Question for Dr. Saleska:

When the Bible uses the terms “body” and “soul,” it seems to use them interchangeably and usually to refer to the whole person or to one’s entire being – like bodies being a living sacrifice in Romans 12. Are these separate entities, like, for instance, the soul leaving the body at death?

Dr. Saleska Responds:

Jesus helps us understand this to some extent when he says in Matthew 10:28; “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” According to that passage both soul and and body continue after death. Job 19:25-27 confirms the fact that we will have bodies after we die: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter  day upon the earth: V. 26 and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: V. 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (though my heart fails within me)

You are right in saying that the Bible uses the terms “body” and “soul” interchangeably, and at times the word “soul”  does mean simply a person i.e. “Let every soul be subjected to the higher powers.” (Romans 13:1) Soul in that verse means person.

At times the word soul is used for that “part” of man that survives physical death. In Revelation 6:9 John says: “I saw the souls of them that were slain…” Evidently it is possible to “see” souls. In Luke 16:19-31 the rich man in hell “sees” Abraham, obviously recognizes him, and speaks with him: V. 23 “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. V. 24 And he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’” Most certainly his eyes and tongue together with the rest of him were buried back in Palestine, and yet he has eyes, a tongue, a voice. There is very much about what we are like after death that we do not understand and, perhaps, should not speculate about. The same is true at Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8) where Moses and Elijah (their souls) appeared and the disciples recognized them.