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The Climax of Matthew’s story

With chapter 28 we come to the end of Matthew’s report of his Nazarene teacher Jeshua ben Josef, whom he at first had not yet recognised as the future king of this earth (the king of the Jews). First he had thought this Nazarene was going to liberate them from the Romans and be their king in their age.

Often they had wondered what their master meant when he talked about events to come. Many things he said also did not become clear until God had left His Pneuma come over them.

The apostles did know that the Hebrew Scriptures explained everything that they had to know, but they were pleased that their rabboni took all the time to explain the things which were not yet so clear for them or where there was much dispute between them and the Pharisees.

For many people it was and it still is

 “seeing is believing”

and they had seen incredible things, which they also did not always understand how these things could happen. Their master assured them he could not do those things without his heavenly Father, Who is much greater than him and all other gods.

“Therefore, Jesus answered them: “I tell you this truth: The Son is unable to do anything from himself unless he sees something the Father is doing. For whatever that One may do, it is possible the Son also may do likewise.” (Joh 5:19 mhm)

“You apostles heard that I said to you, ‘I am departing and I am returning to you apostles.’ If you loved me you would certainly rejoice, because I am going toward the Father, because the Father is greater than me.” (Joh 14:28 mhm)

Several times they had seen that Jesus had done miracle works, and each time Jesus had told the people to whom he had done it, not to thank him but to thank God. In modern times this should have those who think Jesus is God already wonder why Jesus said not to thank him but God. Also, Jesus his mentioning that God is greater than him should raise questions about the possibility that Jesus would be God.

The one in whom they had put so much hope now had died and by his death, all their expectations seemed to have crashed. (Again for those who think that Jesus is God, should wonder if He then faked His death and for what cause, because God cannot die but Jesus did.) Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were witnesses of that horrible death of Christ. They were close to the stake on which Jesus was nailed like a criminal.

All the time they had seen Jesus humble and presenting himself as a servant of God, saying he was not here to be served, but also telling them he was been authorised by God.

“Just as the Son of Humankind came not to be served but to serve and to sacrifice his soul as a ransom in the place of many.”” (Mt 20:28 mhm)

God cannot be seen, but this Son of Humankind was seen by lots of people, to whom he told he was coming to declare his heavenly Father the Only One True God, the God of Israel Who is One. With his death, there came an end for all those people to see this great storyteller. All were assured it was finished now with this man. But that is without counting on God and without believing in the prophecies which tell a totally different story.

Naturally, the Romans were afraid that Jesus body would disappear and that the followers of that Nazarene would then tell he rose from the dead. Pilate had agreed that Jesus could be buried but listened also to the Pharisees who were afraid something could happen with that killed man. On the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said that they remembered that when that preacher was still alive ‘that deceiver’ had said that after three days he would rise again.  Therefore, they hoped that Pilate would give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal him away and say to the people that their master has risen from the dead. As such the last deception will be worse than the first. For that reason, Pilate ordered to have guards making sure nobody could or would temper with that son of man.
Pilate ordered the grave to make it as secure as those guards know how and set a seal on the stone which was very heavy and blocked the entrance to the tomb.

“62 On the next day–after Preparation–the religious hierarchy and Pharisees assembled together before Pilate, 63 saying, “Lord, we remember that plotter said when he was alive, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ 64 So, command that the grave be secured until the third day so none of his disciples can come and steal his body and then claim to the people, ‘Jesus was raised up from the dead.’ Then the final plot will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them: “You have a custodial guard. Go and make the security as you know how.” 66 These went their way and secured the grave, sealing the stone with the custodial guards.” (Mt 27:62-66 mhm)

The women who came to the grave were very surprised and could not think what would have happened to their master. Their mentioning to have found an empty tomb spread very quickly. This also because some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counselled together, the religious hierarchy gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, for them to tell the people that the Nazarene his disciples came by night and stole him away while they were asleep. From Matthew’s storyline, we hear that the Pharisees were also willing to protect the guards in case the governor would want to punish them for not being on guard. The guards did not mind the money and did as they had been instructed. This way this story was widely spread among the Jews, as it will be to the day Matthew wrote his book.

