I recently asked some people to respond to that question. I was not actually surprised with the answers I received. Every single one was different. I did some research of my own on the subject for my comprehensive Bible Study devotionals. Now for this week's devotional -but before that, a little prayer. Heavenly Father, may you open our eyes to behold wondrous things from Your word and may this be a help to us all in understanding the soul of man. Amen.
We can not accept man's various theories based on materialistic conceptions but must turn to the Scriptures to find definite answers.
Numbers 16:22 (1901 ASV) "And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" This says that God is the God of the spirits of all flesh.
Zechariah 12:1 (1901 ASV) "The burden of the word of Jehovah concerning Israel. Thus saith Jehovah, who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him:" this says that God formed the spirit of man within him. From these passages it is clear that man has a spirit and it is to be differentiated between the Spirit of God. In Genesis 35:18 (1901 ASV) "And it came to pass, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. we read of the death of Rachel." " we are told that Rachel's soul departed from her body. In James 2:26 (1901 ASV) James speaking about a person says "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead. "
The terms soul and spirit are used interchangably in the Scriptures.
Genesis 41:8 (1901 ASV) "And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh."
Psalms 42:6 (1901 ASV) "O my God, my soul is cast down within me: Therefore do I remember thee from the land of the Jordan, And the Hermons, from the hill Mizar."
John 13:21 (1901 ASV) "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in the spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
Matthew 27:50 (1901 ASV) "And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit."
Hebrews 12:23 (1901 ASV) "to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect"
Revelation 6:9 (1901 ASV) "And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held"
In Mark 8:36-37 (1901 ASV) we read "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
The Greek work here for "soul" is "Psyche." It is evident that the soul here refers to man's spiritual nature which if he loses he loses everything. I Thessalonians 5:23 (1901 ASV) states "And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Many assume from this passage that man is a threefold being consisting of body soul and spirit. Jesus said that Israel was commanded: " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart soul mind and strength." Here we have heart soul mind and strength. Are we a fourfold being according to this statement? No one ever comes to this conclusion. Taking everything into consideration it seems that the word soul is applied to the spirit when it is thought of in connection with the body, but the word spirit is used to refer to the same identical nature of man viewed in relation to God --who is pure Spirit. Hebrews 4:12 (1901 ASV) - "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart."
We know from John 1:1 that the Word of God is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Scriptures say that the Savior pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of all that accept Him reaching to the depths of their spiritual nature -" joint and marrow" and changes man's nature from his own standpoint and also changes his nature from God's standpoint making him acceptable to God. Also the Savior knows the hearts intent and truly can tell whether anyone is saved or not.
Anyway folks it seems clear to me in Scripture what is meant by the soul of man when I view these passages of scripture I hope it helps us all to sort out theory and...fact. May the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob bless you in your journey through His Holy Word -until next week amen
In His Service,