Doctrine of the immortal soul

Hi, I am in a conversation with a JW and the she asked me this question- Were do we get the doctrine of the immortal soul? They don’t believe in the immortal soul. Is it by Tradition or is it in the bible some were? I know that she will not believe anything I tell her if not found someplace in the bible .

I did check out the CCC 363-366 and 382 which says Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity (GS 14/1) the Doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.

What doctrine of faith? Just faith alone?

I do believe in the immortal soul but am at a loss as how to explain( if there is an explanation) or discuss this with her.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.


Your best, first response would have been to ask her what made her believe the Soul could die. You need to press them (nicely), because they’re taught to be evasive. Push – what has she ever seen that convinced her. When she shows JW literature, ask, do the think JW is infallible? Politely let her answer. Don’t contradict, but ask "do you know that JW over the years has told us many different dates for the Last Day?

If she doesn’t leave, then ask if she believes God is Eternal? and Jesus? and the Holy Spirit? Angels? Does she believe in Eternal Life? Does she believe in Saints?

Almost surely she’ll leave now. JW has seized (or stumbled–I’m not entirely sure which) in confusion because Hebrew has three different concepts or senses that it inconsistently distinguishes: life, breath, spirit. And when the Greeks get involved, they often divide the human into four elements mind, body, spirit, soul. Search any of these in the Ccom forums and you’ll find some excellent quotations.

As for her not believing anything not in Scripture, ask her about medicines, airplanes, hi- tech devices, etc, etc How can she believe in them?
Remind her of Jesus’ words that we should fear the One who can destroy the Soul. Ask her to explain this. Ask who Jesus was talking about? Does it sound like Jesus was talking about a lot of persons, or just One?
Make the point, Only God only can destroy a soul, and Scripture says He hasn’t. (Satan lives, evil angels live, evil spirits live).

On her way out, ask her to clarify what do you think the souls? Then ask, where do you find that in Scripture?

Be nice, most of them are very good people, and don’t do much wrong except to parrot the JW criticism of other religions. But haven’t we something like that ourselves?

The JWs and their spiritual ancestors, the 7th-Day Adventists, deny the immortal soul based on an interpretation of Psalm 146 in the King James Version: when the human “spirit departs…his thoughts perish.”

They understand that to mean the human mind itself perishing; no more mind, no more soul.

To them, human life “sleeps” in death until the end of time. Hence the doctrine called soul-sleep.

(But souls cannot sleep; sleep is a BODY function; only BODIES can sleep.)

Our LORD Himself did not understand Psalm 146 in this way, as He told His followers that killing the human body “does not kill the soul.”

Saint Paul said that to be “absent from the body” is to be present with the LORD. Leaving aside issues about Purgatory for the moment, you aren’t “with” someone if you are asleep; and it sounds like for Saint Paul, the soul does NOT die with the human body.

GOD Bless and ICXC NIKA.

What does your friend make of Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31? It describes the conversation between two dead people, namely, long-dead Abraham and the recently-dead rich man. Wouldn’t such a conversation be impossible if their souls perished or fell asleep at death?

First, like the existence of God, the immortality of the soul is something that can be believed apart from Scripture and Tradition. We don’t say we “get” our belief that God exists from the Bible or Tradition, even though they both teach it. It’s part of what we call natural revelation. Things that human beings can discover without being told by God. Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers all believed the soul was immortal, even though they never read Scripture or were taught by any prophets. Just like there are a lot of good reasons to think that God exists apart from the Bible, there are a lot of good reasons to believe humans beings possess an immortal soul that’s not dependent on Scripture or Tradition. This blog post is a pretty good intro and gives a few of those arguments.

That said, Scripture DOES teach that the soul doesn’t cease to exist when the body does. Here’s a few good verses you could show your friend:

Ecclesiastes 12:7
*and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit ***returns to God who gave it. ****

Ecclesiastes 12 is describing what happens when we die. It clearly says the body (i.e. the dust) returns to the earth, but the spirit returns to God. It doesn’t cease to exist.

Matthew 17:1-3

  • And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3** And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him***

Here we have two men, long dead, who obviously still exist and are even talking to Jesus. (They might argue that Elijah never technically died, he was taken straight to heaven. This is true. But the Bible plainly says Moses DID die in Deuteronomy 34:5-7. So there’s at least one dead person here who’s soul is still alive.)

Luke 20:37-38

37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.

All people, even those who have died, are alive to God according to Jesus. If that’s not the immortality of the soul I don’t know what is.

There’s a lot more, but I’m just going to quote one final one:
Phillipians 1:21-24**

  • 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. *

First Paul says when he dies he will be with Christ, then he says that is far better than life on earth. Now, neither of those things make sense if the soul is not immortal. He wouldn’t be with Christ when he dies, and unconscious existence is not better than life in the flesh.

This pretty clearly shows that the soul must be immortal, for Paul to say something like that.

