to the realm of death itself (as per the old English meaning of the word helle, akin to the Greek hades, without a required mythological belief) and this realm of death is physically described as a mass grave in the ground.

    There’s no reason to be allergic to the word “hell.” Even if you would personally prefer speaking in Hebrew or Greek, there is no call to accuse the word of being a biased mistranslation or a “foul-up.” Perhaps some might have a particular bias against the King James text, but there is no reasonable cause for such a grudge from a Conditional Immortality perspective. In fact, I have observed immortal soul defenders specifically lamenting the language of the King James because it supports soul sleep (and conditional immortality) so well.

    • Armand Newrick says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I do feel bad for steaming you up on the issue – cool heads is the best approach. I can appreciate what you have written in regards to the Tyndale Bible and the King James Bible. However, I’m not sure if everyone, at least in the 16th century, in reading the word “hell” naturally thought that it meant the unseen place or bothered to interpret it within the contexts in which one may have found the term in the Bible. I can appreciate fully your point that the Scripture would interpret “hell” if we simply read it carefully in context. However, I don’t imagaine that the Confessions and Creeds of the 16th century would indicate that the everyday folk, were led to understand the meaning of the word “hell” as you say Tyndale and the translators of the King James may have understood it. I think it is telling to see that no modern translators use the word “hell” any where near the amount of times the King James or Tyndale Bible did. Presumably they do this in order to avoid a problem that has arisen some where along the line. You and I both know that even today the term “hell” in popular Christian thought means consciouse eternal torment – where and how did that misunderstanding take place?
      Thanks again for your thoughts.

      • Those modern translators that avoid using the word hell… it seems to me that they are the same people who claim we have immortal souls that can experience eternal conscious torment. And when you start looking at the words they choose instead, the meaning starts sounding even more mythological. Instead of hell being raised when the devil is brought to judgment (death and hell and the sea giving up their dead) I have seen some versions talk of restless shades in “Sheol” being eager to greet him.

        Adding to the confusion, “Hades” is from actual mythology and assumes eternally conscious souls that survive after death. Then the theologians write their books describing “Sheol” and “Hades”, “Abraham’s Bosom” and “Limbus Infantum”, and generally create confusion that most people wouldn’t deign to follow. Attempting to change the language simply avoids the real issue and makes the issues more difficult to understand. Hell is not a “place” that deserves a proper name. So regardless of intentions, it hasn’t seemed to have had a good effect.

  3. Alan Corrie says:

    Spirit Sleep OR Soul (i.e. personality) Sleep:-
    The “breath” (neshamah, Genesis 2:7; Isaiah 42:5; Job 32:8) that God breathed into Adam, in order to make him a “living soul”, is often the English translation for that other Hebrew word for “spirit”: ruach. Unsurprisingly so, because there are, in fact, 2 “spirits” in man (3 in the elected man, who is gifted, in addition, God’s
    “enabling”, see 1 Cor 2:11,12, holy spirit): 1. man’s breath, & 2. the spirit in man (see 1 Cor 2:11 c.f. Num 27:16, eloche ha-ruchot ; Isaiah 42:5 & Heb 12:23).
    Now, Luke 23:46 (c.f. Mat 27:50) could, I suppose, be understood metaphorically (synecdoche) as “into your [God’s] hands I commend my “breath” [meaning “life”]” ; & Acts 7:59 could similarly mean “lord Jesus, receive my “breath” [meaning “life”]” ; & 1Cor 2:11 could again mean “what human being knows the things of a man (human knowledge) except the man’s own inmost “breath”” ?? (c.f. Job 32:8 & Is 42:5, which have both ruach AND neshamah). Alternatively, I believe, it would be preferable, in all these scriptures (including Eccl 12:7 c.f. Zec 12:1), to understand:- “at death, our spirit [AND breath] both return to God, who gave them”.
    After all, are we truly expected to believe that one of YHVH’s titles is “eloche ha-ruchot”, & means:- “God of the breath, plural”, i.e. oxygen + nitrogen + trace gases …. in Numbers 27:16 c.f. Hebrews 12:23 & 1 Cor 2:11 ???
    Continued EXISTENCE of the INERT, human SPIRIT …. after death:-
    Proof 1:- 1 Corinthians 2:11 (c.f. Job 32:8):-
    “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him (to pneuma tou anthropou to en auto) ? So, also, the things of God noone has known, except the spirit of God (to pneuma tou theou) in him. And we have received …….”.
    Surely this latter “spirit of God”/holy spirit, must be an actual spirit entity/essence …….. or does God just “share some of His thoughts with “our physical brain”, from time to time”, see 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30 ?? Likewise, the former “spirit of/in man” must surely be a very real spirit entity/essence, imparted to man (along with his breath) at birth ……. which survives death (in an inert i.e. UNconscious/ “sleep” state) ??
    proof 2:- 1 Corinthians 15:35-38 says:- “But someone will ask: “How are the dead to be raised (egeiro, awakened) to life ? What with what sort of body do they come ? Only a fool would ask a question like that !!
    When you sow a seed, it does not come to life, unless it dies. And, when you sow a seed, what you sow is not the body which it is going to become, but a naked seed (gumnon kokkon), maybe of corn or of some other grain. God gives it the body He has chosen for it, & to each of the seeds, He gives its own body”.
    Paul, therefore, compares what “survives” death (the spirit in man) to the seed of a flower/plant/grain/tree etc.. : the wheat (or flower/plant) dies, but left behind is the inert seed, which contains all the information (DNA etc..) about the dead plant.
    As all gardeners will know, to produce next year’s flowers or vegetables, you start with the seed from the dead ones from the past !!! In the same way, says Paul, when men & women DIE, their inert, UNconscious “spirit” remains “asleep” with God, until the resurrection from the dead.
    Now, this wouldn’t be a very good choice of analogy by the apostle Paul, would it, if (as some say) after death …….. NOTHING survives: no human seed ? Everything (some say) has returned to dust: NOTHING tangible has actually returned to God !!!?? Paul, in 1 Cor 15, doesn’t appear to agree.

