Division between soul and spirit

by M.J. 82 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan

    In a certain city there was a judge (a spirit) who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow (soul - whose spirit, 'husband', had died) in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary' (flesh). For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. Though this judge (spirit) caters to the soul, he remains unrighteous in that he does not care for his fellow man, but sacrifices ways of the flesh simply due to the troubling of the soul.


    { For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does }


  • Leolaia
    What does "down payment" mean in this context? I was sure that "down payment" here mean the soul!

    No, not necessarily. Paul had an inauguriated eschatology, in which the future blessings of eternal life are realized here in the present through the giving of the Spirit (just as the Spirit rose Christ from the dead). Thus, in Romans 6, Christians have already died to sin and been freed from sin and death. In Philippians 3:20-21, Paul states that "our citizenship" is already "in heaven", even before Christ has transformed "the body of humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory". The closest parallel to the text you quoted is in Romans 8:9-11: "But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you [i.e. the downpayment of the Spirit]. If the Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised the Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit who dwells in you".

    The life-giving Spirit that is given NOW is the first installment of the eternal life that Christians will share.

    Ok, which passages in the NT are clear on the issue of a soul surviving after death, as an intermediate state between death and the (future) ressurection? I would say the parable about Lazarus and the rich man is definitely one.

    I would just be a little careful about using the word "soul", which may be too specific. One NT text that does in fact use the word "soul" in this sense is Revelation 6:9-11. This verse describes the "souls" of martyred Christians in heaven who have a sentient existence, because they are awaiting impatiently for their vengeance. They are told that they must wait until the full number of Christians have been martyred to complete their number; this automatically means that these postmortem souls have not yet been resurrected, as they are not resurrected until 20:4 ("the souls of those who had been beheaded"), and it is then that they are given the power to judge.

    There are many other early Jewish and Christian texts that are very clear about the intermediate state, see Josephus, 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and others.

  • Leolaia

    Hellrider....There are some extracanonical texts that also help to clarify matters, with respect to the soul being "clothed" in heaven. In 2 Enoch, we read of Enoch's ascent through the various levels of heaven, and eventually he reaches the highest heaven:

    "Michael, the Lord's commander-in-chief, lifted me up and brought me in front of the Face of the Lord. And the Lord said to his servants, sounding them out, 'Let Enoch join in and stand in front of My Face forever!' And The Lord's glorious ones did obeisance and said, 'Let Enoch yield in accordance with your word, O Lord!' And The Lord said to Michael, 'Go, and extract Enoch from his earthly clothing. Anoint him with My delightful oil, and put him into the clothes of my glory.' And Michael extracted me from my clothes. He anointed me with the delightful oil. The appearance of that oil is greater than the greatest light, and its ointment is like sweet dew, and its fragrance myrrh; it is like the rays of the glittering sun. I looked at myself and I had become like one of his glorious ones [i.e. the angels], and there was no observable difference" (2 Enoch 22:6-10).

    In the Ascension of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah was taken up into heaven "out of the body". That is to say, his body remained on earth while his spirit or mind travelled up through the various levels of heaven, and then "to return to this body" (7:5). When he got to the seventh heaven, Isaiah saw the righteous dead wearing the "robes of above" in their heavenly glory:

    "There I saw all the righteous from the time of Adam onwards. And there I saw the holy Abel and all the righteous. And there I saw Enoch and all who were with him, stripped of their robes of the flesh; and I saw them in their robes of the above, and they were like the angels who stand there in the great glory" (Ascension of Isaiah 9:7-9).

