What Does the Bible Say About the "Immortal Soul"?

Many people think the Bible says we have an immortal soul destined, at death, for heaven, hell or purgatory. What does the Bible say?

Magnifying glass over the words Holy Bible.
Does the Bible talk about the immortal soul?

Source: Photos.com

What happens to us after we die? Where are our loved ones who have passed on? Will we ever see them again?

Everyone needs to know that life has purpose, that death isn't the permanent end of our existence. The most common Christian belief regarding the afterlife is that people possess souls and at death their consciousness in the form of that soul departs from the body and heads for heaven or hell.

Most religions teach some form of life after death. The ancient Egyptians, for example, practiced elaborate ceremonies to prepare the pharaohs for their next life. They constructed massive pyramids and other elaborate tombs filled with luxuries the deceased were assumed to need in the hereafter.

In some civilizations when a ruler died others who had accompanied and served him in his life were put to death so they could immediately serve him in the afterlife. Wives and other relatives, servants, sometimes even household pets joined him in death and a supposed entrance into a new life on the other side.

Belief in the immortality of the soul was an important aspect of ancient thought espoused by the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Plato, in Phaedo, presents Socrates' explanation of death: "Is it not the separation of soul and body? And to be dead is the completion of this; when the soul exists in herself, and is released from the body and body is released from the soul, what is this but death?" ( Five Great Dialogues, Classics Club edition, 1969, p. 93).

Socrates explained that the immortal soul, once freed from the body, is rewarded according to good deeds or punished for evil. Socrates lived ca. 470-399 B.C., so his view of the soul predated Christianity.

Plato (ca. 428-348 B.C.) saw man's existence as divided into the material and spiritual, or "Ideal," realms. "Plato reasoned that the soul, being eternal, must have had a pre-existence in the ideal world where it learned about the eternal Ideals" (William S. Sahakian, History of Philosophy, 1968, p. 56). In Plato's reasoning, man is meant to attain goodness and return to the Ideal through the experiences of the transmigration of the soul. Thus secular philosophies sanction the idea of the immortal soul, even though the Bible does not. Believe it or not, God's Word teaches something entirely different.

History of a Controversial Teaching

The doctrine of the immortal soul caused much controversy in the early Catholic Church.

Origen (ca. 185-254) was the first person to attempt to organize Christian doctrine into a systematic theology. He was an admirer of Plato and believed in the immortality of the soul and that it would depart to an everlasting reward or everlasting punishment at death.

In Origen De Principiis he wrote: "... The soul, having a substance and life of its own, shall after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this ..." ( Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, 1995, p. 240).

Origen taught that human souls existed before the body but are imprisoned in the physical world as a form of punishment. Physical life, he reasoned, is a purification process to return humans to a spiritual state.

Later Augustine (354-430) tackled the problem of the immortality of the soul and death. For Augustine death meant the destruction of the body, but the conscious soul would continue to live in either a blissful state with God or an agonizing state of separation from God.

In The City of God he wrote that the soul "is therefore called immortal, because in a sense, it does not cease to live and to feel; while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul, takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it" ( Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, 1995, p. 245.)

The influences of pagan Platonic philosophy on Origen and Augustine are profound. Richard Tarnas, in his best-seller The Passion of the Western Mind, points to this influence: "... It was Augustine's formulation of Christian Platonism that was to permeate virtually all of medieval Christian thought in the West. So enthusiastic was the Christian integration of the Greek spirit that Socrates and Plato were frequently regarded as divinely inspired pre-Christian saints ..." (1991, p. 103).

Centuries later Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-1274) crystallized the doctrine of the immortal soul in The Summa Theologica. He taught that the soul is a conscious intellect and will and cannot be destroyed.

A few centuries later the leaders of the Protestant Reformation generally accepted these traditional views, so they became entrenched in traditional Protestant teaching.

The immortality of the soul is foundational in Western thought, both philosophical and religious. Belief in going to heaven or hell depends on it. But does the Bible teach that death is the separation of body and soul or that the soul is immortal?

Hebrew Understanding of the Soul

The Hebrew word translated "soul" in the Old Testament is nephesh, which simply means "a breathing creature." Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines nephesh as "the essence of life, the act of breathing, taking breath ... The problem with the English term 'soul' is that no actual equivalent of the term or the idea behind it is represented in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew system of thought does not include the combination or opposition of the 'body' and 'soul' which are really Greek and Latin in origin" (1985, p. 237-238, emphasis added).

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible makes this comment on nephesh: "The word 'soul' in English, though it has to some extent naturalized the Hebrew idiom, frequently carries with it overtones, ultimately coming from philosophical Greek (Platonism) and from Orphism and Gnosticism which are absent in 'nephesh.' In the OT it never means the immortal soul, but it is essentially the life principle, or the living being, or the self as the subject of appetite, and emotion, occasionally of volition" (Vol. 4, 1962, "Soul," emphasis added).

