Is the soul immortal?
In the soul, ‘live’ emotions, desires both positive and odious. The soul is seen as a tool of God, a moral being for the eternal life. The soul is not part of the body, nor will it perish in death like the body. Gotquestions.org is of the opinion stating: “it is clear that both the righteous and the ungodly have an eternal immortal soul”. Years ago, when I began to study the matters of faith, I thought the spirit (pneuma) was the most important thing for man, the body is irrelevant, and the thoughts, memories, and feelings of the soul are only lost when one dies. In this article I’m going to tell if my idea has changed over the years.
The concept of soul is combined with several different words. I study the soul through Bible exemplary verses. I begin with the first book of the Bible and the creation of man. God said … and breathed into man … this man became a living soul (nephesh). When the Bible says that man became, it means that man himself is a soul. In some translations, the word ‘soul’ has been translated ‘living creature’ and that’s correct too.
I’d say: We do not have an immortal soul but what we have is immortal.
What words have been used in the Bible to describe the soul?
Strong’s G5590 ψυχή psychē: soul (58x), life (40x), mind (3x), heart (1x), heartily (with G1537) (1x), not translated (2x). Textus Receptus Occurrences — 105x in 13 unique form(s). – ’Psychē’ can be translated in addition to soul with words like: life, mind, thoughts, memories.
ψυχή psychḗ, from G5594; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew H5315, H7307 and H2416):—heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.
The soul G5590 Strong’s
– the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
– the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life.
– the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).
From the foregoing examples we will see that the word “soul” has several meanings. The word appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament.
Gotquestions.org: Question: Is the human soul mortal or eternal? Answer: “It is obvious that the soul of man is eternal. This is evident from many verses of the New Testament and the Old Testament: Ps. 22:26; 23:6; 49:7-9; Saarn. 12:7; Jesus taught according to Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life. Also in Daniel 12:2-3; And many of those sleeping in the earth’s dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and to everlasting abhorrence. – The same Greek word is used to refer to the “punishment” and “life” and thus it is clear that both the righteous and the ungodly have an eternal immortal soul “.
The judged people go, so many believe, to eternal punishment. When the dead rise up in the resurrection to receive their last conviction, it is certain that those who are judged will have their old thoughts and feelings in punishment. If the judgment is eternal, then the comprehension of the condemned will remain in the punishment. The condemned people also remember their doings, the good as the evil things of their lives. In that sense, the soul, i.e. the memory and thoughts are stored over death for a long time. When a person who receives the final sentence, he must remember all his actions, even those which he or she have forgotten long ago. Otherwise the person would not understand why he or she was being judged. Perhaps the atonement of the punishment means that a person is allowed to forget their evil deeds and thus gain peace in their souls, i.e. their minds.
The exiting of the soul in death is a figurative expression for the soul does not continue to exist independently of the body, but dies with it. No Bible verse tells us that the ‘soul’ would depart from the body at the time of death. Eze 18:4 and 18:20: ”The soul that sins, it shall die”.
There are a lot of verses about soul in the Old Testament. The Bible speaks of ‘saving’ and ‘rescuing’ the soul from death. Psa 78:50 He made a path for his anger; He spared not their soul from death, But gave their life over to the pestilence, Psa 116:8 For You have delivered my soul from death, my eye from tears, my feet from stumbling. Gen 37:21 And Reuben heard, and he delivered him from their hands, and said, Let us not smite [nakah nephesh] his soul. Num 35:11 … that the manslayer who has killed [nakah nephesh] any person. Job 36:14 Their soul dies in youth, and their life ends among the sodomites.
– It has been said that the concept of ‘immortal soul’ belongs to the old Greek philosophy, not to the Bible. ‘
I have also studied the eternity of judgments; if judgments were not ”forever eternal”, then the punishments would be transformable and evolvable for the person under judgment. This is what I’m reflecting in the final chapter.
Let’s start to find out the essence of the soul and what the Bible says about it.
Gen 2:7 And Jehovah God formed the man out of dust from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Soul, Heb. nephesh, means a living being, life, life force, etc. That is what Moses meant when he said “so man became a living soul”. When God had blown into his nostrils the breath of life (ruach), the human became a living soul (nephesh). Let’s look at another example. Exo 21:22 And when men fight… 23 But if injury occurs, you shall give life for life [nephesh nephesh].
Also animals have a spirit, but when an animal dies, its spirit lands on the ground while the spirit of man rises up to God in heaven. The Spirit God has given to man means that man is totally dependent on God. God, who gave human the spirit of life, can also take it away.
It is surprising that animals are also souls! Biblical creation story describes: Gen 1:20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarmers having a soul of life [nephesh נֶפֶשׁ]; and let the birds fly over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens. 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the soul of life [nephesh נֶפֶשׁ] according to its kind: cattle, and creepers, and its beasts of the earth, according to its kind. And it was so. –According to this passage, fish, domestic animals and wildlife are all “souls” i.e. nephesh. The word ‘soul’ nowadays is used to describe ‘living beings’ and that comes from the word nephesh or psyche. In the Bible animals are called souls (nephesh).
