I'm curious what the Bible states about the soul.

In many different places, especially Deuteronomy, we're told to love or believe "with all our soul." Many people have opinions over what a soul is, what it means to have one, and other properties of the soul, but I'm looking for supporting details.

Where and how does the Bible describe the soul?

  • Sorry about that. It was indeed a broad question. I was looking for any and all information (documentation?) about the soul and that is too broad to actually pick one answer over another.
    – user77
    Oct 19 '11 at 14:49
  • Reopening after the edit, as this appears to be a much better-scoped question now.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Oct 19 '11 at 16:23
  • 3
    While I don't disagree with the re-opening of this question, I must add that there still needs some doctrinal perspective on this. For example, do you care what Mormons think about the soul? What about Catholics? What about Jehovah's Witnesses? The doctrinal standpoint determines which biblical translations are allowed, so simply asking for a "biblical standpoint" isn't enough. Please read this post to familiarize yourself with the quality standards
    – Richard
    Oct 19 '11 at 18:33
  • My knowledge of other doctrines and the soul are limited. I'm open to what other doctrines have to say. This does make picking an answer a hard choice, but when deciding what to believe, I want to hear all the options.
    – user77
    Oct 20 '11 at 2:23

The problem is what we see as soul has different meanings based on when in history you are looking at it.

For example, the Hebrews didn't see the soul as immortal, as shown here:

"The soul [nephesh] who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20)

So, the soul (word was nephesh) was not immortal.

Then in the first century AD, Philo introduced the immortal soul to the Jews as they interacted more with the Greeks:

The death of a man is the separation of his soul from his body ..." (The Works of Philo, translated by C.D. Yonge, 1993, p. 37).

So, in Greek the work psuche is translated as soul or life.

Jesus stated that God can destroy the soul (Matt 10:28):

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Paul described death as sleep, as shown in this sample: 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed —

52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep [a]in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [b]and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a [c]shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive [d]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

An immortal soul isn't mentioned in the Bible, but immortality is mentioned, such as:

"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).

So, Origen wrote about the immortal soul:

In Origen De Principiis he wrote: "... The soul, having a substance and life of its own, shall after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this ..." (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, 1995, p. 240).

and the Augustine wrote more on the subject:

In The City of God he wrote that the soul "is therefore called immortal, because in a sense, it does not cease to live and to feel; while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul, takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, 1995, p. 245.)

Thomas Aquinas probably wrote the most on the subject of the soul, and you can read various issues about the soul here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1.htm, and starting at Question 75.

In various places the Book of Mormon talks about the immortal soul, and this page is a good reference, as it also shows where the Bible doesn't agree on the immortality of the soul:


For example: Mosiah 2:38

38 Therefore if that man arepenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine bjustice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own cguilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the dpresence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and epain, and fanguish, which is like an unquenchable gfire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

Due to the complexity, you may want to narrow down the focus of your question, perhaps.


What does the bible say about the soul. All verses cited will be from the King James Version.

Beginning at Genesis 2:7

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.

By this verse, man is a soul. He does not own a soul.

Job 33:4

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Luke 5:25

For what is a man advantaged, if he gains the whole world and lose himself, or be cast away.

Matthew 16:26

For is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul.

Luke 12:19

And I will say to my soul, Soul thou hast much goodsl laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Genesis 35:18

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. 19. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath which is Bethlehem.

A careful reading of the scriptures will provide a correct interpretation. As example, reading only Genesis 35:18 could lead one to believe that Rachel's soul died. However, continuing to verse 19, it clearly indicates who died, Rachel.

Is man immortal? No. Genesis 3:22

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: 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Immortality denied.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Immortality restored.

  • 1
    You really need to break this up into paragraphs. You should also separate the quotes out by putting > at the beginning of the lines.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 19 '14 at 3:50
  • Paragraphs and formatting added.
    – Steve
    Mar 23 '14 at 15:29
  • Thank You. I wasnt' at all happy the way it looked,as can be seen my typing skills leave a lot to be desired.
    – V. Rollins
    Mar 28 '14 at 18:42