Is your Spirit and Soul the same thing?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God Amen!

Hello everyone,

There is this one Jehovah witness person in my class and he was telling me that they believe that when you die your soul dies too. According to somewhere in Ezekiel, i think Ezekiel 18:20-20
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

I know that is completely false because there is immorality of the soul. But i didn't really know how to answer him? And also do we believe that the soul and spirit of a person is the same thing?

Please help me and provide Holy Bible verses!

May God Bless you and be with you in order to answer this question. Amen!


  • I think the death here just means spiritual death. Spiritual death is not like physical death, where it doesn't come back. It's basically just a period away from God. Think of it like a tree. Certain seasons the leaves will "die" but then surely they will come back up again.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.
  • there's a great book by H.H. Pope Shenouda III that thorooughly addresses your question. it's called "What is man"...i believe it was one of the books for last year's Philly competition.

    H.H. basically adresses the minor (or not so minor) differences between the soul, body, and spirit (he also explains the significance of the heart and mind). think of it like a little trinity. the three components of man cannot be separated. the spirit connects you with God, it's what distinguishes man from let's say a dog. the soul is responsible for making us alive. animals have souls. when they die, their soul dies. now when we die, (im not sure about this part. double check me on it) our soul and spirit both live. and lastly, the body is your physical component, the tangible part of you.

    H.H. also stated that we tend to use the words "soul" and "spirit" interchangeably when in fact, there is a difference between the two. however, in scripture, such as the excerpt from Ezekiel that you referenced, perhaps God used the word soul purposely to signify the complete death that evil leads to?

    i hope this somewhat helped! for a more accurate and elaborate explanation, you should definetly look into H.H.'s book "what is man".
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    You will find among the Church Fathers that there is a discrepancy on this issue. Some say that the soul and spirit are the same and others make a distinction.

    Here is St. Irenaeus' take on it:
    [quote=Against Heresies]God will bestow salvation upon the whole nature of man, consisting of body and soul in close union, since the Word took it upon Him, and adorned with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, of whom our bodies are, and are termed, the temples.

    1. Now God shall be glorified in His handiwork, fitting it so as to be conformable to, and modelled after, His own Son. For by the hands of the Father, that is, by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not [merely] a part of man, was made in the likeness of God. Now the soul and the spirit are certainly a part of the man, but certainly not the man; for the perfect man consists in the commingling and the union of the soul receiving the spirit of the Father, and the admixture of that fleshly nature which was moulded after the image of God. For this reason does the apostle declare, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect," 1 Corinthians 2:6 terming those persons "perfect" who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms "spiritual," they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual. For if any one take away the substance of flesh, that is, of the handiwork [of God], and understand that which is purely spiritual, such then would not be a spiritual man but would be the spirit of a man, or the Spirit of God. But when the spirit here blended with the soul is united to [God's] handiwork, the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was made in the image and likeness of God. But if the Spirit be wanting to the soul, he who is such is indeed of an animal nature, and being left carnal, shall be an imperfect being, possessing indeed the image [of God] in his formation (in plasmate), but not receiving the similitude through the Spirit; and thus is this being imperfect. Thus also, if any one take away the image and set aside the handiwork, he cannot then understand this as being a man, but as either some part of a man, as I have already said, or as something else than a man. For that flesh which has been moulded is not a perfect man in itself, but the body of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the soul itself, considered apart by itself, the man; but it is the soul of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the spirit a man, for it is called the spirit, and not a man; but the commingling and union of all these constitutes the perfect man. And for this cause does the apostle, explaining himself, make it clear that the saved man is a complete man as well as a spiritual man; saying thus in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, "Now the God of peace sanctify you perfect (perfectos); and may your spirit, and soul, and body be preserved whole without complaint to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." Now what was his object in praying that these three— that is, soul, body, and spirit— might be preserved to the coming of the Lord, unless he was aware of the [future] reintegration and union of the three, and [that they should be heirs of] one and the same salvation? For this cause also he declares that those are "the perfect" who present unto the Lord the three [component parts] without offense. Those, then, are the perfect who have had the Spirit of God remaining in them, and have preserved their souls and bodies blameless, holding fast the faith of God, that is, that faith which is [directed] towards God, and maintaining righteous dealings with respect to their neighbours.

