Scriptural Arguments Against Soul Sleep

A member of Catholic Answers Forums wrote: girlfriend and I have been reading the Bible since last year. We started in Genesis, and we just finished 2 Timothy. She is a Seventh Day Adventist, and she's on the ropes, speaking in boxing terms, we have proven several stuff that her church teaches which contradicts the Bible, but something she is holding onto for dear life is soul sleep. We read 1st and 2nd Timothy today and we came upon these 2 verses...
2 Timothy 2:17-18 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae'us and Phile'tus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some and
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
She sees that and says you see, our spirit does sleep, until Jesus returns. I know verses in Hebrews 12:1; And Revelations say something different, and Jesus speaks about how he is the God of the Living and not the death and mentions 3 dead guys, in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
I would appreciate any help on this. Thanks
Source, slightly modified.

I responded:

First, let's deal with the first passage. "[Some] have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already." Catholics believe that St. Paul is trying to teach that the resurrection will occur in the future, it hasn't happened already. That's Catholic doctrine: the Creed says, "We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." The Resurrection will happen in the future; we believe that; but that says nothing about the souls of the dead being asleep in the present. That's simply not in the passage.

One way to interact with her based on the Catholic understanding would be to ask her if she can see why we think the passage is teaching that the Resurrection will happen in the future, and you can back that up with other passages like John 6:40, John 6:44, Acts 24:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16, 1 Corinthians 15:52, and John 11:24-25. And then move from that point to just stressing that the resurrection of the flesh in the future doesn't imply anything about the status of the soul in the present.

Now let's look at the second passage: "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:" -- this says nothing about soul-sleep either. It says God will judge the dead; they aren't going to be left out, but raised up to face judgment. We believe that. Again, the Creed says: "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end." But how is your girlfriend moving from "the dead will be judged" to "the soul goes to sleep until Judgment Day"? The one thing simply doesn't follow from the other.

I think the part that may be confusing her is the part about judgment. Catholics teach that you are judged at the moment of your death and sent to heaven or hell, and then at the end of time all people are called before the judgment seat of Christ for the general judgment. Since this passage is speaking about the judgment at the end of time, she might be wondering why it's happening if they've already been assigned a fate in heaven or hell. But there's really no incompatibility between the two. Scripture is pretty explicit that people go either to heaven or hell almost immediately after they die: Luke 16:22-23, Luke 23:43, Acts 1:25. Therefore, the second judgment just rehashes the reasons why they went where they went.

If I were you, I would go through the explanation of the two passages you brought up as Catholics understand them, and then I would focus on passages, like the ones I just mentioned, where the soul goes to either heaven or hell very soon after death, because that shows that the soul is not asleep. I would add passages like 1 Peter 3:19, 4:6, Philippians 2:10, Revelation 5:8-14, Revelation 6:9-11, Revelation 7:13-17, Luke 16:9, Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30-31, Genesis 4:10, 2 Maccabees 15:12-14, Jeremiah 15:1, and Jeremiah 31:15-17, because they all show the souls of the dead doing stuff; they aren't just sleeping.

Anyway I hope that gives you some helpful ideas as well as some Scriptures you can use to back up the Catholic teaching on this point. God bless!

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