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When We Die

What do Jewish people believe will happen when someone dies?

Jewish people (myself included) often joke that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions. Since there are many perspectives on this and other doctrinal beliefs, I will explain the traditional Jewish view, as found in ancient Rabbinic writings, like the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash.

Traditional Judaism teaches that all people, both Jew and Gentile, will stand before the Lord, who will judge them based on their adherence to the Torah, the Law of Moses. The righteous will be resurrected to Paradise while those who are totally wicked will be sent to Gehenna (or Hell) to suffer, after which they will be annihilated. The vast majority (who have done both good and evil) will go to Gehenna to atone for their sins and then be resurrected to life.

The apostle Paul had a radical departure from his training in Rabbinic Judaism. His declaration that we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24) is the message we must present to both Jews and Gentiles, since “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law” (Rom. 3:20).

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is a professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the host of Moody Radio’s Open Line with Michael Rydelnik. He is the author of 50 Most Important Bible Questions inspired by both his radio show and his columns for Today in the Word. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael also appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill.

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