Dear Natan: Is the soul immortal?

Here is an email letter I recently received from M—. Perhaps my response will help answer some of your questions some as you’re trying to understand the Bible from a more Hebraic perspective, and separate out the truth from the error that the mainstream church teaches. If you already understand the truths presented below, perhaps this information will help you to answer those who come to you with the same questions.

Hello Natan,
I have read with a great interest your article “How the Church Divorced Itself From Its Jewish Roots” on your blog but I am a but puzzled by the following passage:

“Here is a partial list (along with the approximate dates) of several major unbiblical and anti-Torah and non-biblical doctrines crept into the post-apostolic church.

The Human Soul Is Immortal”

Is the immortality of the soul unbiblical and anti-Torah? If it is, do you have any scriptural proof to support that? What is the point of the coming of Yeshua if once the person dies, their souls also vanishes?

Hello M—,
Thank you for your inquiry about my thoughts pertaining to what happens to humans after they die. There are a plethora of opinions on this subject. Even though the Bible talks about this subject, understanding exactly what happens to us when we die is not a salvation issue. Having faith in and obeying Yeshua the Messiah and his word is a salvation issue however. Knowing exactly what happens to us after we die will not guarantee anyone eternal life; on the other hand, knowing Yeshua will. It must be said, though, that an improper understanding about what happens to us after we die can affect our understanding of some basic and important biblical truths. But we’ll save this for another discussion.
Now to answer your questions.
I have not written and published exhaustively on the subject of the state of the dead, since many have gone before me and competently addressed these issues already. Life is short and time is valuable, and so why reinvent the wheel? I have, however, written and published a brief article on this subject, which will answer some of your questions, and which is available on our ministry website at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/state_of_dead.pdf. Perhaps you’ll find this helpful.
I will now answer your questions below in the briefest manner possible interlinearly and in bold type. 

“Here is a partial list (along with the approximate dates) of several major unbiblical and anti-Torah and non-biblical doctrines crept into the post-apostolic church.

The Human Soul Is Immortal”

Is the immortality of the soul unbiblical and anti-Torah? If it is, do you have any scriptural proof to support that? What is the point of the coming of Yeshua if once the person dies, their souls also vanishes?

What about verses like Matt. 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” ???

The Bible teaches that humans have a spirit, soul and body (1 Thes 5:23). There are many other Scriptures that talk about the spirit in man. They are too numerous to mention here. (I have teachings elsewhere on this subject.) Do a word search in your favorite Bible search program and you’ll find them. The Bible also teaches that the soul is mortal and dies with the body (e.g. Ezek 18:3). Briefly, the soul is who you are: your mind, your will and your emotions. It defines you. It’s what makes you unique from every other human. It is housed in your body and cannot exist without a body. It is not immortal. The immortality of the soul is a pagan concept as I document in my referenced article above. It is also promoted by those who don’t know the difference between the soul and spirit of a man. The Bible in a number of places makes this differentiation, even though, admittedly, in the Tanakh (OT) some ancient biblical writers used the terms soul (nephesh) and spirit (ruach) interchangeably. However, a more refined view of the soul and spirit as taught in the Bible by other biblical authors shows us that our spirit was given to us at conception; it comes from Elohim. The Bible also states that it returns to Elohim when we die, as I note in my article. The Bible is silent, however, on whether the spirit is conscious or not after the cessation of physical life. So it’s not wise to speculate on this. 

Matt.22:32 “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”???

The Bible defines the word life in a couple of different ways. There is physical life and there is spiritual life. Which life is Yeshua talking about here: physical or spiritual life? If physical life, then he contradicts what Scripture says elsewhere about the soul dying, about no man having ascending to heaven yet, about no man seeing the Father yet , about men’s thoughts ceasing when they die and so on. If however Yeshua meant spiritual life, then this is statement makes perfect sense, since Abraham had salvation because of his faith in Elohim, and even though he is dead and awaits the resurrection, his next waking moment will be in the presence of YHVH Yeshua. Moreover, in the mind of Elohim who inhabits eternity and who exists outside of time and space, Abraham is still alive spiritually (after all his spirit is in heaven), even though his body and soul are dead physically and await the resurrection of his body. Moreover, anyone whose name is written in the Book of Life, though he may be dead physically awaiting the resurrection and glorification of his body, again, in the mind of Elohim and in the scope of eternity, it’s as if he is alive. Death is but a split second in the mind of one who inhabits eternity.


