Doesn't the Bible speak of the "undying," "immortal" soul?
No, the undying, immortal soul is not mentioned in the Bible. The word
"immortal" is found only once in the Bible, and it is in reference to
God (1 Timothy 1:17).
Since man is made in the image of God and God is immortal isn't man then also immortal?
Why should only one of God's attributes, that of immortality, be singled
out for comparison? God is
all-powerful. Does it therefore follow
that man, made in the image of God, is also all-powerful? God is all-wise. Is man therefore possessed of boundless
wisdom, because made in God’s image?
The Bible uses the word “immortality” only five times, and
the word “immortal” only once. In this
lone instance the term is applied to God: “Eternal, immortal, invisible, the
only wise God.” 1 Tim. 1:17. The five
references that contain the word “immortality” are as follows:
2:7. In this text the Christian is
exhorted to “seek” for immortality.
Why should he seek for it if he already possesses it? In this same book of Romans, Paul quotes
the prophet Elijah as saying of his enemies, “They seek my life.” We understand from this that the prophet’s
enemies did not yet have his life in their hands. Therefore, when we are exhorted to seek
for immortality, for a life that knows no end, we must conclude that we do
not now possess such a life.
Timothy 1:10. Here we learn that
Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The only deduction from this is that so
far from immortality’s being a natural possession of all men, it is one of
the good things made possible through the gospel. Paul wrote, “The gift of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ.” Rom.
6:23. Why would we need this gift
if we already had undying souls?
Corinthians 15:53. This passage
tells when we shall receive immortality.
The time is “at the last trump.”
Then “this mortal must put on immortality.” Why should the apostle Paul speak of our
putting on immortality at a future date if we already possess it?
Corinthians 15:54. This verse
simply adds the thought that when “this mortal shall have put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Not only do we learn from these texts that we do not have
immortality, but also we are told that God alone has it.
Timothy 6:16. Here we learn that
God “only hath immortality.” This
final text settles the matter as conclusively as words could possibly do,
and explains fully why we are exhorted to “seek” immortality, and why we
are told that immortality is something that is to be “put on” “at the last
There are other texts which contain in the original Greek
the same word that is translated “immortal” or “immortality” in the six texts
we have just considered. But these
additional texts do not require us to change our conclusion; on the contrary
they strengthen it. Take, for example,
Romans 1:23, where Paul, speaking of the idolatrous action of the heathen, says
that they “changed the glory of the uncorruptible [immortal] God into an image
made like to corruptible [mortal] man.”
In the Greek, the word here translated “uncorruptible” is the same as
that rendered “immortal” in 1 Timothy 1:17:
“Eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only wise God.” The Expositor’s
Bible translates the passage thus: “Transmuted
the glory of the immortal God in a semblance of the likeness of mortal man.” The uncorruptible, the immortal God is
sharply contrasted with corruptible, mortal man.
We read in John 5:26 that the “Father hath life in himself,”
and that He hath “given to the Son to have life in Himself.” But nowhere do we read that God gave to human
beings to have life in themselves. That
is why the Bible never speaks of man as immortal.
- Answers To Objections, Francis D. Nichol, pp. 337-338