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Ezekiel 18:4 – What the Bible teaches about Soul and Spirit

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies.

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression immortal soul,sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read,

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22).

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast

“have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says

“let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10,

“… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh.

“There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10).

If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God:

“Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this.

(1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says

“As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.”

(2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God

“let this child’s soul come into him again.”

In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman,

“her soul is vexed in her.”

Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].”

This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life.

“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35).

“I lay down my life (John 10:17).

“They seek my life (Romans 11:3),

and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43,

“fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus

“now is my soul troubled.”

Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17,

“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In Ezekiel 18:4 God said,

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.”

This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that

“in Adam all die,”

adding to this,

“even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

And again,

“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22).

The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he

“poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are

“beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18).

Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die.

“It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying,

“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 [Gehenna]” (Matthew 10:28).

Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38

Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’

Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything.

“The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that

“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time,

‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9).

‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2).

In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die.

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead.

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).

“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale.

“There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

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Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

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Preceding articles

Matthew 11:20-24 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 5 Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 2

 

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Additional reading

  1. Concerning Man
  2. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3
  3. Creation of the earth and man #9 Formation of man #1 Cure of souls
  4. Creation of the earth and man #10 Formation of man #2 Mortal bodies and Tartarian habitation
  5. Creation of the earth and man #12 Formation of man #4 Constitution of man
  6. Creation of the earth and man #14 Formation of man #6 The Uncreated One, neshemet ruach chayim and nephesh
  7. An openingschapter explaining why things are like they are and why we may have hope for better things
  8. Bereshith 3 Fall of man
  9. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #4 The Fall
  10. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #5 Temptation, assault and curse
  11. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #8 Looking for the 2nd Adam
  12. What is life?
  13. Death
  14. Grave, tomb, sepulchre – graf, begraafplaats, rustplaats, sepulcrum
  15. Today’s thought “Death by being taken captive” (May 15)
  16. Is there an Immortal soul
  17. The Soul not a ghost
  18. The Soul confronted with Death
  19. What happens when we die?
  20. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  21. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #1 Intro
  22. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #2 Psyche, the word
  23. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #3 Historical background
  24. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #4 Psyche, According to the Holy Scriptures
  25. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #5 Mortality of man and mortality of the spirit
  26. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  27. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #6 Summary
  28. Sheol, Sheool, Sjeool, Hades, Hell, Grave, Tomb, Sepulchre
  29. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  30. Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual
  31. A Ransom for all 1 Eternal tormentAll Souls’ DayI Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell

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Is it true that all Non-Christians today will go to hell

Related

  1. What is the human soul?
  2. On Plotinus and immortality
  3. The dreams of the Manichees and of Servetus, as to the origin of the soul, refuted
  4. It were vain to seek a definition of the soul from philosophers, not one of whom, with the exception of Plato, distinctly maintained its immortality
  5. Duty of Preparing for the Future World: Immortality and Separate State of the Soul: Book Eight- Chapter 1
  6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints
  7. This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul
  8. Is the human soul mortal or immortal?
  9. Immortal Soul
  10. River myths and the soul
  11. Secret Principles of Immortality, Edition 25
  12. All Soul’s Day, All Saint’s Day, and Day of the Dead
  13. Are there degrees of punishment in hell?
  14. J. W. Hanson on Gehenna
  15. There Is No Hell, Look It Up
  16. Are Near Death Experiences or Out of Body Experiences Biblical?
  17. Fantastic Article Proving that Hell = Complete Annihilation, Not Eternal Torment

Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained

Matthew 13:36-43 – Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained

MT13:36 Then Jesus released the crowds[1] and came into the house. His disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the zizania of the field.”[2] MT13:37 Jesus responded by saying, “The One sowing the good seed is the Son of Humankind. MT13:38 The field is the world.[3] The good seed are the sons of the Realm;[4] but the zizania are the sons of the Evil One.[5] MT13:39 The enemy sowing them is the Devil.[6] The harvest is[7] the consummation of a period.[8] The reapers are angels.[9] MT13:40 So, even as the zizania are gathered[10] and burned in fire,[11] thus it will be at the consummation of the Period.[12] MT13:41 The Son of Humankind will send forth his angels[13] and they will cull out of his Realm[14] everything that causes scandal[15] and those doing lawlessness.[16] MT13:42 The angels will cast out[17] [the sons of the Evil One] into the furnace of fire. There will be lamentation[18] and grinding of teeth. MT13:43 Then the righteous[19] will shine forth like the sun[20] [Daniel 12:3] in the Realm of their Father. Let the one with ears, hear.”[21]

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[1] Released the crowds: Or, KJV: sent the multitude away; NWT: dismissed. One wonders how he did this.

