When Christ rose again, many of the saints that had died went from the grave to the city.
Matthew 27:52-53 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
From the Grave to the City
When Christ rose again, many of the saints that had died went from the grave to the city. These Old Testament Saints were the first fruits of the resurrection. This a foretaste of the rapture. The exception being is these folks did not go up in the clouds. They got to take a look around Jerusalem before going up to heaven. Who knows how long these folks hung around. I would imagine it created quite a stir in Jerusalem no matter what. No one really talks about these graves opening and the resurrection of these saints, but it happened none the less. It shows how little the world really believes, even when they see things right before their very eyes. You would think seeing the Lord would have been enough to convince a bunch of backslidden Jews but they saw all these saints too and still not believe. It shows the condition of man’s heart.
Bodies of the Saints Which Slept
I suppose this is one place where the Seventh Day Adventist and others go to justify the doctrine of soul sleep. However, it says that their bodies slept, not their souls. Even in the Old Testament, the souls of the saints were in Abraham’s Bosom in the heart of the earth. The dead in hell are there too. Just ask the rich man about his conversation across the great gulf. Souls are eternal. That is what makes man unique, he has a soul unlike animals which only have a body and spirit. We are not just evolved monkeys.
Yes, you could say bodies sleep in the grave. That is why Christians should bury their dead and not cremate them. God’s people always buried their dead in the Old Testament and New Testament. Yes, I imagine God could put together a cremated saint’s body, but if nothing else it shows the picture of rising from sleep when we are resurrected in the rapture. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The soul is immediately in heaven when it departs the body. One day the dead we will get a gloried body at the rapture to be put together their soul that is in heaven. That will be the main harvest of saints since Christ left this world.