Soul Series: Part 3 (Holy Place)
Do passages that mention the words “spirit” and “soul” refer to one and the same thing?
No. Each is a unique agent or vessel (self-determining and sentient) of our personal trinity which makes up what Paul referred to as the “whole man.” Each vessel serves an entirely different purpose. References to soul and the personal spirit are not two faces of the same coin. I understand that many well-meaning ministries do teach this, but as you will read…it just isn’t so. Fundamentally unique, each consists of a different substance.
As related in Soul Series, Parts 1 & 2, scripture employs significantly different original Hebrew and Greek words for “spirit” and “soul” in the better translations. The word “spirit” in Hebrew is ruach or nshamah and in Greek it is pneuma. These three words suggest a strong, mighty blast of wind. The word “soul” is nephesh in Hebrew and psuche in Greek. Both these words suggest a gentle breath.
If that isn’t sufficient to convince you, then consider a passage written by none other than the Hebrew prophet, Isaiah:
“With my soul [nephesh] have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit [ruach] within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9 KJV*
Here Isaiah mentions the word nephesh and the word ruach in the same passage. If these two words mean the same thing, as some have suggested, then it begs the question…why? Why would the Holy Spirit move Isaiah to write it that way? Is it for emphasis, as some will suggest?
We contend that Isiah wrote it this way because these two words are referring to two different things.
In the Greek Scriptures, Apostle Paul employed the same technique when penning some of his writings. We see it in his letters to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and to the Hebrews (Hebrews 4:12) as quoted earlier in Soul Series, Part 2.
In another place the same Apostle, Paul, writes in his first letter to Corinth:
“It is sown a natural [psuchikos (or ‘soulish’)] body; it is raised a spiritual [pneumatikos] body. There is a natural [psuchikos (or ‘soulish’)] body and there is a spiritual [pneumatikos] body,” 1 Corinthians 15:44 KJV*
The word translated in the above passage as “natural” comes from the Greek root word, “psuche,” the same word translated “soul” in the Greek Scriptures. In the above passage, the word translated as “spiritual” comes from the Greek root word “pneuma,” the same word translated as “spirit” in other Greek scriptures.
Following the same false premise, that each of the two vessels are identical, we would have to interpret this passage as saying there isn’t any difference between our soulish bodies and our future glorified ones.
Finally, consider two passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, both of which we’ve quoted earlier.
“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:21 KJV*
“Then shall the dust [another word for body] return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 KJV*
Those trusting in the premise that spirit and soul are two interchangeable words, or two heads of the same coin, will have a problem explaining those verses, as well. The first passage states that the personal spirit of man goes upward. If that is so, what goes to the place of torment? The second passage says the spirit of man goes back to God who gave it.
There is no place in either the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures which says or even suggests that the spirit goes to Hell or a place of torment. In fact, as we’ve shown, the opposite is true.
We will continue our study in the next article called, “Soul Series, Part 4 (Holy Place)”