I. THE DIFFICULT NATURE OF Soul and Spirit
A. USE OF THE WORDS "SOUL" AND "SPIRIT"...
Many try to make it sound simpler that it is
By suggesting there is one definition for each word which applies every time that word is found "JW's" are notorious for doing this, but it is a mistake we all make at times
We might wish it was that simple, but we must bear in mind that one word often has many different meanings
E.g., consider the word "run"
1) As an intransitive verb, it has at least fifteen (15) different meanings!
2) As a transitive verb, fifteen (15) more!
3) As a noun, eleven (11) more
4) As an adjective, three (3) more
5) In all, "run" can have at least forty-four (44) different definitions!
Such varied use of a single word is quite common in all languages, including Hebrew and Greek
The words translated "soul" and "spirit" likewise have many different meanings
B. CONSIDER THE WORD "SOUL"...
The HEBREW word is "nephesh", and at times it may refer to:
Animal life - Gen 1:20-21 ("living")
The person - Num 31:19 ("killed any person")
The body - Num 6:6 ("a dead body")
Something distinguished from the body - Is 10:18 ("soul and body")
Breath - Job 41:21 (referring to Leviathan)
The GREEK word is "psuche", and at times it may refer to:
The person - 1 Pe 3:20 ("eight souls saved by water")
Life itself - Jn 13:38 ("lay down your life")
Something distinguished from the spirit - He 4:12 ("soul and spirit")
Something distinguished from the body - 1 Th 5:23 ("spirit and soul and body")
That which exists after the body is dissolved - Mt 10:28 ("kill the body but not the soul")
The HEBREW word is "ruach", and at times it may refer to:
Storms and wind - Gen 8:1 ("wind")
The life principle - Gen 6:17 ("breath of life")
Breath itself - Job 9:18 ("catch my breath")
Something distinct from breath - Job 34:15 ("spirit and breath")
A disposition or attitude - Ecc 7:8-9 ("patient in spirit better than proud in spirit")
Non-fleshly beings with intelligence - 1 Kin 22:21-22 ("a spirit came forward...")
That which is interchangeable with "nephesh" - Isa 26:9
That which is distinct from the flesh
1) Num 16:22 ("spirits of all flesh")
2) Isa 31:3 ("are flesh, and not spirit")
The inner man
1) Isa 26:9 ("by my spirit within me I will seek You")
2) Zech 12:1 ("forms the spirit of man within him")
The GREEK word is "pneuma", and at times it may refer to:
The wind - Jn 3:8 ("the wind blows...")
Breath - 2 Th 2:8 ("will consume with the breath of His mouth")
The Holy Spirit - Jn 1:32 ("I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove") Unclean spirits or demons
1) Mt 8:16 ("He cast out the spirits with a word")
2) Lk 4:33 ("a spirit of an unclean demon")
Angels - He 1:13-14 ("ministering spirits sent forth")
Character and moral qualities - 1 Pe 3:4 ("a gentle and quiet spirit") Purpose, or aim
1) 2 Co 12:18 ("Did we not walk in the same spirit?")
2) Ph 1:27 ("stand fast in one spirit")
Perception, desires, feelings, etc. - 1 Co 5:3 ("absent in body but present in spirit")
Part of man distinct from the flesh
1) 1 Co 5:5 ("for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved")
2) He 12:23 ("to the spirits of just men made perfect")
D. WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS PROVE...?
Simply that "soul" and "spirit" have many different meanings and applications
Therefore we cannot just take one definition which may be true in one context and apply it to all others!
Yet many do this very thing
We must be cautious, and humbly consider the context of each passage to determine how the words are being used
[With that thought in mind, we are ready to consider the "nature" of man: Does man possess a spirit or soul that continues to exist after death?
SCRIPTURES WHICH INDICATE THAT MAN HAS A SOUL OR SPIRIT WHICH CONTINUES AFTER DEATH
A. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...
An interesting phrase is "gathered to thy people", implying existence after death, and is made in regards to the death of...
Abraham - Gen 25:8
Isaac - Gen 35:29
Jacob - Gen 49:29,33
Aaron - Num 20:24
Moses - Num 27:13; Deu 32:50
Josiah - 2 Kin 22:20; 2 Chr 34:28
There is the case of Samuel, who was brought back after his death - 1 Sam 28:7-19
David could look forward to one day joining his infant son - 2 Sam 12:22-23
The spirit will return to God at death - Ecc 12:6-7
The lament against the king of Babylon speaks of life after death - Isa 14:9-11
Likewise the lament against Egypt, Assyria, Elam, etc., who are all consigned to the "Pit" - Ezek 32:17-32
B. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
In the teaching of Jesus
Man is both body and soul, and the soul can survive murder by another - Mt 10:28
The story of Lazarus and the rich man - cf.
1) Some say this is only a parable
2) Even if it was (which is highly unlikely), parables were "true to life" stories, not fantasy!
His promise to the thief on the cross - Lk 23:42-43
In the teaching of Paul
There is "the inner man" that can be ever renewed, even while "the outer man" decays - 2 Co 4:16-18
One can be with the Lord, while absent from the body - 2 Co 5:6-8
There is a part of man that can be "out of the body" -2 Co 12:3
One can be dead, yet still be with Christ - Php 1:23
Reference is made to the "spirits of just men" - He 12:22-23
The teaching of Peter
He spoke of the "spirits in prison" - 1 Pe 3:18-20
He wrote of those who are "dead, but live in the spirit" - 1 Pe 4:6
He described the body as a tabernacle to be put off...if the body is a tabernacle
(dwelling place), what dwells in it?
- 2 Pe 1:13-14
The unjust are under punishment, just like some angels - 2 Pe 2:4,9-10
John, in the Revelation given to him, saw "souls of those slain",
and they were capable of crying out with loud voices, and being comforted - Re 6:9-11