Where are the Dead, & What In Hell Have They Been Doing The Last 2000 Years?

When reading Brandon’s post did-jesus-preach-to-the-spirits-in-prison it got me to thinking I wonder what most Christians think those who have died either in Christ or without faith in Christ have been doing these last 2000 years since his death, resurrection and ascension to reign at the right hand of God.

1 Cor 15: 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
(this inaugurated the reign of Christ aka 1000 year millennial kingdom IMO et al)

Psalms 110:1 The Lord said to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.

We being influenced by the “western” mindset, as apposed to the ancient near east (who the bible was written to), often read passages like this and many others with much too much literalism.

Obviously Jesus didn’t “sit down” or hasn’t been sitting down at God the father’s right hand these last 2000 years. Stephen in Act 7:56 for instance see’s Christ standing. All of this is figurative language depicting Christ’s authority he assumed after defeating all principalities and powers through his cross work.

We have to remember that for the most part the original recipients of the NT in general and the revelation of John in particular would have been very familiar with allegorical as well as apocalyptic genre of scripture, albeit 99% of them only heard it read as most people of this period were illiterate.

The so called millennium, or 1000 years of Rev. 20 is a perfect example of our western mindset taking apocalyptic language literally. The number 1000 is used consistently in scripture to depict a vast amount as in cattle upon a thousand hills, a day in thy courts is better than a thousand, a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one, etc etc

Why is this important? We westerners seem to want to put everything in a nice clean little literal box so as to make sense of it with our feeble little minds…(writer included)

Ever noticed how looking at the meta-narrative of the bible the first few chapters and the last few chapters cover a vast amount of time, (as we perceive it) with the fewest amounts of details in all the bible?

Is it any wonder spiritual and intellectual giants such as Origen understood the creation account as well as John’s revelation in largely allegorical terms?

Oh I know the usual retort that since 1000 is used six times in ch 20 it must be literal. But that is unconvincing to many scholars as it would simply be making clear the same time period or age was being referenced in each passage.

Again, why is this distinction important? I’d like you, and others who read this, myself included to think about something. What exactly have those who have gone on before us been doing all this time? Floating on clouds? I jest of course…although some think similar thoughts without giving it much thought at the same time.

I would like to present the possibility that the saints have been teaching those on the other side of the gulf low these last 2000 years. Remember in Luke 16 Christ said vs 16 “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us…”

Of course this was before Christ’s triumph over death on the cross. And of course if we believe Christ really did preached to those on the other side of the gulf and a great many believed, it is evident that the gulf is no longer impassible because of his work on the cross.

Anyway, back to what the saints are doing now, I am of the opinion that Ezekiel’s temple prophesies (40-48) are primarily a depiction in apocalyptic language of the millennial reign going on right now on earth as well as in paradise.

This just happened to be on my priority study list to undertake in earnest, so Brandon’s post did-jesus-preach-to-the-spirits-in-prison caught my eye.

As he’s stated, millions & I would add, billions of people have lived and died who never heard of Christ, the gospel, or never understood the truth of it etc. I think since Christ destroyed the power of death, and obviously the gulf in paradise is passable since then, the work of His saints as kings and priests is ongoing as we speak.

I understand we can pick each other’s post apart bit by bit, but this statement sounds like soteriology of works, would you like to clarify?

Here again, we are talking about semantics. Personally I think most of us “westerners” have put “the judgment” into our modern day understanding. The fact is judgment is ultimately setting things right, not simply meting out punishment. The goal would be more corrective instead of punitive, although the later could be ultimately what the completely obstinate choose in the end.

Example: 1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

There’s much more I could add here, but the above should suffice for contemplation.

Hello Capt Zac,

(1Th4:13-14)Tells us those that have passed on have risen in Christ the same as he rose from the grave.

Luk 23:43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Joh 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Joh 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

So those who are with Christ are working right alongside our King, and preparing that everlasting kingdom.


Hey Chris,

I totally agree, but the question is what do you mean by “preparing the everlasting kingdom”? We hear terms and phrases like this often, but the fact is they mean many different things to different people. Or people just nod in agreement without really giving it much thought.

