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. NÈPHISH: soul)
Soul is NÈPHISH 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 NÈPHISH)
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 (NÈPHISH: soul)
come into him again.’ The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life
(NÈPHISH: 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 what happens to
our souls after a lifetime of partnership with our bodies? Souls are eternal spirits.
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
because it is part of the soul, and souls exist in the spirit realm—like the angels.
Our soul is the inner self, mind, personality and identity. Our souls are made
to live in the spirit realm and are eternal. Daily circumstances make us aware of
our bodies, made of materials seldom lasting beyond a century and dependent
on favourable surroundings for life support. Our bodies are entirely earthy.
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 spirit of life and soul 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. RÙAKH, Gr. PNEÚMA), the
breath from God originally breathed into Adam (Gen. 2:7); it is continuing 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; Psalm 104:29;
Psalm 146:4; Eccles. 12:7; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59-60). James 2:26,
For just as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is also dead.
At death the body turns to dust (earth material) 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 now have; but the soul, our
inner self, continues forever and cannot be exchanged. That is why God made
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…
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.
We consider how our human souls begin to exist. There are four main views.
(A) The view that each soul is directly created by God from the spirit realm, in
the same moment of time that a human sperm unites to an egg. The soul is then
joined to the fertilised female egg, as a supernatural act of God.
(B) The view that all souls in eternity were created when God made Adam, and
are in a place of ‘soul storage,’ waiting for God’s selection of souls for joining
to fertilised human eggs, at each act of begettal among humans.
(C) The view that each living soul is the soul of somebody that lived in the past,
who had died and was waiting for a chance to attach to, and join to any newly
fertilised female egg, at each act of begettal among humans.
(D) The view that all souls descend from Adam and Eve as the natural products
of human begettal, like our bodies. Every soul is new and unique, begotten by
the connection of two souls, at every act of egg-sperm begettal among humans.
There are believers of all four views but we look to the Bible as our standard
of comparison and basis of truth.
Some Bible texts seem to support the first option (A), such as Psalm 100:3,
Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
This speaks not of individuals but rather the nation, God’s formative power in
the whole nation. God is compared to a potter making earthen jars (Jer. 18:1-6)
and Israel is the jar. This text shows God’s formative power in the whole nation,
not a personal creation. Each person in this world is here through begettal—as
a body-and-soul product of the First Creation. The nation of Israel is a creation,
(but not a creation like Gen. 2:7). Israel is a created nation, (not created souls).
Israel was created of Abraham’s seed as a Semitic nation for a kingdom destiny
and chosen as the people for the Bible narrative. Isaiah 43:1…
v 1, But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
v 7, … everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you in the womb...
God intervened in Israel’s formation even in the womb and loins of Sarah and
Abraham, but his creation of nations is not the same kind of work as the original
creation of Adam and Eve. We do not find evidence that God is supernaturally
creating individual souls after the original creation, (Jesus being the exception).
Elihu (Job’s friend) said of himself: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the
breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4); but he continued, saying in v 6,
“I too was formed from a piece of clay.” He did not mean this literally, but was
figuratively saying that he was like everyone else, part of God’s creation. There
are people predestined for ministry who have testified they were called before
birth, (formed in the womb for a holy call), such as King David, John the Baptist,
Apostle Paul, and Jeremiah. Gal. 1:15,
But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me…
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you’…
Such examples of early Holy Spirit anointment cannot mean that God creates
new souls individually because it would require God to be following human will
rather than leading. This would mean that God is creating souls for all wrongly
conceived children—becoming the partner of rape and every sexual mismatch.
That cannot be. Thus we conclude that the (A) option is not correct.
“God finished the work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2); the work described
is the creation work, including the body and soul of man. God surely continues
his work according to plan but the words of Gen. 2:1-3 indicate that the creation
work done at the beginning is final and complete. Therefore God uses what he
originally created to accomplish his purposes for humanity.
Some think Isaiah 57:16 teaches the (B) option because the word NESHAMÒT
was thought to be souls: ”for then the spirits would grow faint before me, even
the souls that I have made.” But this is not souls. The Hebrew word NESHAMÒT
is breaths or life-spirits created by God to give us the breath of life. In this text
NESHAMÒT refers back to spirits and means ‘puffs of wind’ or ‘puffs of spirit.’
… the God of the spirits of all flesh…
… the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh…
… who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
… the Father of spirits…
The life-spirit or breath is the life force in each begettal. God has control of his
life-spirit however far it extends; (Job 27:3; 32:8; 33:4). If he ever takes it back,
all flesh would perish. Job 34:14-15,
If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his
breath, all flesh would perish together, and all mortals return to dust.
The (A) and (B) options both have a major contradiction because no one can
be a descendant of Adam if each soul is separately created. Then no one would
partake in Adam’s original sin because no one would be a descendant of Adam.
We cannot avoid a contradiction by claiming Adamic descent through the body
for the body is not responsible for sin. The soul has responsibility for sin: “The
person (soul) who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:20); but souls can repent; James 5:20,
… whoever brings back a sinner from wandering
will save the sinner’s soul from death...
