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Bible verses about Spirit
(From Forerunner Commentary)

A common thread runs between English "spirit," Hebrew ruach, and Greek pneuma, even when a spirit-composed being is described. "Spirit" represents something non-physical and normally invisible. We can conclude, except in the one case where "spirit," ruach, or pneuma describes a being that has revealed itself, that spirit is never seen. All that is ever seen is what spirit causes, motivates, inspires, encourages, impels, triggers, stirs, provokes, stimulates, influences, or activates. Why? Because in every other sense, except where spirit clearly means a spirit being who has revealed himself, spirit is seen as a function of the mind, whether it is God's mind, angel's mind, or man's mind. Just as we surely do not see mind, but we do see what mind does, so also we cannot see spirit but only what spirit does. As we understand it, mind is more than spirit, yet "spirit" can figuratively refer to a person's mind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

"Spirit" indicates an invisible, immaterial, internal, activating dimension, agent, or power. We have been taught that the Holy Spirit is the power of God, which is correct but incomplete because it is too narrow. The Holy Spirit indeed does empower, but so does man's spirit. The difference between the two lies in the quality of what they empower us to do. Spirit is unseen. It is like the wind, as Jesus explains in John 3. Wind is composed of air, which we cannot see. What we do see is what air moves, like tree limbs or a weather vane, or carries, like smog, dust, or ash. We do not really see the wind moving these things, only the object flying through the air. Like the invisible wind, unseen spirit causes other things to happen.

In reference to a person, spirit activates, motivates, inspires, generates, initiates, begins, begets, impels, spurs, encourages, provokes, triggers, influences, originates, produces, spawns, creates, and fathers what we literally see in the way of conduct and attitudes on the outside. This applies even to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 2)


 

Exodus 35:21

The context is the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the subject is "spirit." Spirit is what impels and motivates.

We need to understand the structure of verse 21. The second phrase, "and every one whom his spirit made willing" is parallel with the first phrase, "they came, every one whose heart stirred him up." Parallelism is a Hebraic syntactical form used to clarify and reinforce a statement.

The human heart, the blood-pumping muscle, is invisible to sight, being inside the body, but it is the activating and animating source of physical life: "The life is in the blood." The Hebrews knew that, and so they used "heart" in a way that parallels "spirit." In their speaking and writing, Hebrews used the heart to symbolize the seat of the intellect, as well as the emotional and spiritual life. To them, it was also, not only the animating part of physical life, but also the invisible energizer and motivator of activity in the areas of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. They simply made a connection between the physical heart and its energizing physical life, and spirit, which energizes intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life.

Thus, in this verse, "heart" and "spirit" are brought together as though they were one, involved in stirring, exciting, or motivating people into action to build the Tabernacle. We could take this one step further to say that spirit was exciting or inclining the mind to be willing to choose to give of themselves.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 3)


 

2 Kings 6:17

A spirit being is invisible just like wind or air is to the unaided eye. The wind and the air are real, just as spirit beings are real, and they have substance just as wind does. But the unaided eye is not able to spot them, so the ability to see something that is spirit, or composed of spirit, is not in us by nature. Though it is not there naturally, the ability to perceive them can be given.

This is what Elisha means: "Give him the ability to see what is around us." And so the young man apparently saw a tremendous army of spirit beings who were ready to do battle in Elisha's behalf should anything occur. They were there all the while, invisible but nonetheless there.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

Psalm 51:10

Heart and spirit are put together so that we understand that David is asking God to clean him up from the inside.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

Isaiah 4:2-4

"Spirit," referring to the essential force within God, is used to help us understand the attitude motivating His actions. What we see on the outside, externally, is judgment; but spirit is an internal, invisible force, impelling, motivating, generating His judgment, which is "burning," representing a punishing, purging, purifying destruction. So in God, His spirit motivates Him to judge. This is how "spirit" is used in God's Word.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 2)


 

Matthew 16:21-23

Like Peter, we could be motivated to believe or disbelieve something, accept or reject something, say something or keep silent, depending on the circumstance. Additionally, we may have no reaction at all at the moment of communication, but the thought is stored and available for later use or supplementation. It is entirely possible for a person to go through his entire life as a pawn of Satan and never know it.

