Immortality of the soul and life after death in Christian teachings

Writtings Of Saint Nectarios Of Aegina

Selected Passages From The Writtings Of Orthodox Saints

Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes

IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
The rational soul of man has supernatural, infinite aspirations. If the rational soul were dependent upon the body and died together with the body, it should necessarily submit to the body and follow it in all its appetites.

Independence would have been contrary both to the laws of nature and to reason, because it disturbs the harmony between the body and the soul. As dependent upon the body it should submit to the body and follow in all its appetites and desires, whereas, on the contrary, the soul masters the body, imposes its will upon the body.

The soul subjugates and curbs the appetites and passions of the body, and directs them as it (the soul) wills. This phenomenon comes to the attention of every rational man; and whoever is conscious of his own rational soul is conscious of the souls’s mastery over the body.

The mastery of the soul over the body is proved by the obedience of the body when it is being led with self-denial to sacrifice for the sake of the abstract ideas of the soul.

The domination by the soul for prevalence of its principles, ideas, and views would have been entirely incomprehensible if the soul died together with the body. But a mortal soul would never have risen to such a height, would never have condemned itself to death along with the body for the prevalence of abstract ideas that lacked meaning, since no noble idea, no noble and courageous thought has any meaning for a mortal soul.

A soul, therefore, which is capable of such things, must be immortal.


LIFE AFTER DEATH
The Teachers of the Eastern Orthodox Church, having Holy Scripture as their foundation, teach that those who die in the Lord go to a place of rest, according to the statement in the Apocalypse: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13).

This place of rest is viewed as spiritual Paradise, where the souls of those who have died in the Lord, the souls of the righteous, enjoy the blessings of rest, while awaiting the day of rewarding and the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus…

About the sinners, they teach that their souls go down to Hades, where there is suffering, sorrow, and groaning, awaiting the dreadful day of the Judgment.

The Fathers of the Orthodox Church do not admit the existence of another place, intermediate between Paradise and Hades, as such a place is not mentioned in Holy Scripture.

After the end of the General Judgment, the Righteous Judge (God) will declare the decision both to the righteous and to the sinners. To the righteous He will say: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” while to the sinners He will say: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

And these will go away to enternal hades, while the righteous will go to enternal life. This retribution after the General Judgment will be complete, final, and definitive. It will complete, because it is not the soul alone, as the Partial Judgment of man after death, but the soul together with the body, that will receive what is deserved. It will be final, because it will be enduring and not temporary like that at Partial Judgment. And it will be definitive, because both for the righteous and for the sinners it will be unalterable and eternal.

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