Is it wrong to pray for the dead?


Praying for the Dead

Praying for the dead souls is not a biblical practice. Therefore, it is wrong. The books of the dead have been closed and they are sleeping till the Resurrection Day to be awakened and given their rewards or punishments (Matthew 16:27).

People that pray for their deceased believe that their prayers help those and speed them out of suffering in Purgatory. The Catholic Church teach that Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. However the concept of Purgatory is not Biblical.

The Bible declares that Jesus died to pay the penalty for all our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 states, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for people’s sins so that they could be delivered from suffering. To say that they must also suffer for their sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient (1 John 2:2).

There are no Bible references that teach that once a person dies, he can be saved after death by virtue of what people in this life are doing for him. The salvation of one that passed away is not dependent on what the living do for him. A person takes his record with him to his grave then he will face the judgment.

Death – A State of Unconscious Sleep

According to the Bible, those that die simply “sleep” in their graves until the Resurrection Day (Psalms 13:3; Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60;  Job 14:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 15:51). Jesus Himself declared that death is a state of sleep when He said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep…So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead“ (John 11:11-14).

Death is a state of total unconsciousness, during which 15 minutes or a thousand years seem the same. “His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalms 146:4; See also Job 14:21; Psalms 115:17; Psalms 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Job 7:9, 10). The teaching that the spirits of the dead are heavenly angels, or some righteous ghost like entity, is without scriptural foundation.

Rewards and Punishment at the Resurrection

The dead will be raised up at the Resurrection Day at the end of the world to receive their reward or punishment (Luke 14:14). The righteous dead will be raised, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, … and the dead in Christ shall rise … and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; See also Revelation 22:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

For a Bible study on the state of the dead, check the following link:

God is so good. We can rest assure that our efforts do not save or injure our loved ones who have passed on. Jesus is our only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and we can rest in His love, mercy and justice.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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