Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

What Is the Difference Between the Soul and Spirit?

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between the soul and the spirit?

What is the difference between the soul and spirit?

First, it is vitally important to realize that there is a definite distinction between them according to the Bible.

Second, it is equally important to realize that our experience of Christ depends on our learning this distinction.

So let’s consider the distinction between the soul and spirit from the Bible. Then we’ll see how we can to experience this distinction in our Christian life.

The Bible reveals there is a difference between the soul and spirit.

Seeing our three parts from the Bible

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 many people are not clear concerning the difference between the soul and spirit. How about you?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul tells us clearly that our spirit and soul are two distinct parts just like our soul and body are.

Another verse that emphasizes the difference 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 are parts of our body plus our “soul and spirit.” This verse again reveals that we have these three distinct parts.

Seeing  that our soul and spirit can be divided

It’s also important to see that our soul and spirit can be “divided.” Hence, they’re different. In Hebrews 4:12 they are compared to “the joints and marrow.” As marrow is hidden inside the joints, so our spirit is hidden in our soul.

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

Here is an illustration of our three parts—our  spirit, soul, and body.

To illustrate this distinction, we may use the illustration of three concentric circles:
what is the difference between the soul and spirit?

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?

Use God’s living Word to divide soul from spirit

We already mentioned that Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the “dividing of soul and spirit.” To apply this dividing we need to come to 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 another 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.

Receive the Word with prayer

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 me the difference between my soul and spirit. Thank you also for giving us Your living and operative word as a practical way to divide our soul and spirit. Lord, remind me to apply Your word by prayer, thanksgiving and praise so I can enjoy You in my spirit every day.”

I hope that this practical way to discern your soul and spirit with God’s living word helps you as much as it’s helped me.

If you’ve enjoyed this post I hope you’ll  take a moment to share what you enjoyed in a comment.

References and Further Reading:



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. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

194 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.”

        1. Francis

          It is wonderful to understand the difference of spirit and soul. May God bless you for that. Again may you help on difference between soul and heart!

          1. Tom Smith

            To see the difference between the soul and the heart, I would recommend that you read my post entitled, What is Your Heart According to the Bible and How Can You Exercise It?

      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


            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.

          1. George Oyaro

            I come from Africa, Kenya. understand from God’s Word that our bodies return to dust because that is where they were made from. You replied to one of the questions you were asked that our soul and spirit go together. Where do they go??

          2. Tom Smith


            I have addressed your question in another Holding to Truth post, Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies?. Please prayerfully read over this post and then feel free to reply again if you would like further fellowship regarding your question. Thank you for your comment.

        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.

          1. Thank you very much for posting this.
            I am Mr.Joseph from Myanmar and a Christian. But before, I had never understood about SOUL & SPIRIT. However, I know more about our SOUL & SPIRIT go together when our body dies.

            God be with you all the time and blesses you upon our every works.

          2. Tom Smith


            It is a great blessing to know our spirit and to discern the spirit from the soul. It is in our spirit that the Lord Jesus dwells (2 Tim. 4:22). It is by walking according to our spirit joined to the Spirit that we can fulfill all God’s righteous requirements (Rom. 8:4). By calling on the name of the Lord Jesus from deep within we also experience being in the Spirit who is with our spirit. Call on Him deeply and often. In this way you will be filled with the Lord in spirit (Eph. 5:18) and be supplied to live the Christian life. Thank you for your comment.

    2. Cassian Makono

      I’m touched deeply by this article.

    3. Dalton Blair

      Thank you so much for you being obedient to the voice of God, and allowing Him to use you to reach the world with His Word. Blessings to you!

      1. Tom Smith

        it is the Lord’s mercy that we could realize that there is a difference between our spirit and soul through the effective operation of God’s living word. Since the Lord Jesus is now dwelling in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), we simply need to learn the secret to contact Him with our spirit so that He can supply us, spread His life into every part of our being. The simplest way I’ve found to contact is to call on the Lord from deep within (1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 10:12-13). When we call on Him in this way, we are in His Spirit and He becomes so rich to us, saving us, not only eternally, but even moment by moment from all the subjective issues–temper, offenses, anxiety and much more. Oh how we need to touch Him moment by moment with our spirit!

    4. Emmanuel Sossah

      Thanks for the insight revealing . God bless you, wish to receive alert from you concerning the things of God.

      1. Tom Smith

        Discerning our spirit from our soul is crucial to our practice of following the Lord. Since the Lord Jesus lives in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), we need to go deeper than our mind emotion, and will to touch Him in the spirit. Our spirit is the key to experiencing such an indwelling Christ. But it is our praying with the Word that enables us to discern our spirit from our soul so that we can contact the Lord to receive His grace. Thank you for your comment.

