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Questions about the soul?

Submitted: 11/26/2007
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Question: The soul, what is it? And how important is it to God? Does it live or dies?

Answer: The word 'soul' is used in many Bibles to translated the Hebrew word 'nephesh' and the Greek word 'psuche.' Both of these words have at their core the idea of breathing. Hence, Strong's Dictionary defines them as 'a breathing creature.' This is why when God breathed into Adam, he became a living soul [nephesh]. And why God says, 'The soul who sins shall die' (Ezekiel 18:20). There is no word in the English language that corresponds exactly to the words 'nephesh' and 'psuche.' Therefore, when the word 'soul' is used in the Bible, the meaning must be ascertained by studying the orginal language and examining how it is used in the Scriptures. For example, sometimes the word 'soul' means 'a person' such as in Acts 2:41, which says, 'Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.' This is simply saying that 3000 people were added to the assembly in Jerusalem. Sometimes it means 'life' such as Leviticus 17:14, which says, 'The life [nephesh] of all flesh is its blood.' Or Matthew 16:25, which says. 'For whoever desires to save his life [psuche]will lose it, but whoever loses his life [psuche] for My sake will find it.' Sometimes the word is used to refer to the inward mental/spiritual dimnsion of man as opposed to what is merely physical, such as in Psalms 6:3, which says, 'My soul [nephesh] also is greatly troubled.' Or Psalms 35:9, which says, 'And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD.'

To answer your question, a living breathing human being is very important to God, especially if that person is serving the Lord with all of his heart. Can a soul die? As we have shown, the soul who sins shall die. But the good news is, the soul can also be raised from the dead. Psalms 30:3 says, 'O LORD, You brought my soul [nephesh] up from the grave.'