Category Archives: Informative

SOUL AND SPIRIT

 

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

I read many books and articles aimed at making me a better writer. Most of them say to me, “write about things you know.” But I recently came across a different suggestion: Write about things you don’t understand.

That sounds counterintuitive, but I was challenged, so I chose a topic I do not understand.

What is the difference between the soul and the spirit, as those terms are used in the Bible?

Why didn’t I choose to write about how the Internet works, another thing I don’t understand? It too is a very complex subject, but it is a benign topic. Most of my readers don’t care how the Internet works. They just care that it works.

But writing about the difference between one’s soul and one’s spirit (if there is a difference) is a spiritual issue. My readers do care about this topic.

I am no expert on this subject. But, like my readers, I am interested in it. Therefore, I have studied both what the Bible reveals about it and what Biblical scholars have written about it.

Since everyone agrees  that we have a mortal nature, the body, that topic will not be discussed.

INTRODUCTION: Some theologians believe humans have a three-part nature: body, soul and spirit. Other theologians believe we have only a two-part nature: body and soul/spirit, with the words soul and spirit being interchangeable words meaning the same thing.

According to my count on www.biblegateway.com, the words spirit and Spirit in all their forms appear in the NIV version of the Bible over 400 times. The words soul and Soul in all their forms appear just under 100 times in the NIV. Are those numbers significant?

Does this mean that soul and spirit are two different entities, and the Bible has much more to say about the spirit than it does about the soul? Or could the words be interchangeable, and whatever is said of the soul is also said of the spirit?

THE SOUL

In the Old Testament: The word soul first appears in Genesis 2:7: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV)

In many of the Old Testament (NIV) verses that use the word soul, the word appears within this phrase: with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the Hebrew word nephesh, which is often translated as soul, means: one who breathes. The word appears over 700 times in various English versions of the Old Testament and is not always translated soul.

 This word (nephesh/soul) is at times translated as life. Look at the following example.

1 Kings 17 records the account of Elijah raising to life the son of the widow of Zarephath. Verse 22 reads: The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life (nephesh/soul) returned to him, and he lived.

The same Hebrew word is sometimes translated as person(s), as in this example.

All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons (nepheshes/souls) (Genesis 46:26 KJV).

The King James Version uses over 20 different English words to represent the original Hebrew term. We have looked at only three of them.

In addition to soul, person and life, the word is sometimes used to represent the seat of the appetites, emotions and passions; and others.

To review, the Hebrew word nephesh means one who breathes. In English, the word is translated as soul, as life, as person(s), and as other words.

In the New Testament. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Hebrew word nephesh corresponds to the Greek words psuche or psyche.

The Greek word psyche or psuche is often translated as the English word, soul. It refers to a living, breathing, conscious body.

Like the Hebrew word, nephesh, the Greek word, psyche, is sometimes translated in the English language as breath, life and that which has life.

To recap, both the English Old Testament and English New Testament use words translated as soul to mean life, breath, and those having breath (people).

THE SPIRIT

The English word Spirit first appears in Scripture in Genesis 1:2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (KJV)

The Hebrew term rûach elohim is the basis of the words translated in English as Spirit of God.

Rûach is translated as wind, breath and spirit. Some believe it can also represent man’s intelligence and will.

The Greek word pneuma, meaning breath or wind, is often translated spirit and can also be used to refer to a person (1 John 4:1) and to life (Mark 3:4). It is said to represent man’s vital spirit or the soul.

CONCLUSION

For those few who are still reading, I will state two theories regarding soul and spirit.

Because the meanings of these two words are so similar, many theologians today believe they are interchangeable terms. They would say that a person is made up of only two parts: a body and a soul/spirit. This view is called dichotomy.

Other theologians disagree. They believe a person is made up of three parts: a body, a soul and a spirit.

Man’s soul includes his intellect, emotions and will. All people have souls, and all can choose whether to serve God or serve sin.

The spirit, they say, is the part of us that worships God and prays to Him. The spirit is a “higher faculty” and comes alive when a person becomes a Christian. This view is called trichotomy.

Those who subscribe to this theory use Hebrews 4:12 to support it. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Proponents of the dichotomy theory, however, believe this verse simply puts a fine point to how completely God’s Word penetrates the core of our moral and spiritual life.

SPIRIT/SOUL

If you are thinking: This woman, who reads neither Hebrew nor Greek, has no business writing about this subject, I agree that I have no business writing about it as one with authority.

I am not writing as one with authority. I am writing as a Christian woman who wanted to know more about the terms spirit and soul in the Bible. I studied the terms and am recapping for you my findings.

This much I know without question. There is a part of me that is destined for the grave. But there is also a part of me that death cannot touch.

For that part of me, be it spirit or soul/spirit, I hold to the promise found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 

 

 

 

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AAH, NOW I GET IT!

When I was a child, my parents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedia and Childcraft, the 1964 edition. We had the information of the world at our fingertips.

Today, owning a set of reference books seems archaic. We have Google.

I Googled a few questions this week and will share my newfound knowledge for your benefit.

QUESTION: Why are actors and actresses filmed “drinking” from cups that are obviously empty?

  

Why do they do that? I wondered. If they can cut off Lieutenant Dan’s legs (Gary Sinese in Forrest Gump) and show him swinging legless on the ropes of a shrimp boat, surely, they can put coffee and tea in cups on a film set.

ANSWER: Spilled liquids can stain costumes or create messes that must be cleaned up, slowing filming. Plus, many scenes require several takes. If an actress begins drinking a glass of iced tea that is three-fourths full on the first take, someone must make certain the same amount of tea is in the glass on the second, third, fourth and seventeenth takes.

This empty cup question is asked often. TV critic, Myles McNutt, made a study of “fake drinking” scenes and created his now long-running  #EmptyCupAwards.

But I still say, if they can cut off Lieutenant Dan’s legs, putting liquids in cups and glasses surely isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

 

QUESTION: Do humans have age-indicators like the growth rings on trees?

With age, our skin begins to sag, wrinkles and laugh lines form and our hair turns gray. But it’s hard to determine whether some people are in their late forties or early sixties. I wanted to know if an absolute method exists for determining age.

ANSWER: Just as the number of growth rings in a tree increase with time, revealing its age, degenerative changes in human bone also accumulate as an individual grows older. Trained doctors can measure these changes by observing hand radiographs. Using a scoring system referred to as an Osseographic Scoring System (OSS), they can determine an individual’s biological age. (www.marcusinstituteforaging.org)

 

QUESTION. How can a spider move through the air and create a web from one tree branch to another?

I understand Spiderman’s web slinging techniques, but I wanted to know how spiders do it.

ANSWER: A spider transforms liquid silk in its glands into solid thread. It then pulls the thread through spinnerets and lifts its spinnerets into the breeze. Even the slightest wind can catch the lightweight thread and carry it onto another branch or even another tree. The spider can then “tightrope” walk across the web, usually hanging to the underside of the thread, to its new location.

 

QUESTION: What is the difference between epithet and epitaph?

This question is important to a word nerd like me.

ANSWER:

An epithet is a nickname, often a negative one.

An epitaph is an inscription on a tombstone.

www.alabamapioneers.com

SAMPLE SENTENCE: One’s epithet may be included in his epitaph.

 CAUTION: Do not confuse either of these words with epaulet.

 

 QUESTION: What are the most commonly asked questions on Google?

ANSWER: The most commonly asked question on Google is What is my ip? Runners-up include: What time is it? How can I register to vote? and How do I tie a tie?

YOU’RE WELCOME!