Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity

The Nature Of Man

G. F. Raines, Huntsville, Alabama

Man is intensely interested in himself, hence, even before the dawn of Christianity, much theorizing had been done with respect to his nature. The Sadducees taught that the soul had no existence away from the body. Josephus says: "But the doctrine of the Sadducees is that souls die with the body" (Antiq., Book 18, Chap. 1). Jesus rebuked certain of the Sadducees, saying, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22:29). The same things taught by the Sadducees regarding the nature of man are taught today by the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. Their position may be stated as follows: (1) Man is wholly mortal; (2) the entire man dies with the body; and (3) man is unconscious between death and the resurrection. Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, as did their predecessors, do err, not knowing the scriptures, and need, as did the Sadducees, to be more perfectly instructed in the way of God and the nature of man.

Man is the only creature that the Lord God made which is endowed with body, soul, and spirit. Paul said: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23).

The body is simply a tabernacle in which the spirit dwells till life on earth is ended; when death moves in, the inner man moves out "to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (11 Cor. 5:2). "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (5:1). Our bodies, though destined to return to the earth from which they came, will be resurected when Jesus returns: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isa. 26:19). "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption. and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory, 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory" (1 Cor. 15:54.55).

The word soul comes from the Greek psyche, and occurs 105 times in the Greek New Testament; the word has various meanings. Sometimes it refers to the breath of life; again it refers to the entire man; and occasionally, when used hubristically, it has reference to an entity distinct from the body; and though dwelling in the body, it is not dependent upon it for its existence. It is used in this sense in the following passage: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28).

If the soul dies when the body does, in case of a murder in which one man kills another, as man cannot kill the soul who would be responsible for its death? God is the only being who can kill the soul; consequently, in a murder in which man kills the body. God would have to kill the soul. Either God is a sharer with man in all murders committed or it is not true that the soul dies when the body does. It is obvious that the former alternative must be rejected; the soul does not therefore die with the body!

The word spirit comes from the Greek pneuma, which occurs 393 times in the Greek Testament. Pneuma is never translated soul and psyche is never translated Spirit. In the passage to which we called attention in the above paragraph, the word soul seems to be synonymous with spirit; it is thus used also in a few passages in the Old Testament (see Gen. 35:18; 1 Kings 17:20-22). Ordinarily a distinction is maintained between the two words; spirit usually is the word employed to indicate the immortal part of man. The Hebrew writer said: "For 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 of marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

Nothing is more clearly taught in the Bible than the fact of the spirit's continued existence after the death of the body. David said, "your heart shall live forever" (Psa. 22:26). The heart is something that has knowledge (Pro. 14:10; Matt. 13:15). But only the spirit has knowledge (1 Cor. 2:11); therefore, the heart is the spirit. The spirit will therefore live forever. As the spirit shall live forever, it is immortal; therefore, man is not wholly mortal.

The word mortal is found but five times in the Bible, and always it describes the body instead of the spirit; Paul said: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Rom. 6:12). Nowhere do we read of mortal spirits in the scriptures.

That man is conscious between death and the resurrection is evident from the following passages:

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed with purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

"And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

"And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

"And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried;

"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

"And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16:19-24).

We have seen that, (1) the spirit of man is immortal;. (2) man is not wholly mortal; and (3) man is conscious between the death and the resurrection of the body. Therefore, Adventism, Russellism (Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine), and all other forms of Sadduceeism are systems of infidelity!