IMMORTALITY IN GENESIS
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
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:
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
DOES DEATH MEAN
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
'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
'But the man Adam didn't die, he continued on for over 900
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.
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
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.
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;
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
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:
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?