What is the biblical meaning of soul?

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God breathe into man's nostrils and he became a living soul.
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In the Bible, “soul” is translated from the Hebrew ne′phesh and the Greek psy‧khe′. Bible usage shows the soul to be a person or an animal or the life that a person or an animal enjoys. To many persons, however, “soul” means the immaterial or spirit part of a human being that survives the death of the physical body. Others understand it to be the principle of life. But these latter views are not Bible teachings.

The scripture that you used is correct. (Gen. 2:7): “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Notice that this does not say that man was given a soul but that he became a soul, a living person.) (The part of the Hebrew word here rendered “soul” is ne′phesh. KJ, AS, and Dy agree with that rendering. RS, JB, NAB read “being.” NE says “creature.” Kx reads “person.”)

1 Cor. 15:45: “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (So the Christian Greek Scriptures agree with the Hebrew Scriptures as to what the soul is.) (The Greek word here translated “soul” is the accusative case of psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, Dy, JB, NAB, and Kx also read “soul.” RS, NE, and TEV say “being.”)

1 Pet. 3:20: “In Noah’s days . . . a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.” (The Greek word here translated “souls” is psy‧khai′, the plural form of psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, Dy, and Kx also read “souls.” JB and TEV say “people”; RS, NE, and NAB use “persons.”)

Gen. 9:5: “Besides that, your blood of your souls [or, “lives”; Hebrew, from ne′phesh] shall I ask back.” (Here the soul is said to have blood.)

Josh. 11:11: “They went striking every soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] that was in it with the edge of the sword.” (The soul is here shown to be something that can be touched by the sword, so these souls could not have been spirits.)

Where does the Bible say that animals are souls?

Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, 25: “God went on to say: ‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls* . . . ’ And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind. . . . And God went on to say: ‘Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds . . . ’ And God proceeded to make the wild beast of the earth according to its kind and the domestic animal according to its kind and every moving animal of the ground according to its kind.” (*In Hebrew the word here is ne′phesh. Ro reads “soul.” Some translations use the rendering “creature[s].”)

Lev. 24:17, 18: “In case a man strikes any soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] of mankind fatally, he should be put to death without fail. And the fatal striker of the soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] of a domestic animal should make compensation for it, soul for soul.” (Notice that the same Hebrew word for soul is applied to both mankind and animals.)

Rev. 16:3: “It became blood as of a dead man, and every living soul* died, yes, the things in the sea.” (Thus the Christian Greek Scriptures also show animals to be souls.) (*In Greek the word here is psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, and Dy render it “soul.” Some translators use the term “creature” or “thing.”)

Do other scholars who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that this is what the Bible says the soul is?

“There is no dichotomy [division] of body and soul in the O[ld] T[estament]. The Israelite saw things concretely, in their totality, and thus he considered men as persons and not as composites. The term nepeš [ne′phesh], though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person. . . . The term [psy‧khe′] is the N[ew] T[estament] word corresponding with nepeš. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. XIII, pp. 449, 450.
“The Hebrew term for ‘soul’ (nefesh, that which breathes) was used by Moses . . . , signifying an ‘animated being’ and applicable equally to nonhuman beings. . . . New Testament usage of psychē (‘soul’) was comparable to nefesh.”—The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1976), Macropædia, Vol. 15, p. 152.

“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. VI, p. 564.


What Does the Bible Really Teach?
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  • Mr. E answered 5 years ago
    Soul is a word that has been transformed into meaning something apart from the body. That is not a biblical teaching. If you study the words in the original languages that were translated into the English word soul, you will find that it simply means a living, breathing being. Anything beyond that is simply the result of pagan beliefs that have infiltrated the church.
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  • Sage answered 5 years ago
    Where do you think christianity got it's ideas of a soul and afterlife from for goodness sake?

    They stole it from the pagan tribes and peoples which existed hundreds and thousands of years before christianity!!