    5. Robert Russell

      Thanks for the writing. It’s awesome and very insightful and helpful.

      I have one question, that’s been brewing for awhile related to this area.

      What’s the difference or is there one with the mind of the spirit and the spirit of the mind?

      Ephesians 4:23, Romans 8:27

      1. Tom Smith

        That is a very good question. The two expressions—”the mind of the spirit” and “the spirit of the mind” are related in our experience. “The spirit of the mind” in Eph. 4:23 refers to the spreading of such a spirit—the regenerated spirit of the believers mingled with the indwelling Spirit of God—into our mind. Such a spirit becomes the spirit of our mind. In such a spirit we are renewed from our transformation. “The mind of the Spirit” in Rom. 8:27 is the mind of the Spirit that has been mingled with our mind. In this case the Spirit has not only mingled Himself with our spirit; He has mingled His mind with our mind. To my impression, these two are like the cause and the affect. First the there is the spirit of the mind indicating the spreading into our mind. As an issue we experience the mind of the Spirit, the Spirit mingling His mind with our mind. As we enjoy the Lord in our spirit we experience both. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. My understanding of this truth came from footnotes in the Recovery Version study Bible. You can order a free copy online at biblesforamerica.org/free-bible

    6. Bismark Owusu Sarpong

      So which one will be judge the spirit or the soul and why?

      1. Tom Smith

        God made us with three parts—spirit, soul and body (1 Thes. 5:23). Our personality is in our soul—our mind, our emotion and our will. Our spirit, our innermost being is hidden within our soul even as the marrow is hidden within the bones (Heb. 4:12) When we meet the Lord, in addition to a resurrected body, we will have both spirit and soul as our entire inner being. The believers will meet the Lord at the judgement seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10) to give account for our living after we are saved. Later, the unbelievers will be judged at the great white throne of judgement (Rev. 20:11-15). Since it is our soul that experiences joy and sorrow, our joy in receiving and following the Lord or our sorrow and regret for rejecting Him will especially be the experience of our soul. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful comment.

  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?”

          1. Hello smith my question is when God created man in the beginig and he give bearth or life in to the neus of Adam what was DAT is it the spirit or the soul?

          2. Tom Smith


            Thanks for your comment and question on our post, “What Is the Difference Between the Soul and Spirit of Man?” You asked, “When God created man in the beginning and breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life was that the spirit or the soul?

            To answer your question, that was the human spirit. The Hebrew word for breath neshamah in Genesis 2:7 is also rendered spirit in Proverbs 20:27.

            First, God formed man of the dust of the ground. That was the human body. Then God breathed into man the breath of life, the human spirit. Finally, as a result, man became a living soul. This is how God created man with three parts–spirit, soul and body (1 Thes. 5:23). Please, read the verse with footnote 5 for a better appreciation of how God made man with three parts. Hope this helps.

      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.

          1. james ferrando

            I have a question..if a person is sinner…is his soul and spirit goes together in hell or separated….

          2. Tom Smith


            Our inner being is composed of both the soul and the spirit–the spirit being embodied within the soul like the marrow is hidden within the bones (see Hebrews 4:12 and footnote 2).

            So they go together, that is, when a person dies, both their soul and spirit depart either to rest with the believers in Paradise or to suffer in the place of torment. You may want to read my post on “Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies?” Hope this helps. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

          3. Barbara

            Started studying Body, Soul, and Spirit about 3 years ago when a loved one took his life. I discovered that the body is just that, The Soul is the mind, The Will, The Mind, The Emotion. The Spirit is The Conscience, The Fellowship, and The Intuition. Someone else may have another way to look at this, but this has helped me, a lot.

          4. Tom Smith

            I am very glad that this presentation has been a help to you. Knowing our inward parts is crucial to our experience and enjoyment of Christ, to our following Him and growing up in Him. In 2 Timothy 4:22, it says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” With out knowing our inward parts–discerning our spirit from our soul it would be difficult for us to experience the Lord in our spirit. Also, as the Lord speaks in Matthew 16:24-25 of denying our self that we may follow Him. The self that needs to be denied is related to our mind (v. 23) and soul-life (v. 25). Also seeing the functions of our spirit–conscience, fellowship, and intuition gives us the way to experience the Lord in a detailed and finer way. To develop this understanding, I would recommend a prayerful reading of the book, The Economy of God by Witness Lee, especially chapters 5-11. You can read it online for free at ministrybooks.org. You can also download a free copy from Bibles for America here.

