Monday, January 23, 2017

Under the Sun - What Does It Mean?

This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all. -- Ecclesiastes 9:3.

There are many who believe that what appears in the book of Ecclesiastes is simply the statement of the unbelieving man, and thus the words express hopelessness and its words cannot be depended on. Some refer to the book of Ecclesiastes as the "Book of Errors". It is claimed that this book contradicts the rest of the Bible, and thus they claim that the book of Ecclesiastes is not to be trusted for truth. The argument is usually directed especially toward one chapter in Ecclesiastes, and that is chapter nine. The reason for this argument is that in chapter nine the dead are described as unconscious, and sheol (hell) is described as a place or condition without knowledge, wisdom, etc. Not understanding the divine plan, the advocates of the inherent immortality see what they consider contradictions in Ecclesiastes 9 if these statements are taken as actual evidence of the condition of the dead. They claim, that not only does the writer say in verse 5 that the dead know nothing, but he also adds that "they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun". They also claim that verse 2 (rsv) expresses the thought that "one fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil," which idea they claim is contradictory to all the rest of Scripture.

We first note that the word olam, translated "forever" in Ecclesiastes 9:6, does not always carry the exact same thought of eternity in the manner that we often use the words "forever" and "eternity." The King James Version translates it several ways, depending on context: "of old", "ever of old", "old time" or "old" (Genesis 6:3; Deuteronomy 32:7; 1 Samuel 27:8; Job 22:15; Psalm 25:6; Proverbs 23:10; Ecclesiastes 1:10); "alway" (Job 7:16); "the world" (Psalm 73:12); "ancient times" or "ancient" (Psalm 77:5; Proverbs 22:28); "long" (Psalm 143:3; Ecclesiastes 12:5); etc. Leviticus 24:8 tells of the Mt. Sinai or Mosaic covenant as being an everlasting covenant yet Jeremiah 31:31 prophesies its end with a second and better covenant. Hebrews 8:7-13 reiterates this prophecy as in the process of fulfillment. In Exodus 21:5-6, we read that if a Hebrew servant serves his Hebrew master six full years and then does not desire his freedom, the 6th verse says (King James Version), "Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; lie shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." Taken as literally meaning never coming to an end, this would have the servant in service of his master for all eternity, which is absurd. From the usage of the word "olam" in Deuteronomy 23:3-5 and Psalm 73:12, we ascertain that it can be used as pertaining to a certain period of time, an age or "world". This, we believe, as can be determined from the contextual setting, is also its proper usage in Ecclesiastes 9:6.
For a thorough examination of the usage of *olam*, see:
-- Please Note: The author is a universalist, and while we do not agree with all the conclusions on this author, he does a fairly good job of showing how the Hebrew word "olam" is used.

Nevetheless, Solomon does tell us that the dead have no more any share in all that is done under the sun. Regardless of the amount of understanding he had concerning the divine plan, we believe he told the truth. We do not believe he was lying when he said the dead know nothing, nor do we believe that God would have him write something so direct and then demand that we believe just the opposite or be roasted for all eternity, as some proclaim that God will do.

Solomon does not directly say what he means by "under the sun," and it is possible that, like Daniel and many other writers of the Hebrew scriptures, even he did not know completely why God's spirit led him to use this wordage. (Daniel 12:8) We know many assume that he is referring to the actual sun that shines in the sky. Nevertheless the words in Ecclesiastes do show that he uses this expression as regarding the vanity and crooked condition of man under the sun. Thus, he uses the expression regarding the condition of man in this present evil age, the perverse and crooked generation that that through Adam, the whole creation that has been subjected to futility due to Adam's sin. (Ecclesiastes 1:15; 7:13; Acts 2:40; Romans 5:12-19; 8:19-22; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 1:4) "Vanity of vanity, all is vanity. What does man gain from all his labor in which he labors under the sun?" "This sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith." --Ecclesiastes 1:2,3,13.

The apostle Paul agrees with Solomon that mankind has been subjected to vanity, not of his own will, but by the will of him who has subjected him (Romans 8:20), therefore the sun that mankind Solomon also describes the futility that man has been subjected to as "chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:11,17,26; 4:16; 6:9) No one would think that the expression "chasing after the wind" means to literally chase after the literal wind. Likewise, Solomon is referring to the evil as "under the sun", probably referring back to Genesis 3:17-19. He constantly makes references to the curse of evil in connection with "under the sun": "the oppressions that are done under the sun"; "the evil work that is done under the sun.", "vanity under the sun", etc. -- Ecclesiastes 4:1,3,7.

Mankind has also been subject, as the seed of the Serpent, to the sun that is presently ruling the world, that Satan the Devil. Satan depicted as the "God of this age," and thus the main ruler in the present "heavens" that is be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:5-7)

This vanity and rulership of Satan is not forever, for the world of mankind will eventually be released from this bondage to vanity in order that they might enjoy the freedom of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19-23; Isaiah 2:2-4; 25:7,8) When this bondage to vanity is gone, the sun that is the source of this travail will be gone with it. Solomon does not so expressly state it, but, as noted above, we can ascertain from the rest of the Bible that the sun that produces this evil is the rulership of Satan. Jesus used the "sun" similarly as a symbol of tribulation. (Matthew 13:5,6,20,21) God's kingdom through Jesus will extinguish the sun of travail in the present heavens of Satan's rulership (as well as all the false things that man looks to for light) that is now shines upon the present earth filled with evil. (Isaiah 13:9-12; Matthew 4:8,9; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Revelation 12:9; 16:13,14; Ephesians 6:12; Galatians 1:4) The present symbolic heavens (with its symbolic sun, moon and stars) will pass away, to be replaced by the new heavens (with a new sun -- the sun of righteousness -- Malachi 4:3; 2 Peter 3:13) and a new earth. -- 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-5.

Thus the present sun under which all the present evil is being done will no longer be in existence when the dead are raised. Praise Yah!

