C   H   A   P   T   E   R       O   N   E

What Is Man

Job 7:17

Adam and Eve in Eden

HE confusion regarding the nature of man and his ultimate destiny, begins where the Bible begins; in the Book of Genesis. Being the fountainhead of all divine revelation to follow, it tells in unmistakable terms of the creation of man, his nature, his fall into sin, and his destiny. If man by nature has an immortal soul; a part of him that cannot be destroyed but must live on either in fellowship or eternal separation from God, then surely we should expect to find such a revelation here. But is this the case?. It is our sincere conviction that the answer is an emphatic NO. In fact, as we will see, the definition of man which God himself has given to us in the book of Genesis should remove such a teaching from the belief of any open minded person and toss it on the ever mounting ash heap of man-made tradition and philosophy.

I understand that the whole of divine revelation is not included in the Book of Genesis, and that we must take all 66 inspired books as a whole to locate the truth; but if we cannot locate this doctrine of man's inherent immortality within the pages of the one book which God has given for the specific purpose of instructing us as to man's creation and nature, then we should be very cautious about drawing assumptions from passages which would seem to infer the doctrine elsewhere. The stubborn fact is, and as we shall endeavor to prove, there is not one passage of scripture that teaches the immortality of the human soul. Although forced to admit that the term 'immortal soul' is nowhere to be found in the scriptures, many seem to believe that the teaching can be clearly formulated from passages where they feel the doctrine is implied. In due time, we will study all these passages, but for now, I would like the reader to consider: Which is wiser? To make the clear statements of scripture conform to our conceptions of what may be implied, or to believe the clear teaching of scripture and accept that these perceived implications might be due to our misunderstanding of scripture or completely in error?

Keeping this in mind, we now proceed into the opening chapters of the Bible, determined to let the text itself speak to us without regard to our assumptions of what we feel must be true.

Within the first two chapters of the Bible we see that there are two passages of scripture that describe the creation of man:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:27

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7

Believing that the Bible is an inspired revelation given to instruct us, we must ask, which of the above two verses is more specific on the nature of man as touching the doctrine of what the soul is? 

Clearly the second, in that it tells us in what way God fashioned man, brought him to life, and the very definition of what a 'soul' is.

But strangely (and sadly), it is precisely at this point that many begin to go astray on this doctrine of man's nature. Instead of seeing in Genesis 2:7 the precise definition of what man's soul is, they seize upon Genesis 1:27 and begin to attempt to incorporate the implications which they believe to see in other scripture. They begin to reason on what may be inferred by the words 'image of God'.

For example, some suppose that since in their perception of scripture, God is a trinity, then they assume man must also be a trinity with three parts. Since Paul talks about a man being wholly 'spirit and soul and body' (1 Thes 5:23) then this, they reason, must be the triune image of God within man. Others reason that since God is immortal, then the 'image of God' must also be immortal. Still others see the 'image of God' as man's ability to reason and have conscience.

The problem with all of the above is that they are all inferences which are not clearly stated in the text itself. Nothings bears greater testimony to this than the sheer amount of disagreement over Genesis 1:27 between scholars in every age. 

I have recently examined the  the written comments of Peter S. Ruckman, Finis Jennings Dake, Charles C. Ryrie, Henry M. Morris, and The Knowledge Bible Commentary. No two of these works interpret Genesis 1:27 the same.

The Dakes Annotated Reference Bible says:

'In the image of God- Elohim (plural), Gods, The whole structure of the sentence shows that there is unity joined with plurality.'

The Ryrie Study Bible Comments:

'Image... likeness. Interchangeable terms indicating that man was created in natural and moral likeness to God. When he sinned, he lost his moral likeness which was sinlessness, but the natural likeness of intellect, emotions, and will he still retains'

The Creation Scientist Henry Morris comments:

'in our image ...man was also to posses a third created entity, the image of God, an eternal spirit capable of communion and fellowship with his creator'

The most lengthy and detailed comments come from the conservative fundamentalist Peter S. Ruckman:

'In the image of God created he him is proof that man has a Body, Soul, and Spirit. Man is a trichotomy... The Body is a 'soma' (Gr.), or a 'Basar' (Heb.) Christ is God's body - the image of God... The Soul... is a bodily shape within the man which is stuck to his body until he is born again... The Spirit... is everywhere likened in the Bible to wind or air.

