Holding to Truth

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What Is the Difference Between the Soul and Spirit of Man?

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what is the difference between the soul and spirit?First, it is vitally important to realize that there is a definite difference between the soul and spirit according to the Bible. Second, it is equally important to realize that our experience of this distinction very much affects our progress in the Christian life.

In this post we’ll consider a simple question: what is the difference between the soul and spirit? This study will not mainly be from the side of Bible teaching, but from the aspect of life experience. But before we can come to our experience we must first have a base in God’s word.

The Bible reveals man is made with three parts—a spirit, soul, and body.

First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete…”

No one would say that our body and soul are the same, but some people may consider our soul and spirit to be practically the same. However, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us clearly that our spirit and soul are two distinct parts.

Another verse that emphasizes this distinction is Hebrews 4:12:

“For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow…”

Here there are the “joints and marrow” which refer to the body plus the “soul and spirit,” revealing again that we have these three parts.

It’s also important to see that our soul and spirit can be “divided.” Hence, they’re different. They can be compared to “the joints and marrow.” As marrow is hidden inside the joints, so our spirit is concealed in our soul.

Just like we have to cut through the joints to get to the marrow, we have to cut through the soul to get to the spirit. This is why it’s often difficult initially to discern our spirit from our soul. I know this was my experience.

To illustrate this distinction, we may use the illustration of three concentric circles:

The outer circle refers to our body. Our body is our outer part containing our five senses with which we contact all the things of the physical, material realm.

The middle circle refers to our soul. Our soul is our inner part containing our mind, emotion and will with which we contact all the things of the psychological realm.

The inner circle refers to our spirit. Our spirit is our innermost part with which we contact God and substantiate all the things of the spiritual realm.

How can we practically divide our spirit from our soul?

So let’s consider how we can apply the dividing of soul and spirit in our daily Christian life.

Often our soul is plagued with anxious thoughts, troublesome feelings, and impure intentions. It’s a “mine field” that keeps us from enjoying Christ.

Second Timothy 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

The Lord is now with our spirit and with Him is grace—God as our enjoyment. But how do we get there? How do get through this deadly “mine field” of our soul?

We already mentioned that Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the “dividing of soul and spirit.” But the application of this dividing is by God’s living and operative word. It is God’s word, as this sharp sword, that is able to pierce our soul in order to break it away from our spirit.

In my last post, “How Bible Reading Can Change Your Life,” I referred to the awesome power of the Scriptures.  My friend’s heart was touched by God’s word to such an extent, that she could no longer remain an atheist, but chose to become a Christian.

These same Scriptures are so powerful that they can also cut through our thick soul, dividing our soul from our spirit.  God’s word can stop our anxious thoughts, calm our troubled emotions, and subdue our stubborn will. This has been my experience.

As we open the Bible, we just need to open to the Lord, and incline our heart to Him. Then read a few Bible verses and turn them into short, spontaneous prayers to the Lord—thanking Him, praising or petitioning as we feel led. In this way we can enter into fellowship with Him in our spirit.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us the difference between our soul and our spirit. Thank you also for giving us Your living and operative word as such a practical way to divide our soul and spirit. Lord, remind us to apply Your word by prayer, thanksgiving and praise so we may enjoy You in our spirit every day.”

I hope that this practical consideration of the difference between soul and spirit based on the Bible proves as beneficial to you as it has to me.  In a continuation post on this topic, I present how God wholly sanctifies your spirit, soul and body in the process of His complete salvation and in my post “What is the Function of Your Spirit?” I cover the spirit in more detail.

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References and Further Reading:

 


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About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions or to subscribe to future posts if you'd like them to be delivered to your inbox. Thanks!

106 Replies

  1. Reblogged this on Surender Unzan and commented:
    I really like this post of your on “Holding The Truth In Love” Element of Life

    1. Esther

      Thank you for helping me understand the difference between soul and spirit, God bless you :)

      1. Tom Smith

        Why is it so important to know the difference between the soul and spirit of man? It’s because the true worship to God, the true service to God has it’s source in the the Spirit with our spirit (see John 4:24; Romans 1:9; 2:29 and 7:6). Footnote 2 on Romans 2:29 in the Recovery Version says,

        “Whatever we are, whatever we do, and whatever we have must be in spirit. This will keep us from the vanity of religion…The reality of all spiritual things depends on the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God is in our spirit. Hence, the reality of all spiritual matters depends on our spirit, not on anything apart from our spirit. Whatever is in us is vanity unless it is in our spirit. Everything that God is to us is in our spirit.”

      2. Simon

        I really like your teachings God bless you. Please my question is, where does the spirit and the soul goes when one dies, do they go together or separately.

        1. Tom Smith

          Hi Simon, I have answered your question in my reply to Lupe Balladarez and Ozuzu David. I’d recommend that you read my reply to them and the associated Scripture along with the study note reference. Then let me know if you have any further questions. Much grace to you.

          1. mr smith …..the equation ….body+spirit equals living soul ……. are saying that when a person dies the soul and spirit goes to heaven. since God made us in his own image and likeness(Genesis 1:26)…..the likeness and image is not of the body but of the spirit? my question is….which part the soul, the spirit, body shall rise when CHRIST COMES THE SECOND TIME?

          2. Tom Smith

            Stanford,

            God will raise our entire being at His second coming. Our disembodied spirit and soul will be raised up and united with our transfigured, glorified body.

            Phil. 3:20-21 says, For our commonwealth exists in the heavens, from which we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.”

            The transfiguration of our body is the ultimate consummation of God’s salvation. In His salvation God first regenerated our spirit (John 3:6), now He is transforming our soul (Rom. 12:2), and consummately will transfigure our body, making us the same as Christ in all three parts of our being. (note 1 on Phil. 3:21 in the Recovery Version.)

            Such a complete salvation of spirit, soul and body is the hope of every believer in Christ. In such a salvation every part of our being will be saturated with the element of God’s eternal, divine life!

            For more on the transfiguration of our body and the body of resurrection, I would encourage you to read 2 Cor. 5:1-8 and 1 Cor. 15 with the footnotes.

            Let me know if reading these passages provides the adequate understanding. Thanks again for you interest.

        2. Tom Smith

          Our spirit and soul together make up our inner man. When we die, they go together.

        3. Tom Smith

          Simon, I have just published a related post which may help your understanding, “Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? Let me know if this post is helpful. Thanks.

