The soul’s immortality




The Word of God teaches that the human being is a living soul, for it is written that God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). However, the Word of God teaches also that man has a soul, which is immortal (and not mortal as his body), which after death – depending upon the spiritual state of the individual at death – goes either to heaven or to Hades (which is better known as hell). Therefore man continues to exist spiritually after death. We can say that the soul is the inward man which is in every human being; whereas the body is the outward man, in which the human soul dwells.



Some verses of the Scripture which call the human being ‘soul’


Now, the Holy Scripture calls people ‘souls,’ and the following verses confirm it:

● “For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people” (Leviticus 18:29)

● “And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire” (Joshua 11:11)

● “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43)

● “Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls” (Acts 7:14)

● “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:20).

However the Scripture – as I said before – teaches also that the soul is not the body, and the body is not the soul; and that when a person dies his soul departs from the body, and if he who dies is a son of God his soul goes to heaven to be with the Lord, while if he is a son of the devil his soul is brought down to Hades, that is, the abode of the wicked (the place of the departed wicked), where there is a fire unfanned and weeping and gnashing of teeth.



Some verses of the Scripture which distinguish between body and soul


First of all, let us see some verses which affirm that the soul (in Hebrew ‘nephesh’, while in Greek ‘psuche’) is not the human body and at death it departs from the body.

● In the book of Genesis it is written: “And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar” (Genesis 35:16-21). As you can see, when Rachel died her soul departed from her body.

● In the book of Lamentations it is written: “They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom” (Lamentations 2:12). As Jerusalem was besieged by the army of the Chaldeans, many children died of hunger and thirst and they yielded up their soul while they were on the bosom of their mothers.

● When the prophet Elijah prayed to God that He might raise the child of the widow with whom he lodged, he said to God: “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him” (1 Kings 17:21 - NKJV). Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. As you can see, Elijah believed that there is a soul in the body of man, and that when a person has died it is necessary for God to let his soul come back to him in order that the dead person may revive.

● When the prophet Elijah prayed that he might die, he said to God: “Take my soul, for I am not better than my fathers (1 Kings 19:4 - YLT). So Elijah believed that he had a soul in his own body which at his death would depart from it.

● David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, saying: “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27 – NKJV). We know that Hades is the abode of the dead where fire is burning, for it is written that “the rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then “he cried out and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24 – NKJV). Therefore, when Christ died on the cross it came to pass that His soul came out of His body and descended into the abode of the dead, while his body was laid by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb. If we should say that Jesus did not have an immortal soul inside His body, we should say also that when He died He was annihilated, that is to say, He ceased to exist not only physically but also spiritually. Thus we should conclude that Peter lied when he said that after death Christ, by the Spirit, “went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah ….” (1 Peter 3:19-20 – NKJV).

● Luke says: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life [soul] is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted” (Acts 20:7-12). As you can see, that young man was taken up dead, yet his soul remained in him by the will of God and did not depart from him, for Paul said to the brethren that the soul of Eutychus was in him. So Paul believed that the soul is not the body, but a part of the human being which is inside the body.

● In the book of Job it is written: “For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” (Job 27:8). As you can see, these words also confirm that the soul is not the body because it is inside the body. Furthermore, they are confirmed by the story of the rich man and Lazarus told by Jesus, for Jesus said that the rich man died and was buried, and being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (Luke 16:19-31), but he had no hope of salvation, he was lost forever. And on the day of judgement he will rise in order to be judged and cast into the lake of fire.

● Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 – NKJV). Therefore on that same day that man went to Paradise after his death. That means that after death he continued to live but in another dimension and in another place. If that man had not possessed a soul inside the body, how could he have gone to Paradise that same day? He certainly did not go to Paradise with his body, for it remained on the earth, but he went to Paradise with his immortal soul, which was inside his body and which could not be killed.