The Soul is joined to the Body in the Old Testament. Adam is created with his Soul 'loose' within his body, and if he were created with the soul stuck to the body it would matter nothing, for his Flesh (Body) is not yet become the 'Flesh' of Romans 7:18... The soul has a bodily shape and it can burn in hell forever as a body without burning up.'

It should be obvious that these authors aren't getting all these ideas from the scant three words 'image of God', but are assuming the meaning from something they believe is taught elsewhere in the Bible. The differences in these four opinions are striking, and should send up a red flag to any student of God's Word. If we are ever to find God's revelation concerning the nature of man and the definition of what the soul is, we are certainly on shaky ground if we try to make assumptions based on the meaning  of Genesis 1:27.

But the good news is, we don't have to. When we come to Genesis 2:7, we have a precise definition, given by God, as to exactly what the soul is:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7

There is nothing obscure about this passage. Man became a living soul when God did two things:

- Formed the body out of the dust of the ground, and

- Breathed into his body the breath of life

We see in precise terms the exact formula which the Bible says makes up a 'soul':

Body + Breath of Life = Soul

Being the first passage in scripture where the word 'soul' occurs in regard to man, the importance of a clear understanding of this text cannot be overstated. Notice very carefully that the verse does not say that man has a soul, or that God gave man a soul, but rather that man is a soul. The body itself is not the soul, although without the body there could not be a soul, nor is the breath of life the soul, although there could be no soul without it as well. It is the unique combination of the body with the breath of life which produced a soul. 

The definition of 'soul' in this passage is clear and direct. The reader does not need to interpret, nor does he need to draw inferences from other passages; we are simply to believe what God has said regarding the soul.

There is no problem in understanding this clear and direct definition of 'soul' if we simply believe the scriptures.  The problems begin to arise only because this definition is clearly contrary to what most of us have been taught!

Given this clear, direct definition from God, we would think that our commentators listed above would take the opportunity to explain their theories about the soul in light of this passage. But amazingly this is not the case! For example, Peter Ruckman's commentary on Genesis 1:27 ('the image of God') is lengthy, but when we get to the very definition of 'soul' in Genesis 2:7, Peter Ruckman says:

'We have made considerable comment on this passage under Genesis 1:27, which see.'

But when we turn back to Genesis 1:27 we find nothing about Genesis 2:7 except these brief comments:

'Adam has a living Soul (Gen. 2:7) which becomes 'lost' and becomes glued to a body of sin' emphasis mine

Now these comments are perplexing. Genesis 2:7 did not say that 'Adam has a living soul'. It says rather that man became a living soul when God breathed into his body the breath of life. Anyone familiar with the writings of Dr. Ruckman knows that he stands firmly for the absolute authority of every word of the King James Text. What would possibly cause Peter Ruckman to practically misquote Genesis 2:7? Furthermore, how can the soul become 'glued to a body of sin' when the body, plus the breath of life is the soul?

Given the clarity of the text, Peter Ruckman's comments are very confusing. It almost appears as though he is deliberately avoiding the definition of 'soul' which the scriptures have given in Genesis 2:7. After virtually misquoting Genesis 2:7, and providing absolutely no scriptural support for this bizarre theory of the soul being 'glued to the body' he writes:

'The soul is the 'Ego', the 'I am' of the individual. The studies in the Hebrew usage of the word yield no new truth at all. To this day scholars assume the word is interchangeable with 'life' because it is occasionally applied to animals (Num. 31:28; Rev. 16:3)...

After the Fall of Man, the Soul is stuck to a 'body of death' and consequently, the Old Testament writers use 'Soul' as synonymous with the body. This led Judge Rutherford and the Russellites to assume that the soul went (at death) to the same place the body went i.e. the grave. This gross error in private interpretation has undoubtedly increased the population of Hell by a goodly number' emphasis mine

With all due respect to Dr. Ruckman, we must ask, where in either Genesis 1:27 or Genesis 2:7 is 'soul' defined as the 'I am' of the individual? Indeed, where in all of scripture may we find this definition? Where is there any scriptural support that may be offered for this 'stuck to the body' teaching? From what scripture did Peter Ruckman learn that 'After the fall of man the soul is stuck to the 'body of death''? How is it that he feels simply believing the text of Genesis 2:7 amounts to a 'gross error in private interpretation'? We must ask, who really is the one offering the 'private interpretation' here?

After offering zero scriptural support for his own position, Peter Ruckman tells us that; 1) A study of the Hebrew text is worthless, 2) Scholars agree that 'soul' can be interchanged with 'life', 3) Old Testament writers used 'soul' as a synonym for 'body', and 4) Others have come to the same conclusions!! 

