Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 8 years ago

For Christians: Is there a difference between the soul and the spirit?

Some Christians believe that the soul and the spirit in humans are the same thing. However, according to the Bible (for example: Matthew 16:26 and 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, respectively) they are different and have identifying factors. Do you know what identifies them as different from each other?

PLEASE NOTE: Considerate answers are sincerely appreciated.

15 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hi Yiannis! Excellent question and observation. You are correct! According to the Holy Scriptures, they are not the same! When you look at other verses of the Bible such as Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 9:4, Joshua 9:24, Judges 16:30, Matthew 26:38, the list can continue, all of this indicates something totally different than is commonly taught. The original-language terms (Heb., ne′phesh [ׁנֶפֶש]; Gr., psy·khe′ [ψυχή]) as used in the Scriptures show “soul” to be a person, an animal, or the life that a person or an animal enjoys. The connotations that the English “soul” commonly carries in the minds of most persons are not in agreement with the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words as used by the inspired Bible writers. This fact has steadily gained wider acknowledgment. Back in 1897, in the Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol. XVI, p. 30), Professor C. A. Briggs, as a result of detailed analysis of the use of ne′phesh, observed: “Soul in English usage at the present time conveys usually a very different meaning from נפש [ne′phesh] in Hebrew, and it is easy for the incautious reader to misinterpret.” More recently, when The Jewish Publication Society of America issued a new translation of the Torah, or first five books of the Bible, the editor-in-chief, H. M. Orlinsky of Hebrew Union College, stated that the word “soul” had been virtually eliminated from this translation because, “the Hebrew word in question here is ‘Nefesh.’” He added: “Other translators have interpreted it to mean ‘soul,’ which is completely inaccurate. The Bible does not say we have a soul. ‘Nefesh’ is the person himself, his need for food, the very blood in his veins, his being.”—The New York Times, October 12, 1962. The initial occurrences of ne′phesh are found at Genesis 1:20-23. On the fifth creative “day” God said: “‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls", Other examples of animals being so designated are found at Genesis 2:19; 9:10-16; Leviticus 11:10, 46; 24:18; Numbers 31:28; Ezekiel 47:9. In applying the Greek psy·khe′ to animals, as at Revelation 8:9; 16:3, where it is used of creatures in the sea. Ne′phesh chai·yah′ (living soul), is applied to Adam, when, after God formed him, “the man came to be a living soul.” (Ge 2:7) Man was distinct from the animal creation, because man alone was created “in God’s image.” (Ge 1:26, 27) He was created with moral qualities like those of God, with power and wisdom far superior to the animals; hence he could have in subjection all the lower forms of creature life. (Ge 1:26, 28) Likewise, Adam had, but lost, the prospect of eternal life; this is never stated with regard to the creatures lower than man.—Ge 2:15-17; 3:22-24. The death of Jesus to balance the scale of what Adam lost for us restored that prospect again for obedient mankind, Matthew 19:29, Romans 5:12-18.

    The spirit that is referred to at 1 Cor 2:12-14 is not a personage such as God or angels whether that be good angels or bad angels such as Satan and his rebellious brothers the demons, but God's holy spirit. At 1 Corinthians 2:12-15, it describes a spiritual person as one who receives the spirit that is from God. This spirit is God’s active force, and its operation is a prerequisite to getting to know spiritual things. A person is thus able to examine and understand issues from a spiritual perspective. By contrast, a person lacking God’s spirit is called a physical man, one who considers spiritual things as foolishness. As a result, his conclusions are limited to what human wisdom alone reveals. Galations 5:19-24 gives a contrast and shows the fruitage of the spirit of Satan and then it shows the fruitage or what is produced by those who submit to spirit of Jehovah, His Holy spirit. This brings us to spirit, the Hebrew word ru′ach and the Greek pneu′ma, which are often translated “spirit,” have a number of meanings. All of them refer to that which is invisible to human sight and which gives evidence of force in motion. The Hebrew and Greek words are used with reference to (1) wind, (2) the active life-force in earthly creatures, (3) the impelling force that issues from a person’s figurative heart and that causes him to say and do things in a certain way, (4) inspired utterances originating with an invisible source, (5) spirit persons, and (6) God’s active force, or holy spirit. Because there is not enough character space in Yahoo answers I'll include a link that goes into detail about the variances in the meaning. (Explanation of the spirit from the Bible's standpoint)

    Hope this helps.

    Source(s): The Bible and
  • 8 years ago

    Consider 3 circles of different sizes overlapping each other, the outer most is the body, the center the spirit and the inner most the soul. The soul makes the decision, the Spirit is the drive and the body is the mechanism, you might ask what about the brain vs the soul, the brain is a part of the mechanism that helps communicate the thought to your body but the though itself is not something 'tangible'. like people say you have lot your 'mind' your brain i still there but you can't make thoughts or decisions anymore. That soul is the one that makes good or bad thoughts that are processed in the brain. The Spirit though is more of the feeling that can influence the soul. If you have high spirits or 'good' spirits you are likely to make positive thoughts but if you have low or bad spirits then you are likely to have bad or suicidal thoughts. something like that...

