Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit
What Are the Three Parts of Man?
Question: What are the three parts of man?
Answer: Spirit, Soul and Body
~Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our ness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 NASB)
According to the Bible, mankind is distinct from all the rest of creation, including the animals, in that he is made in the image of God. As God is a tripartite — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — so man is three parts — body, soul and spirit. In the most explicit example from Scripture of these divisions, the Apostle Paul writes:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).
Man is made up of physical material, the body, that can be seen and touched. But he is also made up of immaterial aspects, which are intangible — this includes the soul, spirit, intellect, will, emotions, conscience, and so forth. These immaterial characteristics exist beyond the physical lifespan of the human body and are therefore eternal.
These immaterial aspects — the spirit, soul, heart, conscience, mind and emotions — make up the whole personality. The Bible makes it clear that the soul and spirit are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity, while the body is the physical container that holds them on this earth.
The Body (Greek, “soma”)
This is the entire material or physical structure of a human being — it is the physical part of a person.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans again connects the body, the mind (soul) and the spirit.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2 NASB).
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:20).
The Soul (Greek, “psyche”)
Genesis 2:7 states that Man was created as a “living soul.” The soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will and the emotions. The soul and the spirit are mysteriously tied together and make up what the Scriptures call the “heart.”
The writer of Proverbs declares, “ Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23 NASB). We see here that the “heart” is central to our emotions and will.
But a natural (psuchikos — soulish) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Cor. 2:14 NASB).
Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day” (Acts 23:1 NASB).
The Spirit (Greek ” Pneuma”)
In Numbers 16:22, Moses and Aaron, “…fell upon their faces and said, 'O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will you be angry with the entire congregation?'” This verse names God as the God of the spirits that are possessed by all humanity. Notice also that it mentions the flesh (body) of all mankind, connecting it with the spirit.
Another key verse that describes the separation between soul and spirit is Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12 NASB).
We see in this passage of Scripture that the soul and spirit can be divided — and that it is the Word of God that pierces our heart to bring the division of soul and spirit, something that only God can do.As human beings, we live eternally as a spirit, we have a soul, and we dwell in a body. We can rejoice with the Psalmist and declare,
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well (Ps. 139:13-14 NASB).
Spirit, Soul and Body – How God Designed Us
One way to view our nature is that we have a material part, our body, and an immaterial part, our soul and/or spirit.
A frequently held view is that we have a bipartite nature where the “soul” and “spirit” are taken as different terms for the same entity. In a 1931 issue of The Evangelical Quarterly, A.
McCaig wrote a comprehensive 17-page review of scripture in an article titled “Thoughts on the Tripartite Theory of Human Nature” in which the author makes the case that we are bipartite.
Many other theologians suggest that our immaterial nature has two distinctly different parts – a soul and a spirit. This is known as a tripartite view. Information to include scripture references are at this website and the site of Andrew Wommack Ministries.
We tend to lean towards those who hold a tripartite view and the following is my understanding of our design and how the spirit,soul and body are interconnected. Indeed, we are very, very complex beings and only a living God could have created us as we are. I urge you to study the scriptures to arrive at your own understanding of man’s design.
It is by our body that we function. It’s comprised of organs and cells which consists of protein carbohydrates and fats. Our body contains our nervous system with nerves and the brain. It’s through our bodies that we connect to the physical world with our five senses.
Psalm 139:14 says that “you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Open this document for examples of how marvelously God made our bodies to function as they do.
Our soul is what gives us our personality and it’s through our soul that we live out our relationship with God, with other people and with our self.
Our soul ly has three major components — our mind, will and emotions. Our mind has a conscious part and a subconscious part. The conscious mind is where we do our thinking and reasoning.
The sub-conscious mind is where we hold our deep beliefs and our attitudes. It’s also where we have our feeling, our emotions and retain our memories. Our will is what gives us the ability to make choices.
Through a very complex way, our mind, our will and our emotions are connected to the body through our endocrine, nervous and immune systems.
“The mind and body communicate constantly. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from our brain to the rest of the body.” Herbert Benson, M.D., The Benson – Henson Institute for Mind Body Medicine
It’s in our spirit that we have meaning and purpose in life. At the deepest level our spirit gives us meaning and purpose and our spirit enables us to love one another, our self and God.
It’s through our spirit that we have communion and fellowship with God. Our spirit gives us intuition between right and wrong.
For in-depth reading about the distinction between spirit, soul and body consider material written by Watchman Nee, especially The Spiritual Man which is a book online and free.Our spiritual health will have a significant impact on our emotional health which will have a major influence on our physical health.
The inter-connection between the spirit, the soul and the body is certainly a complex connection, nevertheless, the connection is very real.
The apostle John was inspired by God to write in 3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” This is an indication of the importance of attending to matters of the soul as it relates to being healthy.
The Interaction Between Spirit, Soul and Body
Many of us are affected by how we handle the stress that life brings us. If chronic stress is left unchecked, over a period of time our bodies will take a toll. A strong faith can help us to cope with the stress that we experience in our life and enable the impact of that stress to be less significant.
Without a strong personal faith we must resort to our own resources to cope with the stress present in our life. Often we attempt to cope with this stress through addictions and other methods of escape. This behavior can further exacerbate the effect of stress on our physical health.
A strong personal faith can be a resource that helps to manage stress. Read more at Stress, Health and Faith.
Our beliefs and attitudes, determined in large degree by our faith, will play a major role in our thinking patterns.
Our day to day thinking will have an impact on our emotions and feelings, and our emotions and feelings will have a major impact on our behaviors. In this regard, our thought patterns play a significant role in our emotional and physical health.
In the page on Spiritual Exercises we address the importance of our thinking patterns and how we can change our thinking which can transform our life.
Caring for our heart – our ‘spiritual’ heart as well as our physical heart – is a huge part of being healthy.Why You Do What You Do – A video screencast by Carey Green, founder of Christian Home and Family, that explains how our spirit, soul and body interact and the impact of our flesh, or our old sinful habits.
Read more about spirituality and health to better understand why this connection between one’s faith and their health exists.
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23