Spirit and Breath

Job 27:3 also points out that the “spirit” and the “breath” are the same. Job further states that this spirit of breath is in his nostrils. Please remember that it was the “breath” that God placed in Adam’s nostrils at creation, Genesis 2:7. So the spirit that returns to God when a person dies is the breath of life. Keep in mind that the spirit, or breath, returns to God, at death, but not the disembodied soul. Never, in the Bible, is the disembodied soul said to return to God at death.

The word “breath”, here is not referring to one’s common breathing, but breath as the “divine spark of life”. It is this breath or “divine spark of life” that returns back to God at death. Only God has the power to create life and He retains that power exclusively.


At creation two things combine to make a soul: body and breath. Until these two things combine, a soul does not exist. At death, these two things (body and breath) separate. The body returns to dust and the breath returns to God, and once again, the soul no longer exists. The soul goes nowhere at death. It simply ceases to be.

A simple illustration may help clarify this point. Suppose that I combine lumber and nails and make a box: lumber plus nails equals box. Then suppose that I no longer want the box, so I pull the nails, and put them in a pile, and stack the lumber in another place. What happens to the box? Where does it go? It goes nowhere. It simply ceases to be. The box is a combination of two things. There is no such thing as a box unless lumber and nails are combined to make it. The nails and lumber still exist but there is no box until the two are joined together. So with the soul: the breath exists, and the body returns to dust, but the soul does not exist unless the two are combined.

Death, Soul and Spirit

Death is not life in heaven, hell, limbo, or purgatory. It is not life of any kind, anywhere. In death, the soul does not live, the spirit does not live. No shadowy substance of any kind lives. It is the exact opposite of life – death.

The words “soul” and “spirit” are used over 1600 times in the Bible, but not one time are either given any life or personality or wisdom or knowledge when separated from the body.

The word “soul” does have other basic meanings in the Bible. Usually, it means a person or a living being. Genesis 2:7. But sometimes it means “life”. Job 12:10. And sometimes it simply means the “mind” or “intellect”. Psalm 139:14. In all cases, however, the definition is the same: body plus breath equals soul. And in all cases the soul does not exist when body and breath are separated. Many English sords have several meanings, but this is not confusing: the context usually clarifies which meaning is intended.