How incredibly odd!

How are we to account for such hostility? What are we to make of Peter Ruckman's misquotation of Genesis 2:7? It would seem as though Peter Ruckman knows very well that neither Genesis 2:7, nor the Hebrew text will bear out his definition and theory of the 'soul'. It appears as though he feels it better to cut his losses at the beginning and insert this interpretation which can then be conveniently used to explain away every other passage which will not agree with him! Whatever his reasoning, it should be obvious that neither 'image of God' nor the definition of the soul in Genesis 2:7 support Peter Ruckman's odd theories.

But what of the other authors? Surely they must have more insight. But turning to Genesis 2:7 in the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible we find this note regarding the clause 'breath of life':

'Breath of lives, because it made the body, soul, and spirit live and function together'

What? Once again, with all due respect to Finis Jennings Dake, this is very confusing! In Genesis 2:7 there is no mention of a soul coming into existence until God breathes into the body, THEN man becomes a living soul. How can the breath of life make the 'body, soul, and spirit' live and function together when there would be no soul yet as defined in the very passage he is attempting to explain?! Such strange exposition on such a clear text demands an explanation, does it not? But if we look at the next clause, 'man became a living soul', Dake has absolutely no comment. Instead, the reader is referred to the word 'soul' in the index. 

What are we to make of this? When given 'image of God' in Genesis 1:27 the speculations pour forth, page upon page. But when given a clear passage on the make-up and nature of man in Genesis 2:7, the books slam shut, class is dismissed, and we are met with silence.

The fact is, it appears as if men such as Ruckman and Dake do not want to admit that the word 'soul' in Genesis 2:7 refers to a man's entire being, not some invisible, immortal part of the man which departs from his body at death. According to this passage, man doesn't have a soul, he is a soul. This is not a mere 'private interpretation' as Peter Ruckman asserts. it is simply believing the text. If the body has the breath of life, then the man is a living soul; if the body does not have the breath of life, then the man is a dead soul.  No one had to interpret anything.

As we hope to prove throughout this study, there is not one passage of scripture that speaks of the 'soul' as being a conscious entity that departs at death; not one. I am more than aware of the proof-texts brought forth which others believe to imply this, and all of these will be covered in due time. It is not my contention at this point to prove that 'soul' is never used in any other way throughout scripture. It most certainly is. The study of the usage of 'soul' in both the Old and New Testaments is certainly not worthless, as Peter Ruckman maintains, but very enlightening. We will eventually cover all ways in which the word is used. But for now, as far as Genesis 2:7 is concerned, there should be no doubt as to the way the Bible has defined 'soul':

Body + Breath of Life = Soul

It should also be clear that no matter how the word is assumed to be used elsewhere in the scriptures, this definition is clearly at variance with the popular theory of the immortal soul; a fact that is borne out by commentators reluctance to deal effectively with the passage.

It is also interesting to note that our English Bibles generally conceal a fact which is obvious in the original Hebrew. The Hebrew word for 'soul' in Genesis 2:7 is nephesh and occurs four times prior to Genesis 2:7 in the Hebrew text.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature (Heb. Nephesh) that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Gen 1:20

And God created great whales, and every living creature (Heb. Nephesh) that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Gen 1:21

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (Heb. Nephesh) after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. Gen 1:24

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life (Heb. Nephesh), I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Gen 1:30

So we see that in these three verses, birds, fish, and animals are also 'souls' as far as the Hebrew use of the word goes. 

The question may be asked, why did the translators use 'soul' when the word applied to humans, and 'creature' or 'life' when applied to animals? The answer should be obvious. The translators of the King James Bible all believed in the inherent immortality of man; that man had a soul, whereas animals did not. Even though the word nephesh (soul) is used many times to apply to animals as well as man, it is not translated as such to impress upon the English reader than man has a soul, not animals.

When Peter Ruckman stated that 'soul' was occasionally used of animals, he didn't really tell the whole truth. The fact is, although not translated as 'soul' in our English Bible, the word appears many times in the Hebrew referring to animals.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature (Nephesh, soul) , that was the name thereof. Gen 2:19

And with every living creature (Nephesh, soul) that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. Gen 9:10

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature (Nephesh, soul) that is with you, for perpetual generations: Gen 9:12

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature (Nephesh, soul) of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. Gen 9:15

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature (Nephesh, soul) of all flesh that is upon the earth. Gen 9:16

This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature (Nephesh, soul) that moveth in the waters, and of every creature (Nephesh, soul) that creepeth upon the earth: Lev 11:46

And he that killeth a beast (Nephesh, soul) shall make it good; beast (Nephesh, soul) for beast (Nephesh, soul). Lev 24:18

So carefully has the translation of nephesh been guarded in relation to animals as 'souls', that we can't help but wonder if it wasn't done intentionally to conceal the fact that animals are souls as well as men.

