After death

So where does an unbeliever’s spirit go when they die?

My wife asked me last night so where does an unbeliever’s spirit go when they die? We had been talking about the scary bedtime prayer that a lot of Christian children would have prayed before bedtime since the 1700’s.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

You must understand that the 1700’s saw much revival preaching on Hell fire and fear of death. The poor wretches of England and later America were scared into the kingdom by anointed threats of eternal punishment. Little children would have been terrified by this picture of God and this little bedtime prayer is probably an attempt to sooth this fear. Of course it does nothing of the sort!

But what my wife and I talked about centred around the the last line of the prayer….I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Someone please show me in the Scriptures where this idea is please?

One of the biggest points of confusion in the mind of Christians is the constitution of man….our make-up…how we are made. We are spirit soul and body. The child is taught to pray that God would take his soul when he dies. This is what Jesus prayed instead.

Luk 23:46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ “ Having said this, He breathed His last.

Jesus placed his pneuma into Father’s care. The spirit is not the soul. The soul being tied to the body dies. That death is said to be a state of sleep or rest. Where it says that Jesus “breathed His last” it refers to His body and soul as the subject of the pronoun He. He(Jesus the Man they knew)breathed His last breath. At that point His spirit departed His body- now dead- and His soul now sleeping(dead).

So to be more accurate the child’s prayer should say, ‘take my spirit’ not ‘take my soul’.

The soul is mortal and subject to death. Only Jesus has an immortal soul having been raised from death. (1Tim 6:16)

The spirit is of or from God, and thus cannot die.

The spirit being from God has no beginning and no end.

Without the spirit the body dies.

The soul dies with the body and rests in that state of death until the resurrection when Jesus said ‘all those who are in the graves shall hear My voice and awake.’

Joh 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

Joh 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
Joh 5:29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

What Jesus taught in this saying is not without precedent as the prophet Daniel said the same…

Dan 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

So we see that in the gravenot in HELL –but, in the graves many SLEEP(meaning all the dead).

It is the soul that is said to be sleeping or dead. The spirit departed the body at the point of death.

So where did it go? Where does the spirit go?

Jesus prayed to the Father saying into your hands I commit my spirit.

Luk 23:46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ “ Having said this, He breathed His last.

After that it is written that Jesus went BY THE SPIRIT into the lower parts of the earth and preached.

1Pe 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
1Pe 3:19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,
1Pe 3:20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Now I realise that many people think that “the spirits in prison” were the angels that sinned in the days of Noah. If Jesus preached to them it was to save them…not to condemn them. It is man that is first to be saved not angels. They will have their chance as well but mankind is the image of God and to us Jesus was sent.

Prison does not necessarily mean  a place with bars and gates either. The word is translated prison but can also mean the condition or state or being.

From G5442; a guarding or (concretely guard), the act, the parson; figuratively the place, the condition, or (specifically) the time (as a division of day or night), literally or figuratively: – cage, hold, (im-) prison (-ment), ward, watch.

I do not believe in a place called Hell. But I do believe that the spirit’s of unbelievers have departed their bodies at death leaving their soul in the grave asleep. Their spirit not being born again wanders the spirit realm around the earth and most likely through the earth. These are what people refer to as ghosts.

Jesus verified the existence and reality of ghosts when He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection.

Luk 24:37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. (pneuma)
Luk 24:38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
Luk 24:39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit(pneuma) does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Luk 24:40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
Luk 24:41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?”
Luk 24:42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.
Luk 24:43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

Look carefully and consider what Jesus revealed here. The disciples thought they were seeing a ghost!

Jesus did not rebuke them for thinking ghosts are real. He acknowledged ghosts by saying “…Handle Me and see, for a spirit(pneuma) does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Jesus was standing there in a resurrected(immortal) body/soul. His spirit now joined again as one with body and soul- Completely human.

Ghosts or spirits that have departed the body at death do not have a physical form and cannot eat and drink.  Thus they float about going where they will trying to be satisfied but totally unable to be. This is the realm and existence of unbelievers. No different really to what they were experiencing upon earth when they were still in their body.

When in their body they were

“…dead in trespasses and sins,
Eph 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
Eph 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Their spirit was in darkness and needed to be made alive by the Spirit of God. But they were not born again during their lifetime. They died –their soul and body died–now their spirit wanders about naked and unclothed seeking rest but finding none.

It is my understanding and belief that even in this state and realm of existence God in His mercy still continues to seek them out. Jesus and those who are with Him in spirit evangelise them and love them.

For much more detail about this subject go to my other site:

1 reply »

  1. I was not able to leave a Comment Dennis on your Post “So where does an unbeliever’s spirit go when they die?” so I will reply here. I could indeed respond to a few of your claims personally but instead I will leave Scripture below for you to meditate on.
    Mark 8:35-37 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
    Psalm 97:9-11 For thou Lord art High above all the earth thou art exalted far above all gods. Ye that Love the Lord hate evil, He preserveth the Souls of His Saints He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked Light is sown for the Righteous and gladness for the Upright in Heart.
    James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth and one convert him Let him know that he which converteth the Sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of Sins.
    Matthew 25:41-46 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand; Depart from me ye cursed into Everlasting Fire prepared for the Devil and his angels:
    Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the Nations that forget God.(KJV)
    Luke 16:23-24 And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.(KJV)
    Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the sou: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.(KJV)
    Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?(KJV)
    Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the Righteous into Life Eternal.
    Mark 9:43-48 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell into the Fire that never shall be quenched
    Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a Lake of Fire burning with Brimstone.
    Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet [are] and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
    Revelation 20: 14-15 And death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.
    Revelation 21:8 But the Fearful, and Unbelieving, and the Abominable and Murderers and Whoremongers and Sorcerers and Idolaters and all Liars shall have their part in the Lake which burneth with Fire and Brimstone which is the Second death.
    Blessings – Anne.


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