    One may also recall in Revelation how the "souls" of the martyrs (a "great crowd" who died in the great tribulation) are also given white robes when they enter heaven (cf. ch. 6-7). The "robe" could be viewed as the heavenly spiritual body that the resurrected receive, or a similar spiritual embodiment that one receives at death. This is ambiguous because Jews and Christians varied according to their belief in a future resurrection or an immediate immortality. The proto-gnostic Gospel of Thomas also refers to those who free themselves of their "clothes" as receiving eternal life: "When you strip yourselves without being ashamed, when you take off your clothes and lay them at your feet like little children and trample on them! Then [you will become] children of Him who is living, and you will have no more fear" (Thomas 37:1-2), and the more mature gnostic Dialogue of the Savior similarly states that "the garments of life were given to man because he knows the path by which he will leave" (51-52).

  • peacefulpete

    Seldom do Christians consider the notion of a prexisting soul having been placed into the body but this is the opinion of many of the works Leolaia referenced as well as a number of OT and NT passages. I thought it interesting how the writer/redactor of Luke/ Acts (luke 14, Acts 2)avoided the use of the word soul when sourcing Matthew 10 or Psalms. The TDNT interprest this as a distancing from the Hellenized jewish opinion. Sorry for the brevity

  • M.J.

    Great discussion. Thanks LT for that link on the tri-part man, BTW.

    I just had a flashback this morning in the shower. I remembered some lines we were made to memorize WAAYYY back in bible camp. It went like this:

    I am a pneuma [spirit]

    I have a psukhè [soul, meaning mind / personality / identity]

    and I'm standing in a soma [body]

    I never thought I was going to use that for anything...
  • Hellrider

    By the way, funny thing that you mentioned that the WTS`s view on this more means "re-creation" than ressurection, Leolaia. I tried discussing this with a JW on another forum once, and to me it was just amazing how difficult this is to understand for a JW, something that was confirmed to me when I had a similar discussion with a DFed friend of mine, who still believes the JWs have the "truth". Anyway, here`s the discussion I had with a JW on a discussion board. (The JW is Dan, I am "Baal" on that board, but I`ll just write me):

    Dan: What do you think the soul is or made up of, ie emotion intelluct etc?

    Me: Hm, I have no idea, other than that it is the essence of the person. Try to think of it this way:
    The JW-view, and interpretation of the Bible, is that what the Bible calls "the soul", is nothing more than the "life" in the person. This "life" is the result of body mechanics,the heart beating, the blood flowing thru the system, bringing oxygen to the vital organs, to the brain, which enables thought, etc. When the heart stops beating. the body and brain dies. After a while, in the grave, the body eventually (after decades, or centuries) is no more, not even bone. Nothing left. All is dust.
    The other idea, that of the rest of christianity, is that man has both a spiritual part and a physical part. Paul is very clear on this, in my view. Exactly what this spiritual part is, is not known to us, but both the jews of Jesus time, and the early christians, had an idea about this, and this is reflected in the Biblical texts.

    When I said that a "ressurection" of a person in the JW-view, a "ressurection" of a person that has no soul, would not be a ressurection at all, but a re-creation, the following might illustrate what I meant:
    When the twin towers fell, they were completely destroyed. Nothing was left, apart from a few tons of dust and rubble, which had to be removed by bulldozers. Now, if the twin towers were to be built again (ressurected, he he), would they be the same twin towers? No, they would not. They would be two new twin towers, not the same as those that stood there before the planes came. They could be re-created, but not ressurected. No matter how you look at it, it would be two completely new, different twin towers standing there. However: If they had not collapsed, even if the had collapsed partially (lets say the top half of each tower), they could have been "ressurected" (as in repaired).

    In many ways, the WTS is unique in the dismissal of the soul doctrine. They are the very first known christians (of course, I don`t see this religion as christian,I hope that doesn`t hurt your feelings) to dismiss this doctrine. (I think I know the reason why they did it though, but the reasons are not pretty, and you wouldn`t believe them, so I won`t bother mentioning them). The belief in the soul as a surviving entity after death precedes christianity, and was part of christianity ever since Christ walked the earth.

    Dan: If you put the same business back in them and who knows even some of the same materials is used for building is this not resurrrection?

    Me: The same businesses back in them? Sure. They would then be the equivalent of the SOUL in this little example/experiment of ours...Yes, then we could call it a ressurection!

