"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-28)
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV)
1. Anthropology, the Study of Man
Anthropology is classified as a social science: "the study of man".
Christian theological literature uses the term "anthropology" to refer to the study of mankind and human history from a Biblical point of view. Following is a summary of other branches:
- Social anthropology - the organisation of society; the nature of family networks, human relationships, political and social systems and the structure of societies.
- Cultural anthropology - customs (such as religion, the rites of passage, belief systems, social values, dress, music, food) that make people unique, eg traditional Aboriginal culture, Inuit culture, Massai culture; street culture, drug culture.
- Based on "ethnology", cultural anthropology assumes that religion has a cultural origin (ie invented by people to meet cultural needs).
- Cultural anthropologists often urge acceptance of "cultural relativism", ie all cultures should be viewed as relative to each other; "there are no right or wrong behaviours".
- Symbolic anthropology - the study of meaning using the interpretation of symbols in the context of social life (signs, writing, etc).
- Linguistic anthropology - the study of languages in the contexts in which they are used.
- Medical anthropology - the study of human health in various settings, traditional approaches to healing and care of the human body.
- Musical anthropology - the nature and use of music in various settings, different instruments, the meaning of music in traditional societies.
- Marxist anthropology - an approach to understanding economy within culture, and social change arising from the transformation of social orders, using conflict to bring about change in the nature of relationships and power (theses > antithesis > synthesis).
- Biological anthropology - a study of the development of our species using an evolutionary theoretical approach; studying chimpanzees and other primates to suggest biological links with people.
Secular Anthropology in Christian Service
Understanding cultural anthropology can be useful for Christian service. Missionaries entering people groups different from their own can take years to understand how their host societies function, what languages and traditions mean, what practices are important. Cross-cultural communication can fail if Christians do not understand what is important to others and how to relate the Gospel to them.
The spread of the Gospel in the New Testament involved people crossing over from one culture to another. The story of the conversion of the household of Cornelius in Acts 10 is a good case in point.
Those who differentiate between God's commands and human traditions are successful; those who insist on transporting personal social biases and practices often fail in effectively communicating the Gospel. We need to use anthropology to understand how to bridge the gaps "Jews to Jews, Greeks to Greeks, to win them" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
2. The Creation of the Human Race
Mankind is unique, made in God's image. The first man had a:
- unique method of creation (God's spoken word > "Let the earth produce", consider the uniqueness of Adam's and Eve's creations, by God's hands)
- unique make-up - body, soul and spirit
- unique home -Garden of Eden; a perfect environment (Genesis 2:8).; commanded to take care of it (Genesis 2:15)
- unique mandate -be fruitful, increase, fill the earth and rule it (Genesis 1:28)
Mankind was created after the animals, placed above them and commanded to name them. Read Psalm 8:3-6.
Some False Ideas About Man's Origins, Development and Purpose
|Evolution||Believe all forms of life developed from one source, than man evolved through apes; higher forms developed from lower ones. Search to find missing links.
|Materialism||Man is simply a chemical mixture of lime, phosphorous and nitrogen. There is no consciousness after death.
|Alternative World Views||Different views about man's origins, eg
- Aborigines in Arnhem Land taught that "creation" originated with figures in the Dreamtime. Babies are born after totem spirits enter their mothers and cause them to be formed
- Dogon people from Mali believed man came from dominant sets of twins from two sets made by the creator god
- In Hinduism, the creation of the world is pictured as the breaking of an egg
- The Haida in Canada believed man came from a clamshell found by a raven
- The Hopi Indians believed man came from a hold in the floor of the Grand Canyon
- The "Nation of Islam" in the USA teaches that God created white men from black men, to be their slaves.
|Eugenics||Improving the races by controlling breeding for desirable inherited characteristics. Focused on whether race or other factors make a difference in terms of intelligence, power, the nature and structure of society. The theory of eugenics would not be possible without evolution. No longer popular.
"Throughout the ages many have found in the belief in life to come an adequate compensation for the troubles of their brief sojourn in a world of sorrow. They are the lucky ones. Faith, for those who have it, solves difficulties which reason finds insoluble."
Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) often talked about "death of hope" arising from human belief systems without God. Removal of God's reality leads to despair.
Did Mankind Evolve?
The Bible teaches that man:
- was formed from the dust of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:47, reiterates Genesis 2/3). His name (Hebrew אָדָם "adamah") meant "from the earth".
- was complete when God breathed life into him and he became a "living being" (Genesis 2:7). The word "became" refers to coming to life, not progressing from one form to another, ie there was not a lapse in time
- was created as an adult male
- was originally vegetarian (Genesis 1:29; humans appear not to have been permitted to eat meat until after the flood, see Genesis 9:3.
What are the relative implications of belief in creation versus evolution of mankind?
Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures?
The Old Testament prophets, Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6) and the New Testament apostles (eg Romans 1, 1 Timothy 2:13, 14) regarded the creation historically. Eve (lit. "taken from man") is also depicted in the Bible as a real person, not an "earth mother figure".
Do Species Change?
God created the prototype; species reproduce after their own kind. Varieties develop, but remain the same species. Genetic engineering does not alter this rule, ie a genetically modified tomato does not become a carrot, or a horse. New strains of wheat (eg drought resistant) do not cease to be cereals. Pyramid wheat in the Queensland Museum produced wheat after thousands of years in storage - had the same genetic make-up as modern strains. Domestic dogs (in their various shapes and sizes) that may have "evolved" from wolves are still canines.
What About Race?
The concept of "race" comes from variety (grouping individuals into categories on the basis of shared physical traits). Anthropologists use such differences as skin colour, hair form, skull and face shape, eye colour, body physique, height, blood groups and finger prints. Many social scientists have stopped using the term "race".
- The Bible teaches "monogenism", ie all members of the "human race" descended from one man, Adam. (Physical differences amount to only tiny proportion of DNA).
- Evolutionists have traditionally been polygenists (different lines of descent). The possibility of "interbreeding" breaks down this argument. Mules and ligers cannot reproduce naturally, yet human beings with different physical characteristics can interbreed without biological difficulty.
Jesus the Last Man and Second Adam
All humanity is linked to Adam's fall into sin (read Romans 5:12-19). In redemption, we become sons of God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 3;2). The Bible talks about a "new man" (Ephesians 2:15), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christians partaker of "the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:14).
Jesus was the "last Adam" (the last representative of a fallen human race) and the "second man" (the first of a new race) - 1 Corinthians 15:45-47.
3. God's Image in Man
"Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26, 27; 56:1; 9:16; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 3:10; James 3:9)
Image - צֶלֶם - tselem = image, likeness (or resemblance). (Not to be confused with פֶּסֶל - pecel = graven image, idol). The meaning in NT Greek εἰκών - eikon is similar.
Man was created in the likeness of God, but is not "a" god (nor can he become one, as Mormons teach). He was innocent (untried), but capable of sin. He was made immortal, but this was capable of being cancelled out by the impact of sin.
