The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 8 of 261
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"Soul Sleep."
The Companion Bible and Orthodoxy.
pp. 61 - 65
If it is to be truly profitable, all true ministry must be " a word in season", and it is not
possible nor expedient to attempt to teach all the truth, or witness to every doctrine, at
any one time.
The fact that within a week we have received more than one enquiry concerning the
teaching of Scripture regarding death as a sleep, leads us to see that it would be a word in
season to devote some of our limited space to a consideration of this subject. In the first
place let us turn to John 11: 14: "Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead" (Lazaros
apethane). The Greek verb here translated "is dead" is from apothnesko. As John 11: 21
and 41 will show, the word thnesko means "to die". "The addition of the prefix apo
intensifies the conception representing the actions of the simple verb as consummated
and finished, to die out, to expire, to become quite dead" (Dr. E. W. Bullinger's Lexicon).
In John 8: 52 we read "Abraham is dead" (Abraham apethane). Here therefore is
fact #1: Lazarus was as literally and completely dead as was Abraham.
In the second place let us turn to Luke 8: 52.  There we read "She is not dead"
(Greek ouk apethanen). Here we have the negative "not", which sets before us the exact
opposite of the proposition made in John 11:  Here therefore is fact #2: "She is not
Now we find that many use the words of Luke 8: 52 to deny or belittle the
language of John 11: 14, but by so doing they are making Christ contradict Christ, which
is impossible.  The third fact (#3) therefore which emerges, and which demands
acceptance, is, that Lazarus was dead and the little maid was not; both statements must
be accepted, and neither contradicts the other.
In the fourth place, we are reminded that in both passages the word "sleep" occurs,
and this is brought forward as a proof that Lazarus was not really dead. But when we
"open the book" and "search and see" we discover that this "proof" is based on the
supposition that the Greek word for "sleep" in both passages is identical. This, however,
is not the case:
"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth", Greek koimaomai (John 11: 11).
"She is not dead but sleepeth", Greek katheudo (Luke 8: 52).
These two words represent two distinct thoughts; they are used with purpose, and
recorded by inspiration of God. Those who desire the truth will adhere to the words that
the Lord chose; those who wish otherwise will probably pay little or no attention to the
essential difference between them. The word in John 11: 11 is used in the passive and