From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

In the Scriptures the words that designate sleep are used in both a literal and a figurative way. When the word is used literally, as it frequently is, it usually depicts sleep as a simple fact of human experience ( Genesis 28:16;  Daniel 8:18;  Matthew 25:5 ). Even our sleeping state is not outside the active involvement of God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps ( Psalm 121:4 ). The Lord watches over us while we sleep ( Psalm 121:3,5-6 ), and the darkness of night is as the light of day to him ( Psalm 139:11-12 ). God uses our sleep on occasion to give us revelatory dreams and guidance ( Genesis 20:6-7;  Judges 7:13-15;  1 Kings 3:5;  Matthew 1:20;  2:12-13,22 ). In the Old Testament, natural sleep is occasionally referred to as a sweet blessing of God ( Psalm 4:8;  127:2;  Ecclesiastes 5:12 ).

The word "sleep" is also used metaphorically of spiritual dullness, sloth, or lack of watchfulness. In the Book of Proverbs, laziness, sloth, and sleep are used in a quasi-moral way to depict the irresponsible person who refuses to acknowledge the reasonable demands of human life (6:9-11; 19:15; 20:13; 24:33-34); such a person will suffer the inevitable consequences. In  Isaiah 29:10 and frequently in the New Testament (  Mark 13:36;  Romans 13:11;  Ephesians 5:14;  1 Thessalonians 5:6-9 ) it is used to describe a spiritual heaviness that must be shaken off in order to remain awake in this evil time. It is often used in this way in an eschatological context, warning us to be alert to the signs of the times.

"Sleep" is also used metaphorically of death. This is common in the Old Testament ( Job 7:21;  14:12;  Psalm 13:3;  Jeremiah 51:57;  Daniel 12:2 ). The expression "he slept with his fathers" is a fixed formula in reference to death, and is used over thirty-five times in the Old Testament. This expression does not continue into New Testament times, although the metaphorical use of sleep for death does. Six observations can be made about this expression in the New Testament.

First, Jesus is never said to have fallen asleep. There is no softening of what he experienced at the end of his earthly life. Second, unbelievers are never said to fall asleep. They, too, experience death in a stark and crushing way. Death is no pleasant sleep for them, but a final, unending negation. The difference from Jesus is, of course, that the unbeliever dies for his or her own sins, whereas Jesus died for the sins of others and rose again in triumphant life. Third, believers are said to fall asleep at death ( 1 Corinthians 15:6,18 ,  20;  1 Thessalonians 4:13,15 ), and in one instance "to fall asleep in Jesus" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ). Although believers are still occasionally said to die, death is described as gain ( Philippians 1:21 ); it has lost its sting ( 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ). Death comes attended by blessedness and rest ( Revelation 14:13 ) and a conscious sense of the presence of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:8 ). Death is, in fact, not death anymore, and those who believe in Jesus will never really die, even though they might still experience what used to be called death ( John 11:25-26 ). So the metaphor of sleep is used to emphasize that we have no more to fear from death than we do from falling asleep. Fourth, believers are never said to have fallen asleep in the death of Jesus; rather, we died with him ( Colossians 2:20;  2 Timothy 2:11 ) or were crucified with him ( Galatians 2:20 ). It is only because of Jesus' death, and our death in him, that death no longer holds any terror, becoming instead a peaceful sleep and a blessedness (  Revelation 14:13 ). Fifth, even when believers are punished by the Lord with temporal death, it is still no longer death but a falling asleep ( 1 Corinthians 11:30 ). Finally, not only do believers never experience death (in the old way) anymore, although they must go through what is metaphorically called sleep; there are some who will not even experience that—that single generation of believers, who are alive at the second coming of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:51 ), they will not sleep, but will be transformed instantaneously into their new unending life.

