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“The Trial”  — Section 3

‘Breath’ and ‘Spirit’ in the Bible – Are these words interchangeable?

Representative of a Christian church:
The words ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ are used interchangeably in the scriptures.  In Genesis 2:7 it states: “And the Lord God breathed into [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
In some instances in the scriptures the words could be used interchangeably, but some have used these verses to say that man has no spirit.  Isaiah clearly distinguished between these two words in Isaiah 42:5, which reads, “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein…”  Zechariah 12:1 tells us that the spirit of man has form: “The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”  There are many instances where breath and spirit are not interchangeable.  Consider Matthew 5:3.  With an exchange of the two words, it would read: “ Blessed are the poor in BREATH: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  John 4:24 would read, “God is a breath, and they that worship him must worship in breath and in truth.”  We stand firm and scripturally sound in our belief that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, have bodies of flesh and bone, comprised of their perfected bodies and enlivening spirits.

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