"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" (Genesis 2:7).

Man is the union of the dust of the ground (the body) and the breath of life (the spirit), creating a living soul. Thus, the two (the body and the spirit) join together created a third (the soul). Body + spirit = soul. This principle can be seen in the example of water (H2O).

"The teaching of Scripture is (as we see it) that man consists of two parts: body and spirit; and that the union of these two makes a third thing, which is called ‘soul’ or ‘living soul.’ Hence the word ‘soul’ is used of the whole personality; the living organism" 1



Young2 defines both the Hebrew word "nephesh" and the Greek word "psuche," both translated as our English word "soul," as "animal soul." The idea being "animated, alive." That is why the word soul is used to speak of living man, as well as lower animal life (Numbers 31:28).

Strong3 also defines "nephesh" in the same way as Young, as "a breathing creature, i.e., animal or vitality." This definition matches the way that "soul" is used in Genesis 2.

"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" (Genesis 2:7).

When God breathed "the breath of life" THEN man became a "living soul." But when that "breath of life" leaves he will no longer be a "soul" (i.e., a breathing creature)!

The Hebrew word "nephesh" and the Greek word "psuche" have the exact same meaning, which can be seen by comparing Psalm 16:10 and Peter’s quotation of it in Acts 2:27.

"For thou wilt not leave my soul (nephesh) in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

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

Here are a few simple examples from Scripture where we can see the usage of the word "soul" as a reference to living man.

"And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came" (Genesis 12:5).

In Genesis 36:6 the Hebrew word translated "soul" is also translated "persons."

"And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons [nephesh - souls] of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob" (Genesis 36:6)

"These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three. ... All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six" (Genesis 46:15, 26).



Death is opposite of life – it is the reversal of life. In death the spirit is removed from the body, and is it returned to God who gave it. Man is returned to the earth.

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

"All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19).

"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:4).

"...They die, and return to their dust." (Psalm 104:29).

Death is the absence of life, not life in some other form or place.

"...Thou shalt die and not live" (II Kings 20:1).

"...The rest of the dead lived not again until" (Revelation 20:4-6)



Unlike what many believe and teach, the soul can and will die.

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4).

"... He spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence" (Psalm 78:50).

"Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me" (Matthew 26:38).

"And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23).



In the garden of Eden God told Adam,

"Thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).

It was Satan’s lie that,

"Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4)

"So effectually has Satan’s lie succeeded, and accomplished its purpose that, though the Lord Jesus said ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself,’ Christendom says, with one voice, ‘No! Lord. Thou needest not come for me: I will die and come to thee.’ Thus the blessed hope of resurrection and the coming of the Lord have been well nigh blotted out from the belief of the churches; and the promise of the Lord has been made of none effect by the ravages of tradition." 4

Although death is sure for Adam and his descendants, so also is the hope of resurrection, as expressed by the Psalmist:

"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah" (Psalms 49:15).


  1. E. W. Bullinger, The Rich Man and Lazarus, page 9
  2. Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Bible.
  3. James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
  4. Bullinger, page 16

by Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
© 2004-2007
Pilkington & Sons
See Available Books on this Subject at

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