Pollock’s Third Argument – Immortality of the Soul

We have now arrived at the point where A. J. Pollock argues for the immortality of the human soul. The immortality of the human soul must be the case if the doctrine of eternal conscious torment is true.

Much of his argument is based on his study of two Greek words: athanasia (Strong’s G110) which is translated “immortal” and thnētos (Strong’s G2349) which is translated as “mortal”. Athanasia occurs three times in the New Testament and thnētos occurs six times. Here are all of the verses that contain these words:

Verses containing athanasia:

53 For this corruptible must be clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal (thnētos) must be clothed
with immortality (athanasia).
54 When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal (thnētos) is clothed
with immortality (athanasia),
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
1 Corinthians 15:53-54 (HCSB)

16 the only One who has immortality (athanasia),
dwelling in unapproachable light;
no one has seen or can see Him,
to Him be honor and eternal might.
1 Timothy 6:16 (HCSB)

Verses containing thnētos:

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal (thnētos) body, so that you obey its desires.
Romans 6:12 (HCSB)

11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal (thnētos) bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.
Romans 8:11 (HCSB)

53 For this corruptible must be clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal (thnētos) must be clothed
with immortality (athanasia).
54 When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal (thnētos) is clothed
with immortality (athanasia),
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
1 Corinthians 15:53-54 (HCSB)

11 For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal (thnētos) flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:11 (HCSB)

Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality (thnētos) may be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:4 (HCSB)

When I first began studying Pollock’s argument I read these over several times and, as I did so, one thing jumped out at me: in every instance, with the exception of 1 Timothy 6:12, the Apostle Paul is speaking to and about believers. In 1 Timothy 6:12 the Apostle Paul is speaking of God Himself. The immortality or lack thereof of the unbeliever is not in view in any of these passages!

Pollock does claim that the immortality of the soul is assumed in scripture but that is the logical fallacy of Begging the Question and doesn’t help his argument. I will grant that all of Pollock’s arguments below are correct in regards to believers. However I do not accept that these verses say anything about the unbeliever. They simply are not in scope here!

I will occasionally insert my comments into his text but all-in-all I want him to have his say. Here is Pastor Pollock:

[…] It is to be remarked that immortality (athanasia) is only mentioned three times in the New Testament. One passage is constantly used triumphantly by those who deny immortality as pertaining to man. Speaking of God, it says:-

“Who only hath immortality”[6] (1 Tim. 6:16).

But this proves too much for their case. They urge God ONLY has immortality. But the angels have it in the sense of endless existence, for mortal means more than capable of death, it means dying , that is to say, a mortal being is one in whom the process of death is being carried out, it may be slowly and imperceptibly but none the less surely, till the process ends in actual death. The seeds of death are at work till the end is reached. Luke 20:36 is clear as to the eternal existence of the angels.

 HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
p. 22


At his point Pollock discusses Luke 20:36 which I have already discussed in my post “Pollock on Luke 20:36”.

Pollock again:

And further, what is still more serious in using this verse the way the Annihilationists do is that they cut away the ground absolutely from under their own feet, for if God alone hath immortality it follows then that not only no one has it now, as for instance the angels, but also, to be logical, no one can have it in the future. [Ed.: Please see my post “Pollock on Conditional Immortality: Second Argument” to see why I disagree with this statement.]

Scripture tells us plainly that believers will put on immortality at the coming of Christ, so the Word of God contradicts such a use of the verse.

But it clearly tells us God only hath immortality. How then is this true? The answer is plain and conclusive. God only has it inherently. God only has it in Himself. All else who have it, have it as conferred and sustained by Him.

The two other places where immortality (athanasia) is mentioned are as follows:-

“This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So where this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:53-54).

Here the sense is plain. Corruption and mortality both have reference to the body not to the soul. Corruption applies to a DEAD body – mortality to a DYING body.

There is no dispute that corruption in this Scripture refers to the dead body of a believer and incorruption to the body of the believer in resurrection. There is no need to labour the point.

That the term mortal refers to a DYING body is plain from the following passages:-

“Let not sin reign in your mortal body” (Rom. 6:12).

“Christ… shall also quicken your mortal bodies ” (Rom. 8:11).

“The life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).

“For we that are in this tabernacle [the body] do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Cor. 5:4).

Here we have every passage in the New Testament where the words mortal and immortality are used. It is clear that the terms are used in connection with the dying body.

On the other hand, the term mortal is never used in connection with the soul. Why? Because it is NOT subject to death. The soul is immortal, not inherently as God is, but conferred and sustained by God. [Ed.: This is begging the question and is not required by any of the passages he just quoted.]

We read, as to man,

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

Mr. F.W.Grant, in “Facts and Theories as to a Future State,” writes, as to this passage:-

“Man and beast are alike possessed of living souls. We do not disguise the truth as to this, but contend for it” (page 56).

“Now, upon the most cursory glance at this, it is evident that something more took place in man’s creation than in the creation of the brute. It is plain that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and that He did not into the brute’s… For although what is communicated may not be yet fully shown – and it is quite the character of an initial revelation, that it should not be – it is plain that man has a link here with God Himself which the beast has not… It is by this way he receives life.” (pages 57, 58).

But the reader may urge, “If the word mortal is never applied in the Scripture to the soul, neither is the word immortal. Can the soul, then, be said to be immortal?” We reply that it is perfectly true that the actual word immortal is never used in Scripture in connection with the soul, but nevertheless the truth of the unending existence of the soul is woven into the very web and woof of Scripture. If the soul were not immortal, but mortal, surely this would be affirmed in the Scriptures. There is not a line to say that the soul is mortal. [Ed.: Once again this is begging the question.]

God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and he became in this special way, in contradistinction to the beasts, a living soul.

All through Scripture it is taken for granted that the soul is unending in existence. But seeing that “life and incorruptibility” are brought “to light through the gospel,” it is obvious that we must look to the New Testament for the fullest light on the subject.

Yet even in the Old Testament we find abundant indications of what we are seeking for. We need not repeat all the passages we quoted as to Sheol, proving that the soul at death goes into a condition of conscious existence in the other world, in other words, that continuous existence belongs to the soul. The evidence on this score is overwhelming. And when we come to the New Testament, its testimony as to Hades, the equivalent of Sheol, confirms this statement fully. [Ed.: I agree that the soul is conscious upon entering Sheol/Hades however that does not prove immortality.]

A very strong proof of what we have asserted in the opening pages of this pamphlet as to Sheol and Hades comes out when the Sadducees, who, disbelieving in resurrection, urged the hypothetical case of the woman with seven husbands, and received the answer from the Lord’s lips: –

“As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living ” (Matt. 22:31-32). [Ed.: Only believers are in scope here!]

And, as if to enforce the great importance of this incident, both Mark and Luke record it. They refer particularly, as also does Stephen in his address to the Sanhedrim, to the time when the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (see Ex. 3:6). The patriarchs referred to had then been dead for many long years. If their souls had ceased to exist, God could not have announced Himself as their God, for it distinctly and emphatically says, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And further, He said, “I AM the God of Abraham,” etc. Their bodies were clearly in their graves. Then obviously their souls were living in the condition of hades, as we have seen. ). [Ed.: I repeat that only believers are in scope here!]

 HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
p. 23-25

[Click on this link to see the next installment in this series: Pollock on Jude 7]

Explore posts in the same categories: Annihilationism

One Comment on “Pollock’s Third Argument – Immortality of the Soul”

  1. Dave Says:

    Good explication of why it is an error to rely on the usage of athanasia and thnētos.

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