“The Immortality of the Soul”

Samuele Bacchiocchi

Retired Professor of Theology, Andrews University

Chapter 2 of the forthcoming book




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        GOOD NEWS! The newsletter you are about to read contains the first draft of chapter 2 of the forthcoming new book POPULAR BELIEFS: ARE THEY BIBLICAL?  This is a pivotal chapter that examines what is perhaps the most popular unbiblical belief of our time: The Immortality of the Soul.


        Over a century ago Ellen White predicted that “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions” (Great Controversy, p. 588). Both of these errors are spreading like wildfire today. The vast majority of people have come to believe Satan’s lie that no matter what they do, they “shall not die” (Gen 3:4) but become like gods by living for ever.


        This lie has fostered a host of heresies such as spiritualism, communication with the spirits of the dead, praying for the dead, the intercession of the saints, purgatory, eternal hellfire, the worship of Mary, indulgences, etc. All of these heretical beliefs fall automatically like dominos when we expose the fallacies of conscious life between death and resurrection.


        In view of its importance, I have devoted much time and efforts in writing this chapter.  My goal has been threefold:


1) To offer the readers a historical glimpse of the origin and development of the popular belief in the immortality of the soul.


2) To provide a brief but compelling presentation of the Old and New Testaments view of human nature in general and of the soul in particular.


3) To help truth-seekers understand the negative impact of the belief in the immortality of the soul on Christian doctrines and practices.


        To achieve these three objectives, I discuss several relevant topics, which are examined at much greater length in my book Immortality or Resurrection? My challenge has been how to reduce to 30 pages the 300 pages treatment of the subject in my book, and still do justice to the subject.


        If you feel that the chapter is too long for your reading habits, please do not give up. By the time you reach the end of the chapter, you will be grateful for the new insights you have gained.


           The ultimate goat of the book is not merely to expose the flaws of some popular beliefs, but to help people appreciate the biblical validity and timeliness of our Adventist beliefs.  You will see a sample of this goal in this chapter. After exposing historically and biblically the deceptive popular belief in the immortality of the soul, I proceed to help people appreciate  the beauty of the biblical wholistic view of human nature, as espoused by our Adventist church.


        To my knowledge our Adventist church has never published a substantive book that helps people to understand why some of their popular beliefs are unbiblical, and why the corresponding Adventist beliefs are biblically sound. Many subscribers has confirmed my conviction that such a book is urgently needed for our witnessing outreach. We can hardly expect people to accept our Adventist beliefs, if we do not show them first of all why their beliefs are unbiblical.


        The book Seventh-day Adventist Believe . . . was warmly received by our church at large. I was invited to contribute to a chapter. The book makes a significant contribution to the presentation of our Adventist beliefs, but it is too limited in scope. It simply presents the Adventist beliefs, without comparing or contrasting them with the beliefs of other churches. Uninformed readers may feel that Adventists beliefs are not much different from their own beliefs. 


        The new book Popular Beliefs: Are they Biblical? will leave no room for this uncertainty. It will clearly show the difference between the Adventists beliefs and some popular Catholic and Protestant beliefs. In other words, it will give to people a choice between biblical and unbiblical beliefs. You will see a clear example in this chapter on “The Immortality of the Soul” that you are about to read.


        The sponsors of this project are hoping to raise sufficient money cover most of the expenses for printing 100,000 copies of Popular Beliefs: Are they Biblical?  The idea is to offer the book to churches at a minimum cost of only $2.00 or 3.00 a copy, primarily to cover the mailing expenses. The regular price for this 320 pages book would be $25.00.


        What do you think of this project? Do you feel that we badly need such a book for our witnessing outreach?  Are you willing to pass out this book to your friends? Would you consider contributing financially to the realization of this project? Your input is greatly appreciated.  Let me know what you think.


        In order to complete this project by the end of February 2008, I need to re-prioritize my schedule. This will entail cutting down on speaking-engagements, posting the Endtime Issues Newsletters only once a month, and spending less time answering messages and speaking on the phone.


        To benefit from the constructive criticism of our subscribers, I plan to post most of the chapters as soon as the first draft is completed. An example, is this chapter which examines the major false views of the nature of the Bible.  I look forward to receive your constructive criticism. Do not hesitate to be frank. Rest assured that I will not be offended.




        If you have been gifted with literary skills, would you be willing to help me to clean up the first draft of each chapter? To facilitate the editing process, I plan to email as an attachment a MW file of each chapter, after I have made some of the changes recommended by readers. For example, several readers of chapter 1, posted in the last newsletter, have suggested that I remove the references to Ellen White’s understanding of the inspiration of the Bible, because they may turn off non-Adventists.


        I will follow the advice, but I wish to explain that my reasoning for presenting Ellen White’s balanced view of inspiration, was to challenge people, especially some of her critics, to appreciate her unique theological contribution to the understanding of inspiration. 


        Specifically I am looking for people who can help me in two ways:


 (1) To eliminate spelling mistakes and restructure sentences so that they sound more English than Italian.


(2) To shorten sentences or paragraphs without weakening too much the strength of the chapter.  If you have time and competence to help me in this project, I would be glad to email you each chapter on a MW file, after I have made the major corrections recommended.  Feel free to contact me at <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>


        The initial response has been very encouraging.  Several people, including retired professors whom I have known for a long time, have offered their service to clean up the manuscript. Words fail to express my heartfelt gratitude to those willing to devote their time and literary skills to this project.


        Remember me in your prayers on this project as you did for my healing from cancer. I believe that the Lord have restored me to greater health and strength than I had before, because He wants me to accomplish greater things for Him in this Endtime.  Pray that the Lord may give me the wisdom to expose errors and present the truth in a clear and loving way.




        On September 7 and 8, 2007, a FRIENDS OF THE SABBATH  conference was held at the Lecture Hall of the Knoxville Convention Center in Tennessee. It is an impressive modern lecture hall that seats 500 persons. The conference was sponsored by the Seventh Day Christian Assembly in Knoxville, and was attended by sabbatarians belonging to different religious organization. A significant number of Seventh-day Adventist attended the Conference.


        I have spoken at similar FRIENDS OF THE SABBATH  conferences in the USA and overseas, but I can honestly say that this time the reception and response in Knoxville was unusual.  On the Sabbath the people spent practically the whole days from 10:00 a. m. to 9:00 p. m. in the Lecture Hall.


        In Sabbath afternoon there was a two hours panel discussion by six pastors of different sabbatarian congregations. They addressed some of the issues Sabbatarians face today. The discussion was chaired by Prof. Bruce Horne, Ph. D., who teaches “Corporate English,” to leaders of corporations. He did an excellent job in posing relevant questions to the panel members. He and his wife are a lovely non-SDA professional couple who were primarily responsible for organizing the conference.


        The panel discussion was followed by my last lecture “The Sabbath Under Crossfire,” where I deal with the latest Sabbath/Sunday developments.  I was overwhelmed by the many expressions of gratitude. Many told me that they captured a new vision on how to make the Sabbath a day of joyful celebration of God’s creative and redemptive love.


         I have already received invitations from SDA and non-SDA churches to go back to present another powerpoint seminar.  I look forward to share my ministry again with these fellow believers and friends.  For me it is always a blessed experience to fellowship with sabbatarians Christians who share the same commitment to the Savior by honoring Him on His Holy Day.





        At the request of the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, a special video taping was professionally done at Andrews University last August 8, 2007, of my powerpoint lecture on The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages.  The lecture summarizes the highlights of my book Wine in the Bible. With the help of 125 powerpoint slides, I share the findings of my research which shows that the Bible clearly teaches total abstinence, and not moderation.


        This lecture will be delivered live at the International Convention of the World Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WWCTU)an organization which Ellen White actively supported. The President, Sarah Ward, has already invited me on two previous occasions.  This year the International WWCTU is held in Indianapolis from September 14-16, 2007, and brings together Temperance Leaders from different parts of the world. 


        The delegates are eager to obtain the live video recording of my lecture on The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages, in order for them to share it with their congregations back home. For the benefit of our subscribers who will not be able to attend the convention, I posted in the last newsletter No. 179, a transcript of the lecture.


         If you live in Indianapolis, you are welcomed to attend the convention. I am scheduled to deliver my lecture The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages on Sabbath morning, September 15, at 10:00 a. m. The convention is held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46241. The hotel phone number is: (317) 248-2481.  For directions and further detailed information, contact Sarah R. Ward, WWCTU President, at (765) 345-2306


        In order to make full use of the DVD disk, we video taped on the same evening also a second powerpoint lecture entitled How to Build a Happy and Lasting Marriage. This is one of my favorite sermon where I share the highlights of my book The Marriage Covenant, by presenting 10 biblical principles for building a happy and lasting marriage. I use 100 powerpoint slides to deliver this practical lecture, which has been warmly received by congregations in different parts of the world.


        At this time you can order this DVD album, called ABUNDANT LIFE SEMINAR, at the special introductory offer of only $50.00, instead of the regular price of $100.00. The price includes the AIRMAILING to any foreign country.


        You can order the ABUNDANT LIFE  DVD album online or by phone.  To order online simply click at this link: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/cart/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=102  To order by phone, call us at (269) 471-2915.




        If you are looking for  Bible Commentaries, theological dictionaries, theological and church history books, feel free to call me at 269-471-2915.  I will be glad to give you some detail information about two private libraries.                        


        The first library belongs to my brother-in-law, Dr. Giuseppe De Meo, and the second to myself.  Both of us have decided to sell most of books found in our respective private libraries. The reason is simple. We are advancing in age and we do not want to burden our family members with disposing of our large libraries. When my father passed away in Rome, Italy, our family members did not know what to do with all his books. Moreover, I live a mile away from Andrews University Library where I can easily find practically any book that I need.


        Dr. De Meo has emailed me the list of the titles of his books, commentaries, church histories, and various collections in English, French, and Italian.  In my own library I do have also have English, French, and Italian books. I do not have the time to prepare a list, but I can mention some of the main commentaries and other books available.  Feel free to call me at (269) 471-2915 if you are interested.



Samuele Bacchiocchi

Retired Professor of Theology, Andrews University

Chapter 2 of the forthcoming book



            Throughout human history, people have refused to accept the finality that death brings to life. They have tried to deny the reality of death by teaching various forms of life after death. A key component of this teaching has been the belief in the survival of the soul apart from the body at the moment of death.

            In spite of all the scientific breakthrough, the popularity of the belief in the immortality of the soul has not subsided. On the contrary, it is spreading today like wildfire.  According to a recent Gallup Poll, 71 percent of Americans believe in some form of conscious life after death.1  The popularity of this belief can be attributed, not only to the traditional teachings of Catholic and Protestant churches, but also to such factors as the polished image of mediums and psychics, the sophisticated “scientific” research into near-death experiences, and the popular New Age channeling with the alleged spirits of the past.

            The result is that few beliefs are more widely held today than that of the “immortal soul.” Virtually everyone is familiar with this belief. If asked, the average religious person would define the belief something like this: A human being is composed of  both body and soul. The body is the temporary physical flesh-and-blood “shell” that houses the soul. The soul is the nonmaterial, immortal component that leaves the body at death and lives on consciously forever in heaven or hell (or purgatory for the Catholics).

            Is this popular belief taught in the Bible? Does the Bible teach that we have an immortal soul that leaves the body at death and heads on for heaven or hell, or purgatory? The answer of the average religious person is “YES”! They simply assume that the belief in the immortality of the soul is taught in the Bible. Is this true? Absolutely NOT! This chapter shows that the notion of an immortal soul co-existing with a mortal body, is foreign to the Bible. It derives mostly from Greek pagan philosophies that gradually entered into the Christian church.

            We shall see that the biblical view of human nature is wholistic, not dualistic, that is to say, body and soul are not two distinct components, but an indissoluble unity. The soul is simply the animating principle of the body. So prepare yourself for what could be one of the big surprises of your life!


