What is the spirit that returns to God at death?

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By BibleAsk Team


When it comes to the state of the dead, many people often become confused with the concept of the soul and spirit. Notice what Solomon says about 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). 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.

This concept is consistent with the account of how man was created, “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) + Spirit (breath of God) = Soul (life). And death is merely the opposite of Creation. Body (Dust) – Spirit (breath of God) = No Soul (death).

Concerning the spirit that goes back to God, we know from James 2:26 that the body without the spirit is dead. 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.” This leads us to the conclusion that the words “breath” and “spirit” are often used interchangeably in the Bible.

This concept is seen throughout the Bible, the psalmist also confirms this truth in Psalms 104:29, 30, “You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” Here, we see that the breath is taken away to God when we die. And in Ecclesiastes 12:7, we see that spirit returns to God at death thus showing that these two words are used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

Another clear example is Job 27:3, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” What goes through our nostrils? The answer is what we breathe. Therefore, the spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life, the divine spark of life, or the life-giving energy and nothing more.

Nowhere in all of God’s book does the “spirit” have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the “breath of life” and nothing more. The Scriptures say: 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), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

For more on the Sate of the Dead, check the following link:

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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