[2] The parable of the zizania of the field: The disciples give us their title for the parable. We see also the critical point they wondered about.

[3] Field is the world: The Greek for “world” is KOSMOS and means something arranged in a certain order to characterize it. The whole world of humankind is the field of the Lord.

[4] Good seed are the sons of the Realm: Jesus has used the phrase “sons of the kingdom” earlier. In Matthew 8:12 these are children of Israel. The Nazarene tells that Jewish generation that the kingdom will be removed and given to another nation (Matthew 21:43). That nation proved to be a spiritual one identical to the Christian Church (1 Peter 2:5-9; Galatians 6:16). The “sons of the Realm” are the children of God within the realm of profession. Compare 2 Timothy 2:19.

[5] The sons of the Evil One: That is, children of the Devil. This distinction is made by Jesus in the writings of John (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10). According to the apostle John what primarily identifies the children of the Devil is hatred and lack of love (charity). On this matter compare Matthew 25:31-46.

[6] Enemy sowing them is the Devil: Like the fermenting leaven, the Devil is at work even within the Realm of the Son (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 14, 15).

[7] The harvest is: Is the harvest a generational period covering over a hundred years? Or, is it the end of a period that brings judgment?

[8] The consummation of a period: The whole phrase in Greek is TE SYNTELEIA TOU AIONOS. It is nearly identical to Matthew 24:3 (see notes) and Hebrews 9:26. The phrase is also rendered: KJV: the end of the world; TCNT: the close of the age; NWT: conclusion of the system of things. It seems the disciples draw their use in Matthew 24:3 from Daniel 9:26 where SYNTELEIAS occurs in the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX). Jerome translates SYNTELEIA by consumatis.

[9] Angels: Compare Matthew 24:30, 31 and Matthew 25:31 where angels attend the King when he arrives to judge his realm. This is the parousia-judgment. The Nazarene’s parables in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 also deal with this judgment of his own household of faith.

[10] The zizania are gathered: Note from the initial statement of the parable that the zizania were bound and burned “first.” That is, their judgment occurs before the “sons of the Realm” are seen within the Father’s Kingdom. The parousia-judgment is a time of judging the Church upon its resurrection. For, Paul says, “we must ALL stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) These are those “of Christ at his Parousia.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) Within the Household of Faith all professing Christians are resurrected to their judgment day upon the Return of Christ (Daniel 12:1, 2; John 5:28, 29). Those thus raised to judgment will have two outcomes: life or shame (Daniel 12:2; 1 John 2:28; 4:17). This is the truth taught by Jesus’ Parousia parables (Matthew 24, 25). Consider the word study on judgment day.

[11] Burned in fire: Compare Matthew 25:46. Consider word study on Gehenna.

[12] The consummation of the Period: Similar to the previous phrase but now with the article in Greek. This is the end of the Age or Period prior to the Return of Christ when the Harvest begins. It may also be the end of the Gospel Age or Age of the Church.

[13] Send forth his angels: Compare Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 25:31.

[14] Cull out of his Realm: Or, gather, collect out. There are certain undesirables within the Son’s Realm. Are they not the lawless of Matthew 7:21? Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9.

[15] Causes scandal: The Greek is SCANDALA and is usually rendered: KJV: things that offend; ASV: cause stumbling; MOF: all who are hindrances; PME: spoiling; BECK: who lead others to do wrong. The history of the Church has been scandalous. These will meet their King with shame (1 John 2:28).

[16] Lawlessness: Compare Matthew 7:21. These break the two commandments of 1 John 3:23.

[17] Cast out: The Greek is related to the same word for exorcising demons.

[18] There will be lamentation: This will occur before the judgment-seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28).