      3. Eric

        Hi Tom,

        Is it proper for the rich man to call Abraham “Father Abraham” in Paradise? If not, then why did Abraham did not rebuke or corrected the rich man? Like the Angel in the Book of revelation, he corrected John by telling him not to bow down on him because he is merely a servant like him.

        Maybe Jesus is just teaching the Jew audiences a principle from this passage or should we say parable, and this is not so in reality in the after life.

        1. Tom Smith


          Referring to Abraham as “father” in this context is not a reference to the Father in the Godhead. He is simply the father of faith, the first one to believe God’s promise and be justified by God by faith (Gen.15:6). As Hab. 2:4 says, “But the righteous one will live by his faith.” This is the New Testament gospel (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). Abraham is the father of the called race, those who received God’s promise. His physical descendants were the Jews. As such they call Abraham their father. As believers, we are sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7) his spiritual descendants–the enlarged seed of Abraham, by faith in Christ–Abraham’s unique seed (Gal.3:16, 29).

      4. Mark

        Hi Tom. Great blog. You mentioned our spirit is tucked away in our soul but can also be separated from it. I would think, likewise our soul is sorta tucked away in our flesh. My thoughts lead me to see the soul being more a part of the flesh than the spirit. The Soul: mind (brain) will (fleshly desires) emotions (natural flesh feelings) are not born again, but our spirit is born again. 1 Peter 2:3 we were separated/sanctified by the Spirit to Him… We know God is Spirit and we are born again by the spirit. We are told to bring every though captive to the obedience of Christ because the mind needs constant renewing, but we know our spirit is willing and desires to obey God. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Bottom line it seems to me that the flesh and soul perish and our spirit goes on into eternity at death. Your thoughts brother?

        1. Tom Smith

          Our entire three part being was created by God for His purpose (Gen. 2:7) so that we might contact God, contain God and express Him. However, due to the fall (Genesis 3), our spirit became deadened (Eph. 2:1), our soul became at enmity with God (Col. 1:21) and our body was transmuted into the flesh (Gen. 6:3; Rom. 6:12). But in His complete salvation, God regenerates our spirit (John 3:6), transforms our soul (2 Cor. 3:18) and will one day transfigure our body (Phil. 3:21). To cooperate with God, we need to turn to the Spirit with our spirit by means of prayer to allow His renewing work to proceed unhindered. Surely our mortal body will go into corruption at our physical death (unless we are alive at the time of our Lord’s return). However, our inner man composed of our spirit as its life and person with our renewed soul as its organ (2 Cor. 4:16) will rest in Paradise awaiting the resurrection of life (John 5:29) at the Lord’s coming. Please take a look at that linked verse reference and footnote. Hope this helps. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.


    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.


        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.

          1. jonathan arroyo

            Isnt this referring to Jesus Christ? Which then means in acts 2:34 Jesus is also being referenced and not David as being lord? [Heb 1:13 KJV] 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

          2. Tom Smith

            Jonathan, Yes, in both verses you referenced, the ascended Christ is the subject, being quoted from Psalm 110:1. Thanks for your comment.

  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


      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,


          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

      The Ultimate Consummation of God’s Economy:
      Heaven or the New Jerusalem?

  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?

      The Basis for the Building Work of God
      Chapter 6 The Place Where the Believers Go

  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


      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,


  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


      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)


  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

      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


      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,

    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

      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: https://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.



  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


      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.

  43. Dr. Victoria Thedford

    Dear Mr. Smith,
    After reading your article on ‘The Difference Between the Soul and Spirit’, I was filled with divine understanding by The Holy Spirit and all I could do was weep. This difference has been explained to me many times before, but I was not able to understand it until I read your article!! It is so plain and clear, and not only do I have understanding, I have now transformed to another level!! I thank God for leading me to you, and I thank you for being an obedient servant to our God. I pray for God’s continuous and abundant blessings upon your life!!

  44. Joshua Coley

    Hello Sir. I was reading a comment and the person was asking you about the word heart from a scripture that said that we should love God will all out heart, soul, and mind. I’m not asking about the heart, but about the soul and mind. Just how 1st Thess 5:23 individualize the soul and spirit to make them sound separate, That love the lord scripture seems to separate the soul and the mind, but I remember reading on this site that the soul was the mind, along with other things. If we have to love the Lord with our soul and with our mind, is it safe to say that the soul is not the mind? (p.s. if you already answered this question I sorry, there were soo many posts, I didnt have the patience to read them all.