Objectives of this Chapter


            This chapter pursues three major objectives. First, we briefly trace the history of the belief in the immortality of the soul, by focusing first on the impact of the Greek philosophers Socrates (470-399 B. C.) , (Plato (427-347 B. C.) and Aristotles (384-322 B. C.) on the development of the Christian understanding of human nature. Second, we will mention briefly the key role played by Tertullian (155-240), Origen ((ca. 185-254), Augustine (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in leading the church to adopt the Platonic dualistic view of human nature.

            The second objective is to define the biblical view of the soul.  Our study of the “soul texts” found both in the Old and New Testaments, shows that contrary to popular beliefs, the soul is not an immaterial, immortal part of human nature that survives the body at death, but the animating, life principle of the body. It is often used as a synonym for the whole person.

            The third objective is to compare and contrast the biblical wholistic view of human nature with the Platonic dualistic view that has been embraced by Catholics and most Protestants. We shall see that the two views have far-reaching doctrinal and practical implications, which largely determines what Christians believe about their present life and their future destiny. These two views impact directly or indirectly on a host of Christian beliefs and practices. The ultimate goal of this study is to lead truth-seekers to understand and accept the biblical view of our nature and destiny.

            The material contained in this chapter is largely excerpted from my book Immortality or Resurrection? Interested readers can find a fuller treatment of the subject in the book. Important topics, like the biblical view of the human “spirit,” have been left out in this chapter, simply for the sake of brevity.






            The serpent’s lie, “You will not die” (Gen 3:4) has lived on throughout human history to our time. The belief in some form of life after death has been held in practically every society. The need for reassurance and certainty in the light of the challenge that death poses to human life, has led people in every culture to formulate beliefs in some forms of afterlife. Such beliefs, as we shall see, reflect human attempts to achieve immortal life through human speculations, rather than divine revelation.


Egyptians’ Belief in the Immortality of the Soul


            It is difficult to pinpoint historically the origin of the belief in the immortality of the soul, since all the ancient civilizations held to some forms of conscious life after death. The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century before Christ, tells us in his History that the ancient Egyptians were the first to teach that the soul of man is immortal and separable from the body. At death the soul passes through various animals before being reborn in human form. The cycle was suppose to take three thousand years.2

            Nowhere in the ancient world was the concern for the afterlife so deeply felt as in Egypt. The countless tombs unearthed by archaeologists along the Nile offer an eloquent testimony to the Egyptian belief in conscious life after death. They spent an outrageous amount of time and money preparing for life after death. They practiced elaborate ceremonies to prepare the pharaohs for their next life. They constructed massive pyramids and other elaborate tombs filled with luxuries the deceased were supposed to need in the hereafter. The famous Book of The Dead is a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary and ritual texts, which describes in great details how to meet the challenges of the afterlife.


Greek Philosophers Promoted Immortality of the Soul


            The Egyptian belief in the immortality of the soul existed centuries before Judaism, Hellenism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. According to Herodotus, eventually the Greeks adopted from the Egyptians the belief in the immortality of the soul. He wrote: “The Egyptians also were the first who asserted the doctrine that the soul of man is immortal. . . . This opinion, some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their own.”3

            The Greek philosopher Socrates (470-399 B. C.) traveled to Egypt to consult the Egyptians on their teachings on the immortality of the soul. Upon his return to Greece, he imparted this teaching to his most famous pupil, Plato (428-348 B. C.). 

            In his book, The Phaedo, Plato recounts Socrates’ final conversation with his friends on the last day of his life. He was condemned to die by drinking hemlock for corrupting the youths of Athens by teaching them “atheism,” that is, the rejection of the gods. The setting was an Athenian prison and the time the summer of 399 B. C. Socrates spent his last day discussing the origin, nature, and destiny of the human soul with his closest friends.

            In the dialogue Socrates repeatedly declares death to be “the separation of the soul from the body” in which it is encased. His language is strikingly similar to that of many Christian churches today.  “The soul whose inseparable attribute is life, will never admit of life’s opposite, death. Thus the soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible. . . . Do we believe there is such a thing as death? To be sure. And is this anything but the separation of the soul and body? And being dead is the attainment of this separation, when the soul exists in herself and separate from the body, and the body is parted from the soul. That is death. . . . Death is merely the separation of soul and body.”4 In Phaedo, Plato explains that there is a judgement after death for all souls, according to the deeds done in the body. The righteous souls go to heaven and the wicked to hell.5  

            This teaching found its way first into Hellenistic Judaism especially through the influence of  Philo Judaeus (ca. 20 B.C. A. D. 47) and later into Christianity especially through the influence of Tertullian (ca. 155-230), Origen (ca. 185-254), Augustine (354-430), and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). These writers attempted to blend the Platonic view of the immortality of the soul with the biblical teachings on the resurrection of the body.


Two Groups of Jewish Writers During the Inter-Testament Period


            During the inter-Testament period, that is, the four centuries that separate the end of the Old Testament from the beginning of the New Testament, two groups of Jewish Aprocryphal writers appeared. The earlier writers maintained the Old Testament wholistic view of human nature and the belief in Conditional immortality, that is, immortality not as an innate human possession, but as the gift of eternal life given at the resurrection. This line culminated in the Conditionalist witness of the Dead Sea Scroll.6

            A later group of Jewish writers were influenced by the Greek belief in the immortality of the soul, prayer for the dead, and denial of the resurrection. These teachings are found in what are known as the Apocrypha of the Old Testament–books that are included in the Catholic Bible, but omitted in the Protestant Bible and in the Hebrew Old Testament. These books include 1 and 2 Esdra, 1, 2, 3, 4 Maccabees, Baruch, additions to Daniel, Judith, The Prayer of Manasseh, Sirach, Tobit, and the Wisdom of Solomon.

            The most influential Hellenistic Jewish writer is Philo Judaeus (ca. 20 B.C. A. D. 47).  He made a systematic attempt to prove the existence of an inner harmony between Plato and Moses, that is, between Jewish religious thought and Greek philosophy. He taught that man has an irrational soul in common with all living creatures and a rational soul in common with the unbodied souls in the heavens. At the death of the body, the rational souls of the righteous return to the realm of the unbodied heavenly beings, which are soul. By contrast the souls of the wicked will suffer endless punishment.7  Gradually this teaching infiltrated into the Christian Church, which was already influenced by a modified form of Platonism, called Neo-platonism.


Early Christian Church: Immortality is a Gift Received at the Resurrection


            Christ and the apostles confirmed and clarified the Old Testament wholistic view of human nature, by teaching that immortality is not an innate human possession, but a gift  reserved for the righteous and bestowed at the resurrection. Unrepentant sinners will be ultimately destroyed.

            This view continued intact throughout the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers (Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, the Didache, Barnabas of Alexandria, Hermas of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna) and in a conspicuous line of later writers such as Justin, Irenaeus, Novatian, Arnobius, Lactantius, et cetera.

            Le Roy Froom concludes his 100 pages survey of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers (writers who lived closest to the Apostles)  by quoting from a similar exhaustive survey done by Henry Constable, an Anglican Irish Priest, who wrote: “From beginning to end of them [the Apostolic Fathers] there is not a word said of that immortality of the soul which is so prominent in the writings of later fathers. Immortality is by them asserted to be peculiar to the redeemed. . . . Not one stray expression of theirs can be interpreted as giving any countenance to the theory of restoration after purgatorial suffering.”8  The same conclusion applies to several later writers mentioned earlier.


Innate Immortality Infiltrates the Church


            Modified forms of the Platonic view of the immortality of the soul were adopted by Christian writers beginning from the latter part of the second century. The most influential promoters were Tertullian (155-240), Origen (ca. 185-254), Augustine (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). We shall say a few words about each of them.


Tertullian: Eternal Torment


            Tertullian is rightly regarded as the founder of Latin theology. He was born is a heathen home in Cathage, North Africa, and received legal training in Rome.  He returned to Carthage at the age of forty and embraced the Christian faith after witnessing the courage of martyrs and the life of holiness of Christians. His numerous apologetic, theological, and ascetic works in Latin, have been very influential on Latin Christianity.

            Tertullian was the first to formulate the teachings of endless torment for the wicked, by applying the notion of the immortality of the soul to the saved and unsaved.  He expressly taught that “the torments of the lost, will be co-eternal with the happiness of the saved.”9

            Tertullian rejected Plato’s teaching of the pre-existence of the souls, but he embraced his teachings that “every soul is immortal.”  He wrote: “For some things are known even by nature: the immortality of the soul, for instance, is held by many . . . I may use therefore, the opinion of Plato, when he declares: ‘Every soul is immortal10  Note that the opinion of Plato is cited to support the belief in the immortality of the soul. No attempt is made to validate such doctrine by the authority of Scripture, obviously because, as we shall see, in the Bible the soul does not exist apart from the body.


Origen: Universal Restoration


            The influence of Platonic dualism is evident especially  in the writings of Origen (ca. 185-254), a man who came to be acknowledged as the most accomplished scholar of his generation. He rejected Tertullian’s teaching of eternal torment, promoting instead the universal restoration of even the most incorrigible sinners, including the demons and Satan himself. After a period of corrective punishment, all of them will be brought again into ultimate subjection to Christ.

            Origen’s teaching derives largely from Plato’s notion that the soul is an immaterial and immortal substance.  In his De Principiis (On the Principle), Origen repeatedly refers to the “soul” as a “substance” which partakes of the “eternal nature” and “lasts for ever.”  “Every substance which partakes of that eternal nature should last for ever, and be incorruptible and eternal.”11 

            Since the soul partakes of the divine nature and cannot be destroyed, Origen reasoned that the only way moral evil can ultimately eliminated, is for God to restore even the incorrigibly wicked after His “consuming fire . . .throroughly cleanses away the evil.”12

            Both Tertullian’s eternal torment and Origen’s cleansing fire, are unbiblical teachings which are fatal to true Christian faith, though in opposite ways.  One threatened an eternal  punishment that God never decreed and the other promised a universal salvation that God never authorized.  In Scripture evil is a reality of this present time, not an inevitable part of eternity. By allowing their mind to be guided by pagan philosophy rather than Scriptural teachings, brilliant men like Tertullian and Origen developed heresies that have undermined Christian beliefs and practices.


Augustine Sets the Immortal Soul Teaching for the Middle Ages


            Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo, North Africa, is rightly regarded as the most influential Latin Father. His influence on theology was immense, particularly up to the thirteenth century when Thomas Aquinas appeared.

            The influence of Augustine was so powerful that he secured the dominance for centuries of the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul and the eternal torment of the wicked. Once he asked: “What simple and illiterate man or obscured woman that does not believe the immortality of the soul and a future life?”13  It is evident that by that time this belief had become widely accepted.  But the validity of a teaching is determined not by its popularity, but by its conformity to biblical witness.

            For Augustine death meant the destruction of the body, which enables the immortal soul to continue to live in either the beatitude of Paradise or in the eternal torment of Hell.  In The City of God he wrote that the soul “is therefore called immortal, because in a sense, it does not cease to live and to feel; while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all.”14        

            Augustine modified the Platonic conception of the soul by teaching that a human being is a rational soul that uses a mortal, material body, but the soul is not imprisoned in the body. Furthermore, he taught that the soul does not pre-exist eternally, as maintained by Plato,  but comes into existence when incarnated in a body.

            Augustine’s modified form of Platonism dominated much of  medieval Christian thought in the West until the appearance of Thomas Aquinas.  During this time the teachings of Socrates and Plato became so widely accepted that they were frequently regarded as divinely inspired pre-Christian saints.


Thomas Aquinas Defines the Traditional Catholic Immortal Soul Teaching


            Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered by most Roman Catholics as their greatest theologian. His definition of Catholic teachings has been largely unsurpassed. With regard to the nature of man, he developed a less radical dualism, by emphasizing the unity that exists between the body and the soul.