  2. I read your commet, and my question was answer. I have another question; where does the soul go when you die. I read somewhere in the new testement, that your soul, meaning your being go into a sleep and your unconstion, and a wait for the resurrection. and in an other part it says that your soul goes to Heaven, but thats the interpertation of someone else. can you clarify this question? Jesu said to his disiples where I go you cannot go, but I go to prepare a place for you and I will come for you; and you will be with me. And then there is an other scripture where is says, first the dead in christ will rise up and then the living will rise next. And what about when Lasarez was dead for four days, and Jesus says he is not dead but asleep, and he yeld comforth Lasarez, I’am the resurrection. what about the girl that her parents thought she was dead, Jesus said she is asleep. and so on.

    Please send me your comments;

    1. Tom Smith

      As Christians, when we die, “…we are abroad (or absent) from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). This refers to our spirit and our soul which leave our dead body. Our disembodied inner being goes to “Paradise” where the Lord Jesus and the believing thief on the cross went when they died (Luke 23:43). It’s the pleasant section of Hades, also referred to as “Abraham’a bosom” where the spirits of Abraham and all the just are, awaiting resurrection (Luke 16:22-23, 25-26). Such a death experienced by the believers is without “sting” (1 Cor. 15:55) for through resurrection it will be swallowed up. It is considered by the Lord as “sleep.” From such a “sleep,” the dead believers will be raised at the Lord’s coming back.

      So yes, the dead in Christ will rise up from Hades. Then the living, who are still on the earth will also.

      I encourage you to study the notes in the Recovery Version regarding “Paradise: at: http://online.recoveryversion.org/ –especially note 1 on 2 Cor. 12:4.

      1. Hi Tom,

        Thank you for your lesson on soul and spirit. Can you please also define what the word Heart means in the context of Matthew 22:37 NIV
        Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

        Thank you

        1. Tom Smith

          For a explanation of what our heart is in the Bible please read my post, “What is Your Heart and How Can You Exercise it?”

      2. Laura

        Thank you for this useful article on the differentiation between the soul and the spirit. I have found it very helpful! I find that a lot of people use the two words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably, but since 1thess 5:23 makes a clear distinction between body, soul and spirit they are obviously not the same thing. I think this is what has led to the confusion that believers go straight to heaven when they die, because they read “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccles.12:7) as ‘the soul returns to God..’

        I am still confused about a few things though. I hope you wouldn’t mind shedding some further light…

        So far I confidently understand that the spirit (that breath of life God gave us) goes back to God and that our bodies go into the earth until they are resurrected on judgement day; but I am unsure still about where the soul goes in between death and judgement. The important bit! You seem certain that it goes to ‘paradise’ (that nice bit of Hades you speak of) but how can you be sure of this? Therefore, if you don’t mind…

        1. Please could you outline the verses that distinguish paradise and heaven are two different places?

        2. How do you know that the soul does not in fact remain with the body (especially since the mind and body are connected) until the last judgement? Surely it makes sense that people’s souls wouldn’t be sorted until they are judged on judgement day?

        3. Why would Jesus go to a ‘middle ground’ Paradise instead of straight to heaven? Didn’t he say he was ‘going to the Father’?

        Many thanks! (And sorry if I’ve asked you to repeat something you’ve already explained)

        1. Tom Smith

          Laura, I have just published a related post which may help your understanding, “Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? Let me know if this post is helpful. Thanks.

  3. OZUZU DAVID

    I will like to find out where the spirit and the soul will go to after the death of the body, knowing fully well that the body will perish.

    1. Tom Smith

      David, your question is a good one that deserves thoughtful consideration.

      We know that one day our body, “our earthly tabernacle” will be taken down at the time our death (2 Cor. 5:1). At that time our spirit and soul will be unclothed, without the “clothing of a physical body (v. 4).

      But we do have the hope of resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, it says that at the last trumpet the dead will be raised incorruptible, and will be changed (v. 52). At that time, “this corruptible will put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

      However, as you asked, “where does our spirit and soul go after our death and before the resurrection?” This resting place is called “Paradise” by both the Lord and Paul (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4), or Abraham’s bosom—the pleasant section of Hades where Abraham and all the spirits of the just are, awaiting the resurrection of life. While the body of Jesus was in the tomb, He went on a 3-day tour of Hades and then walked out.

      It was in such a Paradise that the repentant thief on the cross was able to be with the Lord on the day of His crucifixion. This was a comfort to him and it should also be to us.

      1. Erroll

        Hi Tom,
        I appreciate your teaching.
        Would like however your comments based on your Paradise response.
        The bible teaches “to be absent from the body, is to be present with The Lord”
        I believe that not to be Paradise, for the righteous dead were taken out.
        Captives were led free.

        Thanks

        1. Tom Smith

          Hi Erroll,

          Thanks for your comment.

          In response to your question, please see my previous comment to Frank on 2 Cor. 5:8. The verses I cited there are all worthy of your consideration. (The notes on these verses in the Recovery Version may also provide some additional explanation and are referenced in the link) Concerning the the reference to captives led free in Eph. 4:8-10, I would also commend to you Acts 2:34 with note 1 in the Recovery Version.

          Sadly, the focus of many regarding the spirit of man easily turns from the present enjoyment of the Spirit with our spirit, to doctrinal issues of the residence of the spirit after death. The crucial point is related to our Christian life today. Are we living and walking according to the Spirit with spirit (Rom 8:4; Gal. 5:16, 25)? It is only by such a present living that we can we grow in Christ and build up Christ’s Body (Rom. 8:14; Eph 2:22) to fulfill God’s eternal plan.

  4. Marshe

    What about when we receive God’s spirit (Holy Spirit)? Do we then become four parts? What becomes of our spirit then? And of what use does it become, if the Holy Spirit is now operating through us?

    1. Tom Smith

      Marshe,

      Thanks for your question. When we are born anew or regenerated (John 3:3; 1 Pet 1:23) God’s Spirit of life enters into our spirit. John 3:6 says, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  God’s Spirit is like the divine “tea” and our spirit is like the “water.” The two are still distinct, yet they become one. So Paul confirms this by saying in 1 Cor. 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” So you can call it a “mingled spirit”–like “tea-water.”

      In Romans 8:16, Paul also says “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.” So the two spirits work together. When we witness, the Spirit witnesses with our spirit. It’s a kind of strengthening or enriching. These two spirits–the Spirit with our spirit–are the secret to living the Christian life. We need to continually turn to, contact, and walk according to, such a mingled spirit. This mingled spirit is the divine GPS, navigator and source of inner supply

      1. Tom – That makes sense… Thank you for your reply.

      2. Don Reid

        Amen, perfectly explained.

        1. Tom Smith

          May the Lord enlighten us to see a clear distinction between our spirit and soul (Heb. 4:12) so that we can walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4) to grow normally in the Lord’s life and be built up to be a “dwelling place of God in spirit” (Eph. 2:22). How crucial it is to know our spirit!