Luke 23:43 “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””???


This verse can be viewed from several perspectives without teaching the immortality of the soul.First, there is no punctuation including commas in the Koine Greek from which our NT text comes. In fact, the Greek words in the ancient manuscripts read back-to-back without even any spaces between them. This was the case until  the ninth century A.D. (see The Companion Bible, app. 94, V.1.3). Punctuation marks and spaces between the letters were added by the translators later. If you can read the original Greek, which I can, you will find no punctuation marks. The placement of the commas is a strictly an arbitrary decision on the part of the translators. If they are rearranged you can make this sentence, or any sentence, mean different things.To confirm my point about the punctuation, E. W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible in his notes on Luke 23:43 says that the verse should read as follows, “I say unto thee today.” According to Bullinger, Yeshua is emphasizing the solemnity of the occasion.For example, the NKJV has: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Now, if you just move one comma to read as follows, this changes the whole meaning of Yeshua’s statement:  “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.’” So as should be obvious, this a very tenuous verse on which to base the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. 
Second, when Yeshua said, “Assuredly I say to you today…” (unpunctuated), according to Bullinger in his Companion Bible (see his notes on Luke 23:43 referencing his notes on Deut 4:26), this is a Hebraic solemn idiom used for great emphasis, and this idiom occurs 42 times in Deuteronomy alone! Third, if Yeshua is stating that the thief on the cross will be with him in heaven that very day, then this contradicts other Scriptures that I reference in my answer to your previous question. I would also ask why Yeshua would allow the thief into heaven, while the righteous David still languishes in his grave awaiting his resurrection (Acts 2:29)? Fourth, what is paradise? Biblically, paradise refers to the Garden of Eden. It is not heaven per se in the Christian colloquial sense of the word, for the Bible teaches that heaven is coming to this earth in the form of the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth (see Rev 21–22). This will be the new paradise where the tree of life exists (Rev 2:7). It is there that the glorified resurrected saints will be living for eternity with Elohim—not in third heaven per se, which is currently the dwelling place of Elohim. Paul got to see a preview of this paradise in 2 Cor 12:4.

Luke 16: 22-24 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”???


Here are my notes explaining Yeshua’s Parable of Lazarus and Rich Man

Luke 16:19–31, The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. This, and the other parables of Yeshua, are known as aggadah (also haggadah)—a very popular literary style during the second temple period whereby Jewish sages taught moralistic principles to their pupils. It was similar to our modern Aesop’s fables. This genre of literature included ethical and moral teaching, theological speculation, legends, folklore, poetry, prayers, historical information, interpreting of dreams, and expressions of messianic faith and longings. Aggadic literature, though instructive, did not contain legally binding theological and doctrinal dictums. Aggadic literature is to be contrasted with the legally binding halachic literature of the same period. Aggadic literature made use of parable, satire, metaphor, personification, and poetry. Aggadah was not systematic philosophy, but dealt in its own way with basic theological and moral problems. The purpose of aggadic literature was not to convey point-by-point doctrinal truths, but to teach a moral. Most Christian teachers have used the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man as a theological basis for the doctrine of the immortality of the soul (an exegetical leap that cannot be substantiated when one understands the nature of aggadic literature) and have missed the true meaning of Yeshua’s teaching. He is not making a theologically statement or halachic declaration on the state of the dead. What then is the point of his teaching?

