Revelation 6:9-11 – Are the Dead Ones’ Souls Sleeping?

By Wayne Jackson

There is much Bible evidence to demonstrate that the soul is entirely conscious in the after-death state. One of the biblical contexts which sheds light on this subject is Revelation 6:9-11. Read this narrative very carefully

“And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And there was given them to each one a white robe; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little time, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, who should be killed even as they were, should have fulfilled their course.”

Note the following facts:

John sees the “souls” of those killed for the cause of Christ under the altar of God. These persons are martyrs, hence their slain bodies -which have been buried, burned, fed to animals, thrown into the sea, etc. - remain upon the earth. And yet they, as souls, are existing in the presence of God. There is a soul that exists independent of the human body!

Regarding these souls, scripture and logic indicate:

(1) They are vocal — they cry out to God.

(2) They are intellectually curious — they desire to know how long persecution will continue.

(3) These souls have memory — they recall earth’s bloody circumstances.

(4) They are morally sensitive — they believe that the wicked who persecute God’s righteous cause on earth should be punished.

(5) They are capable of receiving blessings —each is given a white robe.

(6) They are able to comprehend admonition — they are told to be patient and rest until the divine plan is fulfilled.

This context is a death blow to the doctrine of materialism, and its kindred dogma of soul-sleeping.

Make notes in the margin of your Bible reflecting these observations.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.