What are soul and spirit?
Many times this question is asked during discussions about soul and spirit. I found people getting confused while seeking a connection between the two terms. They can speak about it separately however cannot differentiate clearly in the same context.
While it is not at all complicated to understand the relation of the body with the spirit and the soul, at the same time, it’s hard to distinguish the soul from the spirit. Well, what exactly are their differences? Let us look for the references from the Bible, being the best guide, to enlighten us on these interrelated concepts.
Firstly we must know the meaning of both terms.
The mention of both words comes multiple times in the Bible as body, soul, and spirit. One of these is in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, as written, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we go deep into this verse, it will be clear to us that we are a perfect combination of the body, soul, and spirit. Each part individually plays its part yet is connected with each other.
Needless to say, the body is in material form and physical, its reactions are based on the five sense organs. These are the sense of sight, hearing, smell, and the sense of touch. The real challenge lies in understanding the spirit and soul because they seem similar and are actually interchangeable. I will give you an example.
Have you seen the diagram of the earth? This concept is similar to the three parts of the earth, taught in Geography. The outer level known as the crust is the body, the mantle is the soul and the core is the spirit. Hope you resonate with it in a better way now.
These have different objectives in our lives. Very well explained in Hebrews 4:12,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Now, let us discuss the function of the soul.
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WHAT IS THE SOUL?
It is difficult to provide an exact definition to either of these terms since the definitions are based on one’s religious standpoint and attitudes. Nevertheless, as Oxford Dictionary explains, Soul refers to ‘the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal’. Moreover, the Cambridge dictionary explains the soul as ‘the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died. In that case the part of a person that is not physical and experiences deep feelings and emotions.’
In many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, the soul is the essence of a living being. Soul or psyche “to breathe” consists of the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal. ( source: Wikipedia)
However, the soul is described in a varied manner in different religious contexts as well.
According to the teachings of Buddhism, the soul (atma) is the conscience of a living being, and as everything changes in each changing moment (annattma), this mental entity also changes. Therefore, with one’s death, it is this conscience (or the soul) that gets reincarnated in either a physical or even non-physical form according to one’s karma.
According to Hinduism, the soul known as ‘atman’ is explained as the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about the soul as we analyze the verses of Scripture.
Matthew 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
No man can kill our soul. Although they can kill our bodies, they cannot do anything personally to affect our souls.
Ezekiel 18:4: “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.”
Souls belong to the Lord. He created them when he created us. We also notice this verse mentions that any soul that sins will experience death. Its characteristics are described in moral, spiritual, and philosophical terms. Therefore, it is what reaches God and faces the Final Judgment in front of God.
Evidently, the soul has more of a religious and spiritual significance; the soul is what should be considered an integral part of being human, giving a human a certain kind of identity.
What is a Spirit?
As per the Cambridge dictionary, Spirit is a particular way of thinking, feeling, or behaving, especially that is typical of a particular group of people, an activity, a time, or a place’. Oxford dictionary defines it as the ‘non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation’.
Based on the above explanation, the spirit is what provides life to our bodies or existence; it can thus refer to one’s personality. This is, however, in a metaphysical sense.
Moreover, the spirit can also refer to a non-human entity or supernatural beings such as a fairy, demon, ghost, phantom, or even the Holy Spirit of God as well. This fact is what mainly distinguishes between these two terms. Usually, the word spirit is used to refer to such super-natural or non-human forms. Now let’s few points in context to Soul Vs Spirit.
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What Is the Difference between Soul and Spirit?
Soul V Spirit: The soul is most often related to individual sense and spirituality, thus having a religious implication whereas spirit can refer to supernatural beings in addition to it being related with one’s life force. Therefore, rather than a religious outlook, the spirit can be used in other non-religious contexts as well. Does the immaterial aspect of human nature involve a soul and a spirit? Yes.
Are the soul and spirit absolutely unified and united (dichotomy) or closely related but separate (trichotomy)? Unclear.
Human nature is a trichotomy. Those who believe that the physical body is what connects us with the physical world around us, the soul is the essence of our being, and the spirit is what connects us with God. This is why the unsaved can be said to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), while they are very much physically and “soulishly” alive.
Human nature is a dichotomy.The believers of this fact would have the same understanding of the body but would view the spirit as the part of the soul that connects with God. So, the question of dichotomy vs. trichotomy is logical if the soul and spirit are different aspects of the immaterial human nature, or if the spirit is simply a part of the soul, with the soul being the whole immaterial part of human nature.
Most often these two terms, soul and spirit are used interchangeably due to their similar nature. However, they also carry slight differences between them. The main difference between soul and spirit (soul versus spirit) is that the soul is the spiritual part that we carry after our death whereas a spirit can refer to a non-human entity as well.
Therefore, even though spirit can be used to refer to a supernatural being; the soul can only be referred to as the individual’s spirituality.
What I named my website as soul n spirit?
This blog means everything to me. Literally, I live, breathe and think about my blog. Not even a single day goes by when I don’t sit and scribble something on my laptop, it doesn’t matter if it gets published. Therefore I invested my time, energy, and vision in it. Hopefully, my soul shall never be tired of infusing spirit into it. Have a blessed day all. Follow/subscribe to me to get the latest updates. Stay tuned to Soulnspiritblog
Source for content and quotes: Wikipedia soul, google Bible