Context is vital to understanding this parable properly, and all of the Scriptures, for that matter. Prior to this parable, Yeshua gives the Parable of the Unjust Steward that the attendant Pharisees interpreted as a rebuke directed at them (verse 14). Then Yeshua rebuked those who divorce their wives for the purpose of marrying another women. According to Yeshua, when a man does this, it is tantamount to adultery. Again, this was an affront against the Jewish religious system of the day. As Messianic author and teacher Joseph Dombek Sr. has observed, “[T]he Jews should have recognized that [Yeshua] was the Messiah, and that he represented the bridegroom for the coming kingdom. The Jews did not acknowledge him as the Messiah. They rejected his Father’s Word and committed spiritual adultery by setting up their own traditions and customs” (Mark 7:6–9). Because of their power and influence, the Pharisees had control of all aspects of the Jewish religion.

This parable is a continuation of Yeshua’s rebuke of the Pharisees, scribes and Jewish leaders of his day (Luke 16:14). Who were the Pharisees? The word “Pharisee” (Heb. perushim) means “separatist” because of the fact that the Pharisees did not associate with the common people who did not tithe, were ritually impure, and knew nothing of the law (in their opinion). The Pharisees regarded themselves as practitioners of the principles of “holiness” as described in the Priestly Code of Ezra. The Pharisaic community operated as a sort of “officers club” with strict rules for admission and maintenance of membership. Often a legal scribal scholar would be the head of local groups of Pharisees. 

So when Yeshua speaks of the rich man living sumptuously and attired in purple and fine linen, as Dombek points out, he is referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his day, or to the house of Judah in general. After all, purple robes speak of royalty and the patriarch Jacob prophesied that the kingly line would continue in Judah until Shiloh (or the Messiah) would come (Gen 49:10). As leader of Israel, Judah had a position of regal responsibility to the nation of Israel and before YHVH. To accompany that responsibility the Jews were accorded special benefits as Paul indicates in Romans 3:1–2. To them were committed the oracles of Elohim. Therefore they were in a position to feed sumptuously on the Word of Elohim that had been committed to them for safekeeping. Did they share their spiritual wealth with others by reaching out in love to publicans, sinners, the impoverished and Samaritans? No. Yeshua rebuked them numerous times for failing to do so. Remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example (Luke 10:25–37)?

Who then is Lazarus, the beggar? First, the beggar ate from the crumbs off the rich man’s table. Bread represents the Word of Elohim (Matt 4:4; compare John 1:1,14 with John 6:48–58). Lazarus desired to be fed spiritually from the richness of Elohim’s Word, but because he was an “untouchable” in the eyes of the rich man, and was not a member of the “in crowd,” Lazarus had to content himself with the leftovers.

Moreover, the dogs licked Lazarus’ sores. As Dombek points out in his analysis of this parable, Yeshua referred to the Canaanite woman from the area of Tyre and Sidon as a “little dog” (Matt 15:26). He contrasted this non-Israelite woman with the ten tribes of the lost sheep of the house of Israel (verse 24), who it was his stated mission to regather (Matt 10:5–6). The woman, in great faith, replied that even dogs are allowed to feed from the master’s table, and therefore benefit from the spiritual food, salvation and healing available through the Jews and the Jewish Messiah (Matt 10: 22 and 27). Upon seeing her great faith and perspicacity, Yeshua granted her the request that he heal her demonized daughter (verse 28). 

Relating this to the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Dombek points out that in the eyes of the rich Jewish man, Lazarus was no better than a “Gentile dog.” Dombek states that it should have been the responsibility of Judah and his five brothers (Luke 16:28) (through Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zebulun, Gen 35:23) to lead Israel in worship and obedience to YHVH through studying and teaching his Word to those of the nations around them, but because they had not done so they fell into the same condemnation as the rich man (who represents Judah). 

Dombek continues, even though the rich man asked for Lazarus to return from the dead to warn his five living Jewish brothers about their upcoming fate, Yeshua implies that, since they too were negligently ignorant of the writings of Moses and the Prophets pertaining to their Messiah, how could they receive their resurrected Messiah—the very One that Moses and the Prophets had prophesied about? 

