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(c) Copyright 1971-2016 by Walter R. Dolen


NM 6: Body, Soul, Spirit, and Immortality


Immortal Soul?


NM6 Abstract

In this paper we look at what scripture says about the body, soul, and spirit. There is a difference between all three. The scriptures indicate that the soul is not the spirit of man, but tradition mixes these two different things. When some today speak of the soul, what they mean is the spirit. This causes confusion since the soul can die (it is mortal), but the spiritual element cannot die (it is immortal).


nm78 >> To help clarify: in this paper we are not referring to the "soul" in the sense that it is used today in music or art ("he has soul"), or as a synonym for emotion or passion or feelings or spiritual depth or mind or psyche, or in any other way except as the word soul is used in the Bible (old and new testaments). In context with the Bible, what does the soul have to do with the body or with the spirit? What is the body? What is the soul? What is the spirit? And is the soul immortal? There is much confusion about what a soul is and if it is immortal. The view of Catholics, many Protestants, and some Jews is that the soul is immortal. From This is the Faith, written by the former Archbishop of Liverpool, Dr. Richard Downey, we see the Catholic view on the soul:

"Man ... has a body and a soul ... it is a spirit, immortal, and endowed with intelligence and free will. Soul is not just another word for spirit. Animals have souls, but their souls are not spirits. Only man's soul is a spirit; in man is the only kind of spirit that is a soul.... There is an obvious difference between a living human body and a corpse. That difference is the soul." (pp. 21-22)

As we will see from scripture there are several assertions here that are wrong. First the soul is not a spirit, second it is not immortal, and third its free will is limited under the absolute free will of God. You will not find immortality connected to the soul in scripture, but you will find Satan telling Eve that she is immortal (Gen 3:4; serpent = Satan, Rev 12:9). So how do the Catholics "prove" that the soul is immortal?

Scripture is full of proof that the soul of man is spiritual and immortal. 'The Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul' (Gen 2:7)

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die .... but they are in peace .... their hope is full of immortality." (Wis 3:1-4)

These two quotes are under the heading, "What Does Scripture Say?," and are the two main verses used by the author to prove his assertion. The first quote of Genesis 2:7 says nothing about the soul being immortal. The second, even though it is not from the Bible, does not say the soul is immortal, but that man has hope of immortality. Of course they have hope of immortality because of the resurrection. The other scriptures quoted by the author speak of the hope of immortality because of the resurrection or the immortality given through the Spirit. The author substitutes the hope of immortality for mankind with mankind's mortality, and mixes the soul with the spirit. The hope of immortality is not the same as immortality; soul and spirit are not one and the same. Let's see what the scripture actually says about the body, soul, spirit, and immortality.

Man is a Living Soul

nm79 >> In the Bible the word soul is translated from the Hebrew word nephesh (vpn) and from the Greek word psuche (yuch/j). From Genesis we see what a soul is:

With the help of God man became a living soul. Man was formed from the dirt of the ground. Man is earthly. Then Jehovah [YHWH] breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living soul. In context with the other scriptures in Genesis, chapters l and 2, we see that Jehovah first made man's body, and second he made man a living soul when and because Jehovah breathed into him. It took the breath of Jehovah to make man a living soul. The living soul is not just a body: it is a body with God's breath in it.

God has a Soul

nm80 >> Although theologians call it anthropopathy even God has a soul according to Bible:

(Lev 26:11, 30; Isa 42:1; Jer 5:9; 6:8; Ezek 23:18; Zech 11:8; Mat 12:18; Heb 10:38)

Jesus became or was the soul of God (Mat 12:18; see God Papers).

Animals also have Souls

nm81 >> Not only does mankind, and God, have souls, so do animals. The following verses in Hebrew show that animals have a soul (nephesh or psuche) also:

(Gen 1:20, 21, 24, 30; 2:19; 9:10; 9:12, 15, 16; Lev 11:10; Rev 8:9; etc.)

Many English Bibles have translated the word "creature" or "life" for soul or nephesh or psuche. In the BeComingOne Bible we have translated nephesh or psuche into soul consistently.]

Souls Can Die

nm82 >> According to the official Catholic view the soul is immortal:

Lateran Council of 1513

"Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is [...] immortal [...] and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and punished as heretics."

