Bible Search 
With Hebrew/Greek Word Links


Q2 : What is the Truth about the Soul?

This is an extremely important question to get to the bottom of. Your view of this subject will effect most every decision you'll ever make. The Seventh Day Adventists (from which JW's kinda originated from) say that the soul will go to sleep at death (soul sleep). Charles Taze Russell took "Soul Sleep" further and taught that the soul would cease to exist at death (soul annilation).
 
We must first start with what constitutes the "whole man". The bible clearly states that man is a rather complex Tri-partite being. Here's God's description of man:

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thess. 5: 23

Each of these parts of man is you. You are spirit, you are soul, and you are body. There is universal agreement on this when it comes to the "body", and common figures of speech reflect this:

"She pinched my arm" and "She pinched me" are both perfectly correct descriptions of the same event even though one refers specifically to the body and another to "you". Likewise, in the bible, the spirit, the soul, and the body are spoken of equally as a person posessing them and also a person being them.


  

The color charts above will help to illustrate. Every color can be made by getting the exact mixture of red, green and blue just right. Likewise each person is made up of a unique mixture of DNA, spirit and soul.  

If a photographic image undergoes color separation, you'll still see the image in two dimensional space; each is still a picture of her. However, the image is not "whole" until the color shades are united with each other. And, the fact remains that inside of the "final printed image" above, it posesses (and also IS) a blue image, a red image, and a yellow image. Likewise, man has a body and is a body; has a spirit and is a spirit; has a soul and is a soul.

Now, at this point, it is critical that we have a biblical definition of "death". Medical science has a hard time in defining death but the bible does not; it is very clear:

 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. - 1 Kings 17: 20-23


The biblical definition of death is clear; When your spirit or soul becomes separated from your body- YOU ARE DEAD. 

In the account above, the widow's son was dead when his soul left his body. When his soul was united with his body, he was alive. It really is that simple. The Watchtower nonsense about Greek philosophy being the origin of believing that souls depart at death is falsified by this account and others written long before the Hellenistic period ... such as:
 
"And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died ..." - Gen. 35: 18,19a 

Things hadn't changed much by the time Jesus came on the scene in the first century either:

"And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose..." - Luke 8:53-55

Acts 7:59-60 describes Stephen's death in detail: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Also:

Ecclesiastes 12:7 says essentially the same thing here: “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

Notice, that according to the above definitions, the body has one destination and the spirit has another; and both of them are "you".

Regardless of whether or not someone wants to believe it, the fact is that the bible teaches that when your soul / spirit is separated from your body, you are dead. When they are all united, you are alive. The body appears asleep when the three components of man (who is made in God's image) are separated. 

So for example, in Ez. 18: 4 where it reads that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die"; it means that the soul that is sinning will become separated from its body. This is one of Jehovah's Witnesses "proof" scriptures regarding their doctrine of soul anniliation. However, in Revelation dead souls are fully aware, conversing with God and complaining. God comforts them:

"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: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season," - Rev. 6: 9-11

Also:

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. -Luke 16: 22, 23

Notice in Jesus' account of the rich man and Lazarus, how the pronoun "he" is consistently used when referring to the soul of each. Each had a soul and at the same time, was a soul. Now, the Watchtower would love for us to think that this is a parable. However, no bible parable names the participants. Lazarus is specfically named here. The Watchtower would have us also believe that Jesus deliberately misled his listeners for nearly 2000 years until Charles T. Russell could be born, grow up, and reinterpret Jesus' words as not literal. Just imagine youself seated on a hill listening to Jesus' account of the rich man and Lazarus. Without a Watchtower magazine to reinterpret Jesus's words, how would people naturally perceive them?

Now, let's look at another Watchtower "proof" scripture regarding the anniliation of the soul, Eccl. 9: 5, 10. However, let's look at it in the larger context:

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

The phrase "joined to all the living" implies that there exists those who are unjoined among the dead.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Solomon is speaking about things "under the sun" here. Remember, you have a body and are a body at the same time. In this temporal world "under the sun" your works and thoughts will perish from your body when it becomes separated from your spirit / soul.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. 11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,
 
Again, the key here is the phrase, "under the sun" and "this life". When your body is placed in a grave in "this life" , "under the sun" that body will not experience any thoughts nor do any work. The King James Translators correctly translate the Hebrew word Sheol as grave here because the context proves that Solomon is talking about the body, which the bible shows is also YOU, just as it shows that your soul and spirit is also YOU. 

Eccl. 9: 5, 10 is perfectly consistent with all other biblical descriptions of death and the soul. The reason this topic is so absolutely vital to Watchtower theology is because if the brothers went around believing that their soul survives the separation from the body, then they might start thinking seriously about where they might like to spend eternity. And if they started thinking about that, they might start thinking about Jesus' offer of a contract that GUARANTEES their eternal well-being. And, if they started thinking about that, some of them might actually take Jesus up on his offer for remission of sins (Matt. 26: 27-28), as promised in the New Testament Contract and then outwardly acknowledge and accept it at the Lord's Supper.  That would be unthinkable to WT leaders. 

However, there is no forgiveness of sins at all if this blood-soaked New Covenant (Testamant) contract is rejected... as we'll show in the next FAQ.