Do You Have an IMMORTAL Soul?

Only God is immortal (1 Tim.6:16). Man became a living soul ("nephesh" Gen.2:7) or life capable of dying (Ez.18:4,20). "Soul" just means "life" in Matthew 10:28. The "souls under the altar" (Rev.6:9-11) are figuratively refering to blood poured out under the altar when a sacrifice was made (Lev.4:7) and just as Abel's blood cried out symbolically (Gen.4:10), so does this blood cry out. But a man's thoughts perish when he dies (Ps.146:4). Even though man and beast both return to dust when they die (Eccl.3:20), the "spirit of man" (Job 32:8; Zech.12:1) returns to God (Eccl.12:7). This is not an immortal soul. Instead it is what makes him more intelligent than animals (1 Cor.2:11). Satan has deceived people (Rev.12:9) into thinking "You shall not surely die" (Gen.2:4). Why is death spoken of as "sleep" from which we awaken at a resurrection (Dan.12:2; Matt.27:52) if we're already immortal?


God made man in his own image, but not of the same substance that he possesses. Our Creator is composed of spirit and is eternal. Humans were made, however, out of the ground or organic substance that constitutes the earth. Adam became a "living being" (not an immortal soul) when God breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7).

Shortly after the creation of the first two humans, God allowed Satan to tempt them. Eve told the devil that she and Adam were instructed not to eat or touch any of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they WOULD DIE (Genesis 3:2-3). Satan's response was that they WOULD NOT DIE (verse 4)! Now, IF man were given an immortal soul that lives on after death - meaning that he continues to live except in another form - then the devil told Eve something TRUE! However, if humans did NOT possess something that remains conscious after death, something that was immortal, then the devil LIED to Eve regarding the consequences of taking the forbidden fruit.

Here is something more to consider. After his creation had sinned, God's justification for casting them out of the Garden was "lest he (Adam and Eve who had just rejected God's way of life) put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and LIVE FOREVER " (Genesis 3:22).

However, if the man was created with an IMMORTAL SOUL, then God had no reason to be concerned. His preventing them from access to the Tree of Life would NOT make a difference since Adam and Eve already possessed something that gave them ETERNAL LIFE.

If, however, Adam and Eve did not possess something that allowed them to LIVE FOREVER, then God's concern about them acquiring this ability is justified. He did not want his greatest creation, in a rebellious state of mind, to LIVE FOREVER in unhappiness and misery.

Humans, simply by virtue of their birth, do not possess ANYTHING that is immortal. The Bible is crystal clear that the ability to live forever is a GIFT from God to those who live a life obedient to him (1Corinthians 15:50-55, 2Timothy 1:9-10, Romans 2:7, 6:23, etc.).

The word "IMMORTAL" is used only once in the entire Bible in translations such as the NKJV, NIV, NASB and others. It is found in 1Timothy 1:17 where it is used to refer to one of GOD'S (not man's) ATTRIBUTES. The original Greek word from which we get it is aphthartos (Strong's Concordance #G862). It occurs only six other times (Romans 1:23, 1Corinthians 9:25, 15:52, 1Peter 1:4, 23, 3:4) and is usually translated as 'incorruptible,' meaning something that can never decay or perish, something that endures.

The attribute of having immortality is NEVER applied in the Bible to anything the average HUMAN possesses RIGHT NOW on planet earth.

It was after God brought forth man out of the dirt and gave him life that he became what the KJV calls a "living soul" or a 'living being' according to the NKJV, NIV, NASB, HCSB and other translations, and 'began to live' in the TEV translation. The Hebrew NEPHESH (Strong's #H5315) is the word translated as 'SOUL' and 'being' in the above Bibles. It is used to refer to FISH (Genesis 1:20), BIRDS (verse 22), CATTLE and other ANIMALS (verse 24) and of course MAN (Genesis 2:7).

The Bible does not teach man has or possesses a soul (let alone one that is immortal), but rather that MAN in his entirety IS A SOUL! Psuche (Strong's #G5590) is a Greek word that is virtually equivalent to the word nephesh in the Hebrew. It is the only New Testament word translated as "soul." It generally means a living, breathing creature, but also adds the implication of being a 'living' creature.

Unfortunately, studying the idea of a soul in the New Testament is complicated by the inconsistency of Bible translations. For example, the NKJV renders the Greek word psuche TWO different ways in two verses. In Matthew 16:25, psuche is translated as the English word LIFE. In the next verse, psuche is translated as the word SOUL!

The same translation error is also committed by the NIV, NASB, NLT and others for the same verses. More accurate translations like the NRSV, HCSB, HBFV and other consistently use the word 'life' for all four occurrences of psuche in Matthew 16:25-26.

What is man? The Bible defines Man as a living being, life, etc. that is MORTAL. Man has never had an immortal soul that allows him to live past death. The only means by which man can have IMMORTALITY is to repent of his sins, accept Jesus as his Savior, become baptized and receive God's spirit, then OBEY the Bible and live a life of overcoming until death.