Walter A. Elwell

See also Mortality Death; First and Second Theology ofThessalonians

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The English word ‘sleep,’ derived from O.E. slCEpan, denotes that normal periodic condition of the organism in which the inactivity of certain nerve centres is accompanied by unconsciousness, more or less complete. In the OT the two most common words are the noun שֵׁנָה, ‘sleep,’ and the verbs, יָשֵׁן, ‘to rest in sleep,’ and שָׁכַב, ‘to lie down to rest,’ the latter being the most frequent to describe the condition of those who were laid to rest with their fathers, and who thus sleep in death. In the NT the noun ὕπνος means sleep proper, whilst the verbs καθεύδειν, ‘to lie down to rest,’ and κοιμᾶσθαι, ‘to fall asleep,’ are in most common use. Both these words refer to ordinary sleep, and in a symbolic manner they are employed with reference to death. Christ uses the former in describing the condition of Jairus’ daughter ( Matthew 9:24,  Mark 5:39,  Luke 8:52), and the latter in respect of Lazarus ( John 11:11). In both these cases natural death is spoken of by Christ as ‘sleep,’ on the ground doubtless that through the exercise of His miraculous power, this ‘sleep’ would be followed by an awakening in the present world. As in the OT, sleep is used in the Apostolic Church as a euphemistic term for death. Stephen is said to have fallen asleep when he died as the effects of stoning ( Acts 7:60). According to St. Paul, true believers live and die unto the Lord, under the symbolism of waking and sleeping respectively ( 1 Thessalonians 5:10); hence the beautiful phrases occur, ‘fallen asleep in Christ’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:18) and ‘those who sleep (or are fallen asleep) in Jesus’ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Sleep is also used as a symbol of spiritual torpor and death, especially in several of our Lord’s parables; hence the duty of watchfulness ( Matthew 25:1-13, etc.). St. Paul is emphatic in warning men against that suspension of spiritual activity which is implied in sleep, inasmuch as Christians are the children of the day ( 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7) and not of the night, and he calls upon them to awake out of sleep ( Romans 13:11,  Ephesians 5:14).

Sleep has always been a profound mystery, and it is still the crux in physiology and psychology. The avenues of sense are closed and the mind is detached from the outside world. There is something awe-inspiring in the motionless face of the sleeper, temporarily deprived of sight and movement, the torpor of muscle and nerve and the unresponsiveness of the whole organism presenting a striking contrast to the same personality when completely awake. All the activities are lowered, the pulse falls about one-fifth, the circulation is slower, the process of nutrition is retarded and the excitation of the nerves diminished. Whilst the central activity is lowered, it is a moot point whether there is a greater or a less quantity of blood in the brain during sleep, and there is also some doubt with regard to the state of the blood itself. It is believed that the ‘tensional forces’ have a chance of recuperating themselves during the muscular inactivity induced by sleep and by the diminished production of heat. Whilst the nerves are in a less excitable condition during sleep, the organic processes, which are still continued in a less active degree, make themselves felt in dreams. The mental activity, liberated from the effort of attention to outward objects, may co-operate with the organic sensations to work up the materials of dream-fancies.

F. W. H. Myers, in harmony with his own theories, treats sleep as a positive and definite phase of personality co-ordinate with the waking phase. He contends that in special cases the power over the muscles is much greater than during the waking consciousness. The mind is set free from the activity of the organism to pursue its own quest, and it is refreshed and enriched thereby for the tasks of ordinary waking life. Like genius, it draws upon unknown and spiritual sources, and is exempt from the limitations of connexion with nerves and brain. It is not surprising, therefore, that sleep should appear to the onlooker as ‘Death’s twin-brother’ and that the old Hebrews should have committed their dead to the tomb with the reflexion that they had fallen asleep and were laid to rest with their fathers. And all through the ages death has been spoken of as a sleep, but with far more appropriateness under Christian influence, as with the Christian’s hope there will be a glorious awaking to life at its fullest and best. Since we discriminate amongst our experiences, as to whether we are dreaming or fully awake, by the higher degree of vividness and of the sense of activity as well as by the deeper conviction of reality in the latter states, so may we be led to expect that when we see things as they are, sub specie aeternitatis, our experience will be analogous at least to awaking out of sleep, and our earthly life found to be the stuff of which dreams are made. See articleDream.