● Jesus said to the Sadducees, who denied both the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul (Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian who was born in 37 A.D. and died after the year 100, tells us that the Sadducees denied also the immortality of the soul for they said that souls die with the bodies - Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 1 § 4): “But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’. For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:37 – NKJV). As you can see, in His reply Jesus corrected not only their denial of the resurrection but also their view of the intermediate state because He said that ‘all live to God’.

Therefore, according to Jesus, all those who die in the faith die in the flesh but they continue to live to God, therefore they are actually living. For God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Therefore when we say that the God whom we serve is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, we say a right thing for God Himself said to Moses: “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15 – NKJV), however, it is clear that the patriarchs must live somewhere so that God may be called the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now, we can say that at their death, which took place many centuries ago, their bodies returned to dust; but we can by no means affirm that after their death they ceased to exist because God is not ashamed to be called their God (Hebrews 11:16). Now, since their bodies saw corruption, how can we affirm that they are living now? Well, we can affirm this because the souls of the patriarchs are living, for the Living God is the God of the living. And where are they living? They are living in the kingdom of heaven. While the patriarchs lived on the earth they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, showing thus that they sought a homeland, that is, a heavenly country which is far better than the country from which they had come out.

● Paul says to the Romans: “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8 – NKJV).

That means that we belong to Christ and are in His hand while we are at home in the body and even after we depart from the body because not even death will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ; no, not even death. Didn’t Jesus say about His sheep: “They shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28 – NKJV)? Now, suppose that when a person dies he ceases to exist completely (that is, he lapses into non-existence) because he does not have an immortal soul, how could we affirm that after our death we will continue to belong to Christ and to be in His hand? We could not affirm these things rather we should affirm that death will be able to snatch us out of His hand!! However, we know that “the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 9:1 – NKJV).

● In the book of Revelation it is written that John saw the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Here are the words of the apostle: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-5). As you can see, the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God lived, that is, they returned to live within immortal bodies, for John saw the resurrection of those who had been killed for the Word of God. However, in the meanwhile, that is, between their death and their resurrection, they had continued to live with their souls only, for John saw their souls. These words of John confirm the existence of a soul inside the human body and the soul’s immortality.

● In the Gospel according to Matthew we read that Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves, and He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light “and behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him” (Matthew 17:3 - NKJV). Now, the Scripture says about Moses that he died and was buried by God, as it is written in the law: “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Notice that it is written that Moses died and was buried, therefore nobody can say that his body was not buried. Jude confirms that Moses really died, for he says that “Michael, the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation …” (Jude 9 – NKJV). Therefore, since Moses had died, who was that man who appeared together with Elijah on the holy mountain and was seen and heard by the disciples of the Lord? The answer is simple, it was Moses without his body, that is to say, it was the soul of Moses. The appearing of Moses on the holy mountain, therefore, confirms that the soul is not the body, and the body is not the soul, and that after death the soul of man which is inside him departs from his body and lives on.

● Jesus said: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Greek: geenna]” (Matthew 10:28 – NKJV).

As you can see, the soul is not the body and vice versa because Jesus said that the body can be killed whereas the soul cannot be killed. So, unlike the body, the soul of a man cannot be killed but it can be destroyed in Geenna (the fire that will never be quenched) together with the body.



Some verses of the Scripture which indicate the places in the hereafter where the souls of men go


Let us see now some passages of the Scripture which affirm that the souls of the wicked go to Hades, while the souls of the righteous go to heaven.

● Jesus said: “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell [Greek: Hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:19-24). As you can see, that rich man, after death, found himself in Hades, in torments, because he had refused to listen to Moses and the prophets.

● In the book of Revelation it is written: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10).

John saw under the altar (which is in heaven before God) the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God. Note that those souls were able to cry out with a loud voice and to remember that they had been killed and also the persons by whom they had been killed. As you can see, the expression “the souls of them that were slain” shows that the soul of a person is not the person himself, that is, the body of a person, but something which is different from his body; and it shows also that, unlike the body, the soul cannot be killed.