That nephesh doesn't refer to an immortal soul can be seen in the way the word is used in the Old Testament. It is translated "soul" or "being" in reference to man in Genesis:2:7, but also to animals by being translated "creature" in Genesis:1:24. Nephesh is translated "body" in Leviticus:21:11 in reference to a human corpse.

The Hebrew Scriptures state plainly that, rather than possess immortality, the soul can and does die. "The soul [ nephesh ] who sins shall die" (Ezekiel:18:4, Ezekiel:18:20).

The Old Testament describes the dead as going to sheol, translated into English as "hell," "pit" or "grave." Ecclesiastes:9:5-6 describes sheol as a place of unconsciousness: "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. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished ..."

King David laments that death extinguishes a relationship with God. "For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?" (Psalm:6:5).

The immortal-soul concept isn't part of the Old Testament, but it began to make inroads into Jewish thought as Jews came in contact with Greek culture. In the first century the Jewish philosopher Philo taught a Platonic concept: "... The death of a man is the separation of his soul from his body ..." ( The Works of Philo, translated by C.D. Yonge, 1993, p. 37). Philo followed the Hellenistic view that the soul is freed upon death to an everlasting life of virtue or evil.

The Apostles' View

In the New Testament the Greek word translated "soul" is psuche, which is also translated "life."

In Psalm:16:10 David uses nephesh ("soul") to claim that the "Holy One," or Messiah, wouldn't be left in sheol, the grave. Peter quotes this verse in Acts:2:27, using the Greek psuche for the Hebrew nephesh (notice verses 25-31).

Like nephesh, psuche refers to human "souls" (Acts:2:41) and for animals (it is translated "life" in the King James Version of Revelation:8:9 and Revelation:16:3). Jesus declared that God can destroy man's psuche, or "soul" (Matthew:10:28).

If the Old Testament describes death as an unconscious state, how does the New Testament describe it?

No one wrote more about this subject than the apostle Paul. He describes death as "sleep" (1 Corinthians:15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians:4:13-18).

Many people are surprised to find that the term immortal soul appears nowhere in the Bible. However, though the Scriptures do not speak of the soul as being immortal, they have much to say about immortality. For example: "You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1 John:3:15).

Paul told the members of the congregation in Rome to "seek" immortality (Romans:2:5-7). He taught Christians at Corinth that they must be changed and "put on" immortality (1 Corinthians:15:51-55). Paul proclaimed that only God and His Son possess immortality (1 Timothy:6:12-16) and that eternal life is a "gift" from God (Romans:6:23).

The most powerful words come from Jesus Himself: "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John:6:40).

True Origin of Immortal-soul Teaching

We've seen in this brief look at the supposedly immortal soul that the Bible teaches no such concept. The idea filtered into Western thought through Greek philosophy. Its origins are older than Athens, in fact as old as man.

The concept of the immortal soul was introduced into man's thinking at the earliest beginnings of human history. God told the first human beings, Adam and Eve, that if they sinned they would die and return to the dust from which He had created them (Genesis:2:17; Genesis:3:19). Satan, the embodiment of evil, the powerful entity who opposes God, assured them they wouldn't die (verses 1-5).

Satan slyly injected into Eve's consciousness the notion that God was lying and that she and her husband would not die, thus ingraining the unscriptural teaching of the immortality of the soul into human thought. Satan has since deceived the world on this important understanding as well as many other biblical truths (Revelation:12:9). Much of the world, including millions of people in religions outside of traditional Christianity, are convinced they have—or are—immortal souls and hope they will go to a happy place or state of being immediately after they die.

The Biblical Answer to Death

Yet the Bible plainly teaches that the dead lie in the grave and know nothing, think no thoughts, have no emotions, possess no consciousness. Does this mean death, the cessation of life, is final, the end of everything?

The Bible answers this question too. Although mankind is physical, subject to death, the good news is that God promises a resurrection to eternal life to everyone who repents, worships God and accepts Jesus as the Messiah and His sacrifice. The first resurrection to immortality will take place when Christ returns to establish God's Kingdom on this earth.