This situation reflects a usage of what the Bible's writers term "spirit." Spirit is the English translation of the Hebrew ruach (Strong's #7304), in the Old Testament and the Greek pneuma (Strong's #5141) in the New. It can literally mean "a current of air," "breath," "blast," or "breeze." However, when used figuratively, it indicates "vital principle," "disposition," "the rational soul," etc., or an invisible super-being such as God, Christ, an angel, or a demon. Whether used literally, as with "wind" or "breath," or figuratively, as indicating God, angel, or demon, it describes something that is invisible and immaterial and at the same time powerful, even a thing of considerable power. The foremost elements of spirit, then, are invisibility, immateriality, and power.

E.W. Bullinger remarks in Appendix 9 of the Companion Bible:

The meaning of the word is to be deduced only from its usage. The one root idea running through all of the passages is invisible force. . . . [I]n whatever sense it is used, [it] always represents that which is invisible except by its manifestations.

He also shows that ruach is used in nine different ways in the Old Testament, while pneuma is used fourteen different ways in the New Testament.

In John 6:63, Jesus says, "It is the Spirit [which] gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Here is a clear example of the figurative use of "spirit." Words are the symbols used for communication; they are received into our minds through sight, as when reading, or sound, as when hearing. But once in the mind, nothing material is packed into our brain. Words - and thus the concepts they carry with them - are spirit because they are immaterial, invisible, and of considerable power, depending on how we use them. Thus, we can receive "spirit" in the form of words or concepts from a spirit being. In this case, it is in reality "thought transference" because no sound is heard through our ears.

Just because one is close to Christ does not eliminate the prospect that a demon will communicate with and through him. As seen in Matthew 16:22-23, Peter did the speaking, but Jesus spoke directly to Satan, naming him as the source of Peter's outburst against God's will that Jesus should suffer and die. Without Peter's recognizing it, he permitted himself to be a conduit for Satan's will. The disciple's "good" intention was against God's will, and Jesus thus judged it to be evil.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Two)


 

John 1:1-4

"The Word" in this passage is translated from the Greek logos, which means "spokesman," "word," or "revelatory thought." It is a name there used for an individual Personage. But who or what is this Logos? Notice the explanation in verse 14:

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

When he was born as Jesus Christ, he was flesh and blood, materialistic, and could be seen, touched, and felt. But what was he? As God—as the Logos? That is answered in John 4:24, "God is a Spirit," and spirit is invisible. We know what was his form and shape as the human Jesus. But of what form and shape was He as the Word?

The Word, then, is a Personage who was made flesh—begotten by God, who through this later begettal became his Father. Yet at that prehistoric time of the first verse of John 1, the Word was not (yet) the Son of God. He divested himself of his glory as a Spirit divinity to be begotten as a human person. He was made God's Son, through being begotten or sired by God and born of the virgin Mary.

So here we find revealed originally two Personages. One is God. And with God in that prehistoric time was another Personage who also was God—one who later was begotten and born as Jesus Christ. But these two Personages were spirit, which is invisible to human eyes unless supernaturally manifested. Yet, at the time described in verse one, Jesus was not the Son of God, and God was not His Father.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
Fully Man and Fully God? (2001)


 

John 3:5-8

Ruach is translated as "wind" in the Old Testament. Here, the Greek word is pneuma, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew ruach meaning "an invisible force or power." The illustration refers to wind. A person cannot see air, but it is real, is it not? Its molecules can be packed so solidly, so close together, that they will lift a huge airplane right off the ground. One cannot see the molecules, the atoms, the electrons, or protons, but they are there. We deal with other invisible forces or powers, like electricity and light, on a daily basis, and they certainly exist.

That is the gist of the meaning of spirit. No one would argue that air, of which wind is constituted, is not real, and though it is invisible, it is made up of particles too small for the unaided eye to see. The Bible provides ample evidence to prove that God and angels are not universal nothingness floating around in nowhere. God is not universal mind, conscience, or goodness. He is not an abstract power filling the whole of space. Except for the vast differences in power and potential, the only difference between humans and God is that mankind is earthly flesh and bone whose life is in the blood, while God's body is also flesh and bone but composed of Spirit and immortal.

