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Soul vs Spirit
Episcopal/Anglican stuff
Last weekend over brunch, my Roman Catholic sister was talking to my boyfriend and I about prayer life and Christianity. She said something very interesting about how if we dont pray enough our souls will not be able to recognize our spirit in heaven. Wadelini and I just looked at each other blankly and then spent several hours discussing what she had said to us.
Is there really a difference between soul and spirit? Does the Bible say there is a difference? or is this just dogma from the Roman Catholic Church.
The most I could figure out is she was talking about how we may not recognize the Paraclete (Holy Spirit). The Christ in me, recognizes the Christ in you - how can that be if my soul cant recognize the Holy Spirit to begin with? Interesting point, so I decided to do a little research and gladly welcome any comments or points of view from you on this subject.

If Spirit is Ruach (ruah) in the Old Testament, which means breathe, like breathing life into clay and causing animation (such as in the creation stories in Genesis, or the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus or the great winds of storms) In the New Testament Ruah is also seen in storms such as the time Jesus walked on water. Why would we (our souls) not recognize our spirit (Jesus) when were in heaven?

There are differences in the usage of the words "soul" and "spirit" in the Hebrew scriptures and in the New Testament.

Michael Back says this about Spirit and Soul: SPIRIT AND SOUL
By Michael A. H. Back

Spirit and soul are separate words in the Bible.

SPIRIT: In the New Testament, the word is (pneuma - "pnew-ma"), which means "spirit" and comes from a root meaning a strong wind, or a forceful
blowing of the breath. In the Old Testament the word is (ruach - "roo-ahk"), which means almost exactly the same thing as the New Testament pneuma.

SOUL: In the New Testament, the word is (psuche - "psoo-kay"), which means "soul" and comes from a root meaning a gentle, cool breeze, or to breathe gently and quietly. In the Old Testament the word is (nephesh - "nehf-ehsh"), which comes from a root that means exactly the same as psuche, and strictly means "soul, vitality, or breathing creature."

Scripture indicates, as they relate to people, they are two aspects of the same spiritual "body," and that humans possess both a spirit and a soul, animals possess only a soul, and angels and demons possess only a spirit. While scripture never specifically tells EXACTLY what a soul and spirit are, and exactly how they differ, it does give some interesting clues about what they are and what some of their differences are.

That the two words are different is pretty clear from scriptures that use both in the
same verse, and the different ways each is used.


It seems that the soul is or represents that part of our being which was corrupted by sin and appears to be linked to our normal emotions (this could be symbolic, kind of like linking our emotions to our heart).

The soul is frequently used to indicate our natural life (usually from the perspective of simply "being alive"). Along with this, it is frequently translated simply "life," and seems to be the part of us that "powers" or "gives life to" a physical body.

There are a seven scriptures in the Old Testament in which God talks about "my soul," and all of them are in the context of God feeling very strong emotions (Leviticus 26:11, 30; Isaiah 42:1; Jeremiah 5:9, 6:8, 9:9; Zechariah 11:8). In the New Testament, soul is used of God two times (Matthew 12:18; Hebrews 10:38); both of which are direct or indirect quotes of these scriptures from the Old Testament. As to whether this means God has a literal soul, or if it is being used symbolically (such as when we speak of feeling things with our heart), is unknown. Other than that, soul is never used in reference to God.

Soul is never used of angels or demons (although it IS used of people after they die). This is, just one of many proofs that the belief that angels or evil spirits are "dead people" is not supported in scripture.

Soul is NEVER contrasted with the "flesh." That is, there are no scriptures that indicate the soul is communicating Gods righteous will to us, and is warring with our sinful desire (represented by the flesh). This contrast IS used with spirit. It is exactly the opposite with the soul: it is LINKED to our sinful, fleshly desires.

Soul is occasionally used of the "life force" of animals.


In general, it seems that the spirit is that part which communicates with and hears from God, and it seems to be the seat, or the symbol, of the "mind" ("thinking" is occasionally linked to the spirit, although this could be figurative in a similar way that linking the emotions to the soul could be figurative). The spirit is occasionally used to indicate our natural life (usually indicating that we are eternal, and continue to exist after death).

The spirit is used in reference to God ("spirit of the Lord"), specifically in the name of one member of the Trinity ("Holy Spirit"), and of angels and "evil spirits." From all indications in the Bible, angels, both holy and fallen, have spirits, but not souls.

The spirit is also used to indicate when we are completely overcome by an emotion, attitude, or feeling, primarily when indicating those emotions originate from God or Satan ("spirit of compassion," "spirit of fear," "spirit of error"). It is also used to indicate when a persons actions, character, or person can be "summed up" with one particular trait ("spirit of justice," "spirit of truth").

The spirit is frequently contrasted with the flesh. In these instances, it is indicating that the spirit is communicating Gods will to us and represents holiness and righteousness, while the flesh represents our sinful desire. The spirit is never used of animals. From all indications in the Bible, animals have souls, but not spirits.


Scripture tends to talk about death a little differently with each word. The soul dies, or is lost (occasionally "departs"), and if raised up from the dead, becomes alive. It should be understood that when speaking of a person, however, that the soul does not "cease to exist" when it dies (as scriptures below will prove). It DOES, however, seem to cease to exist when the soul of an animal dies.

The spirit leaves, is released, or if the life is restored, the spirit returns. Both are part of our "spiritual being," and are eternal (both soul and spirit are used of the believers in heaven who have been martyred). So we know the soul does not literally die (that is, cease to exist). The difference in wording emphasizes how the soul is that thing which actually gives life to a physical body, while the spirit seems to be the part that thinks and reasons, and communicates with God. As such, the words translated "soul" (psuche and nephesh) are occasionally translated "life" in scripture.

