You are visiting from Ashburn,VA,US

Where does your soul go when you die?

Do you live on after death?

Thank you for asking a question on This is your Bible.

The question arises from a widely held misconception of what the soul is.We are familiar with the Maritime Distress signal SOS – Save our Souls – and we understand it well enough to mean Save our Lives.  If we thought in this context that the soul lived on after the person had drowned then the signal would be meaningless. Saving the soul would not be a matter of saving from drowning.
The word soul first appears in the Bible in Genesis.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

‘Soul’ is a translation of the Hebrew word Nephesh. From Strong’s Concordance we find that Nephesh occurs some 753 times in the Old Testament.
The Authorised (King James) Version translators translate it as follows: -
Soul 475 times, life 117 times, person 29 times, mind 15 times, heart 15 times, creature 9 times, body 8 times, himself 8 times, yourselves 6 times, dead 5 times, will 4 times, desire 4 times, man 3 times, themselves 3 times, any 3 times, appetite 2 times, and other miscellaneous words 47 times.
Nowhere is it associated with the idea of something which lives on after death.The phrase ‘immortal soul’ does not appear in the Bible.
If we consider the ‘mechanics’ of creation:
(made from dust) + breath (breathed into lungs via the nostrils) = living soul.
From this if we take away the breath (the person ceases to breathe) then the
livingsoul becomes a ‘dead soul’ and the body returns to dust.Do we find the words ‘dead soul’ in the Bible?
Yes, in the original Hebrew :

Leviticus 21:11 Neither shall he go in to any dead body (Nephesh), nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;

The translators have translated the word as ‘body’ instead of ‘soul’.They have done the same in Numbers 6:6
; 19:11; 19:13
The word Nephesh is also used of creatures other than man.
Genesis 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life , I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

So we see that all living creatures are called living
souls in Hebrew.All living souls die because of man’s sin.
Ezekel 18:4 Behold, all
souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
The only soul that did not sin was Jesus Christ. David speaks of Christ in Psalm 16:10  For thou wilt not leave my
soul in hell (sheol – the grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Which Peter explains in Acts:
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my
soul (Greek - psuche) in hell (Greek - hades – the grave), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
31 He (David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his
soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
From Strong’s Concordance we find that psuche occurs some 105 times in the New Testament.
The AV translators translate it as follows:
Soul 58 times, life 40 times, mind 3 times, heart 1 time, heartily + 1537 1 time, not translated 2 times.
Again it is not associated with the idea of something which lives on after death.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Peter speaking of Noah’s day says:

1Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The rest of the ‘souls’ perished in the waters of the flood, only eight were saved.Which brings us back to the Maritime Distress signal SOS – Save our Souls.

The Bible speaks of death as sleeping in the dust of the ground awaiting resurrection.

Old Testament

1Kings 2:10 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

New Testament

Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

1Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

1Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

The soul during the time of death ‘sleeps’ in the dust and at the return of Christ will be raised again to life.

Some to live forever; others condemned to die again (which Revelation calls the ‘second death’).

To live eternally the ‘living soul’ must be changed from mortality to immortality.

1Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

 You might also like to read: After Death – What?

If you want to come to grips with what the Bible really teaches, why not take the free online Bible study course available on our website, www.thisisyourbible.com? This course will give you a background in the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. As with everything we offer, there is no cost to you other than your time and effort... You will also have a personal tutor to whom you may pose questions either from the course itself or those questions which come to you as you read the Bible.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

Bible Questions and Answers
Browse all the questions that have been asked at ThisisyourBible.com and see their answers,   read the most recent questions and answers,  or have a look at some prepared questions and answers on key Bible themes.