    1. Tom Smith


      Our inward parts are not so simple. Regarding the soul and the mind, for example, we can say mind and soul are distinct but not separate. The mind is a part of the soul, along with the emotion and will. So, in certain passages like Lamentations 3:20 it says, “My soul remembers them well…” To remember is a function of the mind, yet the prophet said my soul remembers. In my post What is the Soul and How Does God Heal Soul Sickness? I further develop this point. For a deeper appreciation for our inward parts I would highly recommend the book The Economy of God by Witness Lee. You can read it for free online at ministrybooks.org, get a free economy version from Bibles for America (in USA) or download a PDF from the publisher. Chapters 6 and 7 are particularly helpful.

      1. Susan Barbra Logose

        When a person dies or passes on what happens to the body, soul and spirit. Am asking this question simply because my mother was a christian and she died. so i ask my self. where is she

        1. Tom Smith

          Hi Susan,

          I wrote a post a while back that might help to answer your question about what happens to the body, soul and spirit when a person dies. since your mother was a believer in Christ you can be assured that she is with the Lord (Phil. 1:23). Here is a post that may help you understand where your deceased mother is. May the Lord richly supply you through His Word.

  45. matthew


    1. Tom Smith

      Matthew, God made us as a total person of three parts–body, soul and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). He is now progressively sanctifying all three parts of our being, first by regenerating our spirit (John 3:6), second by transforming our soul (Rom. 12:2) and third by transfiguring or glorifying our body (Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:30). Whatever has been sanctified by God through His complete salvation in this age, will not need to be judged by Him at the time of His judgment. For the unbelievers, who have not received God’s salvation in Christ, their spirit, soul and body will be judged at the great white throne of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). As to the believers, however, we will meet the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). We will never perish, because our spirit has been regenerated with His eternal life being sanctified by God’s Spirit of life. However, whether or not our soul will suffer a certain discipline by God in the next age–the age of the kingdom, depends on whether we cooperate with God’s sanctifying work in this age (Matt. 16:25-27; 10:39). Then, in eternity, all the believers will enjoy the eternal blessings of God’s eternal life, being filled with God and expressing Him in their entire being–spirit, soul and body in the New Jerusalem for eternity. [I would encourage you to look up the reference verses and consider them with the help of the footnotes in the online Recovery Version)

  46. antoh isaac bimpong

    please how do our mind influence our daily life

    1. Tom Smith

      Antoh, The mind is the leading part of our soul. Until we are regenerated and learn to walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4), our mind dominates our being. As believers, we need to learn to turn our mind, to mind the things of the spirit (v. 5) and to set our mind on the spirit (v. 6) so that we can be led by the Spirit (v. 14) who lives in our spirit (v. 16). In this way we will be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). The best way I know to set our mind on the spirit is exercise to turn it to the Lord by means of His living word (Heb. 4:12).

  47. Tafadzwa

    Thanks. Now I know the difference between human soul and spirit

  48. vimbikai

    thank u sir may God bless u

    1. Tom Smith

      When we discover our spirit, and learn to discern our spirit from soul, we are blessed to find the key to experiencing Christ, our human spirit. It is with our spirit that we can receive the Lord (John 3:6), worship Him (4:24) and serve Him (Rom. 1:9). A simple way to enjoy this blessing is to exercise from deep within to call on the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 10:12-13). In this way we are in the Holy Spirit who now dwells in our spirit (Rom. 8:9-16). May the Lord richly bless you with such a vision that you are His vessel with three parts—spirit, soul and body!

  49. What is the state of a human spirit which is the breath of God for a sinner? Will it remain holy?

    1. Tom Smith


      The human spirit in a sinner, one who has not yet received Christ, is dead. Ephesians 2:1 says, “You being dead in your offenses and sins.” The deadness here refers to the deadness of our spirit before we are saved. This is similar to the electrical wires in your home when the breaker switch is off. No current flows through them. Our sins insulate us from the divine “current” or “transmission.” However, when we turn our heart to the Lord Jesus, repent and believe in Him, confessing our sins, we enjoy the Lord’s Spirit of life enlivening our deadened spirit and bringing us the “current,” the fellowship of the Holy Spirit into our spirit. As a result, the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16).

