"I am He that liveth, and was dead"
For three days and three nights, the Son of God was absolutely dead. After Jesus Christ was crucified, "He was dead" (John 19:33 KJV) and He remained dead until He was "risen from the dead" (Matthew 28:7 KJV). While He was dead, He did nothing and He knew nothing. While He was dead, He was in His Tomb; He went nowhere, as He plainly said immediately after His resurrection from the dead: "I am not yet ascended to My Father." (John 20:17 KJV).
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore"
The example of Jesus Christ clearly answers the question of what happens when people die. The Son of God was born as a normal physical human (Hebrews 2:14-18). After He was brutally killed, His body was placed in the tomb where He remained dead until He was resurrected to life, as He plainly said later to the apostle John: "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore" (Revelation 1:18 KJV). His resurrection would not have been necessary if He had been alive while He was dead. Dead means dead.
What does The Bible actually say about what happens when humans die, and more importantly, what does The Word of God (pun intended, see The Logos) say about how and when they stop being dead?
A Peaceful Sleep, No Sense Of The Passage Of Time
- "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5 KJV)
- "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath [see Animal]; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 KJV)
- "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day ... For David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:29,34 KJV)
- "And no man hath ascended up to heaven [see Heavens Below, Heavens Above], but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13 KJV)
A Later Resurrection
- "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 KJV) (see The Return Of Jesus Christ)
- "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust" (Isaiah 26:19 KJV)
- "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, To Meet The Lord In The Air" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection [see Resurrections]. 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." (Revelation 20:4-6 KJV)
- "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth [see When Will You Be Judged?]; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29 KJV)
Fact Finder: What is the last enemy of God that will be destroyed?
1 Corinthians 15:24-26