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Is Man 2 Parts or 3?


It appears, with the exception of one verse (1 Thess 5:23), that the dichotomous understanding that body and soul/spirit are the material and immaterial parts of man is the best supported in Scripture. At the same time, one may distinguish between the various functions of the immaterial portion. These functions may be divided between soul and spirit. In other words, man's immaterial nature is one nature, but it is comprised of two parts. At times these parts are sharply distinguished. At other times, they are or appear to be the same. This unity assures the wholeness of man and, properly applied, does not lead to dualism as with cult groups.

On the other hand, despite there being only the one verse of direct support, I personally have come to the conclusion in the course of studying Romans 8, that the trichotomous position best explains the fall and the corruption of man, when a picture of regeneration and rebirth are considered.

Is man two parts or three? I suggest the following comments in support fo a trichotomy theory.

Everyone agrees the body is material and separate. The body suffered with the c urse of the Fall and will finally be regenerated at the Second Coming.

When we are saved, we become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). We are renewed and regenerated (Titus 3:5).

But if we still struggle with sin as is apparent from 8:27 and most of the discussion of Romans 7, what was renewed?

Romans 12:1-2 is a command for us to renew our minds so it is not totally renewed by our salvation experience, if, indeed, it is renewed in any form.

The battle is between Christ and self over the issue of who sits on the throne of our hearts. It may be better to understand this in the sense of the three part structure:

Sanctification is the process of the Holy Spirit teaching the soul to overcome the body.

This may be a little simplistic, but I believe it is an easy method of understanding sanctification, the struggle of ongoing sin, and the resolution to the issue of two parts or three.




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December 8, 2021

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