  50. Thanks for your immediate response and the clear analogy of electrical wires.

    1. Tom Smith


      Glad you found the analogy of electricity helpful. Actually, living the normal Christian life is a matter of learning to keep our spirit “switched on” all the time so we enjoy an unbroken transmission of the divine Spirit in our human spirit. I believe that is why Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 said, “Always rejoice, unceasingly pray, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” These verses give us a practical way to keep our spirit switched on by always rejoicing, unceasingly praying and giving thanks in everything. In this way we don’t quench the Spirit but enjoy a continuous flow of the Spirit.

      For more appreciation of this point you may enjoy reading the Life-study of Romans Messages 67 and 56 and also Perfecting Training, Chapter 31, both by Witness Lee. You can read them freely online at ministrybooks.org or purchase a copy from the publisher, Living Stream Ministry at lsm.org.

  51. Ruel Sending

    Hi Sir, Tom Smith. I would like to thank you this write up of yours. I have so many question in life since my beloved partner died last month. I came into so many questions such as where the spirit goes after death? Does the spirit reincarnated into a new body? How long it takes to reincarnate the spirit after the body died? When the time comes to me to died will be there any chances to meet my love one a long time departed? Would have be a chances to reunited with my love in a spirit world? Is it true that the spirit remain in the earth together with the living or is the spirit of my beloved will be always at my side as my guardians? When I died is my beloved spirit will be there to pick me up or accompany me in the spirit world? Would there be any chances to have talk in a dream of my beloved who died? How would I know that the spirit of my beloved died not having difficulty in a spirit world does he in a peaceful situation not suffering?. Thank you so much Tom. These are some question I have in mind that I am seeking for answer? I hope you help me to figure it out. Thank you so much and more power.

    1. Tom Smith


      May the God of all comfort comfort you in the loss of your partner. As far as your question regarding where the spirit goes when the body dies you may want to read my post Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? Concerning the a new body, the Bible speaks about the transfiguration of our body in Phil 3:21 and of glorification in Rom. 8:30. This is also the redemption of our body spoken of Eph. 1:14. Yes, as believers we have the blessed hope of being reunited with our believing loved ones in the coming resurrection. Because of this we do grieve as those in the world who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13).

      This is all I can say for now. I hope this helps. I would encourage you to follow the links and prayerfully consider the verses. This can be a big factor of encouragement as it is God’s word full of His living essence. Thanks for your comment.

  52. Jan

    Hi Tom
    What are your thoughts on people who see and speak to Angels ? And for those who believe they have guardian angels? It seems that some people can connect to the spirit side. Jan

    1. Tom Smith

      Hi Jan,

      the thought of seeing and speaking to angels does not match the present truth for the believers in the age of grace following Christ’s death and resurrection and imparting of His Spirit into God’s children. Rom. 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God.”

      God’s revealing Himself to His people today is not in that outward way of the Old Testament or even in the way He did prior to Christ’s process of death and resurrection which was often through angels. In contrast, the believers today have the indwelling Spirit of Christ with their spirit (vv. 9-10) that enables us to have fellowship with the Lord and be led by His Spirit (v. 14). The positive sense of the Spirit with our spirit is life and peace (v. 6).

      When we pray to the Lord, opening to Him in every matter, great or small, we need only to check our inner sense of God’s life in us. If as we live and work we sense His life and peace in us, we can proceed confidently. However, if we feel the opposite, deadness, restlessness, etc. we know that our way is not pleasing to the Lord and we need repent and turn to Him.

      I would encourage you to follow the links to prayerfully consider the verses I have referenced and to thoughtfully read the related footnotes on these verses in the Recovery Version study Bible.

      Hope this helps. Thanks for your comment.


      God’s speaking to us through His word and indwelling Spirit is solid and living and will not distract us from the Lord’s way. Seeing angels and talking to angels may lead people into the wrong spiritual realm that does not fulfill God’s purpose for His believers as revealed in His word in the Bible.

      1. Jan

        Hi Tom
        Thank you for your reply. Over the years, strange things have happened to my family and I,( not in a scary way, but quite revealing) that cannot be explained away,We do not practice any kind of religion,as in going to church.We felt that our deceased family were contacting us. Having said all this, I do talk to Jehovah God,and Jesus, as I do believe,my husband is not in belief, he was bought up in a science household.

  53. Spencer

    In Ephesians 1:17, King James Version, it says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:”. What does the word ‘spirit’ refer to in this verse? Is it supposed to be capitalized?

    1. Tom Smith

      Spencer, Thank you for your comment asking , “What does the word ‘spirit’ refer to in Ephesians 1:17? Is it supposed to be capitalized?

