Is the soul immortal? - Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, John Ankerberg Show

Is the soul immortal?

A John Ankerberg Show viewer asks: “The Bible says (paraphrasing) “the soul that sins shall die” (2 places in the OT, I believe) and “don’t fear him who can destroy the body, but fear him who can destroy both the body and soul.” These verses strongly imply to me the soul is not immortal, but something which can be destroyed; hence, can not continue to live in some form in everburning hell fire. Although Satan, the false prophet and the beast may (or may not), that belief does not necessarily transfer to everybody else. While there may be 1-2 verses that could be read as such, it seems the ones I stated above very strong and very directly say NO. Comments?”

In responding the initial question is one of definition. Most often in these discussions a term is set forth, such as “death” but done so without definition. Most often those who assert or presume that “death” equal no immortal soul are assuming that death means cessation of existence. Biblically, death simply means separation no annihilation. When Adam sinned his death was two-fold. He died and was spiritually separated from God and he began the process of physical death where his soul or spirit would be separated from his physical body. The Apostle Paul demonstrates this in Ephesians 2 when he writes that we were dead in our trespasses and sins and that God made us alive. Obviously were physically alive, conscious and walking around even though we were “dead” or separated from God and then “made alive” or reunited with God. There are a number of passages which demonstrate that physical death is the separation of the spirit/soul from the body but I will go to one where Jesus Himself is speaking. In John 2:19-22 where he declared,

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Since, He said He would raise His body, something of Him would have had to still be existing in order to do the raising. In addition, as you point out, “Satan, the false prophet [a human] and the beast, may (or may not)…” “continue to live in some form” Scripture not only says they will but that all will either live eternally (that is be a peace with God an in His presence) or suffer conscious eternal separation from God which is the “second death.”

L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr. , President
Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.