Our Magnificent Creator God

We Are All Created Different

6/4/2023

John 1:1-3
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Genesis 1:1-4
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Genesis 2:23
And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’

Does God Have A Soul?

The first mention of a soul in the Bible is in the context of the creation of the first man, Adam, in Genesis 2:7: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (or “a living soul” in the KJV). Unlike what He had done with His previous creations, God made people in His image (Genesis 1:26–27) with His own breath within them. This non-physical part of a person is usually referred to as a soul (Hebrew nephesh).

Throughout Scripture, people are referred to as having a soul (Psalm 62:5; 104:1; Luke 1:46). Since we are created in God’s image, does this mean God has a soul as well?

There are passages that indicate that God does have a soul: Leviticus 26:11 and Judges 10:16 use a form of the word nephesh in relation to God. And in Jeremiah 32:41, God makes a promise concerning Israel: “I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.” However, Scripture also refers to God having a hand or a face, applying human qualities to God in a figure of speech known as anthropomorphism. It could be that biblical descriptions of God’s “soul” are anthropomorphisms similar to descriptions of God’s “hands.” So, we must be careful about saying that God has a soul. God is Spirit (John 4:24), but nowhere in Scripture is it said that God is Soul or that He literally possesses a soul.

When we consider God the Son, we can be more certain. Jesus was (and is) fully God and fully man. When the Son of God became incarnate, He took on a sinless human nature, and this included a truly human soul. In His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). His human nature—including His soul—recoiled at the thought of crucifixion and all it entailed.

Much of this discussion depends upon how one defines the word soul. If we equate the word soul with personhood, then, yes, God has a soul; He is a person in that He is a being who possesses a mind, emotion, and will. If we view the word soul as the ability to express emotions, then, yes, God has a soul—He is not “soulless” in the sense of having no feeling. But we normally use the word soul in the context of humanity. In fact, some would define the soul as that immaterial part of us that links the spirit with the body. The Father is not human. He is spirit; the Holy Spirit is also immaterial; the Son has a human body and a human soul/spirit, because He is a true a human being, the God-Man who makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

What Is The Human Soul?

The Bible is not perfectly clear as to the nature of the human soul. But from studying the way the word soul is used in Scripture, we can come to some conclusions. Simply stated, the human soul is the part of a person that is not physical. It is the part of every human being that lasts eternally after the body experiences death. Genesis 35:18 describes the death of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, saying she named her son “as her soul was departing.” From this we know that the soul is different from the body and that it continues to live after physical death.

The human soul is central to the personhood of a human being. As George MacDonald said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” In other words, personhood is not based on having a body. A soul is what is required. Repeatedly in the Bible, people are referred to as “souls” (Exodus 31:14; Proverbs 11:30), especially in contexts that focus on the value of human life and personhood or on the concept of a “whole being” (Psalm 16:9-10; Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 2:41; Revelation 18:13).

The human soul seems to be distinct from the heart (Deuteronomy 26:16; 30:6) and the spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12) and the mind (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The human soul is created by God (Jeremiah 38:16). It can be strong or unsteady (2 Peter 2:14); it can be lost or saved (James 1:21; Ezekiel 18:4). We know that the human soul needs atonement (Leviticus 17:11) and is the part of us that is purified and protected by the truth and the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:22). Jesus is the great Shepherd of souls (1 Peter 2:25).

Matthew 11:29 tells us that we can turn to Jesus Christ to find rest for our souls. Psalm 16:9-10 is a Messianic psalm that allows us to see that Jesus also had a soul. David wrote, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” This cannot be speaking of David (as Paul points out in Acts 13:35-37) because David’s body did see corruption and decay when he died. But Jesus Christ’s body never saw corruption (He was resurrected), and His soul was not abandoned to Sheol. Jesus, as the Son of Man, has a soul.

There is often confusion about the human spirit vs. the human soul. In places, Scripture seems to use the terms interchangeably, but there might be a subtle difference. Otherwise, how could the Word of God penetrate “even to dividing soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12)? When the Bible talks about man’s spirit, it is usually speaking of an inner force which animates a person in one direction or another. It is repeatedly shown as a mover, a dynamic force (e.g., Numbers 14:24).

It has been said that there are only two things that last: the Word of God (Mark 13:31) and the souls of men. This is because, like God’s Word, the soul is an imperishable thing. That thought should be both sobering and awe-inspiring. Every person you meet is an eternal soul. Every human being who has ever lived is a soul, and all of those souls are still in existence somewhere. The question is, where? The souls that reject God’s love are condemned to pay for their own sin, eternally, in hell (Romans 6:23). But the souls who acknowledge their own sinfulness and accept God’s gracious gift of forgiveness will live forever beside still waters with their Shepherd, wanting for nothing (Psalm 23:2).

What Is The Difference Between The Soul And Spirit Of Humanity?

The soul and the spirit are the two primary immaterial parts ascribed to humanity in Scripture. Discerning the precise differences between the two can be confusing. The word spirit refers only to the immaterial facet of humanity. Human beings have a spirit, but we are not spirits. However, in Scripture, only believers are said to be spiritually alive (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26); unbelievers are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1–5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul’s writing, the spiritual is pivotal to the life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; Ephesians 1:3; 5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in humanity that gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. The word spirit refers to the immaterial part of humanity that “connects” with God, who Himself is spirit (John 4:24).

The word soul can refer to both the immaterial and material aspects of humanity. Humans have a spirit but are souls. In its most basic sense, the word soul means “life”; beyond this essential meaning, the Bible speaks of the soul in many contexts. One of these is in relation to humanity’s basic selfishness (e.g., Luke 12:19). Human beings have a sinful nature, and our souls are tainted with sin. The soul, as the life essence of the body, is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18). The soul, as with the spirit, is the center of many spiritual and emotional experiences (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). The word soul can refer to the whole person, whether alive on earth or in the afterlife (see Revelation 6:9).

The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable (Hebrews 4:12). The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the immaterial part of humanity that connects with God.

All created souls are created different.

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