      “A spirit of wisdom and revelation” in Ephesians 1:17, like “the eyes of your heart” in verse 18 refers to our inner being. Hence a lower case “s” is used for spirit. The spirit here does refer to the Holy Spirit of God but the regenerated spirit of man (John 3:6). It is in such a spirit of ours, indwelt by the Spirit, that we are able to receive revelation concerning God and His purpose or economy. (see the link to Eph. 1:17 and associated footnote.) I hope this understanding is helpful. Thank you for your comment.

  54. Reverend Cooper

    Dear Bro. Smith, when a sinner dies, does his SPIRIT go to HADES?
    I am not talking about his Soul, not talking about Hell, but his spirit to Hades. Love ya! Bro. Cooper

    1. Tom Smith

      Brother Cooper,
      Yes, when a sinner dies, his spirit goes to Hades. In my post, Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? I point out from the case of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16-31 that the spirit and soul of the dead go to Hades, either to Abraham’s bosom (also called Paradise by the Lord Jesus) or to the place of torment. In verse 23 it specifically says that “in Hades he [that is, the unbelieving rich man mentioned in verse 22] lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham from afar and Lazarus in his bosom.” I encourage you to thoroughly read that post with the related references and notes. Thank you for your comment.

  55. I love your answers there is one thing missing, Eph. 1:13-14….We receive the Spirit or spiritual birth after we believe in Jesus..This does not disagree with you but adds more truth to the action..until this point an unbelieving person is spiritually dead and must receive the Holy Spirit from God to have eternal life, or be connected to God to receive the promised life… Also its the Holy Spirit that is continually working in the lives of those to be saved, that draws us to Christ, our Lord Jesus, whom we have faith in…. See you at supper…Jerry

    1. Tom Smith

      Jerry, that’s very good. Yes, we can add that we receive the Spirit as the issue of our believing in the Lord Jesus. Apart from the indwelling of the Spirit of life, our spirit is dead (Rom. 8:2, 10). When we believe into the Lord, it is like switching on the heavenly electricity of the Spirit. We are no longer dead in our spirit but enjoy the divine current–the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14)–supplying us and energizing us to live the Christian life by the divine life. When we abide in Christ, staying connected or in fellowship with Him, we enjoy His inner working saving us in His life–sanctifying us, renewing us and transforming us to the image of Christ. Thank you for your confirming comment.

  56. Olayinka Oyekanmi

    Thank you sir, now I can understood the different between soul and spirit. Soul always deal with flesh and carnality he lead to hell fire,while the spirit of God deal with things of Heaven. Praise God, thank you for enlightenment.

    1. Tom Smith

      Understanding the difference between our soul and spirit enables us discern our spirit and live in our spirit. This is crucial to our enjoyment of Christ and to the fulfilling of God’s purpose. For more on this point, please read my post 21 Key Bible Verses Showing the Importance of Our Spirit.

  57. Ezekiel Musa

    Am Ezekiel Musa from Nigeria, Borno state, since our soul and spirit go to hades if a person died. my question is what will you say concerning those who used to said they had a revelation that Jesus took them to heaven and hell fire, and they saw peoples that they knew here on earth.

    1. Tom Smith

      Ezekiel, I would never argue with people about their apparent revelations of heaven or hades. I can only refer people back to sure word of the Bible. I’m not the authority to say whether a person’s spiritual revelations are genuine or not. I only know that I would not receive it if it does not correspond to what is revealed in God’s word. My post on Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? is based on the Scriptures and I would not be shaken by people’s “revelations.” I’ll leave the Lord to judge whether they are man-made, demonic, or of His Spirit.

  58. John Magumba

    Hi Tom, as a theologian I am thrilled by what I can call your ‘believer’s basic theology of soul and spirit’. That is if systematic theology is about ‘ordering presentation of what the Bible teaches about God’ (in this case, ordering the bible’s teaching on God’s purpose in creating soul and spirit)

    Congrats on making your teaching so clear and simple, yet not simplistic. I take it that spirit is the real SELF, of which Soul and Body are servants. In other words, self is to content, what soul and body are to containers.

    Little wonder that your article reminded me of a thesis I did sometime on ‘The primacy of spirit in pastoral care and counselling of the Basoga people of Uganda’, based on the belief that what hurts the body and soul, had first hurt the spirit. In other words, the breakdown of body and soul health are only symptoms of the dis-ease ‘boiling’ the spirit. If health of the body and soul so depend on health of the spirit, effective pastoral care and counselling must primarily be listening to the spirit condition of the cared person(s). The revelation I got from your teaching is on the GRACE that comes from ‘the Lord being with our spirit’ (2 Tim 4:22)
    Is this pastoral perspective of spirit, soul and body agreeable to you?

