What Is the Doctrine of Soul Sleep?

As Taught by Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists

Cemetery path


Take a look at what the Bible says about death, eternal life and heaven. At the time of death, believers enter the Lord's presence. In essence, the moment we die, our spirit and soul go to be with the Lord. But doesn't this contradict the doctrine known as Soul Sleep?

What Is Soul Sleep?

"Soul Sleep," also known as the doctrine of "Conditional Immortality," is primarily taught by Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists. To be more exact, Jehovah's Witnesses teach "soul annihilation." This refers to the belief that when we die, the soul ceases to exist. At the future resurrection, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the souls of the redeemed will be recreated.

Seventh-day Adventists teach true "soul sleep," meaning after death believers are not conscious of anything and their souls become completely inert until the time of the final resurrection of the dead. During this period of soul sleep, the soul resides in the memory of God.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 and 12:7 are also verses used to defend the doctrine of soul sleep.

The Bible does teach that believers will receive new, transformed, eternal bodies at the time of the final resurrection of the dead, just before the creation of the new heavens and new earth. (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).

A Few Verses That Challenge the Concept of Soul Sleep

  • Genesis 35:18
  • Luke 16:19-31
  • Luke 23:43
  • John 11:25-26
  • 1 Peter 3:18-19
  • Revelation 6:9-10