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Division of Soul and Spirit

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The topic of the difference between the soul and spirit can be understood simply by understanding the word translated "soul" means "living breathing creature" not some immaterial ghost-like thing.   Scripture answers these kinds of questions for us. To clarify how easy it is to understand who we are as created beings let’s give our physical bodies a value of 1, the breath of life or spirit of God a value of 2, and the living soul a value of 3.

1 (physical body) + 2 (breath of life) = 3 (living soul)

3 (living soul) – 2 (breath of life) = 1, (a lifeless physical body that will decay and return to the dust.)

In the sweat of your face you will eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19

3 (living soul) - 1 (physical body) = 2, (the breath of life will return to God who gave it.)

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

There is nothing in these verses that would lead us to believe in an immaterial immortal part of our being that consciously survives the death of the body. Furthermore I’m not sure how much more clearly it could be stated, it seems that when a person dies, either because their body is destroyed or the spirit is removed, they as a conscious living breathing being, that is as a soul, cease to exist.

A straight forward reading of scripture gives support to this truth, take for example the following scriptures:

For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise? Psalm 6:5

What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise thee? Will it tell of thy faithfulness? Psalm 30:9

The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any that go down into silence. Psalm 115:17

While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Psalm 146:2-4

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Ecclesiastes 9:5

I fail to see how anyone reading these verses could still argue in favor of conscious existence immediately after death. But, if there is any question concerning whether or not Adam and Eve were created with an immortal soul all one really needs to do is look at the punishment they received for their disobedience. In Genesis 3: God tells Adam,

17 …. Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return…

22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Here we discover that God was so concerned with the idea that the now “sinful” man would eat of the Tree of Life and live forever that he not only decides to drive man out of the garden but sets up an angelic sentry to insure that man on his own accord could never attain what was necessary for eternal life. What this plainly reveals to us is that when man was driven from the garden he was not immortal.

There are three things in Genesis 3:22+24 that couldn’t be made more perfectly clear:

  1. In order for man to have eternal life or immortality he would have to eat of the tree of life.
  1. Prior to the fall man had not put forth his hand and taken from the tree of life and therefore did not possess immortality.
  1. Man was prevented by God from partaking of the tree of life.

The bottom line and the biblical reality is that everything in the Genesis account points not to the natural immortality of man but rather his natural mortality and his utter need and dependence upon The Tree of Life for eternal life. Verse 19 plainly states what man’s “end” will be, he will return to the ground and eventually decay and once again become part of the earth itself.

19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

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; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

In the final analysis man, who was created from the dust will return to dust. There is simply nothing here to suggest conscious existence after death let alone eternal conscious torment. The wage of sin is death not a conscious state of eternal dying.

 

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I am a catholic. And have been involved in a number of excorsisms. There is definitely a differance between the mind, soul and spirit. 

We experiance all three of them in our lives, many never realizing the experiance.

The soul is the easiest to notice. It is like a child within us. Often when playing with little children, you will feel as a child. 

The spirit is something of authority. Sometimes if you are in a work related meeting, or a parent laying the law down. You will feel the authority in you, of your spirit.

The mind is the balance.

Whenthe scripture says we were created in the image of God. I often think of this trinity we also have within us.

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On 7/6/2013 at 9:19 AM, Diatheosis said:

I might remember completely wrong this one, but in the original Greek  ψυχης τε και πνευματος, τε και could mean something like both and; 'of both soul and spirit' which in this case would indeed refer to both of them being separate units although connected. 

 

Otherwise I find it interesting to ponder upon the Hebrew associations with the anatomy of human spirit and soul, mind etc. compared to the Greek. I think some believe the spirit originally in Hebrew was likened to the living body so to speak. It tends to be more practical than the Greek contribution which deals more with the New Testament. As instance, Paul was both Hebrew and Greek, as was Steven.

 

Whilst recognizing the two cultures and languages adding their own color, it's still God's Word. It was interesting time in that the Greek culture had been blending with the Hebrew, and just then Jesus came to reveal the Father, and believers received the Holy Spirit. As a result we got something miraculous: Timeless wisdom and eternal truth. 

 

Steven could be Hellenistic and may not know Hebrew at all, by his quote of the Septuagint which differs from Hebrew culture. All we can take a look at is how Greek is used today which may not be how ancient Greek using it. Usually, the Greek counter part may be precise enough in terms of how Greek used 2000 years ago. 

That said, from my perception soul is more often used to describe what left as the identity of a human without a body, while spirit is used as the equivalent description for angels or non-humans. However this is just a general use instead of from the perspective of anatomy.

In terms of anatomy, it seems to me that it is a Jewish consensus to think that the general term soul can be subdivided. How so will depend on which sect a Jew belongs to. Back in Jesus' time, the majority of Jews (those Hebrew speakers) adapt a Pharisaic concept very much close to how Josephus the Pharisaic historian describes,

From The Works of Flavius Josephus,

That God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul.
 

