Where was Jesus for the three days between his death and resurrection?


In the ancient Jewish reckoning of a day, any part of a day was counted as a whole day. So, when Jesus died on Friday, He was only dead for at most a couple of hours, until sunset, when the Sabbath began. He was in the tomb for the whole of the Sabbath, and then He spent from sunset Saturday until early morning on Sunday, in the tomb, before He arose from death. So, for Sunday, it was at most about twelve hours. So, even though Jesus was dead for about 38 to 40 hours only, in Jewish reckoning it was three days. Now let’s get to your question.


I’m sure you are not asking whether Jesus was in the tomb, we all know that He was there. What you want to know, is whether He was in heaven, because that is what most churches teach; the “soul” goes to heaven, or hell, at death. That is not what the Bible teaches, but what most modern denominations believe. But let us look at the evidence of Jesus’ own words first, before we give the Bible viewpoint.


On Sunday morning early, when Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, she found Jesus gone. When He appeared to her, she embraced his legs, on her knees, hanging on to Him for dear life. And then He said these words to her, which shows us where He had not been for the time He spent in the tomb.


John 20:17   Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to

My God and your God.’


The one thing we learn from Jesus’ own words, is that He was not in heaven. Was He then in hell, as the teaching of most churches give only these two possibilities? No, of course not, He was asleep in the tomb, as the Bible tells us. Death is an unconscious state of sleep, in the grave, until the resurrection. No part of the human being goes to heaven or hell at death, the entire human is asleep in the grave, unaware of anything. Here are some of the Bible passages that support this claim.


Job 3      11 Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For now I would have lain still and been quietI would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest 14 With kings and counselors of the earth, who built ruins for themselves,
15 Or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver;
16 Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners rest together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master.


Job 14      10 But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he?
11 As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, 12 so man lies down and does not rise.  Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.

21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he does not perceive it.


Psalm 6: 5   For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?


Psalm 115: 17   The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.


Ecclesiastes 9      5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothingand they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.


Daniel 12:13   “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”


Matthew 9     18 While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”

23 When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, 24 He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. 25 But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.


John 6     40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.


John 11     11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”


Acts 2     29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
‘ The LORD said to my Lord,“ Sit at My right hand,


1 Corinthians 15     After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.


Ephesians 5:14   Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”


1 Thessalonians 4     13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.


1 Thessalonians 5     For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.


Acts 7: 60    Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8: 1   Now Saul was consenting to his death …


John 14      1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.


John 5      28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.


It is pretty clear from the above passages, that death is seen by God as a sleep, to be broken only when Jesus comes with His angels to fetch His people. At that time the loud trumpet call will signal those who died in Christ, to arise to new life. Please note that whenever Jesus brought anyone back from death, not one had anything to say about heaven or hell. Lazarus would have complained if Jesus had called him back from heaven, or thanked Him if he was brought back from hell. Instead, there is nothing like that in the Bible record. The resurrected person merely wakes up and resumes his/her life, as if they had just been asleep for a while.


So, the answer for Jesus in the tomb is, He was asleep, resting on the entire Sabbath, and on the parts of Friday and Sunday. He was totally unaware of His surroundings, did not go to heaven, but slept in a totally unconscious state until His resurrection.


I trust that this makes sense to you. God bless!