In the parable, Abraham clearly shows that even though Yeshua would rise from the dead, the aristocratic and well-off Jews of the upper class would still not come to a saving knowledge of the Messiah, since they were too steeped in and blinded by their man-made traditions and customs by which the Word of Elohim had been made of none effect (Mark 7:7–9). The rich man was wrapped up in his fine religious garb, had enjoyed a sumptuous life of ease and had neither deeply or sincerely studied the Word of YHVH nor walked in the narrow way of righteousness. Furthermore, in his self-absorbed religiosity, he had failed to proclaim the Word of Elohim to others who might have benefited from his knowledge and understanding about the kingdom of Elohim, writes Dombek.

Lazarus, on the other hand, Dombek continues, represents Gentiles who would snatch up every crumb of truth from the rich man’s table and live by it. The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a condemnation of this hypocritical religionist’s affluence and unwillingness to follow the truth of the Scriptures as he should. He thus commits spiritual adultery by turning from the ways of YHVH Elohim and to satisfy his fleshly desires he pursues the customs of this world. Judah’s, and his brothers’, mission was to be a light to the nations (Gentiles). They were to share with others what YHVH had given to them and not to selfishly hoard it. 

There will be many who self assuredly think that their position in the kingdom of Elohim is secure, but in reality, the flaming mouth of the lake of fire awaits these hypocrites while those they disparaged and disdained on the earth will enjoy eternal life in the company of the patriarchs such as Abraham. This is the real message of this parable.Foot notes: 30 Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, pp. 15–16.31 “Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man,” by Joe Dombek Sr., unpublished paper presented to the author in 200432 Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church, by Ron Mosely, pp. 138–139.33  ibid., p. 86.

OLD TESTAMENT verses too: Eccl. 3:11 ” He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart”??

This verse doesn’t say anything about the soul being immortal and therefore is no proof for the immortality of the soul.

Isa. 8:19 “When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?”???

This verse doesn’t prove the immortality of the soul. It is talking about a form of witchcraft here called necromancy where witches, spiritists or mediums consult the “dead,” but in reality they’re consulting demons who are posing as dead people. The Bible condemns this demonic practice.

Isa. 26:19 “Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.”


This verse doesn’t prove the immortality of the soul either.  It simply affirms the biblical truth that there will be a resurrection of the dead at some time in the future. This begs the question: If the soul is immortal and lives on after one dies, then how can there be a resurrection of the dead if one is already alive, since his soul is immortal?

And the best for the last, 1 Samuel 28:19 “Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!”???

In this passage of Scripture, the witch of Endor is acting as a spiritist or medium—a necromancer. A demon is speaking and is posing as the dead Samuel. Yes, this demon looked and sounded like Samuel, but it wasn’t. Even though Scripture calls this demonic impersonator Samuel, this was written from the human perspective, as many Scriptures are, since the Bible is often quoting humans who are speaking and writing from their own perspective based on their limited knowledge, and not necessarily stating truth in the full sense of the word. This is where the astute and Spirit-led Bible student will rightly divide the Word of Elohim, so that they don’t make it say things that are contrary to spiritual truth or contradict other scriptural truths. Moreover, do you not think that the sovereign, all powerful Elohim can’t use anyone or anything to communicate to anyone in any way he chooses—in this case to King Saul? After all, he used a donkey to speak to Balaam. Yeshua said that Elohim could raise up rocks to praise him. Elohim used lying spirits to prophesy lies to King Ahab through the mouths of his false prophets (1 Kgs 22:19–23). Know ye not that even Satan can transform himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14)?

In the last verse above, Samuel himself is saying that Saul and his son will be with him tomorrow!!! Does anyone need more proof that
the Soul or Spirit is immortal!

Yes, the demon is saying that Saul and his sons will be with the him wherever he happens to be—probably in what the Bible refers in several place to as the pit, abyss or, in the Greek, tartaroos (2 Pet 2:4)—the place where the demons are being held in prison awaiting the final judgment.

You’re free to believe whatever you want, but now I’ve given you the truth of Elohim as revealed in his Word.

God Himself gives the Spirit, it is immortal so it cannot die, it awaits after death till Judgement day and waits to go to Heaven or Hell, that’s my understanding from the Scripture. Please correct if I am wrong in my understanding ONLY from the Scripture in addition to answering all the previous verses if I am wrong.

