body soul and spirit
Thesis #18 of 95 - The eternal soul/spirit of man, being that which returns to God is not procreated but directly created by God


Eccles12:7 – Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it

Heb4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating 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

1Thes5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom8:16 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

Gal6:18 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.


I comment a number of times on soul creationism and the tripartite nature of man in my book. Here is one such reference:

Primarily through Augustine’s influence and his prosecution of the Pelagian controversy, the post-Nicene Church defected from the orthodox  tripartite understanding of most earlier Fathers who believed man to be comprised of body, soul and spirit [note#1]; the latter being provided directly from God and the means by which one receives sound reason and a pure conscience, the Light of Christ by which little children cannot but “believe” in Jesus the Word (Mt18:6). This has exacerbated difficulties when interpreting Paul’s epistles; the “spirit” not being conceived by most readers to be a separate entity (a component of human nature) distinct from the Holy Spirit. Paul refers more frequently than others to the human spirit because of his substantial handling of the inner struggle concept. On one occasion he refers to body, spirit and soul together (1Thes5:23) in terms of sanctification. Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of the word of God penetrating between soul and spirit as it does between the joints and marrow (Heb4:12). The latter two materials of the body are closely related yet distinct, as are the soul and spirit.

In terms of the witness of the Apostolic Church, Justin Martyr spoke of the soul housing the spirit just as the body houses the soul (ref#2) the latter being a kind of ethereal interface formed in the outline of the body enclosing the spirit – invisible when it leaves the body at death yet clearly visible in the realm it inhabits prior to resurrection (cf. Lk16:23). Irenaeus concurred: the soul possessing the figure of the body in which it dwells (ref#3) whilst “the complete man is composed of flesh, soul and spirit. One of these does indeed preserve and fashion the man – this is the spirit; whilst as to another it is united and formed – that is the flesh; then comes that which is between the two – that is the soul which sometimes when it follows the spirit is raised up by it but sometimes it sympathises with the flesh and falls into carnal lust (ref#4). In the New Testament the Greek word for soul (psuche) is often translated as “life” for it more often relates to the physical: “Take no thought for your “psuche” what you shall eat or what you shall drink” (Mt6:25).

Ref#1 Historical background to trichotomy:

Ref#2 Justin on the resurrection chap. 10

Ref#3  Irenaeus against heresies Book II chap. 19 (6)

Ref#4  Irenaeus against heresies Book V chap. 9 para 1

[Quote from The Little Book of Providence chapter two]

As a bishop in the 4th/5th century Catholic Church, Augustine will not have been a total maverick, but without doubt he was the most influential voice (and pen) the Church possessed during its most formative period in terms of doctrinal development and biblical interpretation. Most of his distinctive teachings were accepted by the Catholic Church of his day and built upon later by the Protestant Reformers. Denying the existence of the human’s spirit was such an example, even though I have just demonstrated from Scripture and the testimony of earlier Church Fathers that it was initially well understood that man consisted of body, soul and spirit (the ditty in thesis#13 refers). For Augustine, the idea that fallen man possessed any spiritual enlightening or enabling faculties didn’t fit with his interpretation of original sin, namely that through Adam’s disobedience, every soul was doomed to perdition apart from an act of sovereign grace, reserved for the minority. Such seemingly inexplicable justice, undermining as it does God’s munificence and self-declared salvific intentions, stemmed in part from a misunderstanding of what the bible actually means by “salvation” – i.e., what it is from and what it is for.

These early theses are focussing on the former: what man by nature must be delivered from, not to avoid perdition but to relate to God whilst in human flesh. Later theses shall touch upon the especially glorious destiny awaiting those who do embark upon such a relationship through a divinely orchestrated encounter with Jesus Christ so as to be sanctified in body, soul and spirit (Jn6:44; Rom8:29; 1Thes5:23). In the meantime, note Paul’s closing benediction to God’s chosen people in Galatia: “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Gal6:18).

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