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Biblical Anthropology VIII

Word RTF

Question #1:

Good Morning Robert.

Through today's Proverb (22) my attention was drawn to the three references to the soul. Have you a writing on the soul? The importance, and what it 'is'?

I hope this message finds you well,

Response #1:

Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend.

As to your question, the best reference for explaining what "soul" means in Hebrew / Greek is at the following link: in SR 3 "The Dichotomy of Man".  Another very good place to get an overview of the issues / problems with English translations of nephesh and psyche as "soul" is:  "What is the 'soul'?" (this will lead to more links as well)..

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Adam which is part of another study I was wondering about this statement:

You wrote: "Therefore birth is for us what the Lord's formation of Adam's body was for him, that is, the point at which our life begins, when the Lord breathes into us our human spirit."

I am understanding this word "formation" to mean that as soon as the baby is conceived in the womb God breathes a spirit into the conceived baby and life is begun for the yet unborn child. Can you tell me that what I am thinking is correct? There is this concept as you well know, that until the baby is physically born from the mother, that is the point where man considers it to be a child. I disagree wholeheartedly with their so-called concept, for I believe that it is a baby at conception, the union of the sperm with the egg.

Second email; Also, You wrote:

"Both the grammar of these passages (Greek neuters: "that which") and the prophecies here which are both primarily concerned with the birth of Christ (as is the case in all the Messianic prophecies; cf. Jdg.13:7; Is.7:14; 9:6-7; Lk.1:15), make it clear that it is not His conception, but His birth that is our Lord's point of entrance into the world after the pattern by which we have all entered it: the physical birth of our bodies followed by God's breathing into us of our human spirit. The star of Bethlehem and the angelic chorus that herald His arrival are celebrating not His conception but His birth (Lk.2:8-20), the point when He first drew breath as a human being (albeit the only divine One: Phil.2:6-7; Heb.2:14), for that is the point at which the Father brought His Son "into the world".

Regarding when a baby is endued with a spirit from God, you indicate here that God breathes into the baby at the moment the baby breathes their first breath.

Based on what you say here, it appears that the suppositions I have made in my first email are incorrect. I know that you can clarify this for me. Many Catholics and Christians believe that when conception occurs the baby being formed is a baby at that moment which is what I have always believed. In other words, there is life the moment of conception and that being formed within the Mother is indeed a baby from that point on. The reason I am asking is of course, the answers to questions about abortion {murder] of the baby before birth.

Thanks again for your help,

Your friend,

Response #2:

Your conclusions about my position are absolutely correct. Birth, not conception, is the event ordained by God as being significant, and that is the point at which the human spirit is formed and life – spiritual life – given by Him.

This is an extremely important truth whose implications are not always immediately obvious – and the same goes for the false position that somehow a "soul" is given to an ovum just fertilized by a sperm. The latter position necessarily makes life a merely biological process with the "soul" passed down biologically (theologically this is called traducianism, and it is the false position of the RC church as well as, sadly, of most Protestant groups). In fact, the "soul" is not a "thing" but merely a word which represents the whole person; whole persons consist of bodies which are indeed generated through the biological process (which is why we have sin natures) and spirits which are created directly by God at the point of birth. The breath is the sign of the giving of such life – the word spirit means "breath" – and there is no breath at conception. Nor has there ever been a human being who clearly had a spirit (as evidenced by the ability to speak, reason, emote, choose) who didn't breath. When the breath leaves, so does the spirit, and so when Christ "gave up His spirit" He exhaled to do so. No breath no spirit no life. These things are given at birth; that is the point always emphasized by the Bible as when life and everything associated with life begins (even for the wicked: Is.48:8).

As I am always quick to say, the above does not in any way imply that the fetus is without value or that abortion is not a horrible thing – far from it. But it is at least equally horrible to twist the truth of scripture for the sake of political advantage, which is precisely what anti-abortion groups do when they proclaim "life in the womb". Personally, I could care less what people involved in politics and political crusades say or do on either side. But I am concerned for my brothers and sisters in Christ who may be deceived by such things. Life belongs to God. He gives it, and He takes it away. We have it now so that we may decide whether or not we are willing to respond to the Gift of Christ so as to receive eternal life. For those who are not, the death of the body wherein the spirit departs results only in the second death.

Most of the information I have on these important issues is contained in the study you are considering, but I am asked this question quite a lot so it is discussed at several other places on the site. Here is one link of many: "Life begins at birth".

The Word of God is sharper than any sword (Heb.4:12), and sooner or later it cuts us all to the quick. No one who is serious about drawing closer to the Lord can get too far down that road without being caught up short in having previous beliefs, often dearly and closely held ones, dashed by the truth (or at least seriously amended). It has certainly happened to me . . . more than once But the only way forward is to accept the truth, all of the truth, and without reservation, even when it may sting. By all means confirm it. By all means test it. By all means don't take my word for it alone. But don't turn away from it when it shines clearly forth. The truth refines us all. And to grow in Christ, we have to be willing to be refined.

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Thanks for your reply, it helped a lot although I still cannot comprehend this: "If the baby has no life(spirit) until they breathe their (first breathe) and God breathes into each infant the breathe of life(spirit), which I agree with your assessment, then what should we call the child that is being formed in the mother's womb, and what is an abortion doing to the child ? still unborn in the womb whose body is being formed. I do understand Genesis 2:7 where Adam was not a living being, he was just a bunch of dust formed by God into a person who wasn't really a person per se until God breathed into the breath of life.

Here is an additional question:

Your wrote: "So once again we return to the analogy of breath, a function of our physical life that only occurs after birth and ends with death. Breath, a manifestation of physical life which (while not synonymous with it) is coterminous with that life, is therefore the perfect symbol and analogy for the life that begins at birth, when God puts our human spirit into our body. This is why Jesus, to explain our need for eternal life, told us we must be born again, not "conceived again", for birth is the point where life begins by means of an act of God, whether it be the first or the second birth (Jn.3:3)."

Here is my observation on this verse remembering what you say in another study which I looked at, "we do not receive a new spirit at the second birth". Never thought about that till now, but it appears to me that the Act of God in the second birth is regeneration as Paul says in Titus 3:5.

From this verse in Titus along with the verse in John 3:3, I now have a clear understanding (I believe) of these verses. I was always under the belief that when a person was born-again, that the old spirit of man tainted by sin, is removed and a brand-new spirit was given. But I now can see that our old man is regenerated according to many Scriptures in Romans. This revelation gives me great joy, knowing that God is giving me understanding of His Word.

Can you please comment on these observations I am presenting, to insure I am going down the right path. These are things, among a multitude of other clarifications and revelations that a person will never obtain in a denominational church setting.

Thanks so much my friend for you constant help.

Your friend,

PS You have a great gift given to you by God, and you are using it to help others, but most of all to Glorify God.

Response #3:

You're most welcome, my friend.