But contrary to the Catholic view, scripture indicates that souls can die. The following verses indicate that souls are destructible:

(Gen 17:14; 37:21; Ex 12:15; Lev 7:20; 24:17; Num 23:10; 31:19; 35:30; Deut 19:6; Joshua 2:13; Jud 5:18; 1Kings 19:4; Job 36:14; Psalms 22:29; 78:50; Isa 55:3; Jer 4:10; Ezek 13:19; 22:27; Mat 2:20; 10:28; 26:38; Mark 3:4; 14:34; Luke 6:9; 17:33; John 10:15; 12:25; Acts 3:23; Rom 11:3; Heb 10:39; James 5:20; Rev 8:9; 12:11; 16:3; etc.)

nm83 >> That souls can die is absolutely clear in the Hebrew or Greek as well as the BeComingOne Bible and other more literal Bibles. Sometimes English translations leave out soul from the translation as in Judges 16:30 where it should read: "And Samson said, Let my soul die...." Sometimes English translations have life instead of soul as in John 10:15.

nm84 >> The following verses indicate that there can be dead souls:

(Lev 21:11; 22:4; Num 5:2; 6:11; etc.)

[In some translations "body" or "dead" = soul; see Hebrew text.]

Two Meanings of a Dead Soul

Because there is a type and antitype to the Bible, there are two meanings to dead souls, the physical and the spiritual:

Immortal Soul: Satan's Lie

nm85 >> Even though mankind will in the future become immortal, the above scripture indicates that the soul is not now immortal. The idea that the soul is now immortal did not come from the Bible. The false idea that humans in this age have immortal souls came from Satan's first lie. Satan's lie occurred right after God said that man would die if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17):

This idea of the immortality of the soul continued through the Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, and so forth. Of course these cultures got this idea of the immortality of the soul from the power of Satan which feeds mankind false and destructive information (NM 21). From this theologians down through the years have interjected this false idea into the doctrines of Christianity and other religions.

Salvation of the Soul

nm86 >> From Genesis 2:7 we know that a body can be a soul, if it has breath in it. From other scripture mentioned above we see that any living and breathing body, even an animal's body, is called a soul. Also we know from the scripture referred to above that a soul can be destroyed and can die and so can be called a dead soul. Thus in this age mankind's soul is not immortal. This is why the Bible talks about the salvation of the soul (1Pet 1:9; Heb 10:39; 1Thes 5:23; Luke 21:19; James 5:20) and talks about going from mortality to immortality (1Cor 15:53-54; Rom 8:11; 2Cor 5:4). The idea of the immortal soul came from the influence of Satan, the Greeks, and other ancient peoples. But although the soul is not immortal, there is one aspect of man that is immortal. That immortal aspect is the spirit.


nm87 >> As shown in this book and in the God Papers spirits are immortal, and there is a particular spirit for each and every person. For clarification you must read the books: New Mind and Christianity (aka: New Mind Papers) and the God Papers [aka God]. For now let it be said that there is an immortal aspect to mankind, and it has to do with man's own spirit. Spirits are immortal; souls can and do die. What most religions do is mix-up the nature of the spirit with the nature of the soul. Our soul is not our spirit; our spirit is not our soul. This mix-up began at the time of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:4) and still causes confusion today. If the translators had only consistently translated the Hebrew nephesh and the Greek psuche into soul we would not have as much confusion. Of course the reason they didn't translate these words consistently is because of their mindset which made them twist the scriptures to force their incorrect ideas into the text of the Bible.

Note: Remember that in Genesis 2:7 Jehovah "breathed" into man the "breath" of life. In the English version of the Old Testament the word "breath" is translated from either the Hebrew word neshamah or ruah. These words differ slightly in meaning, both signifying sometimes "wind" or sometimes "breath." The word translated into "breath" in Genesis 2:7 is the Hebrew word neshamah. Both Hebrew words, neshamah and ruah are translated as "spirit" in various places in the English translations of the Bible. This means that the book of Genesis could just as well have been translated showing God breathing into man a spirit. This is just another example of duality (type and antitype) of the Bible. As it turned out both senses are true: God breathed a breath of air into man; God also breathed a spirit into man. See New Mind 22 for more information on this. But that spirit was not the soul of man.


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(c) Copyright 1971-2016 by Walter R. Dolen