A symbolic vision is given at Revelation chapter 11. The picture is presented of “two witnesses” who are killed and whose corpses are allowed to lie on the street for three and a half days. Then “spirit [or breath, pneu′ma] of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet.” (Re 11:1-11) This vision again draws on a physical reality to illustrate a spiritual revivification. It also shows that the Greek pneu′ma, like the Hebrew ru′ach, may represent THE LIFE-GIVING FORCE from God that animates the human soul or person. As James 2:26 states: “The body without spirit [pneu′ma·tos] is dead.”—Int.
Therefore, when God created man in Eden and blew into his nostrils “the breath [form of nesha·mah′] of life,” it is evident that, in addition to filling the man’s lungs with air, God caused THE LIFE-FORCE, or SPIRIT (ru′ach), to vitalize all the cells in Adam’s body.—Ge 2:7; compare Ps 104:30; Ac 17:25.
This life-force is passed on from parents to offspring through conception. Since Jehovah was the original Source of this life-force for man, and the Author of the procreation process, one’s life can properly be attributed to Him, though received not directly but indirectly through one’s parents.—Compare Job 10:9-12; Ps 139:13-16; Ec 11:5.
Life-force, or spirit, is IMPERSONAL. As noted, the Scriptures refer to the ru′ach, or life-force, as being not only in humans but also in animals. (Ge 6:17; 7:15, 22) Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 shows that man dies in the same manner as the beasts, for “they all have but one spirit [weru′ach], so that there is no superiority of the man over the beast,” that is, as to the life-force common to both. This being so, it is clear that the “spirit,” or life-force (ru′ach), as used in this sense is impersonal. As an illustration, one might compare it to another invisible force, electricity, which may be used to make various types of machines operate—causing stoves to produce heat, fans to produce wind, computers to solve problems, television sets to produce figures, voices and other sounds—yet which electric current never takes on any of the characteristics of the machines in which it functions or is active.
Thus, Psalm 146:3, 4 says that when man’s “spirit [form of ru′ach] goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” The spirit, or life-force, that was active in man’s body cells does not retain any of the characteristics of those cells, such as the brain cells and their part in the thinking process. If the spirit, or life-force (ru′ach; pneu′ma), were not impersonal, then it would mean that the children of certain Israelite women who were resurrected by the prophets Elijah and Elisha were actually in conscious existence somewhere in the period during which they were dead. So, too, with Lazarus, who was resurrected some four days after his death. (1Ki 17:17-23; 2Ki 4:32-37; Joh 11:38-44) If such had been the case, it is reasonable that they would have remembered such conscious existence during that period and upon being resurrected would have described it, told about it. There is nothing to indicate that any of them did so. Hence, the personality of the dead individual is not perpetuated in the life-force, or spirit, that stops functioning in the deceased person’s body cells.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 states that at death the person’s body returns to the dust, “and the spirit itself returns to the true God who gave it.” The person himself was never in heaven with God; what “returns” to God is therefore the vital force that enabled the person to live.
In view of the impersonal nature of the life-force, or spirit, found in man (as also in the animal creation), it is evident that David’s statement at Psalm 31:5, quoted by Jesus at the time of his death (Lu 23:46), “Into your hand I entrust my spirit,” meant that God was being called upon to guard, or care for, that one’s life-force. (Compare Ac 7:59.) That there be an actual and literal transmission of some force from this planet to the heavenly presence of God is not necessarily required. Even as the fragrant scent of animal sacrifices was spoken of as being ‘smelled’ by God (Ge 8:20, 21), whereas such scent undoubtedly remained within earth’s atmosphere, so, too, God could ‘gather in,’ or could accept as entrusted to him, the spirit or life-force in a figurative sense, that is, without any literal transmission of vital force from earth. (Job 34:14; Lu 23:46) A person’s entrusting his spirit evidently means, then, that he places his hope in God for a future restoration of such life-force to himself through a resurrection.—Compare Nu 16:22; 27:16; Job 12:10; Ps 104:29, 30.
Answered By: CF - 10/14/2012