immortal-soul

These near death experiences or out of body experiences have been used to argue that humans have a soul that lives on after a person dies. The simple answer is that these are simply hallucinations when the body and mind is under extreme stress. The same out of body experiences happen when a person is fatigued, has a real high fever, an epileptic attack, and drug abuse. Almost everyone who has claimed to have a near death experience has depicted it in a positive light. Has and reader of this article ever been a funeral where the person who died is spoken of as going to hell? No. Even the most wicked have preachers and pastors stand over them to say that they are “in a better place now” or “with the Lord now” Maryland biophysicist said, “These are the experiences of a mind in an abnormal state physiologically . . . The brain is a very complex organ and it can play a lot of tricks when you mistreat it—look at the experiences with hallucinogenic drugs.” An Ohio psychiatrist: “These reports are fantasies or hallucinatory phenomena.” A Michigan scientist: “These are trauma-induced fantasies.”

New Light on “Out-of-Body” Experiences

“Swiss neurologists, using electrodes to pinpoint the origin of a woman’s epileptic seizures, accidentally triggered so-called out-of-body experiences in the patient, states the German science news service Bild der Wissenschaft-Online. Each time the angular gyrus of the right cortex of the brain was stimulated, the woman reported the sensation of leaving her body and watching it from above. That area of the brain seems to match visual awareness of the body with sensory information on where the body is located. “The stimulation by electrodes disrupted this interaction in the patient, for which reason her sense of perception seemingly detached itself from her body,” says Bild der Wissenschaft. Out-of-body experiences “have time and again nurtured speculations about a soul that is independent of the body.”

Those who have been near death have never really died. They have experienced some hallucination while their body and mind was in some traumatic circumstance. Let us deal with the view that humans have a soul that lives on after a person dies.

Do We Have a Soul that Is Apart From Us?

Ministers, pastors, elders, overseers, leaders of churches have made many comments to those who have lost their loved one prematurely, in a car accident, natural disaster, war, and the like. They make such comments, such as, “While we grieve for the loss of Julie Sanford, we know she is the one in a better place, and now she truly knows what joy, peace, and happiness are because she is with the Lord.” If we attended the funerals of different churches, we would find similar messages being given to the family of the loved one, who has died. What all of these messages have in common are the belief in survival after death.

Some teach that the human soul is deathless and cannot die. These ones believe that we possess an immortal soul, which is death proof. One commentator, J. Warner Wallace, in an article entitled (What Happens to Our Souls When We Die?), writes, “There is good reason to believe our afterlife experience begins the minute we close our eyes for the last time here on earth. For those of us who are believers, the instant our earthly bodies die our souls will be united with Jesus in the afterlife.” He goes on to write, “Each of us will leave our earthly bodies in the grave and our disembodied souls will go immediately into the presence of God or into Hades.[1] Our destination is determined purely by our acceptance or rejection of God through our faith in Jesus Christ.”[2]

Surviving Death

The belief in most of Christianity is that we have a soul, not that we are a soul, and the soul that we have does not die. In other words, they believe that a soul within us is death proof, deathless, cannot die, i.e., is immortal. They observe that when a human body dies, it eventually turns into dust, (Gen. 3:19) but some part of the human must survive the body, and it is invisible to humans, untouchable, which some call the “soul,” while others call this immaterial part of man “spirit.” In order to get the theological position, we will quote Dr. Elmer Towns at length, He is a co-founder, with Jerry Falwell, of Liberty University, is a college and seminary professor, and Dean of the School of Religion, and Dean of Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary.

Theologians often debate the question of whether man is a two-part being (dichotomy) or a three-part being (trichotomy). Some verses seem to teach that man consists only of a body and soul, while others apparently teach a third aspect of man, the spirit. Sometimes the Bible seems to use the terms “soul” and “spirit” interchangeably, yet at other times a distinction between the two is more clearly made. Part of the problem is solved when we study the verses more closely and realize there are actually two ways to look at man. When we consider the nature or makeup of man, he is a two-part being. He consists of both material (the body) and the immaterial (the soul). In activity or function, however, the body, soul, and spirit of man each have a function. The distinction and similarity of the soul and spirit can be seen in a biblical discussion of the Word of God.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The writer makes an interesting parallel. The joints and marrow are different in function, yet both are similar in that they are part of the bone structure of man. Thoughts and interests are also two distinct mental activities, yet they are similar in that they are activities of the mind. So the soul and spirit are distinct in function yet both are similar in immaterial composition. The writer is drawing five distinctions between things we may class together because of their similarity.

Soul. The Bible makes a clear distinction between the body and soul (Isa. 10:18). The term is used in the Bible to identify something that cannot be defined materially. The soul is that part of us that is life. At the creation of Adam, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Man did not have a soul but he became a soul, and the life-principle was the breath (Hebrew ruah: spirit) of God. As a result, we say when man no longer has breath that he is dead. When Rachel died in childbirth, the Bible described it “as her soul was in departing, (for she died)” (Gen. 35:18). In the Old Testament, the word “soul” is used to speak of the whole person (Song of Sol. 1:7).

Spirit. A further consideration of the immaterial side of man will reveal additional aspects of truth in examining the spirit of man. The term “spirit” is sometimes used in Scripture to speak of the mind (Gen. 8:1) or breath (1 Thess. 2:8).

That part of man that survives death is called the “spirit” in the Bible. When Stephen was stoned to death, the Bible identifies his spirit as departing the body when his life ended. “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). This principle is seen in the biblical definition of death. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:28).

Relationship between the soul and spirit. The “soul” and “spirit” sometimes appear to be used interchangeably in Scripture (Gen. 41:8, and Ps. 42:6; John 12:27 and 13:21), because they both refer to the life-principle. We do not say man is a spirit, but that he has a spirit. On the other hand, we say man is a soul. The soul seems to be related to man’s earthly life while the spirit relates to man’s heavenly life. The knowledge of God is received by man’s spirit (1 Cor. 2:2–16) and interprets it for the total man. It is this spirit in man that is related to the higher things in man. The spirit of man is definitely related to the conversion experience. The apostle Paul acknowledged “The Spirit itself [the Holy Spirit] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).