      3. John

        Hi Tom

        Might I say that our old spirit is crucified with Christ on the cross (Gal.2:20;Rom.6:1-6). And that we now have a brand new spirit that rose with Christ(Rom.6:4-5).Thus, He has made us new creations in Christ Jesus, holy, righteous and unblamable before God.

        1. Tom Smith

          John, yes, through our divine birth (John 3:6), the Lord gave us a “new spirit” (Ezek. 36:26). This spirit is our God-created spirit, that became deadened through man’s fall in sin (Eph. 2:1), but enlivened with God’s divine life (Col. 2:13). Whenever a person believes into the Lord Jesus, they are born of the Spirit in their spirit (John 3:6) and become a part of the new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). It only when His Spirit is being imparted into us that we live in the reality of this new creation.

          1. John Arsenault

            Hi Tom

            Amen to that. I think it also helps to realise that in the spirit realm there is no time. Now it easier to see that we were crucified with Christ 2000 years ago spiritually. And that Jesus is the Lamb that was crucified before the foundation of the world.

            In Christ,

            John

          2. Tom Smith

            Amen. Yes, in our spirit, the reality of our crucifixion with Christ is real. In our spirit we touch the eternal Spirit, the Spirit of truth or reality that guides us into the reality of all the divine things. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Nancy

    I feel awkward about disagreeing with you, but when Christ was resurrected from ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and people walked the streets of Jerusalem who were recognized by the living as having died, I thought that meant that Abraham’s bosom was then emptied and thereby destroyed. Now, when we die, we simply ‘sleep’, until the coming of our Lord, when “the dead in Christ rise first”. Scriptures:
    Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10
    Acts 2:29
    John 5:28,29
    Job 14:12,21

    1. Tom Smith

      Thanks for your comment about “Abraham’s bosom”–the pleasant section of Hades (Luke 16:22-23, 25-26).

      In Luke 23:40-43, Jesus promised the repentant thief on the cross that “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” This same “Paradise” (another term for the pleasant section of Hades) is later spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 12:4 saying, “That he was caught away into Paradise and heard unspeakable words…” This man in Christ (v. 2), that Paul knew to be “caught away into Paradise was surely the apostle himself. That the apostle could have such revelations and visions of both “the third heaven” (v. 2) and “Paradise” (v. 4, clearly different from heaven in v. 2), indicates that both were something present. Especially Paul’s being ‘caught away into Paradise” is a clear indication that it still continues its function as the resting place for the souls and spirits of the dead saints.

      Since such matters of Biblical doctrine are not items of the Christian faith, they do not deserve the focus of our attention. They do not determine a person’s salvation in Christ. Neither do they impart spiritual supply for a Christian to grow in God’s life. Hence, we can only mention them in passing and turn our utmost attention to Christ Himself with Person and work that enable us to “arrive at the oneness of faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full grown man…” (Eph. 4:13).

    2. Kevin Lee Poracan

      For further response on this point. I would like to share or recommend a journal called Affirmation & Critique (A&C), available at affcrit.com. A&C presents explanations of important scriptural truths. The articles in A&C are intended to appeal to serious minded Christians, including seminary students and theologians.

      Regarding the issues of life after death when a believer dies. He undergoes passage through death. His physical body returns to the dust and his spirit and soul reside in Hades- in a pleasant section.

      The Believers’ Passage through Death
      http://affcrit.com/pdfs/2000/02/00_02_wr.pdf

      The Ultimate Consummation of God’s Economy:
      Heaven or the New Jerusalem?
      http://affcrit.com/archives/ac_00_02.html

  6. Eric Union

    Thank you for this insightful distinction of soul and spirit! It reminds me of a similar distinction of mind/Logos and heart/Rhema. Worship and prayers of surrender are the way I access the spiritual/Rhema/heart realm which makes scripture come alive and to hear the whispers of God’s direction for my life. May God continue to bless you and everyone else who is leaning into His way.

    1. Tom Smith

      Making the distinctions between spirit and soul and between logos and rhema is important in our Christian experience. That’s because God wants to be life to us (John 10:10b). If we remain in our soul, and use only our mind to understand the Scriptures, we’ll discover like Paul said that, “the letter kills…” (2 Cor. 3:6b). However, when we turn our heart to the Lord and exercise our spirit to pray over a few Bible verses (Eph 6:17-18), we find that, “…the Spirit gives life.” In such a way we discern spirit from soul and receive fresh rhema words that speak to our heart and supply us with God’s life. Such words of spirit and life (John 6:63)—direct us in God’s way and energize us to live a normal Christian life. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

  7. alber busta

    what about the conscience that even not born again have ? does tha come from the spirit or mind ?

    1. Tom Smith

      The conscience is a part of the God-created human spirit possessed by every person–even before they receive Christ.

      The conscience is found in Romans 9:1 where it says, “My conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit.” Compare this with Romans 8:16 which says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit, that we are children of God.” From comparing these two verses we can see that the conscience is located in the human spirit. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit. On the other hand, our conscience bears witness with the Holy Spirit. This is just one point of proof.

      For a more complete answer to your question, I would strongly recommend that you read Chapter 6 of The Economy of God by Witness Lee on the “The Inward and the Hidden Parts.” You can read it online at: ministrybooks.org under “Additional Titles by Witness Lee.” You can also get a free copy at: http://biblesforamerica.org/newbooks/ I hope that by reading this chapter you can get a more complete answer to your question.

    2. Tom Smith

      Alber, I especially wanted to thank you for your question about the conscience, “Does that come from the spirit or mind?” It inspired me to write a follow on post, “What is the Function of Your Spirit?” It specifically addresses the conscience, fellowship and intuition as the three parts or functions of the spirit. I hope you’ll read it and let me know if it helped to answer your question presented in your comment to this post.

  8. Very insightful. Nourishing to the spirit; really enjoyed this lesson and the way it was shared. Thanks. God bless

    1. Tom Smith

      I hope that what is presented here would be both informative and also spiritually nourishing. What people really need today is God as life in His Word (John 10:10b). My hope is that through this post, and others like it, more people will be enlightened to see how they can contact God, Who is Spirit, with their spirit (John 4″24), to receive Him as rivers of living water to refresh, supply and fill them inwardly (John 4:14; 7:37-39) to fulfill God’s plan. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

  9. Amos Lumba

    Hi Tom,

    I am a student of the Word of God and specifically in the areas of Faith, Body, Soul and Spirit and I am so happy that you have added to my knowledge in these areas. I love the simple way you have presented the difference between the soul and spirit. As a Zambian Pastor this is very beneficial and i will pass it on during my teachings of God’s Word to my hearers. Thank you very much and keep it up.