There is one verse and only one verse where 'soul' is used to apply to animals, and it can readily be seen that the King James translators had to render the word as such only because the construction of the sentence demands it.

And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul (Nephesh) of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep: Num 31:28

Clearly the translators had to make a choice. They could either call man a 'creature', or the 'beeves, asses, and sheep' 'souls'. They opted for the latter. This is a prime example of 'the exception that proves the rule'.

We may conclude from this evidence, that despite the King James translators reluctance to use 'soul' every time it applied to animals, the Hebrew text makes no such distinction. In each case, the soul is simply a living, sentient being; the unique combination of the breath of life and the body. These are hard facts which can be checked by anyone with an analytical concordance. It is much easier to obscure a truth in a translation than to explain why the word 'soul' is applied to animals in such a way that makes the popular definition impossible.



If, as it is commonly argued, some part of man is immortal, then we would expect to find a clear statement as such when we are told of the nature and creation of man. This however is not the case. It is not to be found in the phrase 'image of God', nor in the clear definition of the soul in Genesis 2:7 Some however still claim to see in these opening chapters of Genesis, 'clues' which they feel allude to man's inherent immortality.

The first of these we touched upon a bit earlier, where God says that he made man in his own image. The reasoning here is that even though animals may be called souls as well as men, animals are not made in God's image, and thus man has an immortal soul, whereas animals do not.

While all agree that only man was made in God's image, this is no reason to assume that because God is immortal, he must have imparted to man some inherent immortal soul. If such an assumption is to be made, then we demand that clear scripture be set forth to support it.

However, even if we allow this assumption, it still would not prove that any of the human race since Adam possessed this same 'image of God'. We know this because we read in Genesis 5:3 that whatever the image of God may have been, after Adam's fall into sin and disobedience, his children did not posess it.

We read in Genesis 5:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: Gen 5:1-3

If the image of God was the immortal part of man, then clearly it was not passed on to later generations, as they were made in Adam's image after the fall and not God's. Furthermore, to make the 'image of God' into an 'immortal soul', or any kind of soul for that matter, is nearly impossible without making an assumption which contradicts the way scripture clearly defines what the soul is:

Body + Breath of Life = Soul


Oddly, the argument which is usually offered as 'proof positive' that man has an immortal soul, comes not from any passage about man's creation, but his death!

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen 2:17

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Gen 3:16-19

Many reason that since God had told Adam the he would die the very day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and since Adam and Eve did not drop dead that very same day, then it follows that the death they suffered was a spiritual death, because God could not have been referring to their physical death.

While I would allow that Adam and Eve did indeed die spiritually the very same day they disobeyed God, immediately the objection must be raised; how does a spiritual death, of necessity, imply an immortal soul? 

The popular answer to this is that the spiritual death does not show cessation of existence, but rather separation from God. So if the first death is separation from God, then all deaths to follow must also be a separation of some sort, howbeit without cessation of existence

I am not overstating the matter at all, as this is the popular argument. It is not uncommon for people who hold this view to say very emphatically, 'death always means separation!!' A very common evangelical phrase is 'You're going to live forever somewhere, be it in heaven or in hell.' The terminus of this kind of reasoning is a dead person with a dead spirit, but with an undying immortal soul which has died twice!

It is precisely this line of reasoning and logic which allows most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians to reconcile (for themselves anyway) all passages in which the punishment for sin is emphatically stated to be death, and not hell as they almost all universally teach. In their own minds death equals separation equals hell.

It would be very easy at this point for our discussion to deteriorate from a Biblical one, into a purely philosophical one, but we must be very careful because the question at hand cuts right to the heart of our study. If we go astray into the realm on manmade philosophy not three chapters into the Bible, then we will surely be hopeless to determine truth elsewhere.

The question is, what did God have in mind when he told Adam and Eve 'thou shalt surely die'? Did God mean for us to understand this in the way so many in our day do; namely that death equals separation equals hell, or is there a simpler and better explanation?

