The Immortal Soul Problem
One of the reasons why there can be no Hell of eternal torture is because a person would need an 'immortal soul' to be sent there. In other words, a portion of his or her personality would have to be incapable of dying. And although this doctrine is taught by almost all religions, it simply can't be found in the Bible. In fact, one of the things that differentiates the Bible from most (if not all) pagan religions and their sacred writings (such as the Koran), is that the Bible alone teaches that a dead person can be resurrected (brought back to life)… but only if God wills it. So nothing inside us is incapable of dying (immortal).
Why, if you go to Genesis the Third Chapter, you'll find that it was the Opposer (Satan) who first taught that men wouldn't die, for we read at Genesis 3:5, 'Then the snake told the woman, You won't stop living and die. But, God knows that on whatever day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be gods who know good and evil.'
We find this first lie directly contradicted what God had just said at Genesis 2:16, 17, 'You are free to eat from all the trees of paradise, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Bad. Because, on whatever day you eat from it, your life will end and you will die (Gr. thanato apothaneisthe, or, death from dying).'
Obviously souls can die, for notice what a soul is. Genesis 2:7 tells us this: 'Then God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed the breath of life against his face, and he became a living creature (Gr. psychen zosan, or, person/soul living).'
Now, the words we translated as living creature here were psyche in Greek and Nephesh in Hebrew, and both words are the same ones that are translated as soul in other Bibles. So the Bible's own definition of a soul, is that it's something made from the dust of the ground and has the breath of life… thus, it is a whole living person or animal, not something that lives inside. In fact, throughout the Bible animals are referred to as souls also. So psyche really means (as we have often translated it) a living creature.
Actually, the best true Bible definition of the Greek word psyche is what the word implies in modern psychology, 'the inner person,' not, 'the immortal person.' With this understanding, we can see how God could refer to 'My Soul.' He wasn't speaking of the individual we all believe that we know, but of the person He is on the inside.
As history shows, the pagan Egyptians believed that they had immortal souls, but righteous Hebrews made no mention of such a belief anywhere in the Sacred Scriptures of Israel (OT). It was only in the latter part of the millennium proceeding the time of Jesus that we first see this doctrine starting to creep into Jewish teachings.
Then, did Jesus and his Apostles teach that we have an immortal soul? No, for those two words (immortal soul) don't appear together anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the words immortal and immortality (Gr. athanasia or undying) can only be found in three places in the Bible, and let's see how the word is used in each of these cases:
- 1 Timothy 6:15, 16 – 'He will show himself at his own set time… the blest and only ruler, the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords; the only one who has immortality and who lives in unapproachable light; he who no man has seen or can see.
- 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54 – 'Then that which is decaying will put on cleanliness, and that which is dying will put on immortality. But, when that which is dying puts on immortality, the words that were written are fulfilled, Death is swallowed in victory.'
So in the first case, we can see that Jesus is immortal, and in the second case we can see that immortality is offered as a reward to the righteous… so, it is not a possession of the wicked… thus they have no immortal soul that can be sent to burn in Hell.