    1. Tom Smith

      Brother Amos, thanks for your encouraging comment. God’s people really need to know the difference between their spirit and soul and also how to discern them in their daily Christian experience. Since the Lord is now with our spirit (2 Tim 4:22), it vital for us to learn how to turn to our spirit, exercise our spirit and follow the sense of the spirit (our spirit joined to the Lord’s Spirit) in everything. This life-long learning causes us to mature in Christ and live as members of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:13, 15-16). May the Lord guide you and the believers under your care into a living in this reality.

      1. Amos Lumba

        Thanks bro. Tom. I am writing a book on the same and I wish to obatin more materials from you concerning the same. Zambia is the only country in Africa that was publicly declared a ” Christian Nation” by our late President Fredrick Chiluba (May his soul rest in peace), and so it is like we poked the devil in the eyes, things in our country are not so good, economically and spirittually. I really believe training christians in my country to live by the spirit (and the Holy Spirit) is very critical at this time. Please pray for us. I have been in ministry for 16 years, planted a church in one of Zambia’s shanty compound and i have been teaching on the spirit, soul and body and each time i speak people say it is a new teaching. We need to do more bro. Tom, God bless you.

        1. Tom Smith

          Amos, if you would like helpful materials to enrich your fellowship among the believers there, you may want to review the contents of the “Study the Word” page on Bibles for America’s website, bfa.org. I especially like their link to ministrybooks.org download. You will get a wealth of spiritual help from these books. Considering your interests, I would especially recommend the free download of The Economy of God by Witness Lee.

  10. Thank you so much, for all the info..you’re such a blessing..God bless you more!

  11. Ginger Lee Kocurek

    We have read your posts with much interest and your have clarified some of our questions. My questions are as follows:
    –If the soul and spirit now go to Paradise when our body dies, is anyone in Heaven?
    –Are those who were waiting in Paradise, before Christ died and went to Paradise for three days, now in Heaven?
    –When we read accounts of people who have died and went briefly to Heaven before returning in their body back to Earth, how can they claim to have seen their relatives who would have died after Christ took those up with Him at the Resurrection and those who died after the Ressurection (their relatives) are in Paradise?

    1. Tom Smith

      Heaven is the place of God’s throne (Matt. 5:34). The Lord Jesus, in His instruction on prayer in Matt. 6:9, referred to “Our Father who is in the heavens.” In Matt. 13:32, Jesus said that even “the angels in heaven” do not know the day or hour of the Lord’s second coming. And Mark 16:19 speaks of the Lord’s ascension to heaven. We know from the Bible that God, the Father is in heaven, the angels are in heaven, and the Son ascended to heaven.

      We know that Enoch walked with God and God took him, that is, Enoch was the first to be raptured (Gen 5:22). Later, we know that Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). So it is not to say that there is no one is in heaven. However, we can only confirm what the Bible says.

      There is no indication from Scripture that those waiting in Paradise, before Christ died and went to Paradise are now in heaven. Rather, 1 Thes. 4:16, speaking of the coming of the Lord in verse 15, says that the “dead in Christ will rise first.” This implies the dead believers being raised up in the resurrection of life (John 5:29).

      I cannot comment on the account of people who were declared dead and gave reports of their post-death experiences. These are subjective and without any way to validate. The Bible is God’s authoritative Word and we dare not go beyond the bounds of its revelation to say that anything is certain.

      Rather, it’s good to focus on the central line of the divine revelation. This central line is God’s plan to dispense Himself into us and make us one with Him to express Him eternally. To accomplish God’s plan or economy, Jesus Christ, God incarnated in the flesh (John 1:14; Col.2:9) died to redeem us and resurrected to become a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) so that He might enter into us (John 14:17-20) to live in us (Gal. 2:20) and save us in His life (Rom. 5:10). In His life we are being built up to be His Body and being prepared to be His bride (Eph 5:25-27). We will eventually be married to Him (Rev.19:7) and become the Lamb’s wife, the New Jerusalem, for eternity (Rev. 21:1-2).

      For more appreciation of Christ’s steps to indwell us, you may enjoy watching a video entitled “The God-shaped Vacuum.”

    2. Kevin Lee Poracan

      For more details on this subject. I would like you to review these two recommendations:

      The Ultimate Consummation of God’s Economy:
      Heaven or the New Jerusalem?
      http://affcrit.com/archives/ac_00_02.html

      The Basis for the Building Work of God
      Chapter 6 The Place Where the Believers Go
      http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm

  12. Peter

    In my opinion, there is a difference between Paradise and Hades.

    Paradise is the place where those who died because of their testimony about Jesus (martyrs), the Souls will not be judged, instead They will come to life and reign with Christ a thousand years. (rev 20:4)

    Hades is the place where the souls will be raised and still be judged, after regin of Chris for a thousand years. “and each person was judged according to what they had done.”(Rev 20:-13)

    Rev 20:11-13. shows that what they have done in the world they will still be judged accoding what they had done as recorded in the books.

    1. Tom Smith

      There is distinction between Paradise and Hades. Hades is a general term, like Sheol in the Old Testament. Acts 2:27, referring to David’s word in Psalm 16:10, says, “You (God) will not abandon my soul to Hades.” Whereas, the source passage says “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol.” Whether we take it literally concerning David, or prophetically concerning Christ, it still makes the reference to Hades something general, or neutral, seeing that neither David, nor Christ went to the place of torment.

      Paradise refers only to the pleasant section of Hades, also referred to as Abraham’s bosom ( Luke 16:22), the place where the beggar named Lazarus went when he died.

      However, the rich man who also died, was in Hades, but in the place of torment (v. 23). He trusted in his riches but not in God. It was not his riches that caused his soul to perish but the neglect of God.

      In the case of the believing thief on the cross, his simple confession that Jesus was the righteous one and faith to ask the Lord Jesus to remember him, resulted in salvation. The Lord said today you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:41-43).

      The spirit and soul of every person who dies will pass through Hades. However, whether they rest in Paradise or suffer in the place of torment depends on what they do with the Lord in their lifetime. May this encourage us to speak the word to all that we can.

      The rest of your comment goes beyond the difference between Hades and Paradise, so it’s better to stick to the one point for now.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  13. Hi there my mate! I must claim that this article is incredible, pleasant composed accessible by using around just about all substantial infos. I would like to discover extra blogposts such as this .

