Early Christian Quotes on the Soul and the Spirit
Secret Book of James (Early to Mid-2nd Century):
[Jesus speaking] (Or do you think) that it is not this (flesh) that desires the soul? For without the soul, the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul is saved (when it is) without evil, and the spirit is also saved, then the body becomes free from sin. For it is the spirit that raises the soul, but the body that kills it; that is, it is it (the soul) which kills itself. Verily, I say unto you, he will not forgive the soul the sin by any means, nor the flesh the guilt; for none of those who have worn the flesh will be saved. For do you think that many have found the kingdom of heaven? Blessed is he who has seen himself as a fourth one in heaven!"
When we heard these words, we were distressed. But when he saw that we were distressed, he said, "For this cause I tell you this, that you may know yourselves. For the kingdom of heaven is like an ear of grain after it had sprouted in a field. And when it had ripened, it scattered its fruit and again filled the field with ears for another year. You also, hasten to reap an ear of life for yourselves, that you may be filled with the kingdom!"
The Epistle of the Apostles (Mid-2nd Century) Chapters 22, 24:
“Lord, is it true that the flesh shall be judged together with the soul and the spirit, and that the one part shall rest in heaven and the other part be punished everlastingly yet living?”…“Verily I say unto you, the resurrection of the flesh shall come to pass with the soul therein and the spirit.”
Justin Martyr On the Resurrection (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 10:
For the spirit dies not; the soul is in the body, and without a soul it cannot live. The body, when the soul forsakes it, is not. For the body is the house of the soul; and the soul the house of the spirit.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 4:
"'Therefore souls neither see God nor trans-migrate into other bodies; for they would know that so they are punished, and they would be afraid to commit even the most trivial sin afterwards. But that they can perceive that God exists, and that righteousness and piety are honourable, I also quite agree with you,' said he.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 5:
But if the world is begotten, souls also are necessarily begotten; and perhaps at one time they were not in existence, for they were made on account of men and other living creatures, if you will say that they have been begotten wholly apart, and not along with their respective bodies.' "'This seems to be correct.'… "'But I do not say, indeed, that all souls die; for that were truly a piece of good fortune to the evil. What then? The souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment. Thus some which have appeared worthy of God never die; but others are punished so long as God wills them to exist and to be punished.'
Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 5 (Late 2nd Century) Chapter 6, Paragraph 1:
For by the hands of the Father, that is, by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not [merely] a part of man, was made in the likeness of God. Now the soul and the spirit are certainly a part of the man, but certainly not the man; for the perfect man consists in the commingling and the union of the soul receiving the spirit of the Father, and the admixture of that fleshly nature which was moulded after the image of God.
Fragments of Irenaeus (Late 2nd Century) Paragraph 49:
The soul was not anterior to the body in its essence; nor, in regard to its formation, did the body precede the soul: but both these were produced at one time.
Tertullian’s A Treatise on the Soul (Early 3rd Century) Chapter 27:
How, then, is a living being conceived? Is the substance of both body and soul formed together at one and the same time? Or does one of them precede the other in natural formation? We indeed maintain that both are conceived, and formed, and perfectly simultaneously, as well as born together; and that not a moment's interval occurs in their conception, so that, a prior place can be assigned to either. Judge, in fact, of the incidents of man's earliest existence by those which occur to him at the very last. As death is defined to be nothing else than the separation of body and soul, life, which is the opposite of death, is susceptible of no other definition than the conjunction of body and soul.
- - -
Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!