These verses were used to teach conditionalism/ human souls are mortal. What is the “traditionalist” response to these verses.

(1 Timothy 6:16): “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

(Ezekiel 18:20 ): “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”

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    While I can see the relevance of 1 Tim 6:16 to the question of human immortality, what is the relevance of Ezekiel 18:20?
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 23, 2020 at 5:38
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    @curiousdannii Ezekiel 18:20 is relevant because in Hebrew it literally says "the soul who sins is the one who will die"
    – user32540
    Oct 23, 2020 at 6:57
  • The person using these verses believes you cease for a little while after death. The godly awaiting immortality and the wicked awaiting judgement. The wicked will suffer a little while and eventually cease its existence. Oct 23, 2020 at 7:58
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    By 'cease for a little while' you seem to be implying that persons (both justified and unrighteous) cease to exist then re-exist. This is preposterous. (And unrighteous.) That the unrighteous should then be 're-invented' (or whatever you wish to call it) and then be immediately annihilated (as though that were possible) is utterly illogical and absolutely in contradiction to a multitude of scriptures. Such ideas are unspiritual, illogical and unscriptural. I am voting to close as matters of opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 23, 2020 at 9:59
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    'Expounding' on individual texts of scripture is more the province of Stack Exchange - Biblical Hermeneutics but there the questions must be specific to the particular verse of scripture, not a topical inquiry. Here, on SE-C, the focus is on comparative Christianity, that is to say the comparing of the views of groups who self-identify as 'Christian'. The verses you quote are not fundamental to the topic you are seeking. There are more definitive verses which decide the doctrine, as I have attempted to demonstrate in my answer.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 23, 2020 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


On the subject of the immortality of the soul, Martin Luther has this to say :

For since we call it a sleep, we know that we shall not remain in it, but be again awakened and live, and that the time during which we sleep, shall seem no longer than if we had just fallen asleep. Hence, we shall censure ourselves that we were surprised or alarmed at such a sleep in the hour of death, and suddenly come alive out of the grave and from decomposition, and entirely well, fresh, with a pure, clear, glorified life, meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the clouds.

Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead

John Calvin exhorts not to enquire into matters that are not revealed but what he does say is this :

Many greatly torment themselves with discussing what place they occupy, and whether or not they already enjoy celestial glory. It is foolish and rash to inquire into hidden things, farther than God permits us to know. Scripture, after telling that Christ is present with them, and receives them into paradise (John 12:32), and that they are comforted, while the souls of the reprobate suffer the torments which they have merited goes no farther. What teacher or doctor will reveal to us what God has concealed?

As to the place of abode, the question is not less futile and inept, since we know that the dimension of the soul is not the same as that of the body. When the abode of blessed spirits is designated as the bosom of Abraham, it is plain that, on quitting this pilgrimage, they are received by the common father of the faithful, who imparts to them the fruit of his faith. Still, since Scripture uniformly enjoins us to look with expectation to the advent of Christ, and delays the crown of glory till that period, let us be contented with the limits divinely prescribed to us--viz. that the souls of the righteous, after their warfare is ended, obtain blessed rest where in joy they wait for the fruition of promised glory, and that thus the final result is suspended till Christ the Redeemer appear.

There can be no doubt that the reprobate have the same doom as that which Jude assigns to the devils, they are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day," (Jude ver. 6).

Calvin's Institutes - Book 3 - Chapter 25

It is quite clear that neither Luther nor Calvin accepted the idea of the annihilation of the soul, in any way or for any reason, nor did they accept the possibility (whether temporarily or permanently) of the 'cessation of existence'.

A more clear text, regarding immortality, than the two quoted (the two quoted texts are not definitive in respect of the topic under inquiry) is the last verse of Isaiah, 66:24, which is quoted by Jesus and reported by Mark :

... to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. [Mark 9:43,44 KJV]

Writing of this text Gill says the following in his commentary :

This will be always the case; conscience will be ever distressing, racking, and torturing them; it will never cease, nor cease doing this office, and so the Chaldee paraphrase of Isaiah 66:24 renders this phrase, , "their souls shall not die"; but shall ever continue in the dreadful torments and unspeakable horrors of a corroding conscience; and by "the fire" may be meant the fire of divine wrath let into their souls, which will never be extinguished; and so Jarchi interprets the phrase in Isaiah 66:24, "their fire", "in hell".

Gill's Commentary - Biblehub

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    Calvin wrote a full commentary so you could look up what he said about these verses, however there's no guarantee he addressed the idea of conditionalism (or a precursor to it).
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 23, 2020 at 14:29

Sorry, I completely misunderstood your question in the previous answer. I'm used to people using mortality of the soul to argue for annihilation instead of hell. The Hebrew word nephesh1 and Greek word psuche2 are often best translated life (meaning an individual living being). For example the Gospel of John states that Jesus laid down his psuche/life. Virtually every time a person's individual life is mention in scripture nephesh or psuche is used. Thus, trying to determine mortality of the soul from these words in scripture would be difficult.

The soul without a body is foreign to the Old and New Testaments, but common to Greek philosophy. That's why the resurrection was foolishness to the Greeks. But, Paul mentions that we will have a spiritual body different than our body here on Earth.3

When it comes to time, physics tells us that time is not independent of matter. Time is a part of creation and God is independent of time. Heaven and hell are not a part of this physical universe, thus not on the same time as us now.

At this point we have to depend on what God has revealed in the scriptures and accept that the complete picture is beyond our understanding. However, our lack of understanding the time involved can explain how people immediately go to heaven or hell and yet scripture describes things like judgment and resurrection as occurring at the same time.

1 -- Gen. 1:20,21,24,30; 2:7,19; 12:5,13,21

2 -- John 10:11,15,17; 13:37,38; 15:13

3 -- 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

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    I like your point about the Greeks thinking resurrection was foolishness it was the blending of Greek philosophy into the mix that introduced immortality of the soul. Still thus died not really answer the question posed by OP who wants a believer in immortal soul to defend that belief in light of the verses cited
    – Kris
    Oct 23, 2020 at 22:27

God alone is immortal in its real and complete sense

All God creates has some form of immortality called Derived immortality.

Dependent upon God for its sustenance

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