Many people think they’re getting a mansion when they get to heaven. When the actual Greek is dwelling place as it wouldn’t make much sense to say in God’s house are many houses “as in mansions”.

The everlasting kingdom is going to be on the new earth Rev 21:1 and in fact there isn’t even a temple there for God is the temple and dwells with us. Rev. 21:22

This is ultimate eschaton God dwelling with his people. Heaven & Earth co-existing.

So, that brings us back to the present. What would the saints be doing in paradise “preparing the everlasting kindgom”? That’s were I believe the correct understanding of judgment is so important.

I Cor. 6:2 …the saints shall judge the world

If the goal of judgment is corrective instead of our modern punitive ideology then as kings and priest they would be busy “helping, teaching, correcting etc” those on the other side of the gulf.

For quite frankly, there is nothing else besides worship of God that a priest would be doing, right?

I think part of our problem with a lot of this is we have listened to those who depict Luke 16 Rich man & Lazarus in literalistic terms. Of course the rich man wasn’t in hell burning. He was carrying on a conversation for crying out loud.

On thing I’ve always found interesting with the story though is that not only did he seem repentant, but he had compassion for his family still alive and concerned for their welfare and salvation. Seems to be hints of reconciliation in the text even then.

Just out of curiosity, what do you think the saints are doing specifically:


I’d be interested in hearing yours and others thoughts.

Christ accomplishes several task both old and new testament and sounds like a literal thousand years to me.

Revelation 20:1-6 (KJV) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
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.

Hey Chris,
Yeah, it always sounded literal to me too, but then what others (scholars etc) saw in the text started to make much more sense.

Here is the basic predominant view of Rev 20:1-6 over the last 1500 years or so.

None of this text is literal, except for the effects being depicted in allegorical terms.

Ask yourself:
Does the angel have a literal key? Really?
It there actually a pit that has no bottom? Where’s that?
Did the angel grab Satan and really cast him in there?
Did the angel literally bind Satan with a literal chain? Made of metal links and all…really?
How does John know the souls he saw were “beheaded”? Is it ONLY the souls that were beheaded that reign with Christ for a 1000 years? That what the text says.
That narrows it down to a small percentage of the saints right there.
The rest of the dead that don’t live again are the ones not beheaded?

You see, if you take it literally, it gets a bit confusing.

Now here’s what the majority view basically is.

Satan was defeated by Christ on the cross and with his resurrection. The NT is full of passages to that effect. Satan is now effectively bound since Christ is reigning at the right hand of God the Father.

What! you say. Doesn’t look like he’s bound with all going on in the world today.

Agree, but just think for a minute. Prior to Christ the entire world was pagan. Israel was the only nation worshiping the true God. But now Satan can “deceive the nations no more till the 1000 years have ended”

Since Christ and his disciples preached the kingdom to many 1000s of Jews who believed then on to the gentiles. Within just a few decades the gospel had spread throughout the civilized world.

That was even under extreme persecution the likes we can’t even begin to imagine.
Christians were tortured, fed to lions & dogs for sport, burned at the stake, put in racks, bound in hell hole prisons etc etc etc and STILL the gospel spread across the globe like wildfire. (that was before literacy rates were even 5%)

Christianity has dominated the world ever since! 2 billion plus are professing Christians today.

So Satan’s binding is seen as his loss of the control he had say even when he tempted Christ. Oh sure he still is active, but not like before. He’s defeated. Fact is he was cast out of heaven after his defeat from the work of Christ on the cross. He can no longer accuse the saints as before.

There has been much ink spilled over this subject & mine is but a speck of an overview. But when you try to start putting a literal 1000 year reign on earth with passages about a literal temple, but yet those same passages are full of eternal references as the lion lying down with the lamb etc a literal interpretation just doesn’t stand the test and is not convincing when under detailed scrutiny.

That’s where I’m at on it. I’m certainly open to discussion on the finer points.

As I read the thread, some things come to mind. I sure more will later and will comment on them.