As to your questions:

1) The technical term is "fetus", although there is nothing wrong with "child" or "baby". We are not writing the Bible, after all, and since the fetus is an incipient child/baby, that is how it is often described in the Bible. The use of the word child or baby does not imply nor can it be meant to mean, however, that there is a human spirit in the fetus. As we read of the offspring of David and Bathsheba who was taken by the Lord because of His displeasure with what David had done, "David perceived that the child was dead" (2Sam.12:19 NKJV). It is dead, even though it is a child. So using that word as an argument for a fetus having a human spirit has no logical basis. The human spirit is what makes human beings unique. The body is physical, but the spiritual part of us is what makes us "us", complete with the image of God. God is spirit, and His image resides in our human spirit; that is where our free will resides; the body is the physical vehicle with which we express it (pressured by the sin nature it contains and of course all of the external pressures of this world as well).

2) As to abortion, that horrible practice is clearly violating the entire process the Lord has set up to perpetuate the human race. It is as unnatural as unnatural can be, and a conscience has to be very hardened against the truth not to be troubled by the very idea of it. Abortion kills the fetus – but no human action can derail the plan of God. If a person was meant to "come into being", God's plan cannot be stopped. It is a matter of mystery whether or not God creates a spirit for aborted fetuses or for miscarriages – and it may well vary with individual cases. We cannot know in each and every case this side of heaven (cf. Job 3:10-19; Eccl.6:3-6 suggest that sometimes the answer is yes). One thing is certain, however: for any such they are all saved – because all infants who die before coming to the point of being able to make a fair choice for eternity are saved automatically.

3) On your observation, if I am understanding it aright, I believe you are spot on. At the new birth we receive eternal life which is credited to our account, so to speak (i.e., we possess it, but we will not be enjoying it experientially until the resurrection):

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:3-4 NIV

At the new birth, we are also given a "new start for the heart" when we are born from above / born again, so that (initially) we see clearly with the old blinders removed so as to be able to appreciate and perceive the truth; if we persevere in the truth, this clarity of vision goes from strength to strength; if we retrogress, the old cloudiness returns gradually until in some cases the believer becomes precisely what he/she was before, even in some cases abandoning faith (cf. Matt.6:22-23). Many believers take some time to "get cracking" with the truth, however (I certainly did); for those of us who got positive to the truth in that way, we can look back and see the process of the clarity of spiritual vision returning and becoming sharper and sharper with spiritual growth. Please see the link: "Our New Orientation as Born Again Believers" in BB 4B

Thanks for all your good words and encouragement, my friend! They are greatly appreciated.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Professor,

I wanted to ask you about the meaning and usage of nephesh in the Old Testament.   [details omitted]

Response #4:

Apologies in advance for being succinct in this email, but I did want to answer you tonight. I spent four and half hours today digging invasive bamboo out of my yard (after nearly that long yesterday) and I'm pretty tired.

On nephesh, first, there is indeed an etymological connection between nephesh and breathing – just as there is between psyche and breathing. That makes perfect sense inasmuch as those who breath are alive while those who are not alive do not (whether not yet born or now deceased). But words "mean" what they mean in common usage, and for the most part in Hebrew and Greek respectively these two linked terms – life and breath – mean "life" or "person who has life" (cf. Acts 17:25).

Breath is also and particularly conveyed by the other parallel terms, ruach and pneuma. These two terms also represent the actual second part of the human being, the "human spirit" as we would say. I prefer to say things the way I have said them to avoid the very confusion that you are grappling with. The main problem I have found in discussions of biblical anthropology is the hard to eradicate notion that the "soul" is a tertium quid, that is, something with an independent existence when in fact that is not the case in the Bible – unless one wants to call the spirit the "soul" but that only leads to more confusion in my view. The "soul" of course (whether Greek psyche or Hebrew nephesh is behind the word in an English version) refers to the whole person, often focusing on the inner person, the inner "us" where we make decisions, feel and struggle with our consciences (in which case its biblical synonym is the "heart").

All of these words are often used in what we may call a phenomenological way. We do it in our culture (despite my deliberate pedantry on this issue I occasionally find myself using the word "soul" in the way everyone else does); they did it in Old and New Testament times as well. Your example highlights the passage about Elijah restoring the Shulamite's boy to life. Here is how the new NIV, a version with no axe to grind on this point, translates it:

Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.
1st Kings 17:21-22 NIV

Now one COULD translate "let the boy's nephesh return to him" and "the boy's nephesh returned to him", and no doubt that would be correct. How did this actually happen, however? The spirit left; the spirit returned; the boy became "alive" again, that is "having" a nephesh in the sense of having life, not in the sense of possessing some third independent part which we might call a "soul" in contrast to a spirit "also" possessed: because the spirit being created in the body (or entering into the body as here) is what makes a person "alive".

But it really is the spirit in the OT as well as the NT which, when it leaves, results in death (cf. Gen.6:17: ruach chaiyim – "the spirit of life").

I don't have any great problem with the alternative way of phrasing things. Part of this is a language issue, after all, and it's not as if I too didn't have to find what I felt was the right way to phrase these things to teach what scripture is teaching. As long as we understand that there is a spirit and a body and together they make a "living person" (a "nephesh chayah"), that is fine with me – and understanding that puts a person light years ahead of 99% of Christians who have opinions on this subject.

Did I say I'd be brief?

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello Professor,

I really appreciate you responding straight away. It is something that you inspired me to do. Not long ago I decided to reply to messages pertaining to faith as soon as possible. In this respect you have set an incredible example and I will do my best to follow it.

Professor - you have been succinct to the same degree that "Bible Basics" is basic. But everyone who has read these studies knows that the fact that the name is misleading is a true blessing. And I appreciate your in-depth responses here also.

Nephesh is a difficult one, but when explaining it I still wouldn't equate it to the spirit. As you wrote, usage is the key factor in determining the meaning and it is rare that the nephesh could potentially be seen as a synonym of the spirit (as in some Job references). And then the fact that nephesh comes about by combining the body and the spirit makes it impossible to treat it entirely synonymous with spirit.

I think I'm quite clear on all this, but you make a great point that these words are used in a phenomenological way. That is exactly the nature of the issue with the nephesh. We are able to delineate its meaning, but it is not a type of a word whose semantic boundaries are very firmly set and always point precisely in the same direction (it can mean the whole person, the life, the inner person, etc.). And one would almost expect it with a term describing these particular things.

Professor - thank you very much for your help.

In our Lord,

Response #5:

You're certainly welcome as always, my friend. Sorry to be so far behind on some of the things you've sent me. I'm hoping to start re-engaging this week in projects that have been holding fire too long.

Your comments on nephesh here are right on the money in my view.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I need some clarification on this verse:

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
1st Corinthians 15:45 NKJV.

My thoughts are as follows: The word in this verse that is puzzling to me is "became" as Strongs says: "I come into being, am born, become, come about, happen." Seems to me that this word became is referring to Jesus taking on human flesh. But, the rest of the verse says "a life-giving Spirit" which is attached to the word became.

