The Quick and the Dead
How to apply the crucial difference between body, soul, and spirit. Verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot enter the spiritual kingdom of God. The Bible says mortal humans are dead because they will die, revealing humans to be eternally insignificant, and the spiritual new birth to be not just important, but necessary. (See also D21, D8, D10, D27.) SOME OF THE TOPICS COVERED: *The Bible says mortal humans are dead. *Which body goes to hell, & what we learn from that. (3 pages)
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
When God created man He made us living souls (Ge 2:7; 1 Co 15:45). Man has a body and a soul that are mortal – just like animals. Since we know Adam died the very day he ate the forbidden fruit and lost access to the tree of life (Ge 2:17), and we know Adam did not “die spiritually” (as is commonly assumed) because spirit beings cannot die (cp. He 1:7 and Lk 20:36), and we know Adam continued as a living soul long after he was booted from the garden, there is only one conclusion to which we can come when wondering how Adam died the day he ate the forbidden fruit: Adam became mortal, temporary, limited in and to time. The “Adam died spiritually” tradition is unscriptural because there is no such thing as spiritual death – the only way spirit beings can die is to enter the lake of fire and live there forever. The other common explanation for how Adam died that day is to say he experienced “separation from God”, which says nothing and is used as filler by those who don’t realize the way God cursed Adam that day was by making his body mortal.
Yes, when Adam’s physical body was denied the tree of life it became mortal/dead, and that is why the Bible says humans who are mortal, are dead in God’s eyes – even while still walking around and breathing! This conclusion is confirmed by believing the following verses: THE DEAD: Mt 8:22; 22:32; Jn 5:25; Ro 8:10; 6:13; 1 Co 15:45; Ep 2:1; 5:8,14; 2 Ti 4:1; Ja 2:26; 1 Pe 4:5,6.
OK, so we are mortal, or “dead.” What of it? Well, 1 Co 15:50 says flesh-and-blood mortals cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (KOG). Jn 3 says mortals cannot see or enter the KOG. That’s the problem with mortality, that’s why it’s a curse, and that’s how mortality separates us from God. Notice both 1 Co 15 and Jn 3 contrast the physical (mortal) body with the spiritual (immortal) body. While 1 Co 15:45 refers to Adam – by whom death (mortality) passed to all men – as a living soul, Christ is called a quickening (life-giving) spirit. Mortality is a curse simply because it is limited in and to time. Spirit beings on the other hand are immortal and are not limited in or to time. Therefore when the Bible says mortals cannot enter the KOG it is simply because they are not qualified to enter an immortal, eternal realm.
In order to enter the KOG this mortal must put on immortality; we must be quickened by Christ via the new birth, which gives mortals a spirit body with everlasting life because spirits cannot die (He 1:7; Lk 20:36). The spirit body you acquire at the new birth is spirit, not flesh (Jn 3:6). Now the KOG (remember, God is a Spirit) has come unto you because you have received life from the Spirit in the form of a spirit body. You now have become a son of God with a heavenly body, not just a son of Adam with an earthly body. You may now call God your Father. Call no man on earth your father because none of them gave you life; all they gave you was a dead body headed for the grave! You now have been saved. From what? From the curse of mortality/death, which was put on Adam and passed to all men. Mortality is a curse because it keeps you out of God’s immortal kingdom. But now that you are saved from the curse of mortality you begin your Christian walk as an immortal – you have everlasting life and can never lose it because spirits cannot die (Lk 20:36).
Many people vaguely suppose the soul is an immortal entity because tradition has taught them to ignore the Bible when it says, “the soul that sinneth it shall die.” The soul is merely an intellect – it is who you are. The head is a type of the soul because the head also needs a body in order to survive. The soul must have a body in order to live and function. And there are two types of bodies available, the natural body and the spiritual body (1 Co 15:44). (The soul itself is not a body. You’ll want to review all of 1 Co 15:35-57. It is an excellent treatise on the two types of bodies we souls have available to carry us around.) If the soul is in the natural (mortal) body, that soul will die when the body dies unless one of two things happens:
One, if the person gains access to the tree of life the natural body will live as long as the tree is available. And the soul will live as long as the body lives. However, as Adam and Eve found out, access to the tree of life can be denied.
