EZEKIEL 18:4 – What the Bible Teaches About SOUL and SPIRIT

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“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression “immortal soul,” sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read, “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22). Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast “have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says “let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10, “… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh. “There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10). If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God: “Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this. (1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says “As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.” (2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God “let this child’s soul come into him again.” In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman, “her soul is vexed in her.” Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words. “The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].” This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35). “I lay down my life (John 10:17). “They seek my life (Romans 11:3), and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43, “fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus “now is my soul troubled.” Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17, “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.” In Ezekiel 18:4 God said, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.” This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in Adam all die,” adding to this, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And again, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22). The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he “poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18). Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die. “It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna] (Matthew 10:28). Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38 ‘Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’ Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything. “The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time, ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9). ‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2). In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead. “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body. “The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45). It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale. “There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

——-

Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

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ALL are born with an inherent tendency to worship a higher power—a Supreme Being. Some have tried to dismiss the idea of GOD, and to get along without religion, but sooner or later come back to the worship of some kind of a higher power. Others, in their anxiety not to overlook any advantage that might accrue to them from allegiance to deity, have had a multiplicity of gods. The Athenians of old even went so far as to erect an idol to the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23).

The true Deity of the Bible has been an “unknown God” to most people in all ages, and is even today.

The Bible tells is that there is one GOD, whose name is Jehovah, Yahweh who is addressed by Christians as their Heavenly Father.

The Bible also tells us of the “Son of GOD,” who is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John states that Jesus, in his prehuman existence was known as the Logos,” that is, the “Word,” or mouthpiece of Jehovah, the Creator. In his relationship to mankind, as Savior and Redeemer, Jesus is prophetically spoken of as the “Prince of Peace”; the “Mighty God”; “Emmanuel”; “Michael”; “King of kings”; “Mediator”; etc. These various titles do not describe different gods, but various characteristics of this one Son of GOD, whom the Father has commanded shall be honored even as he himself is honored (Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:23, Daniel 12:1, Revelation 19:16, 1 Timothy 2:5).

The Bible also speaks of the “Holy Spirit.” Through a misunderstanding the Holy Spirit has been construed to be a personality, a third mighty being, equal in power and glory to the Father and Son, yet in some mysterious way, one in substance with them. But this view is not scriptural, as we shall see. Rather, the Holy Spirit mentioned so prominently in the Scriptures is the holy power or influence of GOD—a power which operates for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes wherever and whatever they may be. This fact will become readily apparent as we examine the Bible scriptures.

1. JEHOVAH –  a GOD of Love

In a more or less widespread misconception of Jehovah, he is thought of as being austere and unsympathetic, demanding cruel punishment for all who deviate from the doing of his will. In this view, Jesus is looked upon as the loving GOD of the Bible, the One who stepped between the stern Creator and man as a Redeemer and Savior of the human race.

In our search of the Scriptures to find what they say about the “GOD of love and mercy,” it is important, first of all, to note that Jehovah himself, as well as Jesus, is clearly shown to possess the quality of love. In Titus 3:4, in fact, He is spoken of as our “Savior,” and is there said to be kind and loving. This, the scriptural view of Jehovah, reveals Him as being the Author of the plan of salvation, and Jesus as heartily co-operating.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9,10; Hebrews 10:5-7).

The name Jehovah means the Self-existent, or Eternal One. (Dr. James Strong) In the Bible it is applied exclusively to the Creator, the great First Cause of everything.

“From everlasting to everlasting,” is one of the scriptural expressions used by the Holy Spirit to emphasize that Jehovah is not a created being, but the Creator of all things (Psalm 90:2).

The name Jehovah is never applied to Jesus.

The name Jehovah is, of course, an Old Testament word. It is not used by the New Testament writers, evidently for the reason that they considered it too sacred a name to translate into another language, or, perhaps because there was no suitable Greek word to use in translating it. But this does not mean that Jehovah is merely a tribal god of the Jews, as some would try to make us believe. He is the one true GOD, the Creator of the universe, and the one in whom all animate creation lives and moves and has its being (Acts 17:24-28).

