"There Is One God And One Mediator Between God And Men, The Man Christ Jesus" 
1 Timothy (2:5)

3. Is The Soul Different From The Spirit?


 Is The Soul Different From The Spirit?


The Biblical Hebrew and Greek translations of the English words, “soul” and “spirit” can have different meanings in one passage as well as the same meaning in another. Understanding that these words do have multiple meanings is very important. It is therefore imperative that the correct word choice is applied in order to eliminate any incorrect “transliteration”, which then creates serious conflicts and/or confusion.




The Soul of Man

The Bible speaks of the “soul” in many contexts. Whenever the word “soul” is used, (in reference to mankind), it can refer to the whole person, whether alive or in the afterlife.



Soul (Hebrew)Soul (Greek)


Hebrew Strong's Number: 5315
Hebrew Word: ‏נֶפֶשׁ‎
Transliteration: nepesh
Phonetic Pronunciation:neh'-fesh
Root: from <H5314>
Part of Speech: n f

English Words used in KJV:
soul 475
life 117
person 29
mind 15
heart 15
creature 9
body 8
himself 8
yourselves 6
dead 5
will 4
desire 4
man 3
themselves 3
any 3
appetite 2
miscellaneous translations 47
[Total Count: 753]

from <H5314> (naphash); properly a breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstract) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental) :- any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, × dead (-ly), desire, × [dis-] contented, × fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart (-y), (hath, × jeopardy of) life (× in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortally, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (× she) will, × would have it.

—Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary


Greek Strong's Number: 5590
Greek Word: ψυχή
Transliteration: psychē
Phonetic Pronunciation:psoo-khay'
Root: from <G5594>
Part of Speech: n f

English Words used in KJV:
soul 58
life 40
mind 3
heart 1
heartily + <G1537> 1
not tr 2
[Total Count: 105]

from <G5594> (psucho); breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstract or concrete (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from <G 4151> (pneuma), which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from <G2222> (zoe), which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew <H 5315> (nephesh), <H 7307> (ruwach) and <H2416> (chay)) :- heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

—Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary


Spirit (Hebrew)Spirit (Greek)


Hebrew Strong's Number: 7307
Hebrew Word: ‏רוּחַ‎
Transliteration: rûaḥ
Phonetic Pronunciation:roo'-akh
Root: from <H7306>
Part of Speech: n f

English Words used in KJV:
Spirit or spirit 232
wind 92
breath 27
side 6
mind 5
blast 4
vain 2
air 1
anger 1
cool 1
courage 1
miscellaneous translations 6
[Total Count: 378]

from <H7306> (ruwach); wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figurative life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extensive a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions) :- air, anger, blast, breath, × cool, courage, mind, × quarter, × side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, × vain, ([whirl-]) wind (-y).

—Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary


Greek Strong's Number: 4151
Greek Word: πνεῦμα
Transliteration: pneuma
Phonetic Pronunciation:pnyoo'-mah
Root: from <G4154>
Part of Speech: n n

English Words used in KJV:
Spirit 111
(Holy) Ghost 89
Spirit (of God) 13
Spirit (of the Lord) 5
(My) Spirit 3
Spirit (of truth) 3
Spirit (of Christ) 2
human (spirit) 49
(evil) spirit 47
spirit (general) 26
spirit 8
(Jesus' own) spirit 6
(Jesus' own) ghost 2
miscellaneous translations 21
[Total Count: 385]

from <G4154> (pneo); a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figurative a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implicaiton) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit :- ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare <G 5590> (psuche).

—Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary



The scriptures do not give us much information regarding the make-up of our soul-spirit-inner man and the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) does not always make a clear distinction between the soul (body) and the spirit of man, but the scriptures do tell us that a distinction or “dividing” can be made between the two (Heb. 4:12).

{There are other translated renderings of this passage. Listed below are two:


(See: Heb 4:12 AMP: “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal]  spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.”


(See: The Book Of Yahweh – Pg 945, Hebrews chap 4:12, “For the word of Yahweh; the Law and the Prophets, is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of body and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”)}


But this lack of information should not be surprising since the Bible also does not give us details regarding the “glorified bodies that we shall receive at the time of our resurrection at the coming of Jesus.


(1 John 3:2) “…it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him…”

(Phil. 3:21) “…the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it be fashioned like unto his glorious body…”




Compare How The Word Soul Can Be Translated


Gen 2:7 KJV 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.

Gen 2:7 ESV then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Gen 2:7 ERV Then the LORD God took dust from the ground and made a man. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nose, and the man became a living thing.

Gen 2:7 CEV The LORD God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing.

Gen 2:7 GW Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the earth and blew the breath of life into his nostrils. The man became a living being.


Job 12:10-11 KJV In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

Job 12:10-11 ESV In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food?




The Greek and Hebrew Usage of Soul


Act 2:27 KJV Because thou wilt not leave my soul (G5590) in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

NOTE: David did not speak this of himself, (neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption) (Psa 16:8-11; Act 2:27-31, 13:35-38, Luke 4:34, Mark 1:24) but of the Son of David, which was Christ (Mat 1:1, 22:42, Mark 12:35, Luke 1:32, 18:38, Rom 1:3).