            Contrary to the Platonic-Agustinian view in which the soul dwells in the body for a time without forming one substantial being, Thomas Aquinas considers the soul as the form of the body.  His thinking was influenced by Aristotles who viewed the soul primarily as a life principle. But Aquinas departed from Aristotles by claiming independent existence for the soul.

            According to Aquinas, a substantial unity exists between the soul and the body, or more exactly, the spiritual principle and the material principle, which are united as “form” and “matter” in order to form one complete being.  “It is clear that the soul is united to the body by nature: because by its essence it is the form of the body. Therefore it is contrary to the nature of the soul to be deprived of the body.”15        

            Aquinas defended the immortality of the soul by arguing that it is a “substantial form” that exists independently of the body, but desires to be joined together again to its own body at the Resurrection. He strongly opposed those who held to the biblical view that the soul is the animating principle of the body, which is mortal until God confers upon it the gift of immortality at the Resurrection.

            Aquinas’ definition of the immortal soul as the form of the body, has become the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church that is still current today.  In fact, Aquinas’ language is reflected in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states: “The unity of the soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body. . . . The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God–it is not ‘produced’ by the parents–and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.”16

            This definition  of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, rightly represents what “the Church teaches,” but not what the Bible teaches. Shortly we shall see that the teaching of the immortal soul that separates from the body at death, is foreign to the teachings of the Bible. It is derived, as our survey has shown, from Greek dualistic speculations that have perverted the teachings of the Word of God.

            The belief in the survival of the soul contributed to the development of the doctrine of Purgatory, a place where the souls of the dead are purified by suffering the temporal punishment of their sins before ascending to Paradise. This widely believed doctrine burdened the living with emotional and financial stress.  As Ray Anderson puts it, “Not only did one have to earn enough to live, but also to pay off the ‘spiritual mortgage’ for the dead as well.”17 


Reformers’  Rejection of Purgatory


            The Protestant Reformation started largely as a reaction against the medieval superstitious beliefs about the afterlife in Purgatory.  The Reformers rejected as unbiblical and unreasonable the practice of buying and selling indulgences to reduce the stay of the souls of departed relatives in Purgatory.  However, they continued to believe in the conscious existence of souls either in Paradise or Hell.

            Calvin expressed this belief far more aggressively than Luther.18  In his treatise Psychopannychia,19 which he wrote against the Anabaptists who taught that souls simply sleep between death and resurrection, Calvin argues that during the intermediate state the souls of the believers enjoy the bliss of heaven; those of the unbelievers suffer the torments of hell.  At the resurrection, the body is reunited with the soul, thus intensifying the pleasure of paradise or the pain of hell. Since that time, this doctrine of the intermediate state has been accepted by most Protestant churches and is reflected in various Confessions.20

            For example, the Westminster Confession (1646), regarded as the definitive statement of Presbyterian beliefs in the English-speaking world,  states: “The body of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them.  The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received unto the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies: and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.”21  The confession continues declaring as unbiblical the belief in purgatory. 


Revival of the Belief in the Immortality of the Soul


            Public interest in the life of the soul after death has been revived in our times, not only by the teachings of Catholic and Protestant churches, but also through various attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead through mediums, psychics, “scientific” research into near-death experiences, and New Age channeling with the spirits of the past.

            In the late 1960s, the late Episcopal bishop James A. Pike gave new and widespread attention to the idea of communicating with the spirits of the dead by communicating on a regular basis with his deceased son. Today our society is flooded with mediums and psychics who advertise their services nationwide through TV, magazines, radio, and newspapers.

            In their book At the Hour of Death, K. Osis and E. Haraldson write: “Spontaneous experiences of contact with the dead are surprisingly widespread. In a national opinion poll . . . 27 per cent of the American population said they had encounters with dead relatives, . . . widows and widowers . . . reported encounters with their dead spouses twice as often–51 per cent.”22  Communication with the spirits of the dead is not just an American phenomenon. Surveys conducted in other countries reveal a similar high percentage of people who engage the services of mediums to communicate with the spirit of their deceased loved ones.23




            The preceding survey has shown that Satan’s lie “You shall not die” (Gen 3:4) has lived on in different forms throughout human history, especially through the belief in the immortality of the soul and its separation from the body at death. The popularity of this belief, stems from the fact that attempts to disarm death by giving people the false assurance that they possess a divine element that lives on after the death of their body. Ultimately such a belief does away with the need  of Christ’s Return to bestow the gift of immortality to believers at the final  Resurrection.

            Our only protection against the deceptive teaching of the immortality of the soul, is through a clear understanding of what the Bible teaches about the make-up of human nature, especially the relationship between the body and the soul. It is to this subject that we now turn our attention.






            The logical starting point for the study of the Biblical view of human nature is the account of the creation of man. We use here the term “man”  as used  in Scripture, namely, including both man and woman.   


Genesis 2:7: “A Living Soul”


            The most important Biblical statement for understanding human nature is found in Genesis 2:7.  It is not surprising that this text forms the basis of much of the discussion regarding human nature, since it provides the only Biblical account of how God created man. The text reads: “Then God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

            Historically, this text has been read through the lenses of classical dualism. It has been assumed that the breath of life God breathed into man’s nostrils was simply an immaterial, immortal soul implanted into the material body. And just as earthly life began with the implantation of an immortal soul into a physical body, so it ends when the soul departs from the body. Thus Genesis 2:7 has been historically interpreted on the basis of the traditional body-soul dualism.

            People who read the Old Testament references to nephesh (which in the King James version are translated 472 times as “soul”) with a dualistic mind-set, will have great difficulty in understanding the Biblical view of the body and the soul as being the same person seen from different perspectives. They will experience problems with accepting the Biblical meaning of the “soul” as  the animating principle of both human and animal life.  Furthermore, they will be at a loss to explain those passages that speak of a dead person as a dead soulnephesh (Lev 19:28; 21:1, 11; 22:4; Num 5:2; 6:6,11; 9:6, 7, 10; 19:11, 13; Hag  2:13). For them it is inconceivable that an immortal soul could die with the body.


The Meaning of “Living Soul” 


            The prevailing assumption that the human soul is immortal has led  many to interpret the phrase “man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7 KJV) to mean that “man obtained a living soul.”  This interpretation has been challenged by numerous scholars who are aware of the difference between the Greek-dualistic and the Biblical-wholistic conception of human nature.

            For example, in his classic study Anthropology of the Old Testament,  Hans Walter Wolff comments on Genesis 2:7 saying: “What does nephesh  [soul] mean here? Certainly not soul [in the traditional dualistic sense].   Nephesh [soul] was designed to be seen together with the whole form of man, and especially with his breath; moreover man does not have nephesh [soul],  he is nephesh [soul],  he lives as nephesh [soul].24

            The fact that the soul in the Bible stands for the whole living person is recognized even by Catholic scholar Dom Wulstan Mork. In his book The Biblical Meaning of Man, published with the official Catholic imprimatur–approval, Mork writes: “It is nephesh [soul] that gives life to the bashar [body], but not as a distinct substance.  Adam doesn’t have nephesh [soul];  he is nephesh [soul],  just as he is bashar [body]. The body, far from being divided from its animating principle, is the visible nephesh  [soul].25

            From a Biblical perspective, the body and the soul are not two different substances (one mortal and the other immortal) abiding together within one human being, but two characteristics of the same person.  Johannes Pedersen admirably sums up this point by a statement that has become proverbial: “The body is the soul in its outward form.”26  The same view is expressed by H. Wheeler Robinson in an equally famous statement: “The Hebrew idea of personality is that of an animated body, not (like the Greek) that of an incarnate soul.”27

            Summing up, we can say that the expression “man became a living soul–nephesh hayyah” does not mean that at creation his body was endowed with an immortal soul, a separate entity, distinct from the body. Rather, it means that as a result of the divine inbreathing of the “breath of life” into the lifeless body, man became a living, breathing being, no more, no less. The heart began to beat, the blood to circulate, the brain to think, and all the vital signs of life were activated. Simply stated, “a living soul” means “a living being.”

            The practical implications of this definition are brought out in a suggestive way by Catholic Scholar Dom Wulstan Mork: “Man as nephesh [soul] means that it is his nephesh [soul] that goes to dinner, that tackles a steak and eats it.  When I see another person, what I see is not merely his body, but his visible nephesh [soul], because, in the terms of Genesis 2:7, that is what man is—a living nephesh. The eyes have been called ‘the window of the soul.’ This is actually dichotomy. The eyes, as long as they belong to the living person, are in themselves the revelation of the soul.”28


Animals as “Living Souls


            The meaning of “living soul” as simply “living being”  is supported by the use of the same phrase “living soul–nephesh hayyah” for animals.  In our KJV Bible, this phrase appears for the first time in Genesis 2:7 when the creation of Adam is described.  But in the Hebrew Bible we find the same phrase already in Genesis 1:20, 21, 24, and 30.  In all four of these verses “living soul–nephesh hayyah” refers to animals, but translators of most English versions have chosen to translate it “living creature” rather than “living soul.”  Why? Simply because they are conditioned by the belief that animals do not have a soul–only human beings have an immaterial, immortal soul. 

            Norman Snaith finds this “most reprehensible” and says . . .  “it is a grave reflection on the Revisers [translators of the Authorized version] that they retained this misleading difference in translation. . . . The Hebrew phrase should be translated exactly the same way in both cases. To do otherwise is to mislead all those who do not read Hebrew. There is no excuse and no proper defense.  The tendency to read ‘immortal soul’ into Hebrew nephesh and to translate accordingly is very ancient, and can be seen in the Septuagint . . .”29

            Basil Atkinson, a former Librarian at Cambridge University, offers the same explanation. “Our translators [of the Authorized Version] have concealed this fact from us, presumably because they were so bound by current theological notions of the meaning of the word ‘soul,’ that they dared not translate by it a Hebrew word that referred to animals, although they have used it in the margin [of the Authorized Version] at verses 20 and 30.  In these verses we find ‘the moving creature, even living soul’ (Heb.) (ver. 20); ‘every living soul (Heb. nephesh) that moveth’ (ver. 21); ‘Let the earth bring forth the living soul (Heb. nephesh) after his kind’ (ver. 24); ‘and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is living soul’ (Heb. nephesh) (ver. 30).”30

            The use of nephesh—soul in these verses to refer to all sorts of animals clearly shows that nephesh is not an immortal soul given to man, but the animating principle of life or “the life-breath” which is present in both man and animals. What distinguishes the human soul from that of  animals is the fact that humans were created in God’s image, that is, with godlike possibilities unavailable to animals.

             The important point to note at this juncture is that both man and animal are souls, because they both share the same animating life-principle or “life-breath.”       

            Summing up, in he context of creation the word “nephesh–soul” is used to designate the animating principle of life which is present in both human beings and animals.  At this point, we wish to explore the broader use of nephesh in the Old Testament.  Since nephesh occurs in the Old Testament 754 times and is rendered in 45 different ways,31 our focus is on three main usages of the word that relate directly to the object of our investigation.


Soul as a Needy Person


            In his state-of-the-art book Anthropology of the Old Testament, which is virtually undisputed among scholars of various religious persuasions, Hans Walter Wolff entitles the chapter on the soul as “Nephesh–Needy Man.”32  The reason for this characterization of nephesh as “needy man”  becomes evident when one reads the many texts which picture nephesh–soul in dangerous situations of life and death proportions.

            Since it is God who made man “a living soul” and who sustains the human soul, the Hebrews when in danger appealed to God to deliver their soul, that is, their life.  David prayed: “Deliver my soul [nephesh] from the wicked” (Ps 17:13, KJV);  “For thy righteousness sake, O Lord, bring my soul [nephesh] out of trouble” (Ps. 143:11, KJV). The Lord deserves to be praised, “for he has delivered the soul [nephesh] of the poor from the hand of the evildoers” (Jer 20:13).