This has practical ramifications that must be explored because it means that God cannot be omnipresent in the body. The Bible's consistent description of God shows Him at one place at one time, and He is generally seen managing or participating in His creation. We see Him sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating, drinking, commanding, etc., in specific locations. Nowhere is there any mention of God's size, and therefore the conclusion must be that He is of ordinary, human size, and when He became a man, the Scripture says, there was nothing notable about Him except His character and His powerful teaching.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

John 3:6-8

When "spirit" is used in this sense, "air" is the closest physical thing Jesus could use to illustrate His instruction. Air is material, but it is invisible to our eyes, and its invisibility is what He wants us to focus on. Spirit is invisible—but immaterial—and in this specific sense, it has no form or substance. It is non-physical, but it can affect the around and the about, the environment, including a person begotten by means of it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

John 4:23

Here, "spirit" stands contrasted to ritual, rite, or form as represented by His mention of the Temple in Jerusalem (verse 20). "Spirit" implies heart, mind, with gratitude, praise, pure sincerity, and fervent desire to glorify God by being like Him. It is these true worshippers to whom God grants His Spirit. They are close to Him because they seek Him.

Such a Christian presses the relationship. He continues to pursue it right to the end because it is good. Reciprocity is here at work: We seek Him, and He seeks us. He gives us His Spirit, and it flows out from us in good works that bring glory and honor to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 7)


 

John 4:24

This scripture plainly states that God is Spirit, but the verse does not define what "spirit" is in reference to God. It says nothing at all about form, shape, or composition. It states only this fact, and one must look elsewhere in the Bible to find information concerning His form and shape.

The word spirit is translated in the Old Testament from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament the Greeek pneuma. Both of these words have the same fundamental meaning and usage, "an invisible force or power."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

1 Corinthians 2:10-12

We see three things here:

1. There is a spirit in man that enables him to understand physical things.

2. God reveals to man through His Spirit, which enables man to penetrate the deep, spiritual things of God.

3. We have received the Spirit that is from God, and there is a spirit of this world.

Here, Paul shows at least three different spirits: the spirit in man, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of this world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)


 

Ephesians 2:2

The Bible uses spirit to designate an invisible, immaterial, powerful influence whose characteristics are absorbed and then exhibited in the attitudes and conduct of the general population of a given people.

Course is an influence of which we can be much more aware. We can compare it to a path, riverbed, or highway, suggesting a way by which or in which something flows. It is a means to an end, a result, which may be a destination or an action. Course, under the heading "tendency" in Roget's International Thesaurus, has synonyms such as "thoughts," "disposition," "character," "nature," "makeup," "bent," "slant," "frame of mind," "attitude," "inclination," "drift," "mindset," and "perspective." It is helpful to understand "the course of this world" by rephrasing it as "the disposition of this world," "the character of this world," "the nature of this world," or "the makeup [mindset, attitude, perspective, etc.] of this world."

In the apostle Paul's usage of this word, "course" is the whole mass of elements that encompass the conduct and attitudes of the times, the zeitgeist. It would not be the same all over the world because its expression in people would differ depending upon many factors. However, in Paul's writings, its elements will invariably be carnal and evil because the spiritual source, Satan, is always evil.

We can begin to understand this more practically by realizing that someone from France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, though carnal, would not be as inclined to see, understand, and react to a given situation exactly as an American would. The specifics of what affects their minds will differ. Though all are of the world, the things that make up one nation's course will impress themselves on other nationalities somewhat differently.

Regardless of nationality, the course of this world greatly enhances the self-centered pull that we are born with, and becomes our nature. It is from this that we must be converted, the largely unrecognized foundation of our pre-conversion attitudes and conduct, and it is the same force still motivating us when we behave carnally. Despite conversion, it remains within us, compressed like a spring ready to leap into action and reveal itself in carnality once again.

A prime characteristic of this world's course - exhibited worldwide, regardless of culture - is that it is habitually self-centered rather than God-centered. This is due to the underlying spirit beings who are its heart and soul, the key elements in communicating the course of this world into humanity. Through a simple illustration, we can perceive how it became this way. Genesis 1:31 reads, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day." God's statement of satisfaction in all He had made at the end of the sixth day of creation includes Adam and Eve's nature, as by this time they were already created.

Thus, in the beginning, mankind's nature is designated by our Creator as, "very good." Genesis 3 records the episode that began the transformation of their basic nature to the extremes of self-centeredness we witness today. Man's nature was not created evil, but it became evil through the influence of another spirit - besides God - that Adam and Eve chose to follow without any interference from their Creator.

Once they committed to that initial step, the course of this world began. By the second generation, murder had occurred (Genesis 4:8), and by the Flood, men were so evil that they were "only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). It is this same peak of evil toward which this world and its multiple courses are being driven. All of this takes place because of the communication, reception, and acceptance of evil concepts from an evil source.

II Timothy 3:13 reveals a general principle still working as we "progress" toward the return of Jesus Christ: "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." Improving character and conduct in any given culture are temporary, indeed very brief, when observed within a survey of all of man's history.

The same process of moral deterioration that concluded with the Flood was quickly restarted shortly after its waters receded, and it persists to this day, as each person is born into this world and exposed to the same spirit and to the variety of courses that influenced Adam and Eve and all their progeny. Because we are made of flesh, we are born with a slight pull toward self, but not with the corruption that later develops and reveals itself in our conduct. Contrary to Catholic Church teaching, evil is not passed on through procreation, but by the spirit of the age through the course of this evil world. It is transferred to us primarily through the cultures into which we are born, all of which are carnal to the core.

It is the responsibility of converted parents to God and to their children to ensure that the right spirit prevails in their homes so their children can be properly nurtured. People grasp this to some degree when they observe that, "The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree," or "Like father, like son." Unless parents make a concerted, persistent effort to change and live as God commands, they will succeed only in passing on copies of themselves.

This world's Christians, in an effort to evade responsibility for the evil in them, have instead blamed God for creating man this way. God is responsible to a degree, in that He has not yet chosen to halt Satan's deceptions. Nevertheless, God did not make us this way. Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve, chose to submit to Satan, and all of their descendants, including us, have also chosen to become evil under the sway of the same evil spirit that offered our first parents the choice. This creates and accounts for "the course of this world."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Two)


 

1 Peter 3:18-20

This passage in I Peter 3, particularly verses 19-20, is quite difficult to translate from Greek to English. This is so because each of the nine Greek words in verse 19 can be translated in various shades of meaning, making interpretation tricky. We probably do best by translating them in their most basic meanings, thus: "in which also He went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison . . ." (author's paraphrase).

The "which" ("whom" in NKJV) in verse 19 probably refers back to "Spirit," its closest antecedent, in verse 18, suggesting that Jesus was no longer in the flesh but by this time had been changed into spirit. This follows the historical chain of events in order from the preceding verse: He suffered, died, was resurrected, and was thus changed to spirit, leading to the next key words, "He went."

What happened next in the gospel record after His resurrection to spirit? What did Jesus do after arising from the dead? Some might suggest that He revealed Himself to His disciples, which He did, but not by any stretch of meaning could it be described as going and proclaiming to imprisoned spirits! No, John tells us through the words of Jesus Himself to Mary Magdalene what the next momentous occurrence was: "[G]o to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God'" (John 20:17). When Jesus "went," He ascended in glory to the right hand of the Father in heaven!

At this point, we will skip to the phrase "spirits in prison." First, let us note that the Bible does not refer to human beings who have died as being imprisoned in any way, not even those who have rebelled against and rejected God. They may be said to be "destroyed" or "killed" or "cut off" or sent to "Sheol," which is a pit or grave, but they are never imprisoned. As we saw, humans who die return to the dust of which they are made (see also Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).

However, the Bible speaks in several places about spirit beings - angels or demons - being imprisoned (see II Peter 2:4-5, where Peter again refers to Noah's time; Jude 6; and Revelation 20:1-3, 7). Rebellious angels, unlike mortal humans, must be imprisoned because angels or demons, being composed of spirit, do not die as humans do. The "angels who sinned," Peter and Jude say, were cast down to Tartarus ("a place of restraint," a prison) where they are bound until God judges them. This Tartarus, this "hell" where the demons are restrained, is none other than their "first estate," their "proper domain," earth (see Ezekiel 28:17; Revelation 12:7-9)!

Second, Peter's use of "spirits" is consistent with its use in the gospels (see, for instance, Matthew 8:16; 12:45; Mark 3:11; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 11:26; etc.). In the gospels, "spirits" consistently denotes "evil spirits," "demons," "wicked spirits." It is highly likely that Peter refers to demons in I Peter 3:19.