First let me say that what I post here is my interpretation of what scripture says. I do believe there is symbolism in scripture but not all of it.

To me, judgement is either good or bad, there are 2 sides. Rewards will be handed out. Both good and bad. Those who follow will get the good rewards, eternal life, those who don’t get the bad one, lake of fire. Things will be set right and the only way this can happen with the ungodly is to get rid of them. Their choice. After all the teachings and Satan being loosed, they still choose poorly.

Eph 4:9

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

My interpretation is that when Christ died, He went to free the prisoners first, then He ascended. He led them there. We know he met with Mary before all this happened. John 20.

I agree sitting at the right hand is not literal. This shows He now has taken His position fulfilling scripture. There is work being done. Enemy’s still having to be dealt with, etc. Nothing says they can’t sit together once and a while and laugh at the idiots down here.

To me the gulf is still fixed. You can’t cross one way or the other. I always wondered what the sermon was when Christ went there to free the captives. We know they could see the paradise side, Luke 16, so you would think they would agree to anything to cross over. Problem is, Christ knows the heart and could sort them out and take those who were sincere.

Wherever Satan is now and how he is being held, we know he has access to God to accuse us before Him continually. Revelation 12. To me, he is bound to heaven, and we know he will be thrown down later. His spiritual evilness is still here.
Is the 1000 years literal? The number represents an immense amount of time when used for time. It can also be used as a multitude of quantity in other scriptures. Obviously, the chain and key etc., is symbolic, but he will be bound, powerless, no influence on mankind. This obviously hasn’t happened yet. What his prison will look like here we don’t know but some will be able to look down on him. Isaiah 14.

To me, maybe there is more to the 1000-year time frame than those who didn’t have a fair shake so to speak. God being totally fair, why would they have the opportunity to live and learn without the tempting and all the nonsense that others had to live through? Is him being loosed their final test? We see how that worked out. How quickly they turn.

We do know the saints will judge the world, but when does this happen? When Paul is talking of this, he is talking future, after the return of Christ. I would think the angels to be judged are those who left their first estate. If Satan is bringing them here, this too would be future.

IMHO, I don’t think the time frame we live in here is the same as the clock used in paradise. That is another one of those questions I would ask. We are told time differs in space travel so who knows.
We really don’t know exactly what everyone is doing who passed on. We do know those who repented are in paradise. I would think those who are still on the wrong side are wringing their hands waiting for their day, believing it will be much like those on death row are here.

That’s all for now.

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Let’s have a go at the parable of Lazarus then.
So it’s painted out he is poor with sores on his body, and a beggar laid at the rich man’s gate, and he begged for some crumbs from the rich man,s table. Oh yeah, and the dogs came and licked his sores.
The rich man lived very large every day of his life, and dressed in white and purple fine linen.

So my take away the rich man is most likely a sadducee as they dressed this way (Exo28:8) for the priests garments. The poor man was so poor the dogs considered him a pack member. So he wanted the sadducee to feed him God’s Word, but that isn’t what the sadducee did, but rather looked down on him as unjust.

Read the pharisee and the tax collector in Luk18:9-14.

Repentance is the only way into heaven is the bottom line, and that is what Jesus taught with those parables. The bible teaches our spirit man and not the flesh. We take away from God’s Word what is given us, amen.

In reading Luke 18, I too see the need for true repentance as the message. The pharisee didn’t repent at all. He justified himself before God by what he held to be important.

In reading Luke 16, I don’t see repentance as the standout message. If the rich man was a Sadducee, the poor man was shooting himself in the foot by going to him to be spiritually fed. They don’t believe in the resurrection so living a spiritual life is pointless. He might as well have taken what he needed, ate, drank and be merry, what would be the hurt? He was at deaths door anyway.

I see Christ showing us to individuals, from opposite ends of the spectrum. What they have become or were in the flesh. Earlier in the chapter he focuses on what you serve, making riches one of the masters.

