The Second Coming and "soul sleep"


In John 14:3, Jesus says to his Apostles “And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also”
How are we to interpret this saying? Some groups that believe in “soul sleep” point to this verse for support. Since the disciples all died and are presumably in heaven with Jesus already, why did Jesus say he will take them to Himself when he comes again? (This recently came up in a debate). Thanks!


First, Never take a verse out of context, that will surely lead to an erroneous misunderstanding of it. Always read in the context of the scripture before and after, the context of the Chapter and those preceding and following it, the context of the entire Bible and in light of The Church that Jesus founded which produced the New Testament. Soul Sleep was an invention of the Jehovah’s witnesses a religion that was founded by a man named Charles Taze Russel in the early 20th century, thousands of years after Jesus Christ. Since then the notion has unfortunately spread to other Christian ecclesiastical communities.


In fact, soul sleep as a doctrine was first taught by the followers of William Miller in 1843, and Russell et al were among his spiritual progeny.

It does not even make sense logically. Sleeping is a BODY function. Only your body can sleep!

And it is foreign to the words of our LORD as well as to Christian Faith prior to 1843.




Thanks for the replies. I have tried to lead him away from his soul sleep theory but he is very resistant to all the passages I cite (obviously) and now he is citing this passage specifically. What can I say to answer his question? Can someone interpret what Christ was saying here please?


When He returns, everybody known to Him will be taken up to Heaven.

The verse does not mention human death or sleeping at all.

It is in other scriptures that we learn that “absent from body” can mean “present with the LORD.”

You aren’t **with ** somebody if you are asleep, as our LORD’s friends demonstrated in Gethsemane; He needed not their sleeping bodies but their conscious presence!



“When He returns, everybody known to Him will be taken up to Heaven.”
But therein lies the problem. If the Apostles already went to Heaven after they died, then why did Jesus tell them specifically that He will come to take them to Himself?

One solution that might be possible is that here Jesus is not talking about the Second Coming. He is talking about coming individually to take their souls into Heaven at their deaths.

What do y’all think?


Well, if we look at it that way, its also impossible for someones teeth to ‘gnash’ in hell as well, after all, only a body has teeth, spirits/ souls do not, We also hear of someone in hell asking for a drop of water to cool his tongue, well, again, only bodies have tongues…kind of confusing, we either have bodies or do not in the after life, but if we do, then I guess it would be possible for them to sleep as well.


Those in the other life are indeed embodied, (spiritual body – pneumatikon soma) and so if they want to sleep they could certainly do so.

The question was not about rebodied human beings and their life functions once released from death, but about the state of death, so to speak



This has always been a question, I have been puzzled with. I think it goes back to “the dead in Christ will rise first”.


We have to keep in mind, God has put limits on our knowledge, we only see a small piece of the puzzle, so we cant possibly begin to even speculate about certain topics, and really when we try to explain, or interpret relevant bible verses…more than likely we are wrong, due to the fact that we are not able to see the big picture.

Im not sure why God would limit our knowledge though, if we are given free will, seems like God would like us to have the ability to see the entire puzzle, has to be a reason why God puts these limits on us…??


It is not an imposed limitation, like a black-hood on your eyes; rather, a limitation intrinsic to our human state, like our inability to see infra-red.

Some things just won’t fit into our human heads.



“And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also”
These words were spoken to the apostles at the Last Supper – those last hours He had with them before He would “go”, that is, be arrested and crucified.

Jesus is merely saying that after His death He will prepare a place in heaven for His followers. They will see Him again at their death when He will come to them and bring them (their soul) to that place He prepared for them.
In addition, at the end of the world, after the resurrection when their bodies are reunited to their souls, they will be brought fully (that is, their body also) to that place in heaven Jesus prepared for them.

From the Haydock footnotes:
Ver. 3. I will come again: not only by rising the third day, but at your death, and at the day of judgment: that where I am, you also may be, and may receive the reward of eternal happiness in my kingdom.


Or, it may be that we just dont know how to access/ use these parts of our brains currently? I know we dont use much of our brain, and I tend to believe we have extraordinary abilities, but just dont know to use them, some we may never learn to use, but it may be possible to learn others.


It is a misconception that large parts of our brainpower go unused.

Certainly when examined, large brain areas are quiescent, for example, when lying in a CAT scanner, the brain regions that move your limbs are inactive; when blindfolded, the visual centers are relatively quiescent. But in the course of living life, everything gets well used.

I’m sure that some capacity remains to be developed, however, our bodies probably cannot provide enough ATP or breath to activate all of it.





Yes, I agree, but…

The spirit can also be in heaven and on earth at the same time; for the spirit is not constrained to space. St. John was caught up to heaven in Revelation and allowed to ‘see’ what would normally be invisible to him but that does not mean his body left earth – nor that his spirit (which is baptized) was not in heaven and on earth at the same time even at times when he could not see heaven. Same with Ezekiel.

Notice, in these events of being caught up in the spirit, Ezekiel and John not only saw heaven passively – but sometimes were able to interact with it:

Revelation 21:9, Revelation 22:8-9, etc.

“All this I, John, heard and saw, till, hearing and seeing it, I fell down as if to worship at the feet of the angel who revealed it to me. BUt he said, Never that; I am only a fellow-servant of thine, and of thy brother prophets, and of all who hold fast the words which this book contains. Keep thy worship for God.”

It’s also a mistake to think that when Jesus says “I will take you to myself” that he is referring exclusively to the body being moved into a heavenly place at the end of time. When heaven was opened, it was because Jesus opened it by his own resurrection – even before ours, so he also prepared a way (communion) for us to be in heaven and on earth at the same time through the Eucharist and his resurrected body.

He literally takes us to himself each time we receive him at church.



Long time no read, Nita. Good to see you.
–Your brother in Christ, Andrew.


Ditto for you too, Andrew. You’ve been away from the forum for awhile. Good to have you back.


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