Soul vs. Spirit: Ongoing with JW

Today was frustrating… I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall.  But you can throw this in your notes (this is my THIRD discussion about the immortality of the soul) if you have JW coming to visit you.    The word study was very nice, I really enjoyed contemplating God breathing His Spirit into us…  I enjoy the research and study, I don’t enjoy the debate.  As the Lord wills.  :p  I share these because I hope they will be of use to someone.  Maybe you have the gift of rhetoric and not the gift of research, maybe you want to be stronger in your own faith.  I don’t know why I’m compelled to continue this relationship (and yes, I’m feeling more than a little drained right at the moment, any and all atta-girls are appreciated) but … may it bless YOU.

First challenge:  She told me (some time ago) that the concept of the immortal soul, and its awareness was something that Plato developed, and didn’t appear prior to NT times.  She walked backwards of that a bit *today*, saying that she meant that only in regards to Christianity/Judaism.  But my research was both.  May I say that the Mayans had a particularly nasty afterlife?  :p

Doctrine of Eternal, Immortal Soul/Soul Awareness, its historicity (general) and specific to Christianity

OT Biblical

1 Samuel 28, the witch of Endor – Whether or not this was actually Samuel or if God used another spirit to speak to the witch, both she and Saul *believed* that souls lived after death, conscious and able to chat.

Gen 35:18  And it came to pass,H1961 as her soulH5315 was in departing,H3318 (forH3588 she died)H4191 that she calledH7121 his nameH8034 Benoni:H1126 but his fatherH1 calledH7121 him Benjamin.H1144

  • Soul is nephesh, as seen in our other research
  • Departing here is : yatsa, which means “to go or come out”
  • Her body died, her soul *left*.

NT Biblical:

Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  {Does God then stop being God at any time?  I think not.}

Matthew 17:3-4 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

{Chatting people are soul-alive, regardless of their bodily aspect}.

John 11: 23-27 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.* Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

 {Note:  Never.Ever.Die.  Either our Lord is lying… mistaken… or our souls do not die – because our bodies certainly do}.

Luke 23: 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. {Today *you* – which is the soul, as it is certainly not referring to the body, will be somewhere).

Revelation 6:9-10  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?

(souls crying – not embodied, but with opinions)

Historical references, Judaism:  (Note – I don’t believe that these are Truth, but we were discussing whether or not the concept of an after-death soul that is aware had occurred prior to the Greeks and their concept of the Olympian gods)

Josephus (who was a Jew) gave a very traditional understanding of Hades/Sheol and the doctrine of the immortal soul.  Find it here:

Pharisees (who believed that there is an eternal soul) vs. Sadducees (who do not)

Historical, other religions:

Egyptian, ancient:

Throughout the underworld journey, the deceased’s spirit would have to contend with gods, strange creatures and gatekeepers to reach Osiris and the Hall of Final Judgment. Here they would plead their case for entry into the afterlife.

The Upanishads, the ancient set of Hindu religious texts, postulated an eternal, changeless core of the self called as the “Atman.” This soul or “deep self” was viewed as being identical with the unchanging godhead, referred to as Brahma (the unitary ground of being that transcends particular gods and goddesses). Untouched by the variations of time and circumstance, the Atman was nevertheless entrapped in the world of “samsara” (the cycle of death and rebirth). Unlike Western treatments of reincarnation, which tend to make the idea of coming back into body after body seem exotic, desirable, and even romantic, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other southern Asian religions portray the samsaric process as unhappy. Life in this world means suffering.


 To the Maya, the afterlife was a journey of the soul toward paradise; but there was no guarantee at all that one would reach one’s destination. At death, the soul went down to the underworld, a dark and frightening place called Xibalba (or Metnal) which was populated by terrifying deities with names like Bloody Teeth, Flying Scab, and Bloody Claw. In perpetual darkness, the underworld had rivers of blood and pus and the trees were dead, the landscape barren. The Lords of Xibalba were just as apt to steer a soul in the wrong direction on its quest as the right one. Having arrived in Xibalba, one needed to not only navigate one’s way across it but, then, ascend the nine levels to reach the middle world (earth) and then thirteen more levels before arriving at Tamoanchan (paradise). Once one attained the realm of the gods, one would then descend to a lower level, on the earth or just above it, to live in eternal happiness. The only souls considered exempt from this journey were sacrificial victims, women who died in childbirth, those killed in warfare, suicides, and those who died playing the ball game Pok-a-Tok.

Ancient Celts (ie druids): What is known about the afterlife beliefs of the Celtic peoples is sketchy and often contradictory. The classical authors are unanimous in declaring that the Celts held an unshakable belief in a happy life after death. It made them fearless in battle and was so strong that debts were said sometimes to be deferred until the next life. While this belief in personal survival is well attested, there is much less agreement on the details of the fate of the dead.