  • Yasi
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    When you examine the way “soul” or “souls” is used in the Bible, it becomes evident that this word basically refers to (1) people, (2) animals, or (3) the life that a person or an animal enjoys.

    Psalm 104:29 states: “If you [Jehovah] take away their spirit [ru′ach], they expire, and back to their dust they go.” The soul and the spirit are not the same. The body needs the spirit in much the same way as a radio needs electricity—in order to function. To illustrate this further, think of a portable radio. When you put batteries in a portable radio and turn it on, the electricity stored in the batteries brings p. 211the radio to life, so to speak. Without batteries, however, the radio is dead. So is another kind of radio when it is unplugged from an electric outlet. Similarly, the spirit is the force that brings our body to life. Also, like electricity, the spirit has no feeling and cannot think. It is an impersonal force. But without that spirit, or life-force, our bodies “expire, and back to their dust they go,” as the psalmist stated.

  • 8 years ago

    The bible describes the soul as the person themselves. For example at 1 Corinthians 15:45 - "“It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” However, the Hebrew word ru′ach and the Greek pneu′ma, which are often translated “spirit,” have a number of meanings. All of them refer to that which is invisible to human sight and which gives evidence of force in motion. The Hebrew and Greek words are used with reference to (1) wind, (2) the active life-force in earthly creatures, (3) the impelling force that issues from a person’s figurative heart and that causes him to say and do things in a certain way, (4) inspired utterances originating with an invisible source, (5) spirit persons, and (6) God’s active force, or holy spirit.

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  • Tiger
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    @Edit Isaiah 26:9

    My soul desires you at night, my spirit in me seeks you at dawn; for when your judgments are here on earth, the people in the world learn what righteousness is.

    I find it extremely strange that anyone can mean that one part of us seeks God in the morning and the other part in the night. It is the eternal part of us that always seeks God. Not two parts.

    No they are the same. Hebrews 4:12 say "division of soul and spirit" These terms do not describe two separate entities (any more than "thoughts and intents" do) but are used as one might say "hearth and soul" to express fullness (cf. Luke 10:27, Acts 4:32) Elsewhere these two terms are used interchangeably to describe man`s immaterial self, his eternal inner person.

    Matthew and Corinthians only shows this interchangeably use of the words soul and spirit. You can have a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23 "whole spirit, soul, and body" This comprehensive reference makes the term "completely" more emphatic. By using spirit and soul, Paul was not indicating that the immaterial part of man could be divided into two substances. The two words are used interchangeably throughout Scripture(cf. Heb. 6:9, 10:39, 1 Pet. 2:11, 2 Pet. 2:8) There text use multiple terms for emphasis (cf. Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27) Nor was Paul a believer in a 3-part human composition (cf. Rom. 8:10, 1 Cor. 2:11, 5:3-5, 7:34, 2 Cor. 7:1, Gal. 6:18, Col. 2:5, 2 Tim. 4:22), but rather two parts:, material and immaterial.

    The evidence is overwhelming for this view, but as usual a "set up mind" are rarely open for the Spirits guidance.


  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    I understood the soul to be related to emotions, the heart, the blood

    meaning how a person reacts to things, as well as to

    the daily things in their life.

    There seem to be different meanings again for the spirit.

    There is 'the spirit of man' and then 'the new spirit' the

    regenerated spirit or the spirit from above.

    Both spirits would be the underlying meaning of the

    person's life.

    I think of the two spirits as the 'old man' and the 'new man'.

    Both are spiritual, in that both have underlying approach

    to this life, so more of the long term.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    I am not a Christian but I am interested in NDE near death experiences. I hope you don't mind me answering.

    A feature of NDE is that a body of sorts separates from the physical body and is a witness to events in the surrounding area.This body is called the astral body by some people.and is of course invisible to people around the dying person.

    The fact that the dying person is conscious of this astral body suggests to me that the division could be soul is the astral body and spirit is whatever is watching through the eyes of the astral body and is conscious of what is occurring.

    I stress this is only speculation and the two words seem interchangeable. You could also throw ghost and apparition into the mix.

  • 8 years ago

    The soul is the principle of life. The spirit is what makes humans human, able to relate with the Great Spirit, God.

  • 8 years ago

    Well, to be honest, I haven't read much of the bible, but I think I`ve studied enough to get a firm idea on what the difference is. To me, the soul is the mind, our true selves, more vast than we can imagine, but what it's made of defines us. It is thought, the source of the waves that ripple across our minds. The spirit, is a gift from God, memory and the ripples of the source, that continue until our deaths, in which God uses to see the immensity of our lives before judgement.

    Now that I think of it, there has to be much more to it, but I foolishly thought I was done with the category.

  • Your asking Christians so I will answer in the best way possible

    Isaiah 26:9

    My soul desires you at night, my spirit in me seeks you at dawn; for when your judgments are here on earth, the people in the world learn what righteousness is.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23

    May the God of shalom make you completely holy — may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

    Hebrews 4:12

    See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.

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