Is the Soul Immortal ?

What is “soul”? This needs to be addressed before knowing whether it is “mortal or immortal”. Analysis is critical in understanding this concept of the word “soul” used to translate in English, the Hebrew word “nephesh” and the Greek word “psyche”. To do this, one has to go back to Genesis and take us through the step-by-step mechanism in the formation/creation of man.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (nhshamah) of life (chay); and man became a living soul(nephesh).” (Gen. 2:7). Notice here that “nephesh” was translated “soul”

As the preceding verse connotes, man was formed from “dust of the ground”, matter-composed. Whereas, the “breath of life” came from God, who did not use “matter” like “dust of the ground”, and therefore spirit-composed. What was formed from “dust of the ground” was the “lifeless” physical body, viz., brain, heart and other parts of the body. This “lifeless body” became alive only when God “breathed into his nostrils this “spirit-composed breath of life”. Then and only then did man become a”living soul”, a “nephesh” or breathing creature. Meaning, body+breath of life=”living soul”; nephesh/breathing creature.

This tells us that a living being(human) has 2 components, viz., body and breath of life before being classified or called as a “living soul/nephesh”. In Biblical parlance, one can deduce to a certain extent that the English word “soul” in the O.T. refers to a “living being/human”. The “body” has to be alive to be called “soul”(nephesh/breathing creature), hence the emphasis on the descriptive phrase “living soul” in Gen. 2:7. Otherwise, the body without the “breath of life”(nshamah chay) is “lifeless”. Nephesh or living creature/soul is a composite of “body(soma) and breath of life(nshamah).

Proof of these two separate components can be derived from the fact that each one can be destroyed or killed, as in:

Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body(soma), but are not able to kill the soul(psyche): but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul(psyche) and body(soma) in hell(Gehenna).” Notice that “breath of life”, Hebrew “nshamah chay” in Old Testament, is Greek “psyche” in New Testament and equivalent in English to “soul”.

Strictly speaking and to prevent misunderstanding, the English translation “soul” should have been limited by the “translator” and only be specifically applied to “living creature”(nephesh) composed of body/soma and psyche/ human spirit as the translated word “soul” does not accurately convey the actual reference to the 2 separate components of man.

From the above statements, it is clear that this “breath of life/psyche/nshamah”, which is part or a component of a “living being/soul”, is not “immortal and can be killed. Notice though that the “breath of life/psyche/nshamah” at death(reversible as it is temporary) goes back to the Creator although can be killed in Gehenna fire, an irreversible/permanent death. It is the “soma/body/dust” that goes to the grave/hades/hell. Nevertheless, when we die and “thoughts perish”, the “soma/body/dust” is buried in hell/hades/grave and subsequently rots, but the “breath of life/psyche/nshamah” at time of death (reversible) goes back to the Creator, as in:

Ps.146:4 “His breath (ruwach) goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (No longer thinking when dead; no consciousness)

Ezekiel 18:4 “…the soul (living being) that sinneth, it shall die”. ( soul is not immortal)

Eccl.12:7 “Then shall the dust (aphar/clay/the body) return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (ruwach or breath in O.T and psyche in N.T) shall return unto God who gave it.”

Notice that, while the “soul”(spirit/breath of life/psyche) can be killed or destroyed, at death it goes back temporarily to the Creator” to wait for a future body at time of “resurrection”. From there, it will be given a “spirit-composed body” to those participating at the time of 1st resurrection and together with Jesus coming back at the start Millenium on earth. And we, who are alive in the “flesh” on this resurrection day will change “in a twinkling of an eye” (ICor. 15:52) from mortal to immortal (I Cor. 15:53-54), and meet Jesus and the rest of the “firstfruits” “in the air” (I Thes.4:17) to come down to earth and to the temple in Jerusalem. From here, Millenium starts and the “kingdom of God” like a “stone” (Dan.2:35) will subsequently occupy the whole earth. Those who will participate in the “second resurrection” will have a “flesh-mortal body”, not immortal, and will experience the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, bear “fruits of the Spirit” and be given subsequently an immortal body. Those who still reject this promise of the Holy Spirit will be thrown in “Gehenna fire” to suffer “eternal and irreversible death”.

I did not understand this concept until I learned about computer technology. The parallel is: The spirit (psyche) of man is much like a “thumb-drive” or USB flash-drive that has all the “memory” or information/data that one can download into, save a copy that goes back to the owner. The whole computer (like our body) can be destroyed or die/rot, but the “breath of life/spirit”, (the memory and history of our unique life) that goes to the Creator, can then be “inputted” into a “new computer”. This new computer maybe “spirit-composed body”, immortal, much like in the “first resurrection” or can be “flesh-composed” as in the “second resurrection” and mortal. As the thumb drive can be destroyed, so can the “spirit/ruwach/breath of life” in Gehenna fire at Judgement Day after the ”second resurrection”.

By the way, the “spirit of man” is different from the “Spirit of God” that Jesus died for and resurrected for us to receive (“to in-dwell in us”) by grace and out of love by the Father. In a computer analogy, the Spirit of God can be equivalent to the “operating system”(O.S.), without which nothing can be “energized” or empowered.

Regarding the following verses from which the concept of “immortal soil” were derived, here are comments for consideration that explain them:

The verses quoted are projections into the future, not current.
Rev.6:9-11 refers to the “slain for the word of God”, their bodies in the grave and psyche/spirit with the Creator. They “should rest yet for a little season”, i.e. avenging is still future. The “psyche” is a component of man that can only function with a body; it has no “immortal bodies” yet, as the promise of first resurrection is still future at the second coming of Christ. Without a body, the “psyche” cannot vocalize. Yet, they appeared to have “cried with a loud voice”. This “cry” can only be understood as an “allegory” to mean an expression of their long time desires since the “psyche” keeps all the “memories and past of the slain”.

Luke 16:19-31 are events at second resurrection. The rich man will be resurrected to flesh, continue to reject the Holy Spirit and will be thrown in the “lake of fire”, “tormented by flame”/ Gehenna fire, a place on earth for “unrepentant sinners”.

Matt 17:1-9 is also future. Notice the words “transfigured”(metamorphoo), aka transformed and “vision”(horama), a supernatural spectacle of the future. In addition, the phrase “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” can only be referring to post resurrection, as in:Mark 9:3 ; Luke 9:29; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 4:4; Luke 9:29; Rev. 4:4; Rev. 4:4

And, specifically, those with “white raiment” are “overcomers” (future) as in, Revelation 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment;”.

Regarding I Thes.5:23″…pray God your whole spirit(pneuma) and soul(psyche) and body(soma) be preserved…”, the “and” is copulative primary particle, i.e., even, also or the same and consistent with the concept that breath of life is similar to spirit / pneuma or soul/psyche.

Jesus, author and perfecter of our faith

To understand this verse in Hebrews 12:2, let us examine the original Greek translation from the verse, get the other English rendering of the words in question, parallel that with other writings of Paul for context and then get through the historic effectivity of what has happened on our “way to salvation”(Jn. 14:6).

Heb. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author (archegos) and finisher (teleiotes) of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The English translation “author” connotes “originator” and may not be accurate. It appears that the essence of “archegos” may actually be the “beginner” and not with connotation as an “author”. “Author” comes from Greek word “archegos” which also means chief leader; one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter, a pioneer.

While the Son started it, a well-established truth is that it was the Father who planned all and the Son that executes the plan. This truth is proven by :
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God (Father) sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”(Galatians 4:4-6). The Father did not just do the “sending” but also established the “time” when the Son will be sent or incarnate through ” a woman”(Mary).

Even all creation, while actually done by the Logos/Creator God/YHVH (just saying the “word”) was also because of and planned by the Father (I Cor. 8:6; Jn.1:3; Col. 1:16).

Moreover, Peter and Jude confirmed that it was the Father who orchestrated salvation in the covenant. Election, and foreknowledge (I Pet. 1:2), and Sanctification (Jude 1) refer to the initial act of God whereby He chose those whom He loved and set them apart to salvation before the foundation of the world.

God(the Father) foreknew people,”For whom He did foreknow…” (Rom. 8:29). God’s choice of a people before the world began was based on His own initiative to establish a covenant relationship with those whom He loved: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God…” Those whom He loved and chose, He also set apart for Himself, that is, He sanctified them (Jude 1).

Similarly, the Father “sanctified” the Son (i.e. set Him apart in the covenant of grace) and sent Him into the world (Jn. 10:36, He also sanctified His people (again, He set them apart in the covenant as His own special people) and “sent redemption” to them: “He sent redemption to His people: He hath commanded His covenant for ever: holy and reverend is His name ” (Ps. 111:9). It was precisely this group of people, i.e., those set apart in the covenant, who were redeemed by Jesus Christ: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).

The Galatians passage presents God the Father as the great Choreographer of salvation, dispatching (sending) the Son (v.4) and the Spirit (v.6) at the precise and appropriate time, in order to bring us into his family as His adopted sons. The Father who initiated the covenant also orchestrates and deploys the covenant requirements for salvation (Eph. 1:5).

As to “…finisher (teleiotes) of our faith”, consider the following:
While it was Jesus who started/began, as in “And I am sure of this, that he who began (enarchomai) a good work in you…”
He will also “bring it to completion (epiteleo) at the day of Jesus Christ.”(Philippians 1:6)
enarchomai: to begin,commence
epiteleo:to fulfill further; to complete,to bring to an end, to make perfect.

Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:28-30), and through Him we receive the promise of the Spirit (Gal 3:13-14).

“Finisher” is from “teleiotes”:a perfector; completer, consummater, one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith.

” For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” (Heb. 2:10-13)

“And being made perfect, he became the author (aitios) of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”(Heb. 5:9)
aitios: that which is the cause of anything resides, causative, causing.

In Summary, the Father planned everything and the Son concurred willingly with the strategic plan and executed his Father’s will. This occurred even before creation of “invisible and visible things”. The promise of the Father to Jesus (because of the “faith of Jesus”) has come true, viz.,
1. Jesus’ death would be imputed as mankind’s death to reconcile mankind to the Father.
2. That Jesus would be resurrected by the Father so the Holy Spirit would be sent.
3. That the Holy Spirit will imbue us (as it did Jesus at river Jordan) to seal us and sanctify us, so all of us will be “one” with the Father(yet many) through his Son,…us being the “body of Christ”.
4. That as the “flesh is weak” it needs the Holy Spirit “written in the fleshly tables of our heart” for all of us to follow the Law of Love which summarized the Ten Commandments .”written in tables of stones”.

Those who have faith and works will reign.

Lord is One

This concept is the “Shema Doctrine, based on “echad” in Deut. 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”

The English word “Lord” comes from the Hebrew word “YHVH” and the word “God” from “Elohim” (0430 Strong concordance). The other English translation referring specifically to YHVH is Adonai or El Shaddai. By the way, there is no upper case in the original.

This uni-plural Hebrew word “elohim” means”multiplicity of powers”, plurality of powers or majesty, the most supreme of all powers”, otherwise Supreme God, the epitome of all. Contextually, “above all gods” in Ps 95:3; 96:4; 97:9; 135:5; I Chron.16:25. The possessive words “us” and ” our” in Genesis 1, were not in the original Hebrew but translated as such for “grammatical consistency”.

Moreover, “elohim” is a common or generic term, not a proper noun nor a specific term for a particular being. It occurs more than 2500 times in the Hebrew Bible, with meanings ranging from “gods” in a general sense (as in Exodus 12:12, where it describes “the gods of Egypt”), to specific gods (e.g., 1 Kings 11:33, where it describes Chemosh “the god of Moab”, or the frequent references to Yahweh (Jehovah) as the “elohim” of Israel), to demons, seraphim, and other supernatural beings, to the spirits of the dead brought up at the behest of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28:13, and even to kings and prophets (e.g., Exodus 4:16).The KJV has “elohim” translated as “judges” in Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8; and twice in Exodus 22:9.
These are “other gods”albeit “false gods” that definitely must not be worshipped as that would be tantamount to idolatry.

To be specific, this Elohim was further identified as the one and only “YHVH” (Yahweh) translated as “Lord” in Genesis 2; i.e., “YHVH ELOHIM” or “Lord God”. This is the Creator God referred to also in John 1 as LOGOS, who incarnated to man-Jesus, Yeshua or YHVH ELOHIM and was called “God” (John 1:1; 20:28; Titus 2:13), the “same yesterday, today and forever”(Heb.13:8). “YHVH ELOHIM” is the specific and proper name of the one true God of Israel. Much like “Smith” is generic or common name, but the proper name is the one and only “John Smith”. YHVH ELOHIM” is above all “gods”(Ps 95:3; 96:4;97:9;135:5; Ex. 15:11; IChr. 16:25)

Another name that is specific to the person is the Hebrew word “Adon” (singular) Adown, or “Adonim” (plural), Adonai. This is translated into English as “Lord” in the OT (Ex.34:23), the God of Israel. There was no attempt to duplicate this Hebrew in the NT.

In the New Testament, however, the English word “God” comes from the Greek word “Theos” and in general refers to the Father. Whereas, the English word “Lord” comes from the Greek word “kyrios”, and refers specifically to Jesus. Notice that Hebrew word “YHVH” and Greek word “Kyrios” are both translated into English word “Lord”, referring to Jesus, who is also Logos or Word in John 1.

A definitive separation and distinctiveness of these words can be proven in:
I Cor 8:6 “But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given”.
I Tim. 2:5″There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Messiah Yeshua” .
Ps. 2:7:”You are my son; today I have become your father”. Not yesterday or tomorrow but “today”, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.3:17;Mk.1:11).
John 5:37 “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form”.

Jesus himself said that no one has seen nor heard the Father referred to in the New Testament. Conversely, all the time from Genesis on, the specific “elohim” had to be YHVH ELOHIM, the LOGOS according to John, who incarnated to man-Jesus (anthropos-Jesus to Paul), the Messiah Passover.

In short, “The Lord is one” refers only to YHVH ELOHIM not the FATHER of Jesus and of us all.

God of gods and Lord of Lords?

Deut. 10:17 as quoted, means that while the Bible confirms the existence of “many gods and lords”, YHVH is above all of them and the only one to be worshipped.

Comment:
I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:3, ESV
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God,…Deut 10:17

Lord, among the gods? Are there “many gods?

Ex. 15:11 “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

It means that YHVH, our Lord is not like any other.
He is distinct , unique and “above all gods”.

Ps. 95:2-4 states:
“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God And a great King above all gods, In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.…”
While other so-called “gods” are real like Satan, the god of this world, (2 Cor. 4:4), YHVH is superior to all these “gods” and He should be the only one to be worshipped, not others. However, when YHVH, the LOGOS, incarnated into man-Jesus, he said, “worship the Father”( John 4:22-24).

Do Christians have to obey the Ten Commandments?

The short answer is a resounding Yes! But why we have to, for what and how?

It was established by Paul that even those who are not Jews follow the Law (Rom 2:14). Even now, there are non-Christians who believe and love their own God and their neighbors. Their “righteousness” however, is not the “righteousness of God” which are reflected through the Holy Spirit as “fruits of the Spirit”. These are the same people who will be rejected by Christ for their “own good works” (Matt 7:21-23) because they were not “works of the Holy Spirit” that God acknowledges. It is God who chooses what he likes and requires, what is acceptable to him, in spite of how good the works are.

Remember Abel and Cain? God chose Abel’s offering because it was “by faith”(Gen 4:3-5; Heb 11:4) not Cain’s. The rest of the Bible shows examples of the precept that God alone chooses what is to his liking, no matter what we think.

To start with, everything about our salvation, i.e. becoming a “new creation” members/body of the “kingdom of God”, was done not by you or me but by Jesus, the Messiah, the Logos of John 1 and the Creator Elohim in Genesis 1 & 2. It was all a gift by grace and out of love of the Father as in John 3:16. He is the “righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us” (Rom.8:4).

The death of man-Jesus (the Creator God) was substitutionary to pay the penalty of human’s sin, for mankind to be reconciled to the Father. The goal of his death is reconciliation, nothing more. Had he not been resurrected by the Father, Jesus could have died eternally and we are still “dead in sin” (I Cor 15:17). But, because of the Father’s promise of resurrection and the “faith of Jesus” in him, he was made alive. Having been resurrected to life, we “shall be saved by his life”(Rom 5:10).

Notice, the phrase “shall be saved”, meaning future, not yet, or in the process of salvation. But, how are we going to “be saved by his life”, his resurrected life? Remember Jn 16:7; 15:26; 14:16? He was resurrected for this very purpose, i.e., for the promised Holy Spirit to be sent and dwell in us, for us to “be endowed”, starting at Pentecost (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; Gal 3:14). We received this HS not by (our) works of the law but by “faith of Jesus” (Gal 3:2).

Why do we need the Holy Spirit? As circumcision is a “sign”, the HS serves as a “seal” to identify us being in the “body of Christ” (Jn 6:7; 2Cor.1:21-22; 5:5; EpEph 1:13-14; 4:30 Aside from that, we need “spirit-power” as the “flesh is weak”, (Matt 26:41). We need the Holy Spirit of power to be used by us to express the “fruits of the Spirit” (Gal.5:22-23). The HS gives us “cognition” as to which way to go or do, “conviction” to follow Jesus'(YHVH ELOHIM’s) Law, and “affection” for him and whatever is “good”, giving us the “mind of Christ” (I Cor 2:16).

That said, according to Paul, “the Law is holy” (Rom 7:12, v-14,v-23); nothing wrong with the Law and the Covenant. What was wrong was us, the flesh-nature that we have, that is “weak”. Remember that in Genesis, YHVH made “man (from dust) after his image”, and in the future to be “like him’. But that “clay” was flesh and “weak” so Adam could not be “like him” by his “own works”. It has to be by the “faith of Jesus”.

Adam, not knowing his “weakness”, did not “listen and follow” God, so he sinned and was banished from the “garden of Eden”. Adam was separated from God and needs to be “reconciled”. Having been reconciled by Christ’s death, we are now “being saved by his life through the function and power of the Holy Spirit” given to us as promised, to (bring many sons to glory” (Heb 2:10).

Therefore, with the power of the Holy Spirit, follow the Ten Commandments as part of our process of “sanctification” (I Cor 6:11; Rom 8:9-11; 15:15-16; 2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14; 2 Thes 2:13; itus 3:4-7; I Pet 1:1-2; 2:9-12; John 17:17; Rom 6:19-22; 8:5-14; Gal 5:16-24; I Pet 2:11; Rom 2:6-7).

With “eyes to see, let him see; ears to hear, let him hear” the truth.

8/27/15:
One of the most common answer given in a Master of Management or Business post-graduate program is “it depends”. It is applicable to this question as well.

It depends on 2 corollaries:
1.What “Old Testament” law is referred to. If it is about the Decalogue or Ten Commandments as written in Exodus and given to Moses in Mt Sinai, then the answer is YES. On the other hand, if it is about sacrificial laws that Israel have to do in the Temple, the answer is NO as the “antitypes” already occurred and the Temple in Jerusalem is non-existing and instead replaced by our “bodies as temple of God”.

2.What is the goal of “obeying” the Law?
If the goal of the Christian “to obey Ten Commandments in the OT” is to be saved by his own “works”, then the answer is NO. On the other hand, if the goal of the Christian “to obey the Decalogue in the OT” is because, by so doing , it reflects the presence of “in-dwelling Holy Spirit” in us by the “fruits of the spirit”, then the answer is Yes.

God’s sovereignty with man’s free will ?

Being sovereign for God is not an anachronism to the concept of free will for us. Both free will and sovereignty can interplay with one another. God can impose his sovereignty based on his good judgment that one option is better than the other. An example of this “forceful imposition” of his will is the story of Jonah. He did not like to go to Nineveh and went opposite of the direction towards that city. He was then swallowed by a big fish and found himself in the shores of Nineveh to prophesy against that city. He may still refuse to follow God’s will, but he did not. 
Likewise, in the narrative of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, his personal will was not to go through with his prophesied death by crucifixion. But, he was not forced by the Father. Nevertheless, Jesus said, “not my will but your will be done”, i.e., his Father’s will (Lu 22:42). 
In both circumstances, they had freewill to disobey but did not. While Jonah’s motive to follow maybe because of fear to disobey and be swallowed again by a “big fish”, Jesus’ was based on “faith in the Father” that his promises to him will be fulfilled.