Ancestor worship:  Various cultures, worldwide.  If you’re worshipping (offering sacrifices to, praying to) your ancestors, obviously they’re aware and able to do something – or at least you think they are.

Modern Jewish thought is varied – extremely varied – but does believe in something after death. Excerpt of interest:  The resurrection of the dead will occur in the messianic age, a time referred to in Hebrew as the Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come, but that term is also used to refer to the spiritual afterlife. When themessiah comes to initiate the perfect world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead will be brought back to life and given the opportunity to experience the perfected world that their righteousness helped to create. The wicked dead will not be resurrected.  [ This seems, to me, to be very similar to the position that you as a Witness have expressed].


Second challenge:  I have to give it to her, I was being sloppy in reference to soul and spirit, and she called me on it.  So, here’s the the word study on soul vs. spirit, which was quite enjoyable.  I’ve left on all the (fairly dull) citations.

I am comfortable defining …

Soul:  Seat of “self”, emotions.

Spirit:  “Vital principle” with some interesting aspects of “air”. 

Genesis 2:And 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.

Breath of life here = נשׁמה



From H5395; a puff, that is, wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal: – blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.

Soul here is nephesh, see attached.

So God formed man’s body (flesh) and animated it with spirit, and man became a living soul.

Short definitions culled from below details:


OT Soul:

a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion

NT Soul: (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.

OT Spirit:

air (2), anger (1), blast (2), breath (31), breathless* (1), cool (1), courage (1), despondency* (1), exposed (1), grief* (1), heart (1), inspired (1), mind (3), motives (1), points (1), quick-tempered* (1), side (4), sides (2), Spirit (76), spirit (127), spirits (3), strength (1), temper (2), thoughts* (1), trustworthy* (1), wind (98), winds (7), windy (2), wrath (1).

NT Spirit: a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.






OT:  Genesis 2:7 


Nephesh H5315




Strong’s Concordance

nephesh: a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion

Original Word: נָ֫פֶשׁ
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: nephesh
Phonetic Spelling: (neh’-fesh)
Short Definition: soul

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from an unused word
a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion
NASB Translation
any (1), anyone (2), anyone* (1), appetite (7), being (1), beings (3), body (1), breath (1), corpse (2), creature (6), creatures (3), dead (1), dead person (2), deadly (1), death (1), defenseless* (1), desire (12), desire* (2), discontented* (1), endure* (1), feelings (1), fierce* (2), greedy* (1), heart (5), heart’s (2), herself (12), Himself (4), himself (19), human (1), human being (1), hunger (1), life (146), life* (1), lifeblood* (2), lives (34), living creature (1), longing* (1), man (4), man’s (1), men* (2), mind (2), Myself (3), myself (2), number (1), ones (1), others (1), ourselves (3), own (1), passion* (1), people (2), people* (1), perfume* (1), person (68), person* (1), persons (19), slave (1), some (1), soul (238), soul’s (1), souls (12), strength (1), themselves (6), thirst (1), throat (2), will (1), wish (1), wishes (1), yourself (11), yourselves (13).



NT:  Matthew 12:18 Psuche





From G5594; breath, that is, (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307] and [H2416]: – heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

Strong’s Concordance

psuché: breath, the soul

Original Word: ψυχή, ῆς, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: psuché
Phonetic Spelling: (psoo-khay’)
Short Definition: the soul, life, self
Definition: (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.

HELPS Word-studies

5590 psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity(unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.

5590 (psyxē) corresponds exactly to the OT 5315 /phágō (“soul”). The soulis the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into aperson, making them an ensouled being.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
of uncertain origin
breath, the soul
NASB Translation
heart (2), heartily (1), life (36), lives (7), mind (1), minds (1), person (1), persons (3), soul (33), souls (14), suspense* (1), thing (1).

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 5590: ψυχή

ψυχή, ψυχῆς, ἡ (ψύχω, to breathe, blow), from Homer down, theSept. times too many to count for נֶפֶשׁ, occasionally also for לֵב and לֵבָב;

