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The 'soul' in the Bible


Nov 30, 2004
It is important in understanding that whether saints can be conscious is heaven or the wicked in hell, or whether the wicked will burn eternally, we must look at the views the scripture has on the ‘soul’ and the ‘spirit’. The reason this is important is that what we believe on these topics will affect how we look at the doctrine of hell and the immortality of the soul. The whole scripture will be effected by what view we take to it. It is important then, that we understand how the Bible uses these terms.


I. The Soul in the Bible

Definition: In the Bible, "soul" is translated from the Hebrew “nepheshâ€Â, and the Greek “psucheâ€Â. To many people "soul" means the immaterial or spirit part of a human being that survives the death of the physical body. But this view is not what the Bible teaches.

And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. - Genesis 2:7,8
Notice that it says that man “became†a living soul. Not that man has one.
The word soul means ‘person, being’ and in some cases ‘life’. We say the poem “Old King Cole was a merry old soul†and the phrase “There’s not a soul aroundâ€Â. Nowhere in the scriptures is this soul immortal. Rather:

The soul that sinneth shall die – Ezekiel 18:20
More modern translations say this, “It is the man who sins who will dieâ€Â. This is because the whole person was a soul. The Bible definition for soul is varied. In some places it speaks of the soul as a living person, in other places as the life of an individual, and in other places it refers to animals. The soul is also used to express the emotion, love or affection of an individual. Nowhere is the term used to indicate a separate entity or conscious existence after death.

What happens when the ‘soul sins and dies�

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish – Psalms 146:4
For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything. Neither have they anymore a reward for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, hatred and envy is now perished…Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, where you go – Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10
His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not, and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them – Job 14:21
The concept of an immortal soul was foreign to the Hebrews. Man was a wholistic being, a composite made up of parts that were all dependant of the other. Body, breath (spirit) which gives life (becomes a soul)

But what about Genesis 35:18?

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing (for she died) that she called his name Benoni
When the OT says that 'her soul was departing', it means that her 'life left her'. This is reiterated in the addendum "for she died". You cannot take a foreign view and try to interpret it into verse.

The NT is not any different. Rather we see that the hope of eternal life was dependent on the resurrection, and not on a soul surviving death

* 1 Corinthians 15
* 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16
* 2 Timothy 4:6-8
* John 6:40-47
* John 5:28-29
See also OT corroboration in
* Job 14:12-13
* Daniel 12:2

We also see from the following verses and others that rewards (most obvious, for the wicked) are given at the end of time and not at death

* Revelation 22:12
* Matthew 13:40-42
* 2 Peter 3:7
* 2 Peter 2:9
* Job 21:30-32

Please click and look at the above verses. It won't take you long and the online Bible concordance lays it out for you. Look at it yourself and see the clear word!

Wicked souls cannot be tormented for there sins now if they are in their graves awaiting their judicial punishment for those sins. To do so does not make God a fair, just God. It also contradicts scripture and finds no support (other than, seemingly, ONE parable in Luke 16 which many take as absolute gospel)

Other than two or three ambiguous texts, taken out of context and not used in conjuction with the rest of scripture, there is no indication that man survives death until the resurrection in the NT. You cannot take one or two texts and base a theology around it when the rest of scripture is saying something else. The Bible must be taken in totality and used to explain itself.

More importantly in relation to the wicked, we see that neither at death do they have immortality to be punished. They are reserved in the grave to await their final punishment. They are mortal beings both in the first and the second death for they are still under the penalty of death due to the wages of sin. From their first to their second death, there is no change of nature.

Hence, they cannot be tormented forever either in body or in some sort of traditional bodiless 'soul' according to traditional thought.


Feb 17, 2004

It appears to me that U R from the UR group.

R- U - UR ?

Babies R US
Toys... R US
UR ......R US.... :roll:


You're argument has been unsettled for well over 128 years... Ever since the Universalist argument came into the thoughts of man.
What you have posted doesn't prove anything but that your definition of terms and analysis of scripture is not like that of the "orthodox" or of the "fundamentalist" or of many others Christians who don't profess to be of the orthodox or funamentalist "rule of deciphering scripture" but none the less, they are just given enlightenment from the Holy Spirit just the same.

Since you are so persistent in trying to prove your point about annhilism in posting the same subject under the guise of different Topics in different threads 8-) ...

I will study over your words here and get back with a reply later.




Hi Guibox,
You can add DT 12:23 as a central teaching of 'Nephesh'. ..The life (Nephesh) is in the blood.

At death it dies draining with the blood (numbers 23:10) Let me(my soul, Nephesh) die the death of the righteous..