Other Gods in the Old Testament

There are other Hebrew words in the Old Testament translated Lord and God. These, while sometimes applied to Jehovah, are also sometimes prophetically applied to Jesus; sometimes to one or more of the angels; and sometimes even to heathen rulers, and heathen gods. There are three of these Hebrew words—adon, Adonai, and elohim.

  • The most frequent application of adon is to great and mighty ones of the earth.
  • Adonai is always applied to deity, but not always to Jehovah. E.g. Psalm 110:5, the Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” Here the name Lord is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai, and refers to Christ, while the pronoun “thy” refers to Jehovah.
  • The Hebrew word elohim in the Old Testament is a plural form most frequently translated “God” and “Gods,” and is sometimes used with reference to Jehovah, sometimes prophetically of Christ, occasionally, by way of deference, to magistrates, sometimes to angels, and sometimes to false gods. We mention the use of these various Hebrew words translated Lord and God in order to emphasize the fact that Jehovah is the one and only Almighty GOD, who is “from everlasting to everlasting.” There are other lords and other gods referred to in the Scriptures, but Jehovah, even when mentioned as Adonai, or Elohim, is The Adonai, and The Elohim.

Attributes of Jehovah’s Character

Jehovah has been belittled in the minds of many by a traditional misconception of his personality that has been handed down to us from the Dark Ages, in which he was depicted as an old man with a beard. The Bible does not attempt to give us a description of the bodily appearance of the great Eternal One, because our finite minds could not conceive of his glory even though it were described to us.

The Bible does, however, reveal a great deal concerning the outstanding attributes of the Divine character. It tells us of his infinite wisdom, justice, love, and power. These attributes of Jehovah’s character are in perfect balance; and by their manifestation through his dealings with the human race, his glory is revealed. However, it is largely to the degree that we understand the Divine plan for the human race, that we can appreciate the beauty of the Divine character.

While the Bible, of course, does say that GOD is love, that he is just, and wise and powerful, yet it is only as we see the outworking of these glorious attributes in the Creator’s designs toward the children of men that they become truly meaningful to us. While we can, it is true, behold the power of Jehovah in the works of creation with which we are surrounded, yet God’s plan for a resurrection of the dead; and especially his resurrection of Jesus, is a display of his power surpassing even that of his creative work (Ephesians 1:19,20).

Without a knowledge of God’s plan as a whole, one might wonder why he does not use his power to put an immediate stop to human suffering, especially in view of the fact that he is reputed to be loving as well as powerful. But we must remember that GOD is just and wise, as well as powerful and loving. Everything he does must be fully in harmony with all these attributes of his character (Psalm 89:14).

If GOD was only loving and merciful he would not have condemned our first parents to death, although he had told them if they sinned they would die. One of the fundamentals of GOD’s law is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). His justice, therefore, demanded that our first parents pay the penalty of their sin.

Some may argue that GOD’s plan to raise the dead is, in effect, a setting aside of GOD’s justice in demanding the death sentence for the violation of his law. But that is where GOD’s wisdom and love can be seen. If only justice alone had been considered, no provision would have been made to set aside that original sentence of death; but divine wisdom and love found a way whereby God could be just, yet use his power to restore the dead to life. This way is through Christ, the Redeemer. Jesus was the world’s “ransom,” which means a corresponding price. It was Divine love that allowed for this, for the Scriptures say that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, Hebrews 2:9).

Jehovah has changed his mind concerning the “wages of sin.” GOD’s Divine wisdom saw that it would be highly desirable that man obtain a thorough knowledge of sin and its disasterous consequences so that all men can learn obedience to GOD’s standard principle = RIGHTEOUSNESS, which shall be the ultimate result in due time.

GOD could have created enough human beings to fill the whole earth, and thus have the planet populated without the process of procreation. This would have meant that each one would have been individually on trial for life. In this case, if those who transgressed were to be redeemed from death, it would have required a separate Redeemer for each one of them. Hence, we can see the wisdom in the divine arrangement whereby Adam was held the responsible head of the entire human race. Thus his sin not only brought condemnation upon all, in that from the very start they were born imperfect, but it also made possible the redemption of all through the death of but one Redeemer (Romans 5:12).

SO all the human race has been receiving an experimental knowledge of sin and its results, and then they have been passes away temporarily in the sleep of death, to be restored during the coming kingdom period when their present experience will be a most valuable asset to them in weighing the advantages of obedience to the divine law then in force.

