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Undying, Immortal Soul?

Undying, Immortal Soul?

Doesn't the Bible speak of the undying, immortal soul?
The phrase “immortal soul” is not mentioned in the Bible. 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. (See 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 mankind, made in the image of God, is also all-powerful? God is all-wise. Is man therefore possessed of boundless wisdom, because he is made in God’s image?

The Bible describes God as: “Eternal, immortal, invisible, … God who alone is wise” (1 Timothy 1:17). The five references that contain the word “immortality” are as follows:

1. Romans 2:7 — “Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” In this text, the Christian is exhorted to “seek” immortality. Why should he seek it if he already possesses it? In this same book of Romans, Paul referred to the prophet Elijah by saying of his enemies, “They seek my life.” (See 1 Kings 19:10). We understand from this verse that Elijah’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.

2. 2 Timothy 1:10 — “Our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The only deduction from this is that so far from immortality being a natural possession of all mankind, it is one of the good things made possible through the gospel. Paul wrote, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Why would we need this gift if we already had undying souls?

3. 1 Corinthians 15:53 — “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” This passage tells when we shall receive immortality. The time is “at the last trumpet” (verse 52). 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?

4. 1 Corinthians 15:54 — “When this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” Again, “this mortal” will put on immortality sometime in the future.

5. 1 Timothy 6:15, 16 — “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality.” This final passage settles the matter as conclusively as words possibly could. It explains fully why we are exhorted to “seek” immortality, and why we are told that immortality is something to be “put on” “at the last trumpet."

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, said that they “changed the glory of the incorruptible [immortal] God into an image made like corruptible [mortal] man.” In the Greek, the word translated “incorruptible” is the same as that rendered “immortal” in 1 Timothy 1:17: “Eternal, immortal, invisible, … God who alone is wise.” 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 incorruptible, immortal God is sharply contrasted with corruptible, mortal human beings.

We read in John 5:26 that “as the Father has life in himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” But nowhere do we read that God granted human beings to have life in themselves. That is why the Bible never speaks of man as naturally immortal.

Adapted From Answers to Objections, Francis D. Nichol, 337–338

 

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Hell in the Bible

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In the Old Testament:
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In the New Testament:
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  • 1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”


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