            People greatly feared for their souls [nephesh] (Jos 9:24) when others were seeking their souls [nephesh] (Ex 4:19; 1 Sam 23:15).  They had to flee for their souls [nephesh] (2 Kings 7:7) or defend their souls [nephesh] (Esther 8:11); if they did not, their souls [nephesh] would be utterly destroyed (Jos 10:28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39).  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ez 18:4, 20). Rahab asked the two Israelite spies to save her family, saying: “Deliver our souls [nephesh] from death” (Jos 2:13).  In these instances, it is evident that the soul that was in danger and needed to be delivered was the life of the individual.

            The soul experienced danger not only from enemies but also from lack of food. In lamenting the state of Jerusalem, Jeremiah says: “All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul [nephesh]” (Lam 1:11). The Israelites grumbled in the wilderness because they no longer had meat as they had in Egypt. “But now our soul [nephesh] is dried away: there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes” (Num 11:6).

            The theme of danger and deliverance associated with the soul [nephesh] allows us to see that the soul in the Old Testament was viewed, not as an immortal component of human nature, but as the uncertain, insecure condition of life which sometimes was threatened unto death. Those situations which involved intense danger and deliverance reminded the Israelites that they were needy souls [nephesh], living persons whose life depended constantly upon God for protection and deliverance.


Soul as Seat of Emotions


            Being the animating principle of human life, the soul functioned also as the center of emotional activities. In speaking of the Shunammite, 2 Kings 4:27 says: “Her soul [nephesh] is vexed within her” (KJV).  David cried to the Lord, seeking deliverance from his enemies, saying: “My soul [nephesh] is also sore vexed. . . . Return, O Lord, deliver my soul [nephesh]” (Ps 6:3-4).

            While the people were waiting for God’s deliverance, their soul was losing vitality.  Tory Hoff notes that “because the Psalmist often wrote from within this experience [of danger], the Psalms include phrases such as ‘their soul fainted in them’ (Ps 107:5), ‘my soul melts for sorrow’ (Ps 119:28), ‘my soul languishes for salvation’ (Ps 119:81), ‘my soul longs, yea, faints for thy courts’ (Ps 84:2), and ‘their soul melted away in their evil plight’ (Ps 107:26). Job asked, ‘How long will you torment my soul’ (Job 19:2). It was also the soul that would wait for deliverance.  ‘For God does my soul wait in silence’ (Ps 62:1).  ‘I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope’ (Ps 130:5).

            “Since the Hebrew knew all deliverance came from God, his soul would ‘take refuge’ in God (Ps 57:1) and ‘thirst for him’ (Ps 42:2; 63:1).   Once the danger had passed and the intense, precarious nature of the situation was over, the soul would praise God for deliverance received.  ‘My soul makes its boast in the Lord, let the afflicted hear and be glad’ (Ps 34:2).  ‘Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his deliverance’ (Ps 35:9).’”33

            Wolff rightly observes that the emotional content of the soul is equated with the self or the person and is not  an independent entity.  He cites, as an example, Psalms 42:5, 11, and 43:5 in which the same song of lament and of self-exhortation is found: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him.”  “Here,” Wolff writes, “nephesh [soul] is the self of the needy life, thirsting with desire.”34  There is nothing in these passages to suggest that the soul is an immaterial part of human nature that is equipped with personality and consciousness and is able to survive death.  We shall note that the soul dies when the body dies.


The Soul as the Seat of Personality


            The soul [nephesh] is seen in the Old Testament not only as the seat of emotions but also as the seat of personality. The soul is the person as a responsible individual. In Micah 6:7 we read: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, and the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul [nephesh]?” The contrast here is not between body and soul.  In commenting on this  text, Catholic scholar Dom Wulstan Mork  writes: “The meaning is not that the soul is the human cause of sin, with the body as the soul’s instrument.  Rather, the nephesh, the whole living person, is the cause of sin. Therefore, in this verse, responsibility for sin is attributed to the nephesh as the person.”35

            We find the same idea in several texts that discuss sin and guilt. “If a soul [nephesh] shall sin through ignorance . . .”(Lev 4:2, KJV); “And if a soul  [nephesh] sins . . . he shall bear his iniquity” (Lev 5:1, KJV); “But the soul  [nephesh] that doeth ought presumptuously . . . that soul  [nephesh] shall be cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30, KJV).  “Behold all souls  [nephesh] are mine; . . . the soul [nephesh] that sinneth, it shall die” (Ez 18:4).  It is evident that in texts such as these, the soul is the responsible person who thinks, wills, and sins, and consequently subjects to the death punishment. 

            Any physical or psychical activity was performed by the soul because such activity presumed a living, thinking, and acting person.  In the Old Testament there is no division of activity between the soul and the body because are two manifestations of the same person. The soul includes and presumes the body. “In fact,” writes Mork, “the ancient Hebrews could not conceive of one without the other. There is no Greek dichotomy of soul and body, of two opposing substances, but a unity, man, who is bashar [body] from one aspect and nephesh [soul] from another. Bashar, then, is the concrete reality of human existence, nephesh is the personality of human existence.”36


The Soul and Death


            The survival of the soul in the Old Testament is linked to the survival of the body, since the body is an outward manifestation of the soul. This explains why the death of a person is often described as the death of the soul. “When death occurs,” writes Johannes Pedersen, “then it is the soul that is deprived of life.  Death cannot strike the body or any other parts of the soul without striking the entirety of the soul.  Therefore it is also said to ‘kill a soul’ or ‘smite a soul’ (Num 31:19; 35:15,30; Jos 20:3, 9); it may also be called to ‘smite one as regards the soul,’ i. e. to smite one so that the soul is killed (Gen 37:21; Deut 19:6, 11; Jer 40:14, 15). There can be no doubt that it is the soul which dies, and all theories attempting to deny this fact are false. It is deliberately said both that the soul dies (Judg 16:30; Num 23:10 et  al.), that it is destroyed or consumed (Ez 22:25, 27), and that it is extinguished (Job 11:20).”37

                  Readers of the English Bible may question the validity of Pedersen’s statement that the soul dies, because the word “soul” does not occur in the texts which he cites. For example, speaking of the cities of refuge, Numbers 35:15 says: “Anyone who kills any person [nephesh] without intent may flee there.”  Since the word “soul–nephesh” does not occur in most English translations, some may argue that the text is speaking of the killing of the body and not of the soul.  The truth of the matter is that nephesh is found in the Hebrew text, but translators usually chose to render it with “person,” presumably because of their belief that the soul is immortal and cannot be killed. Their unbiblical assumption is discredited by those texts which even in the English version clearly speak of the death of the soul. For example, Ezekiel 18:20 reads: “The soul that sins shall die” (See also Ex 18:4).

            The fate of the soul is linked to the fate of the body.  As Joshua conquered the various cities beyond the Jordan, we are told repeatedly  “he utterly destroyed every soul [nephesh]” (Jos 10:28, 30, 31, 34, 36, 38).  The destruction of the body is seen as the destruction of the soul. “In the Bible,” writes Edmund Jacob, “nephesh [soul] refers only to the corpse prior to its final dissolution and while it has distinguishable features.”38   When the body is destroyed and consumed so that its features are no longer recognizable, then the soul no longer exits, because “the body is the soul in its outward form.”39  On the other hand, when the body is laid to rest in the grave with the fathers, the soul is also at rest and lies undisturbed (Gen 15:15; 25:8; Jud 8:32; 1 Chron 29:28).     




            The various usages of “nephesh–soul” in the Old Testament never convey the idea of an immaterial, immortal entity capable of existing apart from the body. On the contrary, we have found that the soul–nephesh is the animating principle of life, the life-breath, which is present in both human beings and animals.  At death, the soul ceases to function as the animating life-principle of the body, because fate of the soul is connected inextricably with the fate of the body because the body is the outward manifestation of the soul.






            The New Testament shows a definite continuity with the Old Testament wholistic view of human nature. The notion of the immortality of the soul, though popularly believed at that time, is completely absent from the writings of the New Testament because its writers were faithful to the teachings of the Old Testament.

            The New Testament reveals not only continuity with the Old Testament in the understanding of human nature and destiny, but also an expanded understanding in the light of the incarnation and teachings of Christ. After all, Christ is the real head of the human race, since Adam “was a type of the one who was to come” (Rom 5:14).  While in the Old Testament  human nature is related primarily to Adam by virtue of creation and the Fall, in the New Testament human nature is related to Christ by virtue of His incarnation and redemption.  Christ is the fullness of revelation about human nature, meaning, and destiny. 

            The Greek word psyche–soul is used in the New Testament in accordance with the basic meanings of the Hebrew nephesh–soul that we found in the Old Testament. We briefly review the basic meaning of pyche–soul, giving special attention to the expanded meaning of the word in the light of Christ’s teachings and redemptive ministry.


“Soul” as Person


            The word  “soul–psyche”  in the New Testament denotes the whole person in the same sense as nephesh in the Old Testament. For example, in his defense before the Sanhedrin, Stephen mentions that “seventy-five souls–[psyche]” of Jacob’s family  went down to Egypt, a figure and usage found in the Old Testament (Gen  46:26-27; Ex 1:5; Deut 10:22).  On the day of Pentecost, “three thousand souls–[psyche]” (Acts 2:41) were baptized and “fear came upon every soul–[psyche]” (Acts 2:43). Speaking of Noah’s family, Peter says that “eight souls–[psyche] were saved by water” (1 Pet 3:20). It is evident that in texts such as these the “soul-psyche” is used as a synonym for person.

            Within this context, we  mention Christ’s famous promise of rest to the “souls–[psyche]” of those who accept His yoke (Matt 11:28). The expression “rest for your souls–[psyche]” comes from Jeremiah 6:16, where rest for the soul is promised to people who walk according to God’s commandments.  The rest which Christ gives to the soul is not achieved, as in Platonic dualism, when the soul is liberated from the body, but when a believer accepts His gracious provision of salvation (“Come to me”) and live in accordance to the principles of life He taught and exemplified (“learn of me”).


“Soul” as Life


            The most frequent meaning of the word soul–psyche in the New Testament is “life.”  According to one reckoning, 46 times psyche is translated “life.”40  In these instances, “life” provides a fitting translation of the Greek psyche because it is used in reference to physical life. To facilitate the identification of the word soul–psyche found in the Greek text, psyche will be translated literally as “soul” in places where the RSV renders it as “life.”

            At the height of the storm, Paul reassured the members of the ship that “there will be no loss of souls [psyche] among you, but only of the ship” (Acts 27:22; cf. 27:10). In this context, the Greek psyche is correctly translated “life” because Paul is talking about the loss of lives.  An angel told Joseph: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s soul [psyche] are dead” (Matt 2:20).  This is one of the many references to the seeking, killing, and saving of the soul–psyche, all of which suggest that the soul is not an immortal part of human nature, but the physical life itself which can be in danger. In accordance with the Old Testament, the soul–psyche is put to death when the body dies.

            Jesus associated the soul with food and drink. He said: “Do not be anxious about your soul [psyche], what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not the soul [psyche] more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matt 6:25). Here the soul–psyche is associated with food and drink and the body (the visible exterior) with clothing. 

            By associating the soul with food and drink, Jesus shows that the soul is the physical aspect of life, though He explains that there is more to life than food and drink. Believers can raise their desires and thoughts to heavenly things and live for Christ and eternity. Thus, Christ expanded the meaning of the “soul” by including the higher life or eternal life He came to offer  mankind. The fact remains, however, that by associating the soul with food and drink, Christ shows that the soul is the physical aspect of our  existence and not an immaterial component of our nature.


