“God is Spirit…” John 4:24
Much (most) of Christianity subscribes to the heretical notion that man was created by God in an immortal state as spirit, soul and body. The first man, adam, is said to have been god-like and perfect, without sin. That is, up until he sinned. This transgression caused him to not merely fall from his state of sinless perfection, but to somehow die spiritually and lose his immortality. His condition of spiritual death was then passed on to all his progeny.
God subsequently went to work on a fix, a remedy, a “plan” of salvation that would take nearly 4000 years to implement. The fix would essentially require God to send His own Son to die as a punishment for the sins that sinless mankind had just committed, catching God quite by surprise and ruining everything. Just as the first sinless man chose to sin and lose his immortality, so sinful men could now choose to have their immortality restored. Of their own volition, men could take advantage of this fix through various means, depending on which faction of Christianity was presenting them.
The purpose of the fix would generally be agreed upon, that being some form of resuscitation of men’s inherited dead spirits in order to grant them a pleasant afterlife. For those who did not take advantage of the fix, life after death would not be so pleasant, ranging from unavailable altogether to everlasting torment. From the time of adam’s fall until the fix was in place God would only deal with a mere handful of men and their offspring via covenant agreements.
There are many variations of this story, too numerous to cover here.
The TRUTH can be laid hold of by letting the Scriptures tell us what occurred. Man had been created to resemble (look like) his creator:
And elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So elohim created man in his own image, in the image of elohim created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27
Man, however we wish to envision him, was made to look like elohim. This is not said of any of the other creatures.
Proponents of the “spiritual” man theory claim that “in His image” somehow infers:
- Since God is spirit
- And God made man in His image, after His likeness
- Therefore, man must have a spirit – just like God
If this were the case, then the reverse would need to be true: God would also have a soul and body and be made from the dust of the Earth – just like man.
This course of reasoning utterly falls apart when we consider all that God is and man isn’t, which we will visit again later in more detail, but it is not necessary to go that far, if you have ears to hear:
“And YHWH elohim formed adam of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and adam became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7
The English word adam is transliterated from the Hebrew word אָדָם (aw-dawm’). It effectually means mankind, and is used in multiple places that clearly reference more than just the first man. Another Hebrew word for mankind is אֱנוֹשׁ (en-oshe’), a plural word often translated as men. In Hebrew, one man is an אִישׁ (eesh). Adam referred to his helpmate, who had been created from his own body, as an אִשָּׁה (ish-shaw’), a woman.
- English: man / wo’-man
- Hebrew: eesh / ish-shaw’
“And adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'” Genesis 2:23
Later, adam called her name Eve, actually: חַוָּה (khav-vaw’), meaning lifegiver – the mother of all. We never are supplied a name for that first man; he is simply known to us as mankind or adam.
That first man “became a living soul.” In Hebrew the word for soul is נֶפֶשׁ (neh’-fesh), and refers to a breathing creature. Adam was a living soul having a body made directly from the ground, the “dust of the Earth.”
“And YHWH elohim formed from the Earth every animal of the wilderness, and every bird of Heaven, and he brought them to adam to see what he called them, and everything that adam called them, each living soul, that is its name.” Genesis 2:19
All the animals were also living souls (neh’-fesh) having bodies; they were all breathing creatures.
The first two chapters of Genesis record God speaking 107 words to adam (counted using the KJV, other English translations may vary), with no recorded response from the man. We will return to this point, later. In these first two chapters of Genesis there is absolutely no mention of adam being a spirit, having a spirit or being a spiritual man. It is clearly stated that he became a living soul.
At first glance, most English translations of the Scriptures are seemingly not without support of the idea of adam having a spirit (although a little scrutiny will shed light on this). A commonly quoted verse in support of the theory is:
“The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)
In this passage the phrase “the spirit of man” can be literally translated from Hebrew into English as “the breath of adam…” The Hebrew word translated as spirit in this verse, נְשָׁמָה (nesh-aw-maw’), is translated as breath is most every other occurrence.
The Peshitta presents this phrase a bit differently, and provides some insight:
“The soul of the children of men is the lamp of the LORD…”
But there are other verses in which we find the phrase “spirit of man”, verses that use a different Hebrew word for spirit. Here are two:
“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:21
The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Zechariah 12:1
In both of these passages the Hebrew word רוּחַ (roo’-akh) is translated into English as spirit. This is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:2, where we read, “…And the Spirit (roo’-akh) of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Strong’s Concordance offers the following information for the Hebrew word:
From H7306; wind; by resemblance breath, that is, a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions): – air, anger, blast, breath, X cool, courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, X vain, ([whirl-]) wind (-y).
From these verses can we not simply conclude that man has a spirit, just like his creator? Read on…
The Hebrew word רוּחַ (roo’-akh) is also used in Genesis 2:7 where it is translated into English as “breath” when God breathes into adam the “breath (roo’-akh) of life.” Of the 378 occurrences of this word in the KJV, more than 30 times it is translated breath.
In Genesis 8:1, we read that when God brought the flood to an end he made a wind (roo’-akh) to pass over the Earth. Of the 378 occurrences of this word in the KJV, more than 100 times it is translated wind.
Wherever the Hebrew word רוּחַ (roo’-akh) appears throughout the Scriptures, the Aramaic word רוחא (Ruu-KhaA) is used. Both words can be (and are) translated into English as breath, wind or spirit – depending upon context / interpretation. While the meanings may appear to be ambiguous at times, breath, wind and spirit are not synonymous.
The New Testament was not penned in Hebrew, so we will not find the Hebrew word רוּחַ (roo’-akh). But we can look at both Aramaic and Greek texts…
God is Spirit (Ruu-KhaA)… John 4:24
When Peter walked on the water, the wind (Ruu-KhaA) was creating quite a chop, such that he grew fearful and began to sink… see Matthew 14:22-33
Another time Jesus rebuked the wind (Ruu-KhaA) and there was a great calm… see Mark 4:35-41
And who is the man who knows what is in a man except only the spirit of the man that is in him? So also a man does not know what is in God; only The Spirit of God knows. 1Corinthians 2:11
The Peshitta uses the word (Ruu-KhaA) for spirit in the above passage, which have already determined to be identical to the Hebrew word רוּחַ (roo’-akh) that we find throughout the Hebrew OT. We already know that both these words translate into English as breath, wind and spirit.
The Greek manuscripts use the word πνεῦμα (pneuma, pnyoo’-mah) for this verse from 1Corinthians. While this Greek word typically translates into English as spirit, it also can be translated as both breath and wind.
What we can conclude is that an issue of interpretation exists. It is not as simple as translating the word for the color “red” from one language to another.
We can readily see that, regardless of which original language we begin with, the Scriptures inform us that man has breath; he is a living being as are all the other creatures. This is what we refer to as soul life.
Like it, or not, we are back at the beginning, still searching for justification for the theory that man, at his birth, comes pre-packaged with a spirit. Where does this idea come from? The answer lies in the technique of reverse logic, or reverse engineering. Here is how it works:
In Genesis 3 we read that the serpent deceived Eve, who then gave
“Thus also it is written: ‘Adam the first man was a living soul; the last Adam, The Life Giver Spirit'”. 1Corinthians 15:45
Contrasting Jesus the Messiah with Adam (the first man): Adam was a soul in a body. The Messiah was a Spirit (having a soul, and inhabiting a body).
Adam’s fate was back to dust!
“…because dust you are and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19