The Bible never teaches that there is any such thing as a non-material substance or being. The Roman Catholic Church and the vast majority of Christian believers hold that the soul, the real person, is a spirit, that is a being with no parts but which is a real entity all the same. When the body dies this doesn’t effect the soul and it goes to Purgatory or Heaven or Hell. At the resurrection at the end of time, it is reunited with the body. The Church holds that the soul without the body is incomplete so the two make up the person. But if you survive death with your memories and can be happy in Heaven what do you need the body for?
It is said that death in the Bible is not a state of non-existence. While the Bible uses the word death to refer to an existence without purpose, without meaning, without joy this is a metaphor and does not prove that death is not death.
We will see that the Bible teaches that the soul is your breath or life and is not immortal. Nothing survives death. The person could be inherently incapable of living on after death unless God intervenes. It does not mean that the person is inherently immortal only that they are salvaged.
The words translated soul or spirit in the Bible are actually the words for breath or life. They don’t even suggest the pagan Greek idea that there is a soul without parts that is the real person. The Greek idea was then adopted into the theology of the Church after it began to pollute Christianity.
The Bible speaks of individuals such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as being alive after death. Peter said that Jesus was raised alive in the spirit after his death and he went to preach to the souls in prison. The dead Prophet Samuel appeared at the behest of a Witch in the presence of King Saul.
God can raise people from the dead in a temporary body or a kind of body or perhaps as a kind of spirit after death and their real body could be fused with this at the resurrection.
The Bible never says that if anything survives death that it stays alive. It might fade away and die.
Jesus said not to fear those who kill the body and not the soul but fear him rather who can kill body and soul both in Hell.
Jesus meant that those who kill the body but who do not destroy your spirit or life in the sense that they can get you to sin and ruin your life with God are not to be feared. Rather it is Satan who brings your life and body to complete ruin in Hell who is to be feared. The Christians do not take kill literally here for they hold that the body is not destroyed in Hell but exists there forever and is ruined by evil and hate. But if it is literal then Jesus said that we must not fear those who kill the body but who cannot end our lives permanently for we are holy and will be raised to enjoy God forever. In Hell then the body is destroyed or killed in the sense that it is dead literally dead and the life is also dead for it is full of evil and hate and so its life is torment and the life is tied to this corpse in living death. It's like an evil person whose life is unbearable because of her or his evil and whose head is kept alive by a machine but whose body is dead and smelling.
Jesus told the dying thief crucified with him that he would be with him in paradise that day. The Bible said that resurrections took place between the death of Christ and his resurrection. The dead thief could have risen and went to Heaven. Jesus may have been alive before his resurrection. Or perhaps, “I say to you this day, you will be with me in paradise” is what is being said not, “I say to you, this day you will be with me in paradise”. Notice how the comma changes the meaning. “I say to you this day,” reminds us of Deuteronomy 4 where it is said, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day.” This day was an expression of solemnity or emphasis on the truthfulness of the statement used in the Bible. Jesus had to emphasise the fate of the criminal because it was hard for people to believe that such an evil man could be saved.
Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Lazarus was saved in Paradise after death and the rich man suffered in Hell fire. There is no hint of this being a parable but it’s a true story. The rich man wanted Lazarus resurrected and sent back to earth to warn his living relations about the horror of Hell so that they might avoid it and he was told that they have the law and the prophets and if they won’t listen to them somebody rising from the dead will be no help. The two persons, the rich man and Lazarus, might have been restored to life in Hell and Heaven respectively, rather than having being persons who survived death. It was Abraham who spoke to the rich man and it is possible that Abraham didn’t know if the man’s relations were alive or not. The general resurrection will be confusing for many saints. The setting could still be placed after the resurrection. The rich man after all pleaded with Abraham to let Lazarus put a drop of water on his tongue to cool it for the flame of Hell was hot. This suggests that he had his body back.
Jesus tells God in Matthew 27:50, "Father into your hands I commend my spirit." This is said to show that Jesus would not have meant, "Father into your hands I commend my breath." But as breath is a symbol of life, he would have meant that he was commending his life to God. This has nothing to do with a life after death for a believer in God who denies the afterlife could say that prayer too.
When Paul says part of him would like to die so that he can be with Christ does this indicate that the soul is immortal? But if you die and there is a gap of a million years between this and your resurrection it will seem like no time passed at all in between if you were out of existence between death and resurrection.
None of the attempts to prove that the Bible taught an immortal soul work. Some argue that saying the only hope for life after death is in the resurrection is mistaken for because you ceased to exist the person rising is not you but a duplicate. You would then feel yourself entitled to argue that the Bible then cannot teach that the resurrection is your only hope. That is correcting the Bible and pretending the Bible agrees with you. Let it speak for itself. However if this reasoning is correct then the Bible is mistaken when it speaks of resurrections for it teaches that death really is the end of life and the resurrection is the only way to come back.