The Scriptural standard is for people to be like God in their lifestyles (Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:45-48; Ephesians 5:1).
- We need to understand what this means, because God is spirit (He does not need body parts like a human), man is physical. God is divine, man is not.
- God did not intend for man to strive for god-hood. Hindus strive for a higher state of consciousness, through many cycles of births and deaths, but this is not what the Bible teaches. Islam teaches that God is unknowable.
- Christ was revealed as the image of the invisible God (2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians2:9; Hebrews 1:3), but was also fully human. Theologians refer to this as the "incarnation", is being made of flesh. When we see Jesus we see the Father (John 14:9), but we also see someone made of normal flesh and blood.
The incredible thing is that God gave men and women the ability to create others, also in His image. Some have varied this to extremes, eg Traducianism (belief that an individual's soul is derived from that of their parents, so only Adam was made in the image of God).
The creation of man was "good" in the eyes of God (unlike Greek "dualistic" thought that the body is evil and functions as a prison of the spirit).
what are the implications of man being created in the image of God?
- Kinship with God
Man was made for relationship with God, not a plaything of the deities, as some religions teach. Man has a body, but lives because he has the breath of God in him (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7). He is capable of knowing, loving and serving God. In Genesis, God walked and communicated with man, but not with the animals. When Jesus came into the world He came as a man, not as another creature. Balaam's ass spoke supernaturally, but did not cease to be an ass; did not speak after that.
All people are, in a sense, the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:28).
That image has been marred by sin. We therefore need to be born again (Ephesians 4:24), instead of trying to remake God in our image/thinking.
- Recognition of right and wrong.
We have been gifted with conscience. Animals are taught by instinct; we do not hold them accountable. But God holds us accountable, because He has given us the capability of decision. We can harden and deaden our conscience. All have sinned. We then try to make our morality fit God's. Many of the great ethical debates are about people "playing God".
Man was not made a "dummy" or an automaton. He was created capable of self-reflection and reasoning (including reasoning with God (Isaiah 1:18). However, reason can be misused, if the terms of reference are wrong. Man is capable of using reason to justify decisions to sin. "You will be like God" (Genesis 3:5).
Man can use reason to draw attention to himself: "I think, therefore I am" (Descartes). Atheists such as Richard Dawkins reason their way to unbelief. Human reasoning can be "sincerely wrong" reasoning.
Sin is deliberate; it involves choice. It is also foolish because it invariably ignores "consequences". Rationalism sounds rational but cannot bring a person to a knowledge of God, honest acknowledgement of sin, repentance or forgiveness.
Having said that, Christianity is not anti-intellectual. God gave us brains, cognition (awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment) and the faculty of choice.
- Capacity for Immortality
Death was not originally natural for mankind. The Garden of Eden contained a "Tree of Life" (Genesis 3).
Sin brought physical and spiritual death into the world, to Adam, his descendants and the entire creation (Romans 8:19-21).
- Because we cannot live forever in our own strength, acceptance of death has become a normal part of life, including suicide and murder. The second sin recorded in the Bible was Abel's murder by his brother Cain.
- Men and women devoid of God have no foundation for the sanctity of human life (leading to abortion, euthanasia, and holocaust).
- The inevitability of death robs people of hope and a "reason" for living. It also enslaves them through fear (Hebrews 2:15).
- Dominion Over the Earth
Man was originally appointed as God's delegate on earth (read Genesis 1:28; 2:15, 19, 20). God gave man some of His authority. Psalm 8:5-8. This capability was marred by sin. Delegated authority can be abused. Today man is using this mandate to destroy the earth.
Man creates because he was made in the image of God. However, whilst men and women everywhere create amazing things that benefit many others (sometimes millions, eg medical research), the sinful heart is also capable of creating weapons of mass destruction, pollutants, illicit drugs and images that replace God in their cosmology.
God had a great plan for the human race, but sin derailed it. The Fall did not negate God's mandate for humanity, but it did lead to separation, pain and death. Man is completely unable to save himself. The Fall contained the seed of redemption in the promise of a Saviour (Genesis 3:15).
Mankind still retains the underlying "image of God"; this is why we are incomplete until we reconnect with Him.
"Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee." (Saint Augustine)
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV)
Man was created with a sophisticated body, highly developed intellect, capacity for knowledge and ability to reason. God's purpose is that man seek Him and reach out to Him (Acts 17:27).
1. Why Study the Nature of Man?
To better grasp:
- how faith and sin work and why there is often conflict in our inner being
- how to overcome strongholds and prevent Satan gaining a foothold
- how to make Christian counselling effective
- how to live victoriously as we line up with God's purposes
Two Main Views Among Evangelicals:
- "dichotomy" = man consists of two parts (body and soul/spirit)
- "trichotomy" = man consists of three parts (body, soul and spirit)
Getting the Right Definitions
|Body||σῶμα, soma = physical reality and consciousness
|Soul||ψυχή, psyche = self-consciousness, referred to in the Bible as "mind", "heart", "understanding", "soul"
|Spirit||πνεῦμα, pneuma = that part of us that is capable of God-consciousness & communion with God; God and man connect through man's spirit; hunger for God, faith in God from the spirit|
|Outward man||The external person, body, exposed to the physical world (2 Corinthians 4:16)
|Inward man||The internal person others cannot see (Ephesians 3:16; Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Proverbs 20:27; Job 38:36; Psalm 5:9; 51:16; Jeremiah 31:33; Luke 11:39
|Hidden man of the heart||The seat of desire for relationship with God (1 Peter 3:4)|
|The body is world-conscious||The natural realm
|The soul is self-conscious||The self realm (intellect, reason, emotion, imagination, will
|The spirit is God-conscious||The spiritual realm (revelation, conviction, relationship with God)
Philosophy usually recognises only body and soul.
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit (p?e?µa), soul (????) and body (s?µa) be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul (????) and spirit (p?e?µa), joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (?a?d?a, or kardia, the centre of all physical and spiritual life)." (Hebrews 4:12)
We are to love God with heart, soul, mind and body (Matthew 22:37). Does that imply four parts? No, it is a Hebrew way of speaking about the totality of our being.
Spirit and soul are sometime used interchangeably (see Ecclesiastes 12:7; Revelation 6:9). So we need to consider the context in which they are used (as well as the versions).
We will consider the trichotomist position.
2. The Human Spirit
"And Mary said: 'My soul (ψυχή) glorifies the Lord and my spirit (πνεῦμα) rejoices in God my Saviour' " (Luke 1:46, 47, NIV)
Given by God to individuals (Numbers 16:22; 27:16; Hebrews 12:9; Zechariah 12:1). Capable of renewal and development (Psalm 51:10). The spirit is the centre and source of life (James 2:26); the soul, on the other hand, is expressed through the body (Genesis 2:7). The spirit survives physical death.
