By Joseph L. Watkins
All men have been given the neshamah spirit of life in Adam, that we might seek after and find the life-giving spirit that is in Christ Jesus. As I have been once again considering the neshamah spirit of life, I have been thinking of a song that I heard a little girl sing, which has the following refrain: "I am great big bundle of potentiality." Oh, how true that is as we have been created with the neshamah spirit of life.
Study for yourself both the 16th appendix to the Companion Bible, and all of the 24 times this word (Strong's #5397) is used in the Bible. The first time it is used is in Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (neshamah spirit) of life; and man became a living soul." So Adam and his helper, and all men have been blessed with neshamah spirit of life, and because of this all men have an awareness of God - an innate consciousness that God "is" above our being. Only man was given this blessing and no other creation have it. All animals are souls and have spirit, but that spirit is "ruach" spirit, never neshamah spirit. This truth is what we hope to set forth in this study.
In Gen. 7:21-23 we have, "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath (neshamah spirit) of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." So as we read this rightly, only man is being said to have neshamah spirit of life. Our word neshamah, or breath, is found in Deut. 20:16, but start reading in verse 9 to 20. You shall find that only people have the neshamah spirit of life in them. And also in Joshua 10:40, Joshua did as the Lord God commanded him to do in Deut. 20:16, 17. So only the people were to die, no others.
In Joshua & 14 we have this word two times. We read: "And they smote all the souls that were therein..." Now, some folks may get fooled here, thinking that the word souls=nephesh (# 5315) could only have men in view, however, this word is also used of lower forms of living things, for all animals, all birds, and all oxygen-consuming creatures are also souls (see the first five times the word nephesh is used in the Bible). But only the man was given the neshamah spirit of life, never any others.
This neshamah spirit of life is the one thing God gave to man only. It is the great distinguishing part that characterizes man from all other forms of creation. In that spirit we know that He "is" and we know that our ungodliness will not stand. This truth He has showed us in Rom. 1:18: "For the wrath (judgment) of Godis revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men." In 2 Samuel 22:16, the word neshamah has been rendered using the word "blast of the breath." The word breath here is from the word ruach (#7307) which is spirit most of the time.
In John 1:4 it says, "In Him was life; and the life was (or is) the light of men..." And in John 1:1 and the Word was God. So, He is the Life, the Light and the Word, in these three words we have Christ Jesus and this neshamah spirit is out from God Almighty. So on each occasion that his word is used it might be rendered using one of these three words of Life, Light or Word. You must determine which one for yourself. Here it would be "the Word of the Spirit." Work out each one for yourself.
In 1 Kings 15:29 we have: "And it came to pass, when he reigned that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not...any that breathed..." It could be any that had neshamah spirit or that had life, or would you have it say "any that had light" or "any that said a word." Also, in 1 Kings , we find "that there was no breath (neshamah spirit) left in him." So, which should it be - no light left in him, no word left in him or no life left in him? You be the judge.
In the book of Job we have this truth repeated over and over again in some of the greatest verses in the Bible; 4:9 we find it in the KJV once again rendered blast: "By the blast (neshamah) of God they perish..." 26:4 "Whose spirit (neshamah) came from thee?" vs. 32:8 "There is a spirit (ruach) in man; and the inspiration (neshamah) of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Vs. 33:4 "The spirit of God hath made me and the breath (neshamah) of the almighty hath given me life." In 34:14 "If He set His heart upon man, if He gather unto Himself His spirit, and His breath (neshamah) all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust." 37:10 "By the breath (neshamah) of God frost is given..." Whether it is translated blast, breath, inspiration or spirit we need to determine which one of these thoughts is meant - by the light of God, by the life of God or might it be by the word of God? There is not enough space left in this article to complete all of the Old Testament occurrences of this word neshamah. This word does appear twice in New Testament: Acts 2:2 "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind (Gr. pnoe) " and in Acts " as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath (Gr. pnoe), and all things;" See note in Companion Bible.
And finally we must look at one last occurrence of the word breath (ruach spirit) in the O.T, Ecc. 3:18-21 as we would read this at first it might seem to dispute all we have been saying concerning man and the spirit of man could also apply to the animals of the world. We read here "For that which befalleth the sons of man befalleth the beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth,so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath (ruach spirit); so that a man hath no preeminence above abeast, for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." This word breath (ruach) is not the breath (neshamah) that is exclusive to man. However the natural or unsaved man will die just like the beast. The saved, or new creation in Christ Jesus will be raised to a new life in resurrection.