Later will come another resurrection—to physical life—for people who had never had a relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ. They, too, will gain the opportunity for immortality. The true final answer is not death but resurrection. 


moretalman's picture

I've always believed that people possessed an immortal soul. My reading of the scriptures persuaded me incontrovertably that hell is a place of "everlasting suffering" & that heaven is a place of "eternal bliss". In recent years, however, I've reevaluated.
I must confess that I currently cannot find a plausible explaination that can reconcile eternal suffering with A just God. This dosent mean that the 2 cant be reconciled. They may be reconcilable but I just can't currently see how.
I've done some research into the word "ever". The 1st thing I noted was that if the word "ever" as used with "for" (for ever) meant eternity. Why would it be necessary to say "for ever & ever". It would be unnecessary to say "for eternity & eternity". This could be an idiomatic expression that's not meant to be taken literally, or there could be some other plausible yet heretofore unseen explanation.
I also learned that the word "ever" as used in the A.V. is a the english rendering of the Greek word "aeon" (where we get our english word "eon" as in "eons of time"). In this use eon could mean "a measure of time", where as eternity could be righty described as timelessness. According to W

Ivan Veller

Ivan Veller's picture

Hello MortalMan,

You are not alone in the challenge many people have in trying to reconcile a just God with eternal suffering. Some think that aeon means eternity, while others (such as Rob Bell) take a far more radical view:

Rob Bell's Book Stirs Fierce Controversy About Hell

However, while I am glad to see a book such as this give God credit for being merciful and loving, I believe the heart of the matter comes down to the fact that God is calling only a small group of people now (the 'firstfruits'), and then many more later (the main 'harvest'). God does not hold people responsible for what they don't know. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned or understood, so it takes the miracle of God's divine call to open a person's mind to the truth. "Many are called"---in other words, not everyone is called now. Everyone will be given a chance to follow God. You may find the scriptures contained in this booklet to be of great encouragement and comfort in your quest:

Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?


TheMak5's picture

There is absolutely nothing difficult in explaining why a perfectly JUST God would eternally punish someone in hell.

First of all, we all must agree that we have all sinned. Sinned not against other people, but an infinitely GOOD and JUST God.

It goes kind of like this: When you lie to your kids, there's really no punishment for your lie. When you lie to your wife, you sleep on the sofa. When you lie to your boss, you lose your job. When you lie in court, you commit perjury and could face jail time.

As you see, the crime is still the same, but WHO you commit it AGAINST results in different outcome. How much greater is God ? How much more Holy, Pure, and Just is He that when we commit even the smallest sin against an infinite God, we DO deserve the severest possible punishment.

You can twist and turn the Bible passages anyway you'd like, but it's just your conscience trying to justify itself. No matter how "good" we are, we are still law-breakers of God's standard.

This is why we need Jesus, an infinite sacrifice for our sins. Without Jesus, we are doomed for eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture


I don't find your argument effective because you're neglecting the fact that ANY lie, whether to your kids, spouse, or whoever, is a sin against God and therefore bears the EXACT SAME penalty. You are using human reasoning to justify a position that is simply not supported by the bible. The scriptures are very clear that the penalty for all sin is death (Romans:6:23) - I challenge you to do the following:

1. Find where in the bible it says explicitly that eternal torture will be punishment for human beings.
2. If you think you've found a scripture that does that, then reconcile it with the scriptures presented in this article about what death is (such as Ecclesiastes:9:5-6) and that the penalty for sin is death (such as Ezekiel:18:20 and Romans:6:23).

If you can't reconcile your view with EVERY scripture in the bible, then it's not correct - the bible does not contradict itself. To be fair, you are free to challenge me to a similar task with scriptures of your own choosing.


Ajenja's picture

Why would the Bible talk about a second death if your punishment is eternal? Revelation:20:14 " Then death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire. this is the second death, the lake of fire"
personally i believe that one will only burn for your sins. once you have "paid" you will die and become ash.


FerronW's picture

The bible says, "The wages of sin is death".... not eternal life in hell. Hence when you get sent to hell that is it. you are gone, ashes. Elvis has left the building


ash_mobius's picture

I'm curious where the belief comes from when people say Jesus was an "infinite sacrifice for our sins."

Wasn't Jesus' suffering and death temporary? Where does it say in Scripture that our sins require an infinite sacrifice? The wages of sin—death—appear to be quite finite. And by the definite of "infinite," its quite literally impossible for Jesus to be an infinite sacrifice, because we know His sacrifice had a beginning and that it had an end. And if it had an end, the wages of sin can neither be eternal.

If the wages of sin is "eternal torment in hell," then how did Jesus pay the price?

Sorry for my stream of thought comment—but I REALLY REALLY want to know how the mythology of "infinite sacrifice for sin" began and where it came from!

Sabrina Peabody

Sabrina Peabody's picture

I agree ash_mobius! I had never thought of it that way but you are right. Jesus provided a finite sacrifice, so why would humans have to have eternal torment?


Skip's picture

Hello ash_mobius,

I'm curious too. Perhaps I just missed it but where does the quote,
"infinite sacrifice for our sins" come from? I mean you quote it,
from where?


Bature's picture

The doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul is not biblical and as a such, it should be discarded. It is strange as to why the Catholic Church supports this demonic teaching.


