Psuche denotes “the breath, the breath of life,” then “the soul,” in its various meanings. The NT uses “may be analyzed approximately as follows:
(a) the natural life of the body, Mat. 2:20; Luke 12:22; Acts 20:10; Rev. 8:9; Rev. 12:11; cp. Lev. 17:11; 2Sam. 14:7; Est. 8:11;
(b) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Mat. 10:28; Acts 2:27; cp. 1Kgs 17:21;
(c) the disembodied (or “unclothed” or “naked,” 2Cor. 5:3,4) man, Rev. 6:9;
(a) and (b) carry no connotations of inherent immortality. Under (c) where it is implied that the soul survives the death of the body it must be noted that 2Cor. 5:3,4 does not even mention the soul and Rev. 6:9 is part of an “apocalyptic vision”. Such imagery is difficult to interpret at the best of times. The former text is explained in our article Absent From the Body to Be With Christ?. The latter text is explained in our article, The Souls Under The Altar.
(d) the seat of personality, Luke 9:24, explained as “own self,” Luke 9:25; Heb 6:19; Heb 10:39; cp. Isa. 53:10 with 1Tim. 2:6;
(e) the seat of the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Matt. 11:29; Luke 1:46; Luke 2:35; Acts 14:2,22; cp. Psa. 84:2; Psa. 139:14; Isa. 26:9;
(f) the seat of will and purpose, Mat. 22:37; Acts 4:32; Eph. 6:6; Php. 1:27; Heb. 12:3; cp. Num. 21:4; Deut. 11:13;
(g) the seat of appetite, Rev. 18:14; cp. Psa. 107:9; Prov. 6:30; Isa. 5:14 (“desire”); Isa. 29:8;
(h) persons, individuals, Acts 2:41,43; Rom. 2:9; James 5:20; 1Pet. 3:20; 2Pet. 2:14; cp. Gen. 12:5; Gen. 14:21 (“persons”); Lev. 4:2 (‘any one’); Ezek. 27:13; of dead bodies, Num. 6:6, lit., “dead soul;” and of animals, Lev. 24:18, lit., “soul for soul;”
(i) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect:, 1st person, John 10:24 (“us”); Heb. 10:38; cp. Gen. 12:13; Num. 23:10; Judg. 16:30; Psa. 120:2 (“me”); 2nd person, 2Cor. 12:15; Heb. 13:17; James 1:21; 1Pet. 1:9; 1Pet. 2:25; cp. Lev. 17:11; Lev. 26:15; 1Sam. 1:26; 3rd person, 1Pet. 4:19; 2Pet. 2:8; cp. Ex. 30:12; Job 32:2, Heb. “soul,” Sept. “self;”
(j) an animate creature, human or other, 1Cor. 15:45; Rev. 16:3; cp. Gen. 1:24; Gen. 2:7,19;
(k) “the inward man,” the seat of the new life, Luke 21:19 (cp. Mat. 10:39); 1Pet. 2:11; 3John 1:2.
Nothing in (d) through to (k) immplies that the soul is in anyway immortal. In fact, the reverese is the case. It is specifically pointed out that the word “soul” can be used of dead bodies!
“With (i) compare a-psuchos, “soulless, inanimate,” 1Cor. 14:7.
“With (f) compare di-psuchos, “two-souled,” James 1:8; James 4:8; oligo-psuchos, “feeble-souled,” 1Thess. 5:14; iso-psuchos, “like-souled,” Php. 2:20; sum-psuchos, “joint-souled” (with one accord”), Php. 2:2.
To be “two souled” is simply to be unable to settle one’s mind will or purpose.
“The language of Heb. 4:12 suggests the extreme difficulty of distinguishing between the soul and the spirit, alike in their nature and in their activities. Generally speaking the spirit is the higher, the soul the lower element. The spirit may be recognized as the life principle bestowed on man by God, the soul as the resulting life constituted in the individual, the body being the material organism animated by soul and spirit. …”
The first two sentances above, obscure the truth pronounced in the third sentance: “The spirit may be recognized as the life principle bestowed on man by God, the soul as the resulting life constituted in the individual”. Notions of immortality, or the notion that the soul may exist apart from the material creature must be read into the text. It cannot be read out of the text.
“Body and soul are the constituents of the man according to Mat. 6:25; Mat. 10:28; Luke 12:20; Acts 20:10; body and spirit according to Luke 8:55; 1Cor. 5:3; 1Cor. 7:34; James 2:26. In Mat. 26:38 the emotions are associated with the soul, in John 13:21 with the spirit; cp. also Psa. 42:11 with 1Kgs 21:5. In Psa 35:9 the soul rejoices in God, in Luke 1:47 the spirit.
“Apparently, then, the relationships may be thus summed up ‘Soma, body, and pneuma, spirit, may be separated, pneuma and psuche, soul, can only be distinguished’ (Cremer).”[ From notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 205-207.]
In truth, no “part” of any human being can be separated from any other without the dissolution of the whole human being. The best scholarship now suggests that body, soul and spirit most often refer to the whole person seen from different perspectives.