Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

What Are the Three Parts of Man?

Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

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).

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The Three Parts of Man—Spirit, Soul, and Body

Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

We human beings are complicated. Every one of us is unique, with different backgrounds and personalities. But with respect to how God created us, we’re actually all the same. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that we were all created with three basic parts: a spirit, a soul, and a body:

“And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This simple diagram illustrates these parts, showing the body as our outer part, which can be seen, the soul as our inward part, and our spirit as our innermost, hidden part.

Three parts with different purposes

Now let’s discuss each of these three parts and their corresponding functions.

Our body through its five senses contacts the visible, touchable, tangible things of the material world. It’s the most outward and visible part of our being, and by it we exist and experience the things in the physical realm. But of course, we’re more than just a physical body.

Our soul, though unseen, is just as real as our body. By our soul, we experience things in the psychological realm. In fact, the Greek word for soul in the Bible is psuche, which is also the root word of psychology.

Our soul is composed of our mind, which enables us to do things think, reason, consider, remember, and wonder; our emotions, which enable us to have feelings happiness, sorrow, anger, relief, and compassion; and our will, which enables us to choose and make decisions.

Our mind, emotion, and will make up our soul, which is our personality, who we are within.

But we are even more than just a body with a soul within. We have a part that’s deeper than our soul—our spirit, which is the deepest and most hidden part of our being.

By our spirit we can contact the spiritual realm. No other creature was created with this third part, the spirit, within.

By our spirit God is real to us and we can contact Him, receive Him, contain Him, and fellowship with Him.

Why we have a spirit

God created us with a spirit because He wants to know us, have a relationship with us, and even live in us.

Not only was our spirit made for God, but our spirit also has the ability to contact, receive, and worship God. As John 4:24 says,

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”

John 3:6 tells us that we are born of the Spirit in our spirit. After we are born of God, we continue to contact and worship Him by our spirit.

God’s purpose for all three parts

God’s desire for us is that we human beings with all three parts would be vessels to contain and express Him. As we saw, God’s purpose is to come into our spirit to fill it with Himself.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, He comes to live in us as our new life. He is in our spirit as the new Person in us so that He would be expressed through our entire being: spirit, soul, and body.

This all begins when we receive Him into our spirit and are regenerated, or born again.

Formerly, before Christ came into us as the new life in our spirit, our soul was our leading part. We pretty much did everything by the thoughts and desires of our soul. We made decisions with our soul our own thoughts and considerations, our own feelings, and our own discernment. Whether we lived a good life or a bad life, a moral life or an immoral life, we lived a life in the soul.

But God’s desire is that once we’re saved, with a new life and with Christ as our new person living in us, our spirit would become the leading part of our being, not our soul. When we live by our spirit, our soul begins to express God’s life instead of our own.

Every day, even every moment, we have a choice. We can live by the old, independent life of our soul, or we can live by Christ as the new life and Person in our spirit.

We can choose to allow our spirit to be our leading part, using our will to turn our mind to our spirit and to take in God’s living Word, allowing our emotions to be awakened and stirred to love God, and presenting our body to live a proper human life.

God’s intention in giving us three parts—a spirit, soul, and body—was that we would be vessels to contain Him and express Him. By choosing to live by our spirit, our third part, our soul and even our body will function together to fulfill God’s purpose.

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What is the Difference between the Body, Soul and Spirit

Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

What is the Difference between the Body, Soul and SpiritLeighton GarnerRating:0.2 5

Body, Soul and Spirit

Many people consider the soul and the spirit to be interchangeable words for the same thing. But the Bible does not appear to support this view. The Bible refers in several places to the body, soul, and spirit.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 The Apostle Paul wrote, “I pray God that your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Clearly making reference to three parts.

And the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:12,  “For the word of God is living, 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.”

The intent of the Heart

This verse in Hebrews is quite revealing and interesting.  It uses the word “even” regarding dividing the soul and spirit, the joints and the morrow, and the thoughts and intents of the heart.

As though to say, the spirit and soul are so stuck together, connected and dependent on each other, that is is a tough thing to separate them, but “even” the word of God can do that. To reinforce that idea the verse goes on to describe how the Word of God can “even” separate the joints from the morrow.

Which is a more concrete and physical way of illustrating how these two body parts are so closely connected to one another. Which we, on the human level, already know that it would be difficult to separate them, yet it can be done.

The verse continues by saying the Word of God can “even” separate the thoughts and intents of the heart (mind.) Thoughts and intentions are two other things that are close to each other, even woven together, but they are two separate things.

From this, we can conclude that indeed the spirit and soul are two different things. But they are tightly interwoven and interconnected with each other.

This is probably why many men, (and of course when I say men, I mean men, women, and children) throughout history have often called the spirit and the soul the same thing. But the Bible clearly teaches otherwise.

Read on to learn about the body, soul, and spirit of man.

Spirit and Soul – The Real You

It seems that God did not find it necessary to give us a clear definition of the two words. Even though a distinction is made between spirit and soul in

1 Thessalonians 5:23  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

and Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

It does not become clear what the distinction implies.

The most important thing we need to remember is that the part of us which is referred to as the soul, or spirit of man, needs regeneration by God’s Spirit.

Without the Spirit’s working in us, we are spiritually dead and unable to know God and to understand his Word. Our body, spirit, and soul work together as one but are separate.

Most Christian theologians and Bible scholars believe, and the Bible seems to teach, that the soul is the “real you.

” The part of you that is your person-hood made up of your will, emotions, thoughts, memories, and intellect (and probably a lot more). The part of you that knows the difference between “right and wrong.

” This is the part of you that God made in the His own image because God also possesses all of these characteristics. With the exception that He is not corrupted by sin as we are.

Our Soul is Eternal

The soul is eternal in one direction only – going forward. Your soul did not exist in eternity past. In the beginning, God created you. In Genesis 2:7 the Bible says that man was created a living soul. It says;

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Whether God’s breath of life into Adam resulted in all men automatically having a soul, or if God creates each soul at conception, is not clear. Suffice it to say that all living human beings have a body, soul, and spirit.

Regardless if they are in the womb and born or even if they die in the womb. Ultimately, this is what makes abortion, such a murderous crime and tragedy. Unfortunately, many people lose this battle in the warfare for the soul of their unborn child.

But that is a discussion for another article.

Gift of Eternal Life

All souls live for an eternity. Both the redeemed and the lost. They do not die. Though the lost will wish they had died, for that would be better for them than an eternity in Hell. Which is where all men are headed to by default unless they are regenerated by Christ and made spiritually alive.

In Mark 14:21 Jesus said of Judas,  “… but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Everyone who refuses the free gift of eternal life that is offered by God is in the same condition as Judas, as far as God is concerned. To not accept that free gift of life is a betrayal of the Son of God and the Father, indeed, it is the unforgivable sin.

God’s promises are available for all of us. It’s our choice where our soul will spend eternity. A greater understanding can be gained through prayer, studying the word of God and listening to audio sermons about the body, soul, and spirit. Consider where your path in life is taking you. Is it pleasing to God?

© By Leighton Garner – All Rights Reserved

eternal lifeMan's soulspirit of man

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Spirit, Soul and Body – How God Designed Us

Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

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.

Our Body

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

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

Our Spirit

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

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The truth behind salvation: body, soul, and spirit

Refreshment for Body, Soul and Spirit

Each person consists of a body, soul and spirit. That is how God created each one of us:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the spirit of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.

Our body was formed of the dust of the ground, and it is sustained by that which grows up from the ground. With our body we are in contact with everything that has been created.

In the beginning, God breathed the spirit of life into man’s nostrils. With our spirit we are in contact with God. Man didn’t become a living soul until the spirit entered his body.

The soul is our life – the result of the union of body and spirit. With our soul we are in contact with people.

Separated from God

The intention was that God would lead us by our spirit; but then the fall came, and separation from God. Man began to live according to the lustsThe desires that we experience that go against God’s will. In other words, a desire for anything sinful. See James 1:14. Also called “sin in the flesh.” Although the expression “youthful lusts” is  often thought of in …

in his body. (Genesis 3:6) Instead of the body being an instrument of the spirit in the service of God, the body started to lead instead. The consequence was separation from God because the spirit in man became a slave to the lusts in the flesh. The fruit of the fall is all the corruption we see in the world. The corruption is in the world through lust.

(2 Peter 1:4)

Never-ending emptiness

Because the body took over the leadership, we are earthly by nature – carnal and not spiritual. Our lives are in the things that have been created, and we naturally worship the greatness of this world. Our soul – our senses – revolve around the visible things.

The truth is that we are restless in this state, and we suffer under the emptiness of this world, for our spirit can never be content or satisfied by the things that have been created.

We don’t naturally understand this because of the darkness in which we are in, and as a result we look for distractions and enjoyment that only increase our emptiness. One could say that we get a taste of hell in our soul.

However, God has not left us to ourselves in this state! “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘He jealously desires the spirit He let dwell in us; but He gives even more grace.’” James 4:5. (NIV translation).

Spiritually minded

It is possible, through the light of the gospel, to be converted to God. Instead of loving our lusts, we can act according to Jesus’ words: “Take up your cross daily and deny yourself.

” (Luke 9:23) By denying ourselves, our spirit is delivered from the sin in our flesh, and we enter into fellowship with God.

And then, as we start to nourish ourselves with God’s Word and prayer, we receive strength to discipline our body and bring it into subjection. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

As a result, we become spiritual and have our life – our soul – in the heavenly places. We will start to get a sense for invisible things, which are eternal.

We come that restless state of that corruptible emptiness and into incorruptible treasures of life that give our spirit rest.

We get a foretaste of heaven in our soul! The perfect liberation of the soul from that corruptible emptiness is the end of our faith. (1 Peter 1:3-4, 9)

A calling to fulfill

Jesus has taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. Jesus fulfilled this prayer in the days of His flesh. He also said when He came into the world, “‘A body You have prepared for Me … Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7.  We, too, have a calling and task to fulfill.

We have also received a body. If our body does not assume the leading role (with the result that we lower ourselves to live according to our passions and desires) but is presented as a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice to God, then we spread God’s kingdom. We receive God’s will through our spirit, and we carry it out with our body.

The fruit of this co-operation is a heavenly life, a saved soul.

Death shall have no power

Jesus says: “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles [heathen] seek … But seek first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33.

(Luke 12:27-31) The heathens seek what the body needs. That is their main concern. The animals do the same. But we must act differently. We must keep the nourishment and well-being of our spirit in mind. We must seek God’s kingdom first! If we do this, then God will provide for our body.

If we do this, we are saved from all the anxiety that plagues the world.

This deliverance of the spirit from sin in the flesh is a resurrection, and only those who partake of this salvation will have a part in the first resurrection.

They are blessed and holy, for “over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6.

Only through this salvation can the God of peace sanctify us completely, so that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

This article has been translated from Norwegian and is an edited version of the article “Spirit, Body, Soul,” which first appeared in the BCC periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in March 1942.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag |

You may be interested in reading more on our topic page about salvation and sanctification, or in the selected articles below:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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