FaithHopeLove.netSPIRIT AND SOUL AND
A Study By F. M. Perry, June 5,
1989, Revised August 15, 2007.
"Now may the God of peace Himself
sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved
complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess
HUMANS CREATED AS TRIUNE (THREE IN ONE)
The apostle Paul describes the complete
makeup of a human being with a combination of three different words:
spirit and soul and body.
The words spirit, soul, and body are
translated from the three original New Testament Greek words: pneuma,
psuche, and soma, respectively. In the original Hebrew language of the Old
Testament the same three words are ruach, nephesh and geshem,
respectively. Considering the usage throughout the Old and New Testaments
of these three different words, we must conclude each words has a
different meaning. A spirit is somewhat different from a soul or a body.
And a soul is somewhat different from a body or a spirit. Paul used all
three words to describe the complete or entire makeup of a person. We are
led to the thought that each human being must be composed of three
different entities which Paul calls: spirit and soul and body.
Body and Soul are Separate Entities.
This thought is reinforced as we consider
the meaning in context of each word in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus
spoke clearly of the distinction between the soul and the body of a person
when He told His disciples that the soul of a person could not be killed
as could the body of a person but that the soul lives on after the death
of the body.
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are
unable to kill the soul;" (Matt 10:28)
Spirit and Soul are Separate
The writer of Hebrews speaks of the
distinction between the spirit and soul of a person indicating that the
spirit of a person should be separated from the soul of the person.
Indeed, the context of the passage in Hebrews indicates that it is
improper for the spirit of a person to be fully enclosed within the soul
of that person (as marrow is fully enclosed by bone) and that it is the
function of God's word to work in that person to free his spirit from
being enclosed by his soul.
"For the word of God is living and
active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the
division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge
the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12).
on the meaning of this verse leads us to questions about the proper
functions of one's spirit and one's soul. Clearly the verse speaks of the
desirability of one having a spirit which is somewhat free from the total
influence of his soul. Therefore, we must conclude that the spirit of a
person is somewhat different from the soul of that person.
The soul and the
body are different parts of the human being for the soul lives on after
the death of the body. The spirit and the soul are different parts of the
human being for the spirit can and should be separated from the total
influence of the soul. But the three parts, spirit and soul and body, make
up the complete person as he lives on earth and even as he is preserved to
meet the Lord when He comes again.
Spirit, Soul, and Body are Separate
Entities Within One Complete Human.
The proposition that each human being has
been created by God with three separate entities is strengthened by our
knowledge that our God has three entities. Our God is three in one, a
triune God, with the three parts referred to in the Bible as the Father,
the Word or the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since God has created human
beings in His image, we are led to expect that humans have been created as
triune beings also, with three parts, referred to in the Bible as spirit,
soul, and body.
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image,
according to Our likeness;'". (Gen 1:26).
If people are triune
beings consisting of spirit and soul and body, we should be able to learn
something of the origin, function, and destiny of these three parts by
studying the usage and context of the words spirit, soul, and body in the Old and New
WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT AND
SOUL AND BODY?
"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from
the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man
became a living being (soul)." (Gen 2:7).
The human body was formed by God "of dust
from the ground." God gave spirit to the human being when He "breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life". When God formed the body of the
human from dust and imparted life to him by "breathing (a spirit) into his
nostrils", "man became a living soul". The body is God-formed. The spirit
is God-given. With these gifts, man becomes a unique living
That the body is formed of the elements of the earth (dust)
is confirmed by Old Testament passages. "By the sweat of your face you
shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were
taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19). "All
go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust."
(Eccl 3:20). The Apostle Paul tells us that our fleshly bodies belong to a
"humble state" (or "lowly" or "vile" state). (Phil 3:21). This suggests
that the body is composed of different more "humble" elements (such as the
dust of the ground) than other parts such as spirit and soul.
man's spirit was given to him by God is also indicated in Old and New
Testament passages. "Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens,
lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him."
(Zech 12:1). "The spirit will return to God who gave it." (Eccl 12:7). "He
jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us." (James
The original meaning of the word spirit in both Old
Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek was "breath" or "wind", a figure
of speech illustrating the fact that it is that which was bequeathed to,
"breathed into", man by God. (Gen 2:7).
Human beings, therefore,
have both body and spirit. But the human characteristic is more than just body
and spirit, but is called soul. Human beings are living
souls. Hence the Bible often calls man soul. For example, when Jacob went down
into Egypt with his family, the Bible tells us that "all the persons
(souls) of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy." (Gen
46:27). All those who had received the gospel message from Peter on the
day of Pentecost were baptized and "there were added that day about three
thousand souls." (Acts 2:41).
Apparently the word soul stands for the unique human
personality, that which makes him mankind. Thus, "the first man, Adam,
became a living soul." (1 Cor 15:45).
The word for soul in the Old
and New Testaments is not always translated soul but is sometimes
translated person, life, heart, or mind. "In the days of Noah, during the
construction of the Ark,....eight persons (souls) were brought safely
through the water." (1 Peter 3:20). "Do not be anxious for your life
(soul), as to what you shall eat." (Matt 6:25). "Be obedient to those who
are your masters according to the flesh....as to Christ....doing the will
of God from the heart (soul)." (Eph 6:56). "The Jews who disbelieved
stirred up the minds (souls) of the Gentiles." (Acts 14:2). In each of
these cases man's unique personality is signified by the Greek word for
The complete human being is God's creation. The unique body
of each human was made by God. The unique spirit of each human came from
God. Then, as the spirit quickened the body, God made in the human certain characteristics which were tantamount to a third
part, a unique living soul. The human was then fully created as a unique
living person, a triune being, with a consciousness of himself.
does God intend his created, triune human being to function within and in
relation to the rest of His creation? Through human reasoning and
observation of ourselves we human beings know something of the functioning
of our bodies and their sensing abilities in the material world. And by
noting that we have a consciousness of ourselves, that we are subject to
various kinds of emotions, that we are able to assimilate and utilize
knowledge, and that we have will power and the desire to exercise that
will power in our lives, we know that there must be another part, a soul,
within us quite different from our fleshly bodies.
