Risen from the Dust
I would be negligent if I did not mention and discuss that humans and animals possess another type of spirit. This spirit is not a soul, but a kind of universal "spirit of life", "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath [ruach]" (Ecclesiastes 3.19 KJV bible). Thus, this spirit of life is the third component of a human being, and exists in addition to a spiritual soul and flesh body. (Note that the Hebrew word "ruach" means wind, breath, or spirit, see ch.9 Soul and Spirit).
There are many examples of this spirit of life throughout the bible, where it is described as being necessary to sustain living creatures, "Thou hidest thy face, they (living creatures) are troubled: thou takest away their breath [ruach], they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit [ruach], they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth" (Psalm 104.29-30 KJV bible), "And the LORD said, My spirit [ruach] shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years" (Genesis 6.3 KJV bible). The spirit of life comes from God to dwell within the flesh at birth or earlier. Then at death, the spirit of life returns to the Father who gave it.
The spirit of life is often referred to as being the breath of God, and it is related to the Holy Spirit, "The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath [Hebrew: neshamah, breath or respiration] of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33.4 NASB bible). However, the spirit of life is not a sentient being like the Holy Spirit, but an unconscious force. It is described as abiding in the nostrils of living things, "All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils" (Job 27.3 KJV bible), (see also Genesis 7.22). Notice how at Adam's creation he does not become a living soul or human being (nephesh), until God breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshamah] of life; and man became a living soul [nephesh]" (Genesis 2.7 KJV bible).
Of course this doesn't mean that flesh man is lacking a spiritual soul, but only that he (like other living creatures) requires the spirit of God to be alive, "Thus saith God the LORD...he that giveth breath [neshamah] unto the people upon it, and spirit [ruach] to them that walk therein" (Isaiah 42.5 KJV bible), "Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17.25 KJV bible). This same spirit of life is also what Solomon is referring to when he says, "Then (in death) shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12.7 KJV bible). Solomon is not saying that everyone goes to heaven when they die, but rather the spirit of life returns to God who gave it.
One interesting depiction of the spirit of life comes from the New Testament. In the book of Revelation, John sees the two witnesses being raised into heaven, "And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them" (Revelation 11.11-12 KJV bible). This passage reveals the spirit of life to be of a very mysterious and supernatural nature, having the power to bring even the dead bodies of the two witnesses back to life.
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