The Virtual Soul

March 31, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

The Virtual Soul I’m writing about today is — maybe — quite a bit different than what you were expecting. And just possibly a whole lot cooler than you would have imagined!

I’m a big fan of church history. The early stuff, before it became all about the Roman Church. I’m going to take you back to the Second Century, call it 130 A.D. An anonymous writer takes the name Mathetes (“a disciple of the apostles”), and writes a letter to the a man named Diognetus. And no, we have no idea who he may have been.

Mathetes writes about what Christians were like back then. Keep in mind that you’re reading something read by people all over the old Roman Empire. If it were not true, we’d have heard about it. How would you like to be characterized as wonderfully as this?


For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity.

The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking17 method of life.

  • They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners.
  • As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners.
  • Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
  • They marry, as do all; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.
  • They have a common table, but not a common bed.
  • They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh.
  • They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.
  • They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives.
  • They love all men, and are persecuted by all.
  • They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life.
  • They are poor, yet make many rich.
  • They are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all.
  • They are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified.
  • They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless.
  • They are insulted, and repay the insult with honor.
  • They do good, yet are punished as evil-doers.
  • When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life.
  • They are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.


When Mathetes finished that much, he added a few comments. These comments are what I referred to as The Virtual Soul. Here’s what he wrote:

“To sum up all in one word — what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world.”

Most students of Bible prophecy believe that the Holy Spirit of God (living in the bodies of individual Christians, and local churches) is the great restraining influence on evil in our world. They represent that Virtual Soul that keeps this world on its feet. Without that virtual soul, this old world stumbles around in its wickedness, alarmingly like the zombie-types on AMC TV’s The Walking Dead. When that virtual soul departs… what’s going to be left?


The writer part of me thrills to read something written nearly two thousand years ago by an author whom none of us know. He had no agent, no publisher, no social media, no publicist. Yet because of that tenacious quality of prose in print to keep on surviving, we still have these words with us today. And many more.

To other Christian writers, I say — Keep on going! Whether this year or next, or (if the Lord Jesus tarries His coming)  a century or more from now, someone you’ve never heard of will read what you wrote. Make it count.


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Category: Christian, virtual, Writing

About the Author ()

Suspense fiction writer. I have a wife whom I love, and five children ranging from college to middle age. I love each one. I've worked a day job as a senior software developer since 1999. Previous to that I spent nearly thirty years as a foreign missionary in Vietnam and China. Yes, I speak Chinese as a second language :-)

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