[9]  What is a Soul? What is a Spirit?


The Lexicons define the Hebrew word Ruach to mean spirit and they define the Hebrew word Nephesh to mean: Breath, Soul, Spirit, Life, Mind etc. for these are its many uses in Hebrew. But the root meaning is breather. A soul is a breather literally.
They define the Greek word yuch to mean either soul or spirit and the Greek word pneuma to mean spirit.

12 For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul [yuch] and spirit [pneuma], and of joints and [their] marrow, and [is] able to discern thoughts and intentions of [the] heart (Hebrews 4).

So the soul and the spirit are two different things, and the difference between them is explained by the bible.

Here are the pieces of the Jigsaw from God which define for us the meaning of the words 'soul' and 'spirit'.

44 It is sown a physical body (literally in Greek - a soulical body) [yucikon], it is raised up a spiritual [pneumatikon] body. If there is a physical/soulical body, there is also a spiritual one.
45 It is even so written: The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15).

So there is a physical body and there is a spiritual body. Jesus became an angel when he was resurrected so a spiritual body is the body of an angel and a physical body is the body of a human.

13 Everyone touching a corpse, the soul of whatever man may die, and who will not purify himself, has defiled Jehovah's tabernacle, and that soul must be cut off from Israel. Because the water for cleansing has not been sprinkled upon him, he continues unclean. His uncleanness is still upon him (Numbers 19).

So a soul can be a corpse. 

11 And he should not come to any dead soul. For his father and his mother he may not defile himself (Leviticus 21).

4 The soul that is sinning it itself will die (Ezekiel 18).

So souls can die and a dead soul is a corpse.

18 And the result was that as her Nephesh was going out, because she died, she called his name Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18).

So something goes out of you when you die. But what goes out? Is it your soul or is it your spirit?

3 Do not put your trust in nobles, Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.
4 His spirit [Hebrew ruach] goes out, he goes back to his ground. In that day his thoughts do perish (Psalms 146).

So his Ruach, his spirit goes out when he dies. And now we come to one of my favourite scriptures.

8 Then Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25 NWT)
8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years]; and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25 KJV)

Abraham both expired and died? How did he do that? Did he die twice? For that is our modern use of the word expire. Our credit cards have expiration dates. This is when they terminate and cease operating. But the very word ex-spire is a combination of the two Latin words Ex, meaning out and Spiritus, meaning spirit. So when you expire, your spirit goes out but you soul dies. 

So now we see why Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac not only expired, but also died...

17 And these are the years of Ishmael's life, 137 years. Then he expired and died and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25 NWT)

29  And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, [being] old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. (Genesis 35 KJVi)
29 After that Isaac expired and died and was gathered to his people, old and satisfied with days, and Esau and Jacob his sons buried him. (Genesis 35 NWT)

The Hebrew word for expired means to breath out one's life. One gives up ones spirit to God when the body dies. The spirit goes out of the body as one dies. It is expired.

So when you are alive your spirit is in your soul and when you die your spirit goes out from your soul. So your soul is your body. 

The famous expression SOS means: Save our Souls, our bodies, from disaster. It does not mean save our spirits! When we send out an SOS it is our human bodies that we are trying to save. There would be no point in sending out an SOS to humans to save our spirits, because you cannot do that with a rescue helicopter. God will do that himself!

So now we can see what is wrong with all 5 translations of Rachel's lasts words in Genesis 35 below...

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35 KJV)
18 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. (Genesis 35 ASV)
18 And the result was that as her soul was going out because she died she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35 NWT)
18 And it happened, when her soul was going forth (for she died) even she called his name Benoni. But his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35 GLT)
18 And it cometh to pass in the going out of her soul (for she died), that she calleth his name Ben-Oni; and his father called him Benjamin; (Genesis 35 YLT)

Nephesh does not mean soul here. Her soul died and remained on the planet. He spirit went out into her associated angel. Her spirit departed from her body which ceased being able to run it. The spirit did not terminate or cease functioning. It went into a departure lounge. It went actually into a sleeping angel.

A human soul can eat also...

16 And on the first day there is to take place for you a holy convention, and on the seventh day a holy convention. No work is to be done on them. Only what every soul needs to eat, that alone may be done for you (Exodus 12:16).

It is the body that needs to eat, not the spirit. 

Humans can kill human souls...

22 And in case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and her children do come out but no fatal accident occurs, he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to what the owner of the woman may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices.
23 But if a fatal accident should occur, then you must give soul for soul
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 branding for branding, wound for wound, blow for blow (Exodus 21).

So there it is. A soul is a body. And a dead soul is a dead body.

 If you put all of this together we see that

Definition: A Body is a physical or spiritual vessel. In other words a human or angelic body.

Definition: A Soul is a human or angelic body.

Definition: A Dead Soul is a dead body

Definition: A Spirit is a character, a personality. It is 'you'.

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but Jehovah is making an estimate of spirits (Proverbs 16).

Your spirit is neither human nor angelic. It is your character and is in the image of God, who is a spirit.

24 God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth (John 4).

19 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit (Paul's letter to the Laodiceans - dueterocanonical)

When you die, your spirit, which is you, goes out from your soul which is your body.

