Where was Lazarus of Bethany’s soul during the four days he was dead? When Jesus raised him from the dead, had Lazarus been in Heaven for four days? I searched this topic and found answers from others on different forums, but I don’t know if they’re trustworthy.
You ask a great question. Randy asked me to respond on his behalf, so here are some thoughts:
In his message This Illness Is for the Glory of God, John Piper makes these two points:
An article on our EPM site about near-death experiences says this: “[In Scripture] there are several instances of miraculous resurrections which take place. Examples include the son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24), Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:41-56), the widow’s son (Luke 7:12-16), Lazarus (John 11:1-45), and of course, the resurrection of Jesus himself. In all of these cases, the scriptural emphasis is on glorifying God who brings about the resurrection, while there is absolutely no information on what the person experienced during the time they were dead.”
So yes, you are correct that Scripture doesn’t directly address Lazarus’s experience between death and when Jesus resurrected him. But we can make some deductions based on other Scriptures. We are told that to be absent from the body is to be home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Scripture does not teach soul sleep. Since Lazarus was a follower of Jesus and put his faith in Him, and given that Lazarus’s resurrection is a picture of our future resurrection (and when we die we go to the present Heaven, to be with the Lord and await our own resurrection), the logical conclusion was that he spent his time between death and resurrection in the present Heaven, what Jesus calls Paradise (Luke 23:43).
Browse more resources on the topic of Heaven, and see Randy’s related books, including Heaven.
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Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.