[19] The righteous: Compare the “righteous” at Matthew 25:37. The “righteous” are contrasted to the “lawless” for righteousness is the same as being law-abiding. The key law is that of love expressed by charity and hospitality as the parable of Matthew 25:31-46 shows.

[20] Shine forth like the sun: The strong allusion is from Daniel 12:3. The “sons of the kingdom” have now become part of the Father’s Kingdom in heaven. Note this verse in Daniel follows upon the foretold “oppression” associated with the appearing of Michael (Daniel 12:1, 2 JBS; compare Matthew 24:30).

[21] Let the one with ears, hear: Compare notes on Matthew 13:9.

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Preceding

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #3 Matthew 7:21-23 The ones Jesus never knew

Matthew 8:5-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Servant of Army Officer Healed

Matthew 12:33-37 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment Day

Matthew 13 – Parables on Kingdom mysteries

Matthew 13:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable: the Soil and the Seed

Matthew 13:10-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Why Speak in Parables?

Matthew 13:16-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Happy Eyes and Ears

Matthew 13:18-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Seed and Soil

Matthew 13:24-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Field and the Harvest

Matthew 13:31-32 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 13:34-35 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Manner of Teaching Foretold

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Additional reading

  1. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  2. The Right One to follow and to worship
  3. Memorizing wonderfully 7 Exodus
  4. Looking for a spiritual new life
  5. Thought for September 8 Weak but standing strong in the ground swell
  6. Sayings of Jesus, what to believe and being or not of the devil
  7. Outflow of foundational relationship based on acceptance of Jesus
  8. The one who set the standard
  9. To whom do we want to be enslaved
  10. Not words of any organisation should bind you, but the Word of God
  11. Humility and the Fear of the Lord
  12. We all are changed into the same image from glory to glory
  13. We Are The Children Of God
  14. Christians remaining hidden not sharing the gospel
  15. Laboring in the Vineyard or Sitting on the Hillside with Jonah?

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Related

  1. Just a Thought
  2. The Judgment Seat of Christ
  3. The Gift of Today – April 11 – The Judgment Seat of Christ
  4. The Judgment Seat of Christ: Romans 2:1-2:16
  5. Revealed by Fire
  6. The BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ – Our Rewards
  7. Stuck! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #7- Success) (con’t)
  8. My reward is with me – Revelation 22:12
  9. Judgment Seat of Christ Series #7 – Part 144 of Riddles, Enigmas & Esoteric Imagery of Revelation
  10. God’s accessment of our work (of our lives)
  11. Be Sheep Not Goats! The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
  12. Children of the Devil.
  13. Jesus was numbered with the transgressors that his sheep might be numbered amongst the children of God
  14. How shall I put thee among the children

A new school-, academic and church year

The first of September is in many countries the beginning of the new school year and the first of October the beginning of the new academic year.

That first day of a new year brings a lot of excitement and many questions with it. Every  “Beginning” brings expectations with it and brings an exciting experience. Some of those experiences bring over and over again, each year, new tensions or get us nerve system working strong. The adrenaline gets high.

Such a beginning of a “new year” gives us the opportunity to bring a brush-stroke over the previous year. We take the opportunity to make a new start again. We also dare to give free space to new ideas and projects which can stimulate us and others to continue with renewed energy.

The freshness of a new project or a new relationship sharpens our senses. When that novelty diminishes, though, it’s difficult to maintain the same level of excitement. so often when the year progresses people become less enthusiast or tired. They loose energy and are not so willing any more to spend energy in what they started earlier.

On the first of September many little toddlers face their first day in “the big world”. From then onwards their protected little world of the safe ‘home’ shall not be there always. They shall get to face the cruelty of the world, with others not liking them, or being jealous. By time they shall become confronted with infliction of physical or mental distress. Throughout its life the growing up person will have to find compromises between the claims of the narcissistic pole of his drives and the intensity of his love for the object. They shall have to proof themselves and to defend themselves, making sure they can stand straight  and endure all the hardships which shall come over them.

For many it will be looking afraid at the day, which according to the Hebrew mode, is conceived as a measure to be filled up. The apostles also once had taken refuge in their small safe house.

