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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Awake!  |  December 2015

 THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT

The Soul

The Soul

Religions provide various conflicting opinions about the soul and what happens to it when we die. However, the Bible provides a clear explanation.

Is the soul immortal?

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Many people believe that the soul is immortal. Some believe that the soul is continually reborn, reappearing in a new physical body after the previous body has died. Others believe that the soul will eventually pass on to a different realm, such as to heaven or to hell.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

The Bible does not attribute immortality to the soul. In fact, it often speaks of the soul as dying. The prophet Ezekiel, whom God used to write a portion of the Bible, stated that a soul can be punished with death. On another occasion, the Bible uses the term “dead soul” to describe a corpse. (Leviticus 21:11, footnote) Clearly, the Bible does not teach that the soul is immortal.

“The soul who sins is the one who will die.”Ezekiel 18:20.

Is the soul separate from the body?

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

The soul animates the body while the person is alive but then departs at death.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

The Bible describes a mother as giving birth to “souls”—that is, living, breathing persons. (Genesis 46:18, footnote) In fact, the Hebrew word used in the Bible for “soul” can be translated “a breather.” Sometimes the term is even used to designate animals. Furthermore, the Bible describes the soul as needing food. (Deuteronomy 12:20, footnote) If a soul were an entity separate from the body, would it need to breathe or to eat? In the Bible the word “soul” most often refers to a complete living person, including the body, the emotions, and the personality.

“She bore . . . 16 persons [or, “souls,” footnote].”Genesis 46:18.

 What happens to the soul at death?

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

As surely as our bodies perish at death, “there is no work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the Grave.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) The Scriptures definitively tell us that when someone dies, “he returns to the ground; on that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146:4) A dead soul is in a state of inactivity, and thus, the Scriptures often metaphorically refer to the dead as “sleeping.”Matthew 9:24.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

When you lose those you love in death, you want to know the answers to such questions as these: Where are they? What state are they in? Are they suffering? Since the Bible assures us that the dead are unconscious, we can be comforted in knowing that our dead loved ones are not suffering anymore. We can be further comforted in knowing that Jehovah promises to awaken unconscious, dead souls back to life at a future time.Isaiah 26:19.

“The dead know nothing at all.”Ecclesiastes 9:5.

Learn More

THE WATCHTOWER

The Lie That Made God Cruel

Many believe God punishes sinners eternally. Does God act wickedly? What really happens at death?

BIBLE QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What Is the Resurrection?

You might be surprised at who will be brought back to life.