DOES MAN HAVE A SOUL?
By David J. Riggs
A. So-called "Jehovah's Witnesses" teach that men do not have an
immortal soul within the body. Notice the following quotes from
their own books:
1. "So we see that the claim of religionists that man has an
immortal soul and therefore differs from the beast is not
Scriptural. The Bible shows that both man and beasts are
souls, and that man's pre-eminence is due to the fact that
he is a higher form of creature and was originally given
dominion over the lower forms of animal life. (Ecclesiastes
3:18-21) The first man, Adam, was created a living soul, and
nowhere is it stated that he was given an immortal soul."
(Let God Be True, Second Edition, p. 68).
a. As we will show, although the Bible does not use the
expression, "immortal soul," it clearly teaches that man
2. "How, then did the human soul come into existence? By
God's creating the human body from the dust of the ground
and combining with it 'the breath of life.' This means that
the human soul is maintained alive by breathing the needed
air through the nostrils. It does not mean that the human
creature, man, is maintained by having inside himself an
invisible, spiritual, intelligent something called 'soul'
that can separate from the body at death and that can
continue its intelligent, conscious existence in an
invisible, spiritual realm, either with angels or with
demons." (Things in Which it is Impossible for God to Lie,
3. "All this goes to show that the 'living soul' is not
something implanted invisible inside the human body but is
the human person himself. Consequently, when God's Word uses
the expression 'your soul,' it means you, yourself, your
very being, your life as a human soul." (Ibid., p. 141).
a. Thus, they are saying that there is no soul other than
the living body or person.
4. I have often heard them say, "Man does not have a soul, but
man is a soul." Also, they say, "All that man is goes to the
B. Thus, they teach that man is wholly mortal.
1. Also, they teach that the righteous will remain unconscious
from death to the resurrection, but the wicked are forever
annihilated at death.
I. JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES CHOOSE ONLY ONE DEFINITION OF A WORD.
A. The Witnesses often select a single definition of a word, and
show where it is thus used in many passages, and then conclude
that it means the same in all other passages.
1. Clearly, they have done this with the word "soul."
2. It is true that many passages in the N.T. use the word
"soul" (psuche) to refer to the physical life or the person
3. Of course, these passages are amplified by the Witnesses.
They teach that they reveal completely what the word means.
a. They then set about to pervert all other passages which
4. There is no need to explore all the passages where the word
"soul" (psuche) means "life" or "person."
a. We readily admit that the word "soul" is sometimes
used that way, but it is not the only way it is used.
There are many passages which demand a different use
of the word.
II. THE WORD "SOUL" SOMETIMES REFERS TO THE IMMORTAL NATURE OF MAN.
A. Matt. 10:28
1. There is something which man cannot kill. What is it?
a. When we supply Jehovah's Witnesses' definition for
"soul," the passage makes no sense whatsoever.
2. Witnesses rebut by saying that the soul can be destroyed.
a. The word "destroy" in this verse means "to devote or
give over to eternal misery" (Thayer). "...Not loss of
being, but of well being." (Vine).
b. Luke's account shows that the destroying of the soul
under consideration here is the casting into hell. Luke
B. James 5:19-20; Heb. 10:39
1. If the word does not mean an "immortal soul," why aren't all
the faithful still alive today? It means that not a single
one of them have been converted.
C. Gen. 35:18
1. What was it that was departing from her body? Was her
physical makeup (her body) departing from her physical
makeup (her body)?
2. Was it "the person" departing from "the person"?
3. Truly, it was "the person" (the soul) departing from the
D. 1 Kings 17:21-22
1. Clearly, man not only has a physical composition, but a soul
which departs in death, but by the power of God can come
back into a person.
E. Rev. 6:9-11
1. These souls who had been slain were crying for vengeance
for the way they were treated on earth.
2. Again, this clearly shows that the soul departs the body
III. PASSAGES WHICH TEACH THE DUEL NATURE OF MAN. (These do not use
the word "soul;" nevertheless, they teach that man has a soul).
A. Matt. 22:31-32
1. When God spoke the words which Jesus quoted in this
passage, the patriarchs had long since been dead; yet God
designated Himself as still being their God.
a. Their souls, therefore, were still living because God is
not the God of the dead, but of the living.
b. If the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ceased to exist
at death, God was the God of nothing.
2. Jesus spoke these words in condemnation of the Sadducees
who taught there are no spirits (none to live after death).
a. Were the Sadducees right or wrong about it? Will we
side with them or Jesus?
B. 2 Cor. 4:16
1. The outward man grows old and weakens, but there is
something within man that is renewed day by day.
2. The word "spirit" is sometimes used interchangeably with
"soul." Luke 23:46
a. This could only mean that Jesus was commending His
soul to the Father.
3. Thus, the Scriptures teach that man has a duel nature, both
body and soul, both body and spirit.
C. Zech. 12:1; Job 32:8
1. The fathers of the flesh are contrasted with the Father of
spirits. Heb. 12:9
2. The spirit departs the body at death. James 2:26
3. It returns to God who gave it. Eccl. 12:7
D. Gen. 25:8-9
1. He died. He was gathered (took up his abode) with his
people. He was buried.
2. We fly away at death. Psalm 90:10
3. We are carried by the angels to hades. Luke 16:22-23
E. 2 Pet. 1:13-14
1. The dual nature of man is plainly set forth in this passage.
a. Peter does not say, "I am this tabernacle," but "I am in
b. The tabernacle is the designation for the body and the
"I" for its resident, the soul.
c. Physical death, the separation of body and soul, does
not dissolve the "I" (the soul), but only the tabernacle,
F. Phil. 1:23-24; 2 Cor. 5:8
1. If Paul ceased to be when he died, how could he be present
with the Lord while absent from the body?
2. Also, why did Paul say it was far better to depart and be
a. If he was non-existent when he departed, it would have
been far better to remain here to aid the saints.
3. This clearly shows that there is a separation of soul and
body when one departs from the flesh.
G. Acts 9:36-42
1. Luke said - Vs. 38.
2. However, her body was there when the statement was made.
a. There was something of the woman that was not there
b. When you and I pass on, the real person or the soul will
be gone. What the people see laying in the coffin is not
the real person.
A. These passages should be sufficient to convince any honest
seeker of truth that man has both a body and an eternal soul.
B. Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong in their teaching about the soul.
1. The Bible clearly teaches that all men have a soul,
Jehovah's Witnesses included.
C. Let me, in closing, encourage all faithful servants of God to
continue to try to teach Witnesses so that their souls can be
saved from eternal damnation.
1. I realize, though, that it is exceedingly difficult to
convert them, because they have been deceived into believing
that there is no eternal soul nor everlasting punishment.
2. Truly, their teaching is, borrowing words from an old creed
book, "a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of
3. However, it is not God's doctrine and certainly it will not
result in comfort when this life is over.