I would remind the reader that whatever God meant in his words 'thou shalt surely die', as well as the death sentence he pronounced upon Adam and Eve, we have absolutely no right to define them in any different way than that which the immediate context would allow us. It is unthinkable that God would tell of man's creation, the warning of sin's consequence, and the fall which plunged all of mankind into enmity with God, and be ambiguous or incomplete about the nature and penalty of death. We must look at the plain teachings which God has thus revealed to us regarding man's nature, the warning, and the death sentence, for our information.

We remember clearly how God created the man:

Body + Breath of Life = Soul (Gen 2:7)

I would ask the reader, what part of the equation above died the very day man disobeyed? 

You say 'It was his eternal spirit which enjoyed fellowship with God, but was broken.' 

I'm sorry, but that won't do at all. There is nothing in the above, or in the pronounced sentence which will even allow such an interpretation. 

'But' you say 'We know from the book of...' 

But that won't do either. God had said to the living soul Adam, that the day he ate of the forbidden fruit he would die, and this is the whole of the matter. I would submit that there is only one possible scriptural conclusion at which we can arrive without speculation and reading something into the text:

The Living Soul Dies.

If Adam = Living Soul, and

God said to Adam 'Ye shall surely die'

Then the living soul must die.

Of course, the advocate of the 'immortal soul' will immediately protest: 

'But the man Adam didn't die, he continued on for over 900 years!' 

Very true, but this ignores the fact that scripturally, to be dead can mean to be literally and physically dead, as the opposite of life, or to be reckoned as such in the process of dying; the spiritual death. Spoken another way, from God's perspective, to be under the death sentence is to be as good as dead. We are literally 'dead men walking'.

However, make no mistake, those who are reckoned as dead by God because of sin, and on whom the wrath of God abides, will find their ultimate conclusion in the words which he uttered to Adam.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And my friend, that is the conclusion of the matter. There was no warning to an immortal soul, there was no preaching of future judgment for such a soul, and no hope was given for the soul of a life in heaven, or a warning of an eternity in hell.

for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

If the man Adam was the combination of the breath of life and the body formed from dust, then when the breath of life went out, and the body returned to dust, where was the man? The answer is that the man Adam was nowhere. Every man born on this earth since Adam has found his destiny in a hole in the ground; every one without exception. Where are all the souls that have gone before? They are nowhere. Life was the unique possession and gift from God, and by disobedience man lost it.

For those who would protest that I have redefined 'death' in order to explain my viewpoint, I would remind you, my friend, that you are the one who redefined death by stating: 'death always means separation.' It is a rather easy task to show from scripture that men can be called 'dead' while physically alive, because they are reckoned as dead, not dead in some mystical spiritualized sense which the evangelicals cling to, but which scripture never defines:

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Luke 9:60

Those who teach the immortality of the soul say 'See, this means, let those who are spiritually separated from God go bury the those who are literally physically dead'

To which I can answer 'Let those who God has reckoned as already dead, go bury the corpses of the physically dead.'

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Eph 2:1

Ahh, you say 'You hath he quickened who were spiritually separated in trespasses and sins'

To which I'll reply 'You, who he had reckoned as dead in trespasses and sins, hath he quickened.. etc.'

But someone might add, 'it says we ARE dead in trespasses and sins, not reckoned dead.'

But look at the context:

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Eph 2:5-6

To which I'll ask, are we actually literally seated in the heavenly places, or reckoned as such in Christ? The door swings just as wide both ways. There is absolutely nothing in the Book of Genesis, or the entire Bible which demands an immortal soul unless you're purposely trying to read the doctrine into the text. We will prove this to be the case time and again. That there is no immortal soul in the account of the creation, the fall, or the death sentence should be obvious to anyone. While it is manifest that death is a great separator in that it separates us from our life, our hopes, our loved ones, and from God, it is a dreadful mistake to say that it is separation itself for the purpose of upholding the doctrine of man's immortality.

We can say that 'God is love', but surely we do not mean that God is merely love. In the same way death is separation, and a great separator, but death is not merely separation; death is the very opposite of life.

If death means 'separation' by strict definition, then why not just use the word 'separation'? There are words in both Greek and Hebrew for both 'death', and 'separation'; why are they never interchanged? Again, because death is much more than separation, death is the opposite of life:

for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

This redefining of death as 'separation' has caused so much confusion, but those who would teach an 'immortal soul' must cling to it because it's the only way they can maintain that man has a conscious existence after death. But is such reasoning even valid?

