One comfort grieving people find in the promise of an afterlife is the hope of being reunited with lost loved ones. Here’s what the Bible really says about paradise–and the differences from popular opinion that some may not expect.
“And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
– Ecclesiastes 12:7
One thing the Bible makes clear is that our life on earth isn’t the end of our existence.
We are created in the image of God, who is a spiritual being, and death on Earth is only the end of our existence on the physical plane. Thereafter, we transcend to the spiritual plane.
During the crucifixion of Jesus, he said the following to one of the penitent criminals being crucified near him.
“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'”
– Luke 23:43
This verse is seen as a statement by Jesus verifying that the forgiven believers go immediately to heaven upon death.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
– Matthew 5:4
Losing those we love and care about is one of the most painful things we experience as human beings. One reason so many people put faith in the afterlife is the hope of reuniting with those who have passed on.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
– 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
It should be understood that this is not a general statement of the dead, but of the dead in Christ, believers.
Bible scholar Matthew Henry comments, this is reassurance that we show to reunite with believers forever in heaven, but understand that “the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him forever.”
Marriage will also be different in heaven–as in, no one will be married in the way we knew it on Earth.
The Sadducees tried to trip Jesus up with a question about marriage and remarriage after death and the potential of a spouse having multiple wives at the resurrection.
“Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.'”
– Matthew 22:29-30
Some people have mistakenly taken the statement “like the angels in heaven” in Matthew 22:30 above to mean we will be angels.
A common myth that people will sometimes recite is that humans become angels after they die. But the Bible tells us that angels are entirely different beings that were created before humans were.
However, according to the pulpit commentary at Bible Hub, while this verse “admits the existence of angels,” it does not imply humans will become angels. Rather, like angels, we will be focused on things of a spiritual nature.
“Glorified men are like the angels in these characteristics especially. They are immortal, no longer subject to human wants, passions, failings, or temptations; they serve God perfectly without weariness or distraction; they have no conflict between flesh and spirit, between the old nature and the new; their life is peaceful, harmonious, satisfying.”