Can the soul die? I read in the Bible such expressions as these, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (`Eze. 18:4`), “Every soul that will not hear the voice of that Prophet shall be DESTROYED from amongst the people (`Acts 3:23`), etc., yet on every hand the doctrine of “The Immortality of the soul” is being taught and nearly every one believes that the soul cannot die, but is doomed to live on forever. I am much confused in regard to this matter.
<ANSWER>–Some years ago this question was discussed by theologians and others, and at that time, having the general thought or teaching in mind, which was supposed to be the truth, many were led to investigate along this line and were vastly surprised to find that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is entirely of heathen origin and nowhere taught in the Bible. Under the glare of the increasing light of our day, many ministers have come to a recognition of this fact and are now engaged in preaching that which the Scriptures teach, viz., that it is the soul (the living, intelligent being) which enters into death. The soul is “asleep,” “dead” and will remain in that condition of unconsciousness until resuscitated at the time of the resurrection of the dead. Immortality is conditional. By examining the following Scriptures, it will he seen at once that immortality is a reward that will be conferred upon those who are faithful and obedient to the commands of the Lord and who prove their worthiness to receive this “Crown of Life” (`Rom. 2:7`; `1 Cor. 15:53,54`). See also `1 Tim. 6:15,16`.
Does the soul of man sleep when the body is dead? (J.H.L.)
<ANSWER>–Various have been the theories as to the condition of the soul after death. The Bible teaching regarding this much discussed question is very clear and simple, and there need be no confusion of mind at all if we are willing to accept what the Scriptures teach. In the case of the first man who sinned, let us see what it was that sinned, and what it was that suffered the penalty for disobedience. The account of the creation of man mentions three things–body, soul, and spirit. The body was formed of the dust of the ground. God breathed into its nostrils “the breath (spirit) of life, and man became a living soul.” Man did not receive a soul, but he became a soul.” The union of the life or energizing principle, the breath with the body, produced the living intelligent being–the soul. What was it that sinned? Surely it was not so much dust, the body. Neither was it the “breath of life” that disobeyed, but it was the soul, the living being, Adam, that sinned against the Lord. Then what was it that died? Hear what the Scriptures declare–“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (`Eze. 18:4`.) It is, therefore, according to the highest authority in all the Universe, the soul that sinks into unconsciousness at death is to awaken on the resurrection morning.
Has woman a soul? We read that man “became a living soul,” but nothing is said about the woman having a soul! Hence my question. (L.B.)
<ANSWER>–As the Scriptures are silent on this subject, and as much as the gentler and fairer sex is to be admired, to be in harmony with the Bible, and to answer the question therefrom (however painful it may be to state the fact) it is necessary to set forth the awful truth that women do not have souls! But what is still more painful to relate, according to the Bible, man does not possess a soul, either! Some good, well-meaning people who have read their Bibles, but not with careful thought, have been rather careless in the use of language when referring to Scriptural matters. No one has a soul; but every living, breathing creature is a soul. In the quotation above it is stated that “man became a living soul” and not that he was given a soul. The breath of life, the energizing principle imparted to the body alone is the soul. It was the union of the two, the life and the body, which produced the intelligent creature–the soul. Woman, therefore, is as much a soul as man.
In `Gen.2:7`, we read that “man became a living soul”; and in `Job 14:22`, we read “his soul within him.” Is the soul a part of man, or is the whole of man a living soul? (E.)
<ANSWER>–For Ages, one of the most momentous questions, and one most frequently propounded has been “What is the soul?” The Bible answers the question so directly and simply that students of the Scriptures are now marvelling that this question should ever have perplexed any in the past. The life-giving quality, the energizing principle, in union with the organism, or body, forms the living, intelligent being. This being, whether sheep, elephant, horse, man, angel, or devil, is the soul. For proof of this in the Scriptures, carefully note the following citations, the first two in the marginal readings of the Authorized Version. (`Gen. 1:20,30`; `Gen 2:7`.) The word soul in this connection, is from the Hebrew <nephesh> which means literally “a breathing creature.” Man does not possess a soul, but he is a soul. The entire being is the soul. Job’s expression must be understood in the poetic sense, and signifies that man would suffer and mourn from his inmost being, “from the bottom of his soul,” as is sometimes said in the vernacular. Statements have appeared in the public press from time to time, emanating from some reputed authorities, to the effect that the “soul” has been weighed and photographed. This can easily be accomplished by any amateur photographer equipped with a camera and a pair of freight scales!
Will you please tell me what is the soul? (N.U.M.)
<ANSWER>–The Bible gives the correct definition to your question. We read, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” (`Gen.2:7`.) God did not give a soul to man, but He created man a soul or being. The word soul is translated from the Hebrew word <“nephesh,”> which means “a breathing, sentient being.” That is to say, God formed Adam of the dust of the ground, the body was not the soul; neither was the breath of life which God breathed, or blew into his nostrils the breath of life and the result was a living, breathing, animate being, then for the first time properly termed a soul. The word soul is not applied to man only. Animals are souls. In the first, second, and ninth chapters of Genesis, the words “living soul” are applied in the Hebrew language to the lower animals nine times. Man as a soul is different from the lower animals or souls by reason of his higher organism; he has superior mental endowments. He is the highest order of animal creation.
What becomes of the soul at death? Is it put into the grave with the body, or does it fly away in a disembodied state, and go soaring around through space, waiting and longing for the time to come when it can get back into its body (put on its clothes again, so to speak) at the resurrection? (J.A.G.)
<ANSWER>–There is much confusion of thought regarding this matter. Many are disposed to express the matter wrongly by saying that they have a soul in place of saying that they are a soul. There is considerable difference in having a cow and being a cow! All living beings are souls from the Scriptural standpoint. (`Gen.1:20-30`. Margin.) When father Adam disobeyed the Lord, it was not his body, the dust of the ground that sinned. Neither was it the energizing principle, the breath of life, that sinned. But it was Adam himself, the living intelligent being, the soul, that sinned. Therefore, it was the soul that died, as the Scriptures declare, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (`Eze. 18:4`). In the resurrection, it is the soul that is to be resuscitated. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades–the tomb”–was spoken of our Lord Jesus.