First, even if we say that death always means separation, how does this prove that man has an immortal soul? The fact is, it does not unless you also decide what is being separated. For example, those who hold this view see three deaths:

- A spiritual death we are all born with because we are spiritually separated from God. They see this in statements like 'You were dead in trespasses and sins'

- A physical death where the immortal soul is separated from the body.

- A second death, or the lake of fire where man is eternally separated from God

The problem with all of these is that they amount to little more than circular reasoning. In the case of the first, a spiritual death in no way proves an immortal part of man. In every verse cited it can mean a 'dead reckoning' in which one object has for all purposes, ceased to exist to the other, but always with the view that the thing actually WILL eventually cease to exist.

For example, when the prodigal son's father said 'My son was dead, but now is alive', he meant much more than that his son had been separated from him and returned. Many of us are often separated from our loved one's but we don't say that they're dead to us. The Prodigal's father meant that for all practical purposes his son had ceased to exist to him in the same way death takes away any hope for return. The son's return proved to be no less miraculous than a resurrection from the dead.

When a Jewish family has a member convert to Christianity, they hold a funeral for that person so that person is dead to them for all practical purposes. As far as the family is concerned, the member has ceased to exist just as though they were dead physically. Again, this entails much more than a mere separation from the family.

When Paul writes that we are 'dead to the law', he meant that the law is to have no more hold over us than it does to a dead man literally, and even uses an illustration from the marriage laws:

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Rom 7:1-4

Every time we see this principal of a 'spiritual death', it always means a reckoning that one object is dead literally with respect to another. When Paul says that we are 'dead to sin', he means that sin is supposed to have as much control over us as it would to a dead man literally, not that we are merely separated from sin.

For those who still doubt that this is what the apostle had in mind:

For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise RECKON ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:10-11

Is the spiritual death separation from God? No! The spiritual death causes separation from God, but always with a view of the objects being literally dead to one another. In no way does a 'spiritual death' necessitate an 'immortal soul'. In many ways it establishes exactly the opposite in that the objects which are dead to each other have ceased to exist, for all practical purposes, until they ultimately actually do. We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ until these actually literally occur. There is nothing mystical about a 'spiritual death'. These things are only spiritual in the sense that they point to a consummation and reality which is yet to occur.

Once we see that a spiritual death can not prove an immortal soul, the second definition of death listed above, that in which the soul is supposedly separated from the body, will also prove untenable because it relies on the first. It is assumed that physical death is separation of the 'soul' from the body. Again, this entirely rests upon the first argument that death is defined as a separation but continued conscious existence. Having shown satisfactorily that this first spiritual death does not, and can not prove an immortal soul, this second definition is also helpless to stand.

Is physical death separation? No, physical death causes separation. The body goes back to dust, the breath of life goes back to God, and the man is separated from life and existence. The physical death is the culmination, and consummation of the spiritual death. We are to act like we are dead to sin until we actually die. We are to be dead to the law until we actually die. Those reckoned as dead bury their own dead until they actually die themselves. The spiritual death always culminates in the lifelessness and non-existence in which man was reckoned.

We are left to deal only with the 'second death', or hell, wherein the sinner allegedly will spend an eternity of torment separated from the presence of God. The doctrines of the immortal soul and of endless conscious torment are linked. If man does have an immortal soul, then there must be a place to send the wicked for all eternity, but if there is no immortal soul, then such a place is not needed. Whatever we determine to be the true biblical teaching on the soul will directly affect our view of hell as well. In many ways, these two doctrines stand or fall together.

There is much to be said on this subject, and indeed that is the entire purpose of this study. For now, consider that this second death is actually a third death to those who believe man has an immortal soul. They believe in the first spiritual death, or separation from God, a second death where the soul is separated from the body, and a third death where man is eternally separated from God, even though the Bible calls this last state the 'second death'.

As we will eventually see, this seemingly minor flaw in semantics and reasoning will prove to be a crushing blow to the immortal soul doctrine. In order to maintain these three deaths, they have unlinked the spiritual death from the actual physical death and believe them to be two separate literal deaths. That is, they don't see a spiritual death as merely pointing to a greater fulfillment, they see the spiritual death as a fulfillment in itself, and the physical death as an incidental.