J. G. James.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

Sleeping, Slumbering is taken either for the sleep or repose of the body; or for the sleep of the soul, which is supineness, indolence, stupidity; or for the sleep of death, "You shall sleep with your fathers;" you shall die, as they are dead.  Jeremiah 51:39 , threatens Babylon, in the name of the Lord, with a perpetual sleep, out of which they shall not awake.  Daniel 12:2 , speaks of those that sleep in the dust of the grave. "Lazarus our friend sleepeth; let us go and awake him,"  John 11:11; he is dead, let us go and raise him up. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,"  Ephesians 5:14 . Here St. Paul speaks to those that were dead in sin and infidelity. St. Peter says of the wicked, "Their damnation slumbereth not,"  2 Peter 2:3 . God is not asleep, he will not forget to punish them in his own due time.  Isaiah 65:4 , speaks of a superstitious practice among the Pagans, who went to sleep in the temples of their idols, to obtain prophetic dreams: "They remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments." The word, which we translate "monuments," signifies places "kept" or "observed." Some interpret it of idol temples, some of caves and dens, in which the Heathens used to worship their idols; and some of tombs or monuments for dead persons. Thus also the superstitions and idolatrous Jews, in contempt of the prophets, and of the temple of the Lord, went into the tombs and temples of idols to sleep there, and to have dreams that might discover future events to them. The Pagans for this purpose used to lie upon the skins of the sacrificed victims.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

Apart from having its common meaning of physical rest, ‘sleep’ is used in the Bible as another word for physical death ( 1 Kings 2:10;  Job 14:12;  Jeremiah 51:39;  Matthew 27:52;  John 11:11-14;  1 Corinthians 11:30;  1 Corinthians 15:20;  1 Corinthians 15:51). This is because death is not permanent. One day all people will rise from death to meet the great judge of the universe and receive either his blessing or his punishment ( Daniel 12:2;  John 5:28-29).

Sleep is used also as another word for spiritual laziness, whether of non-Christians ( Ephesians 5:14) or Christians ( Romans 13:11). Christians must not be ill-disciplined or careless, as those are who live in the ‘night’ of spiritual darkness. They must be spiritually alert and watchful, as they now belong to the ‘day’ of spiritual life and light ( Romans 13:11-14;  1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; cf.  Matthew 25:1-13).

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): ( v. i.) To be dead; to lie in the grave.

(2): imp. of Sleep. Slept.

(3): ( v. t.) To be slumbering in; - followed by a cognate object; as, to sleep a dreamless sleep.

(4): ( v. t.) To give sleep to; to furnish with accomodations for sleeping; to lodge.

(5): ( v. i.) To be careless, inattentive, or uncouncerned; not to be vigilant; to live thoughtlessly.

(6): ( v. i.) A natural and healthy, but temporary and periodical, suspension of the functions of the organs of sense, as well as of those of the voluntary and rational soul; that state of the animal in which there is a lessened acuteness of sensory perception, a confusion of ideas, and a loss of mental control, followed by a more or less unconscious state.

(7): ( v. i.) To take rest by a suspension of the voluntary exercise of the powers of the body and mind, and an apathy of the organs of sense; to slumber.

(8): ( v. i.) To be, or appear to be, in repose; to be quiet; to be unemployed, unused, or unagitated; to rest; to lie dormant; as, a question sleeps for the present; the law sleeps.

King James Dictionary [6]

SLEEP, pret. and pp. slept.

1. To take rest by a suspension of the voluntary exercise of the powers of the body and mind. The proper time to sleep in during the darkness of night. 2. To rest to be unemployed to be inactive or motionless as, the sword sleeps in its sheath. 3. To rest to lie or be still not to be noticed or agitated. The question sleeps for the present. 4. To live thoughtlessly. We sleep over our happiness. 5. To be dead to rest in the grave for a time. I Thess.  4. 6. To be careless, inattentive or unconcerned not be vigilant.

SLEEP, n. That state of an animal in which the voluntary exertion of his mental and corporeal powers is suspended, and he rests unconscious of what passes around him, and not affected by the ordinary impressions of external objects. Sleep is generally attended with a relaxation of the muscles, but the involuntary motions, as respiration and the circulation of the blood, are continued. The mind is often very active in sleep but its powers not being under the control of reason, its exercises are very irregular. Sleep is the natural rest or repose intended by the Creator to restore the powers of the body and mind, when exhausted or fatigued.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Psalm 4:8 Genesis 2:21 Genesis 15:12 Job 4:13 Isaiah 29:10 1 Samuel 26:12 Proverbs 19:15 John 11:11-14 1 Corinthians 15:51DeathEternal Life