By this infinitely wise arrangement every child of Adam will be given an experimental knowledge of both good and evil, and thus will be equipped to choose intelligently between the two. Those who choose the good, and accept of GOD’s grace through Christ, the Redeemer, will then live forever.

GOD’s Diversified Wisdom

In Ephesians 3:10, Paul speaks of the “manifold” wisdom of GOD. The Emphatic Diaglott translation of this text uses the word “diversified.” The apostle also shows that this “diversified” wisdom of GOD is being manifested even to the angelic beings in the universe, being revealed to them specially through GOD’s dealings with the church (the 144,000 Elect and the Great Company – as explained in the Book of Revelation) of this age.

In the selection and preparation of the Church to co-operate with Jesus in the future kingdom work of rehabilitating the lost race, there is a still further manifestation of Divine wisdom. How wise that representatives of the fallen race should be chosen, tested, and then equipped to deal with and bless their fellows in the mediatorial arrangements of the new age soon to begin.

And the qualification test placed upon these is that they love GOD’s will supremely and their fellow men so unselfishly that they gladly lay down their lives in service now—imperfect though that service may be—in order that they may be exalted to a glorious future service which will actually give life to all mankind. It is this that Apostle Paul refers to as a baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).

Yes, those who will follow in Jesus’ footsteps now, will reign with him in his thousand-year kingdom.

The purpose of that kingdom is the restoration of the entire human race to the lost earthly paradise. During those thousand years Christ and the church will serve as a mediatorial board to instruct and bless the world; and finally, to restore the people to atonement with the Creator (Revelation 20:4, Acts 3:20,21, Acts 15:16,17).

2. JESUS

Jehovah of the Old Testament Scriptures is the Heavenly Father of the New Testament.

Thus, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven.”

Jesus is the Son of GOD, this being the relationship he has always enjoyed with Jehovah, the Creator. The Scriptures make it plain that Jesus had been actively associated with his Father since the earliest dawn of creation. They tell us, in fact, that he was the “beginning of the creation of GOD” (Revelation 3:14), and also, “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

These passages indicate that Jesus was the direct creation of the Father, and therefore properly spoken of as his only begotten Son.” The apostle also tells us that Jesus was the active agent of Jehovah in all the creative work. He says: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him” (Colossians 1:16, Hebrew 1:2, John 1:3, Ephesians 3:9).

In John 1:14, Jesus in his prehuman existence is referred to as the “Word” of GOD. Verse 14 says that the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The term “Word” here used is a translation of the Greek word Logos. Ancient kings when addressing their people, customarily sat behind a lattice in front of which stood a representative who proclaimed the king’s message to the people. The representative was styled the logos—the king’s word, or mouthpiece.

God’s Son, as the Logos, has always been the active agent of Jehovah, and the Bible assures us that he always will be. Not only in the work of creation, but in the call and preparation of the church in this age, and also in the gigantic task of restitution scheduled for the approaching 1000 years of Mediatorial Reign, this beloved Son of GOD acts for the Father, expressing his will, and doing his work. In the millennial age Christ with his church, will speak peace to all the nations, and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks (Micah 4:3, Psalm 46:9).

The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 15:25-28, “He must REIGN, till he hath put ALL enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He [Jehovah] hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him [Jesus], it is manifest that he [Jehovah] is excepted, which did put all things under him [Jesus]. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [Jehovah] that put all things under him, that God [Jehovah] may be all in all.

Considerable confusion has resulted from an inaccurate translation of John 1:1,2, where the King James Version makes it appear that the “Word,” or Logos, is the same personality as GOD. The “Word was God,” is the way this faulty translation puts it. But in the original Greek text the matter is made clear. There a distinction is made between the Logos, who was “a” God, and the Father, who is referred to as “The” GOD. The translation should read, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was a God. The same was in the beginning with The God.”

The Greek word Theos is the one in this text that is translated God. Theos simply means a mighty one, and it must be determined from the text in which it is used, whether the reference is to Jehovah, the Great and Almighty One, or to His Son, Christ Jesus, formerly the Logos, who is “a” mighty One. As a matter of fact, this same word Theos is used in 2 Corinthians 4:4, where the reference is to Satan, the “god [theos] of this world.” However, in the Greek text, the definite article “The,” makes it clear who is meant.

