THE EARTHLY INHERITANCE SERIES of BIBLE SUBJECTS
Various Bible study guides in subjects pertaining to
New Earth prophecy, as taught by Paul Phelps.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD,
they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 37:9
The NATURE and the ORIGIN of HUMAN SOULS
Bible quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version
except for my own translations or as otherwise indicated.
Knowledge about the soul is a foundation of wisdom
to understand God’s ultimate purposes for mankind.
A Bible study project by Paul Phelps.
After several years of study this writing was completed in 2000.
God is a spirit, dwelling in the spirit universe (Ps. 104:1-4). But God made us,
the human race, to live on earth in flesh bodies as part of the material universe.
We are amazing for our souls are spiritual but our bodies are material. We were
created as souls—living in material bodies. Gen. 2:7,
… then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and the man became a living being*.
*(Heb. NČPHISH: soul)
Soul is NČPHISH in Hebrew, and PSÝCHE in Greek. Psalms 16:10 is quoted in
For you will not abandon my soul (PSÝCHE) to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
(In Psalm 16:10, soul is NČPHISH)
Because the soul is spirit it can leave the body; the Bible gives proof of this in
As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni…
1 Kings 17:21-22,
Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out
to the LORD, ‘O LORD my God, let this child’s life (NČPHISH: soul)
come into him again.’ The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life
(NČPHISH: soul) of the child came into him again, and he revived.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).
The union of soul and body in humans was meant to work well; but problems
arose after the entrapment of Adam and Eve by Satan, when God put a curse on
earth (Gen. 3:17-19). Since then, the union of soul and body does not work well
for our bodies are under the curse of the earth; our bodies come from the earth.
…’you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’
Our earthy flesh body acts as a curse; it is an influence of sin against the soul.
In this world we are all born with a sin nature in the body. Rom. 7:23-25,
… but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind,
making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
1 Peter 2:11,
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles
to abstain from the desires of the flesh that war against the soul.
When we die we are delivered from this body of death, but our souls continue
to exist. What happens to our souls after a lifetime of partnership with our body?
After physical death our souls can expect to face judgment. Hebrews 9:27-28,
And just as it is appointed unto mortals to die once, and after that the
judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to deal with sin,
but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
… For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
The responsibility of righteousness is upon all souls, both angelic and human.
God requires all of us as living souls to keep our bodies under righteous control.
Therefore do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies…
… for if you live according to the flesh, you will die;
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Our souls will be judged for deeds of our will, done in the body. 2 Cor. 5:10,
For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that
each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body,
whether good or evil.
Sadly, the soul of mortal man is easily deceived. Past experience from Adam
until now shows how deceiving is this world; we are fools until we learn wisdom
and foolishness is costly. This is why God tells us to learn wisdom while young.
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
For the wise the path of life leads upwards,
in order to avoid Sheol below.
To get wisdom is to love oneself,*
to keep understanding is to prosper.
Wisdom guards our souls from the vanities and entrapments of this world.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom…
We must know that the soul of man is the real man. The brain is not the soul.
The brain is part of the body the same for man as for animals. The brain is like an
internal computer—made to serve sensory organs and complex body functions.
The brain is not the source of intelligent thought, ideas or dreams. The brain is
a memory device and receiver that translates between our soul and body. Our
thought and imagination is in the soul. Our mind is not in this material universe;
our human mind is in the soul—and souls exist in the spirit realm like the angels.
Because our souls are created in the spirit realm they will normally exist forever.
Our inner self, mind, personality and identity is in the soul—it is who we are.
Our bodies are of earthy materials that seldom last beyond a century—and very
dependent on life support. The circumstances of earthly life cause us to focus on
our bodies, but we would do well to give more attention to our soul.
God created man in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27), reflecting his dual
visible and invisible nature. The visible image is revealed in Jesus, God the Son,
who comes to earth in human form, “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).
The invisible God is the other nature, wholly within the spirit realm. Our soul
and our spirit of life are of this spirit realm, in the likeness of God’s spirit nature.
God the Father is a spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a spirit (John 4:24; 14:16-17,26),
but God the Son can appear physically. All three persons of God are one unity,
“For in him (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9). So with
humanity. In humans the soul and spirit of life are joined together in the body.
Humans were made in God’s image and according to his likeness (Gen. 1:26).
1 Thessalonians 5:23,
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely;
and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Soul and body are joined by the spirit of life (Heb. RŮAKH, Gr. PNEÚMA), the
breath from God originally breathed into Adam (Gen. 2:7) which continues in all
generations. We are all begotten as living souls (souls joined to a living body).
Our breath, spirit of life, returns to God when we die. Job 34:14-15 (ESV),
If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit (RŮAKH, breath, spirit)
and his breath (N’SHŔ-MAH, puff of spirit breath),
all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.
...when you take away their breath (RŮAKH, breath, spirit)
they die and return to their dust.
When their breath (RŮAKH) departs, they return to the earth.
...and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the breath (RŮAKH, breath, spirit) returns to God who gave it.
For just as the body without the spirit is dead ...
Clearly the breath of God is our human spirit—given to us as the power of life,
and which also holds body and soul together until God takes it back. Job 27:3,
...as long as my breath (N’SHŔ-MAH, puff of spirit breath) is in me
and the spirit (RŮAKH, spirit, breath) of God is in my nostrils ...
But truly it is the spirit (RŮAKH, spirit, breath) in a mortal,
the breath (N’SHŔ-MAH, puff of spirit breath) of the Almighty,
that makes for understanding.
There are as many human spirits as the human population. Numbers 16:22,
...O God, the God of the spirits (RŮAKH plural) of all flesh ...