Baker_Chick's picture

What I can't reconcile about the eternal punishment is the cruelty of it. For example, if a person sins for 25 years, totally evil, dies. He goes to hell to be supernaturally kept alive so he can be punished for trillions of years? That is the most evil thing I've ever heard! And that doesn't make sense about the God I know. I think that people will be destroyed, as precious commenters said, and turned into ash. But not tortured forever. Doesn't make sense (besides not being biblical).


thebetterval's picture

@Bature if the immortal soul is not biblical, then what is eternity for you? Is it just 1000years?

@ash_mobius It's not about the finite sacrifice of Jesus' but about the way the Father justifies us from our sins. God's punishment for our sin is death and even hell. However, His way of forgiveness or justification is the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb who is Jesus.

just like in old testament. When people sin, they offer sacrifices such as lamb, where the blood will be spilled so that they can be forgiven. That sacrificial ritual justified them from their sins. But this time, a perfect sacrifice was made, that is Jesus for the forgiveness of all who will believe in Him, not only in Jesus's generation, but in all generation.

@Baker Chic Yep, that is harsh, eternal cruelty is the most evil thing in the world. And it is for the most evil entity who is Satan and the demons. Hell is really for them. However, men chose not to believe in Jesus who can save them from that wrath, they'd rather believe in their own thinking. Because sin can not exist in heaven, that's why it has to be forgiven, otherwise it will be punished.

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi thebetterval,

Eternity is forever. That’s what the word “eternity” means. Perhaps you are thinking of Revelation:20:4, which says that those in the first resurrection will live and reign with Christ for one thousand years. Well, they will, but they will live forever beyond this, too – we have to put all the related verses together to make a clearer picture (John:6:40; 1 Cor:15:51-55). We are told to seek immortality (Rom:2:6-7), so it is attainable, but not of ourselves.

Revelation 21 goes on to say that after God the Father comes down to dwell with the faithful on earth, “there shall be no more death” (verse 4), so that means immortality for those who have overcome and been changed to spirit form. These and many other verses also promise immortal life to the faithful: Heb:9:15; John:3:16, John:10:27-28, Romans:6:23.

For more details on our wonderful hope of eternal life, check out this link:



KARS's picture

Why do we have to complicate things? Does it make us look smarter than the average person? Sometimes we have so much to say but in the end; it means nothing. Why do we want to make it so hard to understand?
With God our Father's help through humble prayer we can understand. Did not King Solomon of the Book of Proverbs say to pray for wisdom and understanding? Proverbs:1:1-7
When you begin to pray to God, then you will begin to understand His mercy and why in the end He will burn those that refuse Him.

Think about it. The fallen angels cannot be distroyed; they suffer everyday, they suffer for eternity.
We in the other hand, have been given grace. We have a choice.
You will be for God the Father and His Only Begotten Son; or you won't. Thus at the resurrection your will be immortal or dead. Burned to ashes. As if you never were. Now that is mericiful. The rebellious people (sons of perdition)will not have to burn in eternal fire with the fallen angels and Satan.
There are many articles and booklets on this website for you to learn the true answers to your questions. Type your topic in the box under "Search". A free library awaits you. Seek wisdom and understand. Shalom

Lena VanAusdle

Lena VanAusdle's picture

I believe commenters above have answered you more eloquently than I can, but you ask rhetorical questions without providing scriptures to back up your beliefs. Here are some scriptures to consider:
1. Ezekiel:18:20 the soul that sins shall die
2. Ecclesiastes:9:5 the dead know nothing
3. Isaiah:26:19 the dead will rise (not return from heaven)
4. 1 Thessalonians:4:16 Jesus Christ will return to this earth and the saints will be resurrected
5. Malachi:4:3 the wicked will be ashes under the feet of the saints
6. Revelation:21:8 the wicked will be burned up
7. Ephesians:2:3-5 God is full of mercy. Would a merciful father torture his children (Matthew:7:11)?

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

God made humans a little lower than the angels. Humans are made of flesh and blood whereas the angels are made of spirit - both a creation of God. Mankind is distinguished from the animal kind (nephesh) by a spirit that God gave man. The word in Hebrew "nephesh" can also be translated as "life", just as it is in Greek. With this in mind, when we read the verse in Ezekiel:18:20, the verse could also be read as such: "The life that sins will die."

Spirit beings have life just like human beings. Angels have the capability to sin, as we know, since Lucifier sinned against the Almighty and became his Adversary. The angels who followed the devil also sinned. So we see the verse in Ezekiel:18:20 and in the New Testament deals with all life that has been created by God. This means that the life that sins, whether humans or angels, they will die! In Revelation:21:8 and all through Proverbs we read that wickedness will be burned up! When God includes ALL wickedness, then this surely means the one who is the father of lies and sin!