In the light of the above mentioned verses, therefore, we affirm that man has a soul inside his body, and after death his soul lives on; either in Hades (or Hell) in the midst of awful torments, if he dies in his sins; or in heaven (Paradise) before God and Jesus Christ joyfully, if he dies in Christ.



A word of exhortation


Brother in the Lord, you are among those who have eternal life because you believed in the Lord. Therefore you have the assurance that when you die you will immediately go to heaven to be with the Lord, in the glory where peace reigns and where there will be no more sorrow nor crying, and where you will rest from your labors awaiting the resurrection. Therefore, rejoice greatly because your soul is saved, and see that you stand firm till the end because – as Jesus said - : “By standing firm you will save yourselves” (Luke 21:19 – NIV). Take heed that you do not deny your faith in Christ, or else when you die you will go to hell, as it is written that those who draw back do it “to perdition” (Hebrews 10:39 – NKJV). And see that you warn as many people as possible about the torments of hell they will suffer after death unless they repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ.

However, perhaps you attend a church where you never hear about hell as if it did not exist, or you hear about it rarely for every now and then someone mentions it yet without putting the right emphasis on it and thus you are persuaded that Christians should not speak of the fire of hell to sinners. You are greatly mistaken, because Jesus Himself, the Son of God who came down from heaven, spoke about hell in His teachings warning people of it. Read carefully the teachings of Jesus and you will realize this. So do not be afraid to warn the wicked of hell.

Surely, on hearing you speaking about hell to the wicked or even to some brothers, some believers will consider you a ‘terrorist’ and not someone who brings the Good News. They will say to you: ‘These words of yours were good in the Middle Ages, but they are not good today!’ or ‘Who do you want to frighten with this kind of sermon?’ Brother, do not surrender to these obstacles. Know this, that it is a normal thing to meet with opposition when one tells men the truth, and sometimes one meets with opposition even on the part of some brethren.

Why do some believers are against warning people about hell? Because many churches think that the preaching of the Gospel must not contain any warning of the terrible and dreadful destiny awaiting those who do not accept the Gospel. However this is not true, because the Gospel is the Good News because it saves those who accept it from sin, whose wages is death and which leads (those who are slaves of it) to hell. Therefore when we say that we have been saved from sin and from this evil present age we mean that we have been saved from hell, where all of us were going to while we were children of wrath. I ask you: ‘How can a sinner be induced to tremble when he hears a preacher preaching repentance and remission of sins in the name of the Lord Jesus unless the preaching includes the solemn warning of the destiny awaiting the sinner after death if he refuses to repent of his sins? How can a sinner realize that if he rejects the Gospel he will spend eternity in the fire, weeping and gnashing his teeth, while if he accepts the Gospel he will spend eternity with the Lord in a wonderful place? I think that he can’t. In addition to this, how can the message of the Gospel be appreciated fully by those who have accepted it unless they hear or know that the Lord has saved them from an awful destiny full of torments which human words cannot describe adequately? How can those who have accepted the Gospel be induced to continue in the faith in Christ and to perfect holiness in the fear of God unless they hear that if they draw back and are entangled again in the pollutions of the world they will go to hell? I think that they can’t.

That is confirmed by the fact that today many of those who hear the Gospel think that to accept the Gospel simply means that one’s problems will be solved. In other words, they think that when one accepts the Gospel it happens that he is no longer lonely, sad, and afraid of the future. That’s what it means to accept the Gospel to these people. Of course it is true that when a person accepts the Gospel he is no longer lonely, sad, and afraid of the future, because the Lord is always with him, and he has the joy of salvation and the peace of Christ in his heart; however, it is also true that after a person turns to the Lord he will have many other problems because he will begin to be persecuted and insulted because of the Lord and therefore he will begin to suffer many things; from a certain point of view he will suffer more things than before his conversion because in some cases he will be put in prison as an evildoer and even put to death because of the Gospel. So they, that is, those who are slaves of sin, do not know that if they reject the Gospel they will go to hell; on the other hand nobody warns them of hell lest they be frightened!!!

