Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Where do people go when they have passed away? Can we say they are in heaven? Are all the righteous and ungodly people in the same place after their passing? What happens to the soul when one departs from this earth (before the Second Coming)?

The Lord Jesus Christ illustrated two scenarios depicting a place where the soul retires after death until the Lord's Second Coming. One place is for the righteous believers and the other is for the unrighteous and non-believers. Though no one is worthy, the righteous are those who respected and valued God's commandments and strove to live a life of repentance. The place for them is Paradise, as the Lord said to Demas, the thief of the right whose heart was sincerely transformed when He encountered Christ on the cross side by side with Him and asked the Lord to remember him in His kingdom: "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). The narrative of the poor man, Lazarus, and the unnamed rich man, describes Hades, the waiting place for those who lived a life of indulgence and did not repent (read Luke 16:19-31). Thus, being with the Lord Jesus Christ is the place of exceeding joy and rest, and Hades is the place of torment and agony. As all the righteous believers are gathered in Paradise, likewise, the unrighteous and non-believers are also gathered together in Hades.
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