Question: Is this verse talking about His human nature and His divine nature, seems to me that is what Paul is referencing here? Here is what I gleaned from the Strong's Greek meaning of both of these words. Can you please clarify if I am thinking properly?

HELPS Word-studies
1096 gínomai – properly, to emerge, become, transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another. 1096 (gínomai) fundamentally means "become" (becoming, became) so it is not an exact equivalent to the ordinary equative verb "to be" (is, was, will be) as with 1510 /eimí (1511 /eínai, 2258 /ēn).

1096 (ginomai) means "to become, and signifies a change of condition, state or place" (Vine, Unger, White, NT, 109).

M. Vincent, "1096 (gínomai) means to come into being/manifestation implying motion, movement, or growth" (at 2 Pet 1:4). Thus it is used for God's actions as emerging from eternity and becoming (showing themselves) in time (physical space).

A life-giving Spirit - Strongs says:
2227 /zōopoiéō ("make alive, enliven") is particularly used of God infusing His life in the believer. The Lord infuses eternal life (zōē) into us each time we receive (obey) faith from Him.

Glory be to the One who only is the Truth.

Your friend,

Response #6:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

The word "became" is not bad. KJV has "was made" – but notice that in this second instance you ask about, it is in italics. That means that it is not there in the Greek the second time. Now it is not unusual in such situations to leave a verb out in Greek, namely, when we are to understand the same or similar verb being repeated. But it does open the possibility of translating "has become", if that helps. I don't think that is necessary, however, if we understand what Paul is saying. And for that, we need the context. Here is my translation:

(44) The body sown is suited to physical life, the one raised to spiritual life. If there is a physical body (and there patently is), then there is also a spiritual one. (45) For as it has been written that “Adam, the first man, became a physical being, possessing life”, so Christ, the last Adam, became a spiritual being, bestowing life. (46) However it is not the spiritual body, but the physical body which comes first, and the spiritual body follows. (47) The first man was earthly, being taken from the ground. The second Man is heavenly. (48) And as was the earthly man, so also are we of the earth. And as is the heavenly Man, so also shall we be when we too take on heavenly form. (49) For just as we have born the image of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1st Corinthians 15:35-49

Notice that the verse before verse 45 is talking about the resurrection body (as Paul had been doing before that too); and notice too that the verse after verse 45 is also talking the resurrection body – and Paul goes on from there to say that we are going to be like Christ in terms of the resurrection. So it would be uncommonly odd if verse 45 were not talking about the resurrection as well. In fact, without some sign in the text, that is the only way to take Paul's comment here.

Adam, upon creation, had an earthly, physical body, as do we. But Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, has the "spiritual body" – the resurrection body; and so will we in due course. Our Lord in His new body not only possesses life as Adam did and we do; He has eternal life and is also the source of life eternal, life lived in the spiritual body, for all who come to Him in faith.

"Quickening spirit" or "life-giving spirit" is hard to understand in English, but in Greek Paul's meaning is very clear: he is contrasting Adam and his first body to Christ and His second body. Adam at creation became a psyche which was zosa; Christ in resurrection became a pneuma which was zoo-poioun. The psyche ("soul" but really "living person" or "person having physical life") is contrasted with pneuma ("spirit" = "person having spiritual life") to demonstrate the difference between the physicality of the first body and the spirituality of the second: the second body will be more in tune with our spirit whereas now the spirit has to operate through body and its sinful resistance. And zosa, merely living physically, is contrasted with zoo-poioun, life-giving, an apt title for our Lord: the first Adam was responsible for our condemnation; the Last Adam for our justification (Rom.5:1ff.), and our eternal life (Jn.5:26; 6:27; 10:28; 17:2-3).

Do feel free to write me back about any of this, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I just finished reading a passage in a book written by the Pastor of a very large denomination and here is what he writes:

"Genesis 2 elaborates what Chapter 1 introduces: God, having created man, told him to be fruitful and multiply. The Word of God then relates how man's possibilities and capabilities for the multiplying were given by His Creator. They are summarized in these words:
"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 being."

He writes further: "Literally, the Hebrew text reads that God, in creating the father and mother of the race, placed in them the capacity to beget life: He breathed into them the breath of chayeem -- that is, "Lives". Notice closely the use of the plural of the word for "life". God gave mankind the gift of lives. The concept transcends the obvious Creator-gift of life for each one to experience and reaches further to the gift of lives- placed within each one's capacity to beget. We have been given the awesome ability to reproduce eternal souls as well as physical bodies."

It appears at first glance that this Pastor believes in the "tri-unity" of mankind. I have a real problem with this last statement he makes to the fact that he writes "We have been given the awesome ability to "reproduce eternal souls". Believing what you have taught concerning the Dichotomy of man, I am astounded by this last comment. This really, really astounds me. Could you please provide me your comments on what he writes about reproducing "souls", when in fact, mankind has only a body and a spirit, no soul. Sounds to me like blasphemy, unintended, and unknowingly, on his part. I pray that I am not being too critical.

I would really appreciate your excellent comments as always.

By the way, the title of the book is "I'll hold you in heaven. "Healing and Hope for the parent who has lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or Early infant death".

You are truly a blessing to me sent by God to help be and a multitude of others really understand the Word of God.

Your friend,

Response #7:

The word chayim, "life", is a plural, technically. But it is ALWAYS plural. In all of the many places where the word "life" occurs in the OT, it is always translating chayim, a technical plural – the singular does not exist. This is an abstract, emphatic plural (compare the place name "Machanayim" etc.). So one cannot make anything special in a given context out of a word form that it is always the one used.

Therefore, when correspondent says that God "placed in them the capacity to beget life", there is nothing in the text to suggest that this is the case. Clearly, as with the animals, Adam and Eve and their progeny were given the capacity to have offspring, but that is an entirely biological ability which through a biological process produces a biological result. As far as empirical science is concerned, that is that, because science cannot see the spiritual dimension – and in fact it is part of their religious orthodoxy to deny its existence.

We know better. After all, in this very passage, Adam only becomes "a living being" because of the "breath of life" the Lord Himself breaths into him. Before this action, Adam is only a biological form; after this action, he is a human being made in the image of God, that is, having a spiritual dimension which includes the capacity to choose. That is the capacity which counts, not any biological ability to produce physical offspring. And in terms of our physical offspring, they likewise do not have a human spirit endowed with the image of God until God breaths that in – at the first breath taken (Zech.12:1). That is when the human spirit is created within each of us, a spirit different from the one created in animals when they take their first breath because of the precious endowment of God's own image.

The word "soul" is an unfortunate one to use in any biblical discussion. It is a Germanic word which does not track well with actual biblical usage. The Hebrew word nephesh may mean appetite, self, person or, best for our discussion, "heart", and the Greek word psyche has a similar semantic range (and is the word used to translate nephesh in the Greek NT for quotations from the OT). This word is used in our passage of Genesis 2:7 too, and it is what Adam "becomes" upon receiving the spirit, the "breath of life", from the Lord: he becomes a "living person (nephesh)". So a "soul/nephesh" is not something a person can have in the sense of something independent from their body or spirit; rather the "soul/nephesh" is what the person "is". Sometimes, oftentimes, in fact, this word is focused on the inner person – because as we think in our hearts, so we are (Prov.23:7), and in such cases "heart" is the best translation (but one finds "soul" confusingly in most versions). The point is that there is no such thing as a "soul" – if by that a person means an entity which has a separate existence, a "ghost" which is capable of being disembodied. Our immaterial part is in biblical terms our human spirit – and it will never be disembodied, even if we pass on before the resurrection (in that case we are in heaven with the Lord in an interim body awaiting that blessed hope; see the link).

So do human beings create souls? There is no such thing in the sense meant. What about human spirits? That is preposterous on the face of it. How would a physical, biological act ever be able to produce something spiritual which is completely immaterial? Impossible – and never even suggested in scripture. God Himself had to breath this spiritual part into Adam, and He is the One who creates the human spirit in all subsequent cases (Zech.12:1); that is why He is called the "Father of our spirits" (Heb.12:9).

In traditional theology, thanks to the Roman Catholic church, the position this person is promoting has become the most popular. It is called Traducianism, and it means, etymologically, that the "soul" is handed down through the biological process. Of course 1) in the first place there is no such thing as a "soul" in that sense, 2) it's impossible for anything immaterial to be produced / handed down biologically, and 3) the Bible never ever suggests any such thing. But in Augustinian theology this sort of speculation cum doctrine is commonplace, and, sad to say, this is yet another area where the Reformation never achieved escape velocity from the Roman Catholic church. The biblical position is Creationism, by which is meant that God Himself creates the human spirit at the point of birth and breath – just as the Bible says He does.

I think you probably have the links on the appropriate places at Ichthys, but do feel free to write me back about this (main one is BB 3A: Biblical Anthropology).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Teacher

I knew it was important to learn the original languages but now I think it is not optional at all. I really can't be very confident of much that I may eventually teach at this rate. That does call to mind a conversation that I had that raised a question in my mind about Hebrews 11:5. I wonder if there may be a translation issue there. But maybe there isn't. Would you please look at the following conversation and tell me if my explanation was correct?

Death is not a must.


Enoch and Elijah can do better than I would.

Both of them died. They only had their bodies specially preserved like Moses's (Deuteronomy 34:5-6, Jude 1:9). Only One Person has ever ascended into Heaven alive and it is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, if the Bible says that Enoch did not taste death for God took him and ALSO says that no one ever ascended into heaven except the One Who descended from there, that is the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:13), it is good to ask what is really being said.

On the one hand, we are being told that God has complete power over life and death and can exercise it however He pleases especially in the case of those who please Him like Enoch did. This is to tell us that death is nothing to fear. Compare the living Resurrection that will happen when our Lord returns. We can be confident that those who are alive when the Lord returns will not need to go through "emergency death" or fear that because they didn't die they will not be resurrected. They will be...while still alive. And that will be a greater miracle than the translation of Enoch, Moses and Elijah. All of these ones went through death but not as the rest of us do. So, it is still correct to speak of them as if they never tasted death. I don't think that any human being will ever experience translation like Enoch, Elijah or Moses did. At least, not until the Resurrection of the Church. So, it is quite valid to say that those three never saw death but they obviously are not on Earth right now and are definitely not in their normal mortal bodies in Heaven (1 Cor 15:50). That does mean that even if they did not experience Death the normal way, they certainly are not alive the normal way. There are only three places where human beings are right now whether they are alive (that is, still here on Earth making choices) or dead (no longer on Earth making choices).

Obviously, #1 is here on Earth. Human beings were created to make a choice about God. Will we submit to Him and after doing so work hard to learn His Truth, grow in it and help others to do likewise or will we not? Earth is where we make that choice. And while we are here, we are said to be "alive".

#2 is Heaven. That is, the third Heaven where God dwells separated from this Creation so that He does not destroy it because of its corruption. When our Lord rose from the dead, He took all the believers of old from Place #3 with Him to Heaven and when believers die now, that is where we go.

#3 is Hades/Sheol/the Grave. This is a three-compartmemt netherworld where the angels who disobeyed God in certain specific ways are incarcerated, dead unbelievers are held until the Judgment and believers before the Cross were comforted until the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven taking them with Him. The angels were held in the compartment commonly called the Abyss or the Pit. The unbelievers are in the compartment called Torments (Luke 16:23). And believers used to be in a place called Paradise or Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:22-23, 23:43).

So, of course, if you are not on Earth and alive in the colloquial sense of that word, then you are either in Hades or you are in Heaven. In Enoch's time, the way into Heaven was still closed against human beings because our Lord had not yet paid for our sins. So, of course, it was to Paradise a.k.a Abraham's Bosom that Enoch was taken. But now, he too is in Heaven.

The point again is that even if he never tasted death the normal way, he is not on Earth. He is where those who died in faith are. There is no other place where human beings are.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior

Response #8:

Is death necessary? It was a difficult question to answer, both because of its nature but also because of the questionable motives of the person asking it. I always try to be extra careful in responding to questions posed by those who seem to have an ulterior motive or else are off on some wild tangent (the latter at least seems to be the case here). It's not uncommon for Christians who are not interested in genuine spiritual growth and certainly not interested in subordinating themselves to a teaching ministry where they might be able to grow to nonetheless have opinions and to wish to look "smart". This in turn often leads to what I call the "hobby horse syndrome" where such a person gains what he/she believes to be special insight into some issue or doctrine or teaching or verse, and then proceeds to try and educate everyone else about this "inspiration", focusing on it to the virtual exclusion of everything else in scripture. As might be expected from such an approach, the one thing all such "private interpretations" have in common is that they are inevitably incorrect, misleading, and potentially very damaging.

People don't have to die? What? Just look around. God can do anything? Sure. He's not turning frogs into princes either. Hebrews says that Enoch "didn't see death"? OK. You're not Enoch. He was translated into – as you rightly point out – Abraham's Bosom and is in the third heaven today in an interim state exactly the same as all other deceased believers. The last generation of the truth will be resurrected while still alive, and Enoch is an interesting exception who foreshadows that blessing, but everyone else, including Moses and Elijah (who will die, then be revived again), follows the normal course also explained in Hebrews:

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Hebrews 9:27 NKJV

For what it's worth, I think you handled this very well, my friend. Nice job!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I don't believe in what many call the "soul sleep" doctrine, so what is the meaning of "sleep" in this verse? Here is what the Good News translation (GNT) says in this verse which phrases it differently:

"Many of those who have already died will live again: some will enjoy eternal life, and some will suffer eternal disgrace."
Daniel 12:2 GNT

That particular rendering is more appropriate in my thinking. What are your thoughts? This verse was referenced in your study of the Epistle written by Peter. Again thanks so very much for your help.

He is coming soon and very soon.