  1. breath(Latinanima), i. e.
  2. the breath of life; the vital forcewhich animates the body and shows itself in breathing: Acts 20:10; of animals, Revelation 8:9 (Genesis 9:4;Genesis 35:18; ἐπιστραφήτω ψυχή τοῦ παιδαρίου, 1 Kings 17:21); so also in those passages where, in accordance with the trichotomy or threefold division of human nature by the Greeks, ἡ ψυχή; is distinguished from τό πνεῦμα (see πνευαμ, 2, p. 520a (and references under the word πνεῦμα 5)), 1 Thessalonians 5:23Hebrews 4:12.
  3. life:μέριμναν τῇ ψυχή, Matthew 6:25Luke 12:22; τήν ψυχήνἀγαπᾶν, Revelation 12:11; (μισεῖν, Luke 14:26); τιθέναι, John 10:11, 15, 17John 13:37John 15:131 John 3:16; παραδιδόναι, Acts 15:26; διδόναι (λύτρον, which see), Matthew 20:28Mark 10:45;ζητεῖν τήν ψυχήν τίνος (see ζητέω, 1 a.), Matthew 2:20Romans 11:3; add, Matthew 6:25Mark 3:4Luke 6:9Luke 12:20, 23Acts 20:24;Acts 27:10, 22Romans 16:42 Corinthians 1:23Philippians 2:301 Thessalonians 2:8; in the pointed aphorisms of Christ, intended to fix themselves in the minds of his hearers, the phrases εὑρίσκειν,σῴζειν, ἀπολλύναι τήν ψυχήν αὐτοῦ, etc., designate asψυχή in one of the antithetic members the life which is lived on earth,in the other, the (blessed) life in the eternal kingdom of GodMatthew 10:39Matthew 16:25Mark 8:35-37Luke 9:24, 56 Rec.; ; John 12:25; the life destined to enjoy the Messianic salvation is meant also in the following phrases ((where R. V. soul)): περιποίησις ψυχῆς, Hebrews 10:39;κτᾶσθαι τάς ψυχάς, Luke 21:19; ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν (here A. V.(not R. V.) for you; cf.
  4. below),2 Corinthians 12:15.
  5. that in which there is life; a living being:ψυχή ζῶσα, a living soul, 1 Corinthians 15:45; (Revelation 16:3 R Tr marginal reading) (Genesis 2:7; plural ); πᾶσα ψυχή ζωῆς, Revelation 16:3 (G L T Trtext WH) (Leviticus 11:10); πᾶσα ψυχή, every soul, i. e. everyone,Acts 2:43Acts 3:23Romans 13:1 (so כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ, Leviticus 7:17 (27); ); withἀνθρώπου added, every soul of man (אָדָם נֶפֶשׁ, Numbers 31:40, 46(cf. 1 Macc. 2:38)), Romans 2:9. ψυχαί, souls (like the Latincapita) i. e.persons (in enumerations; cf. German Seelenzahl): Acts 2:41Acts 7:14;Acts 27:371 Peter 3:20 (Genesis 46:15, 18, 22, 26, 27Exodus 1:5;Exodus 12:4Leviticus 2:1Numbers 19:11, 13, 18; (Deuteronomy 10:22); the examples from Greek authors (cf. Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii, p. 2590b) are of a different sort (yet cf. Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)); ψυχαί ἀνθρώπων of slaves (A. V. souls of men (R. V. with marginal reading ‘Or lives’)), Revelation 18:13 (so (Numbers 31:35); Ezekiel 27:13; see σῶμα, 1 c. (cf. Winer’s Grammar, § 22, 7 N. 3)).
  6. the soul(Latinanimus), a. the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our soul, heart, etc. (R. V. almost uniformlysoul); for examples from Greek writings see Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii., p. 2589b; (Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 3); Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ, cf. Gesenius, Thesaurus ii, p. 901 in 3): Luke 1:46Luke 2:35John 10:24 (cf.αἴρω, 1 b.); Acts 14:2, 22Acts 15:24Hebrews 6:192 Peter 2:8, 14; ἡἐπιθυμία τῆς ψυχῆς, Revelation 18:14; ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖςψυχαῖς εὑρίσκειν, Matthew 11:29; ψυχή, … ἀναπαύου, φάγε,πίε (WH brackets these three imperatives), εὐφραίνου (personification and direct address), Luke 12:19, cf. Luke 12:18 (ἡ ψυχήἀναπαύσεται, Xenophon, Cyril 6, 2, 28; ἐυφραίνειν τήνψυχήν, Aelian v. h. 1, 32); εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου (anthropopathically, of God), Matthew 12:18Hebrews 10:38; περίλυπος ἐστιν ἡ ψυχήμου, Matthew 26:38Mark 14:34; ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται, John 12:27; ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἀκλυόμενοι (fainting in your souls (cf.ἐκλύω, 2 b.)), Hebrews 12:3; ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχή σου, with all thy soul, Matthew 22:37; (Luke 10:27 L text T Tr WH); ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆςσου (Latinex toto animo), with (literally, from (cf. ἐκ, II. 12 b.)) all thy soul, Mark 12:30, 33 (here T WH omit; L Tr marginal reading brackets the phrase); Luke 10:27 (R G) (Deuteronomy 6:5; (Epictetus diss. 3, 22, 18 (cf.Xenophon, anab. 7, 7, 43)); Antoninus 3, 4; (especially 4, 31; 12, 29); ὅλῃτῇ ψυχή φροντίζειν τίνος (rather, with κεχαρισθαι), Xenophon, mem. 3, 11, 10); μία ψυχή, with one soul (cf. πνεῦμα, 2, p. 520a bottom), Philippians 1:27; τοῦ πλήθους … ἦν ἡ καρδία καί ἡψυχή μία, Acts 4:32 (ἐρωτηθεις τί ἐστι φίλος, ἔφη. μίαψυχή δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικουσα, (Diogenes Laërtius 5, 20 (cf.Aristotle, eth. Nic. 9, 8, 2, p. 1168b, 7; on the elliptical ἀπό μιᾶς (namely,ψυχῆς?), see ἀπό, III.)); ἐκ ψυχῆς, from the heart, heartily(Ephesians 6:6 (Tr WH with Ephesians 6:7)); Colossians 3:23 (ἐκ τῆςψυχῆς often in Xenophon; τό ἐκ ψυχῆς πένθος, Josephus, Antiquities 17, 6, 5).
  7. “the (human) soul in so far as it is so constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life”:3 John 1:2; ἀγρύπνειν ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν, Hebrews 13:17;ἐπιθυμίαι, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατά τῆς ψυχῆς, 1 Peter 2:11; ἐπίσκοπος τῶν ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 2:25; σῴζειν τάς ψυχάς,James 1:21; ψυχήν ἐκ θανάτου, from eternal death, James 5:20;σωτηρία ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 1:9; ἁγνίζειν τάς ψυχάς ἑαυτῶν, 1 Peter 1:22; (τάς ψυχάς πιστῷ κτίστῃ παρατίθεσθαι, 1 Peter 4:19).
  8. the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death(distinguished from τό σῶμα, as the other part of human nature (so in Greek writings from Isocrates and Xenophon down; cf. examples in Passow, under the word, p. 2589{a} bottom; Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)): Matthew 10:28, cf. 4 Macc. 13:14 (it is calledἀθάνατος, Herodotus 2, 123; Plato Phaedr., p. 245 c., 246 a., others;ἄφθαρτος, Josephus, b. j. 2, 8, 14; διαλυθῆναι τήν ψυχήν ἀπότοῦ σώματος, Epictetus diss. 3, 10, 14); the soul freed from the body, a disembodied soul, Acts 2:27, 31 Rec.; Revelation 6:9Revelation 20:4(Wis. 3:1; (on the Homeric use of the word, see Ebeling, Lex. Homer, under the word, 3, and references at the end, also Proudfit in Bib. Sacr. for 1858, pp. 753-805)).


