The breath of life – What is it?

The phrase "breath of life" comes originally from a verse in Genesis describing the creation of man. "The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature" (Genesis 2:7). The breath of life was what turned man from a lifeless collection of matter into a living creature. In C.S. Lewis' story The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Aslan the King of Narnia comes across creatures that were made into stone statues. He breathes on them, and they change from unfeeling blocks of stone into sentient, warm-blooded mammals again. This is a good, fictional depiction of what the real event must have been like—man was unfeeling and unliving, and God breathed into his nostrils, and he became a thinking, feeling creature.

The Hebrew word translated "creature" or "being" in this passage is the word for soul, which is nephesh. It means "an animated, breathing, conscious, and living being." We know from the passage that God created man (it was not accomplished by an evolutionary process) and that his soul—his consciousness, sentience, etc.—was part of that creation. The breath of God is the power and life of God, His Spirit. Some of that was imparted to man upon creation, and from that moment on, man has possessed the life of God, in his physical body while he lives. When a man dies, his soul is still alive, and he returns to God where the Bible tells us he faces judgment for "what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

When a person faces judgment, they are held responsible for their stewardship of the breath of life that God gave them. And since even one sin against an eternal God holds eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46), and the list of potential sins is quite long (see the Mosaic Law), and no person (except the incarnate Christ) has lived a sinless life (Romans 3:23), we are all bound to fail when our lives are judged in the sight of a perfect and holy God.

The answer is Jesus Christ. The Apostle John described Jesus this way: "He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:2–4). Jesus was with God in the beginning, and all things were made through Him. That means that it was Jesus who gave us the breath of life. In the very next verse: "in him was life and the life was the light of men." Jesus Christ is the Creator, the Source of life, and light. Our intellect, our emotion, our wonder, and all our experiences are due to His creative power. He bestowed life upon us, and that life is His to take, or to save (Job 1:21).

Because of who He is, He chooses to save all who accept that salvation (John 3:16–17). Revelation describes a river of life that flows from the throne of God, in heaven. It is lined with fruit trees, and the leaves of the trees have healing properties (Revelation 22:1–2). God is the source of life, and everyone who trusts in Christ for forgiveness and salvation can live with Him for eternity. Will you?

Related Truth:

What does it mean that humanity is created in the image of God?

What is the human soul, according to the Bible?

What was the effect of the fall on humanity? How did the fall affect our world?

What do Christians mean by saying they are born again?

Life after death – Does it really exist?

Return to:
Truth about Humanity

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