Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses: The Soul of Man

By Kevin Quick


EDITOR'S NOTE: JWs believe that their "spirit" is nothing more than an impersonal "active force" provided by God which activates an inactive "body" to life, and maintains such as a living, breathing creature. There is nothing unique about the "spirit" operating within any individual human. JWs like to compare their "spirit" to the electricity that must be turned on to allow a television to operate. JWs further believe that the Bible uses the term, "soul", to identify a human or animal which has had its inactive "body" brought to a living, breathing state by the addition of the impersonal "spirit". For JWs: Body + Spirit = Soul.

The Soul of Man

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that:

a. [A living] man IS a soul. (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp. 101, 375.) 

[b. A] soul is [... a] body plus ... spirit. (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1533.)

[c. Since a "soul" is nothing more than a living, breathing human or animal, when its impersonal "spirit" exits that human or animal, all that is left is a dead corpse. That human or animal simply has ceased to exist. JWs acknowledge that the Bible sometimes characterizes deceased humans as "sleeping", but JWs technically do not even believe in "soul sleep", because JWs do NOT believe that a "soul" is a separate segment of a living human that survives death and goes to heaven, hell, etc., where it continues to live or sleep in some unknown state of existance. Given these beliefs, JWs obviously do not believe in an "immortal soul".] (Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp. 136-137, 382)

Scriptures commonly used by Jehovah's Witnesses:

Ez 18:4,20: The soul who sins will die.


Eccl 9:3-10: UNDER THE SUN ... For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward ... UNDER THE SUN ... UNDER THE SUN ... UNDER THE SUN ... there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.


Q1. Of what is man composed?

Gen 2:7: Then the Lord [Jehovah] God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [Heb. soul].

1 Thess 5:23: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Q2. According to the Bible, does the soul live on after the death of the body?

Gen 35:18: And it came about as her soul was departing (for she died) ...

1 Ki 17:21,22: "O Lord [Jehovah] my God, I pray thee, let this child's life [Heb. soul] return to him." And the Lord [Jehovah] heard the voice of Elijah, and the life [Heb. soul] of the child returned to him and he revived.

Matt 10:28: "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gr. gehenna]."

Acts 20:9,10: ... fell down from the third floor, and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life [Gr. soul] is in him."

Rev 6:9-11: And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.

Rev 20:4: And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus ... and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.


a. Man is composed of the spirit, the soul, and the body.

b. Though man in totality is often referred to in the Bible as a soul, many passages speak of the soul of man living on after the death of the body.


Seven Ways Jehovah's Witnesses Distort True Christianity

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Jehovah's Witnesses are wonderful people. But since they are constantly trying to convert Christian believers to their religion, it is important that Christians know what they believe. Jehovah's Witnesses are zealous, persistent, and sincere. In this case, sincerely wrong.

1. Jehovah's Witnesses are a "cult," that is, they believe they are right and that all others are wrong and will not be saved unless they become Jehovah's Witnesses, too.

All strands of Christianity have minor variations. What unites Christians, however, is our belief in Jesus as the unique and divine Son of God. This gives us a sense of unity with all Christians as brothers and sisters despite differences in history and style.

It is typical of cults, however, to see themselves as the only right way of serving God, and the only ones who will be saved when God judges mankind. In the case of Jehovah's Witnesses, they systematically proselytize people who attend Christian churches, categorizing Christendom as "false religion," "the Harlot," and "Babylon the Great."

2. Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is the fully divine Son of God.

Several heretical groups deny that Jesus is the fully divine, unique Son of God--Unitarians, Mormons, Christian Science, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses revive the ancient heresy put forward by Arius in the Fourth Century and rejected by faithful Christians at the Council of Nicea.

For Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus is not fully God, but "a god." They identify him as Michael the archangel. They believe he is God's first creation, and thus a creature rather than the Creator. The Bible, on the contrary, says of Jesus, "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form."

For Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus' resurrection was not physical but spiritual. Like the angels, "he was obliged to materialize a body of flesh in order to make himself visible." This is how Jehovah's Witnesses explain that Jesus' second coming--his second "presence," as they call it--"is unseen to natural human eyes." True Christians believe that Jesus' resurrection was physical. The body was gone. He told his disciples. "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." True Christians also expect to see Jesus return in the same way he was taken up into heaven.

Jehovah's Witnesses deny Jesus' full divinity, his physical resurrection, and his visible return.

3. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Christian teaching of the Trinity.

In addition to denying the divinity of Jesus, Jehovah's Witnesses also deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit. "This spirit is not a person at all, but is God's invisible active force by means of which God carries out his holy will and work," they teach. The New Testament, however, speaks of the Holy Spirit as a person who speaks, sends, reminds, convicts, and may be lied to.