Not leave my soul in hell. In hades, the unseen abode of the dead or the state of the dead. The meaning is that he would not remain under the power of death.


The original passage (Psa 16:8-11) was written in Hebrew, from which Acts 2:27 references. The original intended meaning of this word, translated here as “soul(H5315), נפשׁ nephesh, should be understood and APPLIED. It can mean “body”, “mind”, “or life”, it could also denote “me” or “myself.” Instances where it is used for the individual himself, meaning “me” or “myself”, may be seen in such passages as Psa 11:1 (Psa 11:1 GW); Psa 35:7 (Psa 35:7 GW); Job 9:21 (Job 9:21 GW).

There is no clear instance in which it is applied to the soul in its separate state or disjoined from the body. In this place, it must be explained in part by the meaning of the word “hell”. If hell (G86), as used here, means “grave”, then this word probably means; “thou wilt not leave me in the grave”. The word “leave”, as used here, means “Thou wilt not resign me to, or wilt not give me over to it, to be held under its power.”

This word (hell) however would better express the state of the wicked dead than the righteous. It conveyed the idea of darkness, gloom, and wandering, the idea of a sad and unfixed abode, unlike heaven. Hence, the word sometimes expresses the idea of a place of punishment: Psa 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell,” etc.; (Pro 15:11; Pro 23:14; Pro 27:20; Job 26:6). While, therefore, the word does not mean properly a grave or a sepulcher, it does often mean “the state of the dead,” without designating whether in happiness or woe, but implying the continued existence of the soul. In this sense, it is often used in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew word is “Sheol” (H7585), and the Greek “Hades(G86) means grave: (Gen 37:35, “…For I will go down into the grave, unto my son, mourning.” I will go down to the dead, to death, to my son, still there existing; Gen 42:38; Gen 44:29, “He shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave”; Num 16:30, Num 16:33; 1Ki 2:6, 1Ki 2:9; etc., etc.).


Note: The “pit”, as referenced in the Book of Numbers “And they go down quick into the pit – שאלה “, is speaking of the gainsaying of Korah. Proud and ambitious men projecting their own advancement by thrusting themselves into a place to which God has not appointed them, hurry on to a shameful fall. Sheol, signifies here a chasm or pit of the earth, and not the place called hell; for it would be absurd to suppose that their houses had gone to hell; and it would be wicked to imagine that their little innocent children had gone thither, though God was pleased to destroy their lives with those of their iniquitous fathers.

This particular expression, in the Book of Acts, refers to the deceased Messiah. Thou wilt not leave him among the dead; thou wilt raise him up. It is from this passage, perhaps, aided by two others (Rom 10:7, and 1Pe 3:19), that may have invented strange opinions about his going among lost spirits. The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church has been that he went to purgatory, to deliver the spirits confined there. (Purgatory is not Biblical)



(1)        Nothing is affirmed here about the destination of the “human soul of Christ” after his death. That he went to the region of the dead is implied, but nothing further.

(2)        It may be remarked that the Scriptures affirm nothing about the state of his soul in that time which intervened between his death and resurrection. The only information which occurs on the subject is such as to leave us to suppose that he was in a state of happiness. To the dying thief, he said, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” When Jesus died, he said, “It is finished”; and he doubtless meant that his sufferings and toils for man’s redemption were at an end.

* [We will discuss (Hell & The Lake of Fire) further in another section but for now we want to finish distinguishing the differences between the human soul (body) and human spirit]



The Greek and Hebrew Usage of Spirit



The “spirit” (in Greek or Hebrew) of man is probably best understood as being “that which provides life” or “breath” to mankind (See also: What Is a Spirit?). It is that “thing or essence” which gives mankind life. Of course, all life is of (from) God, but this “breath of life” (man’s spirit) does, however, return to God; when it does “physical death” has occurred (Ecclesiastes 12:7; James 2:26); this is actually the first death! This is made more apparent when speaking of the first resurrection; “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev 20: 5-6)


Note: It is advised that the reader allow flexibility in your understanding of the words (spirit and soul) when addressing this aspect of mankind. Holding the understanding that no man can honestly, with 100% accuracy, distinguish the differences between these two features of man. (Some say the soul is the intellect, and emotions, or that it is immortal however the Bible does not make any of these claims directly, and even to the contrary in some cases (Matthew 10:28).  As noted earlier, these two words can and are used interchangeably at times. 


The Book Of Yahweh:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the spirit; but rather, fear
Him Who is able to destroy both spirit and body in Gehenna.



Points To Remember

In the beginning, God created a body (from the dust of the Earth) for man and put within him “Life” (the spirit of man/breath – H7307). This life given to man (his spirit – G4151), which may come as a surprise to many, was not “Eternal Life” – This is why man is called “mortal” (Rom 8:11; 1Co 15:53-54; 2Co 4:11) and therefore able to experience death, even from the beginning of his creation (See: What is Death?).

We also know that the dead can come back to life (as God so wills) and did (See: What People Were Raised From The Dead In The Bible?) but, other than Jesus, none are not described as having obtained “Eternal life.” (Rev 1:18) (See: What Happens When We Die?)



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