The Bible teaches that man is a soul and doesn’t have a spirit body (Ezekiel 18:20; Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 16:26; Psalm 42:11; Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 120:2; 139:13-14; Joshua 22:5…etc.). The word translated “soul” (nephesh) does not refer to any immortal part of man. It is equivalent to “man,” or “person,” or “self.” But God alone is an infinite Spirit Being (John 4:24). He is not subject to the same limitations as finite material beings.
What happens at creation
Many people in wondering if we are made up of a spirit body and soul often become confused with the concept of the soul and spirit. The Bible tells us that, “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). At creation, God adds His breath of life or the divine spark of life to the dust and man becomes a living soul. The soul cannot exist without either the breath or the body.
Breath of God (spirit) + Body (dust) = Life (soul)
What happens at death?
The Bible says, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). At death, everything returns to where it came from. The dust returns to the earth from which it was taken. And the spirit returns to God who gave it. Thus, death is merely the opposite of Creation.
Body (dust) – Breath of God (spirit) = Death (no soul)
What is the spirit?
As to the nature of the spirit that goes back to God, James 2:26 clarifies that “the body without the spirit is dead.” In this verse, the word “spirit” has a marginal reference which reads, “or breath.” The actual root word in the Greek is “pneuma,” a word which means “breath” or “air.” We can conclude that the words “breath” and “spirit” are the same in the Bible.
A clear example of this is found in Job 27:3, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” David also confirms that the spirit and the breath are the same in Psalms 104:29, 30, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” The same term “the breath of life” is also used for animals as seen in Genesis 7:21,22.
It is important to point out that the “spirit of life” is not the same as the Holy Spirit, neither is the “breath of life” the same as the regular air we breathe.
The soul is not immortal
In the Bible, except in allegorical usage, the soul does not have an independent existence outside the body. The soul is not immortal or undying. According to God’s Word, souls do die! Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). And only at the resurrection, God will grant the saints immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
In His service,