According to Orthodox teaching, the resting place for the souls of all those who died prior to Christ’s redemption of humanity, where righteous and unrighteous alike awaited His resurrection and the Last Judgment. At the death of Christ, He descended into Hades to release the souls of the righteous and transfer them to paradise. Since then, the souls of the unrighteous alone have been restricted to Hades.
The Coptic Church also teaches that there is only one final judgment on mankind, which will take place after the resurrection of the dead, to the exclusion of any immediate stage or so-called “particular” judgment. The souls of all the departed are kept in waiting—the pious in paradise and the sinful in Hades. It is only after the Last Judgment that the former go to heaven and the latter to hell. Evidence of this is provided by the two following texts, the first applying to the unrighteous and the second to the righteous:
Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. (2 Pt. 2:9).
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried aloud with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
- Iqladiyus Yuhanna Labib. Kitab al-Tajniz ay Salat al-Mawta, pp. 22, 192, 215. Cairo, 1905.
- Mikha’il Mina. ‘Ilm al-Lahut, Vol. 3, pp. 527-28. Cairo, 1938.
- Samu’il Tadrus. Al-Jawhar fi Butlan al-Mazhar, pp. 108-111. Cairo, 1949.