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(properly יָשֵׁ , Καθεύδω ) is taken in Scripture either (1) for the sleep or repose of the body ( Jonah 1:5-6;  Psalms 4:8) or (2) the sleep of the soul, i.e. supineness, indolence, or stupid inactivity of the wicked ( Romans 13:11-12;  Ephesians 5:14;  1 Corinthians 15:34), whose "damnation slumbereth not" ( 2 Peter 2:3); or (3) for the sleep of death ( Jeremiah 51:39;  Daniel 12:2;  John 11:11;  1 Corinthians 15:51;  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). (See Death). The early Christians looked upon the death of the body as a sleep from which they should awake to inherit glory everlasting. In the Greek word Cemetery, signifying A Sleeping Place, applied by them to the tomb, there is a manifest sense of hope and immortality, the result of Christianity. In the catacombs of Rome, where.multitudes of the early Christians rest in hope, among the inscriptions may be read, in a Latin dress, "Victorina Sleeps;" "Zoticus laid here to Sleep;" "The Sleeping place of Elpis;" "Gemella sleeps in Peace." Emblems of their sure and certain hope of a resurrection abound; such as a vessel supporting a burning flame, and the palm branch and wreath; signifying victory over death. (See Inscriptions).

The manner of sleeping in Eastern climates is very different from that in colder regions. The present usages appear to be the same as those of the ancient Jews. Beds of feathers are altogether unknown, and the Orientals generally lie exceedingly hard. Poor people who have no certain home, or when on a journey, or employed at a distance from their dwellings, sleep on mats, or wrapped in their outer garment, which, from its importance in this respect was forbidden to be retained in pledge over night (D'Arvieux, 3, 257;  Genesis 9:21;  Genesis 9:23;  Exodus 22:26-27;  Deuteronomy 24:12-13). Under peculiar circumstances a stone covered with some, folded cloth or piece of dress is often used for a pillow ( Genesis 28:11). The wealthy classes sleep on mattresses stuffed with wool or cotton, which are often no other than a quilt thickly padded, and are used either singly or one or more placed upon each other. A similar quilt of finer materials forms the coverlet in winter, and in summer a thin blanket suffices; but sometimes the convenient outer garment is used for the latter purpose, and was so among the Jews, as we learn from  1 Samuel 19:13, where Michal covers with a cloak or mantle (corresponding to the modern Abba or Hyk ) the im, age which was to represent her husband sleeping. (See Bolster).

The difference of use here is, that the poor Wrap Themselves Up in it, and it forms their whole bed; whereas the rich employ it as A Covering only. A pillow is placed upon the mattress, and over both, in good houses, is laid a sheet. The bolsters are more valuable than the mattresses, both in respect of their. coverings, and material. They are, usually stuffed with cotton or other soft substance ( Ezekiel 13:18;  Ezekiel 13:20); but instead of these, skins of goats or sheep appear to have been formerly used by the poorer classes and in the hardier ages. These skins were probably sewed up in the natural shape, like water skins, and stuffed with chaff or wool ( 1 Samuel 19:13). (See Pillow).

It is evident that the ancient Jews, like the modern inhabitants of their land. seldom or never changed their dress on going to bed. Most people only divest themselves of their outer garment, and loosen the ligatures of the waist, excepting during the hottest part of the summer, when they sleep almost entirely unclad. (See Couch). As the floors of the better sort of Eastern houses were of tile or plaster and were covered with mats or carpets, and as shoes were not worn on them, and the feet were washed, and no filthy habits of modern times prevailed, their floors seldom required sweeping or scrubbing; so that frequently the thick, coarse mattresses were thrown down at night to sleep upon (Hackett, Illust. of Script. p. 104). (See Bedchamber). The poorer people used skins for the same purpose, and frequently they had but a simple mattress, or a cloak, or a blanket, which probably also answered to wrap themselves in by day ( Exodus 22:26-27;  Deuteronomy 24:12-13). Hence it was easy for the persons whom Jesus healed "to take up their beds and walk" ( Matthew 9:6;  Mark 2:9;  John 5:8). (See Bedstead).

To be tormented in bed, where, men seek rest, is a symbol of great tribulation and anguish of body and mind ( Job 33:19;  Psalms 41:3;  Isaiah 28:20). (See Bed).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

slēp  : Represents many words in Hebrew and Greek. For the noun the most common are שׁנה , shēnāh , and ὔπνος , húpnos  ; for the verb, ישׁן , yāshēn , שׁכב , shākhabh , and καθεύδω , katheúdō . The figurative uses for death (  Deuteronomy 31:16 , etc.) and sluggishness ( Ephesians 5:14 , etc.) are very obvious. See Dreams .