Eternal Spirit that lives forever and never dies only refers to God. Angels with His Spirit will live forever. Those born of God's Spirit will live forever.


shafibenkhader's picture

When a man dies is he fully perished or some thing in him may be existed ?. I do not mean that there is a living soul. But when I read the scriptures , I can understand that when we are died our soul will be existed, Other wise how can God resurrect us. If we are fully perished in death we cannot be resurrected , Only a Re--Creation( Creation again) is possible. When Jesus said about death He said that " Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Gehenna is a place for complete destruction )"Matthew:10:28..From this scripture we can know that when a man dies his soul is existed ( I never mean that it is a living soul but a dead or dormant [ sleeping soul ] soul) . And the other wordings of Jesus are compatible with this truth "Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live " John:5:25. That means there is something existed( not live) after death ....
And the Apostle Paul's teachings also give a clear picture about this truth. He metaphorically said it with the plantation of a seed "

Whimpus Patheticus

Whimpus Patheticus's picture

From a Biblical point of view, it is mortal. The word soul can mean person, being, creature, life, or heart. It simply means "life" and is nowhere described or defined as immortal. The opposite is in fact true.

In the New Testament, the anticipation of the Christians hope was the resurrection that was to take place at the 2nd coming of Christ, not the bliss of bodiless rapture upon one's death. In fact, Paul made it clear that without a bodily resurrection, there was in fact no hope for a future life of any type.

1 Corinthians:15:12-19
"Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fall

Whimpus Patheticus

Whimpus Patheticus's picture

Oops, rand out of characters. Just to finish my previous post:

If our souls entered eternal bliss after we died, the force of Paul's argument would be entirely lost. The point he is making is that without the resurrection, all hope is lost, hardly the situation if our souls entered upon an eternally blessed existence after death. In fact, in 1 Thessalonians:4:13-18, Paul urges us to comfort one another with the hope of the bodily resurrection in contrast to the misguided consolations most Christians give emphasizing the souls of our deceased loved ones immediate transport to heaven. No where in the Bible do we find bereavement assuaged by the notion of the soul's immediate entrance into heaven.

Whimpus Patheticus

Whimpus Patheticus's picture

Shafibenkader, here are a couple interesting texts you might like:

Leviticus:19:28 -- "You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves:I am the Lord." The word for "dead" is "nephesh" which is the Hebrew word for "soul."


Leviticus:21:11 -- "nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother." The word for "person" is "nephesh." In other words the text could be legitimately translated as "nor shall he approach any dead soul."

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi shafibenkhader,

Good question! The soul doesn’t continue to exist. The Bible says, “…the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek:18:4 and verse 20. When we die, there is no longer any conscious part of us (Eccl 9:5; Ps:146:4).

However, there is a spirit, a non-physical component, in humans which distinguishes us from the animals and gives us thinking and reasoning ability, etc (Job:32:8; 1 Cor:2:8). When God calls us and gives us His Holy Spirit, it joins with this spirit in man to impart understanding of the deep things of God (1 Cor:2:10-16; Rom:8:16), and to help us to develop His character and mindset.

When we die, our body and thoughts perish (Ps:146:4), but our spirit, which contains the record of our lives and hopefully the good character we’ve developed over our lifetime, goes back to the God who gave it to us in the first place (Eccl 12:7).

I hope this helps.

For more info. , you can order or read online UCG’s free publication, “What Happens After Death?” here:


You may also find this link helpful:



Church-N-Rome's picture

If I may I would like to address the issue of a just and fitting God allowing an eternal damnation to the very souls he came to save.

Sins do not have to include physical matter such as stealing. You can also sin against God alone, like David states in psalm 51 (sorry I can't quote it word for word.) I would also like to point out that a sin is committed on an intellectual level and not simply an action one takes. In other words in order to sin you have to know what you're doing is wrong. For example lying- if you didn't know what you were saying was not true we don't consider your account a lie. Sin in that of itself is attractive because it does contain a small amount of good within it, otherwise why would we do it? You wouldn't lie to your kids because you are trying to hurt them, you might lie to someone because you are afraid that the truth may hurt them. So in this case (and in all cases of sin) there is an intellectual decision that what you did wrong is better than the alternative. It is the choosing of the lesser of two evils if you will. However, at the choice of evil there comes guilt - the pain of sin, which is personal and painful only to the sinner.


Church-N-Rome's picture

Sorry ran out of characters.

Resolving to commit sin can lead to a sort of love of the sin. And as you know sin does not exist in heaven. An if the soul really is immortal then what can our loving God do with that soul if that soul would rather sin than be with Him. He really only has two options: destroy it, or put it someplace where it can do the things it wants to do. God didn't destroy Adam and Eve when he found out that they sinned against Him. He sent them away until he could fix the mess they made. He loved them just as He loves us, and he wouldn't do something so harsh as make them suffer for eternity to his own children, just like we wouldn't.

So in conclusion, hell is a bad place that people choose to be in. No one made them go there, but changing themselves was not something they were willing to do. And it's a frightful concept to contemplate, because that could be you or me. We are able to get so tied up in the things of this world that we don't want to live without them. But ultimately it is our decision to make. Judgement is simply God showing us our inside out. Taking a mirror to our souls if you will. An what you see is who you spent your life becoming.


