Seventh-Day Adventists/Death and souls


Hello Patricia,
I have asked Sal the following question, but I would love for you to answer the question as well. I appreciate both of your views.  What is your understanding of Acts 2: 29-34; esp. 34 Where it speaks of "David not ascending into heaven". I know this is one of the SDA's proof text that souls sleep. Also,could you explain 1 thess. 4:16-17; 1cor.15:35-58 and 2 cor.5: 1-8. I believe all of these verses are in favor of the soul/spirit going to be with Christ immediately upon death and the body being in the ground until the resurrection of the saints. I don't see soul sleep at all, especially when compared to phil 1:23. Also, what is your view on believers being soul, spirit, and body. Could you give Biblical support for this concept. I know the sda's teach that we are just Body(dust) + Breath(spirit) and when we die physically we are Body(dust)-breath(spirit)=Death(no soul). They support this view  because of their understanding of Gen. 2:7; Eccles.12:7; James 2:26;Job 17:13 ; Job 27:3 Ezekiel 18:20; and Rev. 16:3etc. Could you bring clarity to this topic please.


Dear Ang,

So good to hear from you again and I totally agree with your conclusions. I will attempt to explain why I believe what I believe about the state of the dead.

Following is my understanding regarding Acts 2:29-34 and the other texts you mentioned as they pertain to soul sleep versus souls going to heaven or hell at death:

Acts 2:29-34 (NIV)
29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.
30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand

It is my understanding (per the Bible) that man consists of three parts, which are body, soul and spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body  be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is my belief that under the New Covenant the soul of a believer returns to the Lord and his body returns to dust.  David lived under the Old Covenant (OC). Under the OC, no soul went to heaven immediately because no blood by the Redeemer had been shed for our sins and redemption.   This is why the Bible says that David did not ascend into heaven. Departed souls either went to Paradise or Hell, which were separate parts of Sheol. When Jesus shed His blood and died, believers’ souls that were ‘on hold’ (in paradise, Sheol or aka Abraham’s Bosom) were set free and appeared again on earth before ascending with Jesus to heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10).  The Bible makes mention of this ....

Matthew 27:50-53 (KJV)
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection
, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Ephesians 4:7-10 (NIV)
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
8 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

An exceptional article that is written on Hell, Hades, Sheol, Paradise and the body and soul’s separation at death is found at:

I found it to be very enlightening.

Regarding 1Thess. 4:16-17:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV)
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I believe this text is referring to the rapture. Jesus is coming to take His church (all believers) to heaven and after which the Great Tribulation will begin. What a relief to know that His church is safe in heaven during this time.

You referenced I Cor. 15:35-58: (too long to print)

Paul, in these verses, compares the resurrection of our bodies with the growth in a garden. Seeds placed in the ground don't grow unless they "die'' first. The plant that grows looks very different from the seed because God gives it a new "body.'' There are different kinds of bodies — people, animals, fish, birds. Even the angels in heaven have bodies that are different in beauty and glory. Our resurrected bodies will be very different in some ways, but not all, from our earthly bodies.
— Life Application Bible Notes

When a seed is planted, it dies and is changed by taking on a different form, so our natural and corruptible bodies will die and be raised to a spiritual and incorruptible form so that we can inherit the kingdom that God has prepared for us. The souls of believers whose bodies have returned to dust are already with Him and their souls will reunite with their new and resurrected bodies upon His return.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns, He will bring with Him those that have fallen asleep in Him. He is not bringing back bodies that have returned to dust, He is bringing back souls because flesh and blood cannot enter heaven (1 Cor. 15:50). This reiterates the fact that when believers die, their souls return to God and their bodies die or return to dust in order to be resurrected in a different form (spiritual. incorruptible, etc.). This also refers to the analogy of the seeds changing its form after it dies as Paul described above.

When Jesus returns with the souls of those that fell asleep in Him, He calls forth their new resurrection bodies to join their souls in the air, which is why it says that the dead in Christ shall rise first. After those souls and new resurrected bodies have reunited, THEN>/b>, those who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds. (see the aforementioned text, 1 Thess. 4:17).