With all due respect, your statement above is evidence of your confusion on this subject. The soul and spirit are not synonymous terms. They are different, as I discussed above. Paul understood this in 1 Thes 5:23. Again, many Scriptures talks about the spirit in man, verses the soul. They are different. I will leave you with what Ezekiel had to say about the soul’s “immortality.””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” (Ezek 18:4). Ezekiel, unless he was a lying prophet clearly states that the soul is not immortal.Paul says that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and that all humans have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of Elohim (Rom 3:23). Therefore, the soul has to die because it is the part of man (i.e. his mind, will and emotions) that has sinned, or else Ezekiel and Paul are liars, the Bible is a lie.
Moreover, if the soul is immortal, then the lie of Satan the serpent at the tree of knowledge is true when he told Adam and Eve that they wouldn’t die when they sinned by violating the commands of Elohim (Gen 3:4). If the soul is immortal, than how can you die?Each of us has to make a choice. Either we can follow the traditions of men by which the word of Elohim has been made of none effect (Mark 7:8–9, 13), or we can follow the full counsel of Elohim’s word from Genesis to Revelation. The problem is that most people haven’t studied the Bible deeply enough to know when their preachers (who should know better) are lying to them.

I pray and hope that you can receive this.

Bible Verses Disproving the Immortality of the Soul

And YHVH Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16–17)

 But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last And where is he? (Job 14:10)

For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? (Ps 

6:5)

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (Ps 17:15)

What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? (Ps 30:9)

Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah. Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (Ps 88:10–12)

You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. (Ps 104:29)

The dead do not praise YHVH, Nor any who go down into silence. (Ps 115:17)

His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. (Ps 146:4)

For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, As I do this day; The father shall make known Your truth to the children. (Isa 38:18–19)

No one has seen Elohim at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. (John 3:13)

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from Elohim; He has seen the Father. (John 6:46)

“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.” (Acts 2:29)

No one has seen Elohim at any time. If we love one another, Elohim abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. (1 John 4:20)

 

8 thoughts on “Dear Natan: Is the soul immortal?

  1. Thanks Natan for the verse by verse answer. It is a great kindness to shine light to expose darkness in understanding. Shavua Tove

    • There are more Bible verses that someday I will cover that are often used to “prove” the immortality of the soul. I’ve covered most of them in my linked article and in this blog, but there are others that I may need to address at some point.

  2. In regard to Yeshua’s promise to the criminal on the cross:
    Yeshua couldn’t have said that He would be with him in paradise today because according to John 20:17 He said to Miryam “Stop holding onto me, because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father”. This statement makes it clear in my opinion that Yeshua was not in heaven or paradise on the day He had died.
    Sonja

    • You are correct BECAUSE what He said was “I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.” He did NOT say “today you will be with me in paradise.” He went to the grave for 3 days.:)

      • I remember when I was a child, my mum had this argument about that punctuation with the Jehova witnesses. My mum was catholic and she was wrong and the Jehova witnesses were right. I don’t like their religion for many reasons, but they get a few things right.
        Sonja

      • Excellent point!

        The problem with this argument in the eyes of the standard Christian steeped in Christian mythology is that paradise isn’t heaven, but is the fictitious place called Abraham’s bosom that is in the good compartment of hell/the grave where the saints go awaiting the resurrection as opposed to the bad compartment of hell/the grave where the sinners go awaiting the judgment. This ridiculous idea is all based on a faulty understanding of the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. They say that it’s not a parable because Yeshua used the name of a particular person, which is the only parable where he did that. So therefore, they reason, it’s a true story. The problem with this theory is that when you start to really examine the details of the story, they simply don’t make logical sense if he’s talking literally. It is clearly an metaphorical illustration of a point that has nothing to do with the state of the dead, and is, therefore, definitely NOT a theological statement of fact on what happens to you when you die as I discussed in my post.

  3. I have heard this argument also and I appreciate your understanding of it; it makes much more sense.
    Sonja

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