Lesson 10 – What Is a Soul?

1. How many souls came out of the loins of Jacob? Exodus 1:5

2. How many souls were on Paul’s ship? Acts 27:37

3. What two elements did God use to form a living soul? Genesis 2:7

DUST + BREATH = SOUL

The Biblical definition of a soul is simply a breathing body. Notice that the text does not say that man was given a soul, but rather he became a soul. A soul is not something a person has, it is the person. Souls have blood (Jeremiah 2:34). Not only are people souls, but so are fish and animals (Revelation 16:3).

The Hebrew word for soul, nephesh, is variously translated “person” (Genesis 14:21), “self” (Leviticus 11:43), “life” (Psalm 31:13), “me” (Judges 16:30), “creature” (Genesis 1:21), “beast” (Leviticus 24:18), “man” (2 Kings 12:4), “thing” (Ezekiel 47:9), and “fish” (Isaiah 19:10). When translated “body” the nephesh is usually dead (Leviticus 21:11).

The Greek word for soul, psuche, has the same meaning. In Matthew 16:25 Jesus commends anyone who will lose his soul (psuche) for Christ’s sake. It is often translated simply as “life” (Matthew 2:20). It means “person” (Acts 7:14). “My soul” and “your soul” are idiomatic expressions meaning “I” and “you” (Matthew 12:18; 2 Corinthians 12:15, margin).
4. How is the process God used in creating a soul reversed when we die? Psalm 104:29

SOUL – BREATH = DUST

“If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” Job 34:14, 15.

5. Can a soul die? Ezekiel 18:20

6. When life ends, what is left? Genesis 3:19

7. What returns to God? Ecclesiastes 12:7

8. Where is this spirit located in a person? Job 27:3

9. What is it that is found in a person’s nostrils? Genesis 7:22

The Hebrew word for spirit (and ghost, Job 3:11), ruach, and the Greek word, pneuma, mean breath, wind, or vital element. It is the spark of life which makes you able to live. It is “the breath of the Almighty” (Job 33:4). When the Bible uses those words in reference to man, not once does it say that ruach or pneuma is something in man that retains consciousness after the person dies.

Angels are called spirits (Psalm 104:4) because to human eyes they are as invisible as breath. But man does not possess the nature of angels (Psalm 8:5), nor does the Bible indicate that he assumes it at death.

10. What goes forth when man dies? Psalm 146:4

11. Is the breath in man any different from the breath in beasts? Ecclesiastes 3:19

12. Is there any difference between a dead man and a dead beast? Ecclesiastes 3:20

A soul is like the light that results when a light bulb is connected to a power source. The spirit, or breath of life, is the electric current.

Electricity will produce light only while it is flowing through the bulb. When the filament in the bulb breaks, the electrical circuit is broken, and the light goes out.

Just as the light cannot exist unless there is both electricity and a bulb, so there must be both the breath of life and a functional body in order for there to be a living soul.

13. After a person dies, can he return and appear to those who knew him? Job 7:8-10, Job 16:22

14. In these last days some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to what? 1 Timothy 4:1

15. What type of spirits will appear, working miracles? Revelation 16:14

16. In the garden, Satan disguised himself in the form of what? Genesis 3:1

17. Satan can transform himself into a what? 2 Corinthians 11:14

18. What can his ministers appear as? 2 Corinthians 11:15

19. If they speak not according to the law and to the testimony, it is because of what? Isaiah 8:20

20. Instead of trying to contact the dead, going to mediums and wizards, whom should God’s people seek for truth? Isaiah 8:19

21. What types of individuals will not be found among God’s people? Deuteronomy 18:10, 11

22. All that do those things are what? Deuteronomy 18:12

23. What words did Paul have for a sorcerer? Acts 13:10

24. Can a person have fellowship with the Lord and with devils? 1 Corinthians 10:21

25. With Satan’s influences all around us, what does God call us to do? 2 Corinthians 6:17

Christians will have nothing to do with magic, fortune telling, horoscopes or seances; or games, books, movies or toys containing elements of witchcraft or spiritualism.

In the Light of God’s Word…

I understand that a soul is a breathing body, a man or a beast.

I understand that one’s spirit is the life-giving breath from God.

I understand that the soul dies when the breath ceases.

I understand that the dead cannot communicate.

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