    Dan: So the business stopped and became nothing more than a memory for their creator until the owner decided to to take his memory and and resurrect his business in the new building

    Me: He he. Well, obviously we have a completely different definition of the term "existence". I had a cat once, but now it`s dead. I loved that cat, and have vivid memories of it. Does that mean that it exists? Well, you can claim that it "exists" in my mind, but does it still really exist? I would answer no. What is the difference between my diseased cat and, oh, say, unicorns? Or leprecons? Or dragons? These creatures do not exist, they are just fictives of the imagination. Is there really a difference between a dead cat and a unicorn? Not much. I have a vivid image of how a unicorn would look like, even how it would behave (I have seen the Harry Potter-movie). But does that mean that they exist? Of course not. But they exist just as much as my once dear cat, because they don`t exist. My cat died ten years ago,and I had it cremated, so there`s not even dust left of it. Hence, it exists just as much as a unicorn or a dragon.
    Now, you can of course claim that this would be different to God ! To GOD a dead person could still exist, "in his mind". Well, this is, in that case, something no philosopher in the world would agree with. It is such a different definition of "existence" that no person could comprehend what this would mean.
    By the way: Where exactly in the Bible is there even a hint of such a definition of "existence"? I know the Bible pretty well, and I can`t remember a single passage that would hint to this claim of yours, that the dead are "existing to God". On the other hand, the word "soul" is used in the Bible 136 times...all in different contexts and with several different meanings, and among these different meanings, in the context of "an immaterial part of us that lives on after death"

    Dan: Let's say you know that cat down to the number of hairs on it's body, every nuiance all of its like and dislikes, now if you had the power to take all that and form for it a new body then place everything you kenw about it into that new body have not made your cat alive again?

    Me: No. It wouldn`t be the same cat. It would be a replica. There has been written some books on this issue by contemporary philosopher, I wrote an essay on one of these for my exam, but I can`t remember the name of the man, it was many years ago. No matter how many times you ask me, you`ll never get me to agree on this. The answer is no.

    Anyway, after the discussion I had now, in this thread, I now realize that I was wrong in some of the things I said in the discussion with this JW, but I still stick to the belief that the Bible teaches that there is "something" that doesn`t die, which is kept alive, although the words "soul" and "spirit" in the Bible doesn`t refer to what we, living in the 20th century and having 2000 years of christianity (regardless of JW-upbringings) as part of our cultural identities. After 2000 years of christianity, the doctrinal frontlines become sharpened. To us, there either IS a soul (and we then think of it in a plato-like sense) or there isn`t. To a jew in Palestine 2000 years ago, I think he wouldn`t understand this question, but if he was asked directly "do you believe there is something in the person that lives on after death, to be with either God in heaven or with something much darker and scarier in Hades), then that question would most likely be "answered in the affirmative" (ha ha, I just love that expression, I`ve been reading thru some old WTs).

  • Leolaia

    You should have said that if God can "resurrect" a person simply by remembering a person's "life-pattern" (as the Society claims), then what would prevent God from creating two of you? How about 10 King Davids? Or a million Albert Einsteins? Now out of the million Einsteins, which one would be the "real" one? Or are they all copies?

    BTW, I grasped that the Society's doctrine of the "resurrection" was illogical when I was 8 years old. It was at the book study when we were going over the Life book (late '70s), and I balked at their reference to God's memory being like a tape recorder. I could not understand at all how it could be the SAME person that would be resurrected when the original was destroyed. A copy on tape is not the original, and the original does not come from a copy. I remember I asked this as a question, complaining that I could not understand it. As I grew up as a Witness, I secretly entertained a compromise position. There had to be some continuity....so when the Bible says that when we die, our spirit goes back to God, I thought that it wasn't a soul, but it was some part of ourselves that would be preserved by God which would keep our individuality. Otherwise, the idea of a reusrrection made no sense.