Saving the Soul by Losing It


            In the Old Testament, we found that the soul–nephesh is used frequently to denote the uncertainty of life, constantly facing the possibility of harm or even destruction. Consequently, the ancient Israelites were concerned about saving their soul, delivering their soul, restoring their soul to safety, and sustaining their soul through provisions, especially food.  In this context, it must have been perplexing for the Jews to hear Christ saying: “Whoever would save his soul [psyche] will lose it; and whoever loses his soul [psyche] for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35; cf. Matt 16:25; 10:39; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25).

            The impact of Christ’s statement upon the Jews must  have been dramatic, because He had the audacity to proclaim that their souls could be saved only by losing them for His sake. The notion of saving the soul through losing it was unknown to the Jews because it is not found in the Old Testament.  Christ demonstrated His teaching by acting in a way that culminated in His own crucifixion. 

            He came “to give his soul [psyche] as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28).  As the Good Shepherd, He “laid down his soul [psyche] for the sheep” (John 10:11).  By teaching that in order to save one’s soul, it is necessary for one to lose it, to give it up, and to lay it down, Christ expanded the Old Testament meaning of nephesh–soul as physical life by making it inclusive of the eternal life received by those willing to sacrifice  their present life (soul) for His sake.

            The Apostolic Church  grasped this expanded meaning of the soul as denoting a life of total commitment to the Savior.  Judas and Silas became men who “risked their soul [psyche] for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). Epaphroditus risked “his soul [psyche]” for the work of Christ (Phil 2:30).  The Apostle Paul himself testified: “I do not account my soul [psyche] of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20: 24).

            If Paul believed that the soul is immortal,  it is unlikely that he would have viewed it of no value and worth loosing for the sake of the gospel.  These texts show that the Apostolic Church lived out the new expanded meaning of the soul by living a life of total, sacrificial commitment to Christ.  Believers understood that  their soul as physical life could be saved only by consecrating it to the service of Christ.

            The most foolish mistake anyone can make is “to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul [psyche]” (Mark 8:36). It is this soul–psyche, the life that transcends death, that is the primary object of redemption (Heb 10:39; 13:17; James 1:21; 1 Pet 1:9, 22). While the term “soul” is used considerably less frequently in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, these key passages indicate a significant expansion of its meaning. The term came to include the gift of eternal life received by those who are willing to sacrifice their present life for Christ’s sake.


The Death of the Soul Is Eternal Death


            This expanded meaning of the term soul–psyche helps us understand  a well-known, but much misunderstood saying of Christ:  “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul [psyche]; rather fear him who can destroy both the soul [psyche] and the body in hell” (Matt 10:28; cf. Luke 12:4).  Dualists find in this text support for the  concept that the soul is an immaterial substance that is kept safe and survives the death of the body.  

            This interpretation reflects the Greek dualistic understanding of human nature and not the Biblical wholistic view.  The reference to God’s power to destroy the soul [psyche] and the body in hell, negates the notion of an immaterial, immortal soul. How can the soul be immortal if God destroys it with the body in the case of impenitent sinners?  Oscar Cullmann rightly notes that “we hear in Jesus’ saying in Matthew 10:28  that the soul can be killed.  The soul is not immortal.”41

            In the preceding discussion, we have seen that Christ expanded the meaning of the soul–psyche to denote not only physical life but also eternal life received by those who are willing to make a sacrificial commitment to Him.  If this text  is read in the light of the expanded meaning given by Christ to the soul, the meaning of the saying is: “Do not fear those who can bring your earthly existence (body–soma) to an end, but cannot annihilate your eternal life in God; but fear God who is able to destroy your whole being eternally.” Christ’s warning hardly teaches the immortality of the soul. Rather it teaches that God can destroy the soul as well as the body.      


Paul and the Soul


            In comparison with the Old Testament, or even the Gospels, the use of the term soul–psyche in Paul’s writings is rare.  He uses the term only 13 times42 (including quotations from the Old Testament) to refer to physical life (Rom 11:3; Phil 2:30; 1 Thes 2:8), a person (Rom 2:9; 13:1), and the seat of emotional life (Phil 1:27; Col 3:23; Eph 6:6). It is noteworthy that Paul never uses psyche–soul to denote the life that survives death. The reason could be Paul’s fear that the term psyche–soul might be understood by his Gentile converts according to the Greek view of innate immortality.

            To ensure that the new life in Christ would be viewed wholly as a divine gift and not as an innate possession, Paul uses the term pneuma–spirit, instead of psyche–soul. The Apostle certainly acknowledges a continuity between the present life and the resurrection life, but since he sees it as God’s gift and not something found in human nature, he uses pneuma–spirit instead.43

            In his famous passage on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul shows that he uses soul–psyche in accordance with the Old Testament meaning of physical life.  He explains the difference between the present body and the resurrection body, saying:  “It is sown a physical [psychikon] body, it is raised a spiritual [pneumatikon] body” (1 Cor 15:44).  The present body is psychikon, literally “soulish” from psyche–soul, denoting a physical organism subject to the law of sin and death. The future, resurrected body is pneumatikon, literally “spiritual” from pneuma–spirit, meaning an organism controlled by God’s Spirit.

            The resurrected body is called “spiritual,” not because it is nonphysical but because it is ruled by the Holy Spirit, instead of carnal impulses.  This becomes evident when we note that Paul applies the same distinction between the natural–psychikos and the spiritual–psychikos to the present life in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15. Here Paul distinguishes between the natural man–psychikos, who is not guided by God’s Spirit, and the spiritual man [psychikos], who is guided by God’s Spirit.


No Natural Immortality


            It is evident that for Paul the continuity between the present and the future body is to be found not in the expanded meaning of the soul that we have found in the Gospels, but in the role of the Spirit of God that renews us in newness of life both now and at the resurrection. By focusing on the role of the Spirit, Paul negates the immortality of the soul. For him it is very important to clarify that the new life of the believer both in the present and the future is wholly a gift of God’s Spirit. There is nothing inherently immortal in human nature.

            The expression “immortality of the soul” does not occur in Scripture.  The Greek word commonly translated  “immortality “ in our English versions of the Bible is athanasia. This term occurs only twice in the New Testament, the first time in connection with God “who alone has immortality [athanasia] and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see” (1Tim 6:16). Obviously, immortality here means more than endless existence. It means that God is the source of life (John 5:26) and all other beings receive eternal life from Him.

            The second time, the word “immortality–athanasia” occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 in relation to mortal nature, which puts on immortality at the resurrection: “For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality [athanasia].  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality [athanasia], then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 

            The Christian Hope is based not on the immortality of the soul but on the resurrection of the body. If we want to use the word “immortality” with reference to human nature, let us speak not of the immortality of the soul, but rather of the immortality of the body (whole person) by means of the Resurrection.  It is the resurrection that bestows the gift of immortality on the body, that is, on the whole person of the believer.




            Our survey of the New Testament use of the term “soul–psyche” indicates that there is no support for the notion of the soul as an immaterial and immortal entity that survives the death of the body.  There is nothing in the word psyche–soul that even remotely implies a conscious entity able to survive the death of the body.  Not only does the New Testament fail to endorse the notion of the immortality of the soul, but it also clearly shows that the soul–psyche denotes the physical, emotional, and spiritual life. The soul is the person as a living being, with its personality, appetites, emotions, and thinking abilities. The soul describes the whole person as alive and thus inseparable from the body.

            Christ expanded the meaning of soul–psyche to include the gift of eternal life received by those who are willing to sacrifice their earthly life for Him, but He never suggested that the soul is an immaterial, immortal entity. On the contrary, Jesus taught that God can destroy the soul as well as the body (Matt 10:28) of impenitent sinners. 

            Paul never uses the term “soul–psyche to denote the life that survives death. On the contrary, he identifies the soul with our physical organism (psychikon) which is subject to the law of sin and death (1 Cor 15:44). To ensure that his Gentile converts understood that there is nothing inherently immortal in human nature, Paul uses the term “spirit–pneuma” to describe the new life in Christ which the believer receives wholly as a gift of God’s Spirit both now and at the resurrection.

            Summing up our survey of the Old and New Testament view of human nature, we can say that the Bible is consistent in teaching that human nature is an indissoluble unity, where the body, soul, and spirit represent different aspects of the same person, and not different substances or entities functioning independently. This wholistic view of human nature removes the basis for the belief in the survival of the soul at the death of the body.





            Someone may ask:  What difference does it make whether a person holds to a dualistic or wholistic view of human nature?  Is not this a pure academic question? These are questions we wish to briefly address in the last part of this chapter. We shall see that what Christians believe about the make-up of their human nature largely determines what they believe about their present life and ultimate destiny.  


Implications of the Dualistic View

of Human Nature


            We noted earlier that historically popular Christian thought has  been deeply influenced by the dualistic teachings of Sacrates and Plato, which were promoted in modified forms by Tertullian, Origen, Augustin, and Thomas Aquinas. The far-reaching implications of the dualitic view of human nature for Christian beliefs and practices is inestimable. Only a brief mention can be made in this chapter.


Doctrinal Implications of the Dualistic View of Human Nature


            Doctrinally, a host of beliefs derive from or are dependent upon the dualistic view of human nature.  For example, the belief in the transition of the soul at the moment of death to paradise, hell, or purgatory rests on the belief that the soul is immortal by nature and survives the body at death. This means that, if the inherent immortality of the soul is an unbiblical concept, then popular beliefs about paradise, purgatory, and hell have to be radically modified or even rejected.

            The belief that at death the souls of the saints ascend to the beatitude of Paradise has fostered the Catholic and Orthodox belief in the intercessory role of Mary and of the saints. If the souls of the saints are in heaven, it is feasible to assume that they can intercede on behalf of needy sinners on this earth. Thus, devout Christians pray to Mary and the saints to intercede on  their behalf.  Such a practice runs contrary to the Biblical teaching that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tim 2:5).

            If the conclusion of our study is correct that the soul does not survive and cannot function apart from the body, then the whole teaching of the intercessory role of Mary and the saints must be rejected as an ecclesiastical fabrication. Truly, the acceptance of the Biblical wholistic view of human nature can have frightening consequences for long-cherished Christian beliefs.

            Similarly, the belief that at death the souls of those who are pardonable transit to purgatory, has led to the teaching that the church on earth has the power to apply the merits of Christ and of the saints to souls suffering in purgatory.  Historically, this has been accomplished by granting indulgences, that is, the remission of the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin.  Such a belief led to the scandalous sale of indulgences which sparked the Protestant Reformation. 

            The Reformers eliminated the doctrine of purgatory as unbiblical, but they retained the doctrine of the immediate transit after death of individual souls to a state of perfect blessedness (heaven) or to a state of continuous punishment (hell). We have found the latter teaching to be clearly negated by Scripture. Consequently, it is imperative to continue to the work of the Reformers, by rejecting as ecclesiastical fabrications the popular beliefs about purgatory, indulgences, and the transit of the souls to heaven or to hell.


Immortality of the Soul Weakens Second Advent


            Traditional dualism also has contributed to weakening the Advent Hope. The belief in the ascension of souls to heaven  obscures and eclipses the expectation of the Second Advent.  If at death the soul of the believer goes up immediately to the beatitude of Paradise to be with the Lord, there can hardly be any real sense of expectation for Christ to come down to  resurrect the sleeping saints.  The primary concern of these Christians is to reach paradise immediately, albeit as a disembodied soul.  This concern leaves barely any interest in the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the body.

            To believe in the immortality of the soul means to regards oneself at least partly immortal in the sense of being incapable of passing out of existence. Such a belief encourages confidence in oneself and in the possibility of one’s soul going up to the Lord.  On the other hand, to believe in the resurrection of the body means to believes in Christ who will return to raise the dead and transform the living.  This means  believing in the coming down of the Lord to this earth to meet embodied believers, and not in the going up of disembodied souls to heaven to meet the Lord.

