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Do Some Bible Verses Teach That We Have an Immortal Soul?

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Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
: Destroying soul and body in hell?

“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 and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
).

Is Jesus teaching in this verse that the soul lives on after death and is immortal? Not at all. If you look at this scripture closely, you see that Jesus is actually saying that the soul can be destroyed. Jesus is here warning about the judgment of God. He says not to fear those who can destroy only the physical human body ( soma in the Greek), but fear Him (God) who is also able to destroy the soul ( psuche )—here denoting the person’s physical being with its consciousness.

Simply stated, Christ was showing that when one man kills another the resulting death is only temporary; God can raise anyone to conscious life again either soon after death (see Matthew 9:23-25 Matthew 9:23-25 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said to them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 27:52 Matthew 27:52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
American King James Version×
; John 11:43-44 John 11:43-44 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go.
American King James Version×
; Acts 9:40-41 Acts 9:40-41 40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
American King James Version×
; Acts 20:9-11 Acts 20:9-11 9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. 10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
American King James Version×
) or in the age to come after Christ returns to the earth. The person who has died is not ultimately gone forever. We must have a proper fear of God, who alone can remove one’s physical life and all possibility of any later resurrection to life. When God destroys one in “hell,” that person’s destruction is permanent.

What is the “hell” spoken of in this verse? The Greek word used here is gehenna, which comes from the combination of two Hebrew words, gai and hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom.” The term originally referred to a valley on the south side of Jerusalem in which pagan deities were worshipped.

Because of its reputation as an abominable place, it later became a garbage dump where refuse was burned. Gehenna became synonymous with “a place of burning”—a site used to dispose of useless things.

Only God can utterly destroy human existence and eliminate any hope of a resurrection. The Scriptures teach that God will in the future burn up the incorrigibly wicked in an all-consuming fire, turning them to ashes (Malachi 4:3 Malachi 4:3And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
)—annihilating them forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 1 Thessalonians 5:23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
: Spirit, soul and body?

Many are confused by an expression the apostle Paul uses in one of his letters to the Thessalonians: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 1 Thessalonians 5:23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

What does Paul mean by the phrase “spirit, soul, and body”?

By “spirit” ( pneuma ), Paul means the non-material component that is joined to the physical human brain to form the human mind. This spirit is not conscious of itself. Rather, it gives the brain the ability to reason, create and analyze our existence (see also Job 32:8 Job 32:8But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 2:11 1 Corinthians 2:11For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×
). By “soul” ( psuche ), Paul means the person’s physical being with its consciousness. By “body” ( soma ), Paul means a physical body of flesh. In short, Paul wished for the whole person, including the mind, vitality of conscious life and physical body, to be sanctified and blameless.

Revelation 6:9-10 Revelation 6:9-10 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
American King James Version×
: Souls of slain crying out?

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Revelation 6:9-10 Revelation 6:9-10 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
American King James Version×
).

To understand this scripture, we must remember the context. John was witnessing a vision while he was “in the Spirit” (Revelation 4:2 Revelation 4:2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
American King James Version×
). Under inspiration he was seeing future events depicted in symbolism. The fifth seal is figurative of the Great Tribulation, a time of world turmoil preceding Christ’s return. In this vision, John sees under the altar the martyred believers who sacrificed their lives for their faith in God. These souls figuratively cry out, “Avenge our blood!” This can be compared to Abel’s blood metaphorically crying out to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10 Genesis 4:10And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.
American King James Version×
). Though neither dead souls nor blood can actually speak, these phrases figuratively demonstrate that a God of justice will not forget the evil deeds of mankind perpetrated against His righteous followers.

This verse does not describe living souls that have gone to heaven. The Bible confirms that “no one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven [Jesus Christ]” (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). Even righteous King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22 Acts 13:22And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
American King James Version×
), was described by Peter as being “dead and buried” (Acts 2:29 Acts 2:29Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
American King James Version×
), not alive in heaven or some other state or location (Acts 2:34 Acts 2:34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand,
American King James Version×
).

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