    From the stone age through vikings, Egyptians, Maoris, Aborigines, American Indians and especially the chinese, they all had elaborate funerals and grave goods to speed the soul into the next life with comfort!!
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  • AutumnWynd777 answered 5 years ago
    Genesis 2:7 (Amplified Bible) 7Then the Lord God formed man from the [a]dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being.
    Genesis 2:7 (King James Version) 7And 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.
    "What is Soul ?
    soul : that which makes a person the distinct person they are. This would include our sense of identity, but also what makes up our identity, most especially what arouses our emotions, or awakens our spiritual or moral force and sense of destiny or purpose. Soul is where our freedom is rooted. (This is a Greco-Roman way of putting it. The Hebrew terms usually used in the Bible for soul and spirit have broader meanings, almost like the later idea of 'self'.) In many religions, the soul is seen as immortal -- that is, it's a side of you which does not come to an end. Christians believe the soul is brought back together again with its body when God's Reign comes in full.

    What is Self?
    self : the whole of what makes up the entity called 'me'. There are many ways to describe it so we can make some sort of sense of its inner workings (for instance, the Greek body/soul distinction). But to a Christian, these ways of speaking are just that; they serve a function, but the core truth and mystery is that the self is one whole thing, which is a body / soul / spirit / whatever all in one. Furthermore, Christians believe that the self is not a fully separate entity. Each self is a part of God's creation and a world of other beings. Each baptized believer is a part of the larger social organism known as the Body of Christ (that is, the church universal). Like it or not, the bounds are so fuzzed and the links are so plentiful that all 'solo' concepts like 'individuality' and 'privacy' and 'self-esteem' can't even approach being absolute. This doesn't mean you are not yourself, or you are not responsible for yourself, or that each of us will eventually be blended into a glob of eternal goo. There really is a distinct you, of indescribable worth. It just means you are not (and cannot be, and should not be, and must not be) the center of the universe, around which all else spins. Others are really 'other', but not in a way that their good doesn't matter for you. We're not identical, but connected by way of relationship.

    What is Spirit ?
    spirit : the aspect of our being which animates us -- makes us live, move, change, do, be active, feel, think, interact. God put a spirit into us. To be 'disspirited' is to hide ourselves away and let it just ebb out of us, like an untended wound leaks blood. To be 'inspired' is for the Holy Spirit to quicken that aspect of us, to power it up and get it going at peak effectiveness. (Think of God doing the original CPR, in Genesis, and again in a vision in Ezekiel.) In Christian belief, God is a spirit, and is the source and creator of all other spirits. This is what makes spirituality possible.


    Soul defined--- a person's total self
    an active or essential part, a moving spirit,
    the moral and emotional nature of human beings, a person's total self an active or essential part, a moving spirit, the moral and emotional nature of human beings The Holy Bible http://www.spirithome.com/defsoul.html http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar...
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  • RevDrD. answered 5 years ago
    Mr Dees is quite correct: I am not a JW but all he said about the soul is accurate and correct and thus far the only Biblically based answer so to a Christian the only authoritative one. I might add a few points however, The sould is never ever in scripture mentioned as leaving of seperating from the body: it is the rational mental part of you and it is inseperable from the Body. Hence it dies with the body. In the Old Testament book of Joshua it records Joshua "And Joshua took Makeda and smote it with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed ALL THE SOULS therein he left none that breathed." In the Book Of Ezekiel 18:4, 20 God speaks through the prophet saying "The SOUL that sins SHALL DIE. And in the New Testament Book of Mathew when Jesus refers to hell He says"Fear him which is able to DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY in hel(gehenna in greek a garbage dump outside the city where the bodies of criminals were burned.)He never seperates the two. The only place where Jesus says specifically what is thrown into hell he never says spirit: Mathew 5:29,30 He says "your WHOLE BODY" in both verses.


    The Holy Bible King James Version.
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  • An old Star Blazers fan answered 5 years ago
    The YOU of YOU.
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  • Jennifer answered 5 years ago
    It is the immaterial aspect of man's being. Matter of fact, the word in the New Testament for Holy Spirit, that from which a man is born again spiritually (John 3), is the same as "air" or "breathe"; it is Pneuma, which means spirit. Man is both physical (material) and spiritual (Immaterial). His being is dual. This is why, in the Bible, right after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit, they did not die physically--for they were still alive, walking around and hiding from God--they died spiritually. Jesus came back and died so that man could receive what he had lost--the spirit, breathe, air, pneuma! God has kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden, out of his presence. But when a man believes in Christ, his is reborn, of the Spirit of God, and dwells with God again. This is why Jesus came-to regaim what was lost in the garden--the presence of God with man. This is why Jesus or Immanuel in the Hebrew means "God with us"--as he had been in the garden.
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  • Israel The Chosen answered 5 years ago
    Body. Flesh.

    wow some the answers for this question are....wow.

