The Apostle Paul used to be a Pharisee at one point, and Pharisees believed in the immortality of the soul [citationneeded], but then Paul became a Christian through a dramatic conversion, and I don't know to what extent his beliefs on the afterlife might have changed.

Did the Apostle Paul believe in the immortality of the soul? Can this question be answered objectively to any extent (on the basis of objective evidence)? Is there consensus among scholars and historians on this topic?

Note: Is this an "obvious" question? At first glance it might look so for many, but once you have garnered some experience exchanging thoughts with Christian mortalists and Annihilationists (e.g. see here & here), the answer to the question no longer looks so "obvious".

Related BHSE question: What are the theological implications of Paul's continuing identifying himself as a Pharisee in Acts 23:6-10 despite being an Apostle of Christ?

  • 1
    There is such a straightforward answer based on 1 Cor 15 (which is a YES) I wonder maybe you meant something else by your question? I notice that you're asking not just for intermediate state but for what comes after the day of judgment? Feb 4, 2022 at 17:42
  • @GratefulDisciple - I mean from death onwards, which includes both intermediate state and post-judgement day afterlife.
    – user50422
    Feb 4, 2022 at 18:23
  • 1
    @GratefulDisciple - I don't understand. If the answer is so obviously "yes", then why is Christian mortalism even a thing? The top user in terms of reputation on BHSE is a Christian mortalist!
    – user50422
    Feb 4, 2022 at 18:31
  • Dang, I was going to answer your question, with the first line of the question (which is now the my top duckduckgo search for "Pharisee immortality". I only remember it because the alternative is so sad you see.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 4, 2022 at 18:31
  • 1
    @Rajesh No worries. Please comment my answer if you have any question. Have a wonderful day to you too. Feb 4, 2022 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Immortality of soul after the Day of Judgment

The certain hope that God has given to all Christians who truly believe in Jesus is that we will have a glorious body (and the accompanying soul) that Jesus the man had after resurrection, since as his adopted brothers & sisters we have also died and risen with him in baptism.

Whatever St. Paul previously believed as a Pharisee, the above hope was what Paul must have believed as well, as a Christian. Paul was very clear in 1 Cor 15 (esp. vv. 54-55) that our glorified body is immortal. The early church believed this as well, as this is the final line of The Apostle's Creed:

I believe in ...


and the life everlasting. Amen.

As for the rest of the 2000 year history, I am not aware of any mainstream Christian denominations that don't believe in life everlasting for believers. Life everlasting for believers is quite a solid consensus. What's still debatable (since there is not enough Biblical data) is the fate of the souls of the damned: annihilation, temporary suffering in hell, everlasting suffering in hell in body+soul, everlasting suffering in hell in soul only, etc.

Whether one is a Christian mortalist or not, the result is the same: life everlasting. Thus for Christian mortalists one theory is that God would need to create an eternal soul from scratch while preserving some features of our earthly lives (taken from God's memory) to make our glorious bodies. For the non Christian mortalists, God would simply let the immortal soul to be hypostasized with the glorious body, thus enabling the soul to experience a new, glorious and eternal existence.

Status of the soul prior to the Day of Judgment

Many recent evangelicals believe in the conscious existence of the soul prior to the day of judgment, as my other answer made clear based on careful exegesis of the whole of the New Testament by Michael Bird using Biblical theology approach and using the latest research of Second Temple Judaism. He said that Paul wasn't as clear about the intermediate state as the final state, but he said we can make a good case that Paul believed in conscious existence in the intermediate state.

Catholic position is similar, but the believers's blessed presence in heaven with Christ during the intermediate state can be preceded by Purgatory.

In my opinion, it's the result that matters. In his letters Paul indicated the result, not the precise mechanism or precise ontology of body and soul. Depending on what the soul without the body is capable off (we only have theories) God may either let the soul to continue into the intermediate state without change, or God would need to fit that soul with a temporary partial something to experience Christ's presence and/or purgatory.

Christian mortalists who interpret Paul and the Biblical data differently will say that upon death, the soul is either unconscious or perishes along with the body.

  • But those who say that the unbelievers are annihilated, clearly do not believe that a soul is immortal.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 5, 2022 at 2:29
  • @NigelJ Not that it's inherently immortal; God alone is inherently immortal(1 Timothy 6:15). "Souls" are not inherently immortal, but they are capable of becoming immortal(only if God gives them immortality). Thus, they are capable of being annihilated. :)
    – Rajesh
    Feb 5, 2022 at 6:13
  • @NigelJ - Just so you have more context, Rajesh comes from a Jehovah's Witness background.
    – user50422
    Feb 5, 2022 at 16:07
  • @Rajesh I do not believe that myself. My understanding from scripture is that God makes souls immortal. And they have this gift for ever and are responsible for it.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 5, 2022 at 16:13
  • "My understanding from scripture is that God makes souls immortal. And they have this gift for ever and are responsible for it." Which scripture?
    – Rajesh
    Feb 5, 2022 at 19:30

You must log in to answer this question.