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First mention of ‘soul’ in scripture is in Genesis 2:7. The word is nephesh. We are told that God breathed life into the body of the man, and made him a “living soul”. Some take this to mean the soul is another word for the body. This is an error.

The soul never refers to just the body, which is viewed, rather, as an outer casing containing something far more precious – the soul. Throughout scripture, the soul is that part of man espousing the emotions, personality, mind, desires, etc. That is, the things that cannot be quantified or measured but which make a man a living person. Animals do not have this human quality… and we are not just animals! The body is a collection of many fine and wondrous parts; they can all be studied, measured, cut open, taken apart and replaced. The soul, on the other hand, cannot even be located in man! It is what makes a man alive and separates him from the animals.

Soul is anima: that which causes the body to live. We read of the soul departing from a body (death) and coming back to a body, making it alive. Because the soul is vital to life itself, both soul and body are often described as together, and soul is used to speak of the person. It is not used of a man whose body is dead.

In many places it is obvious that ‘soul’ is used of the inner man, not just his body. It is the soul (mind and heart) that sins, not the body – which is only a vessel containing the soul. It is the soul that is saved, not the body. That is why, after death, we will be given new bodies. If ‘soul’ is just another name for ‘body’, then what else can be resurrected when Christ returns, if the body dies and degenerates?

A mere body cannot be sorrowful (Matthew 26:38). If we sin and lose our soul, we still retain our body (Mark 8:36). Jesus, in John 12:27, said “Now is my soul troubled”, an obvious reflection on what His mind was like, not His body. The separateness of body and soul is also seen in Romans 2:9 where Paul refers to “every soul of man”; this speaks of the inner part, not the body, otherwise ‘soul of man’ is meaningless. In Hebrews 4:12 we even find soul and spirit, and body being torn apart separately.

Possibly one of the clearest indications that soul and body are separate is found in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

See outline O-001 ‘Is Man Two-Part or Three-Part?’ for more detail on soul and spirit.

This Outline is an introduction only, but is sufficient to prove that man has a soul, and that his soul is separate from his body. The rejection of this leads to several heresies, one being that man is not punished in hell for his sins. This alone leads to, or touches on, the belief that all men will ultimately be saved and, therefore, Christ’s sacrifice was in vain. It also leads to the notion that when we die there is no judgment, because soul and body are one, and the body simply stays in the grave.

© June 2009

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom