How Biblically Accurate Is The “Immortal Soul” Teaching?

The Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die.” Christ also said, “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” How do these statements square with the very popular “Immortal Soul” teaching and belief?

This doctrine is another big enigma in the world of religion (including pagan ones). While it is universally believed, it is difficult to prove, biblically.

Historically, the very first being who pronounced, “You surely will not die” (NAU), or “Dying, ye do not die” (YLT), or “You are not going to die…” (Tanakh-JPS) was no less than Satan the Devil himself, appearing as a serpent during his first encounter with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4). Since then, almost all the descendants of Adam and Eve (including non-Christian nations) have believed that original LIE (which is now translated into the “Immortal Soul” belief.)

Satan’s statement is in opposition to God’s earlier command when He said: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). God did not tell a lie, because one day to God is equivalent to man’s 1,000 years (2 Peter 3:8, Psalm 90:4), and no human has ever lived to be over 1,000 years old.

As expected, this Satanic deception was also believed in (pagan) Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek societies. The Jewish Encyclopedia testifies:

The belief that the soul continues in existence after the dissolution of the body is … speculationnowhere expressly taught in Holy Scriptures…

The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent… through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended.

~The Jewish Encyclopedia (1941), Vol. VI, “Immortality of the Soul,” pp. 564, 566

Plato (428-348 B.C.), the (pagan) Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, taught that the body and the immortal soul separate at death. Read further this testimony in:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, in a comment on ancient Israel’s view of the soul:

…We are influenced always more or less by the Greek, Platonic idea that the body dies, yet the soul is immortal. Such an idea is utterly contrary to the Israelite consciousness and is nowhere found in the Old Testament.
~International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (1960), Vol. 2, p. 812, “Death”)

Thus, early Christianity was influenced by (pagan) Greek philosophies. By A.D. 200 the doctrine of the immortality of the soul became a raging controversy among Christians.

Who Brought This Teaching Into Christianity?

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology testifies:

“Speculation about the soul… was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. This is seen in Origen’s acceptance of Plato’s doctrine of the preexistence of the soul…”
~The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (1992), p. 1037, “Soul”

Thus, Origen, an early and influential church theologian, was influenced by (pagan) Greek thinkers, who in turn influenced the whole (Roman) church. Even if it was not a biblical teaching, the Roman Church began to officially adopt such pagan beliefs into that church.

This popular belief also influenced one noted poet-writer of that day, named Dante Alighieri. Initially writing to poke fun at and criticize such absurd teachings with noted individuals in his day, his satirical novel was surprisingly adopted instead as the official handbook for the Roman Church on the topics he presented!

The title of Dante Alighieri’s satirical novel (written between 1308-1320) was LA DIVINA COMEDIA. The book is divided into three major sections: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso from which the Roman Church adopted those ideas in the context of the “immortal soul.” Surprisingly, the Protestant churches also copied the “immortal soul” doctrine from the Roman Church.

The Catholic beliefs on “Immortal Soul” was documented in the book, My Catholic Faith:

HOW can we PROVE that the SOUL of man is IMMORTAL?

“We can prove that the soul of man is immortal, because man’s acts of intelligence are spiritual; therefore, his soul must be a spiritual being, not dependent on matter, and hence not subject to decay or death.”

What happens AT DEATH?

“At death, the soul is separated from the body.
[COMMENT: The exact concept from Plato.]
~My Catholic Faith (1949), by Bishop Louis LaRavoire, p. 43

What Does the Bible Say About “Immortal Soul”?

SURPRISING FACTS:

The phrase “Immortal Soul” is NOT found in the Bible!

Shocking?

How about “immortal”? It is used only once in the KJV Bible (and also the NKJV), and it refers to God.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
~1 Timothy 1:17

It is used twice more in the NIV Bible, and both refer to God alone:

… and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
~Romans 1:23

… who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
~1 Timothy 6:16

How About the Word “Soul”?

It is used 458 times in the KJV (King James Version), 321 times in the NKJV (New King James Version), and 129 times in the NIV (New International Version). However, in all its uses, it does not denote anything spiritual or immortal.

In both Hebrew (“nephesh”) and in Greek (“psuche”), the word translated “soul” does not denote anything spiritual or immortal in itself. For example:

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures (Heb. “nephesh” = soul), and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” [COMMENT: Of course, there are no immortal creatures.]
~Genesis 1:20

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” (KJV) (Hebrew “nephesh” = soul). (ESV, YLT = “living creature”; NAU, NIV, NKJ = “living being”; NLT = “living person”) [COMMENT: In these translations, none indicate immortality.]
~Genesis 2:7

Strong’s Number: H5315 — nephesh (or nepes)

[COMMENT: None in its various uses denotes immortality]

Meaning:

  1. Soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
    1. That which breathes

Usage: AV – soul 475, life 117, person 29, mind 15, heart 15, creature 9, body 8, himself 8, yourselves 6, dead 5, will 4, desire 4, man 3, themselves 3, any 3, appetite 2, misc 45; 751

[Reference: BibleWorks Interlinear]

How About in the Greek New Testament?

The first occurrence of the Greek psuche is in Matthew 2:20, where it is rendered in English as “life”:

… saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life [psuche] are dead.”
~Matthew 2:20

Strong’s Number: G5590 — psuche (or psyche)

[COMMENT: None in its various uses denotes immortality]

Meaning:

  1. Breath
    1. The breath of life
      1. The vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing
        1. Of animals
        2. Of men
    2. Life
    3. That in which there is life
      1. A living being, a living soul
  2. The soul
    1. The seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)

Usage: AV – soul 58, life 40, mind 3, heart 1, heartily + 1537 1, not tr 2; 105

[Reference: BibleWorks Interlinear]

In this second example, we can see that “soul” can be destroyed by God in hell fire.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul [psuche] and body in hell.
~Matthew 10:28

Is the Human “Soul” Immortal?

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.
~Ezekiel 18:4

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son…
~Ezekiel 18:20

Are the Dead Conscious in Their Graves?

His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.
~Psalm 146:4

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.
~Ecclesiastes 9:5

Conclusion

The idea of an “immortal soul” is actually a big lie originated in Eden by Satan the Great Deceiver, and perpetuated both by pagan nations and great religions. From the Bible, we have clearly seen that the human soul can die, and that there is nothing naturally “immortal” about it. Only God is immortal.

But here’s the good news: Death need not be the end of life. God is offering us, mortal beings, the GIFT of everlasting life (Romans 6:23)! Please watch out for more exciting and eye-opening articles on this topic.

Please also watch out for our upcoming article: What is the “Spirit in Man”?

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2 Comments

  1. Macario Cadatal

    Christ ought to be the standard in whatever things we believe. Meaning what happened to Christ do happened to us.

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Yes, Christ is the standard in the things we BELIEVE. But what HAPPENED to Christ does NOT necessarily happen to us. There is a big obvious difference between Christ and us; He being God in the flesh, while we are just plain mortals. For example, we are not expected to go through the most horrible crucifixion He went through, nor to be appointed as the Melchizedek High Priest by God. Each has his/her own distinctive role in God’s Kingdom.

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