Let me say something about believers; as far as I know there are few believers who appreciate the Gospel, because only few believers realize that by the Gospel they have been saved not only from sin but also from the fire of Hades and the fire of Geenna (that is, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone). In speaking with some believers about eternity it seems that to them after all the salvation they have obtained by the grace of God is not so great. Their opinion can be summed up as follows: ‘Of course, we have been saved, however, while we were still lost we did not run the risk of going to such a tragic and horrible place!’, that is to say, ‘Well, even if we had died in our sins our destiny would not have been so bad!’ However, the Scripture does not teach me that, for it tells me that if I had died in my sins I would have suffered an everlasting torment in the everlasting fire where there is no water. That’s why I continually thank God the Father through Christ Jesus for saving me; that’s why whenever I proclaim the Gospel to the sinners I see that I tell them not only that they must repent and believe in Jesus to obtain the remission of sins, but also that unless they repent and believe in Jesus they will go to hell when they die. And this is why I speak of hell to the believers too, so that they may stand firm in the faith till the end and thus escape hell. For if they deny the Gospel, they will go to perdition. And what shall I say about holiness? I shall say that there are few believers who really perfect holiness because many believers do not want to honour the Gospel as they ought to. ‘On the other hand, by the Gospel we have not escaped such a terrible punishment, why then should we say ‘no’ to so many pleasures?!!’ That’s why the Gospel is dishonoured by many of those who should honour it with all their strength! There is a phrase of a Christian song which says: ‘Let us honour the word of the Gospel,’ which is a beautiful phrase. However we must not only sing it, but we must also put it into practice. I sang these words even when I was lost, but as a matter of fact I did not honour the Gospel. And this is what many believers do, that is to say, they do not honour the Gospel, and it grieves my heart to see this. The apostles gave their life for the Gospel, they endured so many persecutions for it, they suffered so many hardships for it, they were insulted for it, in order to bring it to those who had not heard it and to honour it by their words and works so that the name of the Lord might be glorified in them; yet, this very same Gospel is so much despised among many Churches as if it were of no value! Yes, theoretically it is of great value in the places of worship, during the Christian conferences or during the summer camp meetings, but practically it is of no value, for it is not honoured in the daily life. The Word of God is trampled on, there are many compromises with the world, therefore the message of the cross is blasphemed. Many pastors are pitchmen, they seem to have attended marketing schools, rather than institutes where the Word of God is taught and honored. They are ready to betray the Gospel for less than thirty silver coins. They want crowds of people to attend their meetings, they want their name to be mentioned on this or that newspaper, therefore they have adapted their message, they tell believers what they want to hear (that is, smooth things) and not what God wants them to hear. Those believers who attend their meetings conduct themselves like the unbelieving people, their way of life is so similar to that of the unbelieving people that the unbelievers feel at ease among them. This is what happens when pastors avoid speaking of hell to the believers; they do not take anything seriously, as if their life were a wonderful holiday on the earth and when they enter into heaven they will begin a even better holiday!!

On the contrary, life for a believer is a permanent war against sin, against the devil and his invisible ministers who try to choke the word planted in him, who try to make him become lukewarm so that he may be vomited by the Lord out of His mouth, who try to make him become a friend of the world and thus an enemy of God that he may be sent to hell!

Therefore, brothers, speak not only of heaven but also of hell; speak not only of the beauty of Heaven and the immense joy and peace associated with it, but also of the ugliness of hell and the unspeakable torments associated with it. This, for the following reasons: that the wicked may be seized with fear and thus may repent of their sins and receive eternal life, which is in Christ Jesus, and that believers may be led to honor the Gospel.