Does the Bible actually deny that the spirit or life is immortal?
Paul wrote that if Christ didn’t rise then the only hope for life after death for our beloved departed ones is lost in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 19 he said that he said that if we only have hope for this life and not the next and we only have hope for this life if Christ didn’t rise then we are to be extremely pitied. It is clear: if Christ didn’t rise nobody rises and there is no hope for surviving death. He says if there is just life in this life then extreme pity is due to us which shows how serious it is if the dead don’t rise.
In Romans 6 Paul wrote that a man who dies is finished with sin – the idea of a soul that lives on and lives in sin forever and keeps sinning is plainly rejected. He says that just as a man is finished with law when he dies so he is finished with sin when he dies.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle had a problem with those who claimed to be Christian but who said the only life you would have after death would be as a soul and you would not have any kind of resurrection. Paul says that baptism for the dead as practiced by some makes no sense unless there is a resurrection. He uses the expression “not raised at all”. His point is that if the dead do not rise at all then there is no point in being baptised for them. That covers the resurrection doctrine in all its variations. This implies that there is no survival of death without some kind bodily resurrection from the dead for he clearly presupposes that immortality of the soul is nonsense and obvious nonsense and expects the baptisers to know better. For Paul the resurrection body is more like a ghost than a revived corpse. He hopes that this spiritual body doctrine will appease them.
So the Bible teaches that you don’t have a soul. You have a body and mind that die at death and your soul is your breath that goes back to the God who gave it to you. This shows that the magical sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church are inefficacious for they suppose they can put intangible energy or spiritual power into your spiritual soul and you don’t have a spiritual soul.
The book of Ecclesiastes says that animals and humans have the same fate and they have the same breath or soul and humans have no advantage over animals at all for all is vanity (3:19,20). It says that nobody knows if the spirit of the animals goes downwards or the spirit of man goes upwards. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 the author declares that the dust of man goes to the earth and the breath or spirit goes to God who gave it. This is simply an application of Genesis which said that God breathed life or breath into Adam to all Adam’s offspring. It never says that it means life after death in this. The breath can go back to God when you take your last breath. It said that human spirits or breath doesn’t have any advantage over animal spirit or breath so taking this into consideration proves that it denies that there is life after death in what it is saying.
Chapter 9 says that the living know things but the dead know nothing and their love and hates are finished. The Christian Church says that it is only saying that corpses know nothing. But that assumes the author believed in life after death and he gave no such indication. It would be stupid to believe that the real person survives death and then say that the dead know nothing meaning their corpses. You would only say that the dead know nothing if you believe they are not alive again in any form.
Psalm 6:4,5 says that there is no remembering God in the grave and no giving him thanks and so the writer prays to be spared so that God can be remembered and praised. This clearly denies that there is life after death. It would be mad to pray that you will not die so that you can praise God on the grounds that you can’t do that if you are dead. For if you don’t really die but your soul lives on, the real you, then you can praise God and death is not stopping you. Nothing in the Bible taught before then that there was life after death so it is undeniable from the context that the Psalm denies life after death.
“I met with Justin Thacker, head of theology at the Evangelical Alliance, who explains that the word ‘soul’ in the New Testament is usually a translation of the Greek word psuche, which it is generally agreed does not necessarily apply to what Thacker describes as ‘a kind of detachable non-material part of me” (page 189, The Ego Trick, Julian Baggini, Granta, London, 2011).
To say the soul lives on after death is to say that death is not the end of life and so it is not really death. The Church says that death is the separation of body and soul with the body dying for real and the soul living on. You don’t really die in this view. You just leave your body to let it rot. The Church teaching contradicts the Bible which sees death as the destruction of a person. The Devil told Adam and Eve that God lied to them when he said they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit. The Church says he was right!
AFTER DEATH – WHAT? Fred Pearce, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
ETERNAL LIFE, Hans Kung, Collins, London, 1984
GOD AND THE NEW PHYSICS, Paul Davies, Penguin Books, London, 1990
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1995
JEHOVAH OF THE WATCHTOWER, Walter Martin and Norman Klann, Bethany House Publishers, Minnesota, 1974
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, John Wijngaards, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1998.
IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH? Paul Kroll, Worldwide Church of God, Pasadena, California, 1988
MIND OUT OF TIME, Ian Wilson, Gollanez, London, 1981
LIFE AFTER DEATH THE WONDERFUL FACTS, Alan Hayward, Christadelphian, ALS, Birmingham
REASONS FOR HOPE, Ed Jeffrey A Mirus, Christendom College Press, Virginia, 1982
TEACH YOURSELF PHILOSOPHY OF MIND, Mel Thompson, Teach Yourself Books, London, 2003
THE AFTER DEATH EXPERIENCE, Ian Wilson, Corgi, London, 1987
THE DEVIL HIDES OUT, David Marshall, Autumn House, Grantham, 1991
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN? Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Publishers, Oregon, 1988

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