Two, if the person obtains a spiritual body from God, he – the soul – will never die even if the natural body dies.
To recap: The purpose of the body, whether it be spirit or natural, is to house and serve the soul; the body is the servant of the soul, the servant of the intellect. If a person is not saved, and is therefore only body and soul, the soul will die – it will cease to exist – when the mortal body dies, just as with animals that are also body and soul (cp. Jb 12:10; Re 8:9; 16:3; Ec 3:18-20; Ps 49:12,20). But if a person is saved, and is therefore body, soul, and spirit, the soul will not die when the natural body does because the spirit body cannot die. Christians have two bodies, the old man (the physical, mortal body of death), and the new man (the spiritual, immortal body of life).
Now let’s review some Scripture that can be confusing when looking into body, soul, and spirit: Mt 10:28 and Lk 12:4,5. First, check both contexts to verify that both passages are not spoken to the unsaved who have but one body and a soul, but to Christians who have two bodies and a soul. In Mt 10 we see that a Christian’s (natural) body can be killed, but not his soul (because the spirit body lives on). And it goes on to say God can send the Christian’s surviving soul and (spirit) body to hell – which is a warning/threat from God to His born-again followers. Two questions arise about this passage in an effort to defend today’s doctrinal misunderstandings about the theory of eternal security, about the “immortality” of unregenerate souls, and about the timing of the new birth (when saints actually get their spirit bodies).
The first question arises because the verse uses the word body twice. Since the verse contains neither of my parenthetical adjectives, does the verse support the tradition that unsaved people shouldn’t fear mere men who can (only) kill the (natural) body, but (since men can’t kill the “immortal” soul) the unsaved should fear God who can throw both body and soul into hell? In other words, aren’t all humans, lost and saved, born with immortal souls because everyone is born as body, soul, and spirit?
The answer is No. We must no longer allow tradition to cause us to ignore the two bodies in this verse. One body is obviously mortal and is the one that ends up rotting in the grave, but from whence came the spirit body that, along with the soul, gets thrown into hell? Have we forgotten to apply the Scriptures – such as 1 Co 15 and Jn 3? They tell us the first body is the natural one we got from Adam’s curse – that which is born of the flesh is (not surprisingly) flesh. That first body is easy to identify in Mt 10:28; it’s the dead and rotting one. But according to the verse, once the mortal body is dead there are two entities remaining. One of them is that to which tradition would have you devote your exclusive attention – the soul. But that solves nothing, so we need to focus on the other item – the second body. The Scriptures tell us the second body is the supernatural one, and we get it from the Lord when we are quickened by Him. And the Scriptures tell us when we are born of our earthly parents we are born flesh because we don’t get a spirit body from a fleshy womb. In order to get a spirit body you must be born again in Christ. Without Christ you will not be born again, will not get the second body, will not get everlasting life, and (not surprisingly) will not be qualified to see or enter heaven or hell because you have no life in you because you are the walking dead! This mortal must put on immortality in order to go to the immortal realm of hell. Both the context of Mt 10:28 and its reference to the second (immortal) body indicate it is spoken to and about Christians. And the presence of the second (spirit) body makes it absolutely impossible for the verse to be applied to the unsaved. Those who ignore this verse’s second body are trying to force unsaved humans into an angels’ hell (Mt 25:41).
Do you want more assurance that there are in fact two bodies being referred to? For that, compare Mt 10:28 with the word “after” in Lk 12:5. After the first body is killed the second body can go to hell. Obviously, as we have reviewed in Jn 3 and 1 Co 15, the second body can only be gotten from Christ when a person is born again. And since hell is in the eternal realm, the “spirit world”, and since no mortal can see or enter that realm except he be born again, the unsaved couldn’t go to hell – or even get a glimpse of it (Jn 3:3) – if they wanted to.