Regeneration (being born again) occurs in the spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are God's children (Romans 8:16). The spiritual person acts according to faith, not feelings - they are different areas (cf Luke 1:46-47). The Bible distinguishes between the natural man and the spiritual man and relative awareness of the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Different from Animals
Man has a different make-up to trees, animals, birds and fish (1 Corinthians 15). Having a spirit also makes man different from the rest of creation: contains life and intelligence (Proverbs 20:27; Job 32:8). Animals have life, but not spirits (Genesis 1:20 "life in Hebrew). Animals cannot know the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11; 14:2; Ephesians 1:17; 4:23)) and cannot have a personal relationship with Him (John 4:24).
Capabilities of the Human Spirit
Our spirit is capable of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16), of being a place of worship (John 4:23, 24), prayer, song and blessing (1 Corinthians 14:15), service (Romans 1:9).
The spirit of man can be:
- proud (Proverbs 16:18)
- perverse (Isaiah 19:14)
- provoked (Psalm 106:33)
- troubled (Genesis 41:8)
- contrite/humble (Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 5:3)
- drawn into bondage (Romans 8:15)
- jealous (Numbers 5:14)
We are therefore to:
- take heed of our spirit (Malachi 2:15)
- rule it (Proverbs 16:32)
- renew it (Ezekiel 18:31)
- strengthen it (Ephesians 3:16)
- change it through God (Ezekiel 11:19)
Because of sin, we need renewal (Ezekiel 18:31; Psalm 51:10; John 3:8; Colossians 3:10). Described as being "born again" (theologians call this "renegeration")
3. The Human Soul
- The Nature of the Soul
Ability to reason and think (mind) and ability to feel (emotion). Life-giving and animating principle in the human body. Uses bodily senses and organs for its expression.
5 senses of the body: sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell.
Flesh and blood cannot sin, but are the vehicle through which much sin is acted out. Nor can flesh and blood inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). Jesus taught us that "the Kingdom of God is within (us) (Luke 17:20, 21). Not a physical entity, but real; nevertheless. Sometimes problems in the soul can be manifested in physical problems ("psychosomatic" illnesses, soul/body). Some people claim that up to 90% of illnesses begin in the mind, eg through unforgiveness, resentment, fear, bitterness. The soul is manifested in the body, eg rage, sorrow, elation, depression, burn-out and vitality.
Soul distinguishes man from inanimate things. Man and beasts have souls (Genesis 1:20; life=soul in the original). However, the category of man's soul distinguishes him from animals, whose souls cease to exist at death (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Man is intelligent. Having a soul distinguishes man from other forms of life, eg angels.
Pearlman suggests four classes of life: vegetable life, sensitive life, intellectual life; moral life. Only man has all four.
- The Origin of the Soul
Came into being with the in-breathing of God's breath, or Spirit. What about since then?
- Individual souls come from God as special creations (Isaiah 57:16; Ecclesiastes 12:7)
- Some denominations teach that the soul if transmitted from the parents. Evidenced by the fact that sin and fallen nature have passed down from Adam. Come to us with other parental characteristics (John 1:13; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:3; Hebrews 7:10).
- Pearlman has a middle position, ie God and parents in cooperation; conception or birth trigger the divine law that causes the soul to be born into the world.
Views About the Origin of the Soul
|Historical Views||Greek philosophy: Plato believed in pre-existence and transmigration of the soul.
|Pre-Existentialism||Origen (185-254, an early Christian scholar) believed in this theory.
Belief that the souls of men existed in a previous state. Our present existence is punishment for sins in a former life. This view is devoid of Scriptural support; based on heathen philosophy, including dualism. Makes the body accidental, just existing as a house for the soul. Destroys human history (if we existed before this). We have no consciousness of a prior existence. We don't feel the body is a prison; in fact we often dread the separation of soul and body at death.
This position echoes Hindu doctrines about reincarnation and "karma" and the belief in some Eastern religions that babies cry because they recall, for a period, the celestial life they have left behind on being sent into the world).
It is also reflected in Scientology, which teaches a version of reincarnation.
|Traducianism||Souls of men and women are propagated along with their bodies by generation (transmitted to children by parents). Has been a prevailing view in the Lutheran church.
Traducianists believe God only breathed into Adam and left it to him to propagate; that there is no mention of the creation of Eve's soul; that God ceased from creation after man; and that descendants are "in the loins of their fathers". Draw support from the fact that children receive their parents' characteristics. Also, believed to be the best evidence for the "depravity" (moral corruption) of man.
Traducianism has no basis in Scripture. It does not prove whether the soul comes from father or mother. God is still the creator. He also recreates. Also infers that the nature of Christ was sinful.
|Creationism||Every soul is an individual creation of God. The original creation account draws a distinction between creation of the body and impartation of the soul. Body is from earth, soul from God. Bible describes body and soul; as having two origins, cf Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9. Allows for Christ to have been born without sin.
Strong opposed creationism: if the soul has depraved tendencies yet comes from God then God is the author of moral evil. Or, how could he place a pure soul in a sinful body? However, creationists believe man is sinful not because of the sinful body, but because God imputes Adam's disobedience to them. God withholds natural righteousness and pollution of sin naturally follows.
Favoured by Roman Catholics the Eastern church and Calvinism (reformed theology).
The Bible makes no direct statements about the origin of the soul except in relation to Adam.
- The Soul and the Body
The soul is the holder of life; sometimes translated as "life". Pearlman equates the soul with the "ego", the essential "person". The soul uses the body to carry out its will, eg the tongue to lie (Luke 11:39). People look at the body, God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
- The Soul and Sin
The soul operates through instincts and personality. Includes self-preservation, acquisitive instinct; feed seeking, reproductive instinct; instinct of dominance. The soul cooperates with sin (Gen 3; 1 John 2:16). Pearlman refers to this as "the body of sin" (Romans 6:6) or "the flesh" (Galatians 5:24). This inward desire is not changed by altering outward circumstances, eg cutting off the hands of a thief. Only the Spirit can bring that change (Colossians 3:5; Romans 8:13). The thought life has to be changed. We are to prevent Satan gaining a "foothold" in our lives (Ephesians 4:27; James 1:14, 15).
- The Soul and the Heart
The heart of a person is the centre of their being, their personality. Emotions, will, desire and the moral life are associated with the heart. The seat of God's inner law, conscience, renewal (when it occurs), belief/disbelief, place of decision, dwelling place of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the peace of God, the love of God, the light of God, communion with God. We are commanded to "keep" (=guard, watch over) our hearts with all diligence because all the issues of life flow from it (Proverbs 4:23).
4. The Human Body
Are we merely "higher animals"? According to 1 Corinthians 15:39, we are not in the same biological family. There are other analogies:
- A house. 2 Corinthians 5:1. Earthly tent for the soul, until we die and the soul departs (Isaiah 38:12; 2 Peter 1:13).