  • M.J.

    Yeah this "part of ourselves" you theorized about was obviously the same sort of thing that God transferred to the womb of Mary:

    *** w56 4/15 p. 238 Was Jesus a God-Man? ***When God’s "firstborn" came to earth, the life force of the Word was transferred from heaven to the egg cell in the womb of Mary. This meant that the Word had to lay aside his heavenly glory, his spirit life.

    But then WT dogma keeps gettin in the darn way,

    *** kl chap. 9 p. 82 What Happens to Our Dead Loved Ones? *** This life force does not have any of the characteristics of the creature it animates, just as electricity does not take on the features of the equipment it powers.
  • Hellrider

    Yes, that`s a good point too.

    Or a million Albert Einsteins? Now out of the million Einsteins, which one would be the "real" one? Or are they all copies?

    The one thing that in my mind is absolutely certain on this whole issue, is that there would be no Einsteins on planet JW. I God ressurected Einstein, I think he would just go and hang himself, rather than live for all eternity surrounded by the spiritual henchmen of the WTS.

    A copy on tape is not the original, and the original does not come from a copy. I remember I asked this as a question, complaining that I could not understand it.
    lol, yes, understanding that something doesn`t make sense allready as a kid, and then saying it out loud, is a curse in the JW-world. I had a similar experience about 607 when I was around 12 years old. We were studying a Watchtower with the whole chronology outlined, and I was looking at it, confused by the chronology (which actually had the lengths of reigns of kings, when they started, how long they lasted and all - the secular version) - and the WTS chronology next to it, saying how Nebs reign started in ...what was it, 622) - and I just instinctively saw that something was wrong, and I asked the questions, how could this be right, if this king started his reign in (insert number) and laste till (insert number) - then how can this be right? etc, I didn`t understand exactly what was wrong, that is, the thought "where did those additional 20 years come from" was not an articulated thought in my head, but I still knew that something was wrong, and I said it out loud --- and everyone were looking at me like I was something inbetween an idiot and a troublemaker, and I truly felt like an idiot. I learned to shut my mouth after that. I know other JW-kids who had similar experiences too. And so we grow up, and realize that we were right all along, and that it was the adults around us (who we respected and believed had knowledge) that didn`t understand shit. And now, in hinesight, I can think about this and laugh, and even be a little proud over the fact that I at 13 was smarter than all those adults. But it still wasn`t a cool experience, back then. Anyway, I can understand how you developed your own (apostate, lol) view on this allready then. Some people can`t compromise with what the logical parts of their brains tells them is correct, and maybe that`s the difference between the people that get out of the cult (for intelectual reasons) and those that don`t.


    *** w56 4/15 p. 238 Was Jesus a God-Man? ***When God’s "firstborn" came to earth, the life force of the Word was transferred from heaven to the egg cell in the womb of Mary. This meant that the Word had to lay aside his heavenly glory, his spirit life.

    By the way, the reasoning in this passage is just stupid. The second sentence doesn`t follow logically from the first one, no matter how many "this meant that" the WTS stuffs in there. They are just speculating, that`s all, and trying to pass if of as a Biblically based explanation.

  • Leolaia
    This life force does not have any of the characteristics of the creature it animates, just as electricity does not take on the features of the equipment it powers.

    Just like when Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort was sucking Ginny Weasley's life force, he wasn't going to become Ginny himself or take on her characteristics, he was just gonna kill her and use her life to animate himself.

    Anyway, I can understand how you developed your own (apostate, lol) view on this allready then. Some people can`t compromise with what the logical parts of their brains tells them is correct

    I also had no idea until I was late in my teens that the Society taught that the "little flock" didn't begin going to heaven until 1918. That was a shock to me. All this time I had thought it had been going on since the first century, since Jesus' resurrection, I guess I had been "misled" by scriptures like 2 Corinthians 5. And I had no idea where they got the date 1918 from. It seemed to come out of thin air.

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