1. lacking a body or freed from the body; incorporeal
2. lacking in substance, solidity, or any firm relation to reality
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged ｩ HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
To so many, faith in the hereafter calls for belief in souls which can live independent of bodies. This involves some kind of disembodied state, apart and independent of the brain and all other body organs. Allowances are made in this belief for a future resurrection, but a resurrection is not necessary for these disembodied souls or spirits to live forever. If, as this view asserts, the moment of death arrives and the person goes to his eternal home or torment, it would seem immaterial what becomes of the body.
The only thought we ever had or ever will have comes from that "gray mass" which we so often neglect to use. How can we think independent of the brain? When the heart stops beating, sending blood to the brain, how long does it take for the brain to die? If the soul is capable of thought beyond death, why is the person incapable of thought when brain death occurs? Why doesn't the brain of the soul take over? But, if the soul becomes disembodied, it is severed from the brain, for the brain is part of the body? How can the disembodied person think without a brain? Does the soul have an immaterial brain?
If the blind person has an immortal soul, capable of thought and sight, why does it not see? Why can't the eyes of the immaterial soul see? Are the eyes of the soul of the blind person blind as well? Is the soul of the person who is physically blind also blind?
The soul is real because the real person is the soul. You are a soul. I am a soul. Souls are people. People are souls. The real man is the soul. The soul is the real man. A living soul is a combination of the dust formed man and the breath of life.
BREATH OF LIFE
The breath of life was breathed into Adam's nose. This is very interesting, inasmuch as the breath of life enters into the body through the nostrils into the lungs and is carried throughout the blood. It can be put another way. Genesis speaks of injecting the breath of life into a body; David and James speak of the body without the breath of life. Without the breath of life the body is dead. When the breath of life was breathed into man he became a living soul. What became of this “living soul” into which God had breathed the breath of life? Be particular to notice that “all the days that Adam lived were 930 years". Then he died. Why can’t it be that simple? Why is it so hard to accept it at that? Could it be that we have been taught for doctrines the commandments of man? What happened to inquiring minds that want to know?
- 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. Gen 2:7 (KJV)
- So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. Gen 5:5 (NASB)
If all the days that Adam lived were 930 years and he died; how could he possibly have been alive beyond that period, 930 years, in any form? The breath of life is what God breathed into man’s nose and caused him to become a living soul. God actually did not breathe a soul into Adam; Adam became a living soul. Without the breath of life man is a dead soul, knowing nothing. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) James understood this principle:
- Thou takest away their breath, (air, oxygen) they die, and return to their dust. Psalms 104:29 (KJV)
- For just as the body without the spirit (air, oxygen) is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26 (NASB)
A DEAD SOUL?
What would you suppose a man/woman is when the breath of life is taken away? Do you suppose he/she just might be a dead soul? Did you know that there is such a thing as a dead soul mentioned in the Bible?
- So Moses told the sons of Israel to observe the Passover.5 They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did.6 But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day; so they came before Moses and Aaron on that day.7 Those men said to him, "Though we are unclean because of the dead person, why are we restrained from presenting the offering of the LORD at its appointed time among the sons of Israel?"8 Moses therefore said to them, "Wait , and I will listen to what the LORD will command concerning you."9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,10 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person , or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the LORD. Num 9:4-10 (NASB)
If a person had for some reason to be in physical contact with a corpse, he was forbidden to take Passover with the others in the group. Moses inquired of the Lord as to how to correctly handle this situation. Particularly notice in verses 6,7, and 9 the reference to a dead person. The phrase "dead person" is the same word translated "soul" (nephesh) in 428 places in the Scriptures. The same type reference is made 6 more times in Numbers and Leviticus. (Leviticus 19:28, 21:1, 22:4, Numbers 5:2, 6:11, and Haggai 2:13) You can check that in Strongs Concordance, Youngs Concordance or any good reference book. What, you ask, is the significance of these references? Do you suppose translators did not make that point through correct translations because of their own personal bias in believing the soul can live independent of the body? The reference is to a dead soul, if I might be so bold as to say. This word nephesh is also translated living creatures, meaning animals or probably even insects, 9 times in the Scriptures. When we say that animals don’t have a soul we probably don’t know just how wrong that is. The primary meaning of nephesh could probably be, life; and the secondary meaning could be, the creatures that possess that life.
