Religious Studies GCSE

Death and the afterlife gcse

Topic 4: Death and the afterlife


Some people claim to have near death experiences (NDE), some claim to talk to the dead, there may be nothing after death, no one knows what actually happens.

  • helps people to make sense of life, particularly when life seems unfair or at times of suffering (their own, and other people’s)
  • gives support and comfort at times of loss and bereavement
  • provides a purpose to life

Christians believe there is an afterlife.Although the body dies and is buried or cremated, they believe that their unique soul lives on and is raised to new life by God.

Their belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion (a Roman method of execution) gives Christians hope that if they follow Jesus’ teaching and accept him as their Lord and Saviour, then this new resurrection life awaits them.

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Topic 4: Death and the afterlife

Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’

John 11:25-26

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

The afterlife.

Christians believe that God is just and fair, and so cannot let evil go unpunished. Most believe in the idea of judgement after death, and that God will treat people in the afterlife according to how they lived their life on earth.

Although heaven and hell is often mentioned in the Bible, they are rarely described. Christians therefore have very different ideas about it.

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Topic 4: Death and the afterlife

Some Christians and Roman Catholics believe in purgatory.


God will be fair and treat everyone the same, he will decided whether people are good or not, and whether they deserve punishments or rewards for what they have achieved in their lifetime.

Sheep and goats: (Matthew 25:31-46)

"It's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God": (Matthew 19:24)


Prayers are said: to appeal to God to let them into heaven.

The gathering: opens the funeral and sets the mood.

Readings and sermons: People can be reminded of the person.

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Topic 4: Death and the afterlife

Personal readings: Relate to the dead person.

Reflection: To give a thought on the deceased.

"Funerals are more for the living than the dead".


Death - the event of dying or departure from life.

Afterlife - life after death.

Heaven - where good Christians go after death.

Hell - a place of hell and turmoil, where sinners go after death.

Purgatory - a Roman Catholic theology place where those who have died on a state where they need to work off their sins.

Judgement day - the day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decide everyone's fate.

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Topic 4: Death and the afterlife

Resurrection - the rising of Christ on the third day after the crucifixion.

Immortal - someone who lives forever.

The soul - the immaterial part of a person, the cause of individual life.

Funeral - a ceremony where a dead person is buried or cremated.

Near death experience (NDE) - being close to death but surviving.

Life review - during a near death experience, reviewing your life.

There is no pain or suffering in heaven.

Our souls are judged on judgement day.

Catholics believe in purgatory.

"They will hunger no more" (Revelation 7:16)

"Nothing unclean shall enter heaven" (Revelation 21:27)

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