- A Temple. Consecrated by God, as His dwelling place. We become the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Greek dualism despised the body as "evil", a prison of the soul. The Bible speaks of it as God's handiwork, eg Romans 12:1, for His glory (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ had a body that was as human as ours (Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:52; 1 John 1:1-3; 4:2-3). However, He did not let that hinder His fulfilment of God's will (Hebrews 4:14-15). Our bodies are not the source of sin. "Flesh" (sarx) in the NT usually means our inner nature, not our bodies
The most perfect being in history (God) came to live in a body; Jesus ministered to physical needs. The most wicked being in history (Satan) never had a body. Dualism Is wrong.
As Christians, our bodies are "members of Christ" (1 Corinthians 6:15). We are to glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20) and not excuse ourselves on the basis of the body's weaknesses. While the Scriptures speak of the limits and weaknesses of our human bodies, there is a promise of resurrection. We will have new (spiritual) bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44). The evidence is the "earnest" (or deposit) of the Holy Spirit in us (Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Romans 8:11).
The Body and Sin
Sin is basically perversion of the legitimate driving forces God has placed in us.
|Driving Forces||Perversion||Opposite Perversion
|Sex, reproduction||Immorality||("Victorian") prudishness, false shame
|Desire for dominion||Violence, deprivation of liberty, disruption of God's order (in home, church, society, etc)||Weakness, complacency, refusal to accept responsibility
|Creativity||Hedonism, idolatry (replacing God)||Rejection of creativity
|Love, acceptance||Sexual immorality in various forms||Inverted love, jealousy, manipulation
Discussion - A Secular View - Maslow
American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) developed the following prioritised "hierarchy of needs" based on his observations of people. How do they compare with the Bible?
Most religions stress external compliance with standards (rules, regulations, taboos), ie the "body" at work. Instead of emphasising the body (the external), we need to focus on what is in the heart. Listen to what Jesus said:
"whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'. (Matthew 15:17-20, NIV)
The body needs to be subject to the spirit (Matthew 26:41). When sin enters, the soul becomes "dead in sin" (Ephesians 2:1). God's response is justification, inner change, forgiveness.
Christians experience the Biblical concept of "Shalom" (שָׁלוֹם), the state of wholeness and total peace that comes from being integrated, with every part of us at peace with the rest. The Bible says there is no shalom (health, wholeness, soundness, security) for the wicked (Isaiah 57:21).
Victory in Christian living comes when body, soul and spirit are lined up in agreement under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. Based on God's revelation and our choice. The body may say, "I can't do it"; the soul feels its inadequacy, but our spirit calls out to God for His enabling. The decision is made and body and soul follow.
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24, 25 NIV)
Additional Reading Material
Spirit, Soul and Body
The Spiritual Man
, CFP, Vol. 1, Part 1 INTRODUCTION ON SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY, Ch. 1 and 2, by Watchman Nee
THE ORDINARY CONCEPT
of the constitution of human beings is dualistic—soul and body. According to this concept soul is the invisible inner spiritual part, while body is the visible outer corporal part. Though there is some truth to this, it is nevertheless inaccurate. Such an opinion comes from fallen man, not from God; apart from God's revelation, no concept is dependable. That the body is man's outward sheath is undoubtedly correct, but the Bible never confuses spirit and soul as though they are the same. Not only are they different in terms; their very natures differ from each other. The Word of God does not divide man into the two parts of soul and body. It treats man, rather, as tripartite—spirit, soul and body. 1 Thessalonians 5.23 reads: "May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This verse precisely shows that the whole man is divided into three parts. The Apostle Paul refers here to the complete sanctification of believers, "sanctify you wholly." According to the Apostle, how is a person wholly sanctified? By his spirit and soul and body being kept. From this we can easily understand that the whole person comprises these three parts. This verse also makes a distinction between spirit and soul; otherwise, Paul would have said simply "your soul." Since God has distinguished the human spirit from the human soul, we conclude that man is composed of not two, but three, parts: spirit, soul and body.
Is it a matter of any consequence to divide spirit and soul? It is an issue of supreme importance for it affects tremendously the spiritual life of a believer. How can a believer understand spiritual life if he does not know what is the extent of the realm of the spirit? Without such understanding how can he grow spiritually? To fail to distinguish between spirit and soul is fatal to spiritual maturity.
Christians often account what is soulical as spiritual, and thus they remain in a soulish state and seek not what is really spiritual. How can we escape loss if we confuse what God has divided?
Spiritual knowledge is very important to spiritual life. Let us add, however, that it is equally as, if not more, important for a believer to be humble and willing to accept the teaching of the Holy Spirit. If so, the Holy Spirit will grant him the experience of the dividing of spirit and soul, although he may not have too much knowledge concerning this truth. On the one hand, the most ignorant believer, without the slightest idea of the division of spirit and soul, may yet experience such a dividing in real life. On the other hand, the most informed believer, completely conversant with the truth concerning spirit and soul, may nonetheless have no experience of it. Far better is that person who may have both the knowledge and the experience. The majority, however, lack such experience. Consequently, it is well initially to lead these to know the different functions of spirit and soul and then to encourage them to seek what is spiritual.
Other portions of the Scriptures make this same differentiation between spirit and soul. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4.12). The writer in this verse divides man's non-corporal elements into two parts, "soul and spirit." The corporal part is mentioned here as including the joints and marrow—organs of motion and sensation.
When the priest uses the sword to cut and completely dissect the sacrifice, nothing inside can be hidden. Even joint and marrow are separated. In like manner the Lord Jesus uses the Word of God on His people to separate thoroughly, to pierce even to the division of the spiritual, the soulical, and the physical. And from this it follows that since soul and spirit can be divided, they must be different in nature. It is thus evident here that man is a composite of three parts.
The Creation of Man
"And Jehovah God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2.7 ASV). When God first created man He formed him of dust from the ground, and then breathed "the breath of life" into his nostrils. As soon as the breath of life, which became man's spirit, came into contact with man's body, the soul was produced. Hence the soul is the combination of man's body and spirit. The Scriptures therefore call man "a living soul." The breath of life became man's spirit; that is, the principle of life within him. The Lord Jesus tells us "it is the spirit that gives life" (John 6.63). This breath of life comes from the Lord of Creation. However, we must not confuse man's spirit with God's Holy Spirit. The latter differs from our human spirit. Romans 8.16 demonstrates their difference by declaring that "it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God." The original of the word "life" in "breath of life" is chay and is in the plural. This may refer to the fact that the inbreathing of God produced a twofold life, soulical and spiritual. When the inbreathing of God entered man's body it became the spirit of man; but when the spirit reacted with the body the soul was produced. This explains the source of our spiritual and soulical lives. We must recognize, though, that this spirit is not God's Own life, for "the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man, neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God's Own life as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of "eternal life."
"Formed man of dust from the ground" refers to man's body; "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" refers to man's spirit as it came from God; and "man became a living soul" refers to man's soul when the body was quickened by the spirit and brought into being a living and self-conscious man. A complete man is a trinity—the composite of spirit, soul and body. According to Genesis 2.7, man was made up of only two independent elements, the corporeal and the spiritual; but when God placed the spirit within the casing of the earth, the soul was produced. The spirit of man touching the dead body produced the soul. The body apart from the spirit was dead, but with the spirit man was made alive. The organ thus animated was called the soul.