1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 (NIV) are the verses that explain that Jesus will bring with Him those that fell asleep in Him.

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

<b>You referenced 2 Cor. 5:1-8:

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NIV)
1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
7 We live by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Following are notes taken from the Life Application Bible that I agree with regarding the above verses:

Notes for 5:1-10
Paul contrasts our earthly bodies ("earthly tent'') and our future resurrection bodies ("a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands''). Paul clearly states that our present bodies make us groan, but when we die we will not be spirits without bodies ("be found naked''). We will have new bodies that will be perfect for our everlasting life.

    Paul wrote as he did because the church at Corinth was in the heart of Greek culture, and many believers had difficulty with the concept of bodily resurrection. Greeks did not believe in a bodily resurrection. Most saw the afterlife as something that happened only to the soul, with the real person imprisoned in a physical body. They believed that at death the soul is released—there is no immortality for the body, and the soul enters an eternal state. But the Bible teaches that the body and soul are not permanently separated. — Life Application Bible Notes

Body, Soul and Spirit:

I would recommend this study which explains it beautifully with Scripture to support it. It helped me tremendously in my studies and it was prepared by a former SDA pastor as you will discover.

This study alone should hopefully bring clarity to the subject. We are a soul, we have a spirit and we live in a body. The author even gives examples of people dying and their spirits returning to bring them back to life.

For example, in the case of Jairus’ daughter, death is referred to as being asleep and verse 55 points out that her spirit returned after Jesus told her to get up. If her spirit had not left her lifeless body, the Bible would not have said that it returned. If it had not returned, her body would have remained lifeless and would eventually return to dust. This miracle happened under the Old Covenant, so at that time if she died a believer, her soul did not go straight to heaven but Sheol (the paradise or Abraham’s Bosom’s side of Sheol) where it had to wait to be released at Jesus’ resurrection when the captives were set free. If she were not a believer, her soul went to the Hell and tormenting side of Sheol where it still awaits judgment.

Luke 8:51-56 (NIV)
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother.
52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.
54 But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!"
55 Her spirit returned , and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

It is my understanding that the soul does not die whether it goes to heaven or hell. I hope this has been helpful.

As always, be blessed.

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Patricia Allen


As a former Seventh-day Adventist (SDA), I have insight of value to those who are questioning and/or trying to decide if they should leave or become an SDA. It would be my privilege to discuss SDA church doctrine, structure, Ellen White, the old and new covenants, and their various beliefs. The Bible will be my main source of reference and all quotes, etc. will be documented. I understand that there are different variants of Adventists, but I am only familiar with what I would call traditional or main stream.


I was a Seventh-day Adventist for over 50 years. I attended their schools and I was always active in the churches I attended. I also worked for the denomination for 37 years. Since I was educated in their schools from Grade 1, and because what I was taught came from the Bible, I never questioned my beliefs. I considered myself as one whom the Lord had chosen to bring out of darkness into His marvelous light. In the year 2005, I became keenly aware that Ellen White contradicted the Scriptures numerous times and plagiarized some of her most popular writings. At this point, I had to seriously consider studying for myself with the aid of the Holy Spirit to see if indeed I really had the truth. Sad to say, I discovered that I was deluded and deliberately deceived by the church I loved and served. In 2010, I requested that my name be withdrawn from the membership roster of the church. Since then, it has been my passion to tell those in the SDA church and those considering joining Adventism, the truth and freedom that I have discovered and enjoy daily. I interact on Facebook with SDAs frequently regarding their beliefs and doctrines compared to the Bible. In addition to answering questions on this site, I have a blog ( and the purpose of my articles is to expose the false doctrines of the SDA church After 50 plus years of trying to 'work' my way, I have discovered the sweet rest in the finished work of my Savior. I've also discovered that there is nothing that I have ever done to make Jesus love me less and there is nothing that I can ever do to make Jesus love me more. Jesus just loves me and this I know!

M.A.O.M. degree (Master of Arts in Organizational Management). I also have a B.A.I.C. degree (Born Again in Christ). My calling is to help spread the Good News of the Gospel and to help lift the veil by sharing Jesus, Who is the Truth and the Light.

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