  14. emeca paul

    hoo, am really blessed by this teaching. I’ve been so confused before but now so enlighted.
    Thank u tom

  15. Edwin Kiprotich

    Very Insightful and God-inspired teachings!! I think every christian must learn of these distinct parts especially the Soul and spirit. The spirit many a times goes unattended to because of the shrouding by the sin-liking soul. Keep up the great work man of God.

  16. Thank you for the enlightened explanation

  17. Frank

    What about the Scripture that says “absent with the body, present with the Lord”. It doesn’t say after Hades.

    1. Tom Smith

      Frank,

      Thanks for your question “What about the Scripture that says “absent with the body, present with the Lord”? It doesn’t say after Hades.”

      I understand that you are referring to 2 Cor. 5:8 which says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (KJV). It is true that when our physical body dies we are present with the Lord or at home with the Lord. This is similar to Paul’s desire in Phil 1:22 where he said, “I am constrained between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for this is far better.”

      To be with the Lord, that is to be with Christ is a matter of degree, not place. Paul desired to be with Christ in a higher degree, although he was already with Him constantly. Through his physical death he would be with Christ to a fuller extent than he enjoyed in this earthly life. (See also note 1 on Phil 1:23 in the Recovery Version.)

      Much grace to you,

      Tom

  18. obiezue Peter

    I truly bless God for such Spirit of wisdom to you. that truly shows that the word of of God is one and cannot contradict itself.

    but is there any place l can get your teachings in audio?
    please reply me in my mail box

  19. obiezue Peter

    Please if l am to understand more, you said the soul and spirit of a man will remain in the Hades till Christ comes. Why then did the bible say that John the baptist come with the spirit of Elijah does it mean that a person can re-incarnate or is that not saying that the soul and the spirit of a man are different and that only the soul will remain in Hages till Jesus comes?

    1. Tom Smith

      Peter,

      The disembodied spirit and soul of the believers rest in the pleasant section of Hades (Acts 2:34), referred to as Paradise (2 Cor. 12:4)and Abraham’s bosom (Matt. 16:22) awaiting the resurrection of the righteous at the Lord’s return (Luke 14:14; 1 Thes. 4:13-16).

      John the Baptist’s coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:13-17; Matt. 17:12-13), does not refer to a re-incarnation of Elijah but John’s participation in the same Spirit of power that Elijah experienced in his prophetic ministry. At the end of this age, there will be two witnesses during the great tribulation (Rev. 11:3-4) who will prepare the way for the Lord’s coming the second time. The works done by one of these witnesses are the same as those done by Elijah and should indicate that Elijah will be sent by God to prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming (vv. 5-6).

      John the Baptist, in the same spirit, spoke powerfully (Luke 1:15-17), to prepare the way for the Lord to come the first time (Mark 1:1-8). In this sense, John came in the spirit of Elijah and will do a similar work of preparing the way for Christ.

      You may find the verses with links and notes of particular help.

  20. obiezue Peter

    Thank you very much for your explanation am cleared. May God keep granting you the wisdom to bring the teaching of God’s word to us.

  21. Jay-Mark

    I am really thankful for bringing enlightenment with this little question. I am still wondering. Relating to Revelations, are people who died still not in heaven? Are they only ‘sleeping’? And after The Judgement Day, why are people directed to the ”New Jerusalem”?

    I’m a little confused with this since we really believe heaven is our eternal goal to be :)
    Thank you Pastor and this is really a big help since I am a youth leader here in the Philippines,
    Thanks again and Godbless!

    1. Tom Smith

      Hi Jay-Mark,

      Thanks for your comment. Revelation 6:9, says that when He (the Lamb, the ascended Christ mentioned in verse 1) opened the fifth seal the Apostle John saw “underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they had.” “Those who had been slain” are the martyred saints throughout the generations who died for their faithful testimony. Their being “underneath the altar” refers to their being underneath the earth. This refers to their being in the Paradise to which the Lord Jesus went after His death (Luke 23:43) in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40) in the comfortable section of Hades (Acts 2:27), where Abraham is (Luke 16:22-26)–also referred to as Abraham’s bosom.

      The death of the saints, in God’s sight is only a temporary sleep (John 11:11-14; Matt. 27:52; 1 Thes. 4:13-16). At the Lord’s second coming, the dead in Christ will rise first to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes. 4:15-16). At His coming, all the believers will meet the Lord at His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10) and be judged not for salvation or perdition, but for His approval of their living and service after they were saved (2 Tim. 4:8).

      After, the age of restoration–the thousand years (Rev. 20), the Lord will bring in a new heaven and new earth, with the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to be the center of God’s eternal administration and His eternal dwelling place with all His chosen and redeemed people (Rev. 21:1-3, 10-23; 22:1-5).

      May the Lord richly supply you as you endeavor to open the truth of God’s word to the young people whom you serve.

      1. Jay-Mark

        Thank you sir! Your such a great channel of blessing. Godbless your ministry.

  22. Hello Tom,

    Revelation 6:10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

    I am trying to reconcile this with Jesus lessons on forgiveness and turn the other cheek. It is difficult for me to reconcile the call for revenge by believers described in Revelations 6:10 with the lessons of Christ. I would like to know your thoughts on this.

    Thank you

    1. Tom Smith

      Hi Henry,

      Revelation 6:10 refers to the cry of the martyred saints under the altar beseeching the God to avenge their blood on the rebellious mankind on the earth. Their cry ushers in the calamities of the sixth seal, the shaking of the earth and the heavens as the beginning of the great tribulation.

      We have to realize that God’s administration has different stages. Right now God is still giving time for sinners to repent and for believers to grow in Christ. In 2 Pet 3:9, it says, “The Lord…is long-suffering toward you not intending that any perish but that all advance to repentance.” God is very long-suffering, but at the end of this age His toleration will come to an end.

      Today, we should pray earnestly for sinners to repent and for believers to wake to watchfulness as the day of the Lord’s coming approaches. But, we should also realize there is a “cry from under the altar”…”How long Lord will You not judge and avenge our blood.” The Lord will hear and answer the martyrs cry which will usher in the calamities of the great tribulation.

  23. First of all I would like to say that I thank God for you and your service. I ultimately thank God for your ability to bring clarity to our 3 part being. I am in the process of writing a life changing book and have repeatedly mentioned our 3 part being as mind, body and soul. However I continued to have the question in the back of my mind to distinguish between the soul and spirit. Before I started writing I researched and thought I had clarity but could never speak to it. Obviously, I was still unsure. Now I’m here some years later in the process of completing my book and the Holy Spirit unctioned me to research the difference again and I found your material. Needless to say, I have clarity beyond which has opened doors so much to the point that it is igniting a path for the remainder of my book. Please contact me so that I can get your information of where to send my book to upon completion. Thank you again and may God continue to smile upon you.