I do not believe that many Christians actually grasp the significance of this reasoning. In this system of logic, it is only the spiritual deaths which they feel  God reckons and has in mind- the first is the separation from him we acquire from Adam and Eve, and the second, eternal separation in hell. In doing so they downplay physical death and remove from its place one of the most prominent themes of the entire Bible; the resurrection. Those who would doubt that this has happened only need to read popular Christian literature. There is little talk of the resurrection, having been replaced by a 'heaven and hell' mentality. Our whole approach to evangelism centers on heaven and hell, rarely with any mention of the resurrection. As we will see, the resurrection is of such prominent importance to true Christian doctrine, that any theological system that would begin to degrade it from its lofty position is surely, and irrecoverably in serious error.

But someone will say. 'No, you've got it all wrong, the first death is physical death, or separation of the soul and body, and the second death is eternal separation of the soul from God in hell' Really? Then what becomes of the death which happened to Adam and Eve the very day they ate? Didn't you say that was a spiritual death, or doesn't that one count now? Are there two deaths, are there three, or is God just confused? If the SECOND death is eternal separation from God, then it seems as though you have one too many deaths on your hands. 

There are really only three choices you can make:

You can keep all three types of death, and contradict the fact that scripturally, there are only two.

You can say that only the spiritual deaths count, downplay physical death. and remove the importance of the resurrection from the Bible.

Or, you can believe what I've attempted to show is the only correct answer: that the death God warned Adam and Eve of is the opposite of life, the death of their souls. The so-called spiritual death is the reckoning that culminated in the grave. where the breath of life returns to God, and the body to dust. To God, the very moment Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were reckoned in death; a death which culminated in the loss of their souls, lifelessness, and non-existence.

There is, however hope beyond the first death, and as we will show, that hope is not heaven or an immortal soul, but a resurrection. This resurrection is not a resurrection of the body only, but a resurrection of the soul, the man and the being. It is the ONLY hope for ANY life beyond the grave. The second death can occur only after the resurrection. Having rejected the only hope offered for life, if one dies the SECOND death, then there is no hope for a resurrection. These points will be covered in detail within the course of this study.

Those who believe that death means separation, I would ask, can God die? Of course the answer is no, but what do we mean by this statement? Surely we must mean more than 'God cannot be separated'. What could God be separated from? From his body? No, God is a spirit (John 4:24). Do we mean that he cannot be separated from himself? Well, that doesn't make much sense does it? such an argument proves nothing. The fact is, when we say that God cannot die, we mean that God cannot cease to exist. The Bible is very clear that God only possesses immortality (1Tim 6:16), which literally means 'deathlessness'. But if death is merely separation then what could such a statement possibly mean? The clear sense is that only God can never cease to exist by his very nature, and if this be true, then it surely means that in death, we DO CEASE TO EXIST, but this is the very definition the proponents of an immortal soul must avoid at all costs.

There is a very good reason why an immortal soul is never mentioned in the book of Genesis, or the whole Bible for that matter- THERE IS NONE. How can we possibly define an 'immortal (deathless) soul' that can die twice? Isn't that just a philosophical impossibility to begin with? If the soul is not immortal in a Biblical sense, but alive and conscious in some sense, then what is it, and what scriptural basis do you have for your answer?

There is absolutely no provision made for an immortal soul. The absolute silence on the topic should be more than conclusive, but to seal the matter once and for all:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Gen 3:22-24

What will we do with this? Will we believe God or will we wrest the passage? Is it merely Adam's body that God wants to prevent from living forever? But the text doesn't say that, does it? No, it's the man Adam, the living soul that is condemned to die, and in this we have the most conclusive proof which God could ever set before us that man is not 'immortal'. The advocates of the doctrine of the soul's immortality need to do one thing; show scripturally how man can exist eternally without life.  The death sentence placed upon Adam is clearly to keep him from 'living forever'.  In what way does one exist in an eternal hell without 'living forever', and what clear scriptural basis is there for your answer?

In a last ditch effort to salvage something of the 'immortal soul' theory from the wreckage which Genesis makes of it, the proponent will sometimes say:

'But there's no annihilation! Science itself teaches that matter can not be created or destroyed. The man may die, but there's still something there which can never be destroyed.'

But we must be very careful because this argument proves more than it intends. It certainly is true that we can never really annihilate anything by its very definition. For example, I can destroy a document by putting it through a paper shredder, but I can never really annihilate it. I can rip it up into a million little bits, grind it to fine powder, and let the wind carry it away, but it's still there in some sense. This argument seems plausible, but it fails to consider a couple facts.