Your friend,

Response #9:

It's a good rendition, though not literal. The Bible frequently refers to death as sleep because the departed's body appears to the living to be sleeping and because we can't see what is really going on with the spirit on the other side (wherever it has gone). A pertinent parallel:

These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
John 11:11-14 NKJV

Here are a few links as well:

No 'soul sleep' in Luke 23:43

Biblical Anthropology II:  'Soul sleep'

'Soul Sleep' versus our true Heavenly State

The False Doctrine of "Soul Sleep" I

Sleep as a Euphemism for Death (debunking 'soul sleep')

The False Doctrine of "Soul Sleep" II

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for taking time out to answer my questions as they have helped me to grow in the knowledge of God through His words revealed in scripture. I consider you a mentor to me and you are my main go-to person whenever I am confronted with some bizarre teaching or unbiblical behavior within the body of Christ. I was doing some concordance search on the word "death" as mentioned in the bible and it seems to me that it refers not merely to the cessation of life, but also a "separation". While searching, I came to the book of James where he says, the body without the spirit is "dead" just as faith without works is "dead" (James 2:14-16). Jesus also said that if a man keeps His words, he will never see death (Jn.8:51). I also take this to mean that those in Christ will never experience "separation" (death) from God, and because of this, the doctrine of soul-sleep seems to be false because soul-sleep teaches a "separation" from the soul from God until resurrection. But I'm not entirely sure if that's what proponents of soul-sleep teach, and I may be wrong.

Even as I read the refutations on the false doctrine of "soul-sleep", I am still having difficulty reconciling certain passages that proponents of soul-sleep point out. Here are some that have stumped me:

1. The stoning of Stephen: Sleep in the bible refers to our essence of being asleep and the correct word to describe sleep a state on unconsciousness. When Stephen cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit", and fell asleep. If Stephen were indeed conscious in Heaven, then the bible would have said that, "His body fell asleep".
2. Jesus said that Lazarus is asleep and to not awake him because his soul is sleeping.
3. The bible mentions "sleep" a total of 72 times in the OT and the NT, so we cannot conclude that sleep always refers to death. Doing so, is illogical.
4. Sleep doesn't always mean "to be in Christ", and that unbelievers also sleep as in OT as in the kings slept with his fathers.
5. Psalm 146:4 says that upon death, a mans thoughts "perish" and cannot refer to a body without a soul since physical bodies alone cannot have thoughts; and that only the soul has thoughts, and they perish.
6. The "dead" no nothing and have no reward or remembrance (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6,10)

I am always wanting to give a right response regarding doctrines because I am always confronted by false teachings, and there are times when I fail to give a correct response. Can you help me to reconcile these false interpretations about soul-sleep? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #10:

I have written extensively on this topic and will give you the links below.

There is no "soul sleep".  Immediately upon death, the spirit goes either to heaven or torments and the believer (or unbeliever) finds him/herself in an interim state (see the link).

This is another case of individuals with no regard for the entire teaching of the scriptures taking individual passages which they think support their case for false doctrine and ignoring everything else. Have they not read about Abraham and Lazarus and the rich man? They are not "asleep". Did not Jesus say to the thief who repented on the cross that he would be with Him "in paradise" that day? That's not sleep being referred to. Haven't they read about the tribulational martyrs in heaven in Revelation chapters six and seven? They are not asleep.

In general, the arguments made in favor of "soul sleep" in the passages you include here are vocabulary based arguments. We've talked about this before. Assuming that an English word means X and that because we find X in an English version of the Bible, therefore the passage must mean Y is faulty logic and horrible theology. The Bible means what it means and words it uses cannot be compelled to have only the particular meaning the twister of scripture wants. A little common sense will reveal the correct answer even in English-only Bible study most of the time.

"Sleep" is something only the physical body does. The spirit never sleeps (dreams are a good indication of that). Also importantly for this issue, the body asleep and the body in physical death resemble each other. For that reason, sleep is often spoken of as death and death is often spoken of as sleep – for the physical body. This is merely a manner of speaking, however. Whenever a departed person is spoken of in scripture as "asleep", the reference is to the body, not the person. This is a natural thing too, because we can see the person's body that remains with us (which resembles a body asleep) but we cannot see the person's spirit . . . because it is no longer present. When Jesus "gave up His spirit" on the cross, His body went into the tomb on earth, but we know that He Himself – that is, His spirit – descended into Hades, specifically, into paradise (as He told the converted thief: Lk.23:43), where He gave His "victorious proclamation" (1Pet.3:19) – not something that can done if asleep. That pattern – of body going into the grave but spirit going elsewhere – is the one that has always obtained and always will until kingdom come.

One other side note:  the "soul" is not an independent "thing" or "organ" or "ghost"; the word "soul", in the Bible, is a synonym for the heart or the inner person.  Misunderstanding this point leads to other incorrect assumptions about what scripture says on the nature of human beings (see the link).

1. You can't tell the Bible how it can and cannot say things. This is a euphemism. Jesus said at John 11:11 "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up". Jesus was not lying. He was putting things in a euphemistic way. Later He says, plainly, "Lazarus is dead" (Jn.11:14). The only way these two things can be true is if "sleeping" is a euphemism for death.

2. Jesus said nothing about Lazarus' "soul"; see above #1.

3. This is ridiculous. No one ever said "sleep ALWAYS refers to death". But it certainly can.

4. I don't even understand this point. No one makes this claim either.

5. Human beings are never "unclothed" (2Cor.5:3 in the Greek); they have a physical body now, an interim one after death [link], and eventually all will be resurrected (some to life and some to the second death). Psalm 146:4 is just stating the obvious: planning is something a person can only do in this world and in this first body. After death, there is no more free will and no more reason to choose (or plan). The decisions we make here and now will endure forever (especially the one to follow God through faith in Christ . . . or not).

6. See #5. Ecclesiastes presents the human point of view. E.g., "All is vanity!" is only true for those who reject the spiritual dimension in life. Jesus said the same thing: it profits nothing to gain the whole world and lose one's life eternally. From the viewpoint of human beings who know nothing of God, the dead are "done". It is true that there is no choice in death – but we who have the Christian hope know full well that things are wonderful on the other side . . . and that we will be with Christ, NOT asleep:

According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Philippians 1:20-23 NKJV

Here are some links to where this subject is discussed at great length:

The false doctrine of "soul sleep".

The False Doctrine of Soul Sleep II

"Soul Sleep" versus our true Heavenly State.

Biblical Anthropology II: 'Soul sleep', & dichotomy vs. trichotomy

Sleep as a Euphemism for Death

Soul versus Spirit, "Soul Sleep", and the Interim Body

Today in paradise

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

I am afraid to ask my questions to other people because I fear that I'll be under judgment. I feel that you are the only person that I am secure from judgment. Here are what are bothering me.