    1. Tom Smith

      Hi Monique,

      Thanks for the comment concerning the help you’ve received from seeing a clear vision of man’s 3 parts–spirit, soul and body.

      This revelation is very crucial because it has a profound affect on our Christian life. Just consider…

      The divine birth is “born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). The true worship to God is to “worship in spirit” (John 4:24). The assurance of salvation is “the Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit” (Rom. 8:16). The victorious Christian life is “walking according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:4).The building up of the church is “being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit (Eph 2:22).

      If we as believers don’t practically know the difference between our spirit and our soul, it’s near to impossible to live a normal Christian life. The key to experiencing Christ and to the entire Christian life issues from the discovery of “the Spirit with our spirit.” I’d also recommend a chapter entitled “The Key to Experiencing Christ–the Human Spirit in Basic Elements of the Christian Life, Volume One. You can freely download the PDF or order a free copy from Bibles for America.

      Thanks again for the comment. I’ll email you a mailing address to send me your new book.

  24. Alfred Dean

    Thanks for so eloquently highlighting the difference between the soul and the spirit from the perspective of our Holy Bible (living Word of Yeshuah the divine Messiah).

  25. christian nwogu

    Thank God I found this site,am learning a lot here pls,
    At this end time what are expecting of Christ Jesus,the
    Antichrist and the World,all am asking is keep me updated
    On what is happening now and what is to come and what am
    I to do God bless u all

  26. Jestoni Anacion

    I just want to say thank you about your article between spirit, soul and body,,It helps me a lot especially in my Born again Christian living,,God bless to you, to your family and to your church.

  27. Jestoni Anacion

    Amen,,God Bless:)

  28. Daniel Chuks

    Thanks 4 ur spiritual build up message

  29. Godson

    If I die which will go to heaven? spirit or soul?

    1. Tom Smith

      Although there is some place for believers to go to heaven in the Scriptures, this definitely is not the focus of God’s plan for man. Our spirit was made as the organ to contact God and receive God. Our soul is the organ through which we express God. Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47).

      To carry out God’s plan, we really need to consider the present function of our spirit and soul. We need to daily use our spirit to contact the Lord and to be filled with Him (Eph. 5:18b). We also need to experience the transformation of our soul by allowing the Lord to spread from our spirit into our soul, bit by bit (Eph 4:23). It is by such a walk according to spirit that we can build up Christ’s Body today and be prepared to meet Him in resurrection or rapture.

  30. Kevin Lee Poracan

    In God’s economy there is a need to distinguish between the parts of man, in particular between the spirit and the soul. In certain places, especially in the New Testament, there is a definite distinction between the two. Spirit and soul are strikingly contrasted in places in the New Testament. In Ro- mans 8:5-7 the mind ( phronëma) is torn between being set on the flesh and on the spirit (in which the law of the Spirit of life dwells). In 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 the mind ( nous ) is contrasted with the spirit, and it is unfruitful if prayer or singing in the spirit is in an unknown language or tongue. The spirit and soul are contrasted in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This is a crucial verse to indicate the need of dividing, or discerning, between the spirit and the soul. Just as the marrow is contained in the bones, so the spirit is contained in the soul. Only the living and operative word of God can accomplish this dividing. Another place where there is contrast between soul and spirit is related to the body. While the human spirit is in the midst of the body (lit., sheath Dan. 7:15; cf. Job 32:18; Psa. 143:4; Isa. 19:3; 26:9), the soul is more intimately related to the body, being the product of the union of the breath of God and the body made from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). The body is a soulish body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44). Through the process of transformation (of the soul) and transfiguration, the body becomes a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The note on 1 Thessalonians 5:23 in the Scofield Reference Bible states, “To assert, therefore, that there is no difference between soul and spirit is to assert that there is no difference between the mortal body and the resurrection body” (1270).

    Jude 19 also defines those who are soulish as having no spirit (the human spirit not the Spirit of God), who, as Al- ford says, “have not indeed ceased to have pneuma, as a part of their own tripartite nature: but they have ceased to possess it in any worthy sense: it is degraded beneath and under the power of the psychë, the personal life, so as to have no real vitality of its own” (540). There are also crucial experiences that are particularly related only to the spirit or the soul. The human spirit (not the soul) needs to be regenerated by the Spirit of God (John 3:5-6) to receive the life that can overcome sin, death, the flesh; we walk and live according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16, 25); and we should serve and worship God in our spirit (Rom. 1:9; John 4:24). The human spirit is the crucial organ with which we can know ( oida ) ourselves (1 Cor. 2:11) and receive the revelations of the mysteries of God and Christ (Eph. 3:5). On the other hand, the life of the soul, or the self (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) needs to be denied; the mind of the soul is in need of transformation by renewing (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18); and the faculties of the soul are in the process of experiencing God’s salvation—the salvation of the soul (1 Pet. 1:9; James 1:21; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; cf. Matt. 16:25; Luke 17:33; and Heb. 10:39).

    (Affirmation and Critque)

    http://affcrit.com/pdfs/1997/04/97_04_gl.pdf

  31. Ed

    Hi Tom, just found your website and think its awesome! I really appreciate that you actually respond to posts instead of leaving everyone wondering and allowing things to run amuck.

    I was on a similar article where the posts turned to animals and their possibility of an afterlife with our Creator. The following post caught my interest and was hoping to get your opinion:

    Luke 3 tells us that all flash will see the kingdom of God…Romans 8 says that animals are under the cursecof death because man fell and even they yearn for Christ’s return and that they too will see heaven…God spared Ninavaih in Jonah partially because of the cattle…God made a covanent with Noah and the animals…

    What do you think…do animals go to heaven???

    1. Tom Smith

      Ed,
      Thanks for your comment and question. To be simple, I can’t go beyond what is the clear revelation of the Scriptures. There is no direct word in the Bible speaking of an afterlife related to the animals. However the Bible does say in Romans 8 that,

      “the creation was made subject to vanity, not of its own will, but of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now.” (Rom. 8:20-22)

      The animals as a part of the creation are also presently enslaved under the law of decay and corruption, suffering the vanity and death in the this judged old creation. This entire creation is awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.

      It is at that time that the entire creation “will be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” So in a certain sense, the animals along with rest of the creation, may be considered as the spectators in a game cheering us on to victory–to mature in Christ to become full grown sons of God. This will usher in a new age where there will no longer be groaning, vanity, and corruption. The animals will share in that freedom.