Man is a unity. Man is the spiritual link between the life of God and the physical life of this planet. Man is a twofold being, possessing a dual nature in unity; a dual nature because he is spiritual and he is physical. At times these two natures seem separate but they operate as one. Man has one personality but possesses two natures that interact with each other. First, man’s physical body is regulated by the material universe–he must eat, sleep, breathe, and live in dependence upon the earth. Man’s body is an essential part of his constitution, so much so that he would not be man without a body. But in the second place, man is immaterial. This is the life of God that entered man when God breathed into him and he became a living soul. Man became immortal and will live forever because of God, his source, is eternal. Since man was made in the image of God who created all things, man has creative abilities, to rule the physical earth.

Man with his dual nature is a unity. The material receives direction by the immaterial, and man’s spiritual nature grows in harmony with physical well-being. God created man as a well-balanced unity. Those who harm their body sear their personality.

Sin entered God’s perfect world as a foreign element and violated divine law. As a result, man was ruined spiritually and will die physically. God’s purpose was thwarted and man’s constitution was affected. The only thing that can restore his spiritual condition is the grace of God through the message of the gospel. Man’s spiritual rebirth also guarantees for him a resurrected body that will again be made like his Maker.[3]

We would agree with some of Towns’ point, but would also disagree with much. We will not take the time to refute systematically what he has written, we will just deal with what the Bible really teaches, and that will do it for us. Before delving into what the Bible really teaches, we will comment on one thing that Towns said, “God’s purpose was thwarted.” He is talking about God’s intended purposes for man, (1) that he procreate with Eve and fill the earth with perfect humans, (2) that he cultivated the Garden of Eden until we would have had a paradise earth, (3) that he care for the animals. Now, are we to believe that Satan could actually thwart God’s intended purpose?

THWART DEFINED: to prevent somebody or somebody’s plan from being successful

Why not say that Satan sidetracked God purpose at best. If God had a purpose for man, are we to believe that one little act of Satan and Adam prevented him from seeing that purpose accomplished? God’s purpose will be successfully accomplished through Jesus Christ. Satan merely delayed the inevitable fulfillment of God’s will and purpose.

The Human Soul

Let us turn to A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius and edited by three clergymen, Drs. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, in its corrected edition of 1952. On page 659, under the Hebrew word Néfesh, this Lexicon is honest enough to make this admission, in column two: “2. The néfesh becomes a living being; by God’s breathing neshamáth hhayím into the nostrils of its basár; of man Genesis 2:7; by implication of animals also Genesis 2:19; so Psalm 104:29, 30, compare 66:9; man is néfesh hhayáh, a living, breathing being Genesis 2:7; elsewhere néfesh hhayáh always of animals Genesis 1:20, 24, 30; 9:12, 15, 16; Ezekiel 47:9; . . . 3. The néfesh . . . is specifically: a. a living being whose life resides in the blood . . . (hence sacrificial use of blood, and its prohibition in other uses; . . . ) . . . c. Néfesh is used for life itself 171 times, of animals Proverbs 12:10, and of man Genesis 49:3c . . . ”[4]

Let us turn also to the Lexicon for the Old Testament Books, by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, in its edition of 1953, which gives definitions in both German and English. On page 627 of its Volume 2, this Lexicon says, under Néfesh: “the breathing substance, making man and animal living beings Genesis 1:20, the soul (strictly different from the Greek notion of soul) the seat of which is the blood Genesis 9:4f; Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23 (249 times): 3. néfesh hhayáh living being; Genesis 1:20, 24 (= animals) 2:19 . . . 2:7; 9:10, 16. . . . 4. soul = living being, individual, person . . . who kills a person Numbers 31:19, . . . destroy lives, persons Ezekiel 22:27; . . . 7. Néfesh breath = life (282 times) . . . ” And on page 628, column 1: “Néfesh a dead one (has developed from a person) Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 6:11; 9:10; Leviticus 22:4; Haggai 2:13; Numbers 5:2; 9:6f; 19:11, 13 . . . ”

Many have wondered what happens to the soul after death. Do humans have a soul that is apart from them? What is the soul? Is the soul, some invisible force within us, which survives after death? While this seems farfetched to some, many believe this to be true. Many have heard the claims on television, in book and magazines, about those, who claim they have had so-called life-after-death experiences. Here is a question for you as a reader, before we look at the first Bile verse, ‘Does the soul breathe to stay alive?’ Likely, many would answer “no” to that question. Let us see what the Bible says.

A Soul Breathes

Genesis 2:7 American Standard Version (ASV)

And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The Christian apostle Paul, the author of fourteen books of the Bible, supports Moses’ writings, saying, “So also it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul’ … The first man was from the earth, a man of dust.” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47, UASV)

Human soul = body [dust of the ground] + active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells that make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that God formed man out of the “dust of the ground.” In other words, he was formed from the elements of the soil. This body needed life and so God caused the trillions of cells in his body to come to life, giving him the force of life. Ruach “spirit” is the active life force that Adam now possessed. However, for this life force to continue to feed these trillions of cells, there needed to be oxygen, sustained by the breathing. Therefore, we all know what God did next: he “breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshamah] of life.” At this point, Adam’s lungs would sustain the breathing the life force into those body cells.

If we are to understand fully what the “soul” is, we must investigate what the Hebrew and Greek words mean. The Hebrew word translated “soul” is nephesh. What does “nephesh” mean? The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says,

In the Hebrew OT, the word generally translated “soul” is nephesh. The word occurs over 750 times, and it means primarily “life” or “possessing life.” It is used of both animals (Gen. 9:12Ezek. 47:9) and humans (Gen. 2:7). The word sometimes indicates the whole person, as for instance in Gen. 2:7 where God breathes breath (neshamah) into the dust and thus makes a “soul” (nephesh). A similar usage is found in Gen. 12:5 where Abram takes all the “souls” (persons) who were with him in Haran and moves on to Canaan. Similarly in Num. 6:6 it is used as a synonym for the body—the Nazirite is not to go near a dead nephesh (Lev. 7:21Hag. 2:13). (Brand, Draper and Archie 2003, 1523)

Soul as “a living creature”

The American Standard Version has our literal rendering of nephesh at Genesis 2:7, “and man became a living soul.” The English Standard Version offers an interpretation of nephesh, “and the man became a living creature.” (LEB same) The Holman Christian Standard Bible offers an interpretation of nephesh, “and the man became a living being.” (NASB same) You will notice that Genesis 2:7 makes it all too clear that Adam was not given a soul, he does not have a soul, but that he became a living soul, i.e., a living creature, a living being. Therefore, the “soul” is the person, the creature, the being, not what we have. When we look at the Hebrew Old Testament using a literal rendering, this is born out.