The word “soul” means not only living creature but also refers to a person’s life. God said to Moses Exo 4:19 And Jehovah said to Moses in Midian, Go! Return to Egypt. For all the men are dead, those seeking your life [nephesh]. Gen 35:16 And Rachel bore; and she had hard labour in her bearing. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was departing (for she died). Jesus, in turn, said: John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life [psychē] for the sheep. – “Jesus gave his life [or soul] as a ransom for mankind. “Soul” refers clearly to human life in these Bible verses. More examples: 1Kun 17:22 And Jehovah listened to the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the boy returned to him, and he lived. Mat 10:39 The one who finds his life [psychē ] will lose it, and the one who loses his life [psychē] because of me will find it.” Joh 15:13 Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends. Act 20:10 .. But going down Paul fell on him, and embracing him , he said, Do not be terrified, for his soul is in him.
Psa 33:6 ”Through Jehovah’s word the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth”. – The spirit of God is said to be His working force. According to Psalm, God has created the Heavens (angels) with the power of His breath [word].
When the Bible talks about life, that means, in particular eternal life, immortality – the kind of life to which the second death has no power. In the first resurrection, the believers involved will receive eternal life. Other people who receive eternal life will only receive it in a thousand years in the so-called resurrection of judgment. 1Tim. 6:16 the only One [Lord God] having immortality, living in light that cannot be approached, whom no one of men saw, nor can see; to whom be honour and everlasting might. Amen.
God has always had life. Christ has life because God has given it to him (John 5:26). No one else has life. It can only be received after the last Judgment.
Gen 2:7 And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul.
Soul, Hepr. nephesh, means a living being, life, life force, etc. That is meant when Moses says “so man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). When God had blown the spirit of life (ruwach, life force, vivacious) into a lifeless human body that he had created, man became a living nephesh. Let’s look at another example.
Exo 21:22 If men struggle… … yet there is no injury, … he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life. Here life is not ruwach but nephesh. Man is a living soul (nephesh), but man has a spirit (ruwach). When an animal dies, its spirit descends into the ground while the spirit of man ascends to God. The spirit God has given to man means that man is totally dependent on God. God, who gave man spirit of life, can also take it away. What happens to the spirit of man when it has gone up to heaven? Heb 12:23 may give you relevant information. It speaks about the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect [in heaven]. Other than the righteous spirits cannot join the church of the Firstborn but have to wait for the resurrection of judgment. I pay my attention to two words – made perfect. It could be concluded that in the heaven spirits are refined until they are perfect.
Psa 33:6 By Yahweh’s word the heavens were made; All their host by the breath (ruwach) of his mouth. – It is also said of the spirit of God that it is his working force. This is especially true of those who do not believe in triune God. According to the Psalm, God has created the hosts in Heavens (angels) with the power of his spirit.
Life in the Bible means eternal life. The kind to which the second death has no power anymore. In the first resurrection, the believers will receive life. Other people will only receive life in a thousand years – in the resurrection of judgment.
1 Tim 6:16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and eternal power. Amen. – God has always had life. Christ has life because God has given it to him (Jhn 5:26). No one else has life i.e. immortality (ἀθανασία athanasia). It can only be achieved in the resurrection and the judgment which follows the resurrection.
How do the spirit (ruach, pneûma) and soul (psychḗ) differ?
The spirits are different. There is the Holy Spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of man. All people have the spirit of man, but not everyone has received the spirit of God. If we receive God’s spirit to ourselves, we also receive the fruits of the Spirit. Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsufferliness, kindness, goodness, loyalty, tonality, self-respect. – The Revelation tells us how the angels in the end time give the God’s seal to those who have the spirit of God to show that they belong to God and will be saved in the commotion of the end-time.
The Spirit is essential for life; Jam 2:26 ”For just as the body without the spirit [Or without breath] is dead, so faith without works is also dead”. Ecc 12:7 proves what happens when a human dies: then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. Many think that it is the immortal soul rather than the spirit will rise up to heaven to God at the death of a human being. All people will have to die in due time. All souls [people] sin and therefore die; the wages of sin is death. So all souls or people die. There are no immortal souls. But I wrote however to believe that when facing the last judgment, the resurrected man in a way gets his soul back and remembers everything he has done, both good and bad. To remember things that he had forgotten in his lifetime, and when a man was “condemned according to his deeds,” he must of course remember everything he has done. In this sense, the soul is immortal. The Romans promises that “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Without this God’s gift of grace, all humans would, by virtue of their deeds, receive a condemnation. In the last chapter, I will consider this more in detail.
πνεῦμα pneûma, from G4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit:—ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare G5590.
The spirit, the soul and the body. 1 Tes 5:23 And may the God of peace Himself fully sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Human mind and thoughts, that is, the entire human psyche can be secular. As the spirit of God or the spirit of Christ can influence through the Word of God, man’s mind can change and be defined.
Souls came back to life
Rev 20:4 speaks of souls who came back to life.
20:4 Then I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls [psychē] of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came back to life and ruled with Christ for a thousand years. — In this verse, one might well use the word ‘spirits’. The spirit of man rises up to heaven after death, and here the Bible speaks of those who come to life and rise up in the resurrection of Christ to rule with him a thousand years.
