Most people believe in something like the soul. We know we live embodied lives. We also recognize that when we die, our bodies decompose. So if we live on, we live on without the body in some sense. Christians believe, however, in the resurrection of the body when we will once again reunite with our (then) immortal and incorrupt bodies.
But about in the meantime? What has the apostle Paul been doing for 2,000 years without his resurrection body? In what way or form has he lived? Some might say, he has not lived since his soul has merely slept, unconscious of life, until the resurrection. But that simply won’t do because of how the Bible talks about life, death, and life after death.
What Does the Bible Say?
Jesus says, “And do not fear those who kill the body (soma) but cannot kill the soul (psyche). Rather fear him who can destroy both soul (psyche) and body (soma) in hell” (Matt 10:28)
Paul says, “we would rather be away from the body (soma) and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8).
Elsewhere, he says, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh (Sarx) is more necessary on your account” (Phil 1:23–24).
So our body can be destroyed, we can be away from it, and we depart from our “flesh.”
When we do so, we can, according to Jesus, somehow have body (soma) and (pysche) in hell, even though it’s evident our body can be killed on earth.
Or, as Paul says, we can leave our body and flesh. By the way, 1 Corinthians 15 speaks to our reunion with incorrupt and immortal bodies. I note that to stave off the, “Yes, but you didn’t mention everything that I wanted you to mention” type comments.
The “Us” That Lives On?
Anyway, the point is this: when we die, our bodies remain. We bury them. But we live on. What is the “us” that lives on?
Answer: our, in Paul’s language, “innner man” lives on (2 Cor 4:16; Eph 3:16; Rom 7:22–23). Common usage gives the name “soul” for what Paul calls the inner man.
But the soul, as the heavenly scenes in Revelation 4 and 5 show, does not mean some wispy existence like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Our existence might very well be more substantial, more real, even if incomplete until the resurrection. When we die, we go to a better place. But even then, the best place, that is, the resurrection, in which our body and soul reunite in an incorruptible and immortal whole, awaits.