From the second day of unleavened bread they for fifty days had got very strange experiences which frightened them so much they had closed all doors and did not dare to come out and meet the people who laughed at the followers of the man which was impaled and could not bring any message in public any more because he had become part of the dead.

Christ his disciples were also in doubt and in expectancy.  In those days of expectancy they felt that they had to stick together, united in the thoughts of their master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ). A cycle of seven times seven days, from the time of the gathering of the sheaf of first-fruits, had past. At the day of the anniversary of the Law covenant at Sinai they suddenly where shaken.

The same eleven apostles who witnessed their master’s ascension were in the upper room complying with the injunction of Jeshua, waiting in an attitude of prayer and expectancy, and in readiness to begin their mission. Following the order to stay together and to come close to each other in prayer, they had enough time to think about all the things that happened in those three years of public preaching of Jeshua.

Пятидесятница. Около 1497. Собор Успения Богор...

The decent of the Holy Spirit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At that moment they did not know yet they where going to go through something very unique which would give them the nerve to get out of their enclosure. They would receive Power from above which was going to give them enough guts to dare to speak about unbelievable events.

For many a new year going into a new initiative demands a plan which shows great daring.

In Acts 2 we can find a process of fulfilment described.  As in the other writings of the Book of books we get an inside view of how God worked to gather a new community of believers to Himself. Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit signalled a new era and produced a new community, as both Jews and “devout men from every nation under heaven” converted to what would be later called the Christian faith (Acts 2:5).

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5 NIV)

Now, many centuries later, it’s easy for us to see Pentecost as the pivotal moment in the history of the Church — an unparalleled event that changed the world forever. It must have been incredible to see those young men  coming onto the street and having them speaking in so many tongues that all sorts of tourists and inhabitants could understand them.

There where Christ Jesus never brought so many to convert and to be baptised those shy disciples over-won their fear and got on the street to speak in the name of God, telling what for importance Jesus is for humankind. Three thousand people came to faith.

When we celebrate the holiday of Pentecost, however, we are remembering the firstfruits of the harvest — the coming of the Holy Spirit and the original community of believers under Jesus Christ. Firstfruits are only the start of a harvest; they hint at future abundance. Every year we can see how plants are coming up again and how the cereal crop comes nice brown to be reaped. The grain crop harvested brings again new seed for the next year. Every-time there has to be sown and harvested, over and over again. In schools and as a service in Christian churches in many countries the people have a harvest festival, a celebration of the annual harvest, but also a thanksgiving for the fruits they may receive and bear.

The harvest the Greek writings is speaking of is the continuing process of people who get inspired by the work of Christ and his disciples and follow the master teacher his commission. We as a community do hope we can bring the seeds in fertile ground and shall be able to fertilise it well, so that it can bear good fruits.

 

As the young children at school have to respond to the bell, giving the sign to enter the class. We also should enter the class of the disciples, following our teacher, the rabbi Jeshua. Fresh at the beginning of the year we should be eager to learn new things and be curious what we can find in all those Books. God has prepared the Knowledge for us. We can take it or leave it. It is our free choice. Nothing is pushed forward, but the call of Jesus sounds all over the earth and everywhere the gospel of the Good News should be preached.

Each person that calls himself or herself a Christian should every year again take up the good spirit to tell the world what happened with the impaled Nazarene and his followers, who gave an example for the world to follow.

The wonders that began at Pentecost should still be happening today. On that day when the Holy spirit came over the disciples the start was given to a new era. A new beginning could take place.  It were the first days of the church which had to come into being.
Today there are still many places on earth where such seeds should be planted. Belgium is no exception. It is a very difficult ground. Like there are many clay grounds in Brabant, hard to work on, we do have to work hard to get people coming to our ecclesiae (churches). In Belgium there are many ‘babies’ waiting to go to kindergarten or school, to find more knowledge. They only have to find ways in doing it, finding the right knowledge.

At the beginning of a new church year we should offer our services to God and should express our hope that our community shall be blessed by Him. That we may find strength to continue the important work and receive enough knowledge, given to us by God’s Power (the Holy Spirit). We ask God that we can have enough patience to continue to preach His Word and to plants seeds wherever He wants.