Thus, a person
is aware that he has a body and a soul. We also know that God has given us life and that that life stops when we die. We deduce that an unseen or spiritual part of us has left the body to cause its death. So to a limited extent a person is
aware of the functions of his body, soul, and spirit. But, a person
is naturally aware only that he is made of flesh and unseen spirit which differ.
Only by Biblical revelation from God does a person become
aware of the three entities, spirit and soul and body,and how they are intended by God to function together.
A careful study of the Biblical references to the body and
soul of man should lead us to an expanded and, perhaps, corrected
understanding of the proper functions of our bodies and souls as vessels
serving God's eternal purposes. And a careful study of the Biblical
references to the spirit of man may unfold to us truths of which we may
not have been aware but which may be of great importance to us in serving
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN
That the body is that part of us on which
we hang clothes and which has many members for sensing material things of
the world is noted by the Bible. "Do not be anxious for....your body, as
to what you shall put on." (Matt 6:25). "For the body is not one member,
but many....the foot.... a hand.... the ear.... an eye." (1 Cor 12:14-16).
"I buffet my body and make it my slave." (1 Cor 9:27).
Of more importance, the Bible reveals
that Christians can and should use their bodies to serve God. "I urge you
therefore, brethren, ....to present your bodies a living and holy
sacrifice." (Rom 12:1). When one becomes a Christian, it is the body which
is "washed with pure water" at baptism. (Heb 10:22). And the body becomes
a member of Christ to serve Christ. "Do you not know that your bodies are
members of Christ?" (1 Cor 6:15). The body of a Christian becomes a
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God enabling him to glorify God in
his body. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
who is in you, whom you have from God....therefore glorify God in your
body." (1 Cor 6:19-20).
However, it is the body which lusts and can
be used to commit sin if one chooses to do so. "Therefore do not let sin
reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on
presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of
unrighteousness." (Rom 6:12-13).
These scriptures reveal that the
body is that part of a person which senses the material and fleshly things
of this world, and through which the person can exercise influence on
material things. But in referring to the functions of the body, each
reference refers to another part of a person which apparently controls the
body of that person. When Jesus said, "Do not be anxious for your body."
He referred not only to the "body" but also to "you". The command, "Do not
be anxious", is not given directly to the body but to the "you" who
controls the body. Similarly, when Paul said, "I buffet my body," he spoke
not only of his body but that part of him which controlled his body.
Time after time the scriptures speak, not of "a body" alone, but
of "your" body, indicating that the body does not stand alone but serves
another part of the person. We will see as we study further that the part
of the person which is served by the body is often referred to as the
soul. Through the senses of the body the soul of a person is influenced by
that with which the body comes in contact. And through the members of the
body the soul of a person can exert influence upon that with which the
body comes in contact.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN
God gave spirit to man when He breathed
into his nostrils the "breath of life." or "spirit of life." (Gen 2:7).
Jesus said, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones." (Luke 24:39). But
James said, "the body without the spirit is dead." (James 2:26). James
also said God made the spirit for the purpose of dwelling in us. (James
4:5). When the personal spirit of a person departs from the body of that
person, life is gone from the body. The body of the person is said then to
be "asleep" or "dead". (Acts 7:59; Eccl. 12:7; John 11:11-14). Thus we see
that a function of the spirit imparted to the human by God is to give life
to the body and to dwell in and sustain life in that body until the body
The "spirit of the man, which is in him....knows the
thoughts of a man", said Paul (1 Cor. 2:11). This verse seems to indicate
that the thoughts of a man, while known by that man's spirit, do not
originate with his spirit. It is a function of a person's spirit to know,
for some reason, the thoughts of that person. But, apparently, another
part of the person generates the thoughts of that person.
spirit is not from God, said John, but "every spirit that confesses that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God" (1 John 4:12). Here we are
introduced to the fact that there are other spirits with us here on earth
besides our own personal spirits and God's Holy Spirit. These other
spirits are not from God. They will not confess that Jesus Christ has come
in the flesh. We must conclude that God intended that it be a function of
one's personal spirit to confess Christ. If your personal spirit does
confess Jesus Christ, the grace of the Lord Jesus will be "with your
spirit." (Gal. 6:18).
Paul said, "Let us cleanse ourselves from
all defilement of flesh and spirit" (2nd Cor. 7:1), indicating that the
spirit can be defiled during this life. All spirits are preserved by God
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, some without blame, but some
(those which are defiled and not cleansed) continue to have blame. (1
Within what context does the personal spirit of a
person live and work during a person's life on earth, and how does the
personal spirit become defiled? Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 2:1112, "Who among
men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in
him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is
We see here at least three types of spirits: spirits of
men, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of the world. We must conclude that
the spirit of a person can "receive" and be influenced either by the
spirit of the world or by the Spirit of God. It follows that the personal
spirit of a person which lives under the influence of the spirit of the
world is not "without blame". But the personal spirit which lives under
the influence of the Spirit of God has been cleansed and is "without
James said, "He (God) jealously desires the spirit which
He has made to dwell in us." (James 4:5). There is a clear intimation that
some other spirit other than the Spirit of God can dwell in us and
influence the lives of our personal spirits. Perhaps James 4:5 is
recalling Ezekiel 36:26-27 which said, "Moreover, I will give you a new
heart and put a new spirit within you....and I will put My Spirit within
you and cause you to walk in My statutes...."
Now we have a
picture of man's spirit being influenced by two other spirits: God's Holy
Spirit and the spirit of the world. As man grows up from childhood his
spirit inevitably is introduced to and receives influence from the spirit
of the world. But the only spirit which God desires to dwell in us with
our own personal spirit is His Holy Spirit. Both these spirits, the spirit
of the world and God's Holy Spirit, cannot dwell together with man's
spirit in the temple of the body. Thus, if the Spirit of God is to dwell
in a person, it must be received as a new Spirit to completely replace the
old spirit of the world. The spirit of the world must be thrown out before
God's Holy Spirit can dwell in a person.
