Question: Didn’t Paul teach the immortality of the soul according in Philippians 1:23?
Answer: Some think that Paul taught the immorality of the soul in the following passage:
“For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).
Here, Paul is not giving a Biblical explanation of what happens at death. He is simply explaining his “desire,” which is to leave his present hard life and to be with Jesus without pointing to a period of time that may take place between these two events.
With great enthusiasm, he wanted to live with the God whom he had so faithfully worked for. In a similar manner, faithful believers of all ages have had this same desire, without necessarily expecting to be immediately escorted into the presence of the Lord when their eyes have closed in death.
Paul’s statement here has to be considered in relation with his other related statements where he clearly refers to death as a sleep (1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:13–15) as Jesus did (Mark 5:39; John 11:11). Since there is no consciousness in death, and hence no awareness of the lapse of time, the resurrection morning will appear to the departed one as occurring the moment after his death.
It is clear that Paul disproved the idea of an immortal spirit leaving the body at death when he taught that the ONLY means of being with the Lord is through translation and resurrection. For he said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and SO shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). Here, Paul describes the manner of going to be with the Lord, and leaves no place for man to interpret Philippians 1:23 to mean that people have immortal souls.
For more on the state of the dead, check the following link: The Intermediate State
In His service,