Leviticus 5:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

5:1 ‘Now if a person [nephesh, soul] sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.

Leviticus 23:30 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

30 As for any person [nephesh, soul] who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

Deuteronomy 24:7 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

“If a man is caught kidnapping somebody [nephesh, a soul][5] from among his countrymen, the Israelites, and he treats him as a slave or he sells him, then that kidnapper shall die, and so you shall purge the evil from among you.

Judges 16:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.

Job 19:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words?

Psalm 119:28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

We notice here in the above verses that a soul sins, a soul works, a soul can be kidnapped, a soul can get annoyed, a soul can be tormented, and a soul can weep. These things happened to persons, to creatures, to beings, not inanimate objects within the human body, which is supposed lives on after death. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says,

New Testament Greek word psuche carries many of the same meanings as the Hebrew nephesh. Often the soul is equated with the total person. Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone [soul] must submit to the governing authorities” equating “soul” (one) with “person” (cp. Acts 2:413:23). There will be “affliction and distress for every human being [soul] who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 2:9 HCSB). Soul in the NT also indicates the emotions or passions: “But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds [psuche] of the Gentiles against the brothers” (Acts 14:2 HCSB). In John 10:24 the Jews asked Jesus, “How long are You going to keep us [our souls] in suspense?” Jesus also told the disciples that they should love God with all of their souls (Mark 12:30), indicating something of the energy and passion that ought to go into loving Him. (Brand, Draper and Archie 2003, 1523)

When we look at the Greek New Testament using a literal rendering, “soul,” the basic idea inherent in the word as the Bible writers used it, namely, that it is a living person, a living creature, or a living being; or, the life that a person or an animal has as a soul.

John 12:27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

Acts 2:43 American Standard Version (ASV)

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

Romans 13:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Every person [psuche, soul] is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, console the discouraged [oligopsuche, literally “those of little soul,” i.e., “discouraged.”], help the sick, be patient toward all people.

1 Peter 3:20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons [psuchai, souls], were brought safely through the water.

We notice here in the above verses that a soul can become troubled, fear can come upon a soul, a soul is to be in subjection to the governmental authorities, a soul can get discouraged, and souls can be delivered through a flood. These things happen to a person, a creature, a being, not an inanimate object within the human body, which supposed lives on after death. We note to from our quote of The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, animals are “souls” too.

Genesis 1:24 American Standard Version (ASV)

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures [nephesh, soul] after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind: and it was so.

Numbers 31:28 American Standard Version (ASV)

28 And levy a tribute unto Jehovah of the men of war that went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the oxen, and of the asses, and of the flocks:

Soul as the Life of the Creature

“Soul” is used in Scripture as a reference to the life that a living person, a living creature, a living animal has. This does not negate what we learned in the above. We are living “souls,” i.e., living persons. It does not change a thing to use “soul” in the sense of our possessing “life.” Below are a few examples.

Exodus 4:19 American Standard Version (ASV)

19 And Jehovah said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return into Egypt, for all the men are dead who sought your life [nephesh, soul].”[6]

Joshua 9:24 American Standard Version (ASV)

24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that Jehovah your God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives [nephesh, souls] because of you, and have done this thing.

2 Kings 7:7 American Standard Version (ASV)

Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life [nephesh, soul].

Proverbs 12:10 American Standard Version (ASV)

10 A righteous man regards the life [nephesh, soul] of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Matthew 20:28 American Standard Version (ASV)

28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life [psuche, soul] a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:30 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life [psuche, soul] to complete what was deficient in your service to me.

Now, we do not want to misrepresent the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, by quoting two paragraphs, where this author would agree, and not go on to the next paragraph, where they would disagree with this author. There are two positions when it comes to the biblical position of the body and the soul. We would disagree with the first, which is “holistic dualism—that there is a difference between body and soul, but the two are linked together by God such that humans are not complete when the two are separated.” Our position that we would agree with, would be the second, which is the “monistic view that the soul is not separable from the body at all. Nearly all who have held the second view have also believed that after death Christians ‘go to sleep’ and await the resurrection.” (Bold mine, more on this below) The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary holds to the holistic dualism position, as they write,

It is also the case that the NT speaks of the soul as something that is distinguishable from the physical existence of a person. Jesus made this point when He observed, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28 HCSB). James seems to have the same thing in mind when he concludes his letter, “He should know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life [soul] from death” (James 5:20 HCSB; cp. Rev. 6:920:4). This may be the idea found in Mark 8:36, “For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life [soul]?” (HCSB). Scripture clearly teaches that persons continue to exist consciously after physical death. Jesus pointed out that as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He is the God of the living. These still live, their souls having returned to God (Eccles. 12:7). (Brand, Draper and Archie 2003, 1523)

We will take their texts one at a time, offering the text, and then offering a thought that will clarify what was meant by the author.

Matthew 10:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.[7]

What is meant by this is, man can kill the body alone, but he cannot kill “life,” as in everlasting life. The prospect of life is in the hands of God alone. He can kill both the body, which is used to represent what we have here and now, but he can also kill any prospect that we have at receiving everlasting life. Again, man can kill the body; he cannot kill the person for an eternity, as the hope of a resurrection is in hands of God.

James 5:20 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

20 let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life [soul] from death and cover a multitude of sins.

First, we should point out that, the ‘life [soul] that is saved from death’ is, not the one doing the helping, but rather, it is the sinner. Our works do not save us; we are saved by the loving-kindness of God, in offering his Son as a ransom sacrifice for all, who trust in that sacrifice. (Acts 4:12) The person who was saved was walking down the path of eternal death, from where there is no hope for eternal life. When the one Christian helped the sinner turn back from his error, by spreading love and counsel, as well as prayer, he helped this sinner stay on the path of life, eternal life, by way of the atonement sacrifice of Christ.

Mark 8:36 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life [soul]?

Here again, it is not referring to the person’s life in this present imperfect age, but eternal life that is to come after Jesus brings the last enemy to nothing, death. We will deal with Ecclesiastes 12:7 below.

Can the Soul Die?

