The Bible teaches that human nature is mortal

18/06/2010

It’s almost unbelievable to the Bible student that modern Christianity has moved so far away from what the Bible teaches about the nature of man. What does the Bible teach regarding this important subject we hear you ask? The answer to such a question is astounding and surprising but one which needs to be grasped if a true understanding of the Bible’s message is to be obtained. The answer is simple; the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is an untrue doctrine. To hold such a doctrine actually prevents a person from truly comprehending the truth concerning the work and teaching of Jesus Christ. Now before you hit the close button on your browser WAIT! Examine the evidence outlined below and you will see that what we are saying is totally in accordance with the Bible and of course, with nature itself.

The doctrine of the immortal soul

Wikipedia describes the idea of the immortal soul as follows:

The soul, in some religions, spiritual traditions, and philosophies, is the incorporeal or eternal part of a living being, commonly held to be separate from the body. Many philosophical and religious systems teach that humans have souls; some attribute souls to all living things… The soul is often believed to exit the body and live on after a person’s death, and some religions posit that God creates souls.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This teaching is far removed from the Bible’s teaching about the nature of man. The man of the Bible is not immortal in any sense! We are told that when men dies he is unconscious and ceases to exist – this is exactly what nature and provable science attests to.

The Bible is silent!

Nowhere in the Bible do we read of the terms “immortal soul”, “ever living soul”, immortality of the soul” etc. Why? The theologians and big thinkers might suggest that the reason our Bibles are silent on this doctrine many hold so much b y is because it’s self evident that we all do have immortal souls. This is totally unsatisfactory! Surely the silence of the Bible would indicate the exact opposite. Also taking this argument to it’s logical conclusion it would mean we could say anything not mentioned in the Bible is “self evident” and believe what ever we fancy!

A more rational and logical conclusion to make would be that the Bible does not teach the immortality of the soul.

But the Bible does talk a about “soul’s”?

It is true that the Bible does talk about souls. Many take the definition of a soul for granted though. The word “soul” simply means a breathing creature – without any reference to it’s constitution or length of existence. It occurs around 700 times in the Old Testament and about 180 times in the New Testament. The word in the hebrew is “nephesh” but the translators have not been consistent in it’s translation. Consider these examples from the early chapters of Genesis:

“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.” Genesis 2:7

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:20-21

The word “nephesh” is translated “soul” in Genesis 2:7 but “creature” in Genesis 1:20-21. If we claim that man has an immortal soul based on the fact the Bible says that man has a soul then we would also have to go down the absurd line of thought which would suggest that all animals like cows, birds, whales etc. also have immortal souls. This is not what the Bible is telling us. It is telling us that we, like the beasts, are “living creatures” capable of dying. We are not immortal in nature as this study will continue to show.

A “soul” is clearly not something absent from the body. Consider the following. According to the Bible a soul is capable of:

  • Hunger – Proverbs 19:15
  • Satisfied with food – Lamentations 1:11-19
  • Touching material objects – Leviticus 5:2
  • Of going into the grave (!) – Job 33:22+28
  • Of coming out of it – Psalm 30:3

Among the words renderings it is impossible to come to the conclusion that this is talking about an immortal part of the body which floats off to heaven or hell upon the death of the body. It is rendered “soul” 530 times, “life” or “living” 190 times, “person” 34 times, “beasts and creeping things” 28 times. Its also rendered “a man”, “a person”, “self”, “they”, “we”, “him”, “anyone”, “breath”, “heart”, “mind”, “appetite”, “the body” etc. In no instance does this word support the modern Christian idea that this is something immortal – always the reverse in fact.

The Psalmist declares:

“…all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.” Psalm 22:29

“What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave” Psalm 89:48

“He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;” Psalm 78:50

Ezekiel sums up the Bibles teaching by saying:

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” Ezekiel 18:20

Is the soul immortal? The Bible says no.

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