Even in the Apostolic Creed, we assure our faith in the resurrection of the body. Many people think that the body lying in the tomb rises after first getting the spirit from Jesus into the body. The resurrection, however, occurs in the spirit body, but anyway in the body.
Spirit rises to heaven
Many have the impression that, when dying, the immortal soul ascends to heaven, but it is not right; in death, the spirit of man rises up to heaven. Acts 7:59 tells about the stoning of Stephen: They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, ”Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit!” Note, therefore, that Stephen did not pray that Jesus would take his soul to heaven, but instead his spirit [pneuma].
Whose spirits ascend into heaven? Automatically those of all dead people? Perhaps, even though Stephen heavily prayed that Jesus would accept his life. Ecc 12:7, however, makes no difference as to who’s spirit may rise to heaven and who’s possibly may not. I studied questions related to this matter in my writings concerning the end-time. It turned out that God’s chosen ones are being tested and taught through suffering already during their lifetime. Heb 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he punishes [Or whips] every son he accepts.” – Thus, they no longer need to participate in the trials of the end-times, but are ready for the resurrection when Christ comes. Their spirits have risen to heaven over the past two millenniums. What has happened to the spirits during that time? Have the spirits been in a conscious state during this time? That may be, though I’m not sure about it. If so, the spirits have yet received heavenly instruction for their future leadership role. Thus they have become refined and perfected as Christ’s co-partners in administration of the millennium kingdom. This is what Heb 12:23 says: “to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to a judge who is the God of all, to the spirits of righteous people who have been made perfect,” – The righteous spirits are in heaven with God. What happens to the spirits in heaven while awaiting the time when Christ will return to earth? The spirits will be perfected during this time! It means that they will be ready for the resurrection and ready together with Christ to take the rule of the world. The spirits in heaven together with the resurrecting spirits from the earth and they all meet Christ in the clouds.
In the Bible there is only one point where the word immortal has been used; NASB 1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be Honour and Glory forever and ever. Amen. KJV: Now to the King Eternal, immortal … The word immortal aphthartos occurs only once when speaking of God, but never in connection of the soul of man.
Eze 18:4 Behold, they are all my souls. As the soul of the father, also the soul of the son, they are mine. The soul that sins, it shall die. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Life in the blood
As early as the time of Moses and the people of Israel, with its resident strangers were given strict instruction not to eat blood. The edible meat was first instructed to let the blood run on the ground. The reason was clear; the soul of the flesh is its blood. This means that the soul (or life force) of the animal is in its blood. The same commandment and principle is also being renewed in the New Testament. The commandment also applies to modern people, although most have not even heard of it, and if they have heard the matter, they will reject the instruction laughing.
Jehovah’s Witnesses apply the rule even more severely. Even blood transfusions from one human to another are strictly prohibited.
Lev 17:10 And any man of the house of Israel, or of the alien who is staying in your midst, who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person that eats blood and will cut him off from his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar, to atone for your souls; for it is the blood which makes atonement for the soul.
Lev 17:12 For this reason I have said to the sons of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood; and the alien who is staying in your midst shall not eat blood. 13 And any man of the sons of Israel, or of the aliens who stay in your midst, who hunts game, beast or fowl, which is eaten, shall even pour out its blood and shall cover it with dust. 14 For it is the life of all flesh; its blood is for its life. And I say to the sons of Israel You shall not eat blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is in the blood; anyone eating it is cut off.
Deu 12:23 Only, be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the meat;
– If you understand the Bible’s message literally – both here and in many other places – you can be mistaken for the very wrong traces. Blood is not the soul, and soul cannot be eaten. Blood is vital to life. There must be enough blood and the blood must be able to circulate in the body to carry the necessary nutrients. Blood signifies life for both man and animal. This was one of the meanings of psychē. Why should not the blood be eaten or the food that has been prepared using blood? Black sausages and blood pancakes are very tasty and have valuable nutrients. In 3 Moos 17:11 it was said that … “ it is the blood which makes atonement for the soul.“. Jesus Christ shed his blood and gave his life to reconcile the sins of every human being, thereby enabling each person to live eternally. Perhaps you have not thought about eating blood in this light? Of course, it is understandable that two thousand years ago it was not possible to talk or write about blood transfusions. Blood transfusion has nothing to do with eating blood and blood transfusion to the patient can save life. How would saving life be inappropriate and disrespectful?
Act 15:20 but that we write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood. 15:29 to keep away from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from anything strangled… –According to Luke, the writer of the Acts, the apostles discussed what kind of instructions should be given to brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia (now in Turkey) that they would not be burdened with heavy behaviour rules. However, it was considered important not to use the meat that was sacrificed to idols, and also to abstain from blood itself, as well as meat from which the blood had not been drained off. These were all likened to fornication, which should not be participated. “If you avoid this, you will do well,” he concluded. When we know how many and pedantic instructions had been laid down to the Jews, the Apostles’ instructions to new Christians were few, but the more important.