When we die, what happens to the soul? If you recall from above that the “soul” is the person, the being, the creature, i.e., us, and the life that we have. If you recall from above, the Human soul = body [dust of the ground] + active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God. In other words, the “soul” is we as a whole, everything that we are, so the soul or we humans can die. Let us look at a few verses, which make that all too clear.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 For the fate of the sons of men [humans or people] and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.

In other words, when we breathe our last breath, our cells begin to die. Death is the ending of all vital functions or processes in an organism or cell. When our heart stops beating, our blood is no longer circulating, carrying nourishment and oxygen (by breathing) to the trillions of cells in our body; we are what are termed, clinically dead. However, somatic death has yet to occur, meaning we can be revived, after many minutes of being clinically dead, if the heart and lungs can be restarted again, which gives the cells the oxygen they need.

After about three minutes of clinical death, the brain cells begin to die, meaning the chances of reviving the person is less likely as each second passes. We know that it is vital that the breathing and blood flow be maintained for the life force (ruach chaiyim) in the cells. Nevertheless, it is not the lack of breathing or the failure of the heart beating alone, but rather the active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God.

Psalm 104:29 (ESV)

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.

Psalm 146:4 (ESV)

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

 

Ecclesiastes 8:8 (ESV)

No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

Again, …

Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV)

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

 

Leviticus 21:1 (ASV)

21  And Jehovah said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, There shall none defile himself for the dead [Or “for a soul.”] among his people;

Numbers 6:6 (ASV)

All the days that he separates himself unto Jehovah he shall not come near to a dead body [Or “soul.”].

 

Again, the death of a “soul” means the death of a person …

1 Kings 19:4 (ASV)

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper-tree: and he requested for himself that he [Or “his soul.] ”might die, and said, It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life [soul]; for I am not better than my fathers.

Jonah 4:8 (ASV)

And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die [Or “that his soul might die.”], and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

 

Mark 3:4 (ASV)

And he said to them, Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? to save a life [Or “soul.”], or to kill? But they held their peace.

 

 

 

As you can see from the above texts, a “soul,” or person can die. However, how are we to understand those texts that say the “soul” went out of a person or came back into a person?

Soul Departing and Soul Coming into a Person

Genesis 35:18 English Standard Version (ESV)

18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

Are we to understand from this that Rachel had some inner being, a soul, which departed from her at death? No.  You will recall from the texts from above that the term “soul” can also be used in reference to the life one has. Thus, this is a reference to her life that she had leaving her. Note the Lexham English Bible, “And it happened that when her life was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin.” (Bold and underline is mine) Therefore, it was her “life” that she had, which departed from her, not some inner being.

1 Kings 17:22 American Standard Version (ASV)

22 And Jehovah listened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

Here again, the word “soul” is the “life” that someone has. The New American Standard Bible reads, “The life of the child returned to him and he revived.” The Lexham English Bible reads, “The life of the child returned within him, and he lived.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible reads, “The boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.” (Bold is mine)

John 11:11 (ESV)

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”

1 Kings 2:10 (ESV)

10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

Notice that Lazarus’ death is equated with being asleep in death, while King David is referred to as sleeping in death. This gives the reader a hope, as just as easily as you and I can awaken a person from sleep, Jesus is going to awaken people from death, a death like sleep. We are going to look at these verses a little differently that we have with the others. We will pause for a moment to see how a literal translation is best (which has already been demonstrated), with an interpretation in a footnote. Moreover, it is important that we read those footnotes. Otherwise, we can come to the wrong conclusions.

Souls Have Blood

As we know by now, the Bible’s viewpoint is that the living human creature is the human soul. In addition, though, the Bible states that the human soul has blood.

Jeremiah 2:34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

34 Also on your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor; you did not find them breaking in. But in spite of all these things,

God says,

Genesis 9:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Surely I will require your blood of your souls;[8] from every beast I will require it. From every beast[9] will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the soul[10] of man.[11]

The Creator himself shows us the level of dependence of the human soul upon the blood stream by saying,

Leviticus 17:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul.[12]

Leviticus 17:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 “For as for the soul of all flesh, its blood is identified with its soul. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the soul of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’

Deuteronomy 12:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul, and you shall not eat the soul with the flesh.

Souls can Eat Fat and Blood

Human souls can eat both blood and Fat, but God prohibited it. Nevertheless, the point is that human souls can eat fat and blood. All of the different points being made with these Scriptures are that the soul is the person, not some entity inside of us that goes to another realm somewhere when we die.

Leviticus 7:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

25 For whoever eats the fat of the animal from which an offering by fire is offered to Jehovah, even the soul who eats shall be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 7:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

27 Any soul who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people.’”

The human soul can also eat the dead animal souls. Thus, we see in this one verse that animals are souls as well and that if any Israelite violated certain parts of the Mosaic Law he would be cut off by expelling him or even executing. However, the text refers to the soul being cut off.

Leviticus 17:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 And every soul who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean.

Human Souls Desire to Eat Meet

Deuteronomy 12:20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 “When Jehovah your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because your soul craves to eat meat, your soul may eat meat whenever you desire.

Deuteronomy 23:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you satisfy your soul, but you shall not put any in your basket.

Proverbs 27:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

A soul who is full loathes honey,
but to the soul who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.

The reader may wonder why this author is using a translation that is not even fully complete at the time of penning this book. It is because the “so-called” literal translations (ESV, HCSB, even the NASB) are letting their readers down.

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV)

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

 

 

Leviticus 17:11 (HCSB)

11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for[a] your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement.

Footnotes:

[a] Leviticus 17:11 Or to ransom

Leviticus 17:11 (NASB)

For the [a]life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the [b]life that makes atonement.’

Footnotes:

[a] Leviticus 17:11 Lit soul

[b] Leviticus 17:11 Lit soul

Only the NASB, at least, places the literal rendering in the footnote, when it should be in the main text. Leviticus 17:11 is indicative of all the verses above. This has allowed the reader to see they are not getting what they were promised, i.e., a literal translation. We have shown the translations and their footnotes. We have only looked at the ESV, HCSB, and the NASB. First, nephesh “soul” or souls” appear three times in Leviticus 17:11. The NASB used the corresponding English “souls” once but does not stay faithful to their literal translation philosophy the other two times. However, unlike the others, they at least offer the reader a footnote so he will know what was actually in the main text. The HCSB does not remain faithful to their claim of being literal one time out of the three, nor do they offer the reader a footnote. The ESV used the corresponding English “souls” once but does not stay faithful to their literal translation philosophy the other two times. Worse still, they did not offer the reader a footnote, so he will know what was actually in the main text.