However, with the Biblical view of this symbolic sun and the travail it produces, one can see that none of the statements of Solomon should be blown off as though he were lying or presenting a false view, or that his statements contradict the rest of the Bible. When he said that the dead know nothing, he meant they really do not know anything. And, generally speaking, they will never return to this present evil world under its present sun of travail. However, the world of mankind will return to life on the earth during the millennial rule of Jesus and his church, when the present sun that produces travail and evil will no longer be. Satan will be abyssed at that he will not be able to deceive the nations. -- Revelations 20:1-3.

What about verse 2 of Ecclesiastes 9? Does this indeed contradict the rest of the Bible? Absolutely not! The one fate or event that comes to all is death -- death is upon mankind as received through Adam, and the rest of the Bible agrees with this. Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 shows that man even shares this same fate with the beasts. It is only because of the ransom sacrifice of the Lord Jesus that mankind has any hope to return from the fate of death. -- Job 14:1,4; Hosea 13:14; Matthew 20:28; John 3:16,17; Romans 5:15-19 (See NAS or ASV); 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 2:9; 9:27,28; 1 John 2:2.

Related to this, the claim is made that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes after he fell into false worship, thus the words in Ecclesiastes do not express the truth. It is true that Solomon disobeyed Yahweh's commands and took wives who worshiped the heathen idol-gods, for which Yahweh rebuked Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-13); this does not mean that Solomon did not repent of his sin when Yahweh rebuked him, or that Solomon was telling lies in Ecclesiastes. Nevertheless, it is not certain when the book was written. It is likely that it was written after Solomon fell into disobedience and in the latter days of his life he returned to the true God and wrote down the wisdom revealed in his experience. Some scriptures within Ecclesiastes tend to support this thought, such as Ecclesiastes 2:13. Regardless, the book of Ecclesiastes is the result of Solomon's exploration of the wisdom that God had given him in Jerusalem, which wisdom he said remained with him. (Ecclesiastes 1:13;16; 2;9) The book of Ecclesiastes, although it shows the vanity of the present life "under the sun," was written to encourage worship and obedience of the laws of the true God, not the false gods of the heathen. -- Ecclesiastes 12:1,13,14.

Thus the points presented concerning Ecclesiastes 9 are shown to be in agreement with, and not in contradiction of the rest of the Bible.

Some related studies written by others (We do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given.)

Psalm 6:5 - No Giving of Thanks in Sheol

Psalm 6:5 - For in death there is no memory of you. In Sheol, who shall give you thanks [Hebrew, Yadah (transliterated), "laud, praise", or, "praise for mercies." -- Fausset*] -- World English.
David is here speaking of closeness of his Impending own death. David's statement here is probably one of the most damaging to the theory that sheol consists of several compartments, or that those in sheol are conscious of anything. Certainly if David expected to go to the supposed paradise in sheol when he died, he would also expect to to give thanks to Jehovah in such a place; alternatively, David was certainly not saying that he expected to go to a place of eternal torture in sheol. However, once we realize that sheol is the oblivious, unconscious realm of death, we can see how this scripture fits well with other scriptures. -- Psalm 115:17; Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10. -------- *Jamieson, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalm 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://www.studylight.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=006. 1871

Some have claimed that Psalm 6:5 is not speaking literally, that it is speaking "poetically"; thus it is claimed that David did not did not mean for this to be an actual description of those in sheol. While it is true that the Psalms are poetical, there is no reason to believe this means that we should view David's description here to mean anything other than what he stated, except that one wishes to discard what David said in order to hold onto the dualistic philosophy that the dead are not dead. Psalm 88:5 is cited to prove such an pictorial use. It is claimed that it is not true that God does not remember anymore. Yet when one examines Psalm 88:5 in its context, we can see that what David actually supports Psalm 6:5. God does no more remember the dead in the sense that his lovingkindness, his blessings, reach them while they are dead. See our comments on Psalm 88:3.

It is further claimed that by taking Psalm 6:5 in context with verse 4, that we should see that David is explaining to the reader that the living, not the dead, remember God's mercies and celebrate his deliverance. Verse 4 reads: "Return, Jehovah. Deliver my soul, And save me for your lovingkindness' sake." One states: "Verse 5 of Psalm 6, when put back in context is a continuation of verse 4, explaining to the reader that the living not the dead remember God’s mercies and celebrate His deliverance." The statement itself is true; yet it also confirms what we say. But the writer continues: "For as the context of Psalm 6 shows the perspective is from this physical life." Evidently by this he means that all that Paul is referring to is this physical life, and that one actually does not continue to praise Jehovah in sheol. This again reads a whole lot into the what David said that just isn't there, with the evident desire to support the paganistic thought that the dead are not dead.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hope of Life After Death Part 05 (Psalm 17:15; 73:24,25; John 14:2; Conscious Sleep?)