1. Mind-body interaction and the conservation of energy. Here's the question: how can the spirit interact with the physical body without introducing new energy out of nowhere? You may not know this, but it was me searching hard for an answer to this question that got me to first discover Vincent Cheung's answer. His answer is occasionalism, which I am sure you know about... and it along with Edward Feser's Thomist answer are the only ones that makes logical sense (even though occasionalism, granted, somewhat counterintuitive and I can't really understand how Feser's answer differs from property dualism. He says it's not property dualism but it isn't clear at all.). I also submitted this question to creation.com, and their answer helped only by introducing me to Feser. When I asked myself "how can the spirit interact with the body without violating conservation?" I was afraid that God would strike me dead and use that as evidence to show that I am a reprobate modernist for putting such a high stock in the opinions of modern physics.

2.a. The historicity of Jesus Christ. Richard Carrier is a classicist with a Ph. D. in classics from Columbia University. He wrote the following:

"Taking probability theory seriously, entails exposing assumptions to the light of day, that once exposed, destroy the Christian faith. The resulting cognitive dissonance is so powerful only two options are available to the believer: make **** up (like Unwin and Swinburne, they fabricate fantastical probabilities that have no plausible basis in logic or reality) or declare probability itself the enemy. Briggs picks option B. Meanwhile, all peer reviewed work on the question finds the opposite: that history is in fact Bayesian."

I talked to him by email and he is intimidating. His argument have a powerful bite that hurts me. This segues into point 2.b.

2.b. I have extreme difficulty praying. Because my conversing with Richard Carrier and his ability to make me feel like a complete and total idiot has me shaking and no longer confident. I muster up faith and pray anyway.

The truth is, you, William Lane Craig, and Ray Comfort are the only believers whom I am not afraid of approaching. You don't intimidate me like the Reformed crowd that runs creation.com.

Response #11:

Sorry I've been getting a bit behind. I'll try to get to your other emails tomorrow (and would be happy to respond further on this one if this brief email misses the point).

1) I have no particular knowledge of these things. I do know that the human spirit is not material; that is to say, it's not explainable or definable in terms of physical theories. So how it works in those terms is probably impossible to say because no one has any clue of how the immaterial world (whose existence is denied by physics) interacts with the physical world. God created the material world. To explain your conundrum, we would have to understand "how He did it"; we can't, really – but that is unimportant. The important things is to believe that He did: and that is the truth.

By faith we understand that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things presently visible.
Hebrews 11:3

2a) I'm not probability theorist nor any sort of mathematician (as you know). However, I would imagine that a very good case can be made for it being improbable that the world exists because of the improbability of anything being able to come into existence. The fact that it clearly DOES exist doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't. It's also improbable (to me) that persons who know absolutely nothing true should be able to get Ph.D.'s and achieve tenure – but it happens all the time (I can tell you with authority).

2b) The Holy Spirit is so much more powerful and more knowledgeable than all the Ph.D.'s who've ever lived that no analogy I might come up with would suffice in its smallest part. He is in you and He will help you to pray – as long as you give yourself over to Him instead of to your fears.

I'm glad you feel free to write me.

Please do feel free to do so any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Sir,

Presently I'm studying the subject of creation , according to your teaching (Acts 17 & Gen1:26-27) that human spirit was given upon our birth. So, those fetus inside the womb who has already a heart beat and awaiting to come into this world are not yet consider living creation. Is it because all theirs functioning organs are sustain via a placenta of their mother that supplies oxygenation?

If that is the case then , abortion of any form may not be an evil act.

I am really blessed with your teachings.

In Christ we serve,

Response #12:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I can assure you that I'm not an M.D. and have no expertise in such matters. Whether and to what degree and when a fetus becomes "viable" is not something that I spend any time worrying about. All I can tell you from scripture is that the human spirit, the invisible part of the human being containing the image of God, is not created by Him within us until the moment we exit the womb (Zech.12:1; cf. Gen.2:7). I can certainly speculate about "why" God did it this way, but regardless of what I would say on that score we may be sure that scripture teaches that He does do it that way. Also, just because human beings do not come to be "who we are" until that moment of birth when God creates the human spirit within us certainly does not mean that a fetus does not have biological life, or that abortion is not a horrible thing. It certainly is. Here is a footnote I often include whenever this subject comes up:

"This [fact of human life not beginning until God creates a human spirit at the moment of birth] is not at all to imply that for this reason the fetus has no worth in God's eyes. Quite to the contrary, the unborn are highly valued in scripture (Ex.21:22; Ps.139:13-16; Is.44:24; 49:4-5). Further we may note that in the Bible children are considered a great blessing (cf. 1Sam.2:1-11 and Lk.1:46-55), with infertility seen as a curse (Hos.9:14; cf. Gen.38; Lev.20:20-21; 1Sam.1:11), and pregnancy as a blessing and occasionally even a means of justification (cf. Num.5:11-31 and Lk.1:25)."

I am responsible for teaching the truth as the Bible, the Word of God, proclaims it. I do understand that many who are understandably upset by abortion often rely on the argument that "abortion destroys a human life". It certainly does destroy an "incipient" or "potential" human being or even "biologically viable" fetus, but our outrage at certain practices, even clearly evil ones, does not allow us to tinker with the Word of God in search of support for our positions – or at least it shouldn't.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello Brother it's been awhile hope all is well. I'm sending this to ask a difficult question and I'm not sure this would be your area of field to answer as I was pondering on this I was asking the Lord a question about it. Father we see in scriptures in many place you bring life to the womb that you created us. I can see how and why pro-life would use scripture to support our belief. But would happen those that support abortions where to use these scriptures showing by going as far as saying see your God called for this . There is a great difference in God and us my question would be how would it be possible to explain this action in scriptures to those that approve abortions if it was to ever come up. The reason I'm asking I'm volunteering Ohio Right to Life I ask the Lord how could we defend babies without using scriptures to avoid bringing these scriptures ever being brought up . I explained to the Lord I would not deny Him it's just question I'm looking at the whole scenario I was thinking who can I ask? Then you pop up so I figured I try so there you go if you could help I be every so greatful.

God will punish women by aborting their fetus through a miscarriage.

“Give them, O LORD–what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” (Hosea 9:14)

God teaches the use of a bizarre ritual using cursed “bitter water” to abort a fetus who was conceived through infidelity. (Numbers 5:11-21)

God orders Moses to kill every Midianite woman who was no longer a virgin. (many of these women would obviously have been pregnant) (Numbers 31:15-18)

God promises to destroy the infants of Samaria and rip open the stomachs of pregnant women.

The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open. (Hosea 13:16)

God allows the pregnant women of Tappuah to be ripped open.

At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women. (2 Kings 15:16)

God commands the killing of infants and nursing babies.

Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. (1 Samuel 15:3)

God repays your enemies by destroying their babies.

Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us. He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalms 137:8-9)

Response #13:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you are keeping well.

All of the versus you quote (one exception) have to do with God's judgment on the ungodly. The destruction of the infants of the ungodly, born and unborn, is meant to be seen as a horrible thing – something that only happens to those who reject the Lord and oppose the people of God. Those who love the Lord and follow Him do not suffer the terror of having these things happen. So I cannot for the life of me see how this would not be ridiculed as a supposed argument for the Bible approving abortion! Some things are so foolish on their face that engaging with them only gives them a false sense of authority. It's usually better in such cases to let the idiocy speak for itself.