Each of us should open his or her mind and heart for the teachings of Jesus and should be eager to come like Christ. We all should do our best to put on the armour of Christ and to open our mouths, bringing the Good News to the world. Witnessing about the coming Kingdom of God we should allow God to work in us and to have Him renewing us. He is active and present in our lives, just as He was gathering His Church about 20 centuries ago.

We need a fresh perspective. The beginning of the new academic and church year may bring that. We need the motivation and the boldness of the apostles and followers of Christ Jesus of the first hour. We need to rekindle our original excitement when announcing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, because He is at work, in us and around us.

To have a successful new year the ecclesia needs the Light of the Spirit. Without the Power of God we are nothing. Like the apostles received the comforter from above, we also do need Light coming over us to be able to preach and to reach people, to bring them closer to God.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten us and give the force to go out in the world, making people aware of what God is willing to give to His People and how He wants us to be His children. It is God Who needs to give us power to be able to contribute to the formation of His Church. We can only hope we may be a work-instrument with many others, being thankful that we can receive so many blessings already here on this earth, preparing ourselves and others for the Kingdom of God.

 

English: A Protestant Church altar decorated f...

A Protestant Church altar decorated for Pentecost with red burning candles and red banners and altar cloth depicting the fire and sound of blowing wind of the Holy Spirit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Preceding article: An academic year ending, again a new year standing ready for us

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Additional readings:

  1. First Century of Christianity
  2. Promise of Comforter
  3. Seven full weeks or seven completed Sabbaths and ascension of Jesus
  4. Nazarene Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1
  5. Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1
  6. Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2
  7. The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 2
  8. The day of the festival of Pentecost
  9. Nazarene Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 v1-13 Working Spirit
  10. Speaking in tongues
  11. Meaning of “speaking in tongues”
  12. Tongues a sign of authenticity or divine backing
  13. Coming to the end of the year
  14. A new year with hopes and challenges
  15. Passion and burn out of a teacher
  16. An academic year ending, again a new year standing ready for us
  17. Move forward, not standing still
  18. Proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation
  19. Bringing Good News into the world