    2. Whence also he says, that this handiwork is "the temple of God," thus declaring: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man, therefore, will defile the temple of God, him will God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you are." 1 Corinthians 3:16 Here he manifestly declares the body to be the temple in which the Spirit dwells. As also the Lord speaks in reference to Himself, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He spoke this, however," it is said, "of the temple of His body." John 2:19-21 And not only does he (the apostle) acknowledge our bodies to be a temple, but even the temple of Christ, saying thus to the Corinthians, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?" 1 Corinthians 3:17 He speaks these things, not in reference to some other spiritual man; for a being of such a nature could have nothing to do with an harlot: but he declares "our body," that is, the flesh which continues in sanctity and purity, to be "the members of Christ;" but that when it becomes one with an harlot, it becomes the members of an harlot. And for this reason he said, "If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy." How then is it not the utmost blasphemy to allege, that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Father dwells, and the members of Christ, do not partake of salvation, but are reduced to perdition? Also, that our bodies are raised not from their own substance, but by the power of God, he says to the Corinthians, "Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. But God has both raised up the Lord, and shall raise us up by His own power." 1 Corinthians 6:13-14 Source
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    From Orthodox Dogmatic Theology
    Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky (1888-1988)

    Soul and spirit.

    The spiritual principle in man which is opposed to the body is designated in Sacred Scripture by two terms which are almost equal in significance: "spirit" and "soul." The use of the word "spirit" in place of "soul," or both terms used in exactly the same meaning, is encountered especially in the Apostle Paul. This is made evident, for example, by placing the two following texts side by side: "Glorify God in your body and in your soul, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20); and "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Cor. 7:1).

    In addition, there are two passages in the writings of this Apostle where soul and spirit are mentioned side by side, and this gives occasion to ask the question: Is the Apostle not indicating that, besides the soul, there is also a "spirit" that is an essential part of human nature? Likewise, in the writings of certain Holy Fathers, particularly in the ascetic writings, a distinction is made between soul and spirit. The first passage in the Apostle Paul is in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Another passage from the same Apostle is in the Epistle to the Thessalonians: "Your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes. 5:23). It is not difficult, however, to see that in the first passage the spirit is to be understood not as a substance that is separate and independent from the soul, but only as the inward and most hidden side of the soul. Here the relation of soul and spirit is made parallel to the relationship between the members of the body and the brain, and just as the brain is the inward part of the same bodily nature, or is a content as compared to its container, so also the spirit is evidently considered by the Apostle as the hidden part of the soul of a man.

    In the second passage, by "spirit" is evidently meant that special higher harmony of the hidden part of the soul which is formed through the grace of the Holy Spirit in a Christian: the "spirit" of which the Apostle says elsewhere, "quench not the spirit" (1 Thes. 5:19), and "fervent in spirit" (Rom. 12:11). Thus, the Apostle is not thinking here of all men in general, but only of Christians or believers. In this sense the Apostle contrasts the "spiritual" man with the "natural" or fleshly man (1 Cor. 2:14-15). The spiritual man possesses a soul, but being reborn, he cultivates in himself the seeds of grace; he grows and brings forth fruits of the spirit. However, by carelessness towards his spiritual life he may descend to the level of the fleshly or natural man: "Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Therefore, there are no grounds for supposing that the thinking of the Apostle Paul is not in agreement with the teaching that the nature of man consists of two parts.

    This same idea of the spirit as the higher, grace-given form of the life of the human soul is evidently what was meant by those Christian teachers and Fathers of the Church in the first centuries who distinguished in man a spirit as well as a soul. This distinction is found in St. Justin Martyr, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Ephraim the Syrian, and likewise in later writers and ascetics. However, a significant majority of the Fathers and teachers of the Church directly acknowledge that man's nature has two parts: body and soul (Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Blessed Augustine, St. John Damascene). Blessed Theodoret writes: "According to the teaching of Apollinarius (the heretic) there are three composite parts in a man: the body, the animal soul, and the rational soul, which he calls the mind. But the Divine Scripture acknowledges only one soul, not two, and this is clearly indicated by the history of the creation of the first man. God, having formed the body from the dust and breathed a soul into it, showed in this wise that there are two natures in man, and not three."

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