Dear Refiner's Fire...

What's the difference between soul and spirit?

Our Response...

"Soul" and "spirit" are two different things. Souls can die (Ezekiel 18:20). Genesis 2:17 tells us YHWH breathed into man a neshama (spirit). Here are some footnotes in the AENT that serve to clarify the difference:

(1) Footnote to John 6:37 - As in the context of Miltha (the Word) or the “Manifestation” or the “Will of” YHWH coming down from heaven to do the Will of YHWH upon earth; his Spirit is of YHWH but his nephesh (soul) and body are human and temporal.

(2) Footnote to John 10:33 - Y’shua states that the Ruach (Spirit) of YHWH is within him, (Isaiah 11:1-2, Zechariah 12:10). He taught that while his nefesh would die, YHWH would reanimate both his neshama (human spirit/ruach) and nefesh (soul). Y’shua never claimed his nefesh was anything other than human and that as such, it would die.

(3) Footnote to 1 John 4:2 - This refers to the neshama (spirit of man) being born from the beginning into the image of Elohim, which is evidenced by living a Set Apart life unto YHWH, having Torah written upon the heart and growing in the Attributes of Mashiyach as revealed in Isaiah 11:2.

(4) Footnote to Matthew 26:41 - The spirit of man is vested with power by the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit). By studying Torah and worshipping YHWH, the neshama (spirit of man) disciplines the mind and, in turn, the mind disciplines the body, providing lasting success. The lower level of consciousness “mind over matter” operates on willpower, which has many limitations.

So, what happens when we die?

As shown above, we don't automatically go to heaven when we die (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). That is why Y'shua promised in John 14:1-3 that He is going to prepare a place for you, and then He will return so that you and He can then be together forever. This promise would be meaningless if we are already with Him at death, for then He would not need to come back for us (because we're already there, if that were true).

We will have a physical body, just as it was before sin when YHWH created mankind. The Bible says we will have a body just like Y'shua's body when He was raised from the dead. Doubting Thomas touched His hands and feet, and Y'shua ate with the disciples after His resurrection. Our "new" bodies will be perfect, untouched by sin.

In the meantime God wants us to take care of our present body before we receive our glorified body, because He wants us to have an abundant life. We cannot have an abundant life if we abuse our body with drugs or alcohol or with deliberate sinful behavior of any kind. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit cannot and will not reside in a purposely defiled body.

Now, back to what happens when we die.

When we were created, YHWH formed man from the dust of the ground, then breathed into man the breath of life, and man BECAME a living soul.

Genesis 2:7 Then ADONAI, God, formed a person [Hebrew: adam] from the dust of the ground [Hebrew: adamah] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.

Please notice that God did not GIVE man a soul ... he BECAME a soul. The word (in the original language) that is translated into our English word "soul" is "nephesh" and means "living creature". Also, the word for "breath of life" is translated from the Hebrew word "ruach", which means "wind, breath, spirit". It does not mean "soul" or some immortal immaterial ghost of the person.


Death is creation in reverse. Again the light bulb, when "death" happens, the power returns to the battery and the bulb is lifeless, and the light ceases to exist. The same is true with the soul as it is with the light. The power of life returns to God who gave it, and the soul ceases to exist; the body is lifeless.

Genesis 3:19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your forehead till you return to the ground - for you were taken out of it: you are dust, and you will return to dust."

Ecclesiastes 12:7 the dust returns to earth, as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it!

At creation, we become a living soul. At death, we don't have a soul that departs from the body and goes to heaven or hell or anywhere. The breath of life (the power of life, the spirit) returns to God, and the body returns to dust. Creation in reverse.

The soul perishes. "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)

There is no consciousness in death.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; there is no longer any reward for them, because all memory of them is lost. 6 What they loved, what they hated and what they envied all disappeared long ago, and they no longer have a share in anything done under the sun.

Psalm 146:4 When they breathe their last, they return to dust; on that very day all their plans are gone.

Lazarus was dead four days, yet he gave no report of any "life after death" experience. (John 11:39)

The Bible calls death a sleep.

John 11:11 Y'shua said these things and afterwards said to them, Our friend Lazar sleeps but I will go to wake him.

Psalm 13:3 Look, and answer me, ADONAI my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.

Acts 7:59. And they were stoning Stephen while he prayed, and he said, "Our Master Y'shua receive my spirit." 60. And after he kneeled down, he cried out in a loud voice and said, "Our Master do not cause this sin to stand against them!" And after he had said this, he lied down.

2 Peter 3:4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for, since our fathers fell asleep,

But death is not the end for those who believe in Y'shua.

Y'shua said in Revelation 1:17: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet like one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, and said, fear not: I am the First and the Last; 18. and who lives and was dead; and behold, I am alive for ever and ever. Amen. And I have the keys of death and of the unseen world.

Y'shua said in John 11:25 Y'shua said to her, I am the resurrection and the Life. 26 He who believes yet in me will never die!

YHWH will raise His people from the dead, to live with Him forever.

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead will live, my corpses will rise; awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.

Daniel 12:2 Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence.

There will be 2 more resurrections: The resurrection of life, and the resurrection of condemnation. (In the resurrection of condemnation, the wicked will be judged and then receive their final punishment, which is eternal death.)

John 5:29 And those who have done good things will go forth to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil things to the resurrection of judgment.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives us the hope of the resurrection of life!

1 Thessalonians 4:13 And I wish you to know, my Brothers, that you should not mourn over them who have fallen asleep, like other people who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Y'shua died and rose again, even so them who sleep, will Elohim, by Y'shua, bring with him. 15. And this we say to you by the word of our Master (Y'shua), that we who may survive and be alive at the coming of our Master (Y'shua), will not precede them who have slept. 16. Because our Master (Y'shua) will himself descend from heaven with the mandate and with the voice of the chief Messenger and with the Qarna of Elohim; and the dead who are in the Mashiyach will first arise; 17. and then we who survive and are alive will be caught up together with them to the clouds to meet our Master (Y'shua) in the air; and so will we be ever with our Master. 18. And so, comfort you one another with these words.

Y'shua is the ONLY way to eternal life! He paid the penalty for all of our sins when He died on the stake and by His resurrection made possible our resurrection to eternal life. By His indwelling Spirit, we can live a righteous life and forsake our former life of sin. All we have to do is ask!

We don't have to fear death, but we must be ready for it:

Hebrews 9:27 And, as it is appointed to men that they must once die, and after their death is the judgment; 28. so also the Mashiyach was once offered; and, by himself, he burned away the sins of many: and a second time, without sins, will he appear for the life of them who expect him.