A spirit without a soul is eternal. The soul is our physical life force (it powers a physical body), but in combination with a spirit, it is more than that, and a soul/spirit combination is also eternal. However, a soul without a spirit is not eternal. Thus animals have a soul, but are NOT eternal. Humans have both, and are eternal.

The scripture indicates that a soul and spirit cannot actually be separated (which is what would happen if the "soul part" literally ceases to exist at death), which is why the scripture that talks about the Word of God being able to separate soul and spirit stands out. Kind of like "Gods Word is so piercing, it can cut through and divide the indivisible." Otherwise that scripture loses its punch. They are not literally separable, but figuratively, the Word of God can slice them asunder (meaning the Word of God cuts deeper into our spirit and soul, separating holy from impure, than anything else). The word of God draws clear, black and white, good vs. bad lines in our conscience, and that is what reveals our deepest sins, and leads us to complete repentance.

Also, since soul is never used of evil spirits and of angels, it indicates they never had physical bodies. Since they do not have a soul now, they never had a soul, as the two cannot be separated. Just as with angels, who are only called SPIRITS, demons are called "unclean SPIRITS" or "evil SPIRITS." They dont have a part to their "being" that once produced life in a physical body. Beings (such as Angels) who are described as being spirits only can APPEAR in physical form, but their physical bodies at that time are NOT like ours (needing rest, food, air, water, etc.). There is no indication, for example, that an angel in physical form can be "killed." A true physical body (one that is BORN) appears to require a soul to "power" it.


Angels (both holy and fallen) are called spirits. Angels are never called "souls."

Fallen angels are called evil spirits, unclean spirits, and demons. When directly interacting with people, or possessing them, they are sometimes called familiar spirits. Fallen angels have lots of powers, tactics, and weapons that they use against people (see the article on Satan for a more complete discussion of this topic), including being able to inhabit (possess) unsaved people.

Demons, or evil spirits, are never called souls. As such, we know they never had physical bodies, but are fallen angels.


Some people have stopped calling it "demon possession," and have started saying "demonized," the implication being that the demon is not actually inside the person, but just in complete control of the person. The problem is that the scriptures specifically indicate that when a person is "possessed," the demons are cast OUT of the person. Likewise, they are said to enter INTO a person. There is not one example in the Bible of a saved person being possessed by a demon.


2 Kings 21:6 "And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practiced augury, and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had FAMILIAR SPIRITS, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger."

Matthew 10:1 "And he called unto him his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over UNCLEAN SPIRITS, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness."

Luke 7:21 "In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and EVIL SPIRITS; and on many that were blind he bestowed sight."

Luke 8:2 "&ldots;and certain women who had been healed of EVIL SPIRITS and infirmities: Mary that was called Magdalene, from whom seven DEMONS had gone out&ldots;."

Acts 19:15 "And the EVIL SPIRIT answered and said unto them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?"

1 Timothy 4:1 "But the Spirit said expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to SEDUCING SPIRITS and doctrines of DEMONS&ldots;."

Revelation 16:13 "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three UNCLEAN SPIRITS, as it were frogs: for they are SPIRITS OF DEMONS, working signs; which go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty."


A spirit alone is eternal (but indicates the "being" was never physical).

A soul/spirit combination is eternal (and indicates that being once had physical life)

A soul alone is ONLY physical life, and not eternal (ceases to exist after death).

The soul is, or represents, that part of us that is sinful, and desires to do evil. The soul also gives life to the physical body.

The spirit is, or represents, that part of us that communicates with God, and through the Holy Spirit, pushes us to be righteous and holy. Our "conscience" is the result of God communicating with our spirits. The spirit is also that part that makes us eternal beings.

The word spirit is used of angels (both holy and fallen). Fallen angels are frequently called evil spirits, unclean spirits, and demons. When an evil spirit communicates with or inhabits a person, it is frequently called a familiar spirit. Fallen angels can possess (inhabit) the bodies of people, but there is no indication that they can do this to believer (light and darkness cannot be in the same place).

Click here for more scriptures on the Spirit and Soul.


Michael A. H. Back has been studying Greek for over twenty years. He is the co-author
of the book "Mystery-Babylon Revealed." Visit his website for more articles at

another website

explains body, soul and spirit

The purpose of this Web site* is to unveil the nature of man as a being composed of three parts and to explain how vital each of these three parts is to the fulfillment of God’s purpose. We describe this man as the tripartite man. Throughout history, seeking believers have discovered in their study of the Bible that man is indeed a trichotomous being created with three parts—spirit, soul, and body in order to enable him to contact and live within the spiritual, psychological and physical realms, respectively. An understanding of these three parts and of their particular functions is therefore essential in any attempt to explain either our human experience or our Christian experience. Furthermore, though all three parts of man were damaged by the fall of man, God has come in with His salvation in life to restore their proper function and to saturate them with His life. Thus, recovered mankind in his tripartite being may fulfill the lofty purpose of God to build up the Body of Christ.

Scriptural Basis—A look at the biblical support for the tripartite man

Historical Perspective—Seeking believers throughout history who have made the discovery that man is tripartite

The Definition of the Three Parts of Man—A Biblical view of the composition the spirit, soul, and body with a special look at the heart

The Functions of the Three Parts of Man—The unique function of the spirit, soul, and body

God’s Salvation and the Three Parts of Man

The Three Parts of Man Spoiled by the Fall of Man

God’s Salvation for the Three Parts of Man

The Divine Life Dispensed into the Tripartite Man

The Tripartite Man Realizing the Body Life—The importance of the exercise of each part to realize the Body of Christ

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