For the cause of judging, i.e. for the cause of salvation the gospel was preached also to them that are "dead".
Remember 1 Pet. 3:19-20 in our last study?
Where was Christ during the 3 days and 3 nights following His crucifixion?
He was preaching to the "dead", those who have lived and died in the flesh, but are certainly alive in their spiritual bodies.
Let's talk about "dead", for there is much misunderstanding concerning this subject.
In our last study we discovered that NO ONE is dead in the sense that they do not exist in either a flesh body or a spiritual body.
Even Satan himself is alive and well and living in heaven, behind Jesus (Mat. 16:13, Mk. 8:33, Lk. 4:8), in a location where he is restrained by Michael.
So Satan is not dead.
Now, there are 2 deaths.
There is the first death, which is the passing away of the flesh body.
This happens to everyone as it is written in Hebrews.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
The death of the soul is the second death and as we documented in our last study, all who will experience the second death will do so at the same time when they march into the lake of fire to perish for ever and ever.
It is the second death that you need to be concerned with.
It is reconciliation to God and salvation from the second death that is what the Bible is all about!
Here are words of Jesus Christ Himself:
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
And the good news is: If you are one of God's elect and are part of the first resurrection [raising to or granting of eternal life] then you are exempt from the second death.
The first resurrection occurs at Christ's second coming.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
1 Thes. 4:17 talks about the "dead in Christ".
Who are they?
They are simply people who have died a flesh death and who believed in Jesus Christ.
Paul goes to great length in 1 Thes. 4:13-18 to show where they are.
They are alive and well and living with Jesus Christ in their spiritual bodies and will come with Him when He returns.
That's comforting to know, as Paul says in verse 18. So the "dead in Christ" aren't even "dead", are they?
They just died the first death in the flesh.
They will not die the second one.
But it says in verse 17 that the "dead in Christ" will "rise" first?
Yes, the word "rise" means to "appear" first, not come up out of the ground or some other silly explanation.
Paul is talking about we who are still in flesh bodies when Christ returns with the saints [the dead in Christ who are with Him].
As he explains in 1 Cor. 15 when the last trump [the 7th one] sounds we who are alive and remain will not experience death [sleep] in the same manner as is common to men, but we will instantly be changed into our "breath of life" bodies, our "air bodies", i.e. our spiritual bodies.
The saints coming with Christ are all ready in their spiritual bodies, so we can't precede them in being raised to a spiritual body, can we?
It only makes perfect common sense or shall we say, "duh"!
The other common use of "dead" in the Bible is in referring to those who are subject to judgment whereby the sentence could be the second death.
Therefore, they are spiritually "dead", which means they have no life [eternal], i.e. they still have a mortal soul which could die the second death.
So in Rev. 20:12 when the "dead" stand before God for judgment, they are alive and well and living in spiritual bodies, and so can "stand".
But they have no "life" eternal unless God grants it to them at that time.
Note: For further study and enlightenment
on the subject of "dead", refer to appendix 139 in the Companion Bible,
or do an independent study on the Greek word "nekros".
To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits;
to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.
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