Psalm 73:24,25 
(42) Another scripture sometimes quoted to prove that the righteous go to their eternal reward at death is Psalm 73:24,25: "You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Who do I have in heaven but you?..." We assume that the argument is that Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, went to heaven when he died. However, the first part of verse 23, which is often left out when quoted, states: "Nevertheless, I am continually with you." The thought is that Asaph was looking to Yahweh in this present life. Of course, Yahweh is in heaven, but nothing is said about Asaph going to heaven. It is stated that he would be received to glory. As Paul explains, there are many kinds of glory. (1 Corinthians 15:40,41) Being received into glory says nothing about that glory being in heaven. The glory to which Asaph will be received "afterward" is to the glory man lost but which will be restored in the resurrection. (Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6-9) Again, those who want to cling to their traditions are simply grasping for scriptures into which they wish to "read" something that is not there.
John 14:2 
(43) John 14:2 is often quoted as proof that Jesus' disciples go to be with him when they die, for they state that the Father's house is surely in heaven. While we agree that the Father's house was in heaven, Jesus stated that he was going to prepare a place for his followers. Evidently, he had in mind his immediate disciples there, who were called to be joint-heirs with him in the kingdom. (Romans 8:17) These, we understand, will sit with Jesus on the throne upon the heavenly Mount Zion. (Revelation 14:1; Hebrews 12:22) But they do not receive this inheritance until Jesus returns: "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3) Thus Jesus did not tell them that when they die, they would be immediately taken to heaven to be with him. No, but he did tell them that they would be with him when he comes again. This is the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation 6. Again the traditionalists have not given any proof that the believer goes to heaven at death.
Psalm 17:15 
(44) Another scripture some present to show that the righteous go to their reward at death is Psalm 17:15, where David states: "As for me, I will look upon your face in righteousness. I will be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness." Concerning this, we are told that the redeemed are beholding God's face in righteousness and are satisfied with seeing his form while they sleep.Again, the scripture says no such thing! David is speaking of the time when his soul will be awaken out of the sleep of death, that is, in the resurrection day. When David awakes from the sleep of death, he will be in the likeness of God, as Adam was before he sinned. (Genesis 1:26) David's looking upon Yahweh's face in righteousness pertains to his life before he died, not afterdeath. (See Numbers 6:25; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Psalm 31:16; 67:1; 81:3,7,19; 119:135) There is nothing in Psalm 17:15 about what happens to the believer's soul or spirit at the instant of death nor of the condition of those in the sleep of death. Notice how those who wish to cling to Satan's lie grasp upon any phrase in the scriptures and take it out of its context to try to "prove" the lie that the dead are not really dead. -- Genesis 3:4.
"Conscious Sleep"? 
John 17:24, Romans 8:18, 1 Corinthians 13:12,13; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21,23; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation, chapters 4,5,7,12; Revelation 5:9; 14:3; 6:10; 7:15; and 20:4
(45) The above scriptures have been given as examples of what the redeemed would be doing while they sleep in the sleep of death. Yet not one of these scriptures say what proponents of the "conscious sleep" theory would like them to say. In John 17:24, Jesus was referring to the time when he returns (nothing about the condition of the dead), so that those whom Yahweh had given him might be with him. (John 14:3) Romans 8:18 refers to the time when the sons of God will be revealed at Christ's return. 1 Corinthians 13:12 refers to the resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:8 (see later discussion starting with paragraph 127) refers to whether we are at home, finding comfort with our body of flesh, or present with Yahweh, that is walking by the spirit. Philippians 1:21,23 (see later discussion starting with paragraph 125) refers to Paul's desire to return (incorrectly translated "depart" in many translations) in the resurrection that he might be with Christ. Hebrews 12:23 simply states that there is a recording in heaven of the church of the first-born -- nothing about being in heaven while dead. There is nothing in Revelation chapters 4, 5, 7, or 12 saying anything about what happens to the redeemed during the sleep of death. Revelation 5:8-10; 14:1-4 and 20:4 refer to the saints (not just heirs of God, but joint-heirs with Jesus -- Romans 8:17, see New American Standard) who take part in the first resurrection and sit on the throne with Jesus. (Revelation 20:6; 14:1-3) In Revelation 6:9,10 the Lamb opens the fifth symbolic seal and John sees the slain souls of those who had borne witness while alive. The fact that these souls (not bodies) are slain indicates that they as souls are dead, not living. However, the souls cry out for vengeance. Now if they are dead they cannot literally cry out. But they can symbolically cry out as did the blood of Abel. (Genesis 4:10) Revelation 7:15 is speaking of the disciples of Jesus who are left remaining on earth after the great tribulation climax at the Battle of Armageddon. (Matthew 24:37-41; Luke 17:26-37; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Revelation 7:14) Thus we see that not one of the scriptures presented show that the sleeping dead are conscious, rather these scriptures are speaking either of the resurrection or the return of Jesus.
(46) From what we have seen so far it should be plain that the scriptural answer to our question is simply this: The dead are all, good and bad alike, in one place, sheol, the grave not the literal grave, but the death-state. "All go into one place. All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Ecclesiastes 3:20) "There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary [including the weary in well-doing] be at rest. There the prisoners [of death] rest together. They hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and the great are there." (Job 3:17-19) "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol, there where you go." (Ecclesiastes 9:10, King James II Version) The teaching of the scriptures is, therefore, that THE DEAD ARE DEAD. -- Ecclesiastes 9:5.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Resurrection Hope - On This Site

    The Repentant Criminal in Paradise -- Luke 23:42,43

    (1) One of the two criminals who were put to death with Jesus asked to be remembered by Him when He would come into His kingdom, and Jesus assured him that he would be with Him in paradise --Luke 23:42, 43.

    (2) Due to John, Jesus' and His disciples' widespread and repeated preaching from the prophets (Matthew 3:1,2; 4:17,23; 6:10; 9:35; 10:5,7; Mark 1:14,15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:1,2,11; 16:16; 21:31), the people of Israel in general, including this sinner, knew of the coming kingdom.

    (3) The kingdom has two phases: (a) its invisible, heavenly phase: Jesus and His joint-heirs, His Bride, (Romans 8:16; Revelation 21:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Luke 12:32); (b) its visible, earthly phase: the rest of spiritual Israel, heirs of God (though not joint-heirs) including the Bridesmaids, the Great Company (Psalm 45:14, 15; Revelation 7:1-17; 19:9); the faithful ones of old (Hebrews 11:39, 40; Genesis 13:14, 15; Acts 7:5; Matthew 11:11; Luke 13:28-30) and its subjects-mankind in general. -- Psalm 37:9-11, 22, 29, 34; Isaiah 60:21; Amos 9:14, 15.

    (4) By teaching His disciples to pray, "May your kingdom come. May your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth," Jesus showed that His kingdom on earth was future.

    (5) The fulfillment of Bible prophecies shows that this reign of righteousness and peace over all the earth (Daniel 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 18, 27; Zechariah 14:9; Haggai 2:7; Hebrews 12:27, 28; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 2:2-4; Jeremiah 3:17) will soon come.

    (6) Contrary to the views of some, the criminal never asked Jesus to take him to heaven.
    (7) He did not ask Jesus to remember him on the day they were put to death, but rather at a future time -- "when you come into your kingdom". Not even the disciples at that time had knowledge of being in the kingdom in heaven. They were still thinking of the kingdom being established in earthly Jerusalem. -- Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6.

    (8) In reply Jesus solemnly assured him that his request would be granted, that He would indeed remember him when He would come into His kingdom, saying: "Verily [Amen, or Assuredly], I say unto thee this day: With me, shalt thou be in Paradise." -- Luke 23:43, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible translation.