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  • undefined (spiritualconnectedness.wordpress.com)
    Each of you acquires opinions and beliefs about yourself during your upbringing. You absorb ideas and images from your parents, family, peers, school, etc. You begin to play certain roles without questioning them, and you soon develop something called a “personality”: a set of habits, behaviors, and thoughts. But at some time in the course of growing up, something else awakens in you. First, it is no more than a whisper; a memory that you cannot place; a knowing that you are more than what is just determined by the world outside yourself. There is something deeper, a layer that cannot be contained and understood by the human intellect. Herein lies your core, that which precedes and survives the earthly sphere – your soul.
  • Differences Between Pentecost and the Jewish Feast of Weeks (differencebetween.net)
    The children of Israel are also important on this occasion. In celebration of Pentecost, they are to bring two loaves of leavened bread to the temple. These loaves of leavened bread are used as wave offerings. They can only be eaten after the harvest ceremony is fully completed. The Jews also offer burnt animal offerings before the Lord. They can share and eat the meals with the poor people, and even the strangers.
  • Pentecost (rjowles.wordpress.com)
    The Apostles and disciples were praying together and the Holy Spirit came, sounding like a forceful wind and “tongues” of fire settled on them and they began to preach. Saint Peter began to preach a sermon and the multicultural and multi-ethnic crowd each heard him preaching in their own language. Of course, many have attempted to explain this.
    +
    If Saint Peter preached and everyone, regardless of language, understood what he was saying in their own language (either by the Holy Spirit speaking a special language through him that is like the “Master Key” language that everyone understands, or through the Holy Spirit interpreting what he was saying within their own hearts), then Pentecost is the undoing of the confusion of language at Babel. If you remember the story of the Tower of Babel, before that time everyone spoke the same language and after that time God confused the language so that different people started speaking different languages. Perhaps, what happened is that the Holy Spirit was active within the world and after the Tower of Babel incident, the Holy Spirit retreated from the world at large, occasionally moving through people but not the world itself, until after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I will leave it to you to decide for or against that idea as you see fit.
  • It’s Time to Celebrate! (tamimyer.wordpress.com)
    Pentecost is  a “firstfruits” celebration for us, too, meaning that we are offering to God our first and best–not our leftovers–both as an expression of gratitude for what He has given and also as a statement of confidence that He will provide again.
    +
    An interesting Jewish tradition on Pentecost is to read from Ezekiel 1, a passage which refers to a great windstorm and to fire. Perhaps these images were in the disciples’ thoughts as they then encountered for themselves the sound of a mighty wind and the sight of fire.
  • Call Sinners to Respond to the Gospel! (defendingcontending.com)
    A child of God could faithfully give the gospel, speak of God and His character, man and His desperate need, Christ and His sufficient atonement, repentance and faith in clear terms, but one element that evangelists seem to omit is the urgent call for sinners to respond to the gospel!
    +
    Often, in the Temple against the backdrop of the hypocritical, works-righteousness system of Judaism, Christ would teach how He came down from heaven as the living Bread, as the water of life, as the door to heaven, as the Shepherd for the sheep, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he invited all to come to Him. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. He exemplified not only the clear and bold proclamation of gospel-truth, but he also modeled urgent and compassionate exhortations to respond to the gospel. We must do the same.
  • The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (yehudafm.wordpress.com)
    The early summer harvest of Shavuot in Israel was a small harvest in comparison to the larger harvest that came in the autumn of each year. This has prophetic significance. Strange as it might seem to mainstream Christianity today, God is not trying to save the whole world right now. He has planned a far larger harvest of souls when Jesus returns. Those of us who are saved today are only part of the smaller harvest. When most people in this present evil age are traveling the broad road to destruction, we have been uniquely called to enter in by the narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14) and make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
  • Firstfruits? Can an Old Testament holiday apply to your life today? (lightenough.wordpress.com)
    The ancient Israelites had an annual cycle of feasts or holidays (also called festivals) that they kept throughout the year as appointed by God. Four of these were in the spring, and three in the autumn. These holidays were a sacred time to remember God’s provisions in the past, His work in the present, and the hope of future provision.
    +
    By offering God a portion of the first fruit to ripen, it was also seen as a pledge, or an earnest, for the full harvest that was yet to come. It anticipated the harvest that would be reaped in the following months, even though it had not yet been received.
  • “Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,” (tru3j0y.wordpress.com)
    At this present moment we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have repentance, that gem of the first water; faith, that priceless pearl; hope, the heavenly emerald; and love, the glorious ruby. We are already made “new creatures in Christ Jesus,” by the effectual working of God the Holy Ghost. This is called the firstfruit because it comes first. As the wave-sheaf was the first of the harvest, so the spiritual life, and all the graces which adorn that life, are the first operations of the Spirit of God in our souls. The firstfruits were the pledge of the harvest.
  • In the Spirit — A Reflection for Pentecost (Gathering Voices) (bobcornwall.com)
    That was Jesus’ command to the gathered disciples on the day of his ascension. He had given them an assignment – go and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. But to do this, they would need the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:1-11). This baptism with the Spirit would come on the day of Pentecost.
    +
    Pentecost offers us an excellent opportunity to consider the nature of our ministries and the way in which we are engaging the Spirit of God. Are we focused more on organizational principles learned from the secular world (not that we have nothing to learn) or are we rooting our ministry in the work of the Spirit?
  • Acts 2 – The Image of Pentecost (readingacts.wordpress.com)
    The imagery of Pentecost may be important. Pentecost is a pilgrim-holiday also known as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.
    +
    The point of the festival was “to declare God’s ownership of the land and his grace in bringing forth food. According to a tradition found in the book of Jubilees, Pentecost was the day on which Moses was given the Law (cf. Tob 2:1, 2 Mac 12:32). This tradition is based on the belief that the Israelites arrived at Sinai 50 days after the first Passover (Exod 19:1). Some scholars (Knox, Snaith) have made a connection between this tradition and the gift of the Holy Spirit (ie., Moses gave out the Law to Israel on this day, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to the church). Fitzmyer thinks Luke was aware of the tradition since there are some indirect allusions to the giving of the Law in Acts 2, not the least of which is the image of fire descending (Exod 19:18).

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