“11  While the women were on their way, look! some of the custodial guards entered the city of Jerusalem and reported back to the religious hierarchy everything that had happened. 12 Now in a conference with the Jewish elders they took counsel. They agreed to give plenty of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “Say that his disciples came in the night and stole his body while you were sleeping. 14 And if this ever reaches the governor we will convince him and you need not fear.” 15 Those soldiers took the silver money and did as they were told. And just so the rumor spread around among the Jews down to this very day.” (Mt 28:11-15 mhm)

Matthew, in his gospel book, had looked at the family tree of their master and had given a review of all those happenings which should get us to think about the role of that man about whom was spoken already much in the ancient Hebrew writings. Matthew gave a picture from John’s preaching and baptism of Jesus. He also showed how Jesus was tested and how a higher position was offered to him, which he refused, because it is only given to God to give such positions. Often Jesus was surrounded by crowds, who could hear him tell lots of stories. He gave them sermons that should make them think about how to treat others as well as how to relate to God. For Matthew, it had become clear that the true treasures were to be sought in heaven. Therefore, he wrote down how Jesus advised seeking the Kingdom, but also how he warned to be careful and to be aware of the difficulties to go through the narrow gate.

All those things Matthew wrote down so that people could come to see that their master was the one spoken about in the Garden of Eden. (Later on, Jesus good friend John would go deeper into that in his gospel.) Matthew by those few years had come to see and understand that Jesus was that promised man coming from the root of King David.

In his gospel he not only shows how the 12 apostles were called but also how they got ministerial instructions. Following those instructions not to fear but to go out in the light and to preach from the housetops, the writing of his gospel was part of that preaching work, making sure people could come to know the full story.

“26 So, you should not fear them. For there is nothing concealed which will not be revealed, and nothing hidden which will not become known.27 What I tell you in the dark, tell in the light; and, what your ear hears, preach on the housetops.28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. Rather, continue to fear the One capable of destroying both soul and body in Gehenna. (Mt 10:26-28 mhm)

“16  Now the eleven disciples traveled to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. 17 When they saw Jesus they bowed to the ground before him but some doubted. 18 Upon approaching Jesus he said to them, “All authority in heaven and upon earth was given to me.19 Therefore, go your ways and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing persons in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy Pneuma.20 Teach them to observe everything I commanded you. And, look! I am with you apostles until the consummation of the Age.” (Mt 28:16-20 mhm)

There was now enough to teach about and for. Now all stories Jesus had told them seemed to fit and all the references to the scrolls made sense.

With the last chapter of his gospel Matthew comes to present the “bomb”, the full reason why it is so important to believe in his master. With everything Jesus had said, people should be able to come to see the things to God and to understand how Jesus Christ fits in the Plan of God. Woe to the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites who can be found in every period of time.

“27 “WOE to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees because you are like whitewashed graves which outside seem to appear beautiful but within are full of the bones of the dead every uncleanness!28 Just so you also give the appearance to others of righteousness but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness!29 “WOE to you hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees because you build the graves of the prophets and decorate the memoriums of the righteous.30 You also claim, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers we would never have been guilty of the blood-letting of the prophets.’31 So you provide evidence against yourself that your are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 Now, live up to the example your forefathers!33 “Serpents, born of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna? 34  Because of this, look! I am sending to you prophets, wise persons, and scribes. You will kill some of them, others you will impale, and still others you will scourge in your synagogues. You will persecute from city to city.35 As a result there will come upon you all the righteous blood poured out on earth–from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah (son of Barachiah) whom your murdered between the Divine Habitat and the altar.36 I tell you this truth: all this will come upon this generation! (Mt 23:27-36 mhm)

The prophet Jesus was impaled, but now the good news could come to mankind. Jesus had an open heart for all and gave himself as a ransom, so that all people could come under the grace of salvation. The price Jesus paid made it able to become free.