"Man became a living soul" expresses not merely the fact that the combination of spirit and body produced the soul; it also suggests that spirit and body were completely merged in this soul. In other words, soul and body were combined with the spirit, and spirit and body were merged in the soul. Adam "in his unfallen state knew nothing of these ceaseless strivings of spirit and flesh which are matters of daily experience to us. There was a perfect blending of his three natures into one and the soul as the uniting medium became the cause of his individuality, of his existence as a distinct being." (Pember's Earth's Earliest Age) Man was designated a living soul, for it was there that the spirit and body met and through which his individuality was known. Perhaps we may use an imperfect illustration: drop some dye into a cup of water. The dye and water will blend into a third substance called ink. In like manner the two independent elements of spirit and body combine to become living soul. (The analogy fails in that the soul produced by the combining of spirit and body becomes an independent, indissoluble element as much as the spirit and body.)
God treated man's soul as something unique. As the angels were created as spirits, so man was created predominantly as a living soul. Man not only had a body, a body with the breath of life; he became a living soul as well. Thus we find later in the Scriptures that God often referred to men as "souls." Why? Because what the man is depends on how his soul is. His soul represents him and expresses his individuality. It is the organ of man's free will, the organ in which spirit and body are completely merged. If man's soul wills to obey God, it will allow the spirit to rule over the man as ordered by God.
The soul, if it chooses, also can suppress the spirit and take some other delight as lord of the man. This trinity of spirit, soul and body may be partially illustrated by a light bulb. Within the bulb, which can represent the total man, there are electricity, light and wire. The spirit is like the electricity, the soul the light, and body the wire. Electricity is the cause of the light while light is the effect of electricity. Wire is the material substance for carrying the electricity as well as for manifesting the light. The combination of spirit and body produces soul, that which is unique to man. As electricity, carried by the wire, is expressed in light, so spirit acts upon the soul and the soul, in turn, expresses itself through the body.
However, we must remember well that whereas the soul is the meeting-point of the elements of our being in this present life, the spirit will be the ruling power in our resurrection state. For the Bible tells us that "it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15.44). Yet here is a vital point: we who have been joined to the resurrected Lord can even now have our spirit rule over the whole being. We are not united to the first Adam who was made a living soul but to the last Adam Who is a life-giving spirit (v.45).
Respective Functions of Spirit, Soul and Body
It is through the corporal body that man comes into contact with the material world. Hence we may label the body as that part which gives us world-consciousness. The soul comprises the intellect which aids us in the present state of existence and the emotions which proceed from the senses. Since the soul belongs to man's own self and reveals his personality, it is termed the part of self-consciousness. The spirit is that part by which we commune with God and by which alone we are able to apprehend and worship Him. Because it tells us of our relationship with God, the spirit is called the element of God-consciousness. God dwells in the spirit, self dwells in the soul, while senses dwell in the body.
As we have mentioned already, the soul is the meeting-point of spirit and body, for there they are merged. By his spirit man holds intercourse with the spiritual world and with the Spirit of God, both receiving and expressing the power and life of the spiritual realm. Through his body man is in contact with the outside sensuous world, affecting it and being affected by it. The soul stands between these two worlds, yet belongs to both. It is linked with the spiritual world through the spirit and with the material world through the body. It also possesses the power of free will, hence is able to choose from among its environments. The spirit cannot act directly upon the body. It needs a medium, and that medium is the soul produced by the touching of the spirit with the body. The soul therefore stands between the spirit and the body, binding these two together. The spirit can subdue the body through the medium of the soul, so that it will obey God; likewise the body through the soul can draw the spirit into loving the world.
Of these three elements the spirit is the noblest for it joins with God. The body is the lowest for it contacts with matter. The soul lying between them joins the two together and also takes their character to be its own. The soul makes it possible for the spirit and the body to communicate and to cooperate.
The work of the soul is to keep these two in their proper order so that they may not lose their right relationship—namely, that the lowest, the body, may be subjected to the spirit, and that the highest, the spirit, may govern the body through the soul. Man's prime factor is definitely the soul. It looks to the spirit to give what the latter has received from the Holy Spirit in order that the soul, after it has been perfected, may transmit what it has obtained to the body; then the body too may share in the perfection of the Holy Spirit and so become a spiritual body.
The spirit is the noblest part of man and occupies the innermost area of his being. The body is the lowest and takes the outermost place. Between these two dwells the soul, serving as their medium. The body is the outer shelter of the soul, while the soul is the outer sheath of the spirit. The spirit transmits its thought to the soul and the soul exercises the body to obey the spirit's order. This is the meaning of the soul as the medium. Before the fall of man the spirit controlled the whole being through the soul.
The power of the soul is most substantial, since the spirit and the body are merged there and make it the site of man's personality and influence. Before man committed sin the power of the soul was completely under the dominion of the spirit. Its strength was therefore the spirit's strength. The spirit cannot itself act upon the body; it can only do so through the medium of the soul. This we can see in Luke 1.46-47: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Darby). "Here the change in tense shows that the spirit first conceived joy in God, and then, communicating with the soul, caused it to give expression to the feeling by means of the bodily organ." (Pember's Earth's Earliest Age)
To repeat, the soul is the site of personality. The will, intellect and emotions of man are there. As the spirit is used to communicate with the spiritual world and the body with the natural world, so the soul stands between and exercises its power to discern and decide whether the spiritual or the natural world should reign. Sometimes too the soul itself takes control over man through its intellect, thus creating an ideational world which reigns. In order for the spirit to govern, the soul must give its consent; otherwise the spirit is helpless to regulate the soul and the body. But this decision is up to the soul, for therein resides the personality of the man.
Actually the soul is the pivot of the entire being, because man's volition belongs to it. It is only when the soul is willing to assume a humble position that the spirit can ever manage the whole man. If the soul rebels against taking such a position the spirit will be powerless to rule. This explains the meaning of the free will of man. Man is not an automaton that turns according to God's will. Rather, man has full sovereign power to decide for himself. He possesses the organ of his own volition and can choose either to follow God's will or to resist Him and follow Satan's will instead. God desires that the spirit, being the noblest part of man, should control the whole being. Yet, the will—the crucial part of individuality—belongs to the soul. It is the will which determines whether the spirit, the body, or even itself is to rule. In view of the fact that the soul possesses such power and is the organ of man's individuality, the Bible calls man "a living soul."
The Holy Temple and Man
"Do you not know," writes the Apostle Paul, "that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3.16) He has received revelation in likening man to the temple. As God formerly dwelt in the temple, so the Holy Spirit indwells man today. By comparing him to the temple we can see how the tripartite elements of man are distinctly manifested.
We know the temple is divided into three parts. The first is the outer court which is seen by all and visited by all. All external worship is offered here. Going further in is the Holy Place, into which only the priests can enter and where they present oil, incense and bread to God. They are quite near to God—yet not the nearest, for they are still outside the veil and therefore unable to stand before His very presence. God dwells deepest within, in the Holy of Holies, where darkness is overshadowed by brilliant light and into which no man can enter. Though the high priest does enter in once annually, it nonetheless indicates that before the veil is rent there can be no man in the Holy of Holies.