This is confirmed by the first phrase of verse 20, "who formerly were disobedient" (NKJV) or "who disobeyed long ago" (New International Version, [NIV]). Peter is speaking of a time in deep antiquity, a time before the Flood. Perhaps he does not intend us to think of Satan's original sin of rebellion against God (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28), although it may be included, but specifically of the demons' corruption of mankind between the Creation and the Flood.

This would explain his time marker in the next phrase, "when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (NIV). In Satan's sin, only the demons themselves were affected, but when they corrupted mankind, human beings who were potential sons of God were affected. Once men and women began sinning under the influence of Satan and his demon horde, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ became necessary.

Peter's point, then, is that, though the wicked spirits seemed to be so successful in corrupting mankind, God patiently waited during Noah's 120-year ministry to save only eight people by bringing them through the Flood, delivering them through a kind of baptism. The demons had failed to destroy mankind. So also, by having Jesus crucified, the demons thought again they had won, but through the resurrection, Jesus had the victory instead. Baptism is a type of this same victory, as it is a symbolic death of the old, wicked man and of his resurrection to newness of life (see Romans 6:4).

This brings us back to the word in I Peter 3:19 that we skipped: "proclaimed" (or in many Bibles, "preached"). Most objective commentaries will note that this word in the Greek (ekêruxen from kêrússô) means in general "to be a herald," "to proclaim," "to announce," "to publish," "to preach." Although it can be used as such, it does not necessarily mean "to preach the gospel to" or "to preach salvation to." Because Peter does not specify what Jesus "proclaimed" or "announced," to assume the preaching of the gospel is not warranted. The only clue we have of what He proclaimed appears in the immediate context: that He was "made alive by the Spirit."

If this is the case, verse 19 says simply that, after Jesus was resurrected, He ascended to heaven, proclaiming to the imprisoned evil spirits that He lived! The demons, once again, had failed!

Verse 22 backs this interpretation: "who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to him." This agrees with many scriptures that speak of His exaltation over all things, for instance, Philippians 2:9-10: "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth." Jesus' ascension to the throne of God proclaimed His victory over death and over Satan and his demons!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jesus and 'the Spirits in Prison'


 

Revelation 12:7-9

Compare the language here with Daniel 10:5-21—spirit beings fighting and being cast down, even as humans fight. Only when humans fight, the loser is cast down in defeat and death. With the angelic beings, they are cast down in defeat, but there is no death.

How, then, is essence cast down? Arguments that posit spirit to be essentially insubstantial begin to become ridiculous. How does one cast down smoke, if we can think of essence in terms of smoke? Did Michael and his angels find big fans and blow the demon essence toward the earth? No, these verses give every indication that these spirit beings have substance. They are spirit, but they are substantial, tangible (that is, "capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch"; synonyms are "palpable," "substantially real," "material").

Gabriel touched Daniel, and he was aware of feeling a hand touch him on the shoulder. Another time a hand touched him on the lips, and he was able to speak. The hand had substance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)


 

Revelation 13:16-17

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20 to look for fruit as a way of testing what kind of a spirit would emanate from a beast like this. Biblically, spirit is used to indicate "that which motivates." Spirit is invisible. It is immaterial, but what it produces is not, because it shows up on the outside of the person in behavior and sometimes in the spirit that radiates out from them.

In a spiritual sense, "the mark of the beast" is Satan's attitude. He is the great red Dragon, who gives power to the beast, and a great deal of power over mankind resides in the spirit that radiates from him.

It was Satan who created the original bad attitude, and he sustains it in humans when we permit these things to enter into our conduct and manipulate others to gain advantage and to achieve our self-centered objectives. Spirit is something that inclines the mind and, in this case, in a hostile anti-God, anti-law direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 19:10

"Spirit" indicates the vital principle of, the essential nature of, the heart and core of prophecy. In other words, the testimony of Jesus is the heart and core of prophecy. We should not define prophecy too narrowly, because prophecy means either "inspired speaking" (forth-telling) or "foretelling" (predicting). The testimony of Jesus Christ is the heart and core of inspired speaking and writing, as well as predictive speaking or writing.