    1. Tom Smith


      Since God created us as a tripartite vessel of spirit, soul and body, we need to realize that all of these three parts affect one another. Surely people have psychological and even physical problems due to their spirit being apart from Christ. In Adam we all die, but in Christ we are made alive. But where is this vitalizing Christ, subjectively, in relation to His believers? The Lord Jesus is now with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). So if we are going to help people in an adequate way, we must not just try to solve their problems outwardly (problems of mind and body) but lead them to contact the Lord with their spirit inwardly. This is the real shepherding of the flock of God, to bring people back to the enjoyment of Christ within them. This was the ministry of the apostles and must also be our ministry today. We must be rich in Christ, by enjoying Christ personally in our spirit. Then we can supply others with the Christ we have enjoyed for their growth in Him. One of the simplest ways to help people touch the Lord in their spirit is to call on the name of Lord. And yes, grace comes from the Lord being with our spirit. “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you” was Paul’s final word. May it be a continual reminder to us.

  59. Frank Hung

    “the human spirit and soul are distinct but not different beings, our spirit being hidden within our soul as marrow is hidden within our bones or joints (Heb. 4:12). Together, our spirit and soul make up our inner being. When our body dies our inner being (including both our spirit and soul) is separated from our body and departs to Hades as mentioned in Luke 16:22-23. either to “Abraham’s bosom (v. 22, equal to Paradise, 2 Cor. 12:4; Luke 23:43) or to the section of torment (16:23). In the believer, these two, our regenerated spirit and our renewed soul make up our inner man (2 Cor. 4:16).”
    Dear brother Tom Smith, from your comment, if the spirit and soul either goes to paradise for believers and place of torment for unbelievers then which spirit returns to God who gave it as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:7? Thanks very much.

    1. Tom Smith

      To understand Ecclesiastes 12 as with other parts of the Bible, we need to see it in its context.

      The subject of Ecclesiastes is the teachings of Solomon, showing that the human life in the corrupted world is a vanity, a chasing after the wind. This was his verdict after all his experiments in the human life—seeking wisdom, pleasure, etc. At the end of his searching and testing, he presented the sad portrait of a man’s old age.

      At the end of this sequence of aging he says,

      “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. (Eccl. 12:7-8)

      This verse indicates that the body that comes out of the earth naturally returns to the earth. However since the spirit and soul are given by God, when people die, their spirits and souls cannot remain in the material world but must return to God’s spiritual world. Although they return to God there are particular details in regard to how He arranges for them and where He puts them.

      For the deceased believers such as believing beggar (Luke 16:19-31) who rested in Abraham’s bosom or the believing criminal, crucified with Jesus, and who was with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:39-43), God put them in one place—Abraham’s bosom, which is also Paradise.

      However, for the unbelievers, such as the unbelieving rich man (Luke 16:23-31) who cried out in the place of torment or the blaspheming criminal (23:39) who died with Jesus on the cross that day, God puts them in a different place in God’s spiritual world—the unpleasant part of Hades.

      The context of Ecclesiastes 12:7 being in reference to the vanity of the human life, not of the spiritual destiny of believers or unbelievers, makes no reference, either positively or negatively, to the returning of the human spirit to that place in God’s spiritual world. It is just the expression of the vanity of human life in Solomon’s estimation.

      I hope that this answers helps to shed some amount of light of the issue of your concern.

  60. Brother thank you for your time to explain, I got it and am very satisfied on issue of sprit and soul God bless you.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the post helpful. I feel knowing the difference between our spirit and our soul is so crucial because the Lord lives in the spirit of His believers (2 Tim. 4:22). So if we want to experience Christ today and grow in Him, we need to know our spirit. We need to discern our spirit from our soul and learn to use our spirit to pray (Eph. 6:18) and have fellowship with the Lord and with our fellow believers. It is only in this way that the Lord can gain the church as the dwelling place of God in spirit (Eph. 2:22). Thanks for your encouraging comment.

  61. How can we touch the Holy Spirit who is now within us?

    1. Tom Smith

      John 4:24 says, God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit. Since God’s essence is Spirit, He created us with an organ that is of the same substance as His–our human spirit. His Spirit is like the electricity and our spirit is like the electrical wire than receives the divine electric current. We must learn to use our spirit to contact Him. 1 Cor. 12:3 says, that no one can say “Jesus is Lord!” or “Lord Jesus!” except in the Holy Spirit. Calling on the Lord is the simplest way to exercise our spirit to touch His Spirit, that is, to be in the Holy Spirit. Eph. 6:17 also tells us that we should “pray at every time in spirit.” When we pray from our deepest part, our spirit, we touch the Holy Spirit, and our prayer is effective. I hope this answer helps. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  62. How do we touch the Holy Spirit now who is mingled with us in our regenerated huMan spirit?