The lesson of He 7:16,17 (covered on page D5-1) can also be applied here in order to help debunk the theory that the soul is immortal. How? By applying the “everlastingness” of hell. Since hell is everlasting, only people with everlasting life can go there. Of course, traditionalists say, that’s how we know the soul is immortal. Nice try, but notice again tradition’s necessity to ignore the body. Even if Mt 10:28 and Lk 12:5 are used to show the immortality of the soul, these two verses show that it’s not just the soul that goes to hell; the second body goes with it! At best, therefore, these verses could be used to show the immortality of the Christian soul, which is still contrary to the unscriptural theory of the immortality of all human souls. The theory says those unsaved people (who have not received the second body via the second birth) leave their first and only body in the grave when they die and then their soul goes alone to hell. But these verses we’ve examined show that the second body – and therefore the second birth – is a requirement because you don’t go to hell without it! Without the second birth there can be no second body. And without the second body there can be no second death. These verses teach us to never ignore the body, habeas corpus. After a Christian’s first body dies his second body goes to heaven or hell.
The second question or challenge about these verses concerns the use of the word “destroy” in Mt 10:28. The word “destroy”, the reasoning goes, shows that these verses apply to the unsaved because Christians, who have spirit bodies and therefore everlasting life, cannot be “destroyed.”
Answer: I admit I don’t particularly like the word “destroy” here. But that is only because I have a tendency to look at things from my Natural, carnal perspective instead of from God’s perspective. You see, when dealing with everlasting punishment we are trying to grasp the eternal realm – something radically different from our natural, physical, mortal KOH surroundings and perspective. For example, not only do I not particularly like the word “destroy” here, I also don’t particularly like the fact that being cast into the lake of fire is called the second “death.” “Death” and “destroy” to my way of thinking tend to lend support to the JW’s doctrine that there really is no hell – just “death”, “destruction”, or the “grave”, which would mean there is no everlasting torment. But we need to look at this from God’s perspective – something that is too much of a rarity in this Age of Reason. By taking the Bible seriously and piecing together the clues, it becomes evident that the second death means living forever in torment. That is what real death is. Real death is not dying in an automobile accident. Real death is living in the lake of fire; something from which there is no resurrection, no escape, no relief, and no end. Talk about destruction – that’s it; you’re gone! Permanently!
So Scripturally that is the way I look at “destroy” in Mt 10:28. And in that way the Bible rebukes me for letting my carnal mind do the thinking and teaches me to filter all my thoughts through the governing words of God so that, under His guiding authority, I may more and more develop the mind of Christ. Anyway, death and destruction are different in the physical and spiritual realms because death and destruction as we know them in this physical realm do not exist in the spiritual realm. That is because the spiritual realm is in eternity where there is no death and no ending. And conversely, the death that exists in eternity – which is living forever in torment – doesn’t exist in our world where nothing is forever. At any rate, God uses “destroy” and “torment” as synonyms (Mt 8:29; Mk 1:24; 5:7; Lk 4:34; and compare the info in three more verses: 1 Co 15:25b death is “destroyed”; Re 20:14 death is cast into the “lake of fire/the second death”; Re 20:10 those in the lake of fire are “tormented for ever”). Following His lead, therefore, we must accept destroy and torment as synonyms.
Mt 10:28 is thought-provoking in the same way Jn 3:10 is. In the former, Christ casually mentions to Old Testament saints the second body that goes with the soul to hell. Christ apparently didn’t think He needed to give them a 1 Corinthians 15 dissertation on the two bodies and from whom/Whom they come because He expected Old Testament saints to already know about being born of the Holy Spirit and the second body that comes from it. That is why in John 3 when Nicodemus had trouble following Christ’s talk about the difference between being born of the Spirit and being born of the flesh, Christ rebuked him by pointing out that a master of Israel should already understand the new birth in Jn 3 and the second body in Mt 10:28. Also notice that Mt 10:28 is perfectly complemented by 1 Pe 3:19, which refers to the Old Testament saints’ second – spirit – bodies in hell. Mt 10:28 and 1 Pe 3:19 show that the Old Testament saints really did have two bodies and that the second one was the spirit body. And they show that, while we may disagree about the exact time when the new birth makes saints spirits rather than mortals by giving them spirit bodies, we must agree it happens before the mortal body hits the grave because no soul goes anywhere without the new birth’s spirit body.