    (9) Except for being used of various specific gardens (Deuteronomy 11:10; 1 Kings 21:2; etc.), the word paradise, meaning garden, is used in the Bible to refer to: (a) the garden of Eden, "the garden of God" (Genesis 2:8-15; Ezekiel 28:13), i.e., the perfect abode of Adam and Eve while sinless; (b) the symbolic paradise of God from which the overcomers of this age are symbolically given fruit from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7 -- compare Ezekiel 28:13; 31:8,9); (c) the earth after the kingdom is set up on it, as and after its curse of sin and death is increasingly removed (Revelation 22:1-3, compare Genesis 2:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:26), and it becomes increasingly (Daniel 2:35) "like the garden of Eden" (Ezekiel 36:35), i.e., Paradise Lost becomes Paradise Regained, which new earth was seen in vision and prophecy together with the third, the new heaven -- the spiritual control of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; 2 Peter 3:6, 7, 12, 13; Revelation 21:1-3)-that will supplant the spiritual control of Satan, "the god of this world." -- 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2.

    (10) Of the three Biblical paradises mentioned above, (a) was destroyed long before Jesus' death, (b) is only a symbolic representation of the original paradise(a) as symbolically given to the overcomers of this age; (c) is still future; hence all refer back to or forward to the earthly paradise and none of these refer to a place where Jesus was to go when he died. Additionally, on the third day thereafter Jesus stated that He had not yet gone to be with his Father (John 20:17), nor did He go there until 40 days later. -- Acts 1:3-11.

    (11) Therefore the comma should have been placed after the word "today" in Luke 23:43, and not before it, as is done in many Bible translations.

    (12) Placing the comma before the word "today" (thus, as in the King James Version: "I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise") would make Jesus a falsifier, for it would mean that He promised the criminal that he would be with Him in paradise on the same day they were put to death, when He knew from the Scriptures that He was not going there that day, but on that day was to pour out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53:10, 12) and His soul was to descend into hell (hades - the oblisios death state - Acts 2:30-32; Eclessiastes 9:10), in which he was in silence and not able give thanks to or praise God (Psalm 6:5; 88:11,12; 115:17; Isaiah 38:18), and from which His soul would not be raised until the third day -- Luke 18:31-33.

    (13) Placing the comma after the word "today" (thus: "I say to you today, You will be with me in paradise") creates no such difficulties, for it shows that Jesus merely made the promise to the criminal on that day, though the promise would not be fulfilled until Jesus would come into His kingdom.

    (14) Commas and other punctuation marks, found in various Bible translations to aid the reader, were not placed there by Divine inspiration, since they are not found in the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament -- in fact, punctuation marks were not even invented until the ninth century after Christ -- so there is nothing at all in the Divinely inspired record that requires the comma to be before instead of after the word "today".
    (15) Some have tried to force an explanation by saying that paradise was a part of Hades until after Jesus' resurrection when, they claim, it was transported to heaven. This idea is based on apostate Jewish philosophy adopted from the Greeks. However, there is not one scripture to support this view, and in contrast with this view is the scripture that relates that Jesus HAD to be in the ground for three days and nights in order to fulfill scripture. (Matthew 12:40) Surely if one is in paradise at death, he would be able to give thanks and praise to God, but we read in the scriptures that the righteous in hades are not able to gives thank to God nor praise God. (Psalm 6:5; 88:11,12; 115:17; Isaiah 38:18) All the way through the Old Testament, every place where the Hebrew word for paradise (usually translated 'garden' in the KJV) appears it always refers to an earthly condition, not as an imagined compartment of Sheol or Hades.- See Genesis 2:8,9,10,15,16; Ezekiel 28:13; 31:8,9; 36:35.
    (16) Heaven is a prepared place (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 10:34) for prepared people (Romans 9:23, 24)-i.e., those only who by self-denial and world-denial attain the prize of the high calling. (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:26, 27; ) These are begotten of the holy spirit (1 John 5:1, 18; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3-8), and then faithfully follow in Jesus' steps. (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6) Such must by patient continuance in well-doing, including bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, attain the perfection of faith so that they might put on incorruption, and attain this glorious prize of the high calling. -- Romans 2:7; Galatians 5:22,23; Philippians 3:10-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 12:14; James 1:4; 2 Peter 1:5-11.
    (17) God holds all accountable for the sins they commit (Matthew 12:36; 1 Timothy 5:24) and commands them to repent -- Acts 17:30; 3:19.

    (18) Jesus appreciated the dying criminal's manifestation of reverence for God and true repentance for sins committed (Luke 23:40, 41), and therefore on that dark day graciously granted his request and gave him the comforting assurance that he would be with Him in paradise -- the earthly phase of His kingdom -- when it is established, for it is evident that the criminal's repentance, so close to the time of his death, did not give him time to be properly prepared for a place in the heavenly, spiritual phase of the kingdom.
    (19) God did not promise that any who will be in the kingdom's heavenly phase or its earthly phase -- including the penitent criminal -- would be rewarded at death; rather, He showed that they would sleep in death (1 Kings 2:10; Daniel 12:2; John 11:11-14, 44; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) and get their rewards at the time of Jesus' second advent, in the resurrection awakening. -- John 14:3; Matthew 16:27; Luke 14:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 1:7, 13.

    (20) At Jesus' return in His kingdom (Luke 19:11, 12), His reward is with Him (Revelation 22:12), and "all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth," either "to the resurrection of life," or "to the resurrection of judgment" -- for "there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." -- John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.

    (21) Then Jesus will remember the penitent criminal -- he will awaken him from Adamic death with the "unjust," who were not previously on trial for life, for whom also he died (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2), and he will give them a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4) and a trial for life during His reign on earth (Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6), in the thousand-year judgment day (John 12:47,48; 2 Peter 3:8), when ee will "judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31; Psalm 96; 98) and make the entire earth into a paradise.
    (22) Then "whosoever will" (Revelation 22:17) of these will gradually attain human perfection on the highway of holiness then cast up -- "they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:8, 10; 62:10); all found worthy (the unworthy will be destroyed -- Isaiah 65:20; Revelation 20:7-9; 21:8; Psalm 37:9,10; 145:20) will inherit everlasting life, not in heaven, but in the paradise on earth. -- Psalm 37:11,29; Matthew 5:5; 25:31-46.

    (23) We present below P.S.L. Johnson's comments regarding the comma placement in Ephiphany Studies in the Scriptures - Vol. 12: The Bible, (1949) by P.S.L. Johnson, Laymen's Home Missionary Movement

    On page 621, referring to Panin's studies, "the numeric value of the words of every sentence, paragraph, section and division of each Biblical book does total in multiples of seven." (page 621)
    (24) Regarding Luke 23:43 he states on page 632:
    "By what is called neighborhood numerics God points out errors that He foreknew would arise. By neighborhood numerics is meant heptads that are not exact, but that, if allowance is made for a number to be one or more short of a heptad, or one or more long of a heptad, the rest will come out by heptads, e.g., the figure 104 is short 1 of being a heptad, 105; but if treated as 105 it will make figures connected with it in the same connection come out in heptads. It is very apparent that such a way of treating heptads violates the principle of heptads, for the strength of Biblical Numerics lies in its working in perfect sevens; . . . . As to the punctuation of Luke 23:43 as given in the A.V.: 'Verily I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise,' . . . . Here Biblical Numerics comes to our rescue. It shows that if the comma is put before the word today, as in the A.V., neighborhood numerics result in both clauses of the statement, but if it is put after the word today each clause comes out in perfect heptads. This is God's way of showing that error would prevail on this subject, and His way of correcting the error. This phenomenon occurs quite frequently in the Bible in passages foreseen as misused."
    Addendum

    We have been accused of having to rely on Paul S. L. Johnson's statement to support placing the comma after the word "today" rather than before it. Those who make this argument appear to be simply using it to distract from the real presentation on this matter. We do not rely, nor do we have to rely, on Paul Johnson's statements concerning this, for the evidence from the scriptures as a whole is overwhelmingly in favor of putting the comma after the word today, rather than before it, even without the usage of Johnson's presentation of numerics on this matter. Joseph Rotherham, E. W. Bullinger (See Appendix 173, The Companion Bible, as well as many others, recognized the correct placement of the punctuation long before Johnson ever made the statement.

    See also our studies:
    For more information on Biblical Numerics, see our
    resource page:
    http://reslight.net/l-numerics.html
    Clicking on the following numbers will take you to sites that present views similar to ours; we do not necessarily agree with all the views presented by these site owners:
    1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
    The following numbers represent links to site that present views not in harmony with what we present, and which, of course, we do not agree with; we believe a careful examination of all the scriptures presented on these sites will show that they do not support the idea of inherent immortality, nor that the repentant sinner who died with Jesus went to paradise in the day that he died:
    1 * 2 * 3
    Last update of this study: March 2, 2009

