There are those who believe that the soul is neither matter nor visible, but it has mentality and is the immortal part of man. The popular idea is that the soul can see,hear, love, hate; it can remember past events and in some cases predict future events. It is supposed to leave the body at death and go to either heaven or hell, according to the kind of life the individual has lived.
Go over all the parts on man in any book of physiology or anatomy and you will discover there is nothing labelled a soul. We are all supposed to have one, but no one knows exactly what it is.
1. What is the Bible meaning of the term soul?
Three Hebrew words in the Old Testament and one Greek word in the New Testament are rendered soul, They are:
a.Neshamah is translated once in Isaiah 57:16, last part, “The souls which I have made.”
b.Nedibah is translated once in Job 30 :15, second part, “They pursue my soul as the wind.”
c.Nephesh is the only other word in the Old Testament sometimes translated soul. It appears 752 times and is translated by forty-three other words.
d.Psuche is the corresponding word in the New Testament which occurs 105 times and is translated by six different words.
NOTE: The Bible definition for soul is varied. In some places it speaks of the soul as the life of the individual; in other places as the living person; I still other verses soul refers to an animal. The soul may refer to the affection or love of an individual, the dead body of a person, or the spirit of man. But nowhere does the Bible use the term to indicate an entity or personality that can live an immortal existence apart from the body.
2. Did God give man an immortal soul at creation?
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Gen 2:7
NOTE: Sometimes the term soul may refer to the entire person, or the natural life of man, or it may refer to the mind. In Exodus 16:16 soul and person are used interchangeably. For “persons” the margin says “souls.” It was the union of the breath of life or life-principle with the dust of that produced the first living person.
3. What is the difference between men and animals?
NOTE: God fashioned man with His own hands whereas the animals were created by the Word of His mouth. Man was given a mind that could think and reason and comprehend God. The animals were not given such reasoning and comprehensive ability.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14. If a man had no mind he would not know right. It is the mind of man that know right. Read Deuteronomy11:18 and Psalm 103:1. It is with the mind we remember. Without a mind we could never praise God.
4. What is the soul capable of doing?
a. It is the director of man’s actions. Compare Psalm 119:167 with Romans7:25. One text mentions the soul as the agency of obedience, the other calls this agency the mind.
b.Man’s soul takes counsel (Psalm 13:2)
c. It refuses things (Job 6:7)
d. It can be grieved (Job 30:25)
e. It feels bitterness of sorrow (Job 10:1; Mark 14:33, 34)
f. It is satisfied with good things (Psalm 63:5)
NOTE: These are all functions of the mind.
5. Of how many divisions of man does the Bible speak?
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”Matthew 10:28. Read Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 7:34.
NOTE:Generally, in the Bible there is mention of either body and soul or body and spirit. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, combines these ideas and emphasises that no part of man is to be shut out of the experience of sanctification. Man is a complete whole. Never does the Bible speak of a conscious entity able to exist apart for man.
6. Can a soul die?
“Behold,all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. Read James 5:20; Job 7:15.
7. Did Cain kill the real Abel or only a body in which he lived?
“Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where isAbel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Genesis 4:8-10
NOTE: The Lord did not say, “Abel has come to heaven to tell Me that you have murdered him”, but He did say, “ The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Paul affirms this in Hebrews 11:4 that Abel is dead.
8. How long did Adam live?
“So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” Genesis 5:5
NOTE: The validity of this record of Adam’s death proves that Satan lied when he said Adam would not die if he ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis3:4) and that Jesus told the truth about Satan when He said, “He is a liar, and a father of it.” John 8:44, last part. We must not defend Satan in his noted lie by affirming that Adam was an immortal that did not and could not die.
9. Were those outside Noah’s ark more alive than those on the inside?
“And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and everyman. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.”Genesis 7:21-23
NOTE: It is clear that “both man, and cattle and the creeping things and birds . . . were destroyed.” Here the same terms are applied to the men as to the animals. There is not the least indication that some part of each person continued alive anymore than of the beasts. “As one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath.”Ecclesiastes 3:19, second part.
The time is coming when those who are dead will live again. Read Job14:14, 15. Man will be given immortality at the resurrection. Read1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Accept Christ as your Saviour and eternal life is yours (Romans 6:23)