Some Christian teachers say that the immortality of the soul is so self-evident a truth that there was no need for the Bible either to teach it or to deal with its denial, for it must be admitted by all, whatever their persuasion, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is entirely absent from the Scriptures.
First, Christian teachers have assumed that man possesses a soul, instead of "being" a soul, then they assume that this "never dying" part of man must necessarily live on somewhere, and consequently there must be a never-ending "hell" for all who are unsaved; and finally, the door is thereby opened for the deceitful teaching of spiritism, which by its own confession needs nothing more than the acceptance of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, for it to function. We leave the Scriptural doctrine of the soul for an article under that title, and concentrate here on the meaning of the term "immortality". The word does not occur in the O.T. and in the N.T. it is represented by three Greek words.
(1) Aphthartos. This word occurs seven times as follows:
Rom. 1:23. "The glory of the uncorruptible God".
1 Cor. 9:25. "An incorruptible crown".
1 Cor. 15:52. "The dead shall be raised incorruptible".
1 Tim. 1:17. "Now unto the King, eternal, immortal".
1 Pet. 1:4. "An inheritance incorruptible".
1 Pet. 1:23. "Being born . . . of incorruptible (seed)".
1 Pet. 3:4. "That which is not corruptible".
(2) Aphtharsia. This word occurs eight times.
Rom. 2:7. "Glory and honour and immortality".
1 Cor. 15:42. "It is raised in incorruption",
1 Cor. 15:50. "Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption".
1 Cor. 15:53. "Must put on incorruption".
1 Cor. 15:54. "When . . . shall have put on incorruption".
Eph. 6:24. "Love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity".
2 Tim. 1:10. "Brought life an immortality to light".
Tit. 2:7. "Uncorruptness" (adiaphthoria), gravity, sincerity.
(3) Athanasia This word occurs three times.
1 Cor. 15:53. "This mortal must put on immortality".
1 Cor. 15:54. "When . . . shall have put on immortality".
1 Tim. 6:16. "Who only hath immortality".
It will be seen that the doctrine of immortality is an integral part of 1 Corinthians fifteen. The all-covering theme of this chapter is resurrection, future, literal and related to the body which God has prepared for whatever sphere of glory is in view. This immortality is something that will be "put on", "at the last trump", when living and dead shall be changed, and which will bring to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory". We have no need to discuss the philosophic speculation concerning the so-called immortality of the soul, such a doctrine is entirely absent from the Scriptures, and repugnant to all its teaching.
Immortality is a negative term. No one could have been called the UNcircumcision until the days of Abraham, and the word IMmortality would never have been employed had sin not entered into the world, and death by sin. Soma, "body" is used six times in connection with resurrection. "How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" (1 Cor. 15:35) leads on to the references to immortality in that chapter. 2 Corinthians 5:4, Romans 6:12 and Romans 8:11 speak of "mortal bodies" and 2 Corinthians 4:11 of "mortal flesh". The mortal body finds its answer in the immortality provided in resurrection only, and no other immortality is spoken of in the Scriptures. "Thanks be unto God Who giveth us the victory".