Thus we see that it was the Logos, as “a” God, the one who was the active agent of Jehovah in the creative work, who was “made flesh.” It is interesting to note, in this connection, the form of expression used in the Genesis account of creation, where we read, “Let US make man in OUR image,” etc. Here Jehovah is speaking to the Logos, outlining and directing the work in hand (Genesis 1:26).

And, in keeping with this spirit of oneness and co-operation, when the time came for fallen man to be redeemed, the Logos “humbled himself,” becoming a servant in lowly form, for the suffering of death upon the cross. (Philippians 2:7,8) During the whole period of his earthly ministry Jesus remained humble, always reminding those to whom he ministered that the words which he spoke, and the works which he did, were not his own, but those of the Heavenly Father. This was in full keeping with his plain assertion, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

Jesus’ Oneness with the Father

Jesus declared to his disciples, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) This statement has been misused in an effort to prove that Jesus and his Father were one and the same Person. But all will concede, we believe, that there are forms of oneness other than that of a similarity of being. In John chapter 17, Jesus is quoted as praying for the oneness of his church. In this prayer he asks his Father to bring about the same kind of oneness between his church and himself as existed between himself and his Father. This, obviously, is a oneness of will and purpose.

During Jesus’s ministry, he emphasized over and over that he came not to do his own will, but the will of the Heavenly Father who sent him. When Jesus was facing mockery, ignominy, and death, he asked the Father to let this cup pass from him if it were possible. “Nevertheless,” he said, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42; Matt. 26:39; John 5:30; 6:38) The Heavenly Father’s will was ever paramount in the Master’s life, hence he could truly say, “I and my Father are one.”

This is also the reason Jesus could truthfully say, “He who hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) This statement of Jesus does not mean that in seeing him one actually saw Jehovah, as throughout the Bible we have statements to the effect that no one can look upon GOD and live. (Exod. 33:20; I Tim. 6:16; 1:17; John 1:18) If those who looked upon Jesus in the flesh thereby actually saw GOD, it would mean that GOD, the creator of the universe, is a human being. What Jesus meant was that his life and ministry served to reveal the Father to those who had “eyes to see.”

And besides, it should be remembered that Jesus in the flesh was an exact counterpart of father Adam, of whom it is said, that he was created in the “image of God.” This, of course, refers to a moral image, not a physical likeness. It means that Adam was capable of discerning between right and wrong, as those principles were enunciated in the law of his Creator. This is the reason he was held responsible for his sin.

Jesus, like Adam before the fall, was also in the image of God—a perfect, sinless human being. It was necessary that Jesus be thus, else he could not have redeemed Adam and his race from death. He came to earth as a representative of the Heavenly Father, and everything he did and said was just what the Father would have done and said had he personally visited the earth. Thus it was true that, in a very wonderful way, those who saw him saw the Father. It was the only way that a fallen human being could I see GOD and live.

We should honor the Son even as we honor the Father. (John 5:23) God so highly regarded and honored the Son that he even commanded the angels to worship him, (Heb. 1:6,7) If we take the view that Jesus was GOD himself, then we have the inconsistency of the Master praying to himself, as well as other incongruities in connection with his earthly life and ministry.

Jesus Now Highly Exalted

The Bible shows that in carrying out the Divine plan of redemption for the human race, the only begotten Son of GOD has experienced two changes of nature. Before his human existence, he was a glorious spirit being, next in honor and authority to the Heavenly Father himself. Jesus referred to his prehuman glory, when he prayed, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) That glory was laid aside when the Logos was “made flesh.” Jesus was made flesh, the apostle explains, “for the suffering of death.” (Heb. 2:9,14) As a spirit being he could not give himself as a corresponding price for father Adam and his race, so he humbled himself that he might die as a ransom to save the human race from eternal destruction.—Phil. 2:7, 8; I Tim. 2:5,6

In raising the Master from the dead the Father did more than restore his Son to his former position of glory in the heavenly realm. He highly exalted him to a place next to himself on the throne of the universe. GOD exalted him to the Divine nature, also, so that now he is truly the Divine Christ—the “express image of the Father’s person.” (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34,36; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3,13) Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3. THE HOLY SPIRIT

Through mistranslation and otherwise, many have been led erroneously to believe that the Holy spirit is a person, the third person of a trinity God; but the Scriptures, when properly understood, do not warrant this thought. One of the mistranslations contributing to this misunderstanding is where the Greek word pneuma is rendered by the English word “ghost.” This makes the holy Spirit to be a holy “Ghost.”

