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Here is a question that came during a Bible study and I believe it is very interesting. So much I want to share here and see what answers can come out.

I am going to keep it simple.

So, we all have a Body, Soul and Spirit. Now, at death, the Body returns to dust while the Spirit returns to God (Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 12:7) but where does the Soul go?

  • Hebrews 4: 12 answers your question. 'Soul and spirit' ... 'joints and marrow'. The joints are structural and mechanical. The marrow is the living tissue. Thus soul is an immaterial counterpart to the body. Though not physical, it has immaterial structure. The living 'tissue' of spirit resides within a capable, 'mechanical' (though immaterial) structure and has capabilities in the spiritual realm. Both soul and spirit return to God. Ezekiel 18:4 Behold all souls are mine saith God.// But this is a 'truth' question and may be voted for closure on this site. – Nigel J Apr 15 at 13:04
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    Christianity Stack Exchange is a site that discusses the beliefs of many different Christian denominations and traditions. You need to specify the Christian tradition or denomination from which you seek answers and avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based. Good questions show research and provide evidence of any claims made. When you have a moment, please take the Christianity Stack tour to learn more about us: christianity.stackexchange.com/tour – Lesley Apr 16 at 15:43
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The soul is the combination of our bodies and spirit. After death our body and spirit will separate for a time as we wait for the Second Coming if Jesus Christ. When He comes again we will be resurrected(because He overcame death) and our body and spirit will be combined in a perfect form free from deformities.

While we wait for that time we are at a place called the Spirit world where Christ went between His death and resurrection. There the righteous(in Paradise) people rest from their trials and visit those in spirit prison. Those in prison did not accept Christ during their life or did not have the chance to accept Him so the righteous are teaching those in prison so they have a second chance to accept Christ into their lives. All of this is happening now until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Alma 40:11,12,14- “11.Now, concerning the astate of the soul between bdeath and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are ctaken dhome to that God who gave them life. 12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of ahappiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of cpeace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.... 14 Now this is the state of the souls of the bwicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this estate, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.“ www.churchofJesusChrist.org The Book of Mormon.

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I read the bible as teaching that you do not have a soul, but that you are a soul. This being the combination of body and spirit.

Eg, read Genesis 2:7 account of Adam’s creation where God breathed the breath of life into the clay and Adam became a living soul (nephesh) in Hebrew.

Animals are the same. “Nephesh” is used with them too.

The soul, and in particular the idea of an immortal soul, comes from Greek philosophy and is not a biblical teaching. The Bible teaches that you die (which is like sleep in that you are not aware of your surroundings or the passage of time). You cease to be. The breath of life, the spirit, returns to God.

Jesus: “into your hands I commend my spirit”. On his death, Jesus, slept until his father called him from the tomb and returned his breath of life (spirit) to him.

Note that the simple words “breath of life” hide a transformative effect, a massive alteration of the clay in Adam’s case, or the body as in the case of Jesus or Lazarus.

Taking Adam as an example, the breath of god turned clay into living cells in exquisite detail, DNA, blood, brain, muscles and a nervous system, but also included a fully “programmed” or “imprinted” brain. IE, A character. Adam received the knowledge of language, co-ordination, the ability to focus his eyes, to walk, to reach out and grasp, all those things a new born baby does not have though it is otherwise complete and perfect.

To Jesus and to Lazarus were returned their original characters, knowledge and memories. It was everything that made Jesus Jesus, and Lazarus Lazarus. In the case of Jesus he received also the power and authority that he had laid aside when he “emptied himself” and took the form of humanity, but that is another topic entirely.

—— Addendum:

Lesley has asked below for more references re “soul sleep” as the statement is given that most christians, protestant or catholic, believe in an immortal soul.

True, it is a catholic teaching and originated with them, and from which many churches have inherited the same.

I will refer to the original protestant, the well known Dr Martin Luther who said the following:

"But I permit the Pope to make articles of faith for himself and his faithful, such as The Bread and wine are transubstantiated in the sacrament. The essence of God neither generates, nor is generated. The soul is the substantial form of the human body. The Pope is the emperor of the world, and the king of heaven, and God upon earth. THE SOUL IS IMMORTAL, with all those monstrous opinions to be found in the Roman dunghill of decretals, that such as his faith is, such may be his gospel, such his disciples, and such his church, that the mouth may have meat suitable for it, and the dish, a cover worthy of it."

(Edit 3: FULL CAPS added by me for easy reference to the pertinent comment. I should also add, as others have in quoting this passage, that this forthright and coarse-sounding language was used frequently by these robust Reformers. To ears accustomed to the suavities and euphemisms of our times, they sound rough and uncouth. But such phraseology was part of the common parlance of the time, employed by outstanding men of the day who were desperately in earnest. They were fighting a relentless, merciless and deadly foe at close quarters and against terrific odds, and in so doing they used blunt phrasings. Martin Luther escaped death only by the protection of German nobility else he too would have ended as did Huss and Jerome)

Luther further wrote:

“For just as one who falls asleep and reaches morning unexpectedly when he awakes, without knowing what has happened to him, so we shall suddenly rise on the last day without knowing how we have come into death and through death. We shall sleep, until He comes and knocks on the little grave and says, Doctor Martin, get up! Then I shall rise in a moment and be happy with Him forever."

It is also a Seventh-day Adventist teaching, but as you can see, originated centuries before them and not from them.

For biblical reference see Jesus referencing death as sleep, and the statement that the dead know nothing in Ecclesiastes.

Further reference that the bible teaches that immortality belongs to God, and is not a human trait. God said if you eat of the tree you will surely die. Satan said you will surely not die.

The teaching that you (the essence of you, your soul) does not die is the same thing that Satan taught. The teaching is his, not God’s.

When you believe that the soul is immortal you get into all kinds of trouble with the resurrection. Jesus returned to the tomb to fetch his body why? He returned to the tomb, entered his dead body and then waited a moment or two till Gabriel told him his Father was calling him back “and this time bring your human body with you”? Does Joseph return to earth to collect his dried bones? For those who died millenniums ago, for which no trace of body remains, why do they return to the earth to be resurrected? Only good old earth clay will do?

No, Martin Luther hit that nail on the head 500 years ago, this is an invention of Catholicism. It is not a biblical teaching.

—— Addendum 2:

For a good reference to Greek philosophy being the originators of the soul being distinct and separate, then try https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/

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    I agree with your opening sentence but wonder which denomination says "the idea ofan immortal soul comes from Greek philosophy and is not a biblical teaching." Could the idea of "soul sleep" be a teaching of Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses? I ask because virtually all Christians (whether Catholic or Protestant) believe the soul continues to exist after the body dies. It would be helpful if you could provide sources to back up what you have said. – Lesley Apr 16 at 15:25
  • Have added to answer as requested by Leslie. As to the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am not yet familiar with much of their teachings and could not elaborate there. – Ian Macintosh Apr 16 at 16:53
  • Thanks for the additional information. Although I disagree with the concept of "soul sleep" or "soul annihilation" I did not down-vote your answer. By the way, I'm Lesley - the Scottish spelling for the feminine use of the name. Leslie is the masculine form - but not a lot of people know that! – Lesley Apr 18 at 13:10
  • George MacDonald made that statement “We don’t have a soul. We are a soul. We have a body” in 1892. He was the minister of Trinity Congregational Church, Arundel (Scotland) from 1850 till 1853. He preached God's universal love and that everyone was capable of redemption. He rejected the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, amongst other things. – Lesley Apr 18 at 13:15
  • Lesley, apologies for misspelling your name! That was me being completely careless. And no, I had never been aware of that peculiar differentiation. Thank you for the elucidation. – Ian Macintosh Apr 18 at 18:34

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