    Hope of Life After Death Part 04 - The Intermediate State

    The Intermediate State 
    (33)  We have seen that the scriptures teach an intermediate state, a time of waiting between death and the reward. A great many students of the Bible have come to this conclusion, but unfortunately many of them still cling to the erroneous idea of the natural immortality of the soul. Therefore they believe that the soul during this intermediate state is conscious, that it can think and feel, and that it knows even more after death than it knew before. Let us inquire into this also.
    (34)  Do the scriptures declare that after death, the soul knows more than it did before its death? Look at Ecclesiastes 9:5: "The dead know not anything"; also the tenth verse: "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in Sheol (the realm of death -- Sheol will be discussed later), where you are going." Then we look at the prayer of Hezekiah: "Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you: those who go down in the pit cannot hope for your truth. The living, the one living, he shall praise you, even as I do this day." (Isaiah 38:18,19) Again the Psalmist tells us in the 146th Psalm 4th verse, that when a man dies, "he returns to his earth, and in that very day his thoughts perish." Does that look as if he knew more than he did before? In Psalm 6:4 we read: "Return, O Yahweh, deliver my soul: O save me for your mercies' sake." Then verse 5: "For in death there is no remembrance of you; in sheol who shall give you thanks?" Is it not clear then, that the soul during this intermediate state is in a condition of unconsciousness, waiting for the resurrection awakening?
    The Sleep of Death 
    (35)  It is only when we understand what death is that we can realize the beauty of that figure which is so often used throughout both the scriptures written before and after Jesus' arrival, the sleep of death. Our Lord, speaking to his disciples, said: "Our friend Lazarus is sleeping," and when his disciples did not understand him, "then Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead.' " (John 11:11-14) Death is likened to sleep because it is a state of unconsciousness to be followed by an awakening.
    (36)  Perhaps, you, like so many of us, have had an experience where you have come home very tired and sleepy. You sit or lie down to rest somewhere. You shut your eyes then open them again, thinking to yourself: I was nearly asleep that time.' On looking at the clock however, you are surprised to see that you have been asleep for an hour! You thought you had simply closed my eyes for moment, and could hardly believe that any interval had elapsed. Why was that? Because the interval was a state of unconsciousness. You were asleep, and your sleep was a sound sleep because you were tired. It was as sound as death. That is the condition of the dead. When a person dies he closes his eyes, passes into a state of unconsciousness, and an interval elapses; it may be weeks, years, centuries, or even millenniums; but no matter how long, to that person the period is a complete blank. It is just like that hour of sleep mentioned above. In other words, to each one who is awakened on the resurrection day, it will be as if he had simply closed his eyes and the next moment opened them. That is the condition of the dead. They are completely unconscious. They "know not anything." -- Ecclesiastes 9:5.
    ==========
    See our study: Under the Sun -- What Does It Mean?
    (37)  Some would like for us to believe that when Jesus and others likened death to sleep, that they only meant that they were no more active in the world which they left, but they insist that the dead are active while death. Such can nowhere be found in the Bible! It is strange that many can refer to the scriptures that speak of those in death as being unconscious (Psalm 30:91; 115:17; 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 38:18,19) and yet read added-on philosophy into those scriptures so as to deny their plain statements. They argue: "Nowhere does Scripture say that the soul of the departed one falls asleep. It was the person who fell asleep, not necessarily the soul." Thus they would separate the soul from the person. Yet Genesis 2:7 plainly states that "man became a living soul [Hebrew, nephesh, Strong's #5315]." 1 Corinthians 15:45 agrees with this. Thus the Bible speaks of the soul dying and of "dead" souls (Ezekiel 18:4,20; See Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6; 9:7 where the Hebrew word nephesh is translated "body," in the King James Version, thus hiding the fact that the Bible speaks of dead souls.) While it is true that the Bible does not directly say that the soul sleeps, the Bible does say that the soul dies. Since Jesus and others referred to death as sleep, the soul therefore enters the state of inactivity spoken of in the scriptures cited earlier. However, nowhere does the Bible say that the souls of redeemed ones enter into paradise or heaven at death.
    (38)  There are those who, in trying to hold to the idea that we do not really die, argue, via imagining beyond what is actually written (1 Corinthians 4:6), that after Lazarus died, the Lord, knowing beforehand that after just a few days he was going to raise his friend from the dead, kept his soul in a state of unconscious repose. Thus they claim that such an exception (and a few similar exceptions) would not prove the rule. An additional argument, again, which has to be assumed beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6), is that Lazarus and others who were raised from the dead could have gone to heaven and yet were not permitted or not able to talk about their glorious experience. The Bible on the Life Hereafter, page 55.
    (39)  Of course, such reasoning does not do away with several facts: 1) No scripture speaks of the soul going to heaven at death. 2) Many scriptures speak of the soul dying at death. 3) Many scriptures describe death as a state of unconsciousness. 4) One has to keep adding more and more into the scriptures beyond what is stated in order to have the scriptures harmonize with the "immortal soul/spirit" doctrines.
    (40)  But what if Lazarus did go to heaven when he died? Would not Jesus actually have done him a disservice instead of a service to bring him back into the present evil surroundings? Or suppose Jesus had kept the soul of Lazarus in a state of unconsciousness so that he could not go to heaven, as has been suggested? Would not such interference have also been a disservice on the behalf of Jesus? Either assumption would present, not only an addition to what God has reveled by means of His Holy Spirit, but also an unreasonable act by Jesus.
    (41)  But the "hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." (John 5:28,29) Notice that Jesus did not say: "all that are in eternal bliss and in eternal torment," but, "all that are in the graves," the death-state. "Ah, yes," some will say, "that means the bodies of the dead, it does not refer to their souls; it means that when Jesus calls, the souls of the saved and of the lost will fly back and re-inhabit their bodies. It is the bodies which are to rise, for it is only the bodies which pass into the death-state." But that was not what Jesus said. Again, such represents a spirit beyond what is written, which has to be imagined, assumed, and added to what is written. We have the united testimony of both science and the scriptures that the bodies will not be resurrected in the "last day". Science demonstrates that the bodies are at death disintegrated into its various elements. The elements then may be recycled into plants are other substances. In turn the plants may be eaten by man or beast, thus forming a part of a new body, etc. It is then manifestly impossible for the same body to rise. But we do not need to rely on the testimony of science alone. The apostle Paul in answering this question: "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" did not say: "That is a peculiar question! Why do you ask: How are the dead to be raised, and with what strong>BODY do they come'? Do you not know that the soul never dies, and that it is only the body which dies and requires to be resurrected?" No! What Paul did say was: "You foolish ones!...You do not sow that body that will be . . . but God gives it [the seed/grain of the new creature] a body as it has pleased him, and to every seed his own body." (I Corinthians 15:35-38) What could be plainer than that? It is not merely the body but the soul that dies, as we read in Isaiah 53:12, of the Messiah: "he has poured out his soul unto death." It is not the body, therefore, but the soulthat is to be resurrected; and God shall give to each soul a body as it pleases him, according to what was sown in this lifetime.

    "Hope of Life After Death" was originally published in 1997 as a small book; it has been updated several times since; last update of this section: 5/19/2014.

    Hope of Life After Death Part 03 - Thief in Paradise

    The Thief in Paradise

    (31)An objection that is often put forward is concerning the reply of Jesus to the thief who died along side him. (Luke 23:43) According to the usual thought, the repentant thief went, the moment he died, to join Jesus in heaven. Actually, Jesus did not say anything about heaven, but promised the thief that he would be with him in "paradise," not heaven.

    Paradise does not mean heaven as we will show later. But we have seen the testimony of the Scriptures is that all the apostles, martyrs, and other saints (dedicated ones) who have died are waiting till the return of the Messiah to get their reward. It follows then, if the usual idea with regard to our Lord's reply is correct, that this thief must have had precedence over the apostles and all the holy martyrs. But our Lord himself said to Mary on the third day after his promise to the thief: "I have not yet ascended to my Father." Again, Peter, in Acts 2:27, draws attention to words of David in the 16th Psalm: "You will not leave my soul in hades," but shows that David was not here speaking of himself, but, as the prophetic mouthpiece of our Lord Jesus, he was foretelling that Jesus' soul would go to hades, not to heaven, but would not remain there. (Nor does any scripture say that Paradise is a section of hades, as some teach. This matter will be discussed in a later in this publication.) When we inquire into the matter, we find the explanation very simple. Rotherham's translation (1904 edition) of the passage does away with all difficulties. It is this: "Verily, I say unto thee this day: With me, shalt thou be in Paradise" He put a colon after "today", instead of before it. But is this proper? Do we have a right to change God's Word? Actually to do so does not change God's Word. Why? Because when the Bible was written there were no commas. Punctuation was not invented until some five centuries ago, shortly after the invention of the art of printing. It is merely a modern convenience to indicate that the writer wishes the reader to pause shortly at these places, and so help the understanding of what is written. If you would like to prove that there is no punctuation in the ancient manuscripts of the Bible, we advise you to visit the British Museum, and there you will find, laid open for inspection in a glass case, the most ancient manuscripts. Or you may find copies of these manuscripts in many reference works at your local library. Whether you understand Greek or not you will see that all the words and sentences run together; there is no separation between them, and there is not a comma in the whole manuscript. This means, then, that the comma and other marks of punctuation that appear in our English versions are not inspired, but merely inserted by the translators to bring out what they thought was the meaning of the scriptures. The King James translators believed that the "souls of believers do immediately pass into glory," and accordingly put a comma after the "thee". We have found, however, that Jesus and His apostles said that it would be at the time of his return in the glory of his Father with his holy angels, that believers would be rewarded and the wicked punished. Therefore, the comma should have been placed after "today". What Jesus actually said was: "Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise." Or we might say in everyday English: "[Even though I am being put to death this day] What I say to you today is true: You will be with me in Paradise." Thus we see that Jesus was not contradicting what he had said on every other occasion, nor making any exception in the case of the repentant thief. When Jesus uttered the words of our text, it must on that day have seemed the most unlikely thing possible that He would ever become a King. Hanging on a tree, dying like a criminal, and with the title: "King of the Jews", inscribed in mockery above his head, it must have seemed beyond all the bonds of probability that he would ever receive a kingdom; but when the thief asked to be remembered by Jesus when he came into his Kingdom, Jesus honored his faith and said: "Truly I say to you today", this dark day when I am dying a felon's death, and it seems as though I was an imposter "you will be with me in Paradise." Another important reason why our Lord could have used the word "today"* is that it was on that day that the great sacrifice for the sin of the world was to be finished, which would render it possible for his Kingdom to be established.

    *Some cite many instances of Jesus' use of the phrase translated "Verily I say to you" in which the comma is always placed after the word "you". Of course in almost all of these other instances the word "today" is not used at all, nor was there any reason to emphasize the day on which Jesus was speaking, for only in the instance at Luke 23:43 was it the day in which Jesus died. Thus the outward circumstances seemed to be bleak rather than optimistic that Jesus would ever receive his kingdom and Jesus' emphasis on the the day in which he was making the promise.

    In the Bible, the applications of the word "today" as noted by usage in the Bible itself is that  if "today" is preceded by the pronoun "hoti", then "today" is related to what is stated after "today" -- examples are Luke 19:9, 4:21 and Mark 14:30; if today is not followed by "hoti", it may or may not refer to what is stated before "today", although today will more than likely refer to the clause preceding.  We do not find the word "hoti" in Luke 23:43, and we conclude that "today" in Luke 23:43 is attached to "say" similar to the examples as given in Matthew 21:28 and Luke 22:34. The context supports this since (1) Jesus did not come into his kingdom in that day when he died; and (2) the paradise was not restored to earth in that day.
    See Bullinger's Appendix 173:

    The Greek word "semeron" translated "today", "this day" is used in Luke 23:43 as a term of emphasis. In the following references "semeron" qualifies this preceding verb: Luke 2:11; 22:34; Acts 20:26; 26:29; 2 Corinthians 3:14,15. There are a large number of passages in the Septuagint translation in which the Greek construction corresponds to that of Luke 23:43: "I say unto you this day" corresponds to the emphatic, "I testify unto you this day", e.g. Deuteronomy 6:6; 7:11; 8:1; 10:13; 11:8,13,28.."


    (32) Some reason: "To be with Jesus means, accordingly, to be in heaven." This we deny. Those who receive spirit bodies will be with Jesus in heaven when they are raised from the dead. They will stand on heavenly Mount Zion as joint-heirs with him. (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1; Romans 8:17) But being with Jesus does not necessarily mean that the person who will be "with Jesus" is in heaven. Since Jesus returns to the earth, he, like God, will be "with" men here on the earth. (Revelation 21:3,4; Ezekiel 37:25-28; 43:7) Thus, Jesus could say to the thief who died alongside him: "You will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) Jesus was not telling the thief that he was going to sit the thief on the throne with him, (as the joint-heirs do - Matthew 19:28; Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:16) but that the thief would be with Jesus when Jesus returns with his Kingdom to bless all the families of the earth. Likewise, Jesus stated that he would be "with" his followers on the earth: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be in there midst." (Matthew 18:20) Again: "Look, I am with you always until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) Thus, being with Jesus does not necessarily mean that one is in heaven.

    Philippians 1:21-23: Did Paul Expect to Not Sleep in Death?

    According to Walter Martin, "Paul never expected to 'sleep' in his grave until the resurrection." According to Martin, Philippians 1:21-23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8 utterly destroys the "Russellite teaching that the soul becomes extinct at the death of the body." In reality, we do not know of any place that Russell ever claimed that the soul becomes extinct at the death of the body. Russell did claim that the soul was in the oblivious condition of death while the soul is dead, but that the soul is to be raised from the dead with a resurrection body in the day of resurrection. Martin, however, seems to be claiming that the dead do not sleep (in spite of the scriptures: Job 14:12; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; John 11:11,12; 1 Corinthians 15:6,18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14,15), and evidently that the soul is really alive and conscious while the soul is dead.
    In truth, neither Philippians 1:21-23 nor 2 Corinthians 5:28 say anything about an immortal soul nor immortal spirit; nor does it say that the the soul or spirit is actually conscious while the body is dead. The idea has to be placed upon and read into the verses. The idea of an immortal soul or spirit is not inherent in anything that Paul or any other Bible writer wrote.
    Paul certainly believed that his fellow believers who had died were asleep in death. Paul spoke of some who had seen the risen Christ as having "fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:6) Paul shows that the only hope of their being delivered from this condition of having fallen asleep was the resurrection, and that, if there is no resurrection, then "they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." (1 Corinthians 15:18) Paul's whole argument in 1 Corinthians 15:12-22 is that the believer's only hope of returning from the sleep of death, of life beyond "this life," is in the resurrection. So do we have any reason to believe that Paul somehow was an exception, so that he would not expect to sleep in the grave if he died before Christ's return? We see no reason for thinking such, nor is there anything that Paul wrote that says that he, if he died before the return of Christ, did not expect to sleep in his grave until the resurrection.
    However, Walter Martin's argument would seem to preclude not just Paul, but he appears to be defending the heathen mythology that the soul or spirit is immortal and does not die, and thus he would deny that anyone would be asleep in the grave.
    Martin's effort regarding Philippians 1:21-23 is to address the translation of the these verses by the "New World Translation." (Hereafter referred to as the NWT) This translation, however, is not a product of Russell, but of the Jehovah's Witnesses. We are not with the Jehovah's Witnesses, but we do highly esteem Charles Taze Russell as a Bible Student.
    Nevertheless, the NWT rendering of these verses is:
    For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work—and yet which thing to select I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better.
    Martin objects to the rendering "releasing" since this is a rendering of the Greek infinitive as a substantive. It appears obvious that the NWT does somewhat provide a interpretive paraphrasing of the word into English, similar to the way that many translations do the same thing in many verses of the Bible. In reality, the raising of this as an issue seems to be more of an attempt to sidetrack the reader. It appears that Martin's attack in this manner is mostly an effort to salvage this scripture as an alleged basis for the idea that the soul or spirit is immortal, for he states that this scripture utterly destroys the "Russellite teaching that the soul becomes extinct at the death of the body," and that "this text is a great 'proof' passage for the expectation of every true Christian who after death goes to be with the Lord." Please note that Russell did indeed believe that this verse does teach that after death, in the day of the resurrection, every true Christian will be with the Lord. In accordance with the scriptures, however, Russell did not believe that this happens at the moment of death, but rather in the "last day" (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54) when Christ returns. -- John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 9:28.
    The meanings of the word in question as given by Thayer and Smith:
    analuo
    Transliterated Word
    Analuo
    Phonetic SpellingParts of Speech
    an-al-oo'-oVerb
    Definition
      
