15. Hebrews 12:23: “the spirits of just men made perfect”
Lucas Banzoli is a very active Brazilian theological writer, who denies that Jesus is immutable in His Divine Nature (i.e., judging by the standard of trinitarian classical theism, he denies that Jesus is God; hence cannot be classified as either a trinitarian or a Christian). He has a Master’s degree in theology, a degree and postgraduate work in history, a license in letters, and is a history teacher, author of 25 books, as well as blogmaster (but now inactive) for six blogs. He’s active on YouTube.
This is my 51st refutation of Banzoli’s writings. From 5-25-22 until 11-12-22 (almost half a year) he didn’t write even one single word in reply. Since then he has counter-responded three times. Why so few and so late? Well, he says it’s because my articles are “without exception poor, superficial and weak . . . only a severely cognitively impaired person would be inclined to take” them “seriously.” He didn’t “waste time reading” 37 of my first 40 replies (three articles being his proof of the worthlessness of all of my 4,000+ articles and 51 books). He also denied that I had a “job” and claimed that I didn’t “work.” But he concluded that replying to me is so “entertaining” that he resolved to “make a point of rebutting” my articles “one by one.” I disposed of his relentlessly false personal insults in Facebook posts dated 11-13-22 and 11-15-22 and 11-23-22.
My current effort is a major multi-part response to Banzoli’s 1900-page self-published book, The Legend of the Immortality of the Soul [A Lenda da Imortalidade da Alma], published on 1 August 2022. He claims to have “cover[ed] in depth all the immortalist arguments” and to have “present[ed] all the biblical proofs of the death of the soul . . .” and he confidently asserted: “the immortality of the soul is at the root of almost all destructive deception and false religion.” He himself admits on page 18 of his Introduction that what he is opposing is held by “nearly all the Christians in the world.” A sincere unbiblical error (and I assume his sincerity) is no less dangerous than a deliberate lie, and we apologists will be “judged with greater strictness” for any false teachings that we spread (Jas 3:1).
I use RSV for the Bible passages (including ones that Banzoli cites) unless otherwise indicated. Google Translate is utilized to render Lucas’ Portugese into English. Occasionally I slightly modify clearly inadequate translations, so that his words will read more smoothly and meaningfully in English. His words will be in blue.
See the other installments:
See also the related articles:
Hebrews 12:22-23 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
[H]e was not talking about spirits outside the body literally assembled in a heavenly temple, . . . but simply alluding to the set of all true Christians who have their names actually written in the book of life. (p. 432)
Yes, but that’s neither here nor there. Those in the book of life are saved and will go to heaven. Of course. It doesn’t tell us what the “spirits” in the passage are.
If the purpose was to say that they were already in heaven (which would clash head-on with with what he had said a few verses earlier in 11:13-16 and 39-40), he would not have alluded to the inscription of the saved in the book of life, but to the saved themselves in a heavenly condition outside the body. (p. 432)
Expositor’s Greek Testament comments:
“and to spirits of just men made perfect,” “spirits,” as in 1 Peter 3:19, of those who have departed this life and not yet been clothed with their resurrection body.
Pulpit Commentary adds:
Their “spirits” only are spoken of, because the “perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul” is still to come.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines pneuma (Strong’s Greek word #4151): “spirits” in this particular passage, as:
b. a human soul that has left the body . . . Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 3:19.
Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (one-volume edition, p. 893) states: “In Heb. 12:23 the spirits are the departed.”
W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (under “Spirit”) defines pneuma as used in this passage as: “the disembodied . . . man, Luke 24:37, 39; Heb. 12:23; 1 Pet. 4:6).”
I addressed the usage in Luke 24 in my previous installment.
Oh, but I momentarily forgot. This is the Grand Conspiracy of the Bible commentators and Bible lexicons, in cahoots with all of the equally pathetic and misguided the Bible translators: all engaged in a massive cover-up of the “truth” that the Bible denies the existence of immortal souls. Once we understand that, everything comes clearly into focus [heavy sarcasm]. The quickest way to comprehend the “Immortalist Conspiracy” is to realize that everyone is wrong except Lucas Banzoli. He’s the Ultimate Wise Man: putting Solomon to shame. He’s got the secret, “gnostic” knowledge: so deep that even Jesus and Paul didn’t grasp it! Poor fellows . . .
The Jewish apocalyptic book of Enoch contains several similar references to immaterial “spirits” and “souls” (each one divided by a line space is a separate citation):
Raphael, one of the holy angels, who presides over the spirits of men.
Sarakiel, one of the holy angels, who presides over the spirits of the children of men . . .
And I saw the spirits of the sons of men who were dead . . .
At that time therefore I inquired respecting him, and respecting the general judgment, saying, “Why is one separated from another?” He answered, “Three separations have been made between the spirits of the dead, and thus have the spirits of the righteous been separated.”
. . . separating the spirits of men, strengthened the spirits of the righteous in the name of his own righteousness.
I have seen that all goodness, joy, and glory has been prepared for you, and been written down for the spirits of them who die eminently righteous and good.
And now to you, 0 ye holy ones of heaven, the souls of men complain, saying, “Obtain Justice for us with the Most High.” Then they said to their Lord, the King, “Thou art Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings. The throne of thy glory is for ever and ever, and for ever and ever is thy name sanctified and glorified. Thou art blessed and glorified.”
[compare Revelation 6:9-10, 13: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne;  they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’ ” . . .  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” ]
And now behold the souls of those who are dead, cry out.
Then Raphael, one of the holy angels who were with me, answered and said, “These are the delightful places where the spirits, the souls of the dead, will be collected; for them were they formed; and here will be collected all the souls of the sons of men.”
Thus has there existed a separation between the souls of those who utter complaints, and of those who watch for their destruction, to slaughter them in the day of sinners. A receptacle of this sort has been formed for the souls of unrighteous men, and of sinners.
Fear not, ye souls of the righteous ; but wait with patient hope for the day of your death in righteousness.
Enoch 1:9 is directly quoted in Jude 1:14-15:
It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads,  to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Note that the information is referred to in inspired revelation as having been “prophesied.” Some think that 1 Peter 3:19–20 and 2 Peter 2:4–5 also make reference to some Enochian material. In Hebrews 11:5, Enoch is referred to directly, as receiving “testimony”: which may allude to the book by his name.
[T]he “spirit” mentioned in all these verses . . . only appears in relation to live people, never dead people. . . . When the word “spirit” is used in relation to human beings, it is always and invariably in relation to people still alive, since the spirit is not a personal being that carries consciousness and personality with it after the death of the individual. (p. 433)
Nonsense. In Hebrews 12:22-23 (at the top) it’s referring to the spirits of dead people, since it refers to “the spirits of just men made perfect.” This perfection suggests that it is in reference to immaterial spirits or souls in heaven (which of course, the passage is set in), who have been made totally perfect, to which Paul refers elsewhere:
1 Corinthians 13:9-12 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;  but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
Jesus was also a spirit after He was killed on the cross, and went to preach to other spirits in Hades (He was dead and so were they). I dealt with this last time, too. All of these biblical and linguistic arguments are devastating, if not fatal, to the heretical soul sleep position.
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Photo credit: Saint Michael the Archangel and Another Figure Recommending a Soul to the Virgin and Child in Heaven, by Bartolomeo Biscaino (1629-1657) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
Summary: Part 15 of many responses to Lucas Banzoli’s 1900-page book, The Legend of the Immortality of the Soul: published on 1 August 2022. I defend historic Christianity.