Why should we be so the concerned over the literal rendering versus an interpretative rendering? Why should we be so worried over the necessity of being constant? One might ask. How can I know the truth about the Hebrew term nephesh (translated “soul” by the USAV) and the Greek term psuche (translated “soul” by the USAV)? If we look to the dynamic equivalent (interpretive) translations and the literal translations, we will discover that they use more than thirty English words when they translate nephesh and psuche. What English readers are not aware of, because most do not even add a footnote, which most English readers bypass anyway; there is just one Hebrew word and one Greek word behind all of those different English words.

We are not suggesting that the interpretation translation is incorrect, just inappropriate. Genesis 35:18 in the ESV says, “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.)” First, notice that the ESV translators are not shy about using the rendering “soul” here, whereas they use an interpretive word in most other places, with no footnote. Why? Would it be because, to the average reader, Genesis 35:18 appears to support that we do have an immaterial part of humans that leaves when we die? Would it be that if we rendered nephesh and psuche as “soul” in all the other places, it would negate such an idea? Now, the interpretive translations here actually explain what is meant. These translations render the phrase “her soul was departing” as “her life was departing” (LEB), “With her last breath” (HCSB), and “her life went from her” (BBE). We can clearly see that no immaterial part of Rachel survived her body after her death. She was dead, awaiting a future resurrection.

Yes, we cannot fully understand what the Bible authors meant by their use of nephesh and psuche, if the translator is not consistent in his rendering of those terms. When a serious Bible reader has a translation that shows

  • that we do not have a soul,
  • but that we are souls,
  • animals are souls,
  • souls eat food,
  • souls have blood,
  • souls die,
  • and dead bodies are even called souls,

they will come to understand that the Bible scholars who say the immortal soul concept is not found in God’s Word but is found in Greek literature are correct, as opposed to those scholars, like Elmer Towns, who claim an immaterial part of the human is found within the Scriptures. Now, even though the dynamic equivalent translations are correct as to the meaning, it is clear that the literal translation consistently rendered, with the interpretive rendering in a footnote will give us a clear understanding of the soul. Thus, let us take a few more moments contrasting the dynamic equivalent translation with the literal translation.

Dynamic Equivalent Translations Hide the Truth

1 Kings 2:10 Essentially Literal Translation (ASV, RSV, ESV, NASB)

And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

1 Kings 2:10 Though-for-Thought Translation (GNB, CEV, NLT, MSG)

David died and was buried in David’s City.

Then he died and was buried in Jerusalem.

Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.

Then David joined his ancestors. He was buried in the City of David.

One could conclude that the thought-for-thought translations are conveying the idea in a more clear and immediate way, but is this really the case? There are three points that are missing from the thought-for-thought translation:

 In the scriptures, “sleep” is used metaphorically as death, also inferring a temporary state where one will wake again, or be resurrected.  That idea is lost in the thought-for-thought translation. (Ps 13:3; John 11:11-14; Ac 7:60; 1Co 7:39; 15:51; 1Th 4:13)

David’s sleeping with or lying down with his father also conveys the idea of having closed his life and having found favor in God’s eyes as did his forefathers.

When we leave out some of the words from the original, we also leave out the possibility of more meaning being drawn from the text.  Missing is the word shakab (“to lie down” or “to sleep”), ’im (“with”) and ‘ab in the plural (“forefathers”).

 Psalm 13:3 American Standard Version (ASV)

Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death

John 11:11-14 American Standard Version (ASV)

After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” The disciples therefore said to him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.  Now Jesus had spoken of his death: but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

Acts 7:60 American Standard Version (ASV)

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Corinthians 7:39 (Updated American Standard Version)

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if her husband should sleep (koimethe) [in death], she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.[13]

1 Corinthians 15:51 American Standard Version (ASV)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,

1 Thessalonians 4:13 American Standard Version (ASV)

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.

Those who argue for a though-for-thought translation will say the literal translation “slept” or “lay down” is no longer a way of expressing death in the modern English-speaking world.  While this may be true to some extent, the context of chapter two, verse 1: “when David was about to die” and the latter half of 2:10: “was buried in the city of David” really resolves that issue.  Moreover, while the reader may have to meditate a little longer, or indulge him/herself in the culture of different Biblical times, they will not be deprived of the full potential that a verse has to convey. (Translating Truth, Grudem, Ryken, Collins, Polythress, & Winter, 2005, 21-22) Therefore, we offer a word of caution here. The dynamic equivalent can and does obscure things from the reader by overreaching in their translations.

His Spirit Goes Forth and He Returns to the Earth

Psalm 146:4 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

His spirit goes forth; he returns to his earth, In that day have his thoughts perished.

Are we to understand that there is some spiritual being within us, which then departs from us at death? No, this is not the understanding, as the Psalmist next words were, “In that day have his thoughts perished,” (“all his thinking ends,” NEB). How, then, are we to understand this verse?

In the Hebrew Scriptures, we have ruach, and in the Greek New Testament, we have pneuma, both with the basic meaning “breath.” This is why other translations read, “His breath goes forth.”

Psalm 146:4 (ESV)

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Psalm 146:4 (LEB)

His breath departs; he returns to his plot;
on that day his plans perish.

 

Psalm 146:4 (HCSB)

When his breath leaves him,
he returns to the ground;
on that day his plans die.

You will notice this further clarified, when Moses informs us of what took place at the flood. However, we look at the literal translations first, followed by other literal translations that choose to define the use of the term “spirit.” Note how we will use a footnote in the literal, and the others that chose to define.

Genesis 7:22  (NASB)

22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life [breath of life], died.

Genesis 7:22 (ASV)

22 all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life [breath of life], of all that was on the dry land, died.

Genesis 7:22 (YLT)

22 all in whose nostrils [is] breath of a living spirit [breath of life] — of all that [is] in the dry land — have died.

Other literal and semi-literal translations,

Genesis 7:22 (ESV)

22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life [“a breath of spirit of life”] died.

Genesis 7:22 (LEB)

22 Everything in whose nostrils was the breath of life [“a breath of spirit of life”], among all that was on dry land, died.

Genesis 7:22 (NRSV)

22 everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life [“a breath of spirit of life”] died.

