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  • The Soul and Spirit of Man

    I recently received a letter from a sister in the Lord who had a question that sent me on a two week Bible exploration through scripture. The letter went as follows:

    Can you tell me what is the difference between man's soul and man's spirit. I always heard man was a spirit, he had a soul and lived in a body. But Gen. 2:7 says man became a living soul. The dictionary says the soul is the animation of man, his thoughts, action and emotion. It says the spirit is the animation of man. I've looked in Strong's and there are many references to the soul of man. When you look up spirit it mostly refers to the Spirit of God, or particular types of spirits. Can you clarify for me please. Thank you, Shirley

    To quickly clarify a few things nowhere in scripture are there any direct statements that man is spirit. Man is carnal (flesh), with a sinful nature, which has a spirit and a soul. The Bible often refers to him as a soul. The Bible does say that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). The Bible also says that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). The confusion concerning Gen 1:27 that says we are made in the image of God, is created when one tries to use this verse to make man’s nature in any way equivalent to God’s. We are created in His image. Just as a mirror gives the image of that which it is reflecting, we were made to reflect the image or characteristics of God, His love, mercy and so on. The image never takes on the nature of that which it is reflecting. For instance the mirror does not become flesh because it reflects my flesh. So it is with the way we reflect or image God. We do not become Him (Spirit, Love, God) just because we are a reflection or created in His image. We were created to reflect the goodness of God.

    I briefly want to explain how I came to my conclusions concerning the answer to Miss Shirley’s question. What I did was simply read every verse in scripture that had the root word soul or spirit in it and put them in categories according to the ideas that started to come to me as I went through the Bible. A lot of it was redundant and I simply used the verses that seemed to bring a distinct perspective to the purpose of the soul and the spirit. If this sounds simple, your right it is. All it took was time. But I was able to get from the authority of scripture an answer that I could trust in and not have to trust in someone’s opinion. I encourage those who read this to Search the Scriptures to see if what is said in this newsletter is indeed verified in the Bible, and to use the Bible to get their answer to questions such as these.

    Soul and Spirit Similarities

    In scripture the soul and spirit seem to both experience the emotions of every day life. This is what the majority of scripture detail, concerning the soul and the spirit.

    For instance the Bible says the soul breaketh, cleaveth, melteth, fainteth, pitieth, thirsteth, loveth, hateth, delighteth, loathed, is afflicted, is wearied, and sorrowful.

    The emotions of the spirit were described like this, my spirit faileth, constraineth, is overwhelmed, contrite, troubled, revived, anguished, made willing, hardened, sorrowful, sad, stirred up, raised, preserved, broken, stedfast, provoked, hasty, haughty humble, excellent, wounded, patient, proud, erred, and grieved.

    We can be humble in spirit, patient in spirit, proud in spirit, poor in spirit, perceive in spirit, sigh deeply in spirit, wax strong in spirit, rejoice in spirit, groan in the spirit, be pressed in the spirit, stirred in the spirit, fervent in the spirit, refreshed in the spirit, rested in spirit, meek and quiet in spirit,

    Emotion of both the soul and spirit are put together in the same verses, for instance:

    (Job 7:11 KJV) Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

    (Luke 1:46-47 KJV) And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, {47} And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

    We often here of people calling everything after a spirit, the spirit of this and the spirit of that, but the Bible does have various examples that it refers to as "the spirit of". I found while doing this study that there is a spirit of judgment, burning, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fear, knowledge, Egypt, deep sleep, heaviness, whoredoms, grace, supplications, infirmity, truth, divination, holiness, adoption, slumber, meekness, faith, power, love, sound mind, antichrist, error, life, devils, prophecy, and Elijah. There is not a soul of these things mentioned in scripture the way that they are referred to as "the spirit of" these things.

    Also for those that are interested there are seducing spirits, familiar spirits, unclean spirits, a perverse spirit, dumb spirit, foul spirit, and lying spirits.

    Soul and Spirit Differences

    This is the part I found interesting. The differences between the soul and spirit of man reminds me of a set of railroad tracks. They look as though they are both coming from the same place but actually the train travels on each set of tracks in opposite directions.

    The Bible refers to the soul as being created but there are no references in scripture to our spirit being created. The spirit is given and shaped by God but not created. Just as the soul was created it can be destroyed and can have a destination of either Heaven or Hell after death. This cannot be said of the spirit. There is not one reference to spiritual death in all of scripture. There is not even one reference to the spirit being made alive as though it could have been dead. There is also no reference to the spirit after death. After death one is referred to as a soul with no mention of a spirit.

