Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), by Watchman Nee


Now that we have seen the soul as our personality, our organ of deliberation, and our life, we can conclude that this soul is the true "I"; it is the self. The self is the soul. The Bible has ample proofs of this.

In Numbers 30 "binding oneself" is mentioned over ten times. In the original language, these places all say "binding the soul." This shows us clearly that the soul is our self. In many places the Bible translates the word "soul" as "self." We will only quote a few examples:

"You shall not defile yourselves with them so that you become unclean" (Lev. 11:43).

"You shall not make yourselves unclean" (Lev. 11:44).

"For themselves and for their seed" (Esth. 9:31).

"He teareth himself in his anger" (Job 18:4).

"Because he justified himself" (Job 32:2).

"But they themselves have gone into captivity" (Isa. 46:2).

Furthermore, in Exodus 12:16, "That which every man must eat" is, in the original language, "That which every soul must eat." In Numbers 35:11 and 15, "The manslayer who kills any person without intent" is, in the original language, "The manslayer who kills any soul without intent." In Numbers 23:10, "Let me die the death of the upright" is, in the original language, "Let the soul die." In Leviticus 2:1, "When a person brings a meal offering" is, in the original language, "When a soul brings a meal offering." Psalm 131:2 says, "My soul is even as a weaned child." In Esther 4:13, "Think not with thyself" is, in the original language, "Think not in thy soul." In Amos 6:8, "The Lord Jehovah has sworn by Himself" is, in the original language, "The Lord Jehovah has sworn by the soul." These few verses indicate to us in different ways that the soul is the person himself.

In the New Testament we have the same thing. In 1 Peter 3:20 the eight persons are referred to as eight souls. In Acts 27:37 the two hundred seventy-six are referred to as two hundred seventy-six souls. In Romans 2:9 the evil men are referred to as the evil souls. To warn the evil souls means to warn the evil men. James 5:20 says that the turning of a sinner back is the saving of a soul from death. In Luke 12:19 the foolish rich man spoke comforting words to his own soul, meaning that he spoke comforting words to himself.

Hence, it is very obvious that the Bible considers man’s soul or man’s soul-life as man himself. The above examples show that in these cases, if we translate the word into "soul" or "life," it would become meaningless. The only way is to translate it as himself, oneself, or themselves. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit considers man’s soul or life as man himself. We can confirm this by the words of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 16:26 says, "For what shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul-life [psuche]? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul-life [psuche]?"

Luke 9:25 says, "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself?"

Matthew says the same thing as Luke. In one case, it mentions the soul-life, while in the other case, it mentions himself. Hence, we see that the Holy Spirit is expounding the "himself" in Luke with Matthew, or one may also say that He is expounding the "soul-life" in Matthew with Luke. Man’s soul or life is just man himself. Man himself is his soul or his life.

After we have read the verses concerning the soul, we conclude that man’s soul is just man’s life, man himself, his personality, and the will, mind, and emotion that are included in his personality. From this study we draw the conclusion that the human soul encompasses everything that makes up the person as a human being. Every man who lives in the flesh has a soul and has everything that comes with the soul. The soul is the life which all men of flesh share in common. Before a man is regenerated, everything that his life contains, whether it be his self, life, breath, power, mind, proposals, love, or feelings, is all of the soul. In other words, the life of the soul is the life which a man acquires from his mother’s womb. Everything that this life has (before a person believes in the Lord), that it will have, and that it can possibly have, is of the soul-life. If we know clearly what is of the soul, it will be easy for us to know what is of the spirit, and we will be able to differentiate between the spiritual things and the soulish things.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)