Through Christ’s death people now could bcome adopted as a child of God

What the ladies came to see was something the whole world had to hear. All over should the cries be heard:

Jesus is risen

At that time, just after the burial of their master they did not yet understand the impact of this all.

“10 Now these included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and also the others with them. They told the apostles everything, 11 but all their words seemed like a lot of foolishness to them and so they did not believe them. 12 [[However Peter rose and ran to the memorial tomb. He bent forward and saw only the linen wrappings. Then he left wondering what had happened.]]” (Lu 24:10-12 mhm)

Event after the event made the good news spread and they come to believe that the impossible had become possible.

“33 That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven apostles assembled together with other disciples. 34 They told them, “The Master has truly risen and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 And so they began to explain everything that happened while on the road and how Jesus had revealed himself to them by the breaking of the bread.” (Lu 24:33-35 mhm)

Having seen that Jesus came back from the dead, was now evidence that everything he had told was a word of truth, given by instruction and inspiration of God. For Matthew and the other disciples of Christ it had become clear that they had to do with the Prophetic truth, Jesus being in line with king David, being the sent one from and anointed one of God, or the Christ.

We too should come to see who Jesus really was and is; and why we should honour him for what he has done. We also should come to see and understand how this rising of Christ is an example of what can happen to us. Jesus is the first one of the new world or the first for the newborn generation. With him, we can find hope in a renewed world and a restored paradise. With Matthew’s account, we should have a full picture of the 2° Adam. The 28th chapter being the culmination or the climax to which all the previous chapters and also several Old Testament books point at.

Now we come to learn that it is possible that a man can step out of death. In case Jesus would be God, then naturally we still would not have any proof of such thing. But here it is given to us, even while the Romans did everything to have people believe that what believers said happened to be false. But in such case they would not be willing to risk their life. They were sure that something magical happened and were prepared to die for telling the truth. The Nazarene had told he was the resurrection and the life and that those who would believe in him were going to live, even though when they died.

“25 Jesus said to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The person who continues to believe in me, though dying, will live.26 Also, everyone living who continues to believe in me, will never die throughout all future periods of time. Do you believe this?” (Joh 11:25-26 mhm)

The fact that it were first women who discovered the empty grave is in a way also interesting, because for Jews women had low status and legally didn’t qualify to be witnesses. But here Matthew notates them to have been the first witnesses. If the disciples were manufacturing or embellishing this story, undoubtedly they would not given those women the honour and would have claimed that men had discovered the empty tomb, because their testimony would have been considered much more credible. Recording the then-embarrassing fact that women first saw the tomb empty is just one more indication that the biblical writers were committed to accurately recording what had actually happened.

Historically it was clear for everybody that somehow the guarded grave had become empty. The Romans and the higher hierarchy with the Pharisees wanted Jesus death but not heaving him disappeared. The Jewish leaders wouldn’t have taken the body because this would give their Jewish brethren who followed Jesus reason to say he was risen out of the dead. A lot of people wanted the Nazarene Jew Jeshua (Jesus) to stay dead. For them, instead of stealing or doing a way with the body it would have been even nicer to parade through the streets with Jesus’ corps. Parading with Jesus’ lifeless body down the main streets of Jerusalem would have instantly killed the growing Jewish movement of Nazoreers (or Jewish sect The Way).

For the apostles, that body of their master having disappeared would be a disaster. It would give them nothing in their hands to prove that Jesus was who he said and that could happen all the things he had said would happen.
We may be sure, in case they had taken away the body, they would have told so under torture, because keeping such a lie and to die for such a charade would be asked too much.

