Is there a difference between the soul and the spirit of man?

     Is there a difference between the soul and the spirit of man?

     The word “soul” comes from the Hebrew nephesh and Greek psuche. Both words essentially carry the same meaning. Strong’s defines nephesh as, “…a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental).” The Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon provides a similar definition: “a soul, self, life, a creature, a person, an appetite, a mind, a living being, a desire, an emotion, a passion.”

As confirmed by Strong’s and BDB, the word soul or nephesh generally refers to a breathing creature. Therefore, both human beings and animals would contain a soul. This is not true for plant life. In some cases, soul can also refer to emotions.

Based on the meaning of nephesh, it’s important to also note the soul does not refer to an immortal soul that leaves the body at death. The concept of an immortal soul originated with ancient Egypt and is not scriptural. The Bible confirms that when a person dies, their soul or body also dies.

Regarding “spirit,” this word comes from the Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma. As with soul, both the Hebrew and Greek words share similar meanings. Strong’s defines ruach as, “wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).” Incidentally, the word “pneumatic” comes from the Greek pneuma.

While ruach primarily refers to wind, as it pertains to man, it denotes the breath of life that Yahweh provides at conception. Ecclesiastes 12:7 states that when a person dies their spirit or ruach returns to Yahweh, where He preserves it in anticipation of the resurrection.

It should be noted that ruach can also refer to the Holy Spirit, the power that emanates from our Father Yahweh, and to spirit or angelic beings.

In summary, soul or nephesh refers to a person or living creature, while spirit or ruach refers to the breath of life that Yahweh implants within every nephesh.

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Posted in Q&A - Death Afterlife.
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David Lawson
David Lawson
4 years ago

How does 1 Cor 2:11 fit into this understanding?

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of Elohim knoweth no man, but the Spirit of Elohim.

Marcia Clemetson
Marcia Clemetson
4 years ago

I disagree the Soul does not die with the body.
Psalm 23:3

Jean-Pierre
Jean-Pierre
Reply to  Marcia Clemetson
4 years ago

Ezekiel 18:4 “…The soul who sins is the one who will die.” The soul does die say the holy scriptures.

Bruce Krall
Bruce Krall
Reply to  Marcia Clemetson
2 years ago

We don’t have souls, we are souls. When God created man, He breathed into his nostrils and “man became a living soul.” We are souls. This is in Genesis 2:7.