Therefore, “ruach” and “pneuma,” i.e., “spirit” can refer to the breath of life that is active within both human and animal creatures. Then how do we explain Ecclesiastes 12:7?

Ecclesiastes 12:7 English Standard Version (ESV)

and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Are we to understand that a spiritual being within us, leaves us at death, and returns to God? No. We just learned that the “spirit” is the “breath of life,” which sustains human and animal life. Once we lose our “breath of life,” and are dead, the only hope of having it restored comes from God. Therefore, “the spirit returns to God,” in that our only hope for living again, but this time for eternally, comes from God. It is only God, who can restore the “breath of life,” which allows us to live again. Keep in mind too, this person was never in heaven with God, so the idea of him as a spirit person returning to God is not what is meant. How can he return to God, if he was never in heaven with God to begin with? Again, it is the “breath of life,” which enables the person to live that returns to God, not literally, but in the sense of his having the power to restore it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 (LEB)

And the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the breath returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NRSV)

and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.

All conservative Christians would point to the Bible as the final authority on all doctrine. This is true of our understanding of the soul as well. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the Hebrew word nephesh (translated “soul” in the UASV) is found 754 times, first in Genesis 1:20. In the Greek New Testament, the Greek word psuche (translated “soul” in the UASV) is found by itself 102 times, first in Matthew 2:20. In each case, a literal translation, looking to give its readers what God had said, should render this Hebrew and Greek word “soul,” with the interpretive rendering in the footnote. By doing this, the reader of the Bible will be able to see how the word “soul” is used within the whole of the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

The Bible’s Viewpoint of Death

Death is the end of all functions of life, namely, the opposite of life. (Deut. 30:15, 19) Within Scripture, the same Hebrew words of the Old Testament and Greek words of the New Testament are used with humans, animals, and plants. (Eccles. 3:19; 9:5; John 12:24; Jude 12; Rev. 16:3) However, as we have already learned in the above, the Bible shows the essential purpose of the blood in preserving life, stating, “The soul [life] of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11, 14; Gen. 4:8-11; 9:3, 4) The Bible says,

Genesis 7:21-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 All flesh that moved[14] on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms[15] upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life,[16] died. 23 Thus he blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.[17] They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

Notice that the Bible says that both humans and animals died, i.e., perished. Literally, that means ‘breathing out’ the breath of life (Heb., nishmath´ chaiyim´). (Gen. 7:21, 22; see Gen. 2:7.) Moreover, the Bible shows when both human and animals suffer somatic death (Death of the entire body), where there is a loss of “a breath of spirit of life,” i.e., the “animating force; spirit.” (Heb., ruach chaiyim´)—Gen 6:17; 7:15, 22; Eccles. 3:19

What is death?

Under this heading, we will repeat what was penned earlier, as repetition for emphasis. It is recommended that you read these few Scriptures and paragraphs again.  When we die, what happens to the soul? If you recall from above that the “soul” is the person, the being, the creature, i.e., us, and the life that we have. If you recall from above, the Human soul = body [dust of the ground] + active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God. In other words, the “soul” is we as a whole, everything that we are, so the soul or we humans can die. Let us look at a few verses, which make that all too clear.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 For the fate of the sons of men [humans or people] and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.

In other words, when we breathe our last breath, our cells begin to die. Death is the ending of all vital functions or processes in an organism or cell. When our heart stops beating, our blood is no longer circulating, carrying nourishment and oxygen (by breathing) to the trillions of cells in our body; we are what are termed, clinically dead. However, somatic death has yet to occur, meaning we can be revived, after many minutes of being clinically dead, if the heart and lungs can be restarted again, which gives the cells the oxygen they need.

After about three minutes of clinical death, the brain cells begin to die, meaning the chances of reviving the person is less likely as each second passes. We know that it is vital that the breathing and blood flow be maintained for the life force (ruach chaiyim) in the cells. Nevertheless, it is not the lack of breathing or the failure of the heart beating alone, but rather the active life force (“spirit”) [Hebrew, ruach] within the trillions of human cells which make up the human body + breath of life [Hebrew, neshamah] that sustains the life force from God.

Psalm 104:29 (ESV)

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.

Psalm 146:4 (ESV)

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Ecclesiastes 8:8 (ESV)

No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

Again, …

Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV)

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

Leviticus 21:1 (ASV)

21  And Jehovah said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, There shall none defile himself for the dead [Or “for a soul.”] among his people;

Numbers 6:6 (ASV)

All the days that he separates himself unto Jehovah he shall not come near to a dead body [Or “soul.”].

 

Again, the death of a “soul” means the death of a person …

1 Kings 19:4 (ASV)

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper-tree: and he requested for himself that he [Or “his soul.] ”might die, and said, It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life [soul]; for I am not better than my fathers.

Jonah 4:8 (ASV)

And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die [Or “that his soul might die.”], and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Mark 3:4 (ASV)

And he said to them, Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? to save a life [Or “soul.”], or to kill? But they held their peace.

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the above texts, a “soul,” or person can die, and the difference between clinical death and somatic death.

What Causes Human Death?

Genesis 2:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (ASV)

16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, “From every tree of the garden you may freely eat, 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,[18] for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”[19]

Here we have the first mention of dying within Scripture. It would seem that the death of animals was already the case, as they were not designed to live forever. Thus, when God mentioned the sentence of death for disobeying, Adam knew full well what death was, as he likely had seen many animals die. When Adam disobeyed, he actually rebelled against the sovereignty of God, and this resulted in his death (Gen. 3:19; Jam. 1:14-15) From the moment that Adam ate, his sinful rebellion and its consequences, i.e., death, spread to all of his descendants.

Romans 5:12 (UASV)

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,[20] because all sinned—.

Romans 6:23 (UASV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift[21] of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Some texts are often used to support the idea that physical death was all a part of God’s plan; it was an eventuality for humans. One example would be Psalm 90:10, saying, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years” Another would be Hebrews 9:27, where Paul says, “inasmuch as it is appointed (Lit laid up) for men to die once and after this comes judgment …”

Was physical death all a part of God’s plan for Adam and Eve, since Hebrews 9:27 says, “inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment”?

No, Hebrews 9:27 is not a reference to Adam and Eve, who were created by God so,

(1)     that Adam would procreate with Eve and fill the earth with perfect humans that would live forever,

(2)    that perfect Adam and Eve and their descendants would cultivate the Garden of Eden until we would have had a paradise earth, and

(3)    that perfect humanity would care for the animals.