But this is a gross mistranslation, and so recognized by the American Revision Committee who translated the Revised Version. In a number of instances, both the British and American Revisers corrected “Ghost” to “Spirit.” The American Revisers use the word “Spirit” where the King James Version reads “Ghost.”

The King James Version was translated at a time when superstition was rife, hence the word “Ghost” would command a great deal more respect and reverence than it does today. Back in the days when the KJV Bible was written, ghosts were very real in the minds of most people, yet very mysterious. They were always associated with the thought of personality, and the translators, believing in a personal holy Spirit, conceived the idea of calling it a holy “Ghost.”

In the Old Testament the word “spirit” is a translation of the Hebrew word ruach. The primary significance of this word is wind. We do not mean to imply by this, however, that the holy Spirit is a holy wind. This is merely the root meaning of the word. Wind is both invisible and powerful, hence the ancients applied this word to various invisible and powerful influences. Since Divine power is exercised through channels and by agencies beyond human sight and understanding, this word ruach came to be applied more and more to all of GOD’s dealings.

The word ruach, in addition to being translated “Spirit,” is also translated in the Old Testament by the English words “blast,” “breath,” “tempest,” “mind,” “smell,” “wind,” and “windy.” It will be seen that in each of these translations the thought behind the word is that of invisible power, or influence. There is power in the mind, for example, but it is a power that is invisible, and its operation but little understood.

As already noted, in the New Testament the Greek word translated “Spirit,” or “Ghost,” in the expressions holy Spirit or holy “Ghost,” is pneuma. The primary meaning of this word is also wind, or air. It is the word from which our English word pneumatic is derived. In addition to being translated Spirit and Ghost, it is also translated in the New ‘testament by the words “life,” “spiritual,” and sometimes “wind.” In Revelation 13:15 it is translated life, and here the reference is to life that is given to the image of the beast.”

The holy Spirit then is the invisible power of GOD, a power that is manifested in a great variety of ways. Speaking of GOD’s creative power we read that his “Spirit moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) That was a life-giving Power.

The influence of the holy Spirit in our lives as Christians is primarily that of GOD’s mind—the power of his expressed will for us.

Various manifestations of the holy Spirit are referred to as “The Spirit of Christ,” the “Spirit of holiness,” the “Spirit of truth,” the “Holy Spirit of promise,” the “Spirit of meekness,” the “Spirit of grace,” the “Spirit of prophecy.”

The various manifestations of the spirit of Satan are described as the “spirit of fear,” the “spirit of bondage,” the “spirit of the world,” the “spirit of error,” the “spirit of divination,” the “spirit of antichrist,” and the “spirit of slumber.” No one would conclude that because the word spirit is thus used to describe the various manifestations of Satan’s influence in the world, that there is a personal unholy spirit, that is one in substance with the Devil.

Born of the Spirit

There are a number of expressions used in the Scriptures to describe the work of the holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of Christians. One of these is “born.” This is a word which suggests the coming into existence of a new life, and this is one of the things accomplished by the Power of the holy Spirit. This new life, when it conics fully to birth, will be so different from the human life that concerning it Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canal not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

The Greek word in the Bible translated “born” is also correctly translated “begotten”. When one comes to GOD in repentance and, through faith in Christ as his Redeemer, surrenders himself in full consecration to do GOD’s will, what occurs is properly described as a “begetting” of the Spirit of GOD. In other words, a new life is then begun.

But this new life, to continue the symbolism, is merely an embryo. It needs to be nourished by the Word of GOD, and thus to develop, growing strong in the Lord and in the power of his night. It is not until the resurrection that this new life comes to the birth. Not until then is one truly born of the Spirit. Not until then are the words of Jesus true that one thus born is able to go and come invisibly as the wind.