    It looks as though the spirits function is life itself. This is probably why there is no mention in scripture of it actually dying. How can life itself die? The spirit seems to have been given at the beginning by the breath of God. After that man is referred to as a living soul. After death the spirit leaves the body and returns back to where it came from, which is God Himself. After death the soul arrives at its appointed destination. If one trusted in Christ and the righteousness that comes through faith then the soul ends up with the Lord. If one rejected the only Way that God made to himself, their soul would end up in Hell. At the resurrection the soul is then united with its spiritual body.

    References to the death of the soul in Hell (not the spirit)

    (Job 33:18 KJV) He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

    (Job 33:30 KJV) To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

    (Prov 23:13-14 KJV) Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. {14} Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    (Ezek 18:4 KJV) Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

    (James 5:20 KJV) Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

    (Psa 56:13 KJV) For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

    (Psa 16:10 KJV) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    (Acts 2:27-31 KJV) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. {28} Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. {29} Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. {30} Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; {31} He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    (Psa 86:13 KJV) For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

    (Mat 10:28 KJV) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    References to the soul being alive after death (not the spirit)

    (Gen 35:18 KJV) And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

    (1 Ki 17:21-22 KJV) And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. {22} And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

    References to the soul being created (not the spirit)

    (1 Cor 15:45 KJV) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    (Gen 2:7 KJV) 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.

    (Jer 38:16 KJV) So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.

    Associations with Spirit, Life, and breath

    I have mentioned previously that the spirit could have been given in the garden when God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. Listed below are various references to the associations between breath of life and the spirit.

    (Job 33:4 KJV) The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

    (Job 12:10 KJV) In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

    (Job 27:3 KJV) All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;

    (Job 34:14-15 KJV) If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; {15} All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

    (Gen 2:7 KJV) 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.

    (Isa 42:5 KJV) Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

    What the Bible says the Spirit is

    (Prov 20:27 KJV) The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

    (1 John 5:6 KJV) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

    (Rom 8:10-11 KJV) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. {11} But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    (John 4:23-24 KJV) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    (Luke 24:39 KJV) Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

    The Spirit is given, and formed not created like the
    soul and then returns to God from where it came

    (John 3:34 KJV) For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

    (Eccl 12:7 KJV) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    (Luke 23:46 KJV) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

    The Spirit of Jesus went back to God, His Soul went to Hell (Acts 2:31), and His body went into the grave.

    (Job 34:12-15 KJV) Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. {13} Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? {14} If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; {15} All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

    The Bible says he gives to each man a measure of the spirit and below it says that it is also shaped.

    (Zec 12:1 KJV) The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth (means shaped) the spirit of man within him.

    (Rev 11:11 KJV) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

    (Psa 104:24-30 KJV) O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. {25} So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. {26} There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. {27} These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. {28} That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. {29} Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. {30} Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

    (Isa 42:5 KJV) Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

    The Spirit leaves at death

    (James 2:26 KJV) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    (Acts 7:59 KJV) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

    (Eccl 12:7 KJV) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    (Luke 8:53-55 KJV) And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. {54} And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. {55} And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.

    (Eccl 3:21 KJV) Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

    (Luke 23:46 KJV) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

    Seems as though the spirit is also a form of strength

    (1 Ki 10:4-6 KJV) And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, {5} And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. {6} And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

    (2 Chr 9:3-4 KJV) And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, {4} And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

    (Gen 45:27 KJV) And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

    The Spirit is never referred to as dead
    (spiritual death) because it is life

    In the Garden of Eden Adam is told

    (Gen 2:17 KJV) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    When Adam ate of the tree he did not literally die as God said he would. For this reason there are those that say he died spiritually that day. I tend to disagree. Especially after not being able to find one example of spiritual death in scripture. You might ask, "Well we know God cannot lie, what did he mean when he said, the day you eat of the tree you shall surely die?" The Bible teaches us that man was separated from God because of sin and that Christ reconciled us back to God through His blood. The Bible teaches that Christ is our very life. When we were separated from God we were separated from life itself. Thank God for sending us His Son and reconciling us back to Himself, who is life itself, eternal life. I believe this is what God was saying when He told Adam he would die the same day he ate of the fruit. Despite the fact that spiritual death is mentioned frequently as though it is fact, it is nonexistent in scripture. The soul dies but the spirit in scripture is never referred to as dying or coming back to life. The soul was made alive in the garden (Gen 2:7) by the breath of God. The spirit is the life of the soul.