MickDannel's picture

So if the soul is mortal, then how do you explain Matthew:13:41-42?

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi MickDannel,

These verses are talking about the lake of fire, the punishment for the unrepentant wicked, which will be permanent only in the sense of its consequences – life snuffed out forever (Dan:12:2: Rev:21:8). This fire dies out once the wicked have been burned up and become ashes under the soles of the righteous (Mal:4:1-3). After that, there will be new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet:3:10-13; Rev:21:1).

God is merciful, even to the wicked (2 Pet:3:9), and doesn’t want them to be tormented forever. He just wants to end their own suffering, and have nothing in His righteous Kingdom that will be impure or offend (Mt. 13:41; Rev:21:8).


rwp_47's picture

MickDannel ...
Matthew:13:41-42 just says that when Jesus returns he will have his angels gather up the incorrigibly wicked and destroy them in the lake of fire (Gehenna) - see Rev:20:15. There is nothing here that suggests any kind of immortality. For instance, if you were being picked up by the angles to be cast into the fire - wouldn't you be distressed (i.e., wailing and gnashing of teeth)? But actually its worse than that! Because the death that occurs here is permanent (not temporary like the death we die now). In this particular fire ... not only is the body killed but the soul is killed as well. And Matthew clearly explains this in Matthew:10:28. This is when both the body and soul are being destroyed in Gehenna. There's no reawakening or resurrection from that That's what's happening in 13:41-42. But you are correct in thinking the soul is immortal ... at least "conditionally" so. It doesn't grow old as our bodies do and it would live forever if God didn't destroy it in this special fire. However - for someone like Abraham (who we know will not be destroyed in Gehenna) - you're right, his soul is immortal - and unconditionally so.


rwp_47's picture

In the article its stated that - The Hebrew word translated "soul" in the OT is nephesh, which simply means "a breathing creature".

Interestingly, in Leviticus:26:30 God says - "And I will destroy your high places and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols, and my SOUL [nephesh] shall abhor you."

Is the article's writer saying that God is "a breathing creature"? Or is it that it is assumed that God is not a soul ... but instead has a soul? Although I'm not sure what that would actually mean. And if that's the case ... then how is it that man can be made in God's image if man is a soul that has a body and spirit but God is constructed in some other manner? Then how are we made in his mage?


rwp_47's picture

Clearly the "common Christian belief" of a conscious soul in death is wrong. The bible everywhere refers to the death we commonly experience as being an unconscious sleep from which we shall at an appointed future date be awakened (resurrected). Also clear from scriptures such as Jer:5:29 [where God speaks of his own nephesh (soul)], a soul is more than simply "a breathing creature" ... unless of course that's how one views God. Probably the most powerfully informative scripture in the bible for clarifying the word soul is Matthew:10:28 (literally a master key for understanding)- "Fear not them [all but God] which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him [God alone] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [G1067 Gehenna]".
Easily gleaned from this one scripture: There are two deaths. One nonpermanent (body death only - our common experience), one permanent (death of both body and soul ... soul death accomplished only by God and only in Gehenna, not a sleep). Anything soul killing thing should be feared. To date no human has ever experienced soul death (destruction)- it occurs only in the lake of fire.


Search4Truth's picture

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I tend to agree more with MickDaniel and Church-N-Rome. For an authoritative interpretation of God's Word, listening to His Son, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, alone is essential to a genuine understanding of the belief in life after death (whether we're wicked or righteous in His sight). There are many passages attesting to this, but at least two have long defined--and settled--the matter at hand:
First, John:5:21-29. (verse 25: Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."
How can the dead "hear the voice of the Son of God" when they don't exist anymore? Death doesn't end things; it's a natural consequence of sin, which leads to eternal punishment and damnation. The physical death kills a man, but his spirit lives on to either spend its eternally in Hell (spiritual separation from God), or Heaven (unity with God and reigning with Christ). So many passages attest to this.


rwp_47's picture

Search4Truth - hi
Regarding Church-N-Rome - His statement - "He sent them away until he could fix the mess they made." - is wrong (its a wrong concept). Why? Because Adam and Eve did exactly as God planned. How is that? Because everything is for God - Col:1:16. Revelation 5 asks - "Who is worthy to open the book"? Is the answer the Word? Sorry, no. The answer is - no one. The primary purpose of this creation was to change that answer. How was it changed? By his suffering (Heb:2:10).
If Adam & Eve didn't make a mess then how could he suffer? And if he didn't suffer - then how could he become worthy? So the plan required them to make a mess. Because the whole purpose of the plan was to make him worthy. And it was their mess that was used (as planned) to do that. It was no accident ... the whole thing was God planned.

