Does God the Father have a soul?

Question
I realize that Jesus has a soul, as he is really a human being. However, does God the Father have a soul?
Answer

Thanks for your question. The answer depends upon how we use or interpret the word "soul."

God created Adam and Eve in a unique way in comparison with the remainder of His creation, such as plants and animals (Gen. 1:20-25). He created mankind as "a living soul." Genesis 2:7, KJV states, "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" [or "living creatures" as in the ESV; cf. Eccl. 12:7]. IMO, though it is actually more correct to say man is a soul and not merely possesses one.

We obtain the word "soul" from the Hebrew word nephesh. The word is used some 754 times (Englishman's Concordance) in the Old Testament and may also mean, "self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, and passion" (BDB). Throughout the Bible mankind is said to be a soul (Psa. 62:5; 104:1; Matt. 10:28; Luke 1:46). So naturally the question arises, that since mankind was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), does God the Father have a soul?

Before arriving at an answer, it is also important to understand that the Greek word for "soul" is psyche (used some 104 occurrences in the N.T.). In Matthew 10:28, Jesus teaches man's constituent parts are two, namely, "body" and "soul" (Matt. 12:18; cf. Isa. 42:1). This is the reason He could say to the thief next to Him upon the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). The repentant thief's body went to a grave, but his soul or spirit went to paradise. I should note that some assert that man is a spirit, soul, and body quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12. However, this is done in error, as man is a two-part, not three-part living being. For more on this topic please see, "Trichotomy or Dichotomy?" below.

Returning to the subject at hand, there are some passages of Scripture that seem to indicate that God has a soul:

Leviticus 26:11, 30 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul [Hebrew, nap-si from nephesh] shall not abhor you. ... And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul [ nap-si] will abhor you.

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul [ nap-si] delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Jeremiah 32:41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul [ nap-si].

Matthew 12:18 Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul [Greek, psyche] is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

Hebrews 10:38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul [psyche] has no pleasure in him.

However, Scripture also refers to God as having a face (Lev. 20:6; Num. 6:25), an eye (Deut. 11:12; Psa. 34:15), a hand (Exod. 7:5; Isa. 23:11), an arm (Psa. 89:10), that He stoops (Psa. 113:6), and that the earth is His footstool (Isa. 66:1). But, God the Father is a spirit (John 4:24) and is not made up of body parts. So, biblically in theology these ascribed human qualities of God above are known as anthropomorphisms. They are used in Scripture to more fully communicate what God is doing, but are not to be taken literally, as if he had an actual human body, eye, hand, or foot, etc. They merely assist us to comprehend the incomprehensible, to fathom the unfathomable, to know the unknowable, to grasp the ungraspable, and to understand what would otherwise not be understandable.

However, some add that God doesn't actually have a soul either; it is merely an anthropomorphism. Indeed, they comment saying, the Scripture never literally states that God is a soul or has a soul.

IMO, though it depends on how one is using or interpreting the term "soul" in context. Often the word "soul," as used in Scripture, refers to the unseen part of a man that makes up part of his actual person (Gen. 2:7). Since God the Father is not a man, but a spirit (John 4:24), this use of soul shouldn't be used to describe Him in such contexts. However, in other uses the word "soul" refers to one's whole being (Lev. 26:11, 30; Isa. 42:1; Jer. 32:41; Matt. 12:18; Heb. 10:38; cf. Deut. 26:16; 1 Pet. 3:20). Indeed, the term "soul" may mean "self," "myself," or even "life" - part of its very definition seen above (Hebrew, nephesh). IMO, this is the manner in which God refers to His "soul" in the Scripture; meaning His entire being or self. In others words, God's "soul" is synonymous with His "spirit;" or "all" his heart (Jer. 32:41). So, when God's soul is well-pleased with someone (Matt. 12:18), He does so with His very self; with His own essence, His entire being, or completely.

So, God is spirit, similar to the Person of the Holy Spirit who is also immaterial. Only God the Son took to Himself a human body and therefore possess a human soul, because He is truly a human being, the second and last man Adam, the God-Man. God the Father on the other hand is not a human being. He does not have a created soul like man does. He though is still a whole Person, the first Person of the Trinity. Therefore, when we speak of His soul, we speak concerning His complete being, self, essence, or His totality.

Related Topics:

Trichotomy or Dichotomy?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).