I have received the next question from a reader of our portal
What opinion do you have regarding the prayer for those who are dead? Is it normal for a Christian to believe in such prayers or is it bad? Can this affect my relationship with God? How is it with the biblical passages in 2 Timothy 1:16–18 and 2 Timothy 4:19?
The Holy Scriptures doesn’t mention the prayer for the dead ones
There is no text, at least I don’t know any biblical text, that would speak in the canonical books of the Old and New Testament about the prayer for those who are dead. It is true that there are two apocryphal books that mention about this practice, and one of them is the second Book of Machabees 12:42–45 that says that it was brought sacrifice for the dead soldiers and then it adds:
It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins (12,46)
The Book of Baruch, another apocryphal book, says:
O Lord Almighty, thou God of Israel, hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites… Remember not the iniquities of our forefathers… (3,4–5)
It is important to mention that this was the reason that the apocryphal books were not accepted in the Canon, because they contain teachings that are contradictory to the teaching of the rest of the books from the Canon of the Old Testament.
The text from the second Epistle to Timothy doesn’t refer to a man that was not alive
While writing this Epistle, Apostle Paul was in the prison of Rome. There he was visited by Onesiphorus, a Christian from Ephesus and he shared this joy with his disciple, Timothy, in this epistle, writing:
The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me– the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day–and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:16–18)(NASB)
Because Onesiphorus was still in Rome, and Timothy, as it seems, was in Ephesus, where was Onesiphorus’ family too, Paul wrote to Timothy at the end of the epistle:
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. (2 Timothy 4:19)(NASB)
There is no a single direct or indirect mention that Onesiphorus would have been dead at the moment of writing this epistle.
People can not intercede to change the eternal destiny of the dead one
In the 16th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Lord Jesus told about the destiny of two persons after their death. Lazarus, though he was poor and sick, he was a faithful in God, and he got in Abraham’s bosom, while the rich man, that lived without caring for God and for people, got in Hades, in big torment.
In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ (The Gospel of Luke 17:23–26)(NASB)
If those who are righteous in the world that is beyond this one and even the father of all believers, Abraham, can’t do anything to change the eternal destiny of the sinners that died without being born again, so much the more we can not change anything.
The dead pray for the repentance of those who live
When the rich man saw that there was no chance for him to be saved from the Hades, where he was in torment, he thought to pray for those who were alive, and he said:
And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ (The Gospel of Luke 16:27–28)(NASB)
The dead pray for those who are alive more than those who live pray for the dead ones, so that they may not come to that place of torment. Those who are alive think that it is a joke and they usually do it for the sake of tradition or to save appearances, when they do something related to the dead. But, very few think very seldom about their own souls. The dead care for the eternal destiny of those who were close to them, because the dead experience it at the present. What do you think your mother, or your father, or your brother, sister or grandparents who lost their life pray for? Be sure that they pray and they do it much. Do you want to know what God answers to their prayers?
God gave the Bible for the people who are alive to repent and to save their souls
When the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus in his father’s house to prove the reality that Hades exists to his brothers, so that they may not come in this place of torment…
But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ (The Gospel of Luke 16:29)(NASB)
“Moses and the Prophets” was and is a phrase, used especially in the New Testament, that points to the writings of the Old Testament of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible was present in the house of those rich people. This was a great treasure for that times. Then, when they were going on Saturday to the synagogue, they were again listening to the Bible. But, it seems that they didn’t pay any attention or importance to what was read. Don’t people act in the same way today? What is your attitude towards the Scriptures? Are you reading and studying it, so that you may believe for the eternal life? Do you say you have got no time? Haven’t you got any time to save your own soul? Why do you, then, need all the other things if you have no time for your own soul? The Lord Jesus also said:
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (The Gospel of Mark 8:36–37)(NASB)
The rich man from the case mentioned by Jesus Christ was ready to give all to take his soul away from Hades, but he couldn’t do anything. He had to do it still he was alive. He had to make his utmost to know the Holy Scriptures and to act according to their teaching, while he was still alive.
If people don’t believe the truth of the Holy Scriptures, there is no other salvation for them
Abraham said to the rich man that his brothers had the salvation from that place of torment in their own house, and he refered to Moses and the Prophets, i.e to the Holy Scriptures. Then the rich man said:
But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ (The Gospel of Luke 16:30–31)(NASB)
There is only one salvation from the torment of hell, and this is the genuine faith in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing can replace it – neither people, nor money, nor the prayers of the priests nor of the saints nor any other man. Salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ. Do you believe in the Savior? If you say you do, do you live obeying and depending upon Him totaly? Is He the Lord and the King of your life? May God help all of us to be faithful and obedient to Him in all things, so that we may rejoice an eternity with Him.
I have read an awful news about a magazine from Turkey, where the Republic of Moldova is presented as a big tolerance house, where Turkish men satisfy their sexual desires. Tomorrow I will publish an article about the reasons why the women from Moldova received such a name and bring such a “fame” to our country.
Translated by Djugostran Felicia