In fact the spirit is the word which goes into the sheath of your body for Daniel says...

15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body [hn<d.nI nidnah, meaning sheath] and the visions of my head troubled me. (Daniel 7 KJVi)
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of my body [ hn<d.nI nidnah, meaning sheath] and the visions of my head troubled me. (Daniel 7 ASV)
15 'Pierced hath been my spirit -- I, Daniel -- in the midst of the sheath [hn<d.nI nidnah, meaning sheath] and the visions of my head trouble me; (Daniel 7 YLT)

So the sheath for the spirit is the body.

But what then did Jesus mean when he said... 

28 And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Matthew 10).

It means this:

28 And do not become fearful of those who kill the [physical] body but cannot kill the [angelic] soul. But rather be in fear of him that can destroy [but not kill] both [angelic] soul and [physical] body in Gehenna (Matthew 10).

The 'soul' here means the angelic soul, which is the angelic body plus the spirit in combination, and 'body' means physical body, the human body. Men can kill the human body, but they cannot touch an angelic soul. God can destroy the human body and he can destroy the angelic soul, which is the angelic body and spirit in combination. He destroys the angelic sole by removing the spirit. But God cannot actually 'kill' any soul. He cannot kill any body together with its spirit, because he is prevented by everlasting love for all of his sons. For nowhere in the bible, neither in Matthew 10 nor anywhere else, do we read the God will kill your spirit. As regards the spirit, we read...

14 How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to [the] living God? (Hebrews 9).

Nowhere in the bible is a spirit said to die. The everlasting spirit of Jesus Christ was him. Jesus' spirit is his character, his personality. Jesus said of his father...

24 God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth (John 4).

11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man that is in him? So, too, no one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2).

By experience, we know that no man can read the mind or heart of another with any great accuracy. Paul is saying this. But by qualifying this blindness with the phrase 'among men', he is also saying that the angels can read both our hearts and our minds. We must be some education to them! So the spirit of Jesus is his character, and our spirit, our character, is inside us and even God himself is a spirit, having a character like his sons, and especially like his firstborn son.

The soul is therefore the life carrying vehicle. Now the life, your life, you, is the spirit. We are spirits, our characters are spirits. The soul (human or angelic) is the vehicle for the spirit.

The spirit is your character, it is 'you'. Things get confusing when one realises that an angelic body is a spirit body and an angel is a spirit creature, sometimes referred to as a 'spirit'. But to spell things out unequivocally:

All living creatures are living souls which are spirits within bodies.
A living human is a spirit within a physical body
A living angel is a spirit within a spiritual body.

Human Person = Spirit + Physical Body = Soul (human)
Corpse = Physical Body with no Spirit = Dead Soul (human)
Angelic Person = Spirit + Angelic Body = Soul (angelic)
Dead angel = Spirit with no Body = Spirit with no Soul (angelic).

Mind + Heart = Spirit - see U257

So now we can understand the correct Hebrew translation of Genesis6:17

17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath/spirit of lives [plural], from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die. (Genesis 6 KJV)
17 'And I, lo, I am bringing in the deluge of waters on the earth to destroy all flesh, in which {is} a spirit of lives [plural], from under the heavens; all that {is} in the earth doth expire. (Genesis 6 YLT)
17 ynIa]w: ynIn>hi aybime lWBM;h;-ta, ~yIm; #r<a'h'-l[; txev;l. rf'B'-lK' AB-rv,a] x;Wr ~yYIx; [lives - plural] tx;T;mi ~yIm'V'h; lKO #r<a'B'-rv,a] [w"g>yI (Genesis 6 WLC)

Consider now poor Eutychus...

10 But Paul went downstairs, threw himself upon him and embraced him and said: Stop raising a clamour, for his soul/spirit [Yuch]  is in him (Acts 20).

Paul is saying that his spirit was in 'him'. Not that his soul was in him, since his soul is visible. This is the ambiguity of the Greek word psyche. In English your psyche is your spirit. 

1 A pronouncement: The word of Jehovah concerning Israel, is the utterance of Jehovah, the One who is stretching out [the] heavens and laying the foundation of [the] earth and forming the spirit of man inside him (Zechariah 12).

For when Jesus resurrected Jarius' daughter, her spirit returned to her...

53 At this they began to laugh at him scornfully, because they knew she had died.
54 But he took her by the hand and called, saying: "Girl, get up!"
55 And her spirit returned, and she rose instantly, and he ordered something to be given her to eat (Luke 8).

So a body without a spirit is a car without a driver. It is just a dead vehicle. The driver is the spirit, the car is the body and the car with a driver is the soul. The whole deal is summed up in Genesis 2 where Moses says...

7 And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground [he made the body] and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life [he put a spirit in the body], and the man came to be a living soul [body + spirit = living soul] (Genesis 2).

We have recently discovered (in August 2011) that Hebrew uses the word nostrils, which is in the dual number to mean - double! For example...

5 And to Hannah he giveth one double [literally nostrils] portion, for he hath loved Hannah, and Jehovah hath shut her womb (1Samuel1 Young's Literal).