            In the New Testament the Parousia guarantees a final consummation realized by a movement of Christ’s coming down to mankind rather than individual souls going up to Him.  The Advent Hope is not “a pie in the sky when you die” but a real meeting upon this earth between embodied believers and Christ on the glorious day of His return.  Out of that real meeting will come a transformation affecting humanity and nature.  This great expectation is obscured and erased by the belief in individual immortality and heavenly bliss immediately after death.

            Another significant implication of the individualistic hope for immediate immortality is that it overrides the Biblical corporate hope for an ultimate restoration of this creation and its creatures (Rom 8:19-23; 1 Cor 15:24-28).  When the only future that really counts is the individual soul’s survival after death, the anguish of mankind can have only a peripheral interest and the value of God’s redemption for this whole world is largely ignored. The ultimate result of this belief is, as noted by Abraham Kuyper, that “by far the majority of Christians do not think much beyond their own death.”43


Misconceptions About the World to Come


            The belief in the immortal and spiritual soul  has fostered also wrong ideas about the world to come. The popular concept of paradise as a spiritual retreat center somewhere up in space, where glorified souls will spend eternity in everlasting contemplation and meditation, has been inspired more by Platonic dualism than by Biblical realism. For Plato, the material components of this world were evil and, consequently, not worthy of survival.  The aim was to reach the spiritual realm where souls liberated from the prison-house of a material body enjoy eternal bliss.       

            Our study shows that both the Old and New Testaments reject the dualism between the material world below and the spiritual realm above.  The final salvation inaugurated by the coming of the Lord is regarded in Scripture not an escape from but a transformation of this earth.  The Biblical view of the world to come is not a spiritual heavenly retreat inhabited by glorified souls, but this physical earthly planet populated by resurrected saints (Is 66:22; Rev 21:1).


Practical Implications of the Dualistic View of Human Nature


            At a more practical level, the dualistic view of human nature has fostered the cultivation of the soul in detachment from the body and the suppression of physical appetites and healthy natural impulses. Contrary to the Biblical view of the goodness of God’s creation, including the physical pleasures of the body, medieval spirituality promoted the mortification of the flesh as a way to achieve the divine goal of holiness.

            The saints were ascetic persons who devoted themselves primarily to vita contemplativa, detaching themselves from the vita activa.  Since the salvation of the soul was seen as more important than the preservation of the body, the physical needs of the body often intentionally were neglected or even suppressed. 

            The dichotomy between body and soul, the physical and the spiritual, is still present in the thinking of many Christians today.  Many still associate redemption with the human soul rather than the human body. We describe the missionary work of the church as that of “saving souls.”  The implication seems to be that the souls are more important than the bodies.

            Conrad Bergendoff  rightly notes that “The Gospels give no basis for a theory of redemption which saves souls apart from the bodies to which they belong.  What God has joined together, philosophers and theologians should not put apart.  But they have been guilty of divorcing the bodies and souls of men which God made one at creation, and their guilt is not diminished by their plea that thus salvation would be facilitated.  Until we have a theory of redemption which meets the whole need of man we have failed to understand the purpose of Him who became incarnate that He might be able to save humanity.”44


Dualism in Liturgy


            The influence of dualism can be seen even more often in many Christian hymns, prayers, and poems. The opening sentence of the burial prayer found in The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England is starkly dualistic:  “Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of His great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground.”45  A phrase in another prayer in the same Office betrays a clear dualistic contempt for physical existence:  “With whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity.”

            The Platonic notion of the release of the soul from the prison-house of the body is clearly set forth in the lines of the Christian poet, John Donne:  “When bodies to their grave, souls from the graves remove.”46  Many of our hymns are thinly disguised dualistic poems. They speak of this earth as “a desert drear” and invite believers to look “up above the sky.” “I want to live above the world . . . on heaven’s tableland.”  

            Christians who believe the words of such hymns may be disappointed one day to discover that their eternal home is not “above the world . . . on heaven’s tableland,” but down here on this earth.  This is the planet that God has created, redeemed, and ultimately will restore for our eternal habitation. 

              The far-reaching doctrinal and practical implications of the dualistic view of human nature that we have just considered should serve to impress the reader with the importance of the subject under consideration. This is not a mere  academic question but a fundamental Biblical teaching that impacts directly or indirectly a host of Christian beliefs and practices.


Implications of the Biblical Wholistic

View of Human Nature


            The Biblical wholistic view of human nature, according to which our body and soul are an indissoluble unit, created and redeemed by God, challenges us to view positively both the physical and spiritual aspects of life.  We honor God not only with our mind but also with our body, because our body is “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19).

            Scripture admonishes us to present our “bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1).  This means that the way we treat our bodies reflects the spiritual condition of our souls. If we pollute our bodies with tobacco, drugs, or  unhealthy food, we cause not only the physical pollution of our bodies, but also the spiritual pollution of our souls.

            Henlee H. Barnette notes that “what people do to, for, and with others and their environment depends largely upon what they think of God, nature, themselves, and their destiny.”47  When Christians view themselves and the present world wholistically as the object of God’s good creation and redemption, they will be both convinced and compelled to act as God’s stewards of their bodies as well as of the created order.


Concern for the Whole Person


            Biblical wholism challenges us to be concerned about the whole person. In its preaching and teaching, the church must meet not only the spiritual needs of the soul but also the physical needs of the body. This means teaching people how to maintain emotional and physical health.  It means that church programs should not neglect the needs of the body.  Proper diet, exercise, and outdoor activities should be encouraged as an important part of Christian living.

            Accepting the Biblical wholistic view of human nature means to  opt for a wholistic approach in our evangelistic and missionary endeavors.  This approach consists not only in saving the “souls” of people but also in improving their  living conditions by working in such areas as health, diet, education.  The  aim should be to serve the world and not to avoid it.  The issues of social justice, war, racism, poverty, and economic imbalance should be of concern to those who believe that God is working to restore the whole person and the whole world.

            Christian education should promote the development of the whole person. This means that the school’s program should aim at the development of the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of life. A good physical-education program should be considered as important as its academic and religious programs. Parents and teachers should be concerned about teaching good eating habits, the proper care of the body, and a regular program of physical exercise.

            The Biblical concept of the whole person also has implications for medicine.  Medical science recently has developed what is known as holistic medicine.  Holistic health practitioners “emphasize the necessity for looking at the whole person, including physical condition, nutrition, emotional make up, spiritual state, life-style values, and environment.”48  At the 1975 graduating exercise of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Jerome D. Frank told the graduates: “Any treatment of an illness that does not also minister to the human spirit is grossly deficient.”49  Healing and the maintenance of physical health must always involve the total person.


Cosmic Redemption


            The Biblical wholistic view of human nature presupposes  also a cosmic view of redemption that encompasses the body and  the soul, the material and the spiritual world. The separation between body and soul or spirit has often paralleled the division between the realm of creation and the realm of redemption. The latter has  been associated to a large extent in both Catholicism and Protestantism with the salvation of individual souls at the expense of the physical and cosmic dimensions of redemption.  The saints often are portrayed as pilgrims who live on earth but detached from the world and whose souls at death immediately leave their material bodies to ascend to an abstract place called “heaven.”

            Dualism has produced an attitude of contempt toward the body and the natural world. Such an attitude of disdain toward our planet is absent from the Psalms, where the central theme is the praise of God for His magnificent works. In  Psalm 139:14,  David says: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth very well.”  Here the Psalmist praises God for his wonderful body, a fact well known to his soul (mind). This is a good example of wholistic thinking, where body and soul are part of God’s marvellous creation.

             In Psalm 92, the Psalmist urges one to praise God with musical instruments, because, he says, “Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by thy work; at the work of thy hands I sing for joy.  How great are thy works, O Lord!” (Ps 92:4-5).  The Psalmist’s rejoicing over his wonderful body and marvelous creation  is based upon his wholistic conception of the created world as an integral part of the whole drama of creation and redemption.


Biblical Realism


            The Biblical wholistic view of human nature also impacts on our  view of the world to come. The Bible does not envision the world to come as an ethereal paradise where glorified souls will spend eternity wearing white robes, singing, plucking harps, praying, chasing clouds, and drinking milk of ambrosia.  Instead, the Bible speaks of the resurrected saints inhabiting  this planet earth, which will be purified, transformed, and perfected at and through the coming of the Lord (2 Pet 3:11-13; Rom 8:19-25; Rev 21:1).  The “new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17) are not a remote and inconsequential spiritual retreat somewhere off in space; rather, they are the present heaven and earth renewed to their original perfection. 

            Believers enter the new earth not as disembodied souls but as resurrected bodily persons (Rev 20:4; John 5:28-29; 1 Thess 4:14-17).  Though nothing unclean shall enter the New Jerusalem, we are told that “the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, . . . they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations” (Rev 21:24, 26).  These verses suggest that everything of real value in the old heaven and earth, including the achievements of man’s inventive, artistic, and intellectual prowess, will find a place in the eternal order.  The very image of “the city” conveys the idea of activity, vitality, creativity, and real relationships.

            It is regrettable that this fundamentally concrete, earthly view of God’s new world portrayed in the Scripture has largely been lost and replaced in popular piety with an ethereal, spiritualized concept of heaven.  The latter has been influenced by Platonic dualism rather than by Biblical realism.



            The serpent’s lie, “You will not die” (Gen 3:4) has lived on throughout human history to our time. Our brief historical survey traced the origin of this belief in life after death to the ancient Egyptians. They spent an outrageous amount of time and money preparing for life after death.

            The Greek philosophers Socrates and Philo adopted the Egyptian belief in life after death, but redefined it in terms of an immaterial, immortal soul that leaves the prison house of the mortal body at death. They viewed death as the separation of the soul from the body.

            This dualistic teaching found its way into the Christian church toward the end of the second century. It was promoted first by Tertullian, and later on by Origen, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas.  For them death meant the destruction of the body, which enables the immortal soul to continue to live in either the beatitude of Paradise or in the eternal torment of Hell.

            The belief in the survival of the soul contributed to the development of the doctrine of Purgatory, a place where the souls of the dead are purified by suffering the temporal punishment of their sins before ascending to Paradise.

            The Reformers rejected as unbiblical and unreasonable the practice of buying and selling indulgences to reduce the stay of the souls of departed relatives in Purgatory.  However, they continued to believe in the conscious existence of souls either in Paradise or Hell.

            Today the belief in conscious existence after death is spreading like wildfire, due to such factors as the polished image of mediums and psychics, the sophisticated “scientific” research into near-death experiences, and the popular New Age channeling with the alleged spirits of the past.  The result is that most people believe Satan’s lie that no matter what they do, they “shall not die” (Gen 3:4) but become like gods by living for ever.

            To test the validity of this popular belief, we examined the Old and New Testaments view of the “soul.” We found that the Bible is consistent in teaching that human nature is an indissoluble unity, where the body, soul, and spirit represent different aspects of the same person, and not different substances or entities functioning independently. This wholistic view of human nature removes the basis for the belief in the survival of the soul at the death of the body.

            Christ expanded the meaning of soul–psyche to include the gift of eternal life received by those who are willing to sacrifice their earthly life for Him, but He never suggested that the soul is an immaterial, immortal entity. On the contrary, Jesus taught that God can destroy the soul as well as the body (Matt 10:28) of impenitent sinners. 

            We noted that the dualistic view of human nature consisting of a mortal body and immortal soul, has far-reaching doctrinal and practical implications. It impacts directly or indirectly on a host of popular beliefs and practices that run contrary to the Bible. Some of these popular unbiblical beliefs are examined in subsequent chapters.

            The work that the Reformers began by eliminating purgatory, must now be completed by rejecting popular beliefs that are contrary toScripture. It is unlikely that such a monumental task can be undertaken by Protestant or Catholic churches today, because any attempt to modify or reject traditional doctrines is interpreted as a betrayal of their traditional faith and can cause division and fragmentation. This is a too high price that most churches are not willing to pay. Yet it is a price that the faithful remnant must pay in order to fulfill her mission to call upon sincere believers every where: “Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins” (Rev 18:8).