    (Rom 8:2 KJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    (Rom 8:6 KJV) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

    (Rom 8:10-11 KJV) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. {11} But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    (Rev 11:11 KJV) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

    (1 Cor 15:45 KJV) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    (John 6:63 KJV) It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

    (2 Cor 3:6 KJV) Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

    (Isa 38:16 KJV) O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.

    Spiritual Body but not a spirit after death

    (Luke 24:39 KJV) Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

    (1 John 3:2 KJV) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

    (1 Cor 15:44-49 KJV) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. {45} And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. {46} Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. {47} The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. {48} As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. {49} And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

    Spiritual being an adjective describing the body that we will be given (like spiritual body, house sacrifices, songs, ect.). These are spiritual things that are not spirit themselves. They have substance and have a spiritual purpose but are not spirit in themselves.

    We will not be like the angels (spirits) but will be like Christ.

    I have stated above that there is no mention of man having or being a spirit after death in scripture. The verses below detail the fact that marriage was not intended for the angels and it will not be for those of the resurrection. It is not saying that we will be like angels or spirits, but if looked at in context, Jesus is answering a question concerning marriage in the resurrection.

    (Mat 22:30 KJV) For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

    (Mark 12:25 KJV) For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

    Even Samuel when he was brought up from the dead was not referred to as a spirit (unless you use another version of the Bible besides the KJV which incorrectly translates the word Elohiym as spirit.

    (1 Sam 28:13-14 KJV) And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. {14} And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

    (1 Sam 28:13 NKJV) And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What did you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth."

    Strong’s Definition for Elohiym is

    Elohiym 430. 'elohiym, el-o-heem'; plur. of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:--angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

    Elohiym is mentioned 2605 times in the Old Testament and I will assume at this point that it is translated as God in almost every place in scripture. If you want to find a verse that translates Elohiym as spirit be my guest.

    Controversial Scripture

    These are the only verses that one might point at in disagreement with what has been said about the spirit of man after death, but they are unclear. Often these verses are interpreted as meaning something that drifts far beyond the borders of what is taught in scripture to be mans only hope. And that is accepting Christ while you are alive, for the time of judgment is coming. It is not a good practice to derive a whole new theology that does not conform to the rest of scripture from verses that are so unclear, as is the case of some in the interpretation of these 2 verses.

    (1 Pet 3:18-20 KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: {19} By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; {20} Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

    (1 Pet 4:6 KJV) For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

    I think these verses are saying that the gospel message of Christ (the death, burial, and resurrection) was preached the same to those in the days of Noah, just as it is preached today. The spirits being referred to here were not in the prison of Hell, but to their own sins and needed to follow the example set by Noah to be free. Whether it be Noah's Ark, the tabernacle of testimony with Moses, or the temple in the days of Solomon, the Gospel has always been preached in various typs and shaddows to those prior to the resurrection as well as to us now, leaving all without an excuse. There are those that think these verses are saying that those that were disobedient in the time of Noah were given a chance to accept or reject the Gospel in Hell once Christ was crucified but this dangerous theology is nowhere taught throughout scripture. This teaching would also conflict with the only Way that God made to Himself and the one life (Heb 9:27) he has given us to choose whom we will serve. For the sake of argument, even if it were clearly stating that Jesus was preaching to the spirits of those that were dead, then you would have the only verses in scripture that mention man as a spirit after death. Otherwise there is no scripture in the Bible that refers to man having a spirit or as a spirit after death. I believe what you have here is references to the spirits of men that were alive at the time they are mentioned. This interpretation is also strengthened with what is mentioned in:

    (Heb 11:7 KJV) By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

    Noahs "preparing of the ark" condemned the world around him. Living Men with spirits in them (as the body without the spirit is dead James 2:26) in the days of Noah were preached the gospel in the preparing of the ark. It is for this reason that they will be without excuse and "judged according to men in the flesh" in the day that God judges the souls of men.

    When doing a study on the soul and spirit this is the first verse that usually comes to mind. That is why I have placed it at the end of this study. I think that it is significant that after verifying the function of the spirit and the soul and seeing that the spirit is the life of the soul, this verse has even more meaning to it. The marrow of the bone is the life of the bone just as the spirit is to the soul.

    (Heb 4:12 KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

     

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