Jesus' testimony consisted of two things: first, the example that He set in the way that He lived His life and what He did, as well as, second, the words that He spoke, His message. His message is the gospel - the good news of the Kingdom of God, of God's purpose, of why we were born, of Christ dying for our sins, of God reproducing Himself, of His creating us in His image and how He is doing it - and that news is spirit. It is life.

"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit. . . ." The gospel is the spirit, the heart and core, the essence, of the mind of God as it pertains to man. It contains many facets, but what He said is central to everything else in the Bible. Added to it is God's active participation in the actual creation of each potential God-being, watching over His family, molding and shaping His children into what He wants them to become.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 5)


 

Revelation 20:10

This verse seems to describe the Lake of Fire as a place where God torments people forever. This raises a few questions: 1) If the Beast and False Prophet are mortal men, why are they still alive after the Millennium when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire? 2) If they are mortals, how can they "be tormented day and night forever and ever" in an inferno that would soon consume them? 3) What kind of God would devise such a "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Before we answer these questions, we must briefly consider whether man has an immortal soul. Our understanding of the Scriptures compels us to maintain that he does not for several reasons:

» Job recognized that man has a spirit (Job 32:8), which Paul shows in I Corinthians 2:11 endows humanity with intellect. This spirit in man comes from God (Zechariah 12:1) and returns to Him when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59). It records our experiences, character, and personality, which God stores until the resurrection of the dead. However, the Bible never describes this spirit as immortal or eternal; in fact, I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains that man needs yet another Spirit, God's, to be complete and discern godly things.

» The Bible flatly asserts that all people die: "It is appointed for men to die once" (Hebrews 9:27). Ezekiel says clearly that souls die: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; see Romans 6:23). Jesus warns in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

» In death, life and consciousness are gone. "The dead know nothing," says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5, and he later adds, "There is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (verse 10). In Psalm 146:4, the psalmist writes about a man's death, "His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish" (see Genesis 3:19).

» Scripture also confutes the idea that people go to heaven or hell after death. Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . . For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34). Our Savior confirms this in John 3:13: "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." The biblical usage of Sheol and Hades simply means "the grave."

» Men cannot have immortality unless God gives it to them. Paul writes, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). In I Corinthians 15:53 he tells the saints, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." At the first resurrection God will give "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Romans 2:7). If we already had immortality, why should we put it on or seek it?

» Only God has immortality. He is, Paul writes to Timothy, ". . . the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality" (I Timothy 6:15-16). John says of the Word, "In Him was life" (John 1:4), meaning as Creator of all things (verse 3), He had life inherent. Jesus affirms this in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Men must go through Him to receive eternal life.

With such overwhelming proof, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul proves false. Man is not immortal, nor does he possess any "spark of God" unless God has given it to him through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). A Christian's hope of life after death rests in the resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-23). Conversely, the wicked only await eternal death as recompense for their evil lives, not eternal life in torment.

To understand Revelation 20:10 correctly, we must put it into its proper chronological context. Once we know when it occurs, much of the confusion about this verse clears up.

Though only twelve verses separate Revelation 19:20 from 20:10, one thousand years pass between their respective events. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire when Christ returns (Revelation 19:11-21). Soon thereafter, an angel imprisons Satan in the bottomless pit for the thousand years of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). When the thousand years pass, Satan is released, and he gathers Gog and Magog to fight against the saints (verses 7-9). After God defeats this futile attempt, He casts Satan, a spirit being, into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever and ever (verse 10).

Obviously, the flames of the Lake of Fire totally consume mortal men like the Beast and False Prophet. In no way could they survive a thousand years of burning! The laws of nature simply will not allow it.

The translators of the King James and New King James versions render the final clause of the first sentence as "where the beast and the false prophet are." The present-tense verb "are" is not in the Greek; it is an understood verb. In English grammar, such silent verbs take the same tense as the verb in the main clause of the sentence. The translators ignored this rule, however. The primary verb of the sentence, "was cast" (an aorist verb usually translated as simple past tense), demands that the silent verb should be "were cast" (past tense) to agree with the plural subject, "the beast and the false prophet."

Deceived by the false doctrine of the immortal soul, the translators had to deny nature and break the rules to make this verse fit their understanding! On the other hand, we can confidently assert that our teaching agrees with Scripture, nature, and grammar!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Eternal Torment?


 

Find more Bible verses about Spirit:
Spirit {Nave's}
 




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