Bible Questions and Answers

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In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated ‘soul’ is ‘nephesh’.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Hebrew ‘nephesh’).

From this we see:

Body = dust formed into a physical frame of flesh and bones.

Breath = breath.

Soul (‘nephesh’) = creature or being.

The same word translated ‘soul’ is used of animals

Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (‘nephesh’) after his kind...

Soul can be alive or dead.

Numbers 19:11 He that toucheth the dead body (‘nephesh’) of any man shall be unclean seven days.

Ezekiel 18:4... the soul (‘nephesh’) that sinneth, it shall die.

In general usage the soul is understood to be alive.

Genesis 12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls (‘nephesh’) that they had gotten in Haran...

The word is sometimes used to mean life.

Genesis 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life (‘nephesh’)...

In the New Testament the Greek word translated ‘soul’ is ‘psuche’.

‘Nephesh’ and ‘psuche’ are seen to be equivalents when Peter quotes Psalm 16:10.

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul (Greek ‘psuche’) in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul (Hebrew ‘nephesh’) in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Peter explains what it means

Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul (‘psuche’) was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Hell (Hebrew ‘sheol’ – Greek ‘hades’) is the grave; the tomb in which Christ was laid after his crucifixion. His body was not allowed to corrupt and his soul was restored to life.

Again in general usage the soul is understood to be alive.

1 Peter 3:20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls (‘psuche’) were saved by water.

Matthew 2:20... for they are dead which sought the young child’s life (‘psuche’).

In Matthew 22:37 ‘soul’ is readily understood to mean with ‘every part of your being’

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul (‘psuche’), and with all thy mind.

In Mark 10:45 ‘soul’ is readily understood to mean his ‘life’.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life (‘psuche’) a ransom for many.

The soul in the Bible is not immortal. The soul is our whole being; when we die our whole being dies; we have no conscious existence after death.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing...

Psalm 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Death is spoken of as sleep:

Acts 7:60 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.

2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

The hope of the gospel is resurrection from the dead. Resurrection is the awaking out of the sleep of death.

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:


In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated ‘spirit’ is ‘ruwach’.

Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit (‘ruwach’) of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God was the Power of God used in creation.

Job 26:13 By his spirit (‘ruwach’) he hath garnished the heavens...

Job 33:4 The Spirit (‘ruwach’) of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

The Mind of God, the Word of God and the Spirit of God are synonymous. What God thinks and speaks is done.

Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath (‘ruwach’) of his mouth.

The Spirit of God acting upon men empowers them in different ways as God requires.

Exodus 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit (‘ruwach’) of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

The word is also translated as ‘breath’, ‘mind’ and ‘wind’.

Genesis 7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath (‘ruwach’) of life.

Genesis 26:35 Which were a grief of mind (‘ruwach’) unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Exodus 10:13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind (‘ruwach’) upon the land...

It is also used to denote a man’s character or way of thinking.

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit (‘ruwach’) with him, and hath followed me fully...

Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit (‘ruwach’) there is no guile.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (‘ruwach’).

Proverbs 16:19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit (‘ruwach’) with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

In the New Testament the word translated Spirit (Greek ‘pneuma’) is used of the Spirit of God.

As in the Old Testament the word is synonymous with the power of God.

Luke 1:35... The Holy Ghost (‘pneuma’) shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

As in the Old Testament, the Spirit of God acting upon men empowers them in different ways as God requires.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost (‘pneuma’) is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

As in the Old Testament, spirit is also used to denote a man’s character or way of thinking.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit (‘pneuma’): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit (‘pneuma’) ye are of.

It is also associated with the mind and the way we think.

Ephesians 4:23... be renewed in the spirit (‘pneuma’) of your mind;

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually (‘pneuma’) minded is life and peace.

It is in the sense of mind that we are told that man has a spirit which in its natural state finds the things of God unintelligible.

1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit (‘pneuma’) of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit (‘pneuma’) of God.

We have to change the way we think naturally to the way God thinks.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit (‘pneuma’), perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The Bible gives us the information on how God requires us to live. It is up to each of us to make the effort to subordinate our will to the will of God.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The scriptures were written by inspiration for this purpose.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

This is what Christ means by being born of the spirit.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit (‘pneuma’), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

By changing the way we think, we form within us a character or spirit acceptable to God. It was his character (sinless), not his breath, which Christ commended to his Father when he died.

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (‘pneuma’): and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (Greek ekpneo – expired).

Stephen’s request to Christ was that his character might be acceptable.

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (‘pneuma’).

In this sense the spirit is the capacity for independent thought which returns to God when we die.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (‘ruwach’) shall return unto God who gave it.

If our character is conformed to the image of his son we will be raised to eternal life when Christ returns.

In conclusion, Soul and Spirit are dependent upon context for definition. If we are aware of this a lot of misunderstandings are removed.

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless you,