Are we to believe that Satan could actually thwart God’s intended purpose? Hardly! If Adam and Eve had chosen to obey God, which was possible with their free will, they were looking at being able to live as perfect humans forever. (Genesis 2:15-17) The context of Hebrews 9:27 is applicable to ancient Israel’s high priest. On Atonement Day, the high priest foreshadowed Jesus Christ.—Hebrews 4:14-15.

Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 give the reader many details of the Mosaic Law that “serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” (Heb. 8:5) This is especially true of the sacrificial process on the yearly Day of Atonement. It was on this one day each year that the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. The Holy of Holies was the innermost sanctuary of the temple, which was “separated from the other parts of the temple by a thick curtain, the holy of holies was specially associated with the presence of Yahweh.” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 774) Before the high priest could enter, he had to prepare special incense. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary states (387),

“The ceremony began with the sacrifice of a young bull as a sin offering for the priest and his family (Lev. 16:3, 6). After burning incense before the mercy seat in the inner sanctuary, the high priest sprinkled the blood from the bull on and in front of the mercy seat (16:14). The priest cast lots over two goats. One was offered as a sin offering. The other was presented alive as a scapegoat (16:5, 7–10, 20–22). The blood of the goat used as the sin offering was sprinkled like that of the bull to make atonement for the sanctuary (16:15). The mixed blood of the bull and goat were applied to the horns of the altar to make atonement for it (16:18). The high priest confessed all of the people’s sins over the head of the live goat which was led away and then released in the wilderness (16:21–22). Following the ceremony, the priest again bathed and put on his usual garments (16:23–24). The priest then offered a burnt offering for the priest and the people (16:24).”

This offering, even if followed to the letter of the Law only lasted until the following year, as it had to be repeated year after year. Continuing his point, Paul said “Christ appeared as a high priest,” but after his death and resurrection, “Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24) Yes, Jesus’ sacrifice did not need to be repeated, as “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:25-26; Rom. 6:9) Paul then said,

Hebrews 9:27-28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

After looking at the context, we can now better understand Hebrews 9:27. What most do not comment on when speaking of the priest going into the Holy of Holies each year to offer the atoning sacrifice, he was actually risking his life. If he had fallen short in any way, he would have never made it into the Holy of Holies, as he would have died before being allowed through the curtain. If he had not followed the process as laid out, or he had failed to walk with God aright throughout that previous year, neither he nor his sacrifices would have been accepted as atonement for the people. Therefore, if he fell short it would have meant a condemnation death for him and a condemnation for all he was offering sacrifices for, as they would have not been reconciled to God. Thus, the judgment mention in verse 27 was referring to the Day of Atonement and the typical priests.

It is clear that Jesus could have fallen short; otherwise, (1) Satan would have not bothered to tempt him, (2) and the Father would have never sent angels to strengthen him. Therefore, if Jesus had fallen short in any way, he would have not been resurrected on the third day, to go through the curtain into the Holy of Holies, heaven itself. He would have received the judgment. Nevertheless, because he was resurrected on the third day, we know that his life, ministry and sacrifice were perfect. When we look at the context of Hebrews 9:27, Paul makes the point that Jesus’ sacrifice was superior to the priests that came before him.

We can also look at Hebrews 9:27 in an experiential way for humanity, in that, while Adam and Eve could have lived for an eternity, this has not proved the case for their descendants, as we have not had that opportunity as of yet.

As the reader knows, Adam and Even gave birth to their first child after sinning and being expelled from the Garden of Eden. Thus, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,” and “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 5:12; 6:23) The receiving of the death penalty by way of our ancestor Adam can only be given to us once. If one receives a resurrection, and uses his free will to sin or rebel at a future time, say during the millennium, death will then be the result of his own actions, not the sins of Adam.—Revelation 20:13-15.

On the other hand, those who receive a resurrection and remain faithful, they will receive a favorable judgment of eternal life.—Revelation 21:3-6.

In Summary, Hebrews 9:27 contextually refer to Jesus as the high priest, in contrast to the former priestly services, in ancient Israel. In addition, it also conveys the general experience of humanity that has received death by way of Adam’s sin. Nevertheless, is unbiblical to use it as a means of predestination, saying Adam and Eve’s physical death was all a part of God’s plan.

Yes, these texts were written after the fall of man, after “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men. (Rom 5:12) We look at those who lived before the flood such as Methuselah, the father of Lamech and grandfather of Noah; he lived 969 years, the longest of Bible record. (Gen. 5:27) This is evidence that God’s original intentions were for humans to live forever here on earth.

Humans are alienated from God and are in “slavery to corruption.” (Rom. 8:21) This is because sin, missing the mark of perfection is at work within them, resulting in “the works of the flesh.” (Gal 5:19-21) Paul tells us, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Then he asks, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:12, 16, See 19-21) Satan “has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14-15) John called him a “murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) This is not to say that Satan has the capacity to kill humans at will, but because he does so through deception and luring of humans into sin, by prompting or motivating wrongdoing that leads to corruption and death (2 Cor. 11:3), and also by engendering murderous thinking in the minds and hearts of humans. (John 8:40-44, 59; 13:2; See also James 3:14-16; 4:1, 2) Death is the “enemy” of humanity, and not what God had intended for us. (1 Cor. 15:26) The only ones who have ever desired death, even in imperfect bodies and an imperfect world, are those that have suffered immense pain.—Job 3:21, 22; 7:15; Rev. 9:6.

What is the Condition of the Dead?

When the Bible talks about the condition of the dead it presents it in five senses, (1) knowing nothing, (2) asleep like state, (3) powerless, (4) returning to the dust of the ground, (5) and awaiting a resurrection.

First Sense

Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 English Standard Version (ESV)

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [gravedom], to which you are going.

Second Sense

John 11:11 (ESV)

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”

1 Kings 2:10 (ESV)

10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

Third Sense

Proverbs 2:18 (ESV)

18 for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the departed;

Isaiah 26:14 (ESV)

14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.

Fourth Sense

Genesis 3:19 (ESV)

19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 (NASB)

19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.