Spirit OT Genesis 41:8



From H7306; wind; by resemblance breath, that is, a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions): – air, anger, blast, breath, X cool, courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, X vain, ([whirl-]) wind (-y).

Strong’s Concordance

ruach: breath, wind, spirit

Original Word: ר֫וּחַ
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: ruach
Phonetic Spelling: (roo’-akh)
Short Definition: spirit

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from an unused word
breath, wind, spirit
NASB Translation
air (2), anger (1), blast (2), breath (31), breathless* (1), cool (1), courage (1), despondency* (1), exposed (1), grief* (1), heart (1), inspired (1), mind (3), motives (1), points (1), quick-tempered* (1), side (4), sides (2), Spirit (76), spirit (127), spirits (3), strength (1), temper (2), thoughts* (1), trustworthy* (1), wind (98), winds (7), windy (2), wrath (1).






From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare G5590.

Strong’s Concordance

pneuma: wind, spirit

Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό
Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma
Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah)
Short Definition: wind, breath, spirit
Definition: wind, breath, spirit.

HELPS Word-studies

4151 pneúma – properly, spirit (Spirit), wind, or breath. The most frequent meaning (translation) of 4151 (pneúma) in the NT is “spirit” (“Spirit“). Only the context however determines which sense(s) is meant.

[Any of the above renderings (spirit-Spirit, windbreath) of 4151 (pneúma) is always theoretically possible (spiritSpiritwindbreath). But when the attributive adjective (“holy”) is used, it always refers to the Holy Spirit. “Spirit” (“spirit”) is by far the most common translation (application) of 4151(pneúma).

The Hebrew counterpart (rûach) has the same range of meaning as 4151(pneúma), i.e. it likewise can refer to spirit/Spiritwind, or breath.]

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from pneó
wind, spirit
NASB Translation
breath (3), Spirit (241), spirit (101), spirits (32), spiritual (1), wind (1), winds (1).


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