Bible Question:

I heard a teacher say that our soul or spirit, during our life on earth, is at the right hand of God. Never heard that before. Is this true?

Bible Answer:

Is our soul or spirit at the right hand of God? The answer to the question is, “No!” There are two reasons why the answer is “no.”

Meaning of Body, Soul and Spirit

The Old Testament typically refers to only the body and soul together (for example, Psalm 31:9; 44:25; Isaiah 10:18; Micah 6:7).  In the New Testament we find soul and spirit used together only in Hebrews 4:12. Here is Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)

Then in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we discover that body, soul, and spirit are referred to separately.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NASB)

Since Scripture names each term individually that means the soul and spirit are not the same. Scripture tells us that animals are souls, and the Hebrew word that is used for “soul” is nephesh. The word is translated as “soul” 256 times in the Old Testament as “creature, living being, life and lifeblood.” Animals in the Old Testament have souls but not spirits.  This helps us understand that soul in the Old Testament has the meaning of a “life force.” It refers to that which causes the body to function. That means a creature and soul were interchangeable concepts. But it does not normally refer to our spirit.

Are the Soul and Spirit at God’s Right Hand?

Since soul primarily refers to our life force, it does not mean our spirit. So, Scripture would never and does not say that our souls are at the right hand of God. Nor, does Scripture teach that our spirits are at the right hand of God. In fact, 2 Corinthians tells us that prior to death, we exist here on earth. At the moment of death, the spirits of Christians are present with the Lord in heaven.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6 (NASB)

This means that our spirits are not at the right hand of God while we are alive on earth. When our spirit is at the right hand of God, then we would be present with the Lord, or in heaven.


Scripture does not teach that both our spirit and soul are in God’s presence. Christians are looking forward to being with God for eternity. This will begin at death or for some at the rapture.