The exception is the so-called "waters of bitterness" (Numbers 5:11-21). I don't know what translation this person is using, but there is no fetus present and no abortion takes place. The guilty woman suffers physically, but there is no mention in the Hebrew of anything related to what we are talking about. I have heard this false interpretation before, but there is no support for it in what the language actually says.

Abortion is a terrible thing. Period. My problem with "right to life" groups is two-fold. First, I don't believe in political solutions, only spiritual ones. When folks get involved in politics, it only leads to evil in the end because the devil is in control of all politics. Case in point, right to life groups are closely allied with Roman Catholicism, one of the most deadly religions out there, completely antipathetic to grace in every way (no ex RC I've ever met thought it was possible to be saved and RC at the same time). Second, they generally pervert what the Bible teaches to make political points. If abortion is called "murder" by the Bible, then all the more fodder for anti-abortion crusading. Problem is that it's not. That is because God gives life, not two human beings have relations. And God gives life, spiritual life (as opposed to mere biological life) at birth, not before (Zech.12:1; just as He did for Adam: Gen.2:7). So while abortion is anti-God, horrible and terrible in every way, telling lies in order to oppose it politically creates many openings for the devil. And once the devil gets any group dancing to his tune, there is no end of the evil that may result . . . always in the name of "good".

Here is a link at Ichthys to where this is covered in more detail: "Life Begins at Birth"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

You have the following comment in your subject study: "With the exception of Jesus Christ, therefore, we are all spiritually dead at birth."

Question: What happens to babies when they die based on this statement? I do believe that we are all spiritually dead at birth. Is there such a thing as the age of reason, or is this just a myth? So, I am back to my question, which I might have already asked you some time ago, and I forget. So if you could clarify this statement I would appreciate it in order to refresh my memory.

Thanks so much again. Questions, Questions, Questions.

Grace and peace be upon you forever.

Your friend,

Response #14:

This life is all about choice, about using the free-will "image of God" to respond to the Gift of life, Jesus Christ. Anyone who for whatever reason does not have a genuine opportunity to make that choice of choices is saved automatically. That includes all who die too young to have understood the issue (i.e., who have not reached the "age/point of accountability") as well as anyone who is mentally deficient to the point of not being able to understand the issue involved in choosing Christ. Here are some links on that:

Infant Salvation 4

Infant Salvation 3

Infant Salvation 2

Infant Salvation 1

The age of accountability

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Bob,

Thank you so much, I have been tremendously blessed especially from your response to life after death. What happens to babies and children when they die? My 3 year old son left this world recently .

Thank you.

Response #15:

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks much for your kind words.

I assure you that all who die before reaching an accountable age – the age where they are old enough to face the issue of salvation – are automatically saved. That would certainly include your son (sorry to hear of your loss nonetheless).

Here are a few links to where this subject is discussed:

Infant Salvation

What will our relationship be in heaven with children who died young?

The Age of Accountability:  At what Age are we responsible for believing in Christ?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #16:

Dear Dr Robert D Luginbill,

Thank you so much. I am very grateful for your response. That my baby son is in God’s presence in heaven gives me hope and comfort.

Your website has really been a great blessing to me. May the Lord bless you exceeding abundantly.

Yours in Christ our Lord
Tanzania, Africa.

Response #16:

Thanks so much for your kind words!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Bob,

"And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
(Mark 12:28-31)

I've been trying to understand the difference between heart, soul, mind and strength. It seems as if they are closely related, but I also know that they are all different nouns in the Greek. What are the distinction between those nouns?

God Bless,

Response #17:

The combination of these nouns is used to convey the sense, "every single part of you". In the Bible, "heart" and "soul" are synonyms, with the former always concentrating on the inner person (where spirit and mind connect). "Mind" can also be used for the internal person (since it's impossible to separate out our emotions); "strength" refers to applying oneself to loving the Lord by choosing to do so even when it's difficult. Together, these provide a powerful command to love the Lord with all we are. This passage is not, however, illustrative of "biblical anthropology", that is, the Bible's teachings about how man is constituted – the opposite in fact: it takes an understanding of those things to process this passage and explain (as I have just done). For details, please see BB 3A: Biblical Anthropology.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

It's been a long time since I reached out sir. I hope all is well with You? Thank you for your labour in word and doctrine. Pls I'm studying the dichotomy of man again and even though I agree to it being the biblical view I can't help but notice some practical difficulties: If our spirits are regenerated and created after God in righteousness and true holiness who is to blame when we sin? Our bodies? Can such separation even be made in the nature of man? If "soul" is the entirety of what we are does that not mean our spirit participates in sin? Is my not one "one with Him?". I say this because in church we say the Spirit is perfectly saved, the soul is being saved and the body will be glorified at resurrection. Thank you sir.

Response #18:

I don't find anywhere in scripture where the Bible breaks down different parts of a person with some parts saved and some not or to various degrees. The Bible, while it does at times discuss the topic of anthropology (the nature of the human being), always presents people as "one person". We are not different from our bodies; our bodies are "us" just as our spirits are "us", although it is true that especially after salvation there is a conflict between the lusts of the sin nature and the "better us" which needs to resist these temptations. The word "soul" refers in scripture (not necessarily in contemporary English) to the inner "us" where we fight temptation (or not) and make all of our decisions. In our resurrection body, there will be no such conflict since there will be no sin nature infecting our eternal bodies. That is the way it is; I'll give you some links below for the details.

In any case, as to "practical difficulties", I don't see how being split in three makes the question you are struggling with any easier. It's a hard one because it's based upon a mis-impression, namely, that somehow "we" don't decide to sin when we sin. We are "we" as undivided persons; we decide as undivided persons; we are held responsible for what we do as undivided persons – despite the fact that we have a battle going on within us (cf. 1Pet.2:11). This not "unfair" in any way, and far to the contrary since Christ died for all of sins. We are to blame when we sin; we are forgiven when we confess; because Christ already paid the price for it all.

Here are those links:

BB 3A: Biblical Anthropology

"Spirit and soul"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

[omitted questions on the conscience]

Response #19:

You cover a great deal of ground here! So apologies in advance if I don't address every aspect of the issue or the questions you've included. Everything I know about the conscience can be found written up at the following link: in BB 3B: "The Conscience". But I will try to adapt what I've learned from scripture to your specific questions here.

