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Soul and Spirit

By Chuck Henry
chuck.henry@sbcglobal.net
http://www.halleluyahfellowship.com
rev. 12/15/2014

 

 

Table of Contents

 

1. Preface – Is Mankind Immortal?

2. Soul (Nephesh)

2.1. Definition of “Soul” (Heb. nephesh) with Example Usage in Scripture

2.2. Further Characteristics of “Soul” (nephesh) from Scripture

2.3. Scripturally Speaking about Nephesh

3. Spirit (Ruwach)

3.1. Definition of “Spirit” (Heb. ruwach) with Example Usage in Scripture

3.2. Another Hebrew Word Related to Breath of Life: Neshamah

3.3. Scripturally Speaking about Ruwach

4. Conclusion

 

Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

In 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, Paul stated, “… this mortal must put on immortality,” and he referred to a time “when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

1 Cor 15:53-54

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

 

As Paul illustrated, mankind is not immortal, but must “put on immortality,” which will occur at a time yet in the future.

 

 

 

2.1. Definition of “Soul” (Heb. nephesh) with Example Usage in Scripture

 

Almost entirely, the word translated as “soul” in the KJV OT is from the Hebrew word nephesh, word H5315 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Following, is the definition—

 

H5315 nephesh (Strong’s Dictionary):

 

From 5314; prop a breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstr) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental).

 

Nephesh is used in many scriptures. Following, are several examples which serve to give a better sense of the word nephesh:

 

Gen 2:7

And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh].

NKJV: “being

KJV: “soul

= nephesh

Gen 1:21

So Elohim created great sea creatures and every living thing [KJV: “creature”; Heb. nephesh] that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And Elohim saw that it was good.

NKJV: “thing

KJV: “creature

= nephesh

Note: Not only is man described as nephesh, or souls, but also animals.

Gen 9:4

But you shall not eat flesh with its life [nephesh], that is, its blood.

life” = nephesh

Gen 23:7-8

7 Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth.

8 And he spoke with them, saying, If it is your wish [KJV: “If it be your mind (wish, mind = nephesh)] that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me.

NKJV: “wish

KJV: “mind

= nephesh

Note: Evidently, even our will is part of what makes up our nephesh. We are what we think!

Exo 15:9

The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire [KJV: “lust”; Heb. nephesh] shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.

NKJV: “desire

KJV: “lust

= nephesh

Exo 23:9

Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart [nephesh] of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

heart” = nephesh

 

2.2. Further Characteristics of “Soul” (nephesh) from Scripture

 

A soul can:

 

  1. Sin
    Lev 5:1
    If a person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter; if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.

 

  1. Touch
    Lev 5:2
    Or if a person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty.

 

  1. Swear
    Lev 5:4
    Or if a person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.

 

  1. Trespass
    Lev 5:15
    If a person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of Yahweh, then he shall bring to Yahweh as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering.

 

  1. Eat
    Lev 7:18
    And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] who eats of it shall bear guilt.

 

  1. Be Cut Off
    Lev 7:21
    Moreover the person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] who touches any unclean thing, such as human uncleanness, an unclean animal, or any abominable unclean thing, and who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to Yahweh, that person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] shall be cut off from his people.

 

  1. Be Consecrated, Sanctified, or Defiled
    Lev 11:44
    For I am Yahweh your Elohim. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves [Heb. nephesh], and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves [Heb. nephesh] with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

 

  1. Be Afflicted
    Lev 16:29
    This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls [Heb. nephesh], and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.

 

  1. Be Atoned For
    Lev 17:11
    For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls [Heb. nephesh]; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul [Heb. nephesh].

 

  1. Work; Be Destroyed
    Lev 23:30
    And any person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] who does any work on that same day, that person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] I will destroy from among his people.

 

  1. Abhor
    Lev 26:15
    And if you despise My statutes, or if your soul [Heb. nephesh] abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant.

 

  1. Die; Be Cut Off
    Num 19:13
    Whoever touches the body [KJV: “dead body”; Heb. nephesh] of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of Yahweh. That person [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.

