They call the soul an incorporeal essence. This term in an oxymoron, and means "substance without physical properties". Essentially, philosophers don't know because their explanation is an impossibility. The first use of "soul" in the Bible:
(Genesis 2:7) "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."At that instant divine "magic" happened - I can be oxymoronic as well! The corporeal (the dust) was breathed upon by God, and became a living soul (incorporeal). God turned lead into gold, metaphorically. In the Hebrew "soul" is nephesh - a breathing creature. "Living" is chay or raw or fleshly. The dust is the "lead" and the flesh is the "gold" in God's magic. We don't know how the animals were created, but in this verse, mankind's aliveness is nicely explained.
Throughout the Old Testament "souls" refer to "lives", but they have importance. Only when humans die is it souls which depart! There is something special about mankind that the animals don't have!
Later on we find that "soul" does more than define mankind's aliveness. Being alive seems to be "breathing". Of course, with modern technology "breathing" can be continued indefinitely, and as long as the rawness is there, i.e., the flesh is still fresh, life still exists. But there is more to the soul than the presence of life!
Genesis 12:13 "Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee."Abraham referred to his own nephesh as if it is its own entity. It could have said merely chay (flesh), but it's something more than returning to the dust which dying is. Let's think on this for a minute. Suppose that one could take a living person, shake the person until all the dust fell away, what would be left? The mind and the soul. Physical life would be gone, but the incorporeal would remain. Abraham held the invisible existence of his body greater than the physical. His life could be taken, but he was more worried about his soul!
Matthew explained the concept of body and soul much better:
Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."In both places the Greek word psuche means "breath", implying "the spirit" because back in Genesis it was God who breathed that into us. As such, when mankind was created he breathed into our souls life. Adam and Eve's soul was alive because "it" contained God's Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to his own presence several times as his "cup". When he was about to die, he said:
Matthew 6:39b "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."Jesus' cup was the container for his Spirit. It was created as part of his body. In fact, many times Jesus refers to the drinking from his "cup", thus the sharing of his Holy Spirit. That "cup" is his "soul", and thus the soul is the container for God's Holy Spirit. It wasn't his flesh (bread) that Jesus told us to drink, but his blood, representing his death, and loss of breath. However, he promised that his Spirit would return and comfort his followers. As such, I believe that Jesus' specific "cup" is the bountiful Holy Spirit which resided in his soul at the time of his death. When Jesus ascended in the flesh, his "Ghost" descended. That part of Jesus who is still with us is his cup. The ascension separated his dust from his soul.
I believe that the mind stays with the soul since the body only returns to dust. Matthew bears out that the body and soul are separate, and the story of Lazarus in heaven bears out that the mind is engaged to the soul forever. Therefore, I have firmed up, in my own mind, that the soul is the container for God's Spirit.
Adam and Eve were born filled with the Holy Spirit as God breathed his spirit into the dust. We find that again in Acts chapter 2 when those who were of one accord, received the Holy Ghost, the very Spirit - that part of God's Spirit which was on the cross with Jesus within his cup. The soul is as a wind, but "it" is blown into the soul. Actually, the soul is neither an "it" nor a "person", but an aspect of God. When a soul receives a portion of God's Holy Spirit, it resides in him. Man's goal is to keep the temple - cup or soul, clean for God to live within him. Who lived in Jesus's temple was the Holy Ghost and when we accept Jesus, his Spirit that endured the cross is shared with us. The Holy Ghost is not a different Spirit, but the essence of God when he became man since Jesus Is God.
That is not to infer that there are two Holy Spirits for there is only one. Think on God's "Spirit" as an available pneuma , as a wind from God bearing power. Those "powers" are twelve-fold, and its fruits are - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control from Galatians 5:22-23. Since we know that the Holy Spirit calls us, so he is also encouragement. Of course we don't know for sure what the three not mentioned are but Revelation does mention twelve.
As such, our own soul has within it those same things. When Adam sinned, all those things were discarded in favor of the fruits of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like (Galatians 5:21). Adam was born "safe" (sozos in the Greek) since he was innocent and had a spirit filled soul. He was at that time immortal, and had the hope of salvation. His hope was dashed when he chose evil over righteousness. It didn't take many sins, but onky one to condemn him. However, as he failed to effectively cover his own sin with leaves, the Voice came in to save the damned - God covered Adam's sin with the blood of an innocent animal as a picture of Jesus shedding his own blood.
At that time, Adam's soul began to be imbued. Why do I say imbued rather than filled? Because the word pletho in Acts 2:4, and elsewhere, means filled or imbued. I believe that since Adam had sinned, he certainly wasn't filled, but only imbued - which means "tinged". I liken that to partial absorption in a sponge. In other words one can have the Holy Spirit, and at the same time, not be filled with the Spirit since sin does still enter in. Therefore, there remained in Adam the propensity to sin, and due to God's grace, he was no longer condemned to death by one mere sin.
Therefore, post-innocence Adam and mankind received grace. Christian liberty is allowing sin into our soul, but as sin enters in the Holy Spirit is sort of squeezed out. When one becomes "reprobate" unrepented sin has entered in to the degree that the Holy Spirit has no temple in which to live. God is evicted and Satan, by default, invited in. In this condition, apostasy happens as the will of the Father is abandoned, and the "safe" person becomes "unsafe" to the extent that without repentance that person becomes lost to eternal life.
Mankind claims to want eternal life. It's not their earthly flesh which is saved, but their immortal souls. After the soul is saved by grace, the body is resurrected and glorified - become as Jesus's. Although it's our soul that we want saved, many people haven't a clue what is saved! It's actually their flesh that they desire to keep, looking back, and caring not that it is the old creature that they are so worried about!
If the importance of scripture lies only on salvation, perhaps we do need to know what we are saving, what we are saved from, and it doesn't hurt to understand the grace by which we are saved; and that the Savior is not a liar - that his Word is truth!