    Gen 2:7 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.

    if he took that breath away, he would than be a dead soul. Simple,right

    Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

    this lets you know that there is nothing floating around inside or or nothing that floats from you when you die. Souls die. How can something that you cannot see die? Simple right.
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  • DillonR answered 5 years ago
    Soul is your power and right to make moral choices for yourself. It is another name for you physical mind. It's who you are.
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  • debbie2243 answered 5 years ago
    ever heard of The king of soul? James Brown...I feel good, and I knew that I would.....

    Well that's not the soul we're talking about here....

    Soul is you.......even when the bible talks about separating the soul and the spirit it means you and your life force.

    “The Man Came to Be a Living Soul”
    Is “soul” a part of man that separates from the body at death and goes on living? According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “often the soul is equated with the total person.” For instance, Genesis 2:7 states: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” The first man, Adam, was a soul.
    The understanding that the word “soul” can mean the whole person is supported by other scriptures. For example, the Bible speaks of a soul’s doing work. (Leviticus 23:30) The soul is spoken of as being impatient, irritated, sleepless, fearful, and depressed. (Judges 16:16; Job 19:2; Psalm 119:28; Acts 2:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) Referring to a soul as a person, Romans 13:1 states: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities.” And at 1 Peter 3:20, we read: “In Noah’s days, . . . a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.” Nothing in these scriptures indicates that the soul is some immaterial entity that lives on after death.
    What about animals and plants? Are they souls? Consider how the Bible describes the creation of animals. “Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls,” God commanded. On the next creative day, God said: “Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds, domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth according to its kind.” (Genesis 1:20, 24) Therefore, all living creatures—human or animal—are souls. Scripturally, plants are not referred to as souls.
    The word “soul” is used in yet another sense. At Job 33:22, we read: “His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to those inflicting death.” Here, the terms “soul” and “life” are used in parallel, one amplifying the meaning of the other. “Soul,” then, can also refer to the life that one enjoys as a living soul, or person. Hence, the Scriptures refer to Moses’ enemies who were seeking to take his life as “all the men who were hunting for [his] soul.” (Exodus 4:19) And concerning Jesus Christ, the Bible says: “The Son of man came . . . to give his soul [life] a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matthew 20:28.
    The Bible’s definition of “soul” is simple and consistent. The word can refer to a human or an animal or to the life that a creature enjoys as a living soul. As we will see, this understanding harmonizes with what the Bible says happens to the soul at death.
    ‘The Soul That Is Sinning Will Die’
    The Bible states: “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) The distressed prophet Elijah “began to ask that his soul might die.” (1 Kings 19:4) Likewise, Jonah “kept asking that his soul might die.” (Jonah 4:8) Yes, the soul dies when the person dies; it is not immortal. Since a person is a soul, to say that someone died is to say that his soul died.
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  • Gyrine777 answered 5 years ago
    The human soul is the immortal part of each person that is the essence of who and what each person is or is not. The spiritual, rational, and immortal part in man; that part of man which enables him to think, and which renders him a subject of moral government; -- sometimes, in distinction from the higher nature, or spirit, of man, that is, the seat of life, the sensitive affections and phantasy, exclusive of the voluntary and rational powers; -- sometimes, in distinction from the mind, the moral and emotional part of man's nature, the seat of feeling, in distinction from intellect; -- sometimes, the intellect only; the understanding; the seat of knowledge, as distinguished from feeling. In a more general sense, "an animating, separable, surviving entity, the vehicle of individual personal existence."


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  • star answered 5 years ago
    yep, that body of adam's came to life.

    so it is the mind.
    the body dies, the mind not the brains = soul.
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  • swindled answered 5 years ago
    body . Of which we have two. this one and another one. There wasn't a soul around. Also the soul and the spirit are not the same. The spirit and the Psyche are the same as Mr. Dees has so eloquently pointed out.
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