Baptism of the Spirit

The Scriptures also speak of the “baptism” of the Spirit. The word baptize means to bury, and to be baptized by the Spirit of GOD simply means to be so fully surrendered to the doing of GOD’s will that one comes fully under its control, having no will of one’s own.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized,” and he explains that for the individual this baptism occurs when one comes into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is a burial of our wills into the will of God as expressed through Christ, the Head of the “body.”

When we understand what to expect as a result of placing ourselves under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will not be wondering why we cannot speak with tongues as did the disciples at Pentecost and for a short time thereafter. Speaking with tongues as practiced by the early Church was a necessity at that time. At Pentecost, for example, Jews were gathered at Jerusalem from all parts of the known world. They spoke various languages, yet it was the Lord’s will that they should receive a witness of the truth as proclaimed by the apostles. In order for this to be accomplished, the disciples were miraculously empowered to speak in these various languages. As the church grew, and conversions were made among these various language groups, the need for speaking with tongues no longer existed, for there were disciples among all the various groups capable of witnessing to the Gospel in their native tongues.

Filled with the Spirit

The Scriptures declare, “Be ye filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) How void of meaning would this expression be if the Holy Spirit were a person! But when we recognize that it is simply the power, or influence, of GOD, exercised in the Christian life largely through his written Word, then we can understand how it is possible to have either more or less of the Spirit influencing our lives.

To be filled with the Spirit calls for an emptying of self and self-will, and a diligent application of ourselves to the study of GOD’s Word and to putting into practice all of its righteous precepts.

In the Scriptures, Christians are also said to be “sealed” by the “holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) GOD’s Spirit directed the minds of the prophets in writing the Old Testament in which are recorded many promises vouchsafing GOD’s blessing upon His faithful people. The New Testament was also written under the direct inspiration of the Spirit, or power of GOD, and it contains additional promises by which GOD guarantees victory through Christ for every faithful follower of the Master. Thus He “seals” us by His promises; that is, He assures us that if we are faithful to Him He will give us Grace to help in every time of need, and in the resurrection will give us a crown of life.

All Flesh to be Blessed

GOD’s Spirit will be poured out in various ways for the blessing of mankind during the 1000 Year Messianic Reign of CHRIST and His Bride, the 144,000 Elect.. He will cause the knowledge of his glory to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9) His power will also operate to restore the dead to life, for the promise is that there “shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).

In a promise of a New Covenant which the Lord will make, first with the house of Israel, and then with the whole world, the statement is made that the Lord will write His law in the hearts of the people. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This, too, will result from the operation of His Holy Spirit in the lives of those who obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom.

During this 1000 year Mediatorial Reign,  Satan and all his army of evil angels will be bound, thus his spirit will not be influencing people to do wrong. Instead, every condition of the new social order will be favorable to the doing of GOD’s righteous will. Love will take the place of selfishness as a motivating power in all human activity. The people will learn that the greatest and only enduring joy comes from DOING RIGHTEOUSLY to others rather than from selfishly seeking always to take care of one’s own interests first.

Thus the whole outlook of the human race gradually will be changed as a result of the outpouring of GOD’s Spirit upon all flesh.

How glad we should be that the power of GOD is thus to be manifested for solving the problems of a distressed and dying race! When the blessings accruing from this outpouring of the holy Spirit will be recognized as coming from the great and true GOD of the universe, the Creator of heaven an d earth, the people will be glad to give glory to him, for they will then know that he is truly a GOD of PERFECT AGAPE LOVE -what more could one ask for then this level of PURE LOVE?

Acknowledgment

The Dawn Bible Students Association for content from the Booklet, “Father, Son, Holy Spirit.”

Suggested Further Reading

The Doctrine of the Trinity – Mystery or Confusion
http://www.heraldmag.org/1999/99nd_3.htm

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

Facts About the Trinity
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/FACTS%20ABOUT%20THE%20TRINITY.htm

God and the Trinities
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_42.htm

What Is The Heavenly Father’s Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Jesus – The Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

The Doctrine of Christ – Booklet
http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

The Truth About Hell
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/05/18/what-does-the-word-hell-really-mean/

What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

Is Mere Faith In God Enough?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/08/06/2-peter-15-11-is-mere-faith-in-god-enough/

 

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