Let John instruct us. "And
the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we
know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether
they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the
world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses
that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that
does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the
anti-Christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is
already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome
them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the
world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us. By
this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1 John
Men serve in their personal spirits either God, "the
Spirit of truth," or they serve "they....from the world," "the spirit of
error". Paul said, "For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of
the gospel of His Son, is my witness." (Rom. 1:9). We can be influenced by
the Spirit of truth and serve God in our spirits. Or we can be influenced
by "they" of the world, and serve these spirits of the world in our
But "the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit
with Him." (1 Cor. 6:17). "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God,
these are sons of God." (Rom. 8:16). But if we have not received the
Spirit of God, we have received "a spirit of slavery leading to fear."
Who are "they" from the world from whom John said we
may receive a "spirit of error" and a "spirit of slavery"? Paul informs us
that the Holy Spirit said "they" are "demons." "But the Spirit explicitly
says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying
attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Tim. 4:1).
John warns us about these demonic spirits in the Revelation. "And I saw
coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan) and out of the mouth of the
beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits like
frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to
the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the
great day of God, the Almighty." (Rev. 16:13-14).
and his great servants, the beast and the false prophet, are spoken of as
demons who send out "unclean spirits." These "unclean spirits" try to
enter into people to take the place that God desires His Holy Spirit to
have in them. But God has instructed us all in the New Testament how to
get rid of these "unclean spirits."
"If indeed you have heard Him
(Christ) and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Christ Jesus,
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old
self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and
that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self,
which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and
holiness of the truth." (Eph. 4:21-24). Remember that the "likeness of God"
is Spirit, for God is Spirit. When you have been renewed in the spirit of
your mind, you will "have come to....the general assembly and church of
the first¬born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all,
and to the spirit of righteous men made perfect." (Heb. 12:22-23).
Perhaps the most important function of a person's own unique
spirit is that, within the person, it becomes united with God's Holy
Spirit providing an avenue of communion from the person to the triune God.
God intended that the unique personal spirit of a person become the "holy
of holies" within the holy temple of the person's body where God's own
Holy Spirit might dwell and where communion between the person and God's
Holy Spirit might take place. (1 Cor. 6:17-20).
But the Scriptures
indicate that the personal spirit of a person can be influenced to commune
with evil spirits such as the "spirit of the world," the "spirit of the
anti-Christ," the "spirit of slavery," or the deceitful and unclean
"spirits of demons." Such communion, of course, will defile the personal
spirit of the person and destroy any possibility of communion with God's
Holy Spirit unless and until the personal spirit is cleansed, renewed, and
again sanctified for the presence of the Holy Spirit.
assured that we can "cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and
spirit." (1 Cor. 7:34). "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead
because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness." (Rom.
8:10). Then, we can commune with God's Holy Spirit again and can "serve
God" in our spirits. (Rom 1:9). Also, we can become "fervent in spirit"
(John 4:23) and we can "pray" and "sing with the spirit." (1 Cor
But note that these scriptures all show the spirit of a
person communing and functioning under the control of another part of the
person. We cleanse ourselves from all defilement of spirit. The defiled
spirit is not cleansed until another part of the person takes action. We
serve God in our spirits but other parts of us exert the will power and
take the action resulting in service to God. We pray and sing with the
spirit but obviously the prayers and songs must first occur in thought and
may be expressed with some kind of body action, such as singing or praying
aloud. Then the personal spirit does his part and prays and sings too, in
a very special way and for a very special purpose, that of conveying our
thoughts to the God Head.
Apparently, God intended that it be the
spirit's function to know the thoughts, will, and actions of a person and
to serve that person in his communications with God! Indeed, "The one who
joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor. 6:17), and "The
Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
(Rom 8:16). Praise God! Our personal spirit can become one with the the
Holy Spirit bearing witness to God the Father along with the witness of
the Father's own Holy Spirit!
But when Paul speaks of defilement of
spirit we know that we can defile our personal spirits. The thoughts,
will, and actions of a person can defile that person's spirit. And, when
Paul tells us that the spirit is alive because of righteousness, we know
that without the righteousness imparted to us by God the personal spirit
is "dead." We must conclude that a person's personal spirit which has not
been cleansed from defilement is without righteousness and is not alive,
therefore is "dead."
Here are revealed some very important
concepts. One's personal spirit, given to each of us by God to impart and
sustain life in one's body of flesh, while accomplishing that function, in
some sense can be "dead." But, one's personal spirit can be "cleansed,"
made "holy" and can become "alive." While sustaining life in one's body,
we conclude that one's spirit is controlled for better or worse by another
part of one's triune being.
Through God's sanctification, the
"spirit" along with the "soul" and the "body" may be "preserved complete,
without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:23).
And "the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN
When God formed the body of man from dust
and gave a spirit to him by breathing into his nostrils, "man became a
living soul." (Gen. 2:7). "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." (1
Cor. 15:45). God's word in both the old and new testaments calls men
"souls": "All the souls of the house of Jacob." (Gen. 46:27), "There were
added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41).
soul is translated "life" in Matt. l6:25 when Jesus said, "Do not be
anxious for your life (soul), as to what you shall eat, or what you shall
drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life (soul)
more than food, and the body than clothing." This passage shows that the
soul of a person is the unique life of the person and it is sustained in
the person's body by food and drink. It also shows that the emotion of
anxiety in a person is closely associated with the soul.
soul is translated in some Bible passages as "person," as in the words of
Paul in Rom. 13:1, "Let every person (soul) be in subjection to the
governing authorities." In this passage the word soul is used to denote
the unique personality of the person. The souls of Christians are also to
be watched over by the elders of the church for Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey
your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls."
Souls, then, have the ability to commit and subject themselves to others.
Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 2:11 that while we live on the earth we
should "abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul." We
have already noted that it is the body that lusts (Rom. 6:12-13). Now we
see that the lusts of the body influence the soul in an unhealthy manner.
This influence can be such that the soul will do evil. "There will be
tribulations and distress for every soul of man who does evil." (Rom 2:9).
If the soul does evil (sins), it will die! (Ezekiel 18:4).
clear that the soul of a person has the function of choosing for the
person. The soul can choose either to abstain or to partake of fleshly
lusts. The soul of a person can be influenced by temptations and by
warnings and commandments from God contained in the Scriptures. The soul
can weigh evidences and can accept or reject evidence. This shows the
intellectual function of the soul. Furthermore, the soul has the ability
to know and understand the consequences of choices, especially those
consequences which are clearly enunciated in the Scriptures. The soul is
warned of tribulations, distress, and even death if wrong choices are
It is this death of the soul that Jesus referred to when He
said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the
soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in
hell." (Matt. 10:28). Again, "For what will a man be profited, if he gains
the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in
exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). And again, "You fool! This very
night your soul is required of you." (Luke 12:20).
What is the
nature of this death of the soul which occurs when it sins? It is quite
different from the death of the mortal body when killed or slain. Jesus
said, "Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the
soul." (Matt. 10:28). We must conclude that man cannot kill a soul by
murder or manslaughter as he can kill a body. The soul lives on after the
death of the body. The nature of the death of a soul is different from the
death of a body.
Jesus continued in Matt. 10:28, "But rather fear
Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." We must conclude
that the only death for the soul is the death in hell, eternal separation
from God, caused by sin, to be imposed by God on unrepentant souls at the
Although God did not create in man a
living soul just to have that soul die (become separated from God), all
souls of men have died at one time or another because all men (all souls)
have sinned. (Rom 3:23). Souls of men can and do choose to lead men into
sins against God.
However, God has provided redemption for the
souls of sinful men. Souls of men can and often do choose to accept God's
provision of redemption. David of old said, "He (the Lord) restores my
soul." (Psalms 19:7). Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 1:9 that "salvation of your
souls" is "the outcome of your faith" in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:39 says
faith brings about "the preserving of the soul." James tells us that "the
word implanted ....is able to save your souls." (James 1:21). Peter says
that "souls" may be "purified....in obedience to the truth." (1 Peter
1:22). "Those who received his word were baptized; and there were added
that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41). "And the Lord was
adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." (Acts
2:47). It becomes clear that souls of men are saved from the consequences
of their sins through their faith and obedience to the word of
Although it is the "body" which is "washed with pure water" in
baptism (Heb. 10:22), it is the soul whose sins are forgiven and who,
along with the body, is saved. And it is the soul which chooses to accept
and obey God's plan of belief and repentance leading to baptism. And it is
the soul of the person which directs the body of the person to submit to
baptism. "In the days of Noah....eight persons (souls) were brought safely
through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you not
the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good
conscience." (1 Pet. 3:20-21). That appeal to God through the act of
baptism is an appeal by the soul, in behalf of the complete person, to be
saved from eternal separation from God.
After salvation of the
soul through baptism of the body, it is the soul of man which motivates
him to continue doing the will of God, "as slaves of Christ, doing the
will of God from the heart (soul)." (Eph. 6:6). Then Christ becomes "the
Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." (1 Pet. 2:25). Then, "you shall find
rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:29). Then, we have "this hope....as an
anchor of the soul." (Heb. 6:19).
We are told in Luke 1:46 that
the soul of Mary exalted the Lord. Surely, a function of our souls is also
to exalt the Lord. Also, it is with "all your soul" that you are to love
the Lord and your neighbor. (Matt. 22:37,39). The soul is that part of a
person which has the ability to commit to the principle of love in the
soul-life of the person, and to direct the body of the person to perform
acts to exercise the love of God in the world.
The life (soul) is
to be lost in order to save it, Jesus said in Matt. 16:25. And Jesus
demonstrated this principle when He gave "His life (soul), a ransom for
many." (Matt. 20:28). The admonition from Jesus to His disciples that they
must "lose" their souls in order to save them refers to selfish
characteristics which men have inherited from the flesh of Adam.
Inevitably, men's souls lead them into selfish, prideful and willful
actions, with rejection of humble submission to the leadership of God. Men
often seek to impose service on God which is directed only by a selfish
and prideful soul. Jesus teaches that men must "lose" these "soulish"
characteristics if they are to successfully commune with God and be useful
in God's service. (It is perhaps this "circumcision" of one's soul from
one's spirit, to be brought about by the soul's consideration of the Word
of God, that is spoken of in Hebrews 4:12.)
The prophet Isaiah
recognized a function of the human soul of Jesus when the prophet said,
"His soul would render Himself as a sin offering." God will be satisfied
"as a result of the anguish of His soul." "He poured out His soul to
death." (Isaiah 53:10-12). Afterwards, John said, "He laid down His life
(soul) for us; and we ought to lay down our lives (souls) for the
brethren." (1 John 3:16). So, perhaps the most noble function of our souls
is to lay down (lose) our souls for the brethren just as Jesus laid down
His soul for us.
The word "soul" is used in the Bible to describe
the essence of man, that which makes up his unique personality, including
his volitional, intellectual, and emotional makeup. The soul lives on
earth in a fleshly body which gives that soul contact with the material
world, and allows the soul to have influence on, or receive influence from
the material and fleshly world. The soul also has closely associated with
it a personal spirit which gives life to the fleshly body which the soul
inhabits, and provides for the soul an avenue of communion with the
spiritual realm. In accordance with the soul's choosing, the personal
human spirit may provide communion either with evil spirits or with the
Holy Spirit of God.
However, in no way can the souls of people
strike out "on their own," or dictate their communion with God. Without
Scriptural revelation from God we would not even know about the spiritual
realm or that we have a personal spirit to provide communion within the
spiritual realm. Our spirit does not operate within our consciousness, but
rather behind the fleshly scenes in "other dimensions" of the spiritual
realm. But the revelations of God found in the Bible tell us something of
this unseen realm of spirits. And our God has created us with a limited
ability to think in terms of the expanded dimensions of the realm which we
inhabit as He reveals their existence to us in Scripture.
We have examined a few Bible passages
which help us to understand some separate functions of the three parts of
our true makeup, spirit and soul and body, as we live here upon the earth.
But our earthly lives are not the whole of our eternal lives. Indeed, the
ratio of our few short years on earth to our eternal existence after we
depart from this earth is infinitesimally small. Paul reminds us in Romans
8:18 that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory which shall be revealed." Not only should we be
interested in the function of each part of the triune man while he lives
in the flesh on earth, we also should be intensely interested in what God
has revealed to us concerning the function and destiny of each part of the
triune man after this life on earth is ended.
WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN
There is no question but that the fleshly
body formed by God from the dust of the ground, will, upon death of the
body, return to dust. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till
you return to the ground. Because from it you were taken; for you are
dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). "All go to the same
place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust" (Eccl.
But this is not the end of the matter. Isaiah prophesied,
"Your dead will live. Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust,
awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of dawn, and the earth
will give birth to the departed dead" (Isaiah 26:19). Isaiah intimates
that the death of the body is like a sleep, for he commands the dead to
"awake". Daniel tells us clearly that this body, although dead and
decayed, is but asleep and it can awake. "And many of those who sleep in
the dust of the earth will awake" (Dan. 12:2). Ezekiel prophecied,
"Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your
graves" (Eze. 37:12). Paul said, "For David, after he had served the
purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his
fathers, and underwent decay" (Acts 13:36). And Paul speaks of the bodies
of those Christians who had died during his generation as simply having
"fallen asleep". Then he said, when the Lord Himself descends from heaven
"the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thess. 4:15-16). In Acts 2:26
Peter quotes a prophecy of David, "My flesh also will abide in
After Lazarus had died, Jesus said of him, "Our friend
Lazarus has fallen asleep". When the disciples misunderstood the meaning
of "fallen asleep", Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." (John
11:11-14). Later Jesus said to Martha concerning Lazarus, "Your brother
shall rise again" (John 11:23). When Jesus went to the place where Lazarus
was buried, He called him forth from the grave and "He who had died came
forth." It is clear that the body of Lazarus was whole, possessed of his
own spirit, and Lazarus was again, in an earthly sense, a living soul.
A preview of the resurrection of dead bodies of
saints occurred when Jesus was resurrected. We are told that "the tombs
were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were
raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered
the holy city and appeared to many." (Matt. 27:50-53). But Christ Himself
was the first fruits of them that slept when He was raised from the dead.
(1 Cor. 15:20).
Thus we see that the body, (as well as the soul and
the spirit) will be preserved complete at the coming of the Lord, even
though the body may have decayed and returned to dust. (1 Thess. 5:23).
Paul in that passage prays that the spirit and soul and body may be
"without blame" at the coming of our Lord. If, at that time, the body is
not "without blame," it will be destroyed along with the soul in hell
(Matt. 10:28). Daniel prophesied, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of
the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to
disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2).
But Paul tells us
"that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the
perishable inherit the imperishable." (1 Cor. 15:50). Of what use to the
Christian, then, is the resurrection of the fleshly body if it cannot
inherit the imperishable kingdom of God?
Paul makes it clear in
the verses which follow 1 Cor. 15:50 that the perishable body of the
Christian is raised simply for the purpose of changing it for an
imperishable body. "Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep,
but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at
the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the
imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor.
What will the imperishable body be like? John said,
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet that
we shall be. We know that, if He should appear, we shall be like Him." (1
John 3:2). Paul said, Christ "will transform the body of our humble state
into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power
that He has even to subject all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:21). Paul
also said that the body, when buried, or "sown", is a "natural body." But
"it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also
a spiritual body. So also it is written, the first man, Adam, became a
living soul. The last Adam became a life giving Spirit. However, the
spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man
is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the
earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also
are those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the
earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor.
In discussing the function of the human body (above) we
pointed out that the body is meant to be a dwelling place for the Holy
Spirit enabling one to glorify God in his body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In Romans
8 Paul enlarges on this concept pointing out that, even in this earthly
life, one can preview the great change that will be made to the body when
Jesus comes again. Paul said, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please
God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the
Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of
Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if the Christ is in you, though the
body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of
righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells
in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to
your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you." (Rom.
In like manner to the way that the human spirit, breathed
into the human body by God, gave life to the human body, so the Holy
Spirit indwelling the body of the Christian gives him a taste, even as he
lives on this earth, of eternal life in the imperishable body to be
received when Jesus comes again. And just as the fleshly body without the
human spirit is dead, so the body of the Christian does not have eternal
life unless the Holy Spirit dwells in it. Paul's message of Romans 8 is
that the body, although doomed to fall asleep and decay, can start serving
God now as it will in eternity "if by the Spirit you are putting to death
the deeds of the body." (Rom 8:13). Even now the Holy Spirit will give
life even to your mortal bodies so that you can "therefore glorify God in
your body." (1 Cor. 6:20).
Although an attempt has been made to
discuss the subjects of the body's function and the body's destiny
separately from a discussion of the soul and spirit, it has not been
possible. A body without its spirit is dead. And a fleshly body with its
spirit becomes a living soul. Nevertheless, the soul functions as a separate entity
from the body or spirit of the triune person. The body will die and return
to dust but not the soul (Matt. 10:28). And the soul and spirit can and
should be divided asunder (Heb. 4:12). The three serve each other with the
soul being the "captain" of the triune person.
WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN
When a person's body dies that person's
personal spirit does not die but is released from the body. It is God's
desire that the spirit then return to Him, the One who gave it. "Then the
dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God
who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). When Jesus died on the cross He "cried out
again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." (Matt. 27:50). Luke
tells us, as does the Prophet of the Psalms, what Jesus said when He cried
out. "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46; Psalms
31:5). Thus we see an example in Jesus' death on the cross of the body
yielding up its spirit and the spirit returning to God who gave it.
Stephen at his death also expected his body to give up his spirit
and for the Lord to receive it. As he was being stoned to death "he called
upon the Lord and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts
Paul speaks of one in 1 Cor. 5:5 with whom the Christians
were not to associate ("but deliver such a one to Satan") "that his spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord." This indicates not only that his
spirit can be saved, but that it possibly can be lost. Paul prays in 1
Thess. 5:23, "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete,
without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This indicates not
only that "your spirit can be without blame," but that it can possibly be
blamed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, else it would not be
necessary for Paul to pray this prayer.
What then happens to the
personal spirit of a person upon the death of his body? It goes back to
God who gave it. God preserves it until the day when the Lord comes back.
We conclude from the words of the dying Stephen that he expected the Lord
Jesus Christ to receive his personal spirit immediately. Perhaps, then, it
is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who receives the spirits of faithful
Christians and preserves them "without blame" until that day.
what happens to the spirits of those whose bodies die while they are in a
disobedient state, who have not allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in them,
but have continued to allow an unclean spirit of the world to dwell in
them? Peter tells us about the destiny of such spirits of men. "For Christ
also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He
might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made
alive in the Spirit in which also He went and made proclamation to the
spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God
kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in
which a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through the
water." (1 Peter 3:18¬20). In this passage Peter tells us that the spirits
of the people whose bodies died in the great flood are now held "in
prison". He says that it was the Holy Spirit of Christ who spoke to this
world of people through Noah during the construction of the ark. Noah
tried, but failed to bring the people of the world to God by obedience to
his preaching. But they were disobedient, all except Noah and his
immediate family. The spirits of those who were disobedient are now "in
prison". These spirits of disobedient people have not been destroyed but
are preserved "in prison" until the day of judgment.
to men's spirits after the judgment? Since "the one who joins himself to
the Lord is one spirit with Him," (1 Cor. 6:17) he has a composite spirit
consisting of his own personal spirit and the Holy Spirit of the Lord.
Surely it will be this composite spirit which God will breath into the
"changed" body to give it life when the bodies of the faithful ascend into
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air when He comes again. The "natural
body....is raised a spiritual body" when "we shall all be changed, in a
moment" (1 Cor. 15:44, 51,52). "The dead in Christ (as well as) we who are
alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to
meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
But the spirits of
the unfaithful have joined themselves to "unclean spirits" of "demons".
The spirits of the unfaithful dead are "in prison". When the Lord comes
again will they not meet the same fate as the demons, Satan, the beast,
and the false prophet? "And the beast was seized, and with him the false
prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived
those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped
his image, these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns
with brimstone" (Rev. 19:20). "And the devil who deceived them was thrown
into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet
are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev.
20:10). "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life,
he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:14-15).
WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN
We have already discovered from the
Scriptures that the human soul cannot be killed nor does it die and decay
as does the human body. But the soul will die a death of a different kind
when it sins. This death is a destruction in hell at the last judgement. (Matt. 10:28; Ezekiel
18:4). And if the human soul is found dead in sin at the last judgement, the complete person, spirit and soul and body, will be destroyed in Hell. The human soul can escape this death in hell if it is purified in
obedience to the truth. (1 Peter 1:22). Faith in Jesus Christ will result
in the salvation of the human soul. (1 Peter 1:9). Christ is the
"shepherd" of all saved souls. (1 Peter 2:25). The human soul finds rest
in Christ. (Matt. 11:29). And in the salvation promised for the soul, the entire person, spirit and soul and body find salvation.
But what happens to the human soul after
the death of the body? Our Lord Jesus Christ has been subjected to all
human experiences. What happened to His soul when his body died on the
David said in prophecy in Psalms 16, and Peter quoted him in
Acts 2:27, "Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One
to undergo decay". This Scripture does not say that the soul of Christ
would not go to Hades (an unseen place), but that it would not be
abandoned there. Since the soul does not die and decay with the slain
body, the reference to decay must refer to the body of Jesus. It does not
say that the body of Christ would not die, but that it would not undergo
decay while it was in the tomb. Thus, we conclude that upon the death of
Jesus' body on the cross, His soul went to the unseen realm of Hades and remained there for
three days until His body was resurrected. Though His body "slept" for
three days in the tomb, it did not undergo decay. When His body was
resurrected, His soul was restored to His body for He again appeared to
His disciples as a living soul. (We have also learned that His spirit
departed from His body when He breathed his last and went back to God who
gave it. His personal spirit also must have been restored to His body to
give him complete life, spirit and soul and body, at His resurrection.)
The place in Hades
where the soul of Jesus went after the death of His body, Jesus called
"Paradise". "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise", Jesus told one of
the thieves as he hung on the cross. (Luke 23:43). Where is "Paradise"? It
is not in heaven with God. For Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, after His
soul had spent three days in "Paradise", "I have not yet ascended to the
Father" (John 20:17). Therefore we know that "Paradise" is not in heaven
with God the Father. It is in the unseen realm of "Hades" where the soul of
Jesus went for three days, but where it was not abandoned by God.
At death, the body of Jesus went to "sleep" for three days in the
tomb. The personal spirit of Jesus went back to the Father of spirits. The
soul of Jesus rested for 3 days in "Paradise" in the unseen place,
"Hades." Upon the resurrection of the body of Jesus, His personal spirit
was returned to give life to the body and His unique soul was restored.
Jesus has gone through everything to which Christians will be subjected.
Christians need have no fear. As God raised and restored Jesus, He will
raise and restore us as well.
After learning what happened to the
spirit, soul, and body of the man Jesus, we know now the state of the poor
man Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. "Now it came about that the poor man died and
he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man
also died and was buried". Both Lazarus and the rich man died and the
bodies of both were buried to undergo decay. But some part of Lazarus was
carried away to a place called "Abraham's bosom". And some part of the
rich man was carried away to "Hades". "And in Hades he (the rich man)
lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and
Lazarus in his bosom". The rich man was in Hades (the unseen place), and
though "far away" from the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham were there
It was not the eyes of the body with which the rich man saw
Lazarus because his body was in the tomb undergoing decay. It was not the
dead body of the rich man which was in torment. It was that part of him
which was in "Hades".
What part of the rich man was in "Hades"?
David tells us in the Hebrew language that it is the "soul" which goes to
"Sheol". "Sheol" is the Hebrew word for the Greek word "Hades", the unseen
place. Peter quotes David in the Greek language to tell us that it is the
"soul" which goes to "Hades", the unseen place. (Acts 2:27). Therefore, we
must conclude that it was the "soul" of the rich man that was in torment
in "Hades". We must also conclude that the "soul" of Lazarus went to
"Hades", but to another part of "Hades" from that of the rich man, to a
place where the soul of Abraham is. Jesus called the place in Hades where
His soul and that of the former thief went, Paradise. Was it not, then,
Paradise where Lazarus and Abraham went?
The temporary dwelling
place of human souls, after the death of their bodies, is Hades, the
unseen place. Hades must be divided into at least two sections, one of
which is Paradise, and one of which is a place of torment. Between the two
places in Hades, Abraham said, "there is a great chasm fixed, in order
that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and
that none may cross from there to us." (Luke 16:26).
refute the doctrines of men that say that people's souls are just like the
souls of animals, and that they cease to exist when the body dies. There
are false doctrines which say that Jesus' story of Lazarus and the rich
man is a story of the resurrection of their bodies back to fleshly life in
a day of judgment. The rich man is said to be in torment simply in
anticipation of being thrown (his body only) into the lake of fire.
However, Jesus told this "true to life" story almost 2,000 years ago. The
judgment has not happened yet. If Jesus was giving a preview of the rich
man's fate upon the resurrection of the body at the judgment, he could not
have shown the rich man being concerned about his five brothers who had
not yet died! Could the five brothers, who lived in the time of Christ
some 2,000 years ago, be living still? Have their bodies not yet tasted
It is clear that neither the rich man, nor Lazarus, nor
Abraham have as yet experienced any kind of resurrection from the dead.
The rich man asked that someone be sent from them the dead souls in Hades
back to his five brothers in life. (Luke 16:27-30). But Abraham said, "If
they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be
persuaded if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Abraham knew that
they all were dead and not yet resurrected!
ARE REDEEMED SOULS ACTIVE IN PARADISE (DURING THE TIME BETWEEN DEATH OF THE BODY AND THE JUDGEMENT)?
Paul prayed that "your spirit and soul
and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23). The soul without blame is preserved, then,
in Paradise until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The souls that are
not without blame are preserved also, in an unseen place of torment, until
the judgment when they will be destroyed, along with their personal bodies and spirits, in hell. (Matt. 10:28).
the Scriptures reveal any more information to us concerning the activities
of souls in the unseen place? In Rev. 6:9-11 John tells us of a vision Christ
gave him of souls awaiting the coming of the Lord. "And when He broke the
fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been
slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they
had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice saying, 'How long, O
Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood
on those who dwell on the earth?' And there was given to each of them a
white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while
longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who
were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed
In this vision John saw souls. They were the souls of men
whose bodies have died but whose souls live on. The final judgment by the
Lord at His coming had not occurred at the time portrayed in this vision.
People were still dwelling on the earth. These were the "souls of those
who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the
testimony which they had maintained".
The souls referred to in
Rev. 6:9-11 were not united with fleshly bodies. The "voices" with which
they "cried out" could not have been the voices of their fleshly bodies.
The "white robes" which were given to these souls could not have been
literal robes to wear on their fleshly bodies. Surely Revelation speaks
here in figurative speech of some kind of "spiritual" communication and
some kind of "spiritual" clothing that is proper for eternal souls living
in a spiritual environment. In like manner, could it be that the reference
to "souls of those who had been slain" is a figure of speech describing
faithful Christians who have "lost their lives (souls)" for the sake of
Jesus Christ in the sense in which Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to lose
his life (soul) for My sake shall find it"?
A soul is figuratively
slain, as Jesus' body was literally slain, when the soul's "old self" is
"crucified" with the Lord. (Rom. 6:6). Those souls who have lived on earth
for Christ "have died with Christ", that they might also "live with Him".
(Rom. 6:8). Paul spoke in this figurative sense when he said, "But I do
not consider my life (soul) of any account as dear to myself, in order
that I may finish my course." (Acts 20:24).
Perhaps then, the
souls which John saw in the vision of Rev. 6:9-11 are those who have
figuratively "died with Christ" on earth and are now departed from the
earth. They are asking, "How long, O Lord" before we can be spiritually
complete to live with our Christ in His spiritual realm. In other words
they are asking how long will it be before we can depart this unseen
dwelling place and go to heaven. They are now souls without bodies in
Hades, the unseen place, in Paradise. If this is a correct understanding
of this figurative language, then the description "underneath the altar"
mentioned in Rev. 6:9 may be another description of "Paradise".
Are there any other Scriptures revealing to us the activities of
souls in the unseen place? In Rev. 20:46 John saw another vision of souls.
"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the
testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not
worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their
forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with
Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life
until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over
these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and
of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."
vision portrays great and wonderful activities of souls who belong to
Christ. But, surely this vision does not describe great events for souls
that have not previous to this been fully described in Scriptures. Let us
examine this vision carefully in the light of other Scriptures.
this vision of Rev. 20:46 only "souls" are mentioned. These "souls" are
seen as "priests" reigning with Christ. Before they became "priests",
"they came to life". This "coming to life" is called the "first
resurrection". The "second death" has no power over these "souls" who have
experienced the "first resurrection". "This is the second death, the lake
of fire" (Rev. 20:14). Remembering these important points let us also
1. The soul cannot be slain nor can it die except by sinning
(Matt. 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4). After sinning, the soul's death is a
prospective one in hell until its actual execution after judgment. Every
soul has died in this way because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23).
Any coming back to life of a "dead" soul must occur during the earthly
life of that soul as it lives in a body. For, once the body dies, the soul
goes to Hades, the unseen place, either to Paradise or to the place of
torment. There is no crossing over by a soul from the place of torment to
3. Souls are brought to life, or saved, only as "the
outcome of your faith" in the Lord Jesus Christ while the soul lives an
earthly life in a body. (1 Peter 1:39). This bringing to spiritual life of
a "dead" soul is God's "first resurrection" of that soul.
souls are brought to life by God, even while they live on earth, they are
a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). Christ has made them, even while
living on earth, to be "a kingdom, priests to His God and Father" (Rev.
1:6). "They will reign upon the earth" (Rev. 5:10).
5. Those who
live and serve as priests on earth for Christ have "died with Christ".
Their "old self" has been "crucified" with Christ. (Rom 6:6-8). They no
longer follow their own personal "head", but figuratively have been
"beheaded" and now follow a new "head", Christ, in a new body, His
6. Christ started his reign over His kingdom as soon as His
sacrifice was complete and there were "souls" who had "died", "brought
back to life" by God's Holy Spirit, and added to the kingdom. Christ
started His reign over His kingdom of "souls" as soon as, or shortly
after, He arose from the dead. And He will reign until His next coming,
"the end", when He delivers the kingdom to God (1 Cor. 15:20-25).
Apparently this period of Christ's reign is referred to figuratively as a
"thousand years" in Revelation 20.
7. Apparently, the "souls" whom
John saw in his vision of Revelation 20 had experienced bodily death and
had completed their lives upon the earth. They were not in heaven with God
as yet for Jesus had not yet delivered up His kingdom to God. They had
experienced a "first resurrection" while they lived in the flesh upon the
earth. They had been "beheaded" because of their "testimony of Jesus" and
their labor in the "word of God" while they lived in the flesh upon the
earth. They had "not worshiped the beast or his image" while they lived in
the flesh upon the earth. They "had not received the mark upon their
forehead and upon their hand" while they lived in the flesh upon the
earth. And "they came to life" in the "first resurrection" while they
lived in the flesh upon the earth. And now John sees them in "Paradise" of
the unseen place still reigning with Christ, for the entire figurative
period of Christ's reign, a "thousand years"! Does this not tell us that
the souls of Christians who have departed the earth, who are in "Abraham's
bosom", in "Paradise", "under the altar" of God, are somehow actively
serving the Lord even as they await the second coming of the Lord and the
When John saw the vision of the souls "who had been
beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus", was this not another figure
of those who have "died with Christ"? When these souls came to life in the
vision, could it have been any other occasion than their conversion and
salvation by Christ while they were upon the earth? Remember, there is no
death for a soul except by its sinning, and there is no gaining of life
again for that soul except through Jesus Christ while the soul lives on
earth. When the souls are seen to become priests and to reign with Christ,
is this not a vision of the work of souls after they become Christians? Is
not the salvation of a soul from death a resurrection? (Rom. 6:4). There
is no resurrection of the soul prior to that time, so, is not this the
John saw in this vision only faithful souls,
plural, who have departed the earth. How can they reign with Christ for
the entire period of a "thousand years", from the start of Christ's reign
over His kingdom until His delivery of the kingdom to God? In this
figurative context, it seems perfectly logical that the vision included a
succession of souls, some of whom were "raised to newness of life" at the
time of Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost. Some of these souls
undoubtedly lost their bodies to fleshly death shortly after that day of
Pentecost and were carried away to Paradise in the unseen place to
continue their reign there with Christ. And all down through the years
since that first Pentecost, God has continued to raise souls to newness of
life, and souls have continued to depart the earth to wait the second
coming of their Lord in the Paradise of the unseen place. This will
continue to happen until Christ comes again and delivers the kingdom to
God the Father. This encompasses the figurative one thousand years.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION: IS MANKIND REALLY TRIUNE, WITH THE SPIRIT,
SOUL, AND BODY CREATED BY GOD AS SEPARATE ENTITIES?
God's creation of man as stated in Genesis is somewhat indeterminate
as to his creation with three separate entities. "Then the LORD formed man of
dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and
man became a living being (soul)." (Genesis 2:7 NASB). The phrase: "the LORD
formed man of dust from the ground," seems clearly to refer to the Lord's
creation of the fleshly "body" of man. Concerning the phrase: "and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life," there is general agreement that the
description refers to the LORD's granting of a personal "spirit" to man. "Body"
and "spirit" seem to be identifiable as separate entities. But
the phrase: "and man became a living soul," seems to make the "soul" a sort
of merger or combination of "body" and "spirit," not necessarily a sparate
entity. Also, since the Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh, meaning "breath,"
it is thought by some that the "soul" is similar to, or even identical to, the
"spirit" which is translated from the Hebrew word "ruach" which means "wind."
Indeed, the "soul," being invisible to the senses of the fleshly "body," must
certainly exist in the "spiritual" realm along with the personal "spirit" of
man. What then is the "soul," a part of the "body," a part of the "spirit," a
part of the combined "body and "spitit," or an entity of it's own?
This writer recommends the answer: "an entity of it's own." By the
facts that the "soul," by inspiration, is given a name, "soul," different from either
"spirit" or "body," that it is treated in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews
4:12 as though it is a separate entity, and that it is given functions in man that
are done by the "soul" alone, then it is a separate entity. I believe man is truly a
triune being in the image of his Creator.
That the "soul" is related to the "body" in earthly life is certainly
true for the "soul" is responsible for controlling the "body." That the "soul"
of man may be related to the personal "spirit" of man as being of the same
spiritual essense would not prevent God from forming the soul to function as
a separate entity.
With Love, F. M. Perry, First drafted June 5, 1989, revised August 15,2007.
(If you would like to write to me concerning this article, please use my Contact Page).
© 2002, F. M. Perry