Let the LORD, the God of the spirits (RŮAKH plural) of all flesh ...
...who gives breath (N’SHŔ-MAH, puff of spirit breath) to the people on it
and spirit (RŮAKH, spirit, breath) to those who walk in it.
It was the human spirit, the breath of life, that both Jesus and Stephen gave up
when they died; Luke 23:46,
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said,
'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.'
Having said this, he breathed his last.
While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed,
'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' ...When he had said this, he died.
All men die, and at death the body turns to dust; but the soul continues to exist
in a death sleep (Daniel 12:2; Job 14:12; John 11:13), awaiting judgment-day and
the new world inheritance. The soul's reward depends on Jesus for he is judge;
(Acts 10:42). Only God understands the heart*. Jer. 17:9-10,
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—who can understand it?
I the LORD test the mind and search the heart*, to give to all
according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
The human soul can go through changes. We can be seduced and deceived
by Satan’s agents, or rescued for righteousness by repentance, by faith in Jesus
and Holy Spirit renewal. The soul can be restored. The body is the outer man,
and the soul is the inner man. “Even though our outer nature is wasting away,
our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). The inner man is
the reason for God’s interest in us. Our relation to God depends upon the soul.
Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30,
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Heaven-called Christians are born again of the Spirit (John 3:3) and receive a
Spirit nature in the soul, able to “save your souls” (James 1:21). The Spirit birth
is a seal from God, a guarantee deposit of future glory (2 Cor. 5:5). 2 Cor. 1:21-22,
… and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us
and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.
(“first instalment” is a guarantee deposit)
God’s Spirit is a guarantee deposit to born again Christians for resurrection
to heaven. For Christians in this call, sacrificing the earthly body is reasonable;
(Rom. 12:1). In this world the bodies of everyone perish, but the righteous souls
shall be restored in a new body—for the new world. Born again Christians are
people of heaven, dwelling in earth bodies as in a tent, waiting for a new house.
2 Cor. 5:1-2,
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan,
longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling—
Resurrection is a new body to replace the one we have now; but our inner self,
our soul, continues to exist and cannot be exchanged. That is why God makes
a plan of redemption and restoration for our souls. The restoration plan of God
has two objectives: (A) restore our souls and, (B) replace our present bodies for
new bodies. Restoration of our souls puts us into the Kingdom; the replacement
of our bodies (resurrection) enables us to live effectively in the Kingdom.
In the new world, the new bodies for God’s people shall be free of all curses;
"Nothing accursed will be found there anymore"… (Rev. 22:3).
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing
of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility,
not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay
and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains
until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the
first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption,
the redemption of our bodies.
In Ezekiel's Chapter 37 vision we see that in the time of resurrection, God will
again breathe into the masses of resurrected bodies their human spirit (vv 8-10),
for at the time of death their spirit had returned to God. In Jesus' day this vision
was clearly understood to foretell a literal future resurrection of the dead, which
is why Martha answered Jesus as she did— "I know that he will rise again in the
resurrection on the last day" (re Lazarus, John 11:24). At the time of resurrection
God will no more recall the contention and anger of this life but will be merciful.
Isaiah 57:16 (ESV),
For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit (RŮAKH, spirit, breath) would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life (N’SHŔ-MAH, puff of spirit breath) that I made.
(In Hebrews 12:9 God is called the Father of spirits— (the life breaths of all living).
After creating Adam and Eve, God finished his creative work (Gen. 2:2) and is
no more creating new bodies and souls but has decreed natural procreation for
population increase (Gen. 1:28; 3:20; 9:1,7). The human spirit (the breath of life)
is the life force that allows the souls and bodies of all men and women to beget
children in their likeness and image. Gen. 5:3,
When Adam had lived for one hundred and thirty years,
he became the father of a son in his likeness,
according to his image, and named him Seth.
(Likeness is the soul, the invisible person. Image is the body, the visible person.)
The new souls of children are normally conceived through natural procreation
although God can intervene if he wants, as with Jesus' conception. In this world,
humans are identified as 'the children of Adam' (Heb. B'NEI ADAM)—indicating
descent from Adam. If a soul had a different origin it would not be descended
from Adam—and therefore would not partake of Adam's original sin or be under
the death penalty. But apparently everyone of humanity partakes in Adam's sin.
1 Cor. 15:21-22, For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;
for as all die in Adam, so all shall be made alive in Christ.
v12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world by one man, and death came
through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—
v19 For just as by the one man's disobedience (Adam)
the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience (Jesus)
the many will be made righteous.
No final population number for human soul reproduction is found in the Bible.
God can expand men’s living space as much as needed, even into other worlds,
because people will be multiplying in God’s kingdom forever. Isaiah 59:21,
And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD:
my Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your
mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of
your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children,
says the LORD, from now on and for ever.
God has authority over our souls, and his ownership of souls is not in dispute
for he is the Creator. It is required that all souls shall be righteous before God.
God has ownership of all souls and right of judgment of all souls. Eze. 18:4 (ESV),
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father
as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
This world isn't normal in the way we might hope; the world is a combat arena
of spiritual politics and Satan is the enemy of our souls. We are born into a world
of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12). We must put all of our faith and hope and love
in Jesus Christ our Saviour, to be ready to meet God in the judgment-day!
The soul tends toward strong emotions that can lead us into wicked ways. It is
hard to control soul emotions, and harder to combat Satan’s evil spirits unaided!
None of us can overcome evil spirits in our own power, we need the Lord's help.
Jesus is the only name with power to cast evil spirits from the soul (Luke 10:17).
Only the Lord can help us control the imaginations and thoughts of the soul, and
lead us into paths of righteousness. Psalm 19:7,
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.”
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