  32. Bruce

    Hi Tom, I have thought about the Soul and Spirit for the last 20 years and I still am trying to understand the difference. I do base my thoughts on scripture. I Know GOD breathed into Adam and he became a living Soul or Nephesh,could we say? GODs breath, a living Soul by which the body lives, and this breath or soul leaves on death.1 Kings 17:21, 22.
    Also that God’s spirit witnesses with our spirit and we know we are HIS son, or a son of God.
    What I seem to be missing in most studys and discussions is: the eternity of the soul, saved and unsaved . I keep thinking that the Soul is a special gift given to man by GOD, and the eternal gift is the breath of GOD. Everything from GOD is eternal
    His being, His word, His love, His breath, His forgiveness. By the gift of His breath we obtained an eternal Soul.
    I also think about how this Soul is transfered to our children. The Scripture says:
    Adam is the father of all living. Would not this apply to Eve as well as his children?
    The bible indicates old and new testament souls being in the loins of the father.
    Another question. Would this not be how the soul is transfered at conception?
    Is not a renunion of man and wife holy and acceptable to God. Would not this be
    the reason that God hates and its an abomination to Him, unnatural sex perverision?
    Sincerely, in Christ Bruce.

    1. Tom Smith

      Hi Bruce, I appreciate your attention to this crucial matter of knowing the difference between the soul and spirit of man. Knowing this difference is great matter—one that affects our progress in our Christian life and how useful we are able to be in the fulfillment of God’s plan.

      We need to discern our spirit from our soul and apply each organ appropriately. For example, Luke 1:46-47 says, “Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior.”

      A footnote on verse 47 in the Recovery Version says,

      “Mary first exulted in God her Savior, then her soul magnified the Lord. Her praise to God issued from her spirit and then was expressed through her soul. Her spirit was filled with joy in God her Savior, and her soul manifested that joy for the magnifying of the Lord…”

      Sadly, many people, unbelievers and believers alike, confuse the two organs—spirit and soul—and in some cased even deny that there is a difference. This is a great loss!

      The Lord Jesus comes to live in our spirit from the time we are reborn (John 3:6). Paul concluded his second epistle to Timothy by saying, “The Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22). This is much more than a salutation. It is a great revelation! The Lord Jesus is actually with and indwelling our spirit!

      As such, this reality should govern our entire Christian life. We should go to the Lord in our spirit and take Him as our source in everything. This is what it means to “walk according to spirit” in Romans 8:4.

      I’d encourage you to read a chapter called “The Key to Experiencing Christ—the Human Spirit.” You can read it online or download a free PDF. It’s the last chapter in Basic Elements of the Christian Life, Volume 1.

      This is a huge subject, but I hope this helps. I’d be happy to talk more if you have more questions.

  33. Yokoju Alfred

    When does a christian receive the baptism of the Holy spirit?

    1. Tom Smith

      The baptism in the Holy Spirit was accomplished in two steps: 1) On the day of Pentecost, the Jewish believers, the first part of the Body of Christ, were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13); in the house of Cornelius, the second part of His Body, were baptized in the same way (10:44-47). By these two steps, Christ, the ascended Head, baptized once for all, His entire Body into the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). [Footnote 2, on Acts 2:4 in the Recovery Version]

      According to the normal Christian experience, at the time we are baptized into Christ, we are also baptized into His one Body (1 Cor. 12:13, note 2). Identified with Christ’s Body, we participate in that once for all baptism in the Holy Spirit that is already upon His Body. By calling on the Lord’s name, to drink the one Spirit, we enjoy and are mingled with this outpoured Spirit (note 5)

  34. Gladys Lekwape

    I understand that if we die the body is buried and the spirit return to the owner what about the soul because it does not seem as if it is going somewhere or soul and spirit is one thing Pastor?

    1. Tom Smith

      Gladys,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      In response to your question, “I understand that if we die the body is buried and the spirit returns to the owner. What about the soul?…

      First, as I indicated the subject post, the soul and the spirit of man are different. When we die our body is buried and our spirit and soul leave our dead body.

      In referring to the death of the Lord Jesus, Acts 2:27 says, “Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You permit Your Holy One to see corruption.”

      This indicates that when Jesus died on the cross, His soul went to Hades. Footnote 1, on Matthew 11:23 in the Recovery Version says,

      Hades, equal to Sheol in the Old Testament (Gen. 37:35; Psa. 6:5), is the place where the souls and spirits of the dead are kept (Luke 16:22-23; Acts 2:27).

      Acts 2:27 is a quote from Psalm 16:10 which says, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, / Nor let Your Holy One see the pit.”

      Footnote 1 on Psalm 16:10, regarding the “soul”:

      After His death, Christ’s soul went to Sheol (Hades—Eph. 4:9) and remained there for three days. That God would not abandon Christ’s soul to Sheol or let Him as God’s Holy One see corruption indicates that Christ’s soul would be raised up from Sheol and also that Christ’s physical body would be resurrected from the tomb (Matt. 28:6; John 20:5-9).

      As I have mentioned in previous comments, Hades includes both Paradise or Abraham’s bosom, the pleasant section where Abraham, Lazarus and all the believers rest after there death awaiting the resurrection of life (Luke 16:22-23). This is different from the unpleasant part of Hades, referred to as a place of torment where the rich man went in Luke 16 and is separated by a gulf from the pleasant section.

      Notes quoted are from the Recovery Version, Published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA.

  35. Matthew 22:37 NIV
    Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

    Can you define heart in the context of Matthew 22:37

  36. Paul

    Hey Tom!

    This is an older post but I had a question… if you don’t mind revisiting your old articles. I really enjoyed your article, but I have personally benefited immensely from understanding the doctrine of man as “mind”, “spirit”, and body, while you exchange “mind” for “soul”. Doing a quick research, I see that most theologians consider man to be composed of soul, spirit and body, instead of: mind, spirit, and body.

    While this might seem like a minor difference, I think the point of contention for me is where the emotion comes from? I always attributed emotions and feelings from the spirit, which is the eternal essence of who we are, while the role of the mind is purely to understand and measure the physical world that we live in. I support my distinction with 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about the role of tongues and how it edifies the spirit but neglects the mind, and how both the mind and the spirit need to be edified.

    I put forth the premise that all emotions comes from the spirit but am not implying that all our emotions are good and should be followed. I believe that our broken spirit (or “dead” spirit) is redeemed by the Spirit of Christ but still has fleshly tendencies to sin and is the purest essence of who we are. Don’t our desires and our longings originate from the core of who we are instead of something from the periphery we call the “soul”?

    I put forth this question, not to argue against your claims but to learn from you because I think that I might be wrong in my understanding. Most credible Christian sources seem to understand the doctrine of man as the soul, spirit, and body, instead of it being the mind, spirit, and body and am willing to learn.