            1.  See Table 2.1 Religious Belief, Europe, and the USA, in Tony Walter, The Eclipse of Eternity (London, 1996), p. 32.

            2.  James Bonwick, Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, 1956 reprint, p. 80.

            3.  Herodotus, Euterpe, chapter 123.

            4.  F. J. Church, translator, Plato’s Phaedo, in the Library of Liberal Arts No. 30, pp. 7-8.

            5. Ibid., pp. 66-69.

            6. For an excellent survey, see, Le Roy Edwin Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, 1966, vol. 1, pp. 632-755.

            7. See, Le Roy Edwin Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, 1966, pp. 724-726.

            8. Ibid., p. 801.

            9. C. F. Hudson, Debt and Grace as Related to the Doctrine of a Future Life, 1857, p. 326.

            10. Tertullian, On the Resurrection, chapter 3, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 547; Emphasis supplied.

            11. Origen, De Principiis, Book 4, chapter 1, sec. 36, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, p. 381.

            12. Origen, Against Celsus, book 4, chapter 13, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, p. 502.

            13. Augustine, Epistle 137, chap. 3.

            14. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, 1995, p. 245.

            15. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles IV, 79.

            16. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994, p. 93.

            17. Ray S. Anderson, Theology, Death and Dying, 1986, p. 104.

            18. See Hans Schwarz, “Luther’s Understanding of Heaven and Hell,” Interpreting Luther’s Legacy, ed. F. W. Meuser and S. D. Schneider, 1969, pp. 83-94.

            19. The text of this work is found in Calvin’s Tracts and Treatises of the Reformed Faith, trans. H. Beveridge,1958, vol. 3, pp. 413-490.

            20. See, for example, Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, 1940), Vol. 3, pp. 713-30;  W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Grand Rapids, n.d.), Vol. 2, pp. 591-640.  G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ,1972, pp. 32-64.

            21. Westminster Confession, chap. 32, as cited by John H. Leith, ed.,  Creeds of the Churches, 1977,  p. 228.

            22. K. Osis and E. Haraldsson, At the Hour of Death,1977, p. 13.

            23. Ibid., pp. 13-14. See also W. D. Rees, “The Hallucinations of Widowhood,” BMJ 4 (1971), pp. 37-41; G. N. M. Tyrrell, Apparitions, 1953, pp. 76-77.

            24. Hans Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 1974, p. 10.

            25. Dom Wulstan Mork, The Biblical Meaning of Man, 1967, p. 34.

            26. Johannes Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, 1926, vol. 1, p. 99.

            27. H. Wheeler Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man, 1952, p. 27.

            28. Dom Wulstan Mork (note 25), p. 34

            29. Norman Snaith, “Justice and Immortality,” Scottish Journal of Theology 17, 3, (September 1964), pp. 312-313.


            30. Basil F. C. Atkinson, Life and Immortality (London, n. d.), pp.1-2.

            31. The tabulation is from Basil F. C. Atkinson (note 30), p. 3.

            32. Hans Walter Wolff (note 24),  p. 10.

            33. Tory Hoff, “Nephesh and the Fulfillment It Receives as Psyche,” in Toward a Biblical View of Man: Some Readings, eds. Arnold H. De Graaff and James H. Olthuis, 1978, p. 98.

            34. Hans Walter Wolff (note 24), p. 25.

            35. Dom Wulstan Mork  (note 25), p. 40.

            36. Ibd. p. 41.

            37. Johannes Pedersen (note 26), p. 179.

            38. Edmund Jacob, “Nephesh,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich,1974, vol. 9, p. 621.

            39. Johannes Pedersen (note 26), p. 171.

            40. The figure is given by Basil F. C. Atkinson (note 29), p. 14.

            41. Oscar Cullmann, “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?” in Immortality and Resurrection.  Death in the Western World: Two Conflicting Currents of Thought, ed. Krister Stendahl, 1968, pp. 36-37.

            42. Edward Schweizer, “Psyche,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed., Gerhard Friedrich, 1974, vol. 9, p. 648, note 188.

            43. Cited in G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ 1972, p. 34.  The same view is expressed by Russell Foster Aldwinckle, Death in the Secular City, 1972, p. 82.

            44. Conrad Bergendoff, “Body and Spirit in Christian Thought,” The Lutheran Quarterly 6 (August 1954), pp. 188-189.

            45. Cited by D. R. G. Owen,  Body and Soul. A Study on the Christian View of Man 1957, p. 28.

            46. From John Donne’s poem, “The Anniversary.”

            47. Henlee H. Barnette, The Church and the Ecological Crisis (New York, 1972), p. 65.

            48. Encyclopedia Americana, 1983 ed., s. v. “Holistic Medicine,”  p. 294.

            49. Cited by Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness, 1979, p. 133.  Among the many books on holistic medicine, the following may be noted: David Allen et al., Whole Person Medicine, 1980;  Ed Gaedwag, ed., Inner Balance: The Power of Holistic Healing, 1979;  Morton Walker, Total Health: The Holistic Alternative to Traditional Medicine, 1979; Jack La Patra, Healing the Coming Revolution in Holistic Medicine , New York, 1978.






        Last February 2007, I was told that I had only a few months to live, because my liver was infested with a three pounds cancer tumor that could not be removed surgically. I contacted several cancer centers, and the verdict of all the oncologists with whom I spoke, was essentially the same: You have a stage four terminal cancer that cannot be operated.  We can only prolong your life of a few months with chemotherapy.


        In a providential way the Lord lead me to the unique Center for Cancer Care, in Goshen, Indiana that offers clinical trials on different forms of cancer not readily available in most cancer centers. They use a combination of chemo and microspheres. After two treatments, over 80% of the cancer cells were shut down. And now over 98% of the cancer activity has been eliminated.  I feel like a new man with a new lease on life.


        To express my gratitude to God for His providential healing through the Center for Cancer Care in Goshen, Indiana, I decided to post the information on how you can contact the Center. Over 150 Adventists have already contacted the Center. The Vice-President is Vladimir Radivojevic, who is a gracious and caring Adventist Christian gentleman.  Feel free to contact him by phone or email.  These are his addresses:


Vladimir Radivojevic MS, MBA


The Center for Cancer Care

200 High Park Ave.

Goshen, IN 46526

Phone: 574.535.2970      Fax: 574.535.2535

Email: vradivoj@goshenhealth.com

Websites: www.goshenhealth.com  or www.cancermidwest.com


          If you or someone you know has cancer, feel free to contact Vladimir. He will talk with you personally, gather your information, and place you in contact with an oncologist who can examine your situation and give you a second opinion free of charge. Vladimir told me that he wants to help patients unable to come to their Center for Cancer Care, by asking physicians to evaluating the medical records free of charge to see if the current treatments are adequate or if one of their clinical trials programs could be of special help.





        This offer may sound too good to be true. For the first time I am offering together as a package all the 10 DVD/CD albums, containing the recordings of Prof. Jon Paulien, Prof. Graeme Bradford, and my own. Until now I have offered all these recordings separately, costing considerably more.  To make it possible for many to benefit from all these timely messages, I have decided to offer them together as a package for only $150.00, instead of the regular price of $950.00.




1) Prof. Jon Paulien's newly released DVD ALBUM video seminar on Simply Revelation.


2) Prof. Jon Paulien's CD ALBUM with a dozen of his books, and all his articles.


3) Prof. Graeme Bradford's DVD ALBUM with a two hours video lecture on Ellen White. He shares the highlights of his book More than a Prophet. The album contains also Prof. Bradford's the publications and articles.


4) Prof. Bacchiocchi's newly recorded DVD ALBUM called ABUNDANT LIFE SEMINAR.  The album contains 2 video powerpoint lectures: The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages and How to Build a Happy and Lasting Marriage. These two lectures summarize the highlights of Bacchiocchi’s two books Wine in the Bible and The Marriage Covenant. Two separate files with 225 powerpoint slides are included.


5) Prof. Bacchiocchi's DVD ALBUM containing 10 video powerpoint lectures on the Sabbath and Second Advent.  Some of the lectures show the documents Prof. Bacchiocchi found in Vatican libraries on the role of the papacy in changing the Sabbath to Sunday. This album contains the popular powerpoint SABBATH/ADVENT seminars Prof. Bacchiocchi presents in many countries.


6) Prof. Bacchiocchi's DVD ALBUM on Cracking the Da Vinci Code. The album contains a two hours video lecture, professionally taped with a vitual studio as a background. A separate file with 200 powerpoint slides is included.


7) Prof. Bacchiocchi's DVD ALBUM on The Mark and the Number of the Beast. The album contains the two hours video lecture and a separate powerpoint file with the 200 slides used for the lecture.


8) Prof. Bacchiocchi's  CD ALBUM with all his books and powerpoint lectures. The album consists of two disks. The first disk has all his 18 books and over 200 articles. The second disk has the slides and script of 25 of Prof. Bacchiocci's popular PowerPoint presentations.


9) Prof. Bacchiocchi's  DVD ALBUM on The Passion of Christ.  The album contains the 2 hours live interview conducted by 3ABN on Prof. Bacchiocchi's book The Passion of Christ in Scripture and History.


10) Prof. Bacchiocchi's MP3 AUDIO ALBUM which contains 2 disks with 22 AUDIO lectures on vital biblical beliefs and practices. Ideal for listening in your car while driving.




        You can see the picture of all the 10 ALBUMS and read a detailed description of them, just by clicking at this URL address:



        You can order the complete package of 10 DVD/CD Albums for only $150.00,  instead of the regular price of $950.00, in four different ways:


        (1)  Online: By clicking here: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/albumoffer.htm


        (2)  Phone:  By calling us at (269) 471-2915 to give us your credit card number and postal address.


        (3)  Email:  By emailing your order to <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>.  Be sure to provide your  postal address, credit card number, and expiration date.     


        (4) Regular Mail: By mailing a check for $150.00 to  BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES, 4990 Appian Way, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103, USA. We guarantee to process your order immediately.




      Prof. Jon Paulien’s DVD album on SIMPLY REVELATION was released few weeks ago.  We have been airmailing the DVD album to church leaders, pastors, and lay Adventists in different part of the world. Several pastors have already shown the lectures to their congregations.  They wrote to me saying that viewing the lectures was an enlightening experience for their members.


      My wife and I viewed Simply Revelation on our TV on a Sabbath afternoon. Though I had already watched Prof. Paulien’s lectures during the taping session, I was spellbound to hear him again offering so many refreshing insights into the most difficult book of the Bible. For me it is a thrilling experience listening to a scholar like Prof. Paulien, who knows what he is talking about.


      Prof. Paulien is one of the most respected Adventist scholars. Besides serving as the chairman of the New Testament at Andrews University Theological Seminary, he writes and lectures extensively in many parts of the world. He is rightly regarded as a leading Adventist authority on the book of Revelation which he has taught at the Seminary for the past 20 years. His doctoral dissertation as well as several of his books deal specifically with the Book of Revelation.


      The constant demand for Prof. Paulien’s CD album with his publications and articles, led me to discuss with him the possibility of producing a live video recording of a mini Revelation Seminar, which he chose to call Simply Revelation. As suggested by its title,  Simply Revelation aims to simply present the message of Revelation—not to read into Revelation sensational, but senseless views.


      The preparation of this video recording took several months. The Simply Revelation seminar consists of four one-hour live video lectures, which have just been recorded in the studio of Andrews University. An impressive virtual studio provides the background of the lectures. Each lecture is delivered with about 50 powerpoint slides.  I have spent long hours looking for suitable pictures to illustrate the text of each slide in order to enhance the visual effect of each lecture. This mini Revelation seminar will offer you and your congregation fresh insights into the Book of Revelation. Be sure to inform your pastor about the newly released Simply Revelation, if he is not aware of it.


