Spirit or Soul (which one is it?)

Today I want to pose a question to anyone who visits this blog. I would like to get your honest thoughts on this concept. Often times we hear of religious leaders and people from every walk of life talk about the “soul”. People will claim to be in contact/be one with their soul. Some even claim that Jesus has spoken to their soul.

On the other hand, we have Paul and Jesus speaking about the spirit. The spirit is a very Jewish concept, derived from the Old Testament – the concept of the soul has been labeled a Greek invention.

So which is it? A Soul or a Spirit? Are they the same thing? Are they different? Why or why not?  I want to hear your beliefs.

Soul? Spirit? Both? Lay it on me.


12 Responses

  1. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 body, soul and spirit seem to be separate. If I am reading Hebrews 4:12 right, it is possible for the Word to cut so finely that it can make a separation between soul and spirit. What is the difference? I don’t know. They seem to have “life force” in mind. Both seem to be the part of us that survives death. To be honest, I have never let it concern me overmuch.

  2. Hi Dwight, thanks for your comments, I have seen that many people don’t pay attention to the difference that much…but should we be? What is the difference between the two? I don’t have an answer, just posing a question. Should we be responsible enough in our faith to know the difference?

  3. “A lot of people are surprised to see that the soul no where mentioned in the Bible”.

    Excuse me, Justin, but I think one of the Psalms does say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul” twice over.

  4. Hey JustinII,
    you’re right! I guess I missed it. I will update my post.

    So what’s your take on the difference between the two (spirit and soul that is).

  5. But when the psalms use the word soul, they didn’t mean the “spiritual/nonbodily half of my existence”, as people seem to think the word means now.

  6. They”re synonomous…for me.

  7. I’m no expert on this topic but I think, when referring to the part of us that lives forever, soul and spirit basically mean the same thing.

    Just for fun I checked my dictionary on Microsoft Word and found that soul and spirit have 15 and 12 meanings, respectively. One of the definitions of spirit is soul, and one of the definitions of soul is spirit. How’s that for brain food!

  8. Justin,
    The word “soul” appears 129 times in the NIV and “spirit” 533 times. I have thought about this question too and it seemed to me that soul was spirit with emotion, but I didn’t write it down. If I did I’m not looking it up, because I believe that was the extent of what I learned.

  9. Justin,
    The soul and spirit can not mean the same in the bible. (Heb 4:12 NIV) For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

  10. Hi astudent,
    so if the two are different, how are they different? Many use one for the other interchangeably. How would you explain the difference?

  11. Justin,
    Well, using the Bible as the text and looking at Strong’s definitions of the two words, we see that “pneuma” (spirit) G4151, can mean the rational soul. I see a rational soul as one void of emotions, because emotions can interfere with rationality.
    The definition for the word “psuche” (soul) explains the difference as it says, “breath, i.e. (by impl.) spirit, abstr. or concr.
    *** (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul;*** (My emphases)
    and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Heb. H5315, H7307 and H2416):–heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.
    If I were trying to explain the difference as I see it, it would be the spirit is part of the person, but not all of him, or her, and the soul is all of the person; wants, desires, emotions, etc.
    We have the Holy Spirit which is part of God, but not all. I don’t think we could handle the emotions of God. I believe God’s emotions would tear us apart. I have found the Holy Spirit to be perfectly rational with out revealing His emotions to me. I know there are things He likes and things He doesn’t, but I can not feel His emotions.

  12. Spirit is the consciousness that inhabits the soul, which in turn inhabits the body. Spirit is intellect, associated with the head, soul is emotion, associated with the heart. Having lost your soul means you are not aware of your emotions, feeling physically tired without the emotionality a child would associate with that tiredness. Life becomes an intellectual exercise in triviality, meaningless.

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