    Thanks for reading,
    Paul

    1. Tom Smith

      Paul, for my answer to your question, please read my post on “What is the soul and how does God heal soul sickness?

  37. George Nketia Daadom

    Please Sir, is there any Biblical relationship between blood and soul of human

    1. Tom Smith

      George, I’m not aware of a direct Biblical correlation between human blood and the human soul. Maybe you could explain your consideration a little further. However, our perishing soul was redeemed by the shedding of the precious human blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

  38. When you die..your soul and spirit will depart from your body right? how’s that sir? does your soul and spirit will go out separetely or only your spirit? I am a firm believer of Jesus Christ. My Mom told me that the soul was like the reason why we have emotions..I would like to hear your explanation sir thank you and Godbless!

    1. Tom Smith

      Elisha, Please read my earlier comment replies to Lupe and Ozuzu David on this similar topic. I believe what I wrote there includes the answer to your question. Since our spirit is encased within our soul, when a believer’s body dies their soul with their spirit departs from their body to rest in Paradise awaiting the resurrection of life at the Lord’s coming (1 Thes 4:13-18).

    2. Tom Smith

      Elisha,
      In response to your comments…I know it has been a long time coming… I have just published a related post which may help your understanding, entitled “Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies?”

      URL: http://holdingtotruth.com/2014/07/20/where-spirit-soul-go-after-body-dies/

      Let me know if this post is helpful. Feel free to ask questions if something needs clarification.

      Thanks,

      Tom

  39. nozipho

    Thank you very much, the verses that you gave us were very helpful.. Thank you again may god bless you.

  40. Glitter

    Hi Tom, I am glad I found this very interesting article, thank you! I am not sure I totally agree with your analogy of soul/spirit vs joints/marrow. It’s not a bad analogy, it is helpful; it’s just not perfect. Marrow is not in the joints directly, but in the bones. I agree that the marrow is hidden in the bones and this is a good analogy for the spirit which is hidden in our frame (or, the “core” of who we are). And I think that “joint” is an excellent metaphor for “soul” because while a joint is tangible, it is not a complete physical entity in and of itself. Rather, a joint is the place where two things (or two separate parts of one thing) are joined. Joints are created in the body when bones, ligaments and tendons come together. Similarly, the soul is comprised of the mind, will and emotions. So, the marrow is hidden in the bones, which are the essence of the joints (i.e., the purpose of the joint is to join the bones). So perhaps it is accurate, then, to say that the spirit is the essence of the soul. Another way to say it is that the spirit feeds the soul. It is good for the two to be joined as long as the spirit is feeding the soul but not the other way around. When our soul tries to feed our spirit, we run into trouble because our soul is full of fear, anxiety, impure thoughts. So, when our soul tries to feed our spirit, we can invoke the truth of Heb 4:12 and use God’s word to separate the two so that our spirit can operate by the fuel of the Holy Spirit and not our mind, emotions, and will. Does this make any sense??? Any thoughts, Tom?

    1. Tom Smith

      Another illustration that may help is that of the three parts of the temple (which is also a picture of us. See 1 Cor. 3:16)—the Outer Court, Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. There was the need to pass through the Outer Court and Holy Place to enter into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence was. Today, as 2 Tim. 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” We need to come to the Lord in our spirit where we enjoy Him as grace. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.” This is to come forward to Christ in our spirit (the practical Holy of Holies in us). When we pray to fellowship with the Lord in our spirit we receive the supply of grace to live the Christian life. By praying with God’s Word we divide our soul from our spirit and are able to touch the Lord in our spirit to enjoy His grace. Check out the illustrations in The Economy of God, Chapter 3 for a further understanding of this point. You can download the PDF for free. Thanks for the comment.

  41. Thankyou Tom I’ve wondered for a long time what was the difference between soul and spirit, I guess I was just ready to find out because your simple explanation hit the mark. My soul seems to be the part which Satan frequently attacks and my spirit is the part which fires God’s word and tells him to clear off. I think that God’s kingdom is taking over but I’ve little doubt that the battle isn’t over.

    1. Tom Smith

      Robert, Yes, our soul has been damaged by Satan through the fall causing us to become darkened in our understanding. But in God’s complete salvation, He regenerates our spirit with His Spirit (John 3:6), making our spirit life (Rom. 8:10). Then as we pray and set our mind on the spirit, God renews our mind, making it one of life and peace (Rom. 8:6). Keep enjoying the Word with prayer, this will defeat the enemy, Satan, and enlarge God’s kingdom within you. Thanks for the confirming comment.

  42. Angel

    Tom Smith,

    Let me start out by saying that this article on the body, spirit, and soul was just wonderful and cleared a lot of things up for me! There is no doubt that the soul and spirit are CONNECTED, but are indeed separable. However, I still have a few questions:

    1) In John 3:5, Jesus states that man must be born again in water and in SPIRIT. He doesn’t say the soul must be born again. So our spirits are what is born again..NOT our souls. Do you agree?

    2) If that is the case, why in regards to evangelism do Christians say, “Let’s win SOULS for Christ” if it is not our SOULS being born again?

    3) Mark 12:30 instructs us to love the Lord our God with all our HEART, SOUL, MIND, and strength. If you’re saying that our MINDS, emotions, and will make up our SOUL, why does this scripture distinguish the mind and soul? And if emotions come from the soul, what comes from our hearts?

    1. Tom Smith

      Angel,

      Yes, according to John 3:6, our spirit is regenerated. Also in 2 Tim. 4:22 it says that the Lord is with our spirit. Then, after we are regenerated in our spirit, we need to be transformed in our soul by the spreading of the divine life from our spirit into our soul. Rom. 12:2, says that we are transformed by the renewing of the mind (the mind being the leading part of our soul.)

      When we speak of souls, we’re referring to persons (1 Pet. 3:20 says “eight souls”), because our personality is in our soul. When a person repents (has a change in his mind toward Jesus Christ), is touched by Christ’s love (in his emotion) and and chooses to believe (with his will), we can say that such a soul has been won for Christ. But when he receives Him, the Lord actually enters into his spirit (Rom. 8:10).

      Mark 12:30 speaks of loving the Lord with our whole being–your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and your whole strength. It is our heart that takes the lead in loving the Lord (it’s primary function is to love the Lord. See my post on the heart). It’s more of a drill down affect. The heart contains all the parts of the soul plus the conscience of the spirit. The soul contains the mind, the emotion and the will. Then our strength is in our body. Our love for the Lord should pervade our being until even our body is engaged in loving Him. This is an all-pervading love. The repetition provides emphasis, strength and completion. May we be constrained by the Lord’s love to love Him with our entire being.

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