      You will be pleased to know that we have placed on a separate file all the powerpoint slides and text used for the live video presentations. Each slide has the script of the live lecture.  This means that if you are a pastor or a lay member who want to use Prof. Paulien’s Simply Revelation Seminar, you can pick and choose the powerpoint slides that you like.


      The file with the powerpoint slides is placed on Prof. Paulien’s CD album containing all his publications and articles.  The reason is that there was no memory left on the DVD disks.  In spite of my pleas, Prof. Paulien was so full of the subject that he used the full 60 minutes of his four lecture, leaving no space for the slides’ file.


      This has been a very expensive project, both in time and money.  The regular price of the DVD album is $100.00, but you can order it now at the introductory price of only $50.00.  The price includes the airmailing expenses to any overseas destination.


      If you have not ordered before the CD Album with Prof. Paulien’s publications, we will be glad to add it to your DVD order for only $20.00, instead of the regular price of $60.00. This means that you can order both the DVD album with Prof. Paulien’s four live video lectures on Revelation and his CD album with all his publications and the powerpoint slides of Simply Revelation, for only $70.00, instead of the regular price of $160.00.


        As an additional incentive, I am offering you together with Prof. Paulien’s DVD/CD albums, also my own popular DVD album on The Mark and Number of the Beast, for an additional $10.00, instead of the regular price of $100.00. This means that you can order the DVD and CD albums by Prof, Paulien, together with my DVD album on The Mark and Number of the Beast, for only $80.00, instead of the regular price of $260.00.


        This research on The Mark and Number of the Beast, was commissioned by Prof. Paulien himself. He asked me to trace historically the origin and use of the Pope’s title Vicarius Filii Dei and of the number 666. I spent six months conducting this investigation which was professionally taped at the Andrews University Towers Auditorium. I use 200 powerpoint slides to deliver this informative two hours lecture which is warmly received by Adventist church leaders and pastors in many parts of the world. For a detailed description of this DVD album click: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/Beast/BeastPromo




* ONE DVD Album of Prof. Paulien’s four video lectures on Simply Revelation at the introductory price of $50.00, instead of $100.00. The price includes the airmailing  expenses to any overseas destination.


* ONE DVD Album of Simply Revelation and ONE CD Album with Prof. Paulien’s publications for only $70.00, instead of the regular price of $160.00. The price includes the airmailing  expenses to any overseas destination.


* ONE DVD Album of Simply Revelation,  ONE CD Album with Prof. Paulien’s publications, and ONE DVD Album with Bacchiocchi’s two hours video lecture on The Mark and Number of the Beast for only $80.00, instead of the regular price of $260.00. The price includes the airmailing  expenses to any overseas destination.




        (1)  Online: By clicking here: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/revelation/


        (2)  Phone:  By calling us at (269) 471-2915 to give us your credit card number and postal address.


        (3)  Email:  By emailing your order to <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>.  Be sure to provide your  postal address, credit card number, and expiration date.   


        (4) Regular Mail: By mailing a check to  BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES, 4990 Appian Way, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103, USA. We guarantee to process your order immediately.




        The new edition Prof. Graeme Bradford’s book More than a Prophet with an additional 20 pages, was released few weeks ago. Many churches have ordered the book by the case of 30 copies for only $150.00, that is, $5.00 per copy, instead of the regular price of $25.00. This book is urgently needed to restore confidence in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White by telling the truth about her divine revelations and her human limitations.


        The most gratifying responses have come from former Adventist. One lady wrote: “After reading More than a Prophet, I am seriously reconsidering returning to the Adventist church.” It is unfortunate that many Adventists have left the church, because they felt that they had been deceived about Ellen White. They could not reconcile in their mind that prophets do make mistakes. But Prof. Bradford compellingly shows that the mistakes found in the Bible or in the writings of Ellen White, do not negate the divine inspiration of their messages.


        For a detailed description of More than a Prophet,  together with the reviews and a picture of the book, click at this link: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/BradfordOffer/offer.htm


        To facilitate the distribution of this timely book among your church members, we are offering you two things:


1) Special discount on quantity orders of the book. Only $5.00 per copy, instead of $25.00 for a case of 30 copies.


2) A FREE ALBUM of Prof. Bradford’s DVD with a live two hours lecture on Ellen White.  The DVD contains also a PDF file with all of Prof. Bardford’s books and articles. The regular price of the DVD album is $100.00, but you will receive it FREE with an order of 2 or more copies of More than a Prophet.


        The reason for offering a Free Album of Prof. Bradford’s DVD live lecture on Ellen White, is to give your members the opportunity to enjoy the highlights of the More than a Prophet.  After viewing the DVD, most members are eager to order the book.




        ONE COPY of More than a Prophet for $20.00 (instead of $25.00), plus $5.00 for mailing in the USA, or $10.00 for airmailing overseas.


        TWO COPIES of More than a Prophet plus the DVD album with Prof. Bradford’s live two hours lecture on Ellen White, for $50.00 (instead of the regular price of $150.00). Add $10.00 for airmailing overseas.


        THIRTY COPIES of More than a Prophet plus the DVD album with Prof. Bradford’s live two hours lecture on Ellen White, for only $150.00, instead of the regular price of $850.00. The price includes the mailing in the USA.  Unfortunately as of May 14, 2007, the USA Post office no longer offers surface mail service for overseas. Everything must be sent AIRMAIL. The cost for airmailing a case of 30 books, is $95.00. Thus, the total cost for a case of 30 copies AIRMAILED overseas is $245.00. The advantage is that you will receive the case within a week.




        (1) Online: By clicking here: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/BradfordOffer/offer.htm


        (2)  Phone:  By calling us at (269) 471-2915 to give us your credit card number and postal address.


        (3)  Email:  By emailing your order to <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>.  Be sure to provide your  postal address, credit card number, and expiration date.


        (4) Regular Mail: By mailing a check to  BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES, 4990  Appian Way, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103, USA. We guarantee to process your order immediately.




            Gradually I am rescheduling some of the invitations I had to cancel because of the colon cancer surgery and liver treatments. Here is a list of the upcoming weekend seminars for the months of September and October



Location: 401 North Williamson Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114.

For directions and information call Pastor William Barrett at (386) 258-1073.



Location: The Lecture Hall, Knoxville Convention Center, 701 Henley Street, Knoxville, TN 37920.  This Sabbath Conference is organized by English Prof. Bruce Horne, Ph. D., a leader of the Seventh-day Christian Assembly in Knoxville with about 120 members. Several non-SDA sabbatarian churches and groups from neighboring states are participating at this Sabbath Conference. 


        Adventists living in the Knoxville area are encouraged to attend this Sabbath Conference.  I will be the keynote speaker on Friday evening and Saturday. We are planning also for a panel discussion conducted by church leaders of various sabbatarian churches.  This will be a unique opportunity to become acquainted with other sabbatarians.  For directions and information call Prof. Bruce Horne at (865) 671-4342 or (423) 914-5475.



Location: Adam’s Mark Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46241. The hotel phone number is: (317) 248-2481.  This is the international World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union that brings together WWCTU delegates of different denominations from all over the world.


        Ellen White was very active in this organization and was often featured as the keynote speaker. Our Adventist church had an active Temperance  program in the past. Today we hear little from our pulpit about Temperance, partly because alcohol and drugs are seen more as a medical than a moral issue.


        I have been invited to deliver the keynote address on Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 10: 30 a. m. Prior to my lecture, there will be a church service from 9:00 to 10:00 a. m. My powerpoint lecture is entitled “The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages.” I will be sharing the highlights of my book Wine in the Bible, dealing with the biblical imperative of total abstinence. If you live in the Indianapolis area, I would urge you to attend the meetings, especially on Saturday. For directions and more detail information, contact Sarah R. Ward, WWCTU President, at (765) 345-2306



Location: 1128 Banyan Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817.

For directions and information call Pastor Michael Asuega at (808) 261-7321 or (808) 206 5892.



Location: 2313 Nuuanu Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817. This will be the Hawaii Conference Convocation for all the churches in Oahu.

For directions and information, call the Hawaii Conference Office at (808) 595-7591.



Location:  1875 East Lincoln Avenue, Sunnyside, WA 98944.

For directions and information call Pastor Larry Mays at (509) 840 1932 or (509) 837 4233 or (509) 837 6411



Location: The East Ham SDA Church worships at Bryant Street Methodist Centre, Bryant Street, Stratford, London E14 4RU.

The Stratford SDA Church worships at 58 Janson Road (off Leytonstone Road) Stratford London E15 1TE.

For directions and information, call Pastor Leslie Ackie at 01279 427 558



Location: The Leeds SDA Church is located at 169 Meanwood Road corner of Oatland Place, Leeds LS7 1JW, Great Britain.

For directions and information call Pastor Ian Sweeney, 0114 286 9965.



Location:  Camp Hill Sparkbrook, Birmingham, West Midlands B12 OJP, Great Britain.

For directions and information call Pastor Jeffeth Nicholson at 01543 360253.




        HITACHI has just released the new CP-X400 3000 lumens projector, which replaces the CP-X444.  The new projector has an impressive high resolution, low fan noise, and a wealth of connectivity options. The most impressive feature of this projector is the incredible price of only $1395.00 to help especially our churches and schools in developing countries.


This is the special offer on the following three models:


CP-X260 HIGH RESOLUTION 2500 LUMENS - Only $1095.00

          Previous SDA price for the 2500 lumens was $2395.00.


CP-X400 HIGH RESOLUTION 3000 LUMENS - Only $1395.00

          This is the lowest price for an HITACHI 3000 lumens projector.


CP-X1250 HIGH RESOLUTION 4500 LUMENS Only $3795.00

          Previous SDA price for the 4500 lumens was $4900.00.


WARRANTY: The above prices include a 3 years 24/7 replacement warranty worth about $285.00.


You can order the HITACHI projectors online by clicking at this link: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/cart/catalog/index.php?cPath=24


If you have a problem ordering online, call us at (269) 471-2915.  We will take your order by phone. Your order will be processed immediately.




            If you are looking for an outstanding REMOTE for your PowerPoint presentations, you will be pleased to know HONEYWELL has just come out with the smallest and most powerful remote in the market.


            The size of the transmitter is smaller than a credit card. You can stick it inside the palm of your hand and nobody can see it. I tested the remote in an open environment, and the radio signal can go up to 400 feet of distance. IT IS INCREDIBLE! The transmitter has three button: forward, backward, and laser.


            You can order online the new POWERPOINT  PRESENTER simply by clicking here: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/cart/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=67


            If you have a problem ordering online, simply call us at (269) 471-2915.  We will take your order by phone. You can also email us your order at <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>, giving us your address, credit card number, and expiration date.




            If your church/school is looking for a screen, the DA-LITE SCREEN COMPANY, the largest manufacture of screens in the world, has agreed to offer their line of screens to our Adventist churches and schools at about 30% discount.


            The procedure is very simple. Visit the DA-LITE SCREEN COMPANY website at http://www.da-lite.com. You will see hundreds of models of screens with their respective prices. Once you find the screen that you need, give us the model number by phone (269) 471-2915 or email your request <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com> We will forward your order immediately to DA-LITE that will ship the screen directly to your address. You will receive the screen at about 30% discount.




            If your travel plans call for a stop in London, you will be pleased to learn about a most gracious Adventist couple that offer the best accommodation and breakfast I have ever enjoyed. It has become my home away from home when in London.  See details at: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/Promotions/BED&BREAKFAST.htm




            TAGnet provides an incredible number of webhosting services to our churches and members. This newsletter comes to you through their gracious and efficient service. For detail information, visit their website at http://www.netadventist.org or   http://home.tagnet.org/ You may also call their office 800 - 9TAGNET. They are ready and eager to help you.