|Body, Soul, Spirit
Michael L. Ford, Th.D.
"And the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Thessalonians 5:23
A dear friend and long time subscriber to my Internet ministry asked me a question, the answer to which comes through understanding a couple of what we would call minor doctrines of the Bible. (If it is ever accurate to call such wonderful revelations of God minor!) But the doctrine of the Body, Soul, Spirit of man is not a major issue even though the subject of the Body is introduced early in Scripture, Genesis 2:7, where we see it as the instrument by which the soul and spirit relate to the material world to fulfill the will of God. Our key verse, 2Thessalonians 5:23, expresses the desire that all parts (body, soul, spirit) of those addressed be set aside unto God unto the coming of the Lord.
Spiritual and physical death came to the body in the day Adam sinned and by inheritance all humanity sinned in him, 2Peter 3:8. It is then the duty of all believers to willfully present their bodies for His use, Romans 12:1&2. Redeemed and transformed, Romans 8:23 & Philippians 3:21, we have the promise our bodies will be resurrected for life in a new environment as the Lord returns 1Corinthians 15:35-54.
The soul is immaterial and intermediate between body and spirit. The soul is the seat of the will, affections, and also personality. Man is called a soul in the opening Scripture to the doctrine, Genesis 2:7, which of itself shows the characteristics of the man is located in the soul. Man has a soul, Psalm 103:1, 2Corinthians 1:23. The body is now suited to the life of the soul. In the resurrection it will be suited rather to the life of the spirit. The soul continues to live after this present body is dead, Acts 2:31 & Revelation 6:9. But with the absence of the world-suited body, God has made provision for the soul a covering.
The spirit is the immaterial part of man that is related to worship and communion with God. It gives man God-consciousness. This is why Scripture instructs us to win souls, not spirits: "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise," Proverbs 11:30. Men truly worship and serve God with the spirit, not the soul, John 4:24 & Romans 1:9. You can see how the soul is distinguished from the spirit in Hebrews: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," Hebrews 4:12.
Sometimes people look at such doctrines and say it is all too confusing. But the more the truths of God's Scripture are looked upon and thought about the plainer and simpler they get. Then we are taken into new areas of understanding, which make us to be filled with awe; our spirits soar and fill our hearts with awestruck wonder and amazement, so we desire to bend these material knees, raising the hands made from dust, and basking in His glory worship.