Appendix E: Death as Sleep Quotes
The Bible frequently describes death as “sleep.” This fits with the idea of resurrection: the dead will later “wake up.” It also explains the apparent error in Jesus’ teachings when he said that anyone who keeps his word will never see death [John 8:51]. Jesus was most likely referring to the second death. Either that, or no one has successfully followed Jesus’ teachings yet.
Below is a collection of Biblical passages referring to death as sleep. I just did a word search in the King James version and saved in order. First, appearances of “sleep.” Then “slept.” This collection is not necessarily complete.
2 Samuel 7
12. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
1 Kings 1
20. And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
21. Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
The quote below is one of the few Old Testment quotes promising resurrection.
1. Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.
2. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
3. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
5. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
6. Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
7. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
8. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
9. Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
10. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the Ghost, and where is he?
11. As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
12. So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
13. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14. If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
15. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
1. How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Perhaps the most clear Old Testament passage on the resurrection of the dead:
1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
The quote below might be referring to sleep in the regular sense of the word.
23. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
24. He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
25. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
26. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
35. While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
36. As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
37. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
38. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
39. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
40. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
41. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
42. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
43. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
Metaphorical, but might be referring to the sleep of death…or not.:
32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36. Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Another version of the story, which might refer to literal sleep:
49. While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
50. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
51. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
56. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3. Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35. Jesus wept.
36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37. And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
45. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
1 Corinthians 11
28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1 Corinthians 15
6. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
(I suggest reading all of 1 Corinthians 15.)
13. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
1 Thessalonians 4
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. 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.
16. 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:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
2 Peter 3
3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
1 Kings 2
10. So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
1 Kings 11
43. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 14
20. And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.
31. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 15
8. And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
24. And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 16
6. So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.
28. So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 22
40. So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
50. And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 8
24. And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 10
35. And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 13
9. And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.
13. And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
2 Kings 14
16. And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
22. He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers
29. And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 15
7. So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
22. And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.
38. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 16
20. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 20
21. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 21
18. And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 24
6. So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 9
31. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 12
16. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 14
1. So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
2 Chronicles 16
13. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
2 Chronicles 21
1. Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 26
1. Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.
2. He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
23. So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 27
9. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 28
27. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 32
33. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 33
20. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
This parable may or may not be referring to the sleep of death:
1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
50. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
1 Corinthians 15
12. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.