Hi Wayne, discussion of the soul is a red herring.

I have stumped them in the past by pointing out that both goats and sheep are made up of the same kind of matter (Matthew 25 judgement scene) then point out from I Cor 15 that the sheep’s body is indestructible — if one is honest, then there is no reason to believe that the goat’s body can be destroyed by “eternal fire” — I am told that the greek of Matthew 25:46 demands that both eternal life and eternal punishment are the same length – if one is shorten, then so the other must be too. Therefore even a “temporary” soul in an indestructible body would be eternal. From there, move on to what matters, who Jesus is, and what he did on the Cross. Point them to I Cor 15:3-5 to limit discussions to what really matters because one can be right about anything else and miss the boat if they gets the gospel wrong — besides this red herring only got started to find a way to attack non Watch Tower theology. It is later used to attack prayer with/to the saints.

This is from the article in the link:

  1. The Annihilation of the Soul
    Contrary to sacred Scripture and Tradition (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 84-87), JWs believe that,
    when a person dies, his soul is annihilated and that he ceases to exist. In Rev. 6:9-10, John sees a vision of the souls
    of the martyrs who died for Christ. Additional passages such as 1 Sam. 28, Mt. 10:28, Lk. 16 and 1 Pet. 3:19 validate
    the existence of one’s soul after death.
    Verses that JWs use to the contrary, like Eccles. 9:5-6, must be read in context. God had not revealed very
    much about the afterlife in the Old Testament, and this passage only asserts that the dead will not be remembered in
    some sense, not cease to exist.
    Also be aware that the Bible uses the word soul in several ways. Sometimes it is the seat of human emotion
    (Ps. 42:2), sometimes it is the whole persona living being(Gen. 2:7), and sometimes it is the immortal spirit
    which animates a body (Mt. 10:28, Rv. 6:9-10, common usage). JWs will try to limit the meaning of soul to
    exclude the third (and most common) meaning, but this is not biblical.

See also this Catholic Answers tract:


On her way out, ask her to clarify what do you think the souls? Then ask, where do you find that in Scripture?

She thinks that the soul animates the body and once the body dies(loss of animation) the soul returns to God’s memory to be put back back into our re-created body at the end of time.
Not our resurrected body but our re-created one. Go figure!!

She brushed this off as just a story.

The same as she insists that in Heb1:5 God is calling Jesus an angel even though the Scripture says that God never calls an angel son. That is where they get that Jesus Michael the Arch angel. It just baffles the mind.

Thanks for the links. All responses have been helpful.
Actually this Witness believes that the purpose of the soul IS to animate the body only.

Since most dead human beings, unlike our LORD, have no dead body to return to (nor will we, if we must spend 20 years or more dead), the difference between resurrected and re-created isn’t worth making.


The ‘Beginning Apologetic’ s series Volume 2, 'How To Answers Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Available here on the shop is probably what you need.

Here’s the whole series, but you probably only need volume 2 at the moment, they’re under $5.00 for each Volume.

Jesus as arch angel is a hang over from Christian Connextion through Seventh Day Adventists.

Concerning Hebrews 1

5** For to which of the angels did God ever say**,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”?
Or again,

“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?
6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”
8 But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;

The phrases, “to which of his angels” and “to all God’s angels” alone would rule him out as even being an angel. The clear answer to which is NONE of his angels and the “all angels” would rule him out being an angel because how does he bow to hinself? :wink:

Concerning soul sleep even Isaiah 14 has the “dead” living

9** The realm of the dead below is all astir
to meet you at your coming;
it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you**—
all those who were leaders in the world;
it makes them rise from their thrones—
all those who were kings over the nations.
10 They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us.”
11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.

Good Idea. I have the series, I will give it a look and see what it has to offer.

She and I have discussed Heb 1 ad nauseam. She answers the questions to which of the angels etc Jesus of course. She has a twisted view of these verses even though it says in black and white that Jesus is not an angel.

But I will do a little studying in Isa. 14. I haven’t mentioned these verses to her. Thanks for sharing them.

Get a copy of The Pastor Russell Anthology which has a copy of
the unabridged, unedited Finished Mystery book and leave it on your coffee table. I made the mistake of leaving the only copy I had on the coffee table which someone here sent to me (I never got around to thanking them, Thank You, whoever you were). Anyways, the Elder stole it and this really upset the person, newbie being trained by him because the newbie could not buy into Kingdom thinking, justification for stealing other peoples property.

I do needs the complete series of all there materials on Jehovah’s Witnesses and LDS for research purposes, but can not affords to purchase books — if anyone has copies they do not needs anymore, please PM me for my mailing address.

I ran into the newbie months later at a store or library. He informed me that event caused him to lose all trust in the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He returned to his mainline Christian church.

Some are on Amazon which is still beyond my budget. :frowning:

I opened a thread on the Finished Mystery book here

There may be a passing reference to it in these threads

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