Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last.(Luke 23:46)

The Catholic Church teaches the Jesus Christ was True God and True Man and was given like the rest of mankind a "rational soul and human will".

This can be seen in the Agony in the Garden when Jesus said in Luke gospel,

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”(Luke 22:42)

My simple question is from Catholic teaching and biblical explanation what is the spirit that Jesus commended?

Is it his human soul or the Spirit of Christ?


5 Answers 5


In his response to someone who claimed that Jesus had a 'divine soul' (sic) William Huntington wrote a piece (it is only 28 pages in booklet form) which he titled The Soul of Christ in which he thoroughly refutes the stated claim and proves that Christ's soul is human.

I cannot find exactly the words to answer your question - 'into your hands I commit my spirit' - but the following is pertinent and, I believe, gives an indication of an answer :

Thus I have proved that the phrase 'myself' sometimes signifies Christ's Godhead abstractly considered : 'I lay down my life of myself', and sometimes it signifies his human nature only : 'See that it is I myself, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

There is an 'I myself' in Christ, that hath been seen and handled, and there is a divine 'I myself' that dwells in the light to which no man can approach, whom no eye hath seen nor can see.

The Soul of Christ, page 8, published by the Huntingtonian Press, 1998.

From these quotes it is clear that Christ's words can sometimes indicate that he speaks of his own spirit associated with his own human soul, and at times he refers to his own spirit associated with his own Deity.

For the union of Christ's divine nature and his human nature is not a mingling of natures (for that cannot be, they are different things). The natures remain distinct, but they are united - in his Person.

But he may also - as in the case in question - refer to the person of the Divine Spirit which is in a perfect unity with himself. And it is sometimes impossible to tell whether he speaks of his own spirit or if he speaks of the Divine Person of the spirit.

Nor is this to be seen as a difficulty for such is the perfection of unity within the Deity, that one is as the other.

The same is true of one who is born of Spirit. Within his own soul, there dwells the Holy Spirit in union with his own created spirit. If he is moved of the Spirit, it is his own spirit that is moved.

In such a holy and spiritual union, who can tell exactly the movings of the persons involved ?

And, indeed, do we have to tell ?


Using purely biblical information on the question of what this 'spirit' is that can be commended to God at the point of death, I would cite four verses.

1) Job 32:8 - "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." 2) Ecclesiastes 12:7 - "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it." 3) Luke 23:46 - "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit'. And having said thus, he gave up the ghost." 4) Acts 7:59 - "And they stoned Stephen, who called out, saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit'."

Before the time of Christ, God's people believed that at physical death, the spirit God gave to them returned to him, and then they would have to account to God for how they had lived in the flesh. This indicates the return of something immaterial, spiritual, to the heavenly realms at the point of death.

Just before Jesus died, he commended his spirit to the Father, then breathed his last. This also indicates the return if something immaterial, spiritual, to the heavenly realms at the point of death. This rules out mere exhalation of air from the lungs, as with the Ecclesiastes 12 chapter.

The martyr Stephen likewise agreed with this belief for, when being stoned to death after relating a vision he'd had of heaven with Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of the glory of God, he prayed to Christ, asking Christ to receive his spirit. No doubt he knew of Jesus' own utterance to the Father about his spirit, and was copying Christ's example, so Stephen also believed an invisible, God-given spirit would return to its giver at the point of death.

The interesting connection here is that humans have this God-given spirit, which returns to God when they die physically. Jesus Christ, being fully human as well as fully God, committed his spirit to the Father in heaven. Man is a soul, and that includes the spirit in man.

Given that the Psalmist said that at the end of our days we fly away (Psalm 90:10) it would seem that Jesus' spirit left his body (which was put in a tomb, totally unable to 'fly away' anywhere!) That is a purely biblical explanation of why it would be his God-given spirit that flew away, to the Father. Jesus (and Stephen) could rightly call that spirit within them "my spirit" as it belonged to them just as surely as their God-given bodies belonged to them (and not to another).

  • Great! Could it be that God gave man like adam body & soul with freewill & intellect but this soul is still a dead soul and had no life. So, God breathe in so that the Holy Spirit sanctifies the soul with a measure of grace as God bestowed to fulfill the soul mission & purpose. Jesus as truly man receive a rational soul with freewill and intellect and God gave Jesus or breathe a spirit proper to man to fulfill a mission. This spirit will acquire the graces to make the soul divininize into god like form. So, really the spirit united to the soul of man is what you described. Is this correct? Jul 16, 2018 at 20:43
  • 1
    The Q of whether man has a ‘dead soul’ with no life until God breathed in the Holy Spirit to sanctify and give grace is beside the point of this Q which deals with the unique Person of Christ. He was already fully God while in Heaven, in the Godhead, and added human nature (via the virgin Mary) to his divine nature. Adam was never divine to begin with. It was the desire to be as God that led to humanity’s downfall. It was God, in Christ, that led to humanity’s restoration via the Son of God becoming one of us, yet without sin. So, I'm not describing your second last sentence.
    – Anne
    Jul 18, 2018 at 7:15
  • Your example in Book of Job talks about the "spirit in man" and Jesus is Truly God and Truly Man. Jesus human spirit has to acquire graces as describes in Luke " Jesus grew in wisdom and grace".Jesus lived a full humanity starting from a "grace filled mission" and not from Fully Divine Operation, as mystery said "He came in the form of slaves remove or hidden glory".The Q is if Jesue commended a "human spirit".Therefore your biblical reference point to Jesus human spirit.I just expound the body, soul with spirit concept. Jul 18, 2018 at 12:17
  • Augustine's 'donum superadditum' taught grace added to Adam's natural gifts to preserve his integrity, which was withdrawn by God, allowing Adam to fall. If you indicate something similar with grace given to Jesus, then I have to say this idea is a species of Manichaean (gnostic) heresy. Grace liberates sinners from the reign of sin and death, so that could never be said to have applied to the development of Christ in his manhood. If you don't indicate that, apologies. I don't wish to get into debate about this here as the matter requires a fresh question.
    – Anne
    Jul 20, 2018 at 15:14

St. Jerome translates Lk. 23:46 as:

Et clamans voce magna Jesus ait : Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum (πνεύμά) meum. Et hæc dicens, expiravit.

St. Ambrose commentates on this, saying (quoted in St. Thomas Aquinas's Catena Aurea on Lk. 23 lecture 8):

His spirit then is commended to God, but though He is above He yet gives light to the parts below the earth, that all things may be redeemed. For Christ is all things, and in Christ are all things.

He gave up His Spirit, because He did not lose it as one unwilling; for what a man sends forth is voluntary, what he loses, compulsory.

  • Great citations, but still unclear on the question asked, Is the spirit pertains to Jesus human soul or the Holy Spirit as biblically term spirit of Christ.Godbless Jul 10, 2018 at 2:42

In the words of St.Athanasius;

"God became man so that man shall become god."

And Jesus said;

"I am the Way the Truth and the Life." (John14:6)


The "spirit" that Jesus commended is the spirit of His human soul that has a God given "freewill & intellect"and not the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit in the bible will be sent proceeding from Jesus and God the Father after His Ascension.That human spirit meant to Glorified God by the action of the "freewill & intellect" bestowed on every soul created by God. Jesus is a God-Man, Truly God & Truly Man, created with a rational soul and human will.So,when the physical body suffers death the rational soul must return to God.

The Holy Spirit the Spirit of Christ which dwells fully in his human spirit in a mystical way called "hypostatic union". The Most Holy Trinity is inseparable according St.Vincent Ferrer and Church Teaching.(Will of the Father,Holy Spirit,Jesus) Jesus Incarnate as the Logos, is empowered by the Holy Spirit in doing the Will of the Father.

After Jesus death, the sending of the Holy Spirit mission is to dwell in each redeemed soul to imitate the Life of Jesus Christ in His assumed humanity.

Douay-Rheims Bible

But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he >will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I >shall have said to you. (John14:26)

Jesus humanity follows perfectly and completely the Will of the Father as Jesus said in John6:38,

John 6:38 King James Version (KJV)

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him >that sent me."

Jesus came down and assumed the form of human to show us that we need to accept,embrace and follow the Will of the Father in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in each of everyone ofus..

So that at the end of our faith journey here on earth we can say to the ABBA Father, my mission is finished "into your hands I now commend my spirit".

Jesus had shown us the Perfect Way of Living our God-given faith.God has given us a life with body & soul to share in His divine life in the end and we must perfect our faith journey here on earth like Jesus in perfect obedience to the Will of the Father. In the end of our life we must reach the Theosis as we called it divination according to Church Father's teaching.

"Be perfect/holy, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect/holy." (Matthew5:48).

As Jesus clearly pointed to us who are the ones that can enter in God's Kingdom in the gospel.

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, >but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew7:21)

In closing, I 'd like to quote St.Augustine words,

The Glory of God is man FULLY ALIVE!.

or in the very words of Jesus Christ.

I have come to give them life and have it to the FULL! (John10:10)

So, the human was given by God a body and soul with freewill and intellect. But in order for the soul to animate the body the soul must be alive in the spirit. This spirit is coming from God as He breathe it to Adam for it to become a living soul.

This living soul empower by the spirit coming from God imprinted in his soul his God given mission. The human soul must activate or animate his body with the power of his spirit to acquire all the graces comimg from the merits of Christ entrusted to the Church. And at the end of life journey this spirit of man return to God united to his soul for judgement. This is why a man sentenced to hell by his own freewill manifested in his evil actions on earth is condemned to hell with his soul but the spirit that was breathe in him originally return to its maker.

The body return to earth as dust.

The spirit return to God.

The good soul goes to heaven with his spirit while the bad soul goes to hell with his God given spirit separated and return to God. Only his soul is eternally punished in hell because the God given or breathe-in spirit is the goodness or light of God and must all return to its maker.



In the Rheims Bible says ‘Father into thy hands I commend my spirit and he gave up the Holy Ghost,’ It means that Jesus gives the Father (our Father God) his humility to save us sinners from our sins and He sent to us His divinity, the faith (blessed are those who see what they don’t see ( our enemies and didn’t hear in Luke 10:23-24). Faith is our tripod, what I believe (the creed,) what I live (our virtues, deeds, words, thoughts,) and what I celebrate (our mass, our sacraments, God’s Justice.) according to Father Ruiz.

  • Welcome to the site! Check out our help center and tour to learn more about our site and how to ask and answer questions. I hope you will stick around! Regarding your answer, it is always helpful to provide links to sources and things. Your answer doesn't really adequately explain to use of the term "spirit", whether it is the soul or spirit of Christ. His "spirit" doesn't seem to mean his "humility." That seems quite a bit of a stretch. Dec 5, 2018 at 17:26
  • Who is Father Ruiz? Please provide references.
    – luchonacho
    Dec 7, 2018 at 15:46

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