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Answers to Puzzling Bible Passages About the Afterlife

Did the thief on the cross go to heaven on crucifixion Friday? Who preached to the spirits in prison? Are the souls of slain saints crying under an altar to God?

A careful study from Genesis to Revelation reveals that God alone possesses immortality (1 Tim. 6:16). Human beings only receive immortality at Christ’s Second Coming on condition of their faith in Him (1 Cor. 15:22, 53; 2 Tim. 1:10). However, some Bible passages seem to support the view that humans possess an immortal soul that goes immediately to either heaven or hell at death. Applying the principle of using clear Bible passages to understand less clear ones, let’s examine four of these puzzling passages.

The Thief On the Cross

Jesus’ promise to the thief on the cross, “Verily I say unto you, today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), has been widely used to support the belief in immediate life after death.

But did Jesus Himself go to heaven the same day of that promise? Not according to the Bible. Two days after His crucifixion, on the day of the resurrection, He met

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