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What Is Death? (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Introductory Thoughts

The Bible teaches that every man, woman, boy, and girl consists of three distinct parts. The Bible refers to those three parts as the spirit, soul, and body of an individual. It is important to have a basic working knowledge of each of these parts. The body is the part of man that can be seen by others. It is the shell in which the real person resides. A man’s spirit is the part of man that communicates with God. Prior to salvation, a man’s spirit is dead and in need of quickening (or being made alive). A man’s soul is the real him. The soul is the part of man that goes on to exist in eternity. This is why the Bible offers two circumstances to truly define death: the departure of the soul (Genesis 35:18) and the departure of the spirit (Genesis 25:8). In light of these truths, it is clear that death takes place when a man’s spirit and soul leave his body.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): James 2:26 says that "the body without the spirit is dead." For an example, read about Isaac (Genesis 35:29). Notice what happened when the widow's son died: his spirit and soul left his body (1 Kings 17:17, 19, 21-23).
  • (For everyone): Study the three parts of man as they appear in scripture. Does the Bible often, especially in the Old Testament, use the word soul to describe the actual people? The Bible directly refers to the spirit of man three times. What does the Bible say about the spirit of man?
  • Why is it important to be able to distinguish between the three parts of man? Which two are more closely connected and at times difficult to distinguish?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask the Lord to give you additional light on death as you study.
  • Thank God for not leaving you without witness on what death is.