Table of Contents
The Soul and Spirit at Death
Many people believe that after death, our soul goes back to God, thus having a continuous personal existence. And they believe that the soul possesses a natural immortality. But not even one time in the Bible is the soul referred to as being immortal or undying. According to God’s Word, man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16).
The Scriptures teach that the dead sleep (John 11:11; Daniel 12:2; Psalm 13:3) in their graves until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead. In death, humans are totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind. After death a person:
- returns to dust (Psalms 104:29)
- knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
- possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4)
- has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6)
- does not live (2 Kings 20:1)
- waits in the grave (Job 17:13)
- continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the Resurrection (Revelation 22:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
- After the resurrection, the will be given their rewards or punishments (Revelation 22:12)
The Bible Formula for Life and Death
Solomon the wise described what happens at death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). And since death is the opposite of life. Let’s look at what happens at creation, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
body (dust) + breath (or spirit) = life (soul)
body (dust) – breath (or spirit) = death (no soul)
The soul is simply the conscious life which resulted when God added the breath or the “divine park” of life to the body. This same term “breath of life” is also used for animals in Genesis 7:21,22. Notice that the words “breath” and “spirit” are used interchangeably (Job 27:3; Psalm 104:29, 30; James 2:26). The spirit or breath is like the electrical power that gives life.
Therefore, when Solomon described the spirit returning to God, he was referring to the breath, because that was what God gave in the beginning, and therefore, it was the only thing that could now “return” to the One who gave it. The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life. Nowhere in the Scriptures does the “spirit” have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the “breath of life” and nothing more.
For more on the state of death, check The Intermediate State.
In His service,