If all souls were created at the start, then they all would be living without sin,
and therefore not under Adam’s sin penalty. If true, then God is responsible
for bringing each soul into sin each time he joins a soul with a newly conceived
child. Moreover Jesus would need to die for each person individually for the sin
of each soul (dying many times)! That idea is wrong but the truth is good news.
All are in Adam’s sin; thus all are covered by Christ’s one redeeming sacrifice.
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.
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.
The sin debt is in all souls because all souls come from Adam; Romans 5:12,
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—
The collective sin debt from Adam clearly excludes both (A) and (B) options.
Reincarnation, the third option (C), says that souls will return as new people.
This idea is not taught in the Bible but there are questions that require answers.
Some readers think that reincarnation is indicated in John 9:1-3,
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples
asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was
born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned;
he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.’
Here the idea is suggested that a blind man may have committed sins before
he was born, and was paying the penalty of sins from a former life. This query
put to Jesus by his own disciples shows that reincarnation was an accepted idea
amongst the Jewish public, but Jesus’ response gives no support for such ideas!
The premise is false and the conclusion is likewise false. Jesus’ public ministry
included forgiveness of sin but Jesus never said that sins are from a former life.
The judgment-day, not reincarnation, is the settlement for sin. Jesus Christ is
judge (John 5:22). He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Jesus never taught the reincarnation idea as a recompense for deeds.
Some say John the Baptist was Elijah reincarnated from the past (predicted in
Mal. 4:5-6). The public knew John’s begettal was natural, that his begettal was
from both parents (not the mother only—as with Jesus). The angel prophesied
that Zachariah would be the begetting father of the child to be born (Luke 1:13).
Jesus’ words in Mark 9:11-13, and Matthew 17:10-13, may be misunderstood:
And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah
must come first?’ He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming first and will
restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they
did not recognise him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So
also the Son of man is about to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples
understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
The angel’s prophecy added significance to John’s conception; Luke 1:15,17,
... even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit…
With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go...
The angel said John will have Elijah’s spirit and power but he did not say they
were the same. Christians are called to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) even
though each one is different. John had the calling and spiritual gifting of Elijah.
Moses and Elijah were together with Jesus at the mountaintop transfiguration
(Luke 9:28-36). The disciples knew these ancients by spiritual discernment but
in this unique event Elijah was not identified as John the Baptist. It would have
happened if they were the same. Clearly Elijah and John are different persons.
Jesus is the only man that ever was incarnated, for he came as God in the flesh.
Therefore the Bible does not support the (C) option reincarnation view as an
explanation of souls. It violates the judgment-day doctrine as well as the grace
of forgiveness; it is actually a doctrine of demons. This is one of Satan’s lies and
many people in this world are deceived.
The fourth option (D) is the only way to understand the origin of human souls.
Humanity alone has the privilege and responsibility to beget new souls, and to
multiply and fill the earth is obeying God’s command; Gen. 1:29; 9:1. Each soul
conceived in earth partakes of the image and likeness of the parents. 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...
Likeness is soul nature and image is body nature. The begetting of children
preserves and enlarges humanity and expands God’s kingdom, for all children
belong to him (Mark 10:14-16). Children have God’s blessing (Psalm 127-128).
God does not make a new soul for each baby, but he blesses it, and we need to
seek and pray for this blessing. When we beget a new human soul, the sex act
has creative power both physically and spiritually; Gen. 29:31-35; Judg. 13:3-7.
Adam and Eve began well with a good soulish nature but humanity has fallen
lower and lower under the curse of sin and the inner nature of man has become
more abnormal and evil. This supports the view that all souls are descendants
from Adam through natural reproduction from one generation to the next. This
agrees with the fact of Adamic sin in all succeeding generations (Rom. 5:12,18),
and establishes the fourth option (D) as correct.
Mankind can multiply forever without limit as far as soul origin is concerned;
no final population number limits soul reproduction. In an expanding universe
God can expand humanity’s living space as much as needed, 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 final judgment of souls. Eze. 18:4,
Know that all lives* are mine; the life* of the parent as well as the
life* of the child is mine: it is only the person* who sins that shall die.
*(Heb. NÈPHISH: soul)
The soul tends towards strong emotions, which can lead us into wicked ways.
It is hard to control soul emotions and even harder to combat Satan’s evil spirits
unaided! None of us can overcome evil spirits in our own power. We need the
help of God. Jesus is the only name that has power to cast out evil spirits from
the soul (Luke 10:17-18). Only the Lord can help us to control the thoughts and
imaginations of the soul and lead us into paths of righteousness. Psalm 19:7,
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.”
This is not a normal world in the way we may hope, for this world is a combat
arena of spiritual politics—where Satan is the enemy of our souls. We are born
into a world of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12). We must put our faith, hope and
love in Jesus Christ our Saviour, to be ready to meet God in the judgment-day!
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