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Do the scriptures really teach an immortal soul?



Editor: The soul has different meanings, as used in the scriptures. It refers to people (1 Pet. 3:20), animals (Num. 31:28), and life of a person ( Ex. 4:19 Hebrew “nephesh,” English “soul”). But do the scriptures really teach an immortal (never-dying) soul?

Scriptures used by Mark Charles to try to prove immortal soul:

1) Matt.10:28= Jesus really did not mean that the soul is immortal. In this text, he was showing that opposers cannot destroy a faithful person’s prospects for future life.{{more}} Even though a faithful person is killed, God will resurrect that one to enjoy life again in the future. Thus, soul in this verse refers to life – in this case, future life.

2) 1 Thess. 5:23= Paul was referring to the spirit, soul, and body of the composite Christian congregation. Instead of simply praying that the congregation be preserved, he prayed for the preservation of its “spirit,” that is, its mental disposition. He also prayed for its “soul,” its life, or existence, and for its “body”-the composite body or group of Christians. (1 Cor. 12:12, 13) The prayer thus highlights Paul’s intense concern for the congregation. Hence, this text does not support a never-dying soul. Soul here again means life.

3) Rev. 6:9-11= We must keep in mind that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic (Rev.1:1). In this text it was as if the lives of the slaughtered Christians were crying out for vengeance. These are not souls separated from the physical body.

Gen. 35:18= Rachel’s soul, or life went out of her. She died as a result of not having life anymore. It does not mean that a separate thing called soul went out. Similarly, God put back life into the boy’s body whom Elijah was used to raise.(1 Ki. 17:21, 22)

The truth is, the doctrine of the immortal soul came from pagan sources. Example:

“Immortality of the soul is a Greek notion formed in ancient mystery cults and elaborated by the philosopher Plato.”-Presbyterian Life, May 1, 1970, p. 35. A number of other reliable/ reputable historians can testify to this fact.

Other thoughts to think about:

When Lazarus died, where was his soul if it was immortal? Was it in heaven? No, Jesus first went back to heaven, paving the way for other faithful humans to go later.(John 3:13; Heb. 9:8) Lazarus was unconscious, not existing in any other form. Only when Christ raised him was he existing yet again. (Eccle. 9:5, 10) The dead are totally out of existence. Only by a resurrection can they live again; being alive to do anything. Really, we do not possess an immortal soul.

Pastor James