Once they have dispensed with the divinity of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit, Jehovah's Witnesses are free to dismiss the idea of the Trinity: God in three persons, each of the same substance, coequal, co-existent, co-eternal. While the Bible does not use the term "Trinity," the idea is clearly there. For example, Jesus directed that people be baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

4. Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the date of Jesus' return several times. When they were proved wrong, they covered it up.

Early Jehovah's Witnesses taught that the end of the world would come in 1914. When that didn't happen, they quietly changed the prophecy in their books. To explain it away, they changed the definition of a word in the Bible that talks about Christ's "coming," to mean Christ's "invisible presence." After all, it is difficult to disprove that Christ's "invisible presence" did not take place in 1914. But Jesus said, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man." All nations will see his coming. Next, Jehovah's Witnesses predicted that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would return in 1925. That didn't happen either.

5. Jehovah's Witnesses deny Jesus' teaching about hell.

Nobody likes to think about hell. But to twist Jesus' words to pretend he didn't teach it is dishonest. Jesus described hell (both hades and gehenna) as a place of "torment," of "agony" in the fire, where "the fire never goes out," and where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." What does it matter that Jesus taught it? Jehovah's Witnesses pronounce that it is unloving and unjust for God to punish the wicked forever. Are they going to correct Jesus?

Jehovah's Witnesses deny that a human being has an immortal soul at all. "If ... man does not have a soul but is a soul," they teach, "then there is no conscious existence after death. There is no bliss, and there is no suffering. All the illogical complications of the `hereafter' disappear." When a person dies, they believe, he (i.e., soul) goes to the grave. Those who are righteous will rise at the resurrection; the evil not will not return but be annihilated. Convenient, but certainly not what Jesus taught.

6. Jehovah's Witnesses distort the Bible's true meaning. Jehovah's Witnesses practice "proof-texting," plucking out and isolating individual Bible verses from their context. Then they use them to prove some point which may have nothing whatsoever to do with the verse's original meaning. The Bible was not written to be understood by quoting little snippets, but by reading the whole context.

Another concern is the Jehovah's Witness' New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Translated by a committee of five, none of whom were trained in Hebrew and Greek, it changes the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew texts in order to support spurious Jehovah's Witness doctrines. For example, their translation of Colossians 1:16 reads, "By means of him all [other] things were created...." The word "other" is added so that Jesus would be seen as a created being, and not as the divine, uncreated Creator. Philippians 1:22 in their translation reads "what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ," rather than "I desire to depart and be with Christ." Their strange, awkward rendering is intended to support a belief in "soul sleep," since this verse in its true form tells believers that they will be with Christ in heaven the very moment they die. In their translation, Matthew 24:3 reads "What will be the sign of your presence" rather than "What will be the sign of your coming," to support their teaching that Christ's coming is an "invisible presence." John 1:1 reads "the Word was a god," rather than "the Word was God," in an attempt to hide the full divinity of Christ. The New World Translation twists scripture to make it say what the Jehovah's Witnesses want it to say.

In a rather well-known distortion of scripture, Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on the basis that the ancient Jews were forbidden to eat the blood of animals (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26-27; Acts 15:29; etc.). It should be obvious to any reasonable person that eating blood (a pagan practice) has nothing to do with receiving someone's blood donated to save your life. Unfortunately, from this kind of scripture twisting, many lives have been lost.

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that true religion remains "untainted by worldly politics and conflicts. It is neutral in time of war." As a result, they do not participate or serve in our government. Nor do they help defend our country and freedoms when threatened. Perhaps they forget faithful Daniel, who was prime minister of the Babylonian empire under several pagan kings, and the military leaders who followed Jehovah, such as David, Gideon, and Joshua in the Old Testament, and the centurions and soldiers who were believers in the New Testament.

7. Jehovah's Witness teaching denies full Christian privileges to present-day believers.

When the Jehovah's Witnesses began in the 1880s, they believed that a literal 144,000 people, and only a total of 144,000, would go to heaven (the "heavenly Kingdom class," they call it). That worked when they were a small sect. But as the movement grew, their cumulative numbers swelled to more than 144,000. In 1965 we are told that less than 12,000 of this original 144,000 still remained alive. What about the next generation of Jehovah's Witnesses? They think of themselves as the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9 who will rule with Christ on the earth.

The problem is that the wonderful promises of the Bible--being born again by the Holy Spirit, the comfort of partaking of the Lord's Supper, and the joy of heaven--these promises are "already taken." Present-day Jehovah's Witnesses believe they will never experience them.

How sad to have the most precious promises of the Bible be reserved for someone else. How sad to believe in a Jesus stripped of his deity, his physical resurrection, and his visible return. How sad to believe that you were born a generation too late to go to heaven when you die. How sad to read, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again," and know that doesn't mean you. To ponder "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ"and wonder if you are excluded. How sad.