Hebrew 4:12; An Immortal soul?

by Peter Salemi



Does this scripture in the book of Hebrews prove there is an immortal soul as many mainstream protestant Christians claim?


The scripture says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Here in this scripture we read of the “soul” the “spirit”, then the joints and marrow, obviously the flesh or the material body. So we have the soul, spirit and the body. So many come to the conclusion that we have a mind, body and soul, and that soul as the story goes, ascends to heaven at the time of death.


Again, as I keep insisting, people have to stop interpreting the Bible with pagan ideas and philosophies i.e. the Greeks and the Romans.


The Bible spells out exactly what we are; flesh and blood, we have the breath of life and the spirit in man-the mind of man, our consciousness that gives us the ability to think reason etc.… There is nothing about an immortal soul in the Bible! The Bible says WE ARE A SOUL-meaning a living being or creature. (see Gen 2:7)


So what does this scripture mean?


The Greek words here used are “psuchēs kai pneumatos” The words actually have similar meanings in the Greek.


Thayer’s states:



1) breath 1a) the breath of life 1a1) the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing 1a1a) of animals 1a1b) of men 1b) life 1c) that in which there is life 1c1) a living being, a living soul 2) the soul 2a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)” (emphasis added).


“From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: - ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare G5590.” (Strong’s # 4151, emphasis added).


In the New Testament, the Greek word psuche is the only word that is translated “soul.” You will find the word 105 times in the New Testament, of which it is translated “soul” only 58 times, but can also be rendered “life” (40 times), “mind” (three times), and “heart,” “heartily,” “us” and “you” (one time each), all depending on context. And the context here is, “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”


Notice, both Greek words can mean “mind,” “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind [psuche] striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Phil 1:27)


“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds [psuche].” (Heb 12:3).


However there is a difference in the mind between the psuche [soul] and the pneuma [spirit]. The psuche part of the mind has the “seat of emotions” (Thayer’s) which takes place in the subconscious; and the pneuma is the “rational spirit” (Thayer’s) which is in the conscious part of the mind.


Here the Apostle Paul is telling us that there are two divisions in the mind of man, the conscious and the subconscious and is comparing them to the bones and the marrow: “The form of expression is poetical, and signifies that the word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being as a sword cuts through the joints and marrow of the body.” (Vincent Word Studies, emphasis added).


Each bone in your body is “made up of three main types of bone material: compact bone, spongy bone, and bone marrow.” (Article: Busy Bone by Arizona State University).


Bone Marrow is right in the center of the bone and is part of its very composition.



So are the soul and the spirit! The conscious part of the mind is in the center and is part of the whole mind as is the Subconscious. The Subconscious (soul) is 90% of the minds power and the conscious-the spirit is part of the remaining 10%.


The mind consists of:



The Bible Speaks of the two parts of the mind


Because of this pagan belief of the immortal soul many do not realize that the Bible does speak of the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind.


In Psalm 19:12-13, David asks God, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse Thou me from secret [covered up, closed up, hidden] faults…let them not have dominion over me….” From whom are these faults secret? God? I think not. Ourselves? Yes! This is what David is imploring God to do; to show him and cleanse him from his secret faults. These are things that we have learned without realizing them-old habits we inherited from our parents peer groups etc… these are lodged in the subconscious mind. Only God, by His Spirit and word, can show us and cleanse us from them.


The Amplified Bible calls these faults “hidden and unconscious.” Its publisher’s state in their foreword, “…amplification helps the English reader comprehend what the Hebrew and Greek listener understood as a matter of course.”


Psalm 139:23-24 follows this same line of expression, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me….” Again David is asking God to expose any “secret, unknown faults” in him, so he can confess and repent of them. Where else can that be searched out but in the subconscious where old sinful habits are stored and repeated without the individual knowing unless exposed by God alone.


And Psalm 51:6 states, “Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me know wisdom.” Here, David refers not only to “inward parts,” but also to “hidden parts” of our internal architecture. What is he referring to?