Fifth Sense

John 5:28-29 (ESV)

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Acts 24:15 (ESV)

15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

In death, Scripture shows us as being unable to praise God. The Psalmist tells us, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol [gravedom] who will give you praise?” (Psa. 6:5) Isaiah the prophet writes, “For Sheol [gravedom] cannot thank you [God], death cannot praise you; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. ‘It is the living who give thanks to you, as I do today; a father tells his sons about your faithfulness.’” – Isaiah 38:18-19.

Passing Over from Death to Life

John 5:24 English Standard Version (ESV)

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Regeneration is God restoring and renewing somebody morally or spiritually, where the Christian receives a new quality of life. This one goes from the road of death over to the path of life. (John 5:24) Here he becomes a new person, with a new personality, having removed the old person. (Eph. 4:20-24) This does not mean that the imperfection is gone, and the sinful desires are removed, but that he now has the mind of Christ, the Spirit and the Word of God to gain control over his thinking and his fleshly desires. Therefore, if one has truly experienced a conversion, it will be evident by the changes in one’s new personality from the old personality, his life, and his actions. If this is the case, he will be fulfilling the words of Jesus, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

Can we see one as truly a man of faith, a committed Christian, who attends the meetings, but he never carries out any personal study, never shares the gospel with another, never helps his spiritual brothers or sisters (physically, materially, mentally, or spiritually), nor helps his neighbor, or any of the other things one would find in a man of faith? James had something to say about this back in chapter 1:26-27, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. A Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” One who does not possess real faith, will not help the poor. He will not separate himself from worldly pursuits. He will favor those that he can benefit from (i.e., the powerful and wealthy), and ignore those that he cannot make gains from (i.e., orphans and widows). Moreover, he will not know the love of God, nor his mercy. – James 2:8-9, 13.

Titus 3:5 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

5 he saved us, not by deeds of righteousness that we have done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

The Greek word polingenesia means to a renewal or rebirth of a new life in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless someone is born of … Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). At the moment a person is converted, he is regenerated or renewed, passing over from death to life eternal. Jesus explains this in John 5:24, “the one who hears my word and who believes the one who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” The principal feature of the rebirth of a new life in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, regeneration, is the passing over from death to life eternal.

At that point, the Spirit dwells within this newly regenerated one. From the time of Adam and Eve, God has desired to dwell with man. God fellowshiped with Adam in the Garden of Eden. After Adam’s rebellion, he chose faithful men, to walk with him in their life course, to communicate with them.  Enoch, Noah, and Abraham walked with God. In the Hebrew language, the tabernacle is called mishkan meaning “dwelling place.” In both the tabernacle and the temple, God was represented as dwelling with the people in the Most Holy. He also dwelt with the people through the Son, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) After Jesus’ ascension, God dwelt among the Christians, by way of the Holy Spirit, in the body of each individual Christian, which begins at conversion.

Death Thrown into the Lake of Fire

See Is the Hellfire Doctrine Truly Just? or Hellfire – Eternal Torment?

What is the Second Death

Although the expression “first death” does not occur, the concept is implied in Rev. 20:6, which states that “the second death has no power” over “the one who shares in the first resurrection.” Sharing in the first resurrection would be impossible unless they had previously died. (Brand, Draper and Archie 2003, 1457)

We have been studying about the first death, namely Adamic death, that which we have inherited from Adam and Eve. If that was the first death, the second death must be distinct from that death. It is clear from the Scriptures that there is a resurrection hope from the first death, but not from the second death.

Revelation 2:11 English Standard Version (ESV)

11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

The ones who conqueror are guaranteed of immortal heavenly life, which cannot be affected by death.—1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

Revelation 20:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Again, the ones who conqueror that share in “the first resurrection” are guaranteed of immortal heavenly life, which cannot be affected by the second death, which will mean annihilation, destruction without hope of a resurrection for those who experience it.

Revelation 20:13-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Notice that death, which is what we inherited from our first parents Adam and Eve, as well as Hades (gravedom), is going to be “thrown into the lake of fire.” Is not death and Hades abstract, are they able to be tormented and suffer forever. No. However, the fire does picture their eternal destruction, which will take place once they ‘give up the dead who were in them.’ Note that Paul clearly said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

The fire and burning within Scripture are merely representing annihilation or eternal destruction. Therefore, there is no eternal torment in Sheol (gravedom), Hades (equivalent of Sheol) hell (English translation), Gehenna (symbol of destruction), or the lake of fire (symbol of destruction). What about the parable of the sheep (righteous) and the goats (wicked), which has the goats, or the wicked going away into eternal punishment?

Revelation 21:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

John speaks of a “lake that burns with fire and sulfur,” where the wicked are thrown. It would seem that if hellfire were truth, this would be the place. However, we are simple told by John, this is “the second death,” which will mean annihilation, destruction without hope of a resurrection for those who experience it.

[1] For a discussion of Hades, i.e., hellfire, please see the following

WHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith by Edward D. Andrews

http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/5346167

[2] http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/what-happens-to-our-souls-when-we-die/

[3] Towns, Elmer (2011-10-30). AMG Concise Bible Doctrines (AMG Concise Series) (Kindle Locations 3584-3630). AMG Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] In the above quotation the Hebrew words neshamáth hhayím mean “the breath of life.” Basár means “flesh,” and néfesh hhayáh means “a living soul,” whether applied to animal or to man.

[5] Lit In case a man is found kidnapping a soul of his brothers of the sons of Israel

[6] Lit. all the men who were seeking your soul are dead.

[7] For a discussion of the hellfire doctrine, please see, WHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith by Edward D. Andrews

[8] Or your blood of your lives (your lifeblood)

[9] Lit from the hand of

[10] Heb., nephesh, as in 2:7; Gr., psuche.

[11] The Creator of the heavens and the earth, Adam and Eve views blood as standing for life.

[12] i.e., atonement by the soul in it

[13] The ASV, ESV, NASB, and other literal translation do not hold true to their literal translation philosophy here. This does not bode well in their claim that literal renderings are to be preferred. I am speaking primarily to the ESV translators, who make this claim in numerous books.

[14] Or crept

[15] Lit all the swarming swarms

[16] Literally “a breath of spirit of life” Heb., ’asher-boh´ ruach chaiyim´. Here ruach means “animating force; spirit.”

[17] Or “the sky”

[18] Lit eat from it

[19] Lit., dying you [singular] shall die. Heb., moth tamuth; the first reference to death in the Scriptures

[20] The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women; also twice in verse 18

[21] Lit., “gracious gift.” Gr., kharisma