How Do We Distinguish Between Soul and Spirit?

William Arnold III


1. In 2 Peter 2:4 it speaks of sinning angels whom God delivered into chains awaiting judgment. If God put them in chains then who or what is Satan using as his "agents" against us?

2. We are described as being three parts: body, soul and spirit. Can you explain to me from where in scripture soul is our emotions/mind and spirit is our innermost being? For I read in Strong's that: (a) Soul in Hebrew is likened to "breathing creature" and in Greek to "spirit"; and (b) Spirit in Hebrew is "breath" but has connotations of "rational being, expression and functions," and in Greek it is "rational soul, mental disposition."

3. We are taught our soul is what is immortal and that it is our mind/emotions/intellect. Matt. 10:28 says we are to fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Looking up "destroy" " it does not appear the soul is immortal here. So I am just curious as to what it is of those who are not saved that will enter into everlasting punishment.


1. It appears that there have been at least two falls of angels and that Peter is making reference to those in Genesis 6, not to Satan and his followers. (See my article: Who Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6?).

2. The soul/spirit distinction is a really difficult one. Many scholars today believe that they are the same. I believe that the Bible indicates some distinction in passages such as 1 Cor. 2:14; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12, but as Heb. 4:12 indicates, this is a difficult distinction, since it compares it to distinguishing between "thoughts and intentions" as well as "joints and marrow." They both refer to our inner man, but apparently to different aspects of our inner man. I do not see that the Bible anywhere actually teaches the common distinction you have mentioned. This was probably derived from observing how the terms are used, but I would not give it too much authority.

3. I do not believe that this passage is using the word "destroy" as meaning "to cease to exist" since no human being created in God's image will ever cease to exist. The Bible often uses the word "destroy" in reference to eternal punishment. Their whole person (body, soul and spirit) will undergo torment forever.

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