Man is God's temple also, and he too has three parts. The body is like the outer court, occupying an external position with its life visible to all. Here man ought to obey every commandment of God. Here God's Son serves as a substitute and dies for mankind. Inside is man's soul which constitutes the inner life of man and which embraces man's emotion, volition and mind. Such is the Holy Place of a regenerated person, for his love, will and thought are fully enlightened that he may serve God even as the priest of old did. Innermost, behind the veil, lies the Holy of Holies into which no human light has ever penetrated and no naked eye has ever pierced. It is "the secret place of the Most High," the dwelling place of God. It cannot be reached by man unless God is willing to rend the veil. It is man's spirit. This spirit lies beyond man's self-consciousness and above his sensibility. Here man unites and communes with God.
No light is provided for the Holy of Holies because God dwells there. There is light in the Holy Place supplied by the lampstand of seven branches. The outer court stands under the broad daylight. All these serve as images and shadows to a regenerated person. His spirit is like the Holy of Holies indwelt by God, where everything is carried on by faith, beyond the sight, sense or understanding of the believing one. The soul resembles the Holy Place for it is amply enlightened with many rational thoughts and precepts, much knowledge and understanding concerning the things in the ideational and material world. The body is comparable to the outer court, clearly visible to all. The body's actions may be seen by everyone.
The order which God presents to us is unmistakable: "your spirit and soul and body" (1 Thess. 5.23). It is not "soul and spirit and body," nor is it "body and soul and spirit." The spirit is the pre-eminent part, hence it is mentioned first; the body is the lowest and therefore is last mentioned; the soul stands between, so is mentioned between. Having now seen God's order, we can appreciate the wisdom of the Bible in likening man to a temple. We can recognize the perfect harmony which exists between the temple and man in respect to both order and value.
Temple service moves according to the revelation in the Holy of Holies. All activities in the Holy Place and in the outer court are regulated by the presence of God in the Holiest Place. This is the most sacred spot, the place upon which the four corners of the temple converge and rest. It may seem to us that nothing is done in the Holiest because it is pitch dark. All activities are in the Holy Place; even those activities of the outer court are controlled by the priests of the Holy Place. Yet all the activities of the Holy Place actually are directed by the revelation in the utter quietness and peace of the Holy of Holies.
It is not difficult to perceive the spiritual application. The soul, the organ of our personality, is composed of mind, volition and emotion. It appears as though the soul is master of all actions, for the body follows its direction. Before the fall of man, however, the soul, in spite of its many activities, was governed by the spirit. And this is the order God still wants: first the spirit, then the soul, and lastly the body.
IT IS IMPERATIVE
that a believer know he has a spirit, since, as we shall soon learn, every communication of God with man occurs there. If the believer does not discern his own spirit he invariably is ignorant of how to commune with God in the spirit. He easily substitutes the thoughts or emotions of the soul for the works of the spirit. Thus he confines himself to the outer realm, unable ever to reach the spiritual realm.
1 Corinthians 2.11 speaks of "the spirit of the man which is in him."
1 Corinthians 5.4 mentions "my spirit."
Romans 8.16 says "our spirit"
1 Corinthians 14.14 uses "my spirit."
1 Corinthians 14.32 tells of the "spirits of prophets."
Proverbs 25.28 refers to "his own spirit." Darby
Hebrews 12.23 record "the spirits of just men."
Zechariah 12.1 states that "the Lord . . . formed the spirit of man within him."
The above Scripture verses sufficiently prove that we human beings do possess a human spirit. This spirit is not synonymous with our soul nor is it the same as the Holy Spirit. We worship God in this spirit.
According to the teaching of the Bible and the experience of believers, the human spirit can be said to comprise three parts; or, to put it another way, one can say it has three main functions. These are conscience, intuition and communion. The conscience is the discerning organ which distinguishes right and wrong; not, however, through the influence of knowledge stored in the mind but rather by a spontaneous direct judgment. Often reasoning will justify things which our conscience judges. The work of the conscience is independent and direct; it does not bend to outside opinions. If man should do wrong it will raise its voice of accusation. Intuition is the sensing organ of the human spirit. It is so diametrically different from physical sense and soulical sense that it is called intuition. Intuition involves a direct sensing independent of any outside influence. That knowledge which comes to us without any help from the mind, emotion or volition comes intuitively. We really "know" through our intuition; our mind merely helps us to "understand." The revelations of God and all the movements of the Holy Spirit are known to the believer through his intuition. A believer must therefore heed these two elements: the voice of conscience and the teaching of intuition. Communion is worshiping God. The organs of the soul are incompetent to worship God. God is not apprehended by our thoughts, feelings or intentions, for He can only be known directly in our spirits. Our worship of God and God's communications with us are directly in the spirit. They take place in "the inner man," not in the soul or outward man.
We can conclude then that these three elements of conscience, intuition and communion are deeply interrelated and function coordinately. The relationship between conscience and intuition is that conscience judges according to intuition; it condemns all conduct which does not follow the directions given by intuition. Intuition is related to communion or worship in that God is known by man intuitively and reveals His will to man in the intuition. No measure of expectation or deduction gives us the knowledge of God.
From the following three groups of Scripture verses it can readily be observed that our spirits possess the function of conscience (we do not say that the spirit is conscience), the function of intuition (or spiritual sense), and the function of. communion (or worship).
- The Function o f Conscience in Man's Spirit
"The Lord your God hardened his spirit" Deut. 2.30
"Saves the crushed in spirit" Ps. 34.18
"Put a new and right spirit within me" Ps. 51.10
"When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit" John 13.21
"His spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols" Acts 17.16
"It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" Rom. 8.16
"I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment" 1 Cor. 5.3
"I had no rest in my spirit" 2 Cor. 2.13 AV
"For God did not give us the spirit of timidity" 2 Tim. 1.7
- The Function of Intuition in Man's Spirit
"The spirit indeed is willing" Matt. 26.41
"Jesus perceiving in his spirit" Mark 2.8
"He sighed deeply in his spirit" Mark 8.12
"He was deeply moved in spirit" John 11.33
"Paul was pressed in the spirit" Acts 18.5 AV
"Being fervent in spirit" Acts 18.25
"I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the spirit" Acts 20.22
"What person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him" 1 Cor. 2.11
"They refreshed my spirit as well as yours" 1 Cor. 16.18
"His spirit was refreshed by you all" 2 Cor. 7.13 AV
- The Function of Communion in Man's Spirit
"My spirit rejoices in God my Savior" Luke 1.47
"The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" John 4.23
"Whom I serve with my spirit" Rom. 1.9
"We serve . . . in the new life of the spirit" Rom. 7.6
"You have received the spirit of sonship when we cry Abba Father" Rom. 8.15
"The Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit" Rom. 8.16
"He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him" 1 Cor. 6.17
"I will sing with the spirit" 1 Cor. 14.15
"If you bless with the spirit" 1 Cor. 14.16
"In the spirit he carried me away" Rev 21.10
We can know by these Scriptures that our spirit possesses at least these three functions. Although unregenerated men do not yet have life, they nevertheless possess these functions (but their worship is of evil spirits). Some people manifest more of these functions while others less. This does not however imply that they are not dead in sins and transgressions. The New Testament does not consider those with a sensitive conscience, keen intuition or a spiritual tendency and interest to be saved individuals. Such people only prove to us that aside from the mind, emotion and will of our soul, we also have a spirit. Prior to regeneration the spirit is separated from God's life; only afterwards does the life of God and of the Holy Spirit dwell in our spirits. They then have been quickened to be instruments of the Holy Spirit.