A deliberate cover-up, a plot to perpetrate a lie about the raising of Christ, could not have survived the violent persecution of the apostles and their followers. In later years we also could find hundreds of people who were cast to the lions and got to fight for their life, whilst they could be free when they denied the story of the resurrection of their lord.

Throughout the years following this event told in the last chapter of Matthew, thousands of people refused to renounce the lordship of Christ.

Peter and John also had come to the grave and had checked it out for themselves. They too saw it was empty. But they, with others, came to see their master again. Over a period of forty days this man who had been impaled appeared alive a dozen different times to more than 500 individuals  —  to men and women, to believers and doubters, to tough-minded people and tenderhearted souls, to groups, to individuals, sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors in broad daylight.

Doctor Luke would later write down what happened further with their master and with them who now came to believe even stronger than they did before. But until today the gospel of Matthew is the opening book of a new era, the Messianic Time, by which he showed that Jesus is really that promised son of God, who did all the time the Will of God, to be His humble servant and faithful slave.

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Preceding

Matthew 20:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Authority Not the Way – Serve Others

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #9 Matthew 27:45-50 – Jesus Expires During a Darkness

Death of Christ and Silent or Black Saturday #1 Abandonment and burial

Death of Christ and Silent or Black Saturday #3 A sincere man or an imposter

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #1 Matthew 28:1 – Two Marys Visit the Grave

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #2 Matthew 28:2-4 – An Angel Rolled Away the Stone

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #3 Matthew 28:5-7 – “Jesus Was Raised Up!”

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #4 Matthew 28:8-10 – The Two Marys Met by the Risen Christ

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #5 Matthew 28:11-15 – The False Report the Body Was Stolen

Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #6 Matthew 28:16-19 – The King’s Commission

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Further reading

  1. When you believe Jesus is God, do you think he died?
  2. Jesus the “God-Man”: Really?
  3. The saviour Jesus his human side
  4. The son of man given authority by God
  5. Servant of his Father
  6. The night before Jesus his execution
  7. Lost senses or a clear focus on the one at the stake
  8. Looking for a primary cause and a goal that can not offer philosophers existing beliefs
  9. Redemption #4 The Passover Lamb
  10. A Messiah to die
  11. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  12. A perfect life, obedient death, and glorious resurrection
  13. Why Did Christ Die on the stake
  14. Through Christ’s death you can be adopted as a child of God
  15. Death and Resurrection of Christ
  16. Why think that (3) … Jesus rose from the dead
  17. Jesus is risen
  18. Today’s Thought “God’s servant will succeed! He will be raised up, exalted, highly honoured!” (Weekend of 2020 June 27-28)
  19. The resurrected Lord
  20. Proof of the resurrection of Christ
  21. Do you purpose that your mouth will not transgress
  22. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  23. Let me keep to “first importance” things
  24. A Living Faith #8 Change

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Additional relevant articles

  1. Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus
  2. The Empty Tomb of Jesus by Lee Strobel
  3. Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by William Lane Craig
  4. What are the arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb?
  5. The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars – Gary Habermas at UCSB – YouTube
  6. The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth That Even Non-Christian Scholars Believe
  7. Risen
  8. A Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Pint 1)
  9. A Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Pint 2)
  10. A Case for the Resurrection (Pint 3): Scourging
  11. The Doctrine of the Literal Physical Resurrection by Martyn Lloyd Jones
  12. Did Jesus Christ Rise from the Dead by Ravi Zacharias?
  13. Was Jesus’ resurrection a hoax and His death a sham by Lee Strobel?
  14. What are the Circumstantial Evidence FOR the Resurrection by Lee Strobel?
  15. Evidence FOR the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Lee Strobel
  16. The Evidence for the Resurrection by Sir Norman Anderson
  17. Thoughts on the Resurrection
  18. No Resurrection No Christianity by John Young with David Wilkinson
  19. Did Jesus appear bodily after His death?
  20. Words for the Way VI: Pastoral notes for locked down times -The Road the Emmaus Recognising Christ

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).

——-

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

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