The actual word “subconscious” or “unconscious” is not used in our translations. The Hebrew word found in Scripture is “cheder,” which means the innermost part, the hidden chambers, the inward part or the secret place. Of the over 38 Scriptures that use the word cheder, over half refer to a secret, hidden, innermost chamber or parlour. Here are a few examples:


Proverbs 20:27, “The spirit [mind] of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts (cheder) of the belly.” (Why would the spirit search our inward parts, if not to reveal hidden sin that we unconsciously perform in us, to us?); Once exposed and revealed the process of cleansing-repentance can begin.


Proverbs 24:4, “And by knowledge (daath) shall the chambers (cheder) be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Here is how the subconscious can be cleanse; by knowledge given to the conscious mind, and the subconscious being subjective will take that in creating new habits and ways of thinking-God’s ways and it will be filled with the ways of good and abundance.


Psalm 51:6 seems to follow this same line of thinking. David declares “…in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” God wants this hidden part—this secret place—cleansed of “secret faults” and then filled with all precious and pleasant riches, i.e., God’s Wisdom, God’s word.


Roots are in the Subconscious


The Epistle to the Hebrews also refers to a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15). We understand that a “root” is something hidden or covered up. Beneath soil is the root and above is the plant that you can see and are aware of. Many times we are aware of our problems our habits but not aware of the cause. Often we are not even aware that a “root of bitterness” has sprung up in us, until God, by His Spirit and word, points it out.


No one but God can understand the wickedness of our hearts. In other words, there are things in our hearts that are hidden and secret, even to us! Hidden underneath the soil rooted in our subconscious that needs to plucked out.


The Meaning of the Scripture


So what is the Apostle Paul actually saying here? Let’s break down the scripture:


“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” 


God’s words in the Bible-the truth of Almighty God, and the effect it has on an individual is simply a miraculous event that takes place in the human mind. The mind of man is “….deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer 17:9-10). To convince a human being of the wickedness of their ways and have them repent truly is a miracle from God that only God can do by his word and spirit.  


It is “and sharper than any twoedged sword”  “in this its operation, more keenly cutting than any sword; cutting so as to perpetrate through and through—through the whole inner being of man to its inmost depths; then, in doing so, discerning and opening to judgment all the secrets of his consciousness” (Pulpit Commentary, emphasis added); in not just the conscious but in the subconscious parts of the mind of man; things that we are not even aware of that the word of God brings to light so we can cleanse our minds of our sinful habits known and unknown as the above scriptures teach.


In 1 Corinthians 4:5 it literally says the same: “The Lord will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness [subconscious] and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”


Now it does not say, “the soul from the spirit, as some have taken it. Delitzsch, e.g., explains to this effect…).” (ibid, emphasis added); “The separation is not of one part from another, but operates in each department of the spiritual nature.” (Vincent Word Studies, emphasis added)


Paul speaking of the spiritual side of man, comparing how a literal swords cuts through the bone right to the marrow, so the word of God cuts right thorough to “ ‘something lying deep in man, the πνεῦμα lying still deeper.’ Thus as a very trenchant sword cuts through, not only the limbs, but also the marrow within them, so the Word of God penetrates, not only that part of human consciousness which is expressed by ψυχὴ, but also that deeper and more inward part which is expressed by πνεῦμα.” (ibid, emphasis added). It cuts through the conscious part of our minds right through to the subconscious and gets into the deep parts of man, to “the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God is the only One who “knoweth the secrets of our hearts” because He is the only One who can see, search and “try” our hearts (see Rev 2:23).


His “word” is a “discerner” of our hearts, “So searching and judicial is the power of the Word of God, that it reaches and discloses the inmost depths of a man’s consciousness—discloses them to himself, and, though he should resist, leaves him without escape, exposed and judged.” (ibid, emphasis added). Once exposed, repentance and conversion is now possible for the individual and salvation is offered because “…all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb 4:13).



Conclusion-There is nothing here about an immortal soul, but everything about the conscious and more importantly the subconscious parts of the mind that need to be dealt with and cleansed; once brought to light by the word of God that penetrates into the dark recesses of the mind it exposes sin laying deep within us.


Read our booklet Christian Mind Power for more details.


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