Our aim in studying the significance of the spirit is to enable us to realize that we as human beings possess an independent spirit. This spirit is not man's mind, his will or his emotion; on the contrary, it includes the functions of conscience, intuition and communion. It is here in the spirit that God regenerates us, teaches us, and leads us into His rest.
But sad to say, due to long years of bondage to the soul many Christians know very little of their spirit. We ought to tremble before God, asking Him to teach us through experience what is spiritual and what is soulish.
Before the believer is born again his spirit becomes so sunken and surrounded by his soul that it is impossible for him to distinguish whether something is emanating from the soul or from the spirit. The functions of the latter have become mixed up with those of the former. Furthermore, the spirit has lost its primary function—towards God; for it is dead to God. It thus would appear that it has become an accessory to the soul. And as the mind, emotion and volition grow stronger, the functions of the spirit become so eclipsed as to render them almost unknown. That is why there must be the work of dividing between soul and spirit after a believer is regenerated.
In searching the Scriptures it does seem that an unregenerated spirit functions no differently from the way the soul does. The following verses illustrate this.
"His spirit was troubled" Gen. 41.8
"Then their spirit was appeased toward him" Judges 8.3 Darby
"He that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly" Prov. 14.29 Darby
"A downcast spirit dries up the bones" Prov. 17.22
"Those who err in spirit" Is. 29.24
"And shall wail for anguish of spirit" Is. 65.14
"His spirit was hardened" Dan. 5.20
These show us the works of the unregenerated spirit and indicate how similar are its works to those of the soul. The reason for not mentioning soul but spirit is to reveal what has occurred in the very depth of man. It discloses how man's spirit has become controlled and influenced completely by his soul with the result that it manifests the works of the soul. The spirit nonetheless still exists because these works come from the spirit. Though ruled by the soul the spirit does not cease to be an organ.
Aside from having a spirit which enables him to commune with God, man also possesses a soul, his self-consciousness. Hs is made conscious of his existence by the work of his soul. It is the seat of our personality. The elements which make us human belong to the soul. Intellect, thought, ideals, love, emotion, discernment, choice, decision, etc., are but various experiences of the soul.
It has been explained already that the spirit and the body are merged in the soul which, in turn, forms the organ of our personality. That is why the Bible sometimes calls man "soul," as though man has only this element. For example, Genesis 12.5 refers to people as "souls" (ASV). Again, when Jacob brought his entire family down to Egypt, it is recorded that "all the souls of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were threescore and ten" (Gen. 46.27 ASV). Numerous instances occur in the original language of the Bible where "soul" is used instead of "man." For the seat and essence of the personality is the soul. To comprehend a man's personality is to comprehend his person. Man's existence, characteristics and life are all in the soul. The Bible consequently calls man "a soul."
That which constitutes man's personality are the three main faculties of volition, mind and emotion. Volition is the instrument for our decisions, revealing our power to choose. It expresses our willingness or unwillingness: "we will" or "we won't." Without it, man is reduced to an automaton. Mind, the instrument for our thoughts, manifests our intellectual power. Out of this arise wisdom, knowledge and reasoning. Lack of it makes a man foolish and dull.
The instrument for our likes and dislikes is the faculty of emotion. Through it we are able to express love or hate and to feel joyful, angry, sad or happy. Any shortage of it will render man as insensitive as wood or stone.
A careful study of the Bible will yield the conclusion that these three primary faculties of personality belong to the soul. Too many Scripture passages exist to quote them all. Hence only a few selections can be enumerated here.
- The Soul's Faculty of Volition
"Give me not up to the will (original, "soul") of my adversaries" Ps. 27.12
"Thou dost not give him up to the will (original, "soul") of his enemies" Ps. 41.2
"Delivered you to the greed (original, "soul") of your enemies" Ezek. 16.27
"You shall let her go where she will (original, "soul")" Deut. 21.14
"Aha, we have our heart's desire (original, "soul")" Ps. 35.25
"Or swear an oath to bind himself (original, "soul") by a pledge" Num. 30.2
"Now set your mind and heart (original, "soul") to seek the Lord your God" 1 Chron. 22.18
"They desire and lift up their soul to return to dwell there" Jer. 44.14 Amplified
"These afflictions my soul refuses to touch" Job 6.7 Amplified
"My soul chooseth strangling, death, rather than my bones" Job 7.15 Darby
The "will" or "heart" here points to the human will. "Set the heart," "lift up their soul," "refuse" and "choose" are all exercises of the will, having their springs in the soul.
- The Soul's Faculty of Intellect or Mind
"Whereunto they lift up their soul, their sons and their daughters" Ezek. 24.25 Darby
"That a soul be without knowledge is not good" Prov. 19.2 Darby
"How long must I bear pain (Syriac:Hebrew: hold counsels) in my soul?" Ps. 13.2
"Marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well" Ps. 139.14 Darby
"My soul continually thinks of it" Lam. 3.20
"Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul" Prov. 2.10
"Keep sound wisdom and discretion . . . and they will be life for your soul" Prov. 3.21,22
"Know that wisdom is such to your soul" Prov. 24.14
Here "knowledge," "counsel," "lift up," "think," etc., exist as the activities of man's intellect or mind, which the Bible indicates as emanating from the soul.
- The Soul's Faculty of Emotion
- EMOTIONS OF AFFECTION
"The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" 1 Sam. 18.1
"You whom my soul loves" Song 1.7
"My soul magnifies the Lord" Luke 1.46
"His life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty food" Job 33.20 Darby
"Who are hated by David's soul" 2 Sam. 5.8
"My soul was vexed with them" Zech. 11.8 Darby
"You shall love the Lord your God . . . with all your soul" Deut. 6.5
"My soul is weary of my life" Job 10:1 Darby
"Their soul abhorreth all manner of food" Ps. 107:18 Darby
- EMOTIONS OF DESIRE
"For whatever thy soul desireth . . . or for whatever thy soul asketh of thee" Deut. 14.26 Darby
"What thy soul may say" 1 Sam. 20.4 Darby
"My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord" Ps. 84.2
"Your soul's longing" Ezek. 24.21 Darby
"So longs my soul for thee, O God" Ps. 42.1
"My soul yearns for thee in the night" Is. 26.9
"My soul is well pleased" Matt. 12.18
- EMOTIONS OF FEELING AND SENSING
"A sword will pierce through your own soul also" Luke 2.35
"All the people were bitter in soul" 1 Sam. 30.6
"Her soul is bitter and vexed within her" 2 Kings 4.27 Amplified
"His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel" Judges 10.16 Darby
"How long will ye vex my soul" Job 19.2 Darby
"My soul shall exult in my God" Is. 61.10
"Gladden the soul of thy servant" Ps. 86.4
"Their soul fainted within them" Ps. 107.5
"Why are you cast down, O my soul" Ps. 42.5
"Return, O my soul, to your rest" Ps. 116.7
"My soul is consumed with longing" Ps. 119.20
"Sweetness to the soul" Prov. 16.24
"Let your soul delight itself in fatness" Is. 55.2 Amplified
"My soul fainted within me" Jonah 2.7
"My soul is very sorrowful" Matt. 26.38
"Now is my soul troubled" John 12.27
"He was vexed in his righteous soul day after day" 2 Peter 2.8
We can discover in the above observations touching upon man's various emotions that our soul is capable of loving and hating, desiring and aspiring, feeling and sensing.
From this brief Biblical study it becomes quite obvious that the soul of man contains in it that part known as will, that part known as mind or intellect, and that part known as emotion.
The Soul Life
Some Bible scholars point out to us that three different words are employed in the Greek to designate "life": (1) bios (2) psuche (3) zoe. They all describe life but convey very different meanings. Bios has reference to the means of life or living. Our Lord Jesus used this word when He commended the woman who cast into the temple treasury her whole living. Zoe is the highest life, the life of the spirit. Whenever the Bible speaks of eternal life it uses this word. Psuche refers to the animated life of man, his natural life or the life of the soul. The Bible employs this term when it describes the human life.
Let us note here that the words "soul" and "soul life" in the Bible are one and the same in the original. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for "soul"—nephesh—is used equally for "soul life." The New Testament consequently employs the Greek word psuche for both "soul" and "soul life." Hence we know "soul" not only is one of the three elements of man but also is man's life, his natural life. In many places in the Bible, "soul" is translated as "life."
"Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood" Gen. 9.4,5
"The life of the flesh is in the blood" Lev. 17.11
"Those who sought the child's life are dead" Matt. 2.20
"Is it lawful on the sabbath—to save life or to destroy it?" Luke 6.9
"Who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ" Acts 15.26
"I do not account my life of any value" Acts 20.24
"To give his life as a ransom for many" Matt. 20.28
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" John 10.11, 15,17
The word "life" in these verses is "soul" in the original. It is so translated because it would be difficult to understand otherwise. The soul actually is the very life of man.
As we have mentioned, "soul" is one of the three elements of man. "Soul life" is man's natural life, that which makes him exist and animates him. It is the life whereby man today lives; it is the power whereby man becomes what he is. Since the Bible applies nephesh and psuche both to soul and to man's life, it is evident to us that these two, though distinguishable, are not separable. They are distinguishable inasmuch as in certain places psuche (for example) must be translated either as "soul" or as "life." The translations cannot be interchanged. For instance, "soul" and "life" in Luke 12.19-23 and Mark 3.4 are actually the same word in the original, yet to translate them with the same word in English would be meaningless. They are inseparable, however, because these two are completely united in man. A man without a soul does not live. The Bible never tells us that a natural man possesses a life other than the soul. The life of man is but the soul permeating the body. As the soul is joined to the body it becomes the life of man. Life is the phenomenon of the soul. The Bible considers man's present body a "soulical body" (1 Cor.15.44 original), for the life of our present body is that of the soul. Man's life is therefore simply an expression of the composite of his mental, emotional and volitional energies. "Personality" in the natural realm embraces these different parts of the soul but only that much. Soul life is man's natural life.
That the soul is man's life is a most important fact to recognize for it bears greatly upon the kind of Christian we become, whether spiritual or soulish. This we shall explain further on.
Soul and Man's Self
Inasmuch as we have seen how soul is the site of our personality, the organ of volition and the natural life, we can easily conclude that this soul is also the "real I"—I myself. Our self is the soul. This too can be demonstrated by the Bible. In Numbers 30, the phrase "bind himself" occurs ten times. In the original it is "bind his soul." From this we are led to understand that the soul is our own self. In many other passages of the Bible we find the word "soul" is translated as "self." For instance:
"You shall not defile yourselves with them" Lev. 11.43
"You shall not defile yourselves" Lev. 11.44
"For themselves and for their descendants" Esther 9.31
"You who tear yourself in your anger" Job 18.4
"He justified himself" Job 32.2
"But themselves go into captivity" Is. 46.2
"What every one (original, "every soul") must eat, that only may be prepared by you" Ex. 12.16
"Who kills any person (original, "kill any soul") without intent" Num. 35.11,15
"Let me (original, "let my soul") die the death of the righteous" Num. 23.10
"When any one (original, "any soul") brings a cereal offering" Lev. 2.1
"I have . . . quieted myself" Ps. 131.2 AV
"Think not that in the king's palace you (original, "soul") will escape" Esther 4.13
"The Lord God has sworn by himself (original, "sworn by his soul")" Amos 6.8
These Scriptures from the Old Testament inform us in various ways how the soul is man's own self.
The New Testament conveys the same impression. "Souls" is the original rendering for "eight persons" in 1 Peter 3.20 and for "two hundred and seventy-six persons" in Acts 27.37. The phrase in Romans 2.9 translated today as "every human being who does evil" is given in the original as "every soul of man that works evil." Hence, to warn the soul of a man who works evil is to warn the evil man. In James 5.20, saving a soul is considered to be saving a sinner. And Luke 12.19 treats the rich fool's speaking words of comfort to his soul as speaking to himself. It is therefore clear that the Bible as a whole views man's soul or soul life as the man himself.
A confirmation of this can be found in the words of our Lord Jesus, given in two different Gospels. Matthew 16.26 reads: "For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life (psuche)? Or what shall a man give in return for his life (psuche)?" Whereas Luke 9.25 renders it: "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself (eautou)?" Both Gospel writers record the same thing; yet one uses "life" (or "soul") while the other uses "himself." This signifies that the Holy Spirit is using Matthew to explain the meaning of "himself" in Luke and Luke the meaning of "life" in Matthew. Man's soul or life is the man himself, and vice versa.
Such a study enables us to conclude that, to be a man, we must share what is included in man's soul. Every natural man possesses this element and whatever it includes, for the soul is the common life shared by all natural men. Before regeneration, whatever is included in life—be it self, life, strength, power, choice, thought, opinion, love, feeling—pertains to the soul. In other words, soul life is the life a man inherits at birth. All that this life possesses and all that it may become are in the realm of the soul. If we distinctly recognize what is soulical it will then be easier for us later on to recognize what is spiritual. It will be possible