You think death doesn't end things? The second death does (Matt:10:28). Because you're a soul ... not a spirit.

So many passages attest to this? Really? Then name one.

Note: So few characters were allowed - requiring extreme brevity. So the above may have sounded "curt" but that wasn't intended.


rwp_47's picture

Because of the character limitation this will be a three page comment.
Page 1:
The bible refers to one who dies as sleeping. Since man is a soul, the reference to "one who has died as sleeping", means the soul is sleeping. Obviously the body isn't sleeping ... because it has literally died and is rotting away. The reason "soul sleep" occurs is because soul is immortal. It couldn't occur otherwise. Our physical bodies naturally die at some point. The soul does not. When the body dies we call this "death" (the first death) - even though the soul (our actual being) has not died.

Page 2 follows:


rwp_47's picture

Page 2:
The reason soul is immortal is because all soul comes directly from God who shares his immortal soul with us. He takes a portion of his soul and forms a new independent sentient being from it (just as he did with Adam (Gen:2:7)). The right that he has given us to that piece of his soul (our right "to be") is however dependent on God's good pleasure. And for that reason, though the soul itself is immortal, our right to it (which gives us "being")is presently conditional. So in that sense our soul is conditionally immortal. This notion that a portion of God's soul is given shouldn't be surprising; as he does the same kind of thing with his spirit. He provides a "down payment" of his Holy Spirit to his saints.

While scriptures such as Eze:18:4 state the soul that sins shall die - it doesn't state how, when, where it happens, nor does it state if it dies naturally or not. Matthew:10:28 does. If our right to exist is terminated, it is terminated by God alone in Gehenna. Its an execution. Even then however the soul itself is not destroyed because it is God's soul (all soul is his soul and ultimately belongs to him).

page 3 follows:


rwp_47's picture

Page 3:
What is destroyed is the "algorithm of free moral agency" God created that makes that soul "us" (our fingerprint, if you will, is removed from it and it is no longer us). Our being is terminated (meaning our right to God's soul that he has graciously given to us so that we may "be" is terminated). God can then either reabsorb it or create another more worthy individual, or whatever. All that live - live because God is sharing his life (his own being) - "his soul" with them. All soul is God's and is immortal. Only our right to our piece of his soul that gives us "being" is conditional. If we are not destroyed in Gehenna then our immortality is no longer conditional ... we become an immortal soul outright (for example, Abraham is an immortal soul ... he just hasn't been awakened yet). When our body dies in this life ... the soul sleeps until God awakens it at a resurrection. But the actual soul is interminable ... because its God's. So when we die (that is, when our bodies die) the soul sleeps unconsciously ... awaiting a resurrection to conscious life again.

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture


Yes, we get our truth from Jesus Christ (Jn:17:17). But in seeking it, we may have to set aside some long-held, popular beliefs. We also need to put related verses together when there’s any question. The Bible says there is no knowledge in the grave (Eccl 9:10 & also verse 5), so when Jesus calls out to the dead, it’s at that very instant they are raised up to life and regain consciousness, so they are able to hear His voice.

Our spirit, which is a record of our character, returns to God at death (Eccl 12:7), but doesn’t consciously live on. See this link:


The punishment of the wicked is eternal only in the sense that they forever cease to exist. They become ashes (Mal:4:3). For further details, check out the link below:


The righteous don’t go to heaven upon death. They remain in the grave until resurrected, as the verses you quoted – and others – tell us (Jn:3:13; Acts:2:34). Here’s further explanation:


linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Search4Truth quoted John:5:21-29. I understand this verse to mean that the dead who hear the voice of Jesus Christ are those that God has called to be the Firstfruits on this earth. That is now going on. When God's Spirit joins with the human spirit, then this will last for eternity, as long as the human remains faithful until the coming of Christ at the last trumpet call. Then those "alive in Christ" will be changed in a twinkling of an eye to be like Jesus Christ, as Spirit beings in the family of God and will have eternal life.

Where do the physically dead go after physical death? I believe the ones who die "in Christ" stay with Christ until they are resurrected as imperishable. I think the dead who have done evil and willfully done so, will go into a pit or grave, called Hell. This place contrasts with the place called "the land of the living."

. (verse 25: Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

KARS wrote: "Think about it. The fallen angels cannot be distroyed; they suffer everyday, they suffer for eternity.
We in the other hand, have been given grace. We have a choice."

When we read in the Bible that all wickedness will be destroyed, what does God mean by this? Does God mean that only humans who have been wicked will be burned up in the lake of fire? When I read "all" that means all beings who have decided to be wicked and not accept the authority of God and follow Him. Satan and the angels that followed Satan are wicked. They had a choice to remain faithful to the Almighty God, but chose rebellion against the only true God. They chose to rebel against the Holy Spirit and therefore they have no pardon
The Bible is clear when it tells us that all wickedness will cease to exist. That means also angels who have chosen to be wicked. They will be also thrown in the lake of fire. The devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (Rev:10:10).

