Believers return to Paradise (or heaven) in spirit while the unbelieving ones endure chastisement and their spirits wander the “outer darkness” as well as end up in “Hades” (Hell).
Why, don’t the “dead spirits” just sleep? No, only their “dead bodies” sleep.
Here is a Biblical explanation:
The body is dead but the spirit lives on. That’s why in the transfiguration of Lord Jesus, both Elijah & Moses were there in spirit. If the Lazarus & rich man was not a parable but a real life event (as I think it is), we find also that the spirits of the dead are either in Abraham’s bosom (often thought to mean paradise) or Hades. In another instance, king Saul brought up the dead prophet Samuel, in spirit! (note that the Bible does not correct by saying that it was not Samuel).
One last instance: Christ on His Cross told the thief that “today, you’ll be with Me in paradise” (definitely in spirit since when Lord Jesus breathed His last, He uttered prior the words, “Father, into Your Hands I commit My ‘Spirit’.” In other words, though Christ was dead, He literally told that His Spirit will go back to the Father implying that the thief’s spirit will go with His spirit to paradise, “today” (probably after Returning to the Father, Christ descended into Hades & preached to the spirits (again it’s spirits of the dead men who are there) – a little speculative but strong conjecture — speculative since it’s not explicitly written like this very clearly — probably to keep it hidden).
Hence the Resurrection of the dead is “coming alive” with a “body” (not spirit). That’s the difference. The body sleeps without knowing anything (its senses are all dead literally). Look at the passage in revelation where it quotes that the “sea gave up the dead in it” (dead bodies more likely) etc. Again, I repeat that the resurrection of the dead refers to the “new body” which will be endowed to us as Paul’s writings also describe in absolute accuracy to the last word – removing all confusion.
The dead refers to the “bodily dead” (literally)– Isaiah 26:19 explains the “body” being referred to in the Resurrection of the Dead (the ‘rising’) allowing translations of such to hold for 1 Corinthians 15:42.
1. When Christ our Blessed Lord Resurrected (in His “Body” – literally), He said that He hasn’t ascended yet to the Father (meaning in His Resurrected “Bodily” form, not Spirit – the verses do not contradict each other when taken both literally and accurately to the last word).
2. King David doesn’t say that he will go to hell but rather that even “if” he was to make his bed in sheol (Hades; Hell), God is omnipresent (King David is just making a truthful point of God being present everywhere – even if He is hidden for cases where they can’t see Him in Sheol and not the other way around – refuting false claims such as “God is not present in hell & thus He cannot save you”).
3. The Bible doesn’t say that “all go to sheol” but rather that “all go to the dust” (the same place to which they return – the earth – as dead “bodies” in their “graves” — all literally as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:20; Genesis 3:19; Psalm 103:14; Psalm 104:29; Daniel 12:2 – the “body” sleeps in the dust).
4. Ecclesiastes 12:7 makes a clear distinction between “body & spirit” in a man. The spirit (which returned to God) then most likely “sentences itself” to move towards the “darkness” even of “Hell” (Sheol or Hades) because it couldn’t stand the “light of God” even after God Who is Love allowed it to “return to Him”, if “unbelieving”.
The above can be conjectured strongly regarding these hidden things because many visions (even of the late Sadhu Sundar Singh agrees in principle as well as literally to this).
In conclusion, that’s why some spirits of dead men go to Sheol (unbelieving) while others remain in paradise (believing).
There is no such thing of a “real good” done without Christ (by believing in Him first – abiding in Him). The rest of seemingly good works are just self-seeking and belong to the “better evils”. That’s all (literally).
That covers spirit and body, but says nothing of the soul.
The Bible does not directly nor explicitly give a definition for a soul.
My best “guess”:
soul = spirit + “attachments to it”
What’s “attachments to it”?
Again, by best “guess”:
“attachments to it” = from emotions to principles of “sin” which are ingrained in it (in short, the “evil” which is “attached” to the spirit).
Only Christ’s Soul had its “attachments to it” in being “100% Good” with “no evil” nor tainted with sin.
Thus the “spirit” may be thought of the “life force” (the essence of life – Breathed or Given by God)
Note also that:
Lord Jesus said to fear Him Who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Gehenna).
If the soul consists of body, then the verse above makes no sense in body being mentioned “separately”.
Hence, body and soul are distinct.
Soul is more likely just spirit + attachments (emotion and will etc) as described prior.
If it’s such a combination, no need to mention “body” separately then. Only need to say destroy “soul in Gehenna” (under the assumption that soul includes the body).
It isn’t written so and hence doesn’t suggest that meaning.
The non-overlapping distinction between “body” and “soul” is clear by Christ’s literal yet most accurate words.
Conclusion of the “chastisement” in the “afterlife”:
Soul is chastised till the evil attached to it is burned & destroyed by fire (evil – sin ceases its grip/attachment onto the spirit).. By Christ’s Healing Power of the Resurrection, He Heals these spirits of the “wounds” incurred due to those “attachments” (of sin/evil) being destroyed…
Resurrecting each in their appointed time when they shall be made alive with a “resurrected body” (replacing the old body which became dust) – in which no sinfulness can ever occur again – also differs in glory from person to person according to their deeds relative to their past sins as well…
That’s how I understand body, soul & spirit:
Body = made of dust/earth
Spirit = breath of God which yields our “life force” (due to lack of better words in language to comprehend it)
Soul = Spirit + attachments to it (emotion/will/evil/sin or anything else which we don’t know yet).
Note also that when these chastisements are complete, the ‘spirit’ (all that remains of the soul whose attachments are destroyed) returns to God Who gave it… And we know from NT Scripture that Christ’s Resurrection made it possible for it too to obtain a “new body” in its appointed Resurrection, a “new creation” indeed!
The times for which these occur are hidden (definitely not immediate – but according to one’s true repentance of own freewill to call upon the Saviour truthfully and by submitting to Him, being Saved by His Name!).
The above explains the “soul” being burnt with fire to destroy sin/evil in it (in Gehenna = burning dump refuse = may be called hell in English)
How about Christ’s words which also mention the destroying of the body in Gehenna?
Taking Christ’s Words literally, I believe that it means the very “dust” (to which our body itself is made up & returns to in substance) will also be burned with Gehenna-fire (literal spiritual fire) when the whole ‘earth’ (highlighted) will also be in ‘fire’ as apostle Peter states below:
“and it will come — the day of the Lord — as a thief in the night, in which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, and the elements with burning heat be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burnt up.” (2 Peter 3:10)