One a rich man, wearing purple, fine linen. Same as the woman, mystery Babylon. Wealth and royalty. He is really the low of the low. He would rather throw away his scraps than help his fellow man. In his mind he didn’t need God. He had everything, so he presumed. We see this today. It is the eye of the camel deal.
We don’t know if he had faith or not. If he did, it was false. We do know he had no works with makes his faith dead. He ended up on the wrong side of the gulf. This is where he finally woke up, reality. (This is why Christianity is not a religion, it is a reality.)

The other was a beggar. He had no physical belongings. Not even good health. With his condition, he probably couldn’t work. He would have been content with just crumbs, things, that the rich man found of no value anymore. One thing we can be sure of is that he had faith. He reminds me of Job in his worst condition. He made it to paradise. Oh, to be that strong.

Mr. Snowflake,
If I may question you in regards to Lazerus?

  1. What is the significance in the dogs licking Lazerus’s sores?
  2. Why did Lazerus lay at the rich man’s gate every day desiring to be fed knowing the rich man would not? I mean day after day the man never did give him any crumbs, so why not beg some where else if it’s just crumbs or scraps he desired to be fed?
  3. Why was Lazerus in Abraham’s bosom, and not with YHVH, “our true Father”?
  4. Why did the rich man ask for Lazerus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue as he was in torment in flame in hades?
  5. Why send Lazerus to warn his brothers, knowing he never paid him any mind the whole he was alive?

Hey Wes,
I posted a reply to your comment, but accidentally addressed Chris. I can’t edit now, so here’s the link if you care to check it out.

Responce To Wes 1000 years literal or not…

Yes, you most certainly can. That is what these sites are for, the comparison on thoughts and knowledge.
The dogs licking his sores tells us how bad of shape he was. This is a trait of what a dog will do. Medically, it makes a dog feel better. They might have been starving also. We don’t know. Many wanderers on the streets lay with dogs and vice versa. This man was treated worse than any dog should be treated.

We don’t know if he laid there one day or weeks It doesn’t tell us. It says he was laid there, as if by someone else, discarded. This points to he was so bad off he couldn’t walk?

Abraham is considered to be the Jewish father. Abraham even calls the rich man, son. I don’t think anyone gets that close to the Father through death, not until the new city. The fact that he was in the bosom of Abraham shows mercy to me. What a welcome.

People have different opinions on the rich man wanting Lazarus to cool his tongue. Christ being the living water, some refer to that.
It appears the rich man would have had the authority to order people around during his life. He still was treating Lazarus as one of his servants at home even being in the place he was in. One thing I notice is he didn’t ask the beggar for mercy, he asked Abraham. He still showed no compassion or apology.
When the tables were turned, he still felt superior, but not to Abraham, he knew better.

Again, he wanted Lazarus to be his servant to warn his family of his mistake and not to follow.

It is pretty obvious that the rich man had some knowledge of scripture. Calling Abraham father, we can assume he was considered a Jew. He had some historically knowledge. He definitely was the Pharisee type. Word fell on hard ground.

He might even have been thinking that the blood line is a win for his salvation. Same as the priest and the Levite not showing compassion on the traveler. The Samaritan was the only one who showed him compassion and they were considered to be dogs if I remember right.

What would be your answers to your own questions?

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Hello Capt Zac!

Rev 20 is the Day of the Lord written of many times in scripture.Did this happen with Christ resurrection?

How did John know the souls that were beheaded?
Those beheaded and also this group of people

and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Revelation 20:4 (KJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.

As far as real :key: s and bottomless pits and chains I suppose they dont have to be taken literally.

Thank you sir.

I first said the rich man was a sadducee, but I stand corrected as I realize the audience is the pharisees. We get this back in Luk16:14, and I think Christ would have had a little fun with these chaps as he is telling this parable. So Abraham’s bosom is meant for the pharisees as they are taught there are three places, which this would have been for good men, in the garden of eden. Also the pharisees taught that two men may be coupled together and in death they can converse. So I guess my answer to my questions is I must study a little harder, and nothing is just given.

Here is link to the study by John Lightfoot in regards to what the pharisees beleieve: