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Duane wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am looking for a comprehensive answer regarding 1 Peter 3:19. I know being a person we have body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The commentary in 1 Peter 3:19 in the on-line Douay Bible version is this:

[19] Spirits that were in prison: See here a proof of a third place, or middle state of souls: for these spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach, after his death, were not in heaven; nor yet in the hell of the damned: because heaven is no prison: and Christ did not go to preach to the damned.

My question is:

  • Why is the term Spirit used instead of Soul?

because most people believe that after death, our soul will face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Thank you very much!


  { Because our souls will face the judgment, why is the term "Spirit" used instead of "Soul"? }

John replied:


In Catholic theology, the soul and the spirit are one and the same unless by the soul you mean the psyche.

That said, it is a reference to the soul.


Paul replied:


These terms are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing but with different emphases. Spirit comes from the Hebrew word that means breath and wind, whereas the term soul has Greek origins referring to the form of a living body.

The problem is that the human soul is spiritual, not like the material souls of plants and animals that are extinguished when the body dies. The spiritual soul of a human being survives bodily death, yet still anticipates its reunification with the body at the Resurrection.

St. Paul uses all three words - body, soul, and spirit — perhaps to emphasize man as fallen and graced — the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our spiritual souls. The soul, without grace (God's life), is dead in the sense of having no spiritual life from God to nourish it but the soul is fully alive when in union with God's Spirit dwelling within us.

My colleagues may have more to add to this.


[Related web page]

Duane replied:

Thank you very much for the great answers. I would like to ask one more important question.

I know that man is lower than angels (Psalms 8:5-6) and we can equal to the angels of God once we enter Heaven (Matthew 22:30).

  • How about the fallen angels?
  • Are we lower than them as well? or
  • Are we higher than them because God is with us Romans 8:31, and also because of 1 Corinthians 6:3 and the fact that the Church is higher than satan who was also a former angel? Romans 16:20

Correct me if I'm wrong . . . and

Thank you very much!


John replied:


We are in the order of creation presently lower than the angels but I believe if you read Hebrews, they are indeed our servants.

After the Resurrection of the Body, we will be full participants by Grace in Divine Nature of God therefore we will not be lower than that angels, and now, the angels exist to serve humanity.

Remember that Psalms were written before the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. With the Incarnation, Christ elevated mankind.

By the way, satan is still a angel, a fallen angel who with his legion of fallen angels encourages us to make bad, ungodly choices that effect our salvation.


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