Think about it. There will be a time in the future where there will be no more death. Who is the author of death? Satan (Hebrews:2:14). It is clear to me that all evil will no longer exist in the New Heavens and New Earth.


JOAN FITLER's picture

Jeremiah:1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I knew you.I made you a prophet to the nations" Sounds like God knew Jeremiahs immortal soul. The body/flesh returns to the dust.


emme's picture

I have enjoyed reading this article and comments. Hopefully, I am not reasking this: can you please help me understand the meaning/intent of Mat:10:28?

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

Specifically...I understand that soul and body are often used interchangeably, so why use both in this passage?

Thank you.

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Dear emme: You asked a question about Matt:10:28. Here is my answer to your question. In Matt. 10, Jesus Christ gives the twelve disciples instructions and also encouragement as they are sent out to carry the gospel throughout the regions. He makes it clear that they will encounter opposition and difficulties. Jesus Christ tells his disciples not to be afraid what man can do to them, that is, killing them physically, because spiritually man cannot do anything to them. Only the Almighty God can destroy both physically and spiritually. God can end their lives spiritually through the eternal fire/lake of fire. Therefore, Jesus Christ is telling his disciples that they should fear God more than man.
Some scriptures:
Luke:12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell (gehenna fire). Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Isa:8:12-13 "The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear..."
Hebrews:10:31 "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."


rwp_47's picture

Hi .. Baker_Chick

What about the idea of tormenting the devil for ever and ever (Rev:20:10)? "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire ... and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Clearly that's biblical.

Is it just a problem if it happens to people ... but not really a problem if it just happens to fallen angels?


Jerrypd1's picture

Hi all you fellow truth seekers, I too have always struggled with the concept of "everyone is going to live forever somewhere." First of all, that means EVERYONE already has eternal life and therefore kills the excitement of receiving the "gift of eternal life", i.e., what's the point? Also I agree with Harold Eberle in his enlightening book, Hell, God's Justice, God's Mercy, that if we REALLY believed people would suffer eternally for their earthly sins then we couldn't even sleep or rest until we begged everyone to accept Christ! (That is, if we had a heart at all) He,along w/many other verses uses 1 & 2 Tim to point out that God alone has immortality and it comes only via the Gospel. He also uses Mt. 10:28 to show God can/wil destroy BOTH body & soul in Hell. Another point he makes is that the place and the fires are indeed eternal. But that does not mean an individual's suffering is eternal. This false doctrine has done more to cripple the concept of a fair, loving, and gracious God than any other. And it seekd to scare people into loving God, which cannot be done! Old ideas die hard! May God open the eyes of those seeking truth!


REVV's picture

Man... I had NEVER even thought about it... I had just assumed that EVERYBODY believed that the the soul was eternal... whether it's going to heaven or not... Like... I thought it was one of those very few things that ALL "Christian groups" agreed on!!...

I guess I'm going to have to re-evaluate... Lord help me!!

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Where did the idea come from that the soul of a human is eternal? The serpent in the Garden of Eden told Eve if she ate fruit from the forbidden tree she would not surely die (Genesis:3:4). This is the first recorded lie in the Bible, although Satan cunningly misrepresented God's statement by saying, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'!

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, but they did eat of it, thinking they would live and not die. Because they were disobedient, they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. They did not have the chance anymore to eat the fruit of the “Tree of Life.” (Genesis:3:24) This tree is the tree of eternal life. If they ate of this tree, then they would have lived forever (Genesis:3:22).

Then who has eternal life? God is the Eternal God (Genesis:21:33; Deut. 33:27). He is the living God, the eternal King (Jeremiah:10:10). The Lord is the Rock eternal (Isaiah:26:4). His Kingdom is an eternal kingdom (Dan:4:3). His dominion is an eternal dominion (Dan:4:34). His ways are eternal (Hab:3:6).

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

The soul (or spirit) that sins will die (Ezekiel:18:4 and 20). The word for soul in the Hebrew is “nephesh”. This word has also the meaning “life”. So the life that sins will not live forever, but perish. Created life, whether humans or angels who sin, will not live forever!

However, the spirit that does not sin will live (forever). He who has done what is just and right, and follows the decrees that give life and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die (Ezekiel:33:15-16). The Sovereign Lord says, “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 18: 30-31). Through the Spirit of Christ, through the joining of the human spirit with the Eternal Spirit, this life will live forever.


KARS's picture

It took me awhile to understand this.
1 Cor:15:42-55(v.45-48); John:3:31-36; 1 Tim:1:17

Login/Register to post comments
© 1995-2015 United Church of God, an International Association | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All correspondence and questions should be sent to info@ucg.org. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to webmaster@ucg.org.

You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.