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What Does "Gathered Unto His People" Mean?

Posted March 28, 2010


Hi M____,

Thank you for your question.

You ask about the meaning of the Biblical phrase "gathered to his people?"

This question allows me to point out a very little understood verse in the words of our Lord.

I will not waste time going over all the verses of scripture where Christ Himself states that those who die are simply sleeping, from His perspective. That was what He told those who were crying over the death of the little twelve year old girl who he raised from the dead, and that is also what he said of Lazarus. 'Lazarus is asleep... the maid is not dead, she is asleep.

Mat 9:24  He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

Joh 11:11  These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

Resurrection is a waking out of sleep, from Christ's perspective. Christ eventually told his disciples that what He meant by "sleepeth" was what His disciples would consider as death.

Joh 11:12  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
Joh 11:13  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Joh 11:14  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

That brings us to the verse I want to mention that is so little understood and is so often misunderstood and abused by those who believe that mankind is inherently immortal. Here is what Christ taught.

Mat 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Man can kill the body, and when that happens we are, according to Christ, "asleep." But man is "not able to kill the soul." What is so often overlooked is the fact that God can and does "kill the soul" in Gehenna fire.

So when we die and are all "gathered to our people" we are "asleep". If we are in Christ then we are said to be "asleep in Christ" awaiting a "resurrection of life". If we are not "asleep in Christ" then we are said to be in asleep in hades, awaiting a resurrection of damnation. But there is no consciousness of either soul or spirit and a resurrection to a "spiritual body" is expedient if we are to avoid remaining as dead.

1Co 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
1Co 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.
1Co 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Joh 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Since mankind is inherently evil, only those who are "in Christ" will avoid that "resurrection of damnation". But the word 'damnation' is not what we have been taught. It is not eternal in nature and simply involves the killing of the soul of the old man, for the purpose of transforming him into the new man much like a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly when it awakes from its long winter's sleep.

Either way we are "gathered to our people" and will be asleep until we come up in one of those two resurrections. "Our people" are either those that have done good...in Christ," or "they that have done evil", who are not in Christ.

If we are "in Christ," and He is "in us", then we are to count ourselves as dead and raised already, and we are to be seeking only those things which are above this earth. We are not to think of our old man as not being damned, because he too, is damned, and his soul too, must die in the "furnace of earth" where the fire that is God's purifying word is doing its work of transforming and judging us even now.

Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD [are] pure words: [as] silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Col 3:1  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Col 3:3  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Col 3:4  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

1Pe 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1Pe 4:13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1Pe 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
1Pe 4:19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

So the "souls" of those who are "in Christ" are in the care of a faithful Creator, and are now, at this very moment, in the process of being judged through "fiery trials" which are killing the soul of our "old... rebellious... marred... and sinful... first man Adam. "

1Co 15:45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

So "a living soul...Adam," must be killed by symbolic "fire", and "the last Adam [will replace that soulish Adam as] a life giving spirit." That is the "one event" which is common to "all men," regardless of which of the two resurrections we are predestined to participate.

Ecc 9:2  All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

According to that verse we are all "gathered to our people", and if we follow the "line upon line, precept upon precept" principle of understanding God's Word, we will find that some are gathered to Christ now, while others will be gathered to Him at a later time, via that great work of mercy and grace known as "the lake of fire."

I hope this is of some edification and that it helps you to better understand the spiritual meaning of being "gathered to our people".


Your brother in Christ,

Mike