    • to unloose, undo again
    • to depart, break up, to depart from life, to return

    NAS Word Usage - Total: 2
    depart 1, returns 1
    Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Analuo". "The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon". 1999.
    Martin derides the thought that Paul is referring to being with Christ at Christ's return, using the sidetrack argument that Paul is not discussing Christ's return. While it may be true that Paul's topic was not Christ's return, it does not preclude that he could refer to the time of Christ's return when he will be with Christ -- the resurrection day -- in his contemplation of the completion of "this life". (1 Corinthians 15:19) Paul's topic is certainly not regarding an immortal soul, or the condition of such an alleged immortal soul while the soul is dead, and he certainly was not saying that a dead soul is conscious and alive with Christ while the soul is dead. Later on in this letter, Paul argues that without the resurrection, those how have died in faith have all perished, thus the only hope of life after death is in the resurrection which is to be in the "last day," "the age to come" (Mark 10:30;  Luke 18:30; John 5:28,29; 6:39, 40,44,54; 11:24; 12:47,48;  Acts 24:15; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Revelation 20:6,12), not in imagining and adding to the scriptures the heathen ideas that the dead are not really dead. -- 1 Corinthians 15:3-22.
    Martin refers to Philippians 1:21, which states: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Martin claims: "There would be no gain in dying if men slept till the resurrection." However, as already shown, Paul had elsewhere shown that if there is no resurrection, then the Christian's hope is in vain, if it is only in "this life" that the Christian has hoped in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22) By this, Paul shows "this life" as compared to life received in the resurrection, and states that if there is no resurrection, our hope has only been in this life. Thus, no resurrection, no life but "this life."
    Of course, in the sight of God, all the justified are counted, reckoned, imputed, as alive, even though they may be sleeping in the grave, for God calls things that are not as though they were. (Matthew 22:31,32; Luke 20:37,38; Romans 4:7) It is concerning to the resurrection in the last day (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54) that they counted as living, and thus they are living to Him, even while they in the oblivious condition of death waiting to be raised. -- Galatians 3:6; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 22:31,32; Mark 12:26,27; Luke 20:37,38; Romans 4:3,17; Galatians 3:6.
    However, since after death the next thing that Paul would know would be the day of resurrection, and of his glorification with Christ, then to die would be great gain to him. He did not say to be dead would be great gain to him, but his death would signify the end of the present fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12; 1 Corinthians 3:13; Romans 8:18,19) and the next thing he would know would be his being raised to glory in the last day. Thus, in this sense, to die would bring to him great gain; however, the condition of being dead, he explains elsewhere, would be like being unclothed -- as though without a body (2 Corinthians 5:4); thus it was not the condition of being dead that Paul spoke of as being great gain.
    Nevertheless, Martin's tangent on the NWT's rendering of Philippians 1:21-23 does not matter in the long run, since it really does not matter how the verse is translated in English. In reality, there is nothing in the Greek to support the idea that dead are conscious. At most, that thought could be added to and read into the text as related the apostle Paul, although scripturally, there are no grounds for added such a thought to what Paul wrote.
    The word “depart” in Philippians 1:23 is probably not the best translation of the Greek word analusai. (Strong’s Number 360) In Luke 12:36, the same Greek word is rendered “return” in the King James Version. Applying this rendering also Philippians 1:23 would have Paul stating that he was having a desire to return, and to be with the Lord. This rendering would fit perfectly with Paul’s belief that he would be with Jesus when he returns from the sleep of death. Some, however, claim that “return” may not fully accurately express the meaning of analusai; the word can also be understood to mean “to be loosed again.” This meaning actually embodies the thought of returning to a former condition. Paul expected to sleep unconsciously in the sleep of death, but his desire was not for death, but to return from the unconscious condition to be again conscious. Paul was in a “strait betwixt two” things — whether to live or to die. Both had advantages, and he did not know which he would rather choose; but he presented the third option: "to return” or “to be loosed again” from the prison-house of death by the Lord at His second coming, was indeed far better than either of these other two things, and this is what the apostle earnestly desired above all else. Nevertheless, if one insists that Paul meant “depart,” this rendering still does not mean that he would immediately be with the Lord in death, and certainly would not support the inherent immortal soul/spirit theories. It would simply mean that he would depart from this life and that the next thing he would know he would be with the Lord in the last day when Christ returns (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 9:28), the day of the resurrection (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54), in harmony with the rest of the scriptures. There is no indication at all that Paul thought he, if he died before Christ's return, was not going to sleep in death.
    Regarding 2 Corinthians 5:8, we refer one to the following studies:
    Updated: January 31, 2010.