"The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21)

"Whatever misfortune may afflict you by the will of the gods, bear your fate patiently, and submit without anger." (Pythagoras: Aur. car. 18)

"Ah! Youth too transient flower! of life's short day
The shortest part, but blossoms to decay.
Lo! while we give the unregarded hour
To revelry and joy, in pleasure's bower,
While now for rosy wreaths our brows to twine,
And now for nymphs we call, and now for wine,
The noiseless foot of Time steals swiftly by,
And ere we dream of manhood, age is nigh!"
-- Juvenal

"Day presses on the heels of day,
And moons increase to their decay:
But you, with thoughtless pride elate,
Unconscious of impending fate,
Command the pillared dome to rise,
When lo! your tomb forgotten lies." -- Horace
"Vainly to our wealth we trust,
Poor or wealthy, die we must." (Anacr. carm. 23)

"Come soon or late, death's undetermined day,
This mortal being only can decay." -- Ovid

"The short-lived bloom and contracted span of a brief and wretched life is fast fleeting away! While we are drinking, and calling for garlands, and perfumes, and women, old age steals on us unperceived." (Juvenal Sat. 9:126)

"Ah, with what unwearied pace
The ceaseless wheel of life runs on!
Just like the chariot's rapid race,
How swift the course, how quickly run!

Yet thus, alas, our moments fly,
Thus pass our fleeting years away;
And soon shall we neglected lie,
A little dust -- a lump of clay."
(Anacr. carm. 4)

That strutting mortal seems to have forgot
In how few hours his haughty flesh may rot
Today he drives you from him by his yell;
Next week, perhaps, he'll do it by his smell.
"As nothing nature's power creates,
So death dissolves, but not annihilates."
(Lucret. de rer. nat. 216)

"Seeking the path to happiness, Some aim
At learning, wit, nobility, or fame;
Others with cares and dangers vex each hour.
To reach the top of wealth and sovereign power.
Blind, wretched man, in what dark paths of strife
We walk this little journey of our life!"
(Lucretius de rer. nat. 2:10)

"My father, thanks to fate,
Left me a fair, if not a large, estate" (Pers. Sat. 3:24)

"'Tis true, 'tis certain, man though dead retains
Part of himself, -- the immortal mind remains."
(Homer's Iliad)

When your life comes to an end, what will comfort you? Not worldly wealth. You can't take that wealth with you. Instead the comfort to be had in death is the righteous and godly life you lived; for these riches alone are profitable to deliver from God's wrath.


The Spirit in Man Doesn't Die

Abraham "was gathered to his people" (Gen. 25:8). "Aaron shall be gathered to his people" (Num. 20:24) but we know Abraham's body was buried in the cave of Machpelah, where none of his forefathers were buried. And Aaron was buried on Mount Hor in isolation (Num. 27:13). Moses was told to "Die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered to thy people" (ibid). Joshua and the elders of his time (Judges 2:8-10), David (Acts 13:36), and Josiah (2 Ki. 22:20) also were gathered. Ishmael (Gen. 25:17), Isaac (Gen. 35:29) and Jacob (Gen. 49:29-33) also. These were all lonely graves, so the meaning must be that their spirits are gathered "to the house appointed for all living" (Job 30:23) or "to the general assembly of the firstborn, of the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23) -- referring to the disembodied spirits. As Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will RETURN to God who gave it." As Psalm 146:4 says, "His spirit DEPARTS, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish." "But the (ungodly) rich man shall lie down, (or die) But he shall NOT be gathered (to his fathers) He openeth his eyes (in hades) and is not" (Job 27:19).

  • 1 Corinthians 2:11 says, "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." 
  • Job 32:8 says, "But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding." 
     
  • Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it." 

  • Ecclesiastes 3:20-21 says, "All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" 
  • Romans 2:14-15 says, "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing 
    them
    )" 
     
  • Psalm 146:4 says, "His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish." 
     
  • Romans 8:6 says, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." 
     
  • Ezra 1:1 says, "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying," 
     
  • Zechariah 12:1 says, "The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:" 
     
  • Luke 23:46 says, "And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, 'Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'' Having said this, He breathed His last." 
     
  • Acts 7:59 says, "And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'" 
     
  • Haggai 1:14 says, "So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God," 
     
  • 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." 
     
Regarding the resurrection, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:55)."Thy dead men shall live" (Isa. 26:19) "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust ... the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isa. 25:8; 26:19). "Death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning" (of the resurrection) (Ps. 49:14) "Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Dan. 12:2) "Thou will not leave my soul in hell" (Ps. 16:10) "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22) and "some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and contempt" (Dan. 12:2).
Next Lesson: Were Humans Created INCOMPLETE? | Back to Home | Email Us