First of all, according to Genesis 2:7, man- the soul, the sentient being, is the combination of the breath of life, and the body. Neither the breath of life nor the body is the man, but there can be no man without either. When a man dies, the breath of life returns to God, the body goes to dust, and where is the man?

There is no man.

We can illustrate this with a light bulb. The bulb itself represents the body, and electricity the breath of life. When we combine the two we get a new thing; light, which represents the soul. The light is not the bulb, but if the bulb is destroyed there is no light. Neither is the electricity the light, although there is no light without the power which runs through the bulb. If the power company cuts off the power to which they hold the rights, and the bulb is broken and discarded, where is the light? Where does the light go?

There is no light

In the next chapter we will consider scriptures which establish this concept as fact beyond any reasonable doubt.

Second, if you attempt to prove conscious continuous existence after death from the continuity of created matter, then you must also allow for conscious existence of the man before his birth. As I said, the argument is purely scientific, philosophical, and proves more than it wants to.

Third, it is one thing to say that we can't create or destroy matter, but it is quite another thing to say that God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe can't either.


Did Adam and Eve really die the very day they ate the forbidden fruit? Yes, they absolutely did. No sooner had they sinned, than the retribution began, and they died to the peace and joy of innocence. The day of transgression was the day of their sentence to death. They found that the wages of sin were death, or, in other words, misery, fear, anguish, and all the direful consequences of wrong; found to be reckoned as dead in the sight of God, and excluded from the tree of life which would sustain their existence. For Adam, this 'spiritual death' reached its consummation 930 years later, when he died physically, and returned to the dust from which he was taken.

Is there a 'spiritual death'? Yes indeed there is. It is to be dead to the truth, dead to goodness, dead to purity, and dead to God, but must ultimately find its destiny where Adam found his; in the dust. Our fallen nature reasons that there must be an immortal soul to pay for the consequences of sin for all eternity, but this in itself testifies to how greatly we have fallen. How is it that we have become so complacent that we view death as natural? We are born blinded to the truth, separated from God, and destined to return to dust, but somehow we see this as natural, and not rather as the judgment of God poured out since Adam and Eve disobeyed. The trouble is not an eternal hell, but that we are dying or dead.

Adam and Eve learned all too soon what the judgment of God meant for them. One can only imagine what they would have thought upon seeing the lifeless corpse of their son Abel. How could they possibly reason upon what had happened to him? As they eventually realized that their son was in a lifeless sleep from which he could not be awakened, and as they saw his body begin to decay, they doubtless heard the word of God echo through their minds: 'for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.' Was the toil, the anguish, the loss of innocence, the separation from God death to them? It surely was, but how could they ever have comprehended this? : a life, a living soul which had offered up pleasing sacrifices to God, laying still, and returning to the dust.

Could such a thing be true? The millions of tombstones testify to work of sin and the wrath of God. How are we become so blinded that we cannot see this? Man doesn't need to be saved from hell, he needs to be saved from sin and D-E-A-T-H. Not the death of Greek and Babylonian philosophy, but the death to which our race is sold; the very opposite of life as any of us know it.

Despite the visible proof of God's ultimate judgment, we can only reasonably suppose that Eve remembered another voice which had spoken to her:

'Ye shall not surely die'

Could this still be true? Despite the fact that they were witnessing the opposite of everything they had known life to be; as they saw not only their son laying cold and lifeless, but they themselves fading... could it be that death wasn't really the end? Perhaps God had lied. Maybe death didn't end existence after all, but only released the person, the 'I am', from their mortal body.

This will prove to be a critical point in our entire discussion. The teaching that some part of man lives on, despite death, can be traced back all the way to these five deceptive words of the enemy of all life: YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE.

Our whole purpose is to show beyond any reasonable doubt, that this doctrine of man's inherent immortality is not grounded in any revelation which God ever gave to man, but is a lie continually perpetrated by Satan himself which has taken firm root in the minds of men who refuse to believe what God has said concerning the nature of man.

The great truth to which the entire Bible unanimously testifies is the redemptive work of God to rescue us from death and the grave. The doctrine of man's immortality has stolen this from us. We have come to believe that somehow we have life in some form which even God cannot take from us. We have come to believe that heaven should be our reward, and not life itself. The great doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, has become the resurrection of the body only.

The purpose of this study is to attempt to put God's plan for bestowing upon man eternal life back in its proper biblical perspective and to restore these great truths to the place of honor which is rightfully theirs. It is my hope and prayer that it will bring glory and honor to the one who offers us the only hope beyond death and the grave; the one who says: