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Is Man 2 Parts or 3?

Does Scripture Support Either Theory?

Does Scripture support either theory? No. Neither Traducianism nor creationism truly accounts for the origin nor the hereditary taint of the soul.

And in the context of our discussion, if the trichotomous theory is true, then God is creating or parents are conceiving not one but two immaterial parts. Logic, at least, suggests to the contrary.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
23 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.

Paul's request in 1 Thess 5:23 is that we be sanctified "entirely," holoteleis meaning perfect or complete in all respects, not that every part of our body be sanctified. This sanctification is to "preserve" us "complete" or holokleros, in no part wanting or unsound, complete, entire, whole.

The goal of God is to reunite man in his completeness, to the image of God. Man is a unity and Scripture employs various terms to describe this unity.

1 Kings 17:22
The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life [nephesh] of the child returned to him and he revived.

Here, the Hebrew word nephesh is translated as "life." As we stated earlier, nephesh is used some 753 times. It is translated as soul 475 times, life 117 times, person 29 times, mind 15 times, heart 15 times, creature 9 times, body 8 times, himself 8 times, yourselves 6 times, dead 5 times, will 4 times, desire 4 times, man 3 times, themselves 3 times, any 3 times, appetite 2 times, and other miscellaneous terms another 47 times.

Philippians 1:27
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit [pneuma], with one mind [psuche] striving together for the faith of the gospel;
The KJV translates "mind" as "soul."

It is clear as well that soul has different shades or degrees of meaning when compared to spirit. Soul stands for the individual. Man is spirit because he is dependent upon God, a spirit. Man is soul, because he has a body, unlike the angels. This body links man to the earth. He is a reasoning being, which distinguishes him from the animal kingdom. And, note the full use of the other terms we have touched upon which are used to describe man's non-material nature. In the New Testament, these include:

The other verse often used to support trichotomy is Hebrews 4:12:

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.

Notice here that while all three of our terms are used, they are not presented as three parts. Rather, the Word of God divides soul and spirit as it also divides joints and marrow. Joints and marrow are part of the body. Would not this comparison really suggest soul and spirit are both part of the same immaterial nature? And, how does one account for the use of the term "heart" if soul and spirit are separate items?

God's Word is "sharp" cutting things in two. For example, it divides

The soul is to keep the spiritual and the worldly in their places. Yet, Paul writes about the renewal of man upon being saved. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor 5:17). So what is it that is made new? The soul? The spirit? Where does the never ending struggle between good and evil within a person take place?




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December 8, 2021

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