We have already determined that the first two souls were created by God from the dust of the ground into which God breathed the breath of life. But what about those subsequent souls; where did they come from?
- All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six; 27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten. Gen 46:26-27 (KJV)
Souls are generated into being. Souls are begotten and born into the world. Souls are people. People are souls. The real man is the soul. Souls are not immaterial. Souls can be born. Souls can die. The soul is the real man. A living soul is a combination of the dust formed man and the breath of life.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SOUL
As I write this essay on the soul I keep wondering:
- Leviticus 4:2 Souls can sin through ignorance
- Leviticus 5:1 A soul can sin
- Leviticus 5:2 A soul can touch an unclean thing
- Leviticus 5:4 A soul can pronounce with his lips
- Leviticus 7:18 A soul can eat flesh of a sacrifice
- Leviticus 7:21 A soul can be cut off from his people
- Leviticus 17:12 A soul can eat blood
- Leviticus 23:30 A soul can be destroyed
- Joshua 11:11 A soul can be smitten with the edge of the sword
How can an immaterial soul which leaves the body at death, sin? His immaterial soul doesn’t have a brain because that brain is in his physical body. How could it touch an unclean thing? Can an anything immaterial touch without a finger or skin? How could an immaterial soul eat flesh, blood or anything for that matter? How can a soul be cut off from his people? Does it not say in Lev. 23:30 that a soul can be destroyed? How could you smite an immaterial soul with the edge of a sword? Visualize that in your mind. Joshua 10:28
DO SOULS DIE?
People hear things all their lives without seeking proof as to the validity of the information. Most people have been taught all their lives that the soul cannot die, even if it so desired. [I heard of someone who said you could put a gun to your head and blow your brains out but you could not kill your soul]. It is possible to prove Biblically, without the shadow of a doubt, that the soul can and does die. In Numbers 9:6-10, Lev. 21:11, Numbers 6:6, 19:13 and Haggai 2:13, the term "dead body" is used and every time the term comes from the same word in the Hebrew which is translated "soul" 428 times in our King James Version of the Bible. The actual idea being conveyed in these references is that of a "dead soul."
Joshua destroyed souls in Josh. 10:28. He smote the souls which were in Libnah, with the edge of the sword (10:30) utterly destroying them (v. 35.) He left none remaining of all the souls in Hebron (v. 39).
Ezekiel said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (18:4,20). James said, "He which converteth a sinner...shall save a soul from death" (James 5:20). Moses said of Jesus, "Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23). When a person stops breathing and ceases to utilize the breath of life, he dies; he is a dead soul. He does not think, or move, or love, or hate, or do anything which we associate with life. He is dead.
- "And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was not any left to breathe" (Josh. 11:11).
- Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. Eccl 9:10 (NASB)
After this presentation of a mountain of evidence in support of the sleep of death, many will fluff it off and say “Well, it doesn’t matter”. “What I believe was good enough for my mother and dad, and it is surely good enough for me.” To this I say, “They only operated in view of the information they had at their disposal”. If this essay is the “truth” and it goes ignored, how will God deal with that? God might overlook the way some might have handled his word in the past, but the more we are given the more is expected of us?
How much do you suppose God will overlook in his great mercy? Are you willing to take that chance? “Well, I’ll just be lost” you say. Do realize what that implies. It implies an, "I don’t care" attitude which you know God does not like. I feel like God will expect more from us. We have been blessed with opportunities unimaginable in days gone by. We have tools to study God’s great plan unlike people in the past. There is no reason why anyone, you and I included, should be uninformed about those who have died (are asleep in death). I Thessalonians 4:13. I will leave this essay with the admonishment of Paul to Timothy:
- But the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Luke 12:48 (NASB)
- Be diligent (KJV says “ study”) to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (NASB)
WATCH HOW YOU HANDLE THE WORD OF TRUTH!