  4. Alan Corrie says:

    Spirit Sleep:-
    A good case can be made for the “human spirit in man” continuing to exist (after death), in an inert i.e. UNconscious, state, Luke 23:46 c.f. Mat 27:50; Acts 7:59 (the “minority” view** of Conditional Immortality): “spirit sleep” (if you like). This “spirit in man” would retain (after death) a record of the human personality; memory; character & probably DNA (c.f. a computer’s hard drive).
    ** God will use a person’s (still-existing, but INERT i.e. UNconscious) “spirit”, to resurrect/re-create the individual person, in the future [see Thomas P Warner’s article:- “Does death mean non-existence ?” in Henceforth journal, 2003] …… rather than from God’s “memory”.
    This understanding helps to explain the mechanism God will probably use to re-create i.e resurrect, all mankind (a universal, substitutionary-ransom is taught in 1 Timothy 2:6, & many other NT passages): God will provide inert (but existing) human “spirits”, with new, resurrected bodies !!!
    A good “analogy to” this, happened to me 5 years ago. My previous computer finally “gave up the ghost”, at that time, with a puff of smoke. So, I gave it to a friend of mine, who runs a 1-man computer business. He was able to copy all my “desktop files” from my inert (dead) desktop, onto a CD-ROM …. for future use, in my new computer. I still have them today !!

    • Armand Newrick says:

      Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your thoughts. Yes it is a great burden for many minds to suppose that a person simply ceases to exist and then be brought back from nothing. I like the idea of being retained in God’s memory bank rather than trying to conceptualize an unseen spirit being retained somewhere or something sleeping. I guess what is important to me is that death is not some how annuled least the work of Jesus Christ death and resurrection be somehow diminished in its necessity to gain Everlasting Life. On that note you make reference to 1 Timothy 2:6 in regards to a universal substitutionary ransom. If I may offer a few humble thoughts, Paul in this letter, was combating in the church a strong move toward exclusivism. In other words there were many people who just wouldn’t be saved. Perhaps (and not intending to be disrespectful) but Calvinists speak of only the elect being saved and perhaps the leaders in this church were thinking the same way. Therefore, Paul says that Jesus Christ gave himself as a ransom for all people, not just those exclusive elect ones. With that context in mind Paul may not necessisarily be saying that all will be saved, but simply all can be saved, if Jesus Christ died for all and not some. Paul goes to great lengths in 1:12-17 to show how universal God’s grace is by saving him the greatest of sinners (in other words he was once unsaved when he did not believe). I notice in 1:16 Paul talks about God’s immence patience with him so that he could be used as an example for those who would believe in him (Christ) and receive Eternal Life. It is difficult to supose that 2:6 then suggests that people will receive Eternal Life without believing. Thanks again for yor thoughts.

  5. I refuse to be sidetracked in the legitimate discussion of texts by an argument over which translation is better. However, I could not affirm the English word hell as a proper translation of Sheol/Hades in any century. It might be proper to use hell to translate Gehenna, but even then you would have to make clear to the reader that it only refers to the final state, not the intermediate state.

    Here are the only passages where Gehenna is used in the NT: Matt. 5:22, 29f; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; Jam. 3:6.

  6. Regarding whether Samuel’s appearance was real or not, let me simply say that the text seems to imply it. Luther did entertain the concept of soul sleep for a time, but rejected it eventually because the Anabaptists taught it. Calvin rejected the notion that Samuel’s appearance was genuine BECAUSE he believed Samuel was in heaven. I cannot comment on the other source. In the end, it is the text itself which must be followed. It is the only primary source.

  7. Donavan Dear says:

    If Samuel was awaken from sleep how was he able to give advise to Saul? Did his prophet powers awake with him also? Demons can’t tell the future, it must have really been Samuel and since he was able to be conjured up knowing info about Saul and Israels future he must have either been given the info by God (God has turned away from Saul, so no) or Samuel was in some sort of conscious state in order to gather info about Sauls immediate past and his future.


    • Donavan,

      Your comment reveals two presuppositions, neither of which is implied by the text. 1) …that God would not reveal anything to Saul because he had rejected him as king; 2) … that Samuel had to have been conscious in Sheol in order for him to know what was going to happen to Saul.

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