First, what is the conscience? The conscience is not a separate entity. Rather it is an aspect of the human heart. The heart, in turn, is the inner "us", the place where the spirit and the body come together, the place where we think, consider, emote, and, yes, weigh the rightness and wrongness of things. Adam and Eve's situation was different (analogous to the way angels are different from human beings). Not having a sin nature, and not being confronted by a world where evil existed everywhere as well as good with the result that they had to weigh their choices at every step, they had no need of knowing the difference between good and evil. All they had to know was not to eat of the very tree that would give them that basic aspect of heart (actually, activate it, empower it, fill it with essential information, or however one wishes to describe what happened). They knew that eating of that tree was wrong (conscience) but Eve was deceived about it and Adam chose to eat of it anyway (not wishing to lose Eve). After they ate, after they acquired a sin nature and their conscience was awakened to the good-evil issue, we see them doing and saying foolish things. That is in part because while they realized that they had a problem they did not yet have all the particulars sorted out – and how could they yet without any teaching of the truth? That would come later. In the meantime, we see them doing things to cover up their guilt (the fig leaves, their "defense" when confronted), showing that conscience may guide but the will still has to choose.

What produced the sin nature? Clearly, eating of the tree of knowing good and evil, the same action that awoke their consciences to the good vs. evil issue. Was it a physical reaction to eating the fruit? Scripture doesn't say, and that is significant. Still, it's hard to see how an earthy culture like the ancient Hebrews was likely to take this any other way absent an explanation not to. In any case, the sin nature is physical and has infested all of our first bodies ever since. The conscience is part of the heart and the heart has a foot in both camps, being the physical brain and the human spirit which together is "us". We see from Adam and Eve, from all of human history, and from our own experiences, that the conscience can be misinterpreted, misdirected, and mis-calibrated. It can also be ignored, abused and hardened. Every human being starts out with this basic facet of soul that understands the essential difference between right and wrong as well as being predisposed to consider the issue of life and death, God and eternity (Eccl.3:11). Giving attention to the truth results in salvation if the gospel is accepted through faith, and if the believer grows – learning and believing the truth – this results in the refining of the conscience.

Now there is basic natural revelation truth in the world as well as biblical truth. So unbelievers certainly can go a long way towards living an honorable life when it comes to things like law and order and doing what is right by their families and in their dealings with others. The facet of soul which allows them to do so is the conscience, fed with natural truth to which the person responds positively (like an obedient child responding to the education his/her parents give him/her). So, as with believers, the refining of the conscience has both an inherited and developed aspect. We all have the capacity to learn more and more about what is right and wrong, and to develop the sensitivity of the internal sentinel that guides us in such matters. But as with believers in terms of biblical truth, unbelievers (and actually all of us) have to combine that natural inclination with positive choice and response for the conscience to be so refined. It is certainly possible to go the other way as well (and for believers as well as unbelievers: 1Tim.4:2).

I'm happy to revisit this with you for any follow-ups.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:


Response #20:

On infants and others who die before God-consciousness, these are automatically saved. Christ died for whatever sins anyone has committed, including the very, very young; but since these in question did not have an opportunity to express a free will desire to be saved, not yet understanding the parameters of this life, the coming of death, the nature of God (as comes to all at some point through natural revelation: Rom.1:18-32; cf. Ps.19), they are saved without the necessity that rests upon all adults to put their faith in Christ. Here's a link that will lead to others: "Infant Salvation".

Question #21:

Am I getting this right? The sin nature was not acquired from the flesh of the fruit they ate, as in the sin passed from the fruit into them; the sin nature was generated/created by their disobedience to God.

Response #21:

Scripture does not address the mechanics directly. It's fair to assume that the eating played a role since the eating was the act of disobedience that lead to spiritual death; by contrast, eating from the tree of life imparted benefits (as will be the case in the New Jerusalem).

Question #22:

Even though we are talking about two completely different types of beings here… Was this the same exact process as when Satan acquired/generated the sin nature in himself by defiling himself, even though there was no being before him who tempted him?

Response #22:

Angels don't have physical bodies so they don't have sin natures. The point is a good one to consider, however, because it demonstrates that it is the internal attitude towards God which is important, that is, one's choice to obey or rebel. Angels, being what they are, tended (it seems) to take longer to decide but never to change once having decided (much more on this in part one of SR 1 at the link).

Question #23:

Do our sin natures ONLY corrupt our bodies or are our spirits (the breath of God within us) also corrupted?

Response #23:

Our spirits cannot be touched. The only harm that can come to them is damnation through rejecting or refusing to accept Christ, which is why Paul says at 1Cor.5:5, "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". Our spirit is the true inner us, but it is influenced by the flesh and by what we experience in the world.

Question #24:

Do I have this correct? The spirit is not the same as the image of God inside of us. That image of God (our free will) is part of our spirit – our spirits are made in His image. If a person would lose their ability to exercise free will (e.g. born or become mentally disabled) they still have a spirit inside of them, but would they still have the image of God? Or could you say they have the image of God but its expression is incapacitated?

Response #24:

Animals have spirits too, but they are not made in the image of God. Free will is a characteristic of our spirits. That is true even in cases of individuals who are physically disabled. The handicap has to do with the body, but not the spirit. They have free will, but their ability to exercise it may be abbreviated or entirely curtailed.

Question #25:

Regarding babies who are aborted or miscarried. Is it possible that they baby/fetus has a type of “general life-force” from God within it while it is in the womb, but then God creates/breaths the individual spirit with the His image into he/she at birth just as Scripture teaches? Fetuses move on their own in the womb independent of their mother. They can feel/react to pain. There are a lot of things existing on this earth that have a “life force” but do not have a more individualized “spirit.” I cannot discern a personality in a tree or earthworm even though they are both alive, but I can clearly see that my pets all have different “personalities” (even though they are not made in the image of God).

Response #25:

Animals have spirits, so indeed they have personalities. They are more like us in many ways than some are willing to see or admit, but they do not have the ability to make free will moral choices. A fetus is not a person until God creates a spirit within it at birth (Zech.12:1; cf. Gen.2:7). There may be biological life in the womb, but there is no spiritual life until that point of birth. Of course the two situations you mention involve a fetus coming out of the womb before the normal time of birth. Whether or not God creates a spirit in such cases (which would then returns immediately to Him), is something we can't rule out or in, in my opinion (and it may sometimes be the case, sometimes not).

If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 NKJV

And Job spoke, and said:
“May the day perish on which I was born,
And the night in which it was said,
‘A male child is conceived.’
May that day be darkness;
May God above not seek it,
Nor the light shine upon it.
May darkness and the shadow of death claim it;
May a cloud settle on it;
May the blackness of the day terrify it.
As for that night, may darkness seize it;
May it not rejoice among the days of the year,
May it not come into the number of the months.
Oh, may that night be barren!
May no joyful shout come into it!
May those curse it who curse the day,
Those who are ready to arouse Leviathan.
May the stars of its morning be dark;
May it look for light, but have none,
And not see the dawning of the day;
Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother’s womb,
Nor hide sorrow from my eyes.
“Why did I not die at birth?
Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
For now I would have lain still and been quiet,
I would have been asleep;
Then I would have been at rest
With kings and counselors of the earth,
Who built ruins for themselves,
Or with princes who had gold,
Who filled their houses with silver;
Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child,
Like infants who never saw light?
There the wicked cease from troubling,
And there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners rest together;
They do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
The small and great are there,
And the servant is free from his master.
Job 3:2-19 NKJV


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