We can understand Nicodemus’ confusion: Even today many Christian dissemblers and eternal security advocates think Christ was wrong to say there is a second body that accompanies the soul to hell. They “correct” Christ by claiming the soul goes alone to hell because their doctrines are contradicted by the accompanying second (spirit) body. Dissemblers reject the Old Testament saints’ spirit bodies because they are just as guilty of dissembling and dissimulation as were Peter and Barnabas in Ga 2:11-14. Dissembling in the Bible is feigning a doctrinal difference between God’s Old Testament saints and His New Testament saints, and dissimulation means to conceal our true doctrinal unity in Christ (Ga 3:24,28,29) by pointing to irrelevant differences in outward appearances between Jews and Gentiles. Because these dissemblers today reject Christ’s teaching about the second body in Mt 10:28 and 1 Pe 3:19, they love the fact that Ishmael (Abraham’s firstborn son who was unsaved) was merely born after the flesh, but they hate and reject the fact that Isaac (Abe’s second son who was a Christian) was born after the Spirit (Ga 4:22,23,28,29). Why do they dissemble? Because, among other things, they do not understand the fact that all Old and New Testament saints are priests (Ex 19:6; 1 Pe 2:5,9), and we are all under the same High Priest, Christ Jesus (He 5:5,10). The fact that God ordained but one High Priest, Christ, over His house (He 10:21) shows there is but one priesthood – no matter what dissemblers claim. We are Christians because we are priests serving our High Priest, Christ. And Old Testament saints are Christians because they, too, are priests serving the same High Priest we are. (If you need to review some of the verses showing the Old Testament saints were Spirit-born followers of the same Christ we are, consult the list of verses on pages D8-2,3.) The Bible reveals but one God, one High Priest, one priesthood, one religion, one salvation, one church, and one body of believers against whom Satan is trying to prevail in his unholy ideological war.
Some Christians think the fact that the twinkling-of-an-eye/last-trumpet change we undergo (1 Co 15:49,51,52) is future proves God’s born-of-the-Spirit children do not yet have spirit bodies – that we have only the natural, physical, mortal body we got from Adam. However, the Bible nowhere says the “seventh trumpet” (Re 11:15) is the same as the “last trumpet.” Therefore, the last trump may not sound until the very end of the millennial reign, which is simultaneously the beginning of the 8th day, which is the day the Bible says we get our new circumcised/glorified bodies. And using 1 Co 15 as a proof that we don’t have spirit bodies ignores the fact that the spirit body we have now is apparently different from our glorified/circumcised body, which we don’t get until after Judgment. For example, the resurrected saints of Mt 27:52,53 apparently did not have glorified bodies because their graves had to be opened so they could get out of them. But the resurrected Christ rose before His tomb was opened (D33) and also passed through closed doors (Jn 20:19,26). Therefore, His body wasn’t just a physical body, and it wasn’t just a spirit body (Lk 24:39); it was different: It was a glorified body, which is typified now by us earthly saints being espoused to our Spirit God/Husband, and typified by the future reuniting of the physical Kingdom of Heaven and the spiritual Kingdom of God. The glorified body is a perfect blending/marriage of the physical and the spiritual. Only when we get our glorified bodies will we no longer have the uncircumcised hearts of Je 17:9, and no longer have the internal bodily warfare between the physical and the spiritual (Ro 7:15-25). And, again, when does the Bible say we get circumcised? On the 8th day. Not today, and not the 7th day. But I don’t make a big deal about things like this that do not affect our Christian walk. I say again: I don’t get dogmatic and huffy about trivia that doesn’t affect our Christian walk.
The two bodies we now have, mortal and spirit, are apparently identical in appearance because Christians, thinking Peter’s natural body was still in prison (because they had no faith in their own prayers), assumed it was Peter’s spirit body at the door (Ac 12:15). And a Christian himself can’t even tell which body he’s in (2 Co 12:2-4). But in this case, by applying what we’ve learned in this lesson from Scriptures such as Jn 3:3,5; Re 4:1,2; 21:10; 1 Co 15:50, we know that, even though he couldn’t tell the difference, Paul had to have been in his quickened body. These verses strongly suggest the new birth gives us a spirit body long before our mortal body dies, and these verses help us understand the difference between the quick and the dead.
Have ears that hear...
and endure to the end, comrades!