    1. Tom Smith

      Please see my answer to your previous question. Thanks again for your interest in this very important matter.

  63. Norm

    I still get a high when I read or hear the words of God my father. It must be my inner spirit jumping with joy, to me it feels like a a light bulb which someone just turned up the power, just like a dimmer switch, being turned up, I feel the love and joy flood through every cell in my whole body. It’s good to be one of his chosen nothing else comes close !!

    1. Tom Smith

      Second Timothy 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” Since the Lord is now with our human spirit, this makes our spirit the practical source of supply to live the Christian life. We have a heavenly “filling station” in our spirit–Christ as grace to us. Thus, the verse continues “Grace be with you.” Grace is this indwelling Christ, as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) reaching us for our enjoyment and supply. So whenever we call on the name of the Lord Jesus, He is so rich to us (Rom. 10:12). That is, He become to us whatever we need–salvation, peace, joy, wisdom, strength, and so much more. So yes, when we touch the Lord in our spirit, this really “turns up the power” to live the Christian life. Thanks for your confirming comment.

  64. You said there are difference between spirit, soul and body? Does it mean: The nody ho to fust, God takes back His Spirit and the soul???

    1. Tom Smith

      Suzy, sorry but I’m not sure if I understood your question. Please rephrase it so I can understand and I’ll be glad to make a reply.

  65. samuel oguche

    Divine to see this in the web am happy for the simplicity of the word

    1. Tom Smith

      Samuel, glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  66. Maji Lazarus

    I need real difference between soul and spirit

    1. Tom Smith

      To experience the real difference between your spirit and your soul, practice calling on the Lord Jesus each day. Start the day, by calling “Lord Jesus! O Lord Jesus! Call with your whole being and you will touch your spirit. This kind of calling is the beginning of a proper exercise in prayer. After calling on Him, continue to speak to the Lord from your deepest part. Put aside all your wandering thoughts. Such a daily exercise will help you to discern your spirit from your soul. Hope this helps.

  67. madan magar

    I just want to know of Psalms 42:1-2, because here David says “my soul longs and pants”, is our soul also connected with God?

    1. Tom Smith

      Yes, both our soul and our spirit are connected to God but in different ways. Our spirit is the organ for contacting God, receiving God and containing God. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” Then in 2 Tim. 4:22, Paul says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” The true worship God is seeking is for us to contact God who is Spirit with our spirit. The Lord whom we contact and receive them comes to dwell in our human spirit. This is a wonderful revelation!
      However, this is not all, because we are not just spirits. Actually, our personality is in our soul. For our soul includes our mind, emotion and will. Our soul is the organ for loving, enjoying and expressing. In Luke 1:46-47, Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has exulted in God my Savior.” Although her spirit exulted in God, it was her soul that magnified the Lord.

      We need our mind to consider the Lord and His word, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). We need our emotion to love the Lord (Mark 12:30). And we also need our will to choose the will of God.

      The panting and thirsting for God in Psalm 42:1-2 is the expression of desire and longing which belong to our soul.

      Thank you for your comment.

      1. Ayuba Hussaini

        if the spirit is a means of relationship with God, and man trinitarian being Body, soul and spirit, what can you say about unbelievers in the stage of trinitarian being?

        1. Tom Smith

          We can see from Genesis 2:7 that God created man with three parts—body, soul and spirit. The fall of man damaged the functions of our three parts but does not eliminate their existence. Due to the fall our body became the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3), our soul became at enmity with God (Col. 1:21) and our spirit became deadened (Eph. 2:1). The immediate difference between a believer and a unbeliever is that at the time we believe into Christ, our spirit is regenerated (John 3:6; 1 Pet. 1:23). With our regenerated spirit we can now enjoy fellowship with God and with other believers (Rom. 8:16; Phil. 2:1). An unbeliever does not have such a way to contact and enjoy God until he or she repents and believes into the Lord Jesus (John 3:15-16). Thank you for your insightful comment.

  68. Eric Tetteh

    When u sleep ur soul come out of ur body and go,who is control that soul?

    1. Tom Smith

      Eric for a further understanding of what happens to our soul when our body dies, please see my post on Where will our spirit and soul go after our body dies? This post plus my responses to readers should give you a pretty thorough answer to your question. Thanks for your comment.

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