 

  1. Love
    Deu 6:5
    You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul [Heb. nephesh], and with all your strength.

 

  1. Desire
    Deu 14:26
    And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart [KJV: “soul”; Heb. nephesh] desires; you shall eat there before Yahweh your Elohim, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

 

  1. Anguish or Sorrow
    Deu 28:65
    And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there Yahweh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul [KJV: “sorrow of mind”; Heb. nephesh].

 

  1. Keep or Obey
    2 Chr 34:31
    Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul [Heb. nephesh], to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.

 

  1. Go Down to the Pit (death), but can also Be Redeemed
    Job 33:28-30
    28 He will redeem his soul [Heb. nephesh] from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.
    29 Behold, El works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man,
    30 To bring back his soul [Heb. nephesh] from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.

 

  1. Can See Corruption if not quickly Resurrected
    Psa 16:10
    For You will not leave my soul [Heb. nephesh] in Sheol [the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

 

2.3. Scripturally Speaking about Nephesh

 

Scripture gives insight that the idea of a soul is that of a literal creature, not an immortal, invisible, eternal entity.

 

 

 

3.1. Definition of “Spirit” (Heb. ruwach) with Example Usage in Scripture

 

Most of the time, the word translated as “spirit” in the KJV OT is from the Hebrew word ruwach (H7307) in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.—

 

H7307 ruwach (Strong’s Dictionary):

 

From 7306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).

 

Ruwach has been translated in various ways, including air, anger, blast, breath, spirit, wind, etc.

 

Ruwach is used in many Scriptures, some of which are:

 

Gen 1:2

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit [Heb. ruwach] of Elohim was hovering over the face of the waters.

spirit

= ruwach

Gen 6:17

And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath [Heb. ruwach] of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

breath

= ruwach

Note: Not only men, but also animals have ruwach, the breath of life.

Gen 7:15

And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath [Heb. ruwach] of life.

breath

= ruwach

Ecc 3:18-22

18 I said in my heart, Concerning the condition of the sons of men, Elohim tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.

19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath [Heb. ruwach]; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.

20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.

21 Who knows the spirit [Heb. ruwach] of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit [Heb. ruwach] of the animal, which goes down to the earth?

22 So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

breath

and

spirit

= ruwach

Ecc 12:7

Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit [Heb. ruwach] will return to Elohim who gave it.

“spirit”

=

ruwach

 

At death...

 

1)      The body returns to the dust of the ground from whence it came (Gen 2:7).

 

2)      The ruwach (spirit, or breath of life) returns to Yahweh.

 

3.2. Another Hebrew Word Related to Breath of Life: Neshamah

 

Gen 2:7

And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [H5397 neshamah] of life; and man became a living being.

 

Here is the definition of neshamah from Strong’s Dictionary:

 

H5397 neshamah (Strong’s Dictionary):

 

From 5395; a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal.

 

Interestingly, neshamah was also translated as “souls” in the KJV and NKJV, but only one time – in Isaiah 57:16. —

 

Isa 57:16

For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls [5397 neshamah] which I have made.

 

Neshamah occurs three other times in Isaiah (2:22; 30:33; 42:5), where it is consistently translated “breath” in both the KJV and NKJV.

 

Interestingly, other translations indicate that neshamah should’ve also been translated breath in Isaiah 57:16 —

 

Isa 57:16 NIV

I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me-- the breath of man that I have created.

 

Isa 57:16 RSV

For I will not contend for ever, nor will I always be angry; for from me proceeds the spirit, and I have made the breath of life.

 

3.3. Scripturally Speaking about Ruwach

 

As shown in Scripture, the idea of ruwach as related to mankind, is that it is the breath of life, and this is what returns to Yahweh at death, while we ourselves (i.e., our bodies or our souls) go to the grave.

 

 

 

In summary:

 

  • We are souls (nephesh).

 

  • As long as the ruwach (breath) is in us, we are living souls.

 

  • When the ruwach leaves us, we become dead souls.

 

  • We then await the resurrection.

 

Closing Scriptures:

 

Heb 9:27

… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

 

1 Cor 15:53-54

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.

 

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