From my own understanding, soul is our true identity. Humans are designed to live an eternity, thus we need a more permanent part to represent our identity which is our soul. Our body is just an image for us humans to recognize each other. Our soul however allows other entities such as angels to tell who we are in an eternal sense. The soul thus carries what should be permanent to us, including our difference senses and our memory. Spirit is for God to store thing to us during a limited period of time, say, our life time on earth. After the period of time, the spirit is said to have returned to God. It can also be said that our spirit connects us to God or allows us to interact with God in a way. Our earthly emotion may lie in our spirit, such that once we are in Hades we may no longer have the same affection for our close relatives or lovers or children. This kind of affection may be gone with our spirit. Thus in Heaven we have only brothers and sisters. And don't expect those wicked in Hades still treat you as his love.

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On 1/26/2016 at 7:22 AM, Great Lion said:

I 101% disagree with your response, its non biblical.

 

You are over thinking something thats simple , in fact very simple.

In one bible verse God tells you what a soul is and what a body is and what a spirit is.

 

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. Genesis 2:7

 

Spirit: Is the breath which is life.

Body: Is the dust and the vessel.

Soul: Is body and spirit

 

Humans are not spirits but we have one, WE ARE SOULS as the lord said we are

I see the Spirit was created on the sixth day where the soul and the body were formed on the seventh day if you literally look at Genesis is this how it is posted in context.  Obviously there is a difference between creating and forming or it would of not been worded in context this way.  I see the breath as God giving life to the soul man or flesh of man setting Adam up for the fall.

 

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2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV)
We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  

Philippians 1:22-24 (ESV2011)
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.  

Proverbs 14:32 (KJV)
The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.  

 

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There is also this though simplified explanation:  Soul may approximately consist of thought, feelings and wishes. Psychology may deal with it. Spirit is a kind of judge over soul and body. Spirit is roughly fear of God, conscientiousness and seeking God. I think faith is there. Do animals have a spirit? Sorry for approximation.

Edited by vlad

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3 hours ago, vlad said:

There is also this though simplified explanation:  Soul may approximately consist of thought, feelings and wishes. Psychology may deal with it. Spirit is a kind of judge over soul and body. Spirit is roughly fear of God, conscientiousness and seeking God. I think faith is there. Do animals have a spirit? Sorry for approximation.

I can't agree with anything you have here on the soul. 

The body you have is a shell covering your real self. We normally don't think in spiritual forms, so for many the body IS what they are. 

Truth is. The body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Contained our true self. Mind, spirit, soul (heart).

As for animals, I don't know if they have a soul. I have never tryed to feel it. But I do know they have a consciences.  An understanding of God/Jesus. Even flowers, trees, and rocks do as well.

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On 1/13/2018 at 9:54 PM, Pudgenik said:

I can't agree with anything you have here on the soul. 

The body you have is a shell covering your real self. We normally don't think in spiritual forms, so for many the body IS what they are. 

Truth is. The body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Contained our true self. Mind, spirit, soul (heart).

As for animals, I don't know if they have a soul. I have never tryed to feel it. But I do know they have a consciences.  An understanding of God/Jesus. Even flowers, trees, and rocks do as well.

It is really hard to discuss that as we have to agree to the basic terms. But these are not terms. They are notions which vary in denominations, persons and so on. Every such notion triggers hundreds of other notions. That is why it is not a science. We have to put up with that. We are Christians and that is most important. Theology is all right. It does not cause discord even if some notions differ. Right?

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On 1/13/2018 at 7:26 AM, vlad said:

There is also this though simplified explanation:  Soul may approximately consist of thought, feelings and wishes. Psychology may deal with it. Spirit is a kind of judge over soul and body. Spirit is roughly fear of God, conscientiousness and seeking God. I think faith is there. Do animals have a spirit? Sorry for approximation.

I like this passage* because it is clear that 'fixing' a person's subconscious thoughts with 'psychology' is irrelevant to having a relationship (with God, the Father).  Instead, striving with your heart and soul to seek God is most relevant.   

People often use such methods to avoid their sinful nature.  Never works.  The problem is that the person using this method does not go to God in prayer so that sin does not enter the equation.  A therapist living in sin, only spreads sin, as they are a vehicle for sin, when they place themselves above God (as they are like to do in every conversation).

The soul can be turned from God.  Satan can turn a man's soul from God.  Therefore the soul is not a 'thought', 'feeling' or 'wish', but a living entity that is recognized by God as 'you'.  So it is really 'you', ie. and not the flesh.  In fact, it is only the soul that is recognized by God as only souls resurrect into glorified bodies in 1,000+ years (Rev. 20:4).

The term 'spirit' is used throughout the Bible, interchangeability with 'soul'.  I find nothing useful then in using this term, as it can mean, several different things and thus is only useful for general ideas and not specifics regarding the resurrection of souls (as mentioned, for example, in rev. 20:4, when the saint's souls are resurrected and take thrones).

*"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

 
 
Edited by eileenhat

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