YOU GOT SOUL?
In a conversation I recently heard someone say, “It’s just semantics” when referring to a misunderstanding of what someone meant. There is no “just semantics”! Semantics is EVERYTHING. Literally, it is the study of meaning. Words, symbols and language of all types communicate ideas from one mind to another. How that meaning is communicated is semantics. Words mean what they mean in a particular context and they can confuse as easily as they can clarify. Take the word “Soul” for example.
A Musical Genre
The great Octavius Womack has an upcoming concert August 18th at 6 PM with his Southern Soul Band to raise funds for Saddleback Valley Christian School (where our church meets). He will be singing a genre of music made popular by James Brown, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and others. In the context of music, this is what soul refers to.
A Greek Philosophical Idea
The Greek philosopher Plato popularized the idea of the soul as the immaterial part of us that is eternal and significant while our body is temporary and less important. This idea was handed down into Christianity because many of the early church fathers were influenced by Greek thought. It wasn’t the idea in the Old Testament, the gospels, Acts or most of the other New Testament letters. But many in western society have assumed it and read it into the Bible. The Bible has a concept of life after death, but this is not it. Actually, the greek philosophy has more in common with reincarnation than with Christianity.
A Living Being
The Hebrew word for soul is Nephesh. God breathed into the man and he became a “nephesh”, a living being. God also did this with animals (Genesis 2). Literally, the word can mean throat, which is pretty important to life. What goes into it (food, drink and air) sustains life. If it’s choked off, you lose your life. When Jesus talked about a man gaining the world and losing his soul, he is talking about losing your life. That’s why some translations say life. Your soul is your life. It’s you. When God saves your soul, he is not just saving a part of you. He is saving you.
What does this mean for us loving God with all our soul? Come Sunday and I will tell you.