Former SDAs on State of the Dead


I was wondering, if someone could help me. I am, as ya’ll no doubt know, as converting to catholism and am trying to understand some things before I go into R.C.I.A. Classes (as can be seen by my numerous threads and questions, and I really have one last question (BIG QUESTION anyway) and that is the state of the dead. My aunt used to drag me to her Seventh-Day Adventist church for about 5 years (really the first church I ever got to go to). I never really was nor really considerd myself Adventist. One of their peculicar doctrines is (as I am sure most of ya’ll know) “soul-sleep”. They use Ecc. 9:5 (I think and several other verses) to support their claim. I know that their are some former SDA that use this website (SDA2RC, whose helped me a bit but, I still need a little more; and Mr. AdventistNoMore), and I was figureing that scince ya’ll (as former SDAs) had to do something about this before ya’ll became Catholic, What is the proper interatations of the verses the Adventist use (not just Ecc. 9:5 but, the other ones they use)? In addition I would like to thank ya’ll guys for all the help ya’ll have given me over the past few months (I know it proboly wore on ya’ll pactince a little bit) but, I am truly grateful. :thumbsup:


What exactly are you having a hard time with? Maybe we can help you more, or be more precise in our responses. I have not been on for several days… so I apologize it took so long to respond. But, let us know what your struggling with… :slight_smile: God Bless…



The Book of Ecclesiastes is always used as a proof text by those who don’t believe in a hereafter or to try and disprove the communion of saints. The thing to remember, however, is that the whole point of Ecclesiastes is to show the vanity of this life if there is no eternal reward. Also, it was written before the full reality of heaven was revealed in the New Testament.

In a Catholic Answers article about Seventh-Day Adventists (who share many beliefs of JW’s) here is what the writer has to say about this issue:

A second doctrine which Seventh-day Adventists are likely to challenge Catholics on is the doctrine of the extinction of the soul. Adventists teach that the soul of man is not conscious after death, but that it enters into a kind of sleep when the body dies. When the resurrection occurs, bodies and souls will be revivified. Just people will enter into life everlasting, while the wicked will be punished by fire until they die and cease to exist once again. A corollary to the doctrine of the extinction of the soul is the doctrine that the punishment of hell is not eternal. This doctrine Adventists share with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God.

Paul writes in Philippians 1:23–24, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” He is saying he would prefer to be martyred and be with Christ, but he realizes it is necessary for him to remain alive in order to spread the gospel by his preaching. If the soul “sleeps” (ceases to exists, really) at death, how could it be “better by far” to be martyred rather than continue to have fruitful labor here on Earth?

Adventists are fond of quoting Ecclesiastes 3:19–21 and other Old Testament passages which seem to indicate there is no afterlife. These passages are either written from a human point of view, or they are based on the incomplete revelation the Israelites had concerning the afterlife. It was only when Jesus brought “life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10) that it became clear what the state of the soul is after death.

For the whole article, go here:

For a good overview of Ecclesiastes, go here:

Hope that helps.


What exactly are you having a hard time with? Maybe we can help you more, or be more precise in our responses. I have not been on for several days… so I apologize it took so long to respond. But, let us know what your struggling with… :slight_smile: God Bless…


What I am having a hard time with is the verses that SDAs use to state that the soul sleeps. I admitt I never looked them all but the ones I have have been bugging me. What would the proper look upon these be? I know a lot of people say what fedlis is saying, but I just want to make sure.


These verses in Eccl. are an example of SDA proof texting. Proof Texting is the quoting of verses that seem to support a specific position, totally ignoring those which do not. The reality is that scripture does not bear out the SDA position, the early Church did not teach the SDA position, the current church does not teach the SDA position. For those who choose to interpret scripture with only their own intellect, most interpret the Old Testament by the New Testament (which is a good principle of interpretation), based on the NT we can see that the SDA position is not possible. Even the most basic arguements can prove this, for example, if the SDA position on the state of the dead is correct, then when Christ died… then God died because Christ is God… Can God die? Also, if the SDA position is correct, and the soul/spirit ceases to exist at death, then the person must be re-created not resurrected at the second coming. After all how can one resurrect something that does not exist in the first place.

Now… on to Eccl… I know SDA’s dont quote this often…(Eccl 12:5 NASB) Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. **For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street… **(Eccl 12:7 NASB) then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

This verse says that man goes to his eternal home WHILE MOURNERS ARE IN THE STREET. How is this possible if they cease to exist? Mourners would have been in the street while the body was prepared for the burial and after the burial; it is in this time that according to this verse, man goes to his eternal home. Not years later at the great judgment.

Well, we know the body does not go to its eternal home, for it will later be resurrected and reunited with the soul/spirit. The soul departs the body at death and goes to its eternal reward. The Bible gives an example of this in Genesis:

(Gen 35:18 NASB) **And it came about as her soul was departing (for she died), **that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

(Gen 35:19 NASB) So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).

Genesis tells us emphatically that the soul departed when she died. Another verse that I this is relevant is Matthew 22:32. It is here that the Jewish leaders were purposefully questioning and even trying to corner Christ specifically about death and the resurrection. Christ makes an “astonishing” statement, the Sadducees did not believe in any life after death, Christ not only confirms that there is life after death, but also states that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive!

(Mat 22:29 NASB) But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.

(Mat 22:30 NASB) "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

(Mat 22:31 NASB) "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying,

(Mat 22:32 NASB) ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

What was Christ saying? He was saying that even though the Jews knew the bodies of the three patriarchs were dead, the three men were living. Why would he say this? Well, because according to Christ, those who believe in him will not die!! Look at this next verse:

(John 11:25 NASB) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,
(John 11:26 NASB) and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

How many Adventist’s believe that we will never die if we believe in Christ? Not many, in fact Adventists believe that nearly all, except the faithful at the end of time, die and then are recreated later. This flies directly in the face of the verse above? This verse is so simple, Christ is assuring the woman he is speaking to that even if she dies, if she believes in him, she is only dead in her physical body, for if we believe in Christ we will never truly die this is a important part of the Gospel!



The reason I showed the few verses in my previous quote was to show that “proof texting” is easy if you only look at one side… however, if you truly look at ALL of Eccl. and figure out how to make it harmonize with the rest of scripture then the SDA verses are not that powerful, because the common theme in scripture is exactly opposite of what they teach. IF you want to delve more into Eccl 9:5 etc. then just let me know and we can start looking at those verses (and their contexts) in more depth!

Remember Hebrews says that it is appointed unto man once to die, then to face judgement… not once to die, then to cease to exist, then to be re-created, then to be resurrected, then to face judgement. No where in scripture will you find a single verse that states that man ceases to exist at death… even if one “knows nothing”, that does not mean he ceases to exist… after all, how can one not know something… if one does not even exist?



One more post on this subject… that may be silly, but I couldnt wrap my mind around it when I was SDA and looking for answers… when exactly does one “cease to exist” at death? Is when the brain stops, when the heart stops, or when both the brain and the heart stops? If man ceases to exist at death, then how are people resuscitated? Are the doctors able to re-create them, or do they not cease to exist right at death, is it sometime later? say… 5 minutes or 10 minutes…

SDA’s say we cease to exist at death, but when is that? People are brought back after being dead, or are they re-created (if they ceased to exist…)?



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit