The Difference Between Soul & Spirit

Question: Could you tell me the difference between "SOUL" and "SPIRIT"? It would be greatly appreciated if I could find out what the New Testament Greek language might have been to define the two. Many thanks.

Ray in Mesa, AZ

Hi Ray,

Concerning your question on the Soul versus the Spirit, let me first say it is a good one! There are some who don't believe there is a difference. This is due to the fact that the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh which means literally "life". It is also used for animals (Gen 1:20-24) and man as a whole person (Joshua 2:13, Exodus 21:23). The Hebrew texts denotes the spirit as "ruach" and refers to it as only the immaterial part of man (Num 16:22).

The greek of the New Testament makes things a little more clear. We know there is a difference between the soul (psyche) and the spirit (pneuma) by looking at Hebrews 4:12- "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit..." .

The spirit is always referred to as the immaterial part of man. Man is not a spirit, he has a spirit. I believe the soul (psyche) is just what the greek word implies... the makeup of man. You are different from every other person. The thing that makes Raymond Raymond is the soul. The soul is how you relate to others and how you understand yourself. The spirit is how you relate to God. When you are reborn, you are born of spirit (John 3:5-6). The spirit is part of the soul, much like the mind is part of the soul. It is the soul, though, that comprises who you are.

Animals don't have a spirit per se- they don't seek God. Plants have a body, animals have a body and soul (they are capable of relating to man and other animals), but only man has a spirit. Both the soul and spirit pass when man dies, thus you will be recognizable as Raymond in the coming resurrection (ref Matt 17:3) and you will as a believer forever be able to fellowship with God. You will be given a new body (1 Cor 15:51-55), but you will be you.

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