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SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY.

A Study By F. M. Perry, June 5, 1989, Revised August 15, 2007.



"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 Thess 5:23).



HUMANS CREATED AS TRIUNE (THREE IN ONE) BEINGS.

The apostle Paul describes the complete makeup of a human being with a combination of three different words: spirit and soul and body.

The words spirit, soul, and body are translated from the three original New Testament Greek words: pneuma, psuche, and soma, respectively. In the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament the same three words are ruach, nephesh and geshem, respectively. Considering the usage throughout the Old and New Testaments of these three different words, we must conclude each words has a different meaning. A spirit is somewhat different from a soul or a body. And a soul is somewhat different from a body or a spirit. Paul used all three words to describe the complete or entire makeup of a person. We are led to the thought that each human being must be composed of three different entities which Paul calls: spirit and soul and body.

Body and Soul are Separate Entities.

This thought is reinforced as we consider the meaning in context of each word in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus spoke clearly of the distinction between the soul and the body of a person when He told His disciples that the soul of a person could not be killed as could the body of a person but that the soul lives on after the death of the body.

"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul;" (Matt 10:28)

Spirit and Soul are Separate Entities.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the distinction between the spirit and soul of a person indicating that the spirit of a person should be separated from the soul of the person. Indeed, the context of the passage in Hebrews indicates that it is improper for the spirit of a person to be fully enclosed within the soul of that person (as marrow is fully enclosed by bone) and that it is the function of God's word to work in that person to free his spirit from being enclosed by his soul.

"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).

Reflection on the meaning of this verse leads us to questions about the proper functions of one's spirit and one's soul. Clearly the verse speaks of the desirability of one having a spirit which is somewhat free from the total influence of his soul. Therefore, we must conclude that the spirit of a person is somewhat different from the soul of that person.

The soul and the body are different parts of the human being for the soul lives on after the death of the body. The spirit and the soul are different parts of the human being for the spirit can and should be separated from the total influence of the soul. But the three parts, spirit and soul and body, make up the complete person as he lives on earth and even as he is preserved to meet the Lord when He comes again.



Spirit, Soul, and Body are Separate Entities Within One Complete Human.

The proposition that each human being has been created by God with three separate entities is strengthened by our knowledge that our God has three entities. Our God is three in one, a triune God, with the three parts referred to in the Bible as the Father, the Word or the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since God has created human beings in His image, we are led to expect that humans have been created as triune beings also, with three parts, referred to in the Bible as spirit, soul, and body.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;'". (Gen 1:26).

If people are triune beings consisting of spirit and soul and body, we should be able to learn something of the origin, function, and destiny of these three parts by studying the usage and context of the words spirit, soul, and body in the Old and New Testaments.



WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY?



"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul)." (Gen 2:7).

The human body was formed by God "of dust from the ground." God gave spirit to the human being when He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life". When God formed the body of the human from dust and imparted life to him by "breathing (a spirit) into his nostrils", "man became a living soul". The body is God-formed. The spirit is God-given. With these gifts, man becomes a unique living soul.

That the body is formed of the elements of the earth (dust) is confirmed by Old Testament passages. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19). "All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust." (Eccl 3:20). The Apostle Paul tells us that our fleshly bodies belong to a "humble state" (or "lowly" or "vile" state). (Phil 3:21). This suggests that the body is composed of different more "humble" elements (such as the dust of the ground) than other parts such as spirit and soul.

That man's spirit was given to him by God is also indicated in Old and New Testament passages. "Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him." (Zech 12:1). "The spirit will return to God who gave it." (Eccl 12:7). "He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us." (James 4:5).

The original meaning of the word spirit in both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek was "breath" or "wind", a figure of speech illustrating the fact that it is that which was bequeathed to, "breathed into", man by God. (Gen 2:7).

Human beings, therefore, have both body and spirit. But the human characteristic is more than just body and spirit, but is called soul. Human beings are living souls. Hence the Bible often calls man soul. For example, when Jacob went down into Egypt with his family, the Bible tells us that "all the persons (souls) of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy." (Gen 46:27). All those who had received the gospel message from Peter on the day of Pentecost were baptized and "there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41).

Apparently the word soul stands for the unique human personality, that which makes him mankind. Thus, "the first man, Adam, became a living soul." (1 Cor 15:45).

The word for soul in the Old and New Testaments is not always translated soul but is sometimes translated person, life, heart, or mind. "In the days of Noah, during the construction of the Ark,....eight persons (souls) were brought safely through the water." (1 Peter 3:20). "Do not be anxious for your life (soul), as to what you shall eat." (Matt 6:25). "Be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh....as to Christ....doing the will of God from the heart (soul)." (Eph 6:56). "The Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds (souls) of the Gentiles." (Acts 14:2). In each of these cases man's unique personality is signified by the Greek word for soul.

The complete human being is God's creation. The unique body of each human was made by God. The unique spirit of each human came from God. Then, as the spirit quickened the body, God made in the human certain characteristics which were tantamount to a third part, a unique living soul. The human was then fully created as a unique living person, a triune being, with a consciousness of himself.

How does God intend his created, triune human being to function within and in relation to the rest of His creation? Through human reasoning and observation of ourselves we human beings know something of the functioning of our bodies and their sensing abilities in the material world. And by noting that we have a consciousness of ourselves, that we are subject to various kinds of emotions, that we are able to assimilate and utilize knowledge, and that we have will power and the desire to exercise that will power in our lives, we know that there must be another part, a soul, within us quite different from our fleshly bodies.

Thus, a person is aware that he has a body and a soul. We also know that God has given us life and that that life stops when we die. We deduce that an unseen or spiritual part of us has left the body to cause its death. So to a limited extent a person is aware of the functions of his body, soul, and spirit. But, a person is naturally aware only that he is made of flesh and unseen spirit which differ. Only by Biblical revelation from God does a person become aware of the three entities, spirit and soul and body,and how they are intended by God to function together.

A careful study of the Biblical references to the body and soul of man should lead us to an expanded and, perhaps, corrected understanding of the proper functions of our bodies and souls as vessels serving God's eternal purposes. And a careful study of the Biblical references to the spirit of man may unfold to us truths of which we may not have been aware but which may be of great importance to us in serving God.

WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN BODY?

That the body is that part of us on which we hang clothes and which has many members for sensing material things of the world is noted by the Bible. "Do not be anxious for....your body, as to what you shall put on." (Matt 6:25). "For the body is not one member, but many....the foot.... a hand.... the ear.... an eye." (1 Cor 12:14-16). "I buffet my body and make it my slave." (1 Cor 9:27).

Of more importance, the Bible reveals that Christians can and should use their bodies to serve God. "I urge you therefore, brethren, ....to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice." (Rom 12:1). When one becomes a Christian, it is the body which is "washed with pure water" at baptism. (Heb 10:22). And the body becomes a member of Christ to serve Christ. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Cor 6:15). The body of a Christian becomes a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God enabling him to glorify God in his body. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God....therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:19-20).

However, it is the body which lusts and can be used to commit sin if one chooses to do so. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness." (Rom 6:12-13).

These scriptures reveal that the body is that part of a person which senses the material and fleshly things of this world, and through which the person can exercise influence on material things. But in referring to the functions of the body, each reference refers to another part of a person which apparently controls the body of that person. When Jesus said, "Do not be anxious for your body." He referred not only to the "body" but also to "you". The command, "Do not be anxious", is not given directly to the body but to the "you" who controls the body. Similarly, when Paul said, "I buffet my body," he spoke not only of his body but that part of him which controlled his body.

Time after time the scriptures speak, not of "a body" alone, but of "your" body, indicating that the body does not stand alone but serves another part of the person. We will see as we study further that the part of the person which is served by the body is often referred to as the soul. Through the senses of the body the soul of a person is influenced by that with which the body comes in contact. And through the members of the body the soul of a person can exert influence upon that with which the body comes in contact.

WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT?

God gave spirit to man when He breathed into his nostrils the "breath of life." or "spirit of life." (Gen 2:7). Jesus said, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones." (Luke 24:39). But James said, "the body without the spirit is dead." (James 2:26). James also said God made the spirit for the purpose of dwelling in us. (James 4:5). When the personal spirit of a person departs from the body of that person, life is gone from the body. The body of the person is said then to be "asleep" or "dead". (Acts 7:59; Eccl. 12:7; John 11:11-14). Thus we see that a function of the spirit imparted to the human by God is to give life to the body and to dwell in and sustain life in that body until the body dies.

The "spirit of the man, which is in him....knows the thoughts of a man", said Paul (1 Cor. 2:11). This verse seems to indicate that the thoughts of a man, while known by that man's spirit, do not originate with his spirit. It is a function of a person's spirit to know, for some reason, the thoughts of that person. But, apparently, another part of the person generates the thoughts of that person.

Every spirit is not from God, said John, but "every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God" (1 John 4:12). Here we are introduced to the fact that there are other spirits with us here on earth besides our own personal spirits and God's Holy Spirit. These other spirits are not from God. They will not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. We must conclude that God intended that it be a function of one's personal spirit to confess Christ. If your personal spirit does confess Jesus Christ, the grace of the Lord Jesus will be "with your spirit." (Gal. 6:18).

Paul said, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit" (2nd Cor. 7:1), indicating that the spirit can be defiled during this life. All spirits are preserved by God until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, some without blame, but some (those which are defiled and not cleansed) continue to have blame. (1 Thess. 5:23).

Within what context does the personal spirit of a person live and work during a person's life on earth, and how does the personal spirit become defiled? Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 2:1112, "Who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God."

We see here at least three types of spirits: spirits of men, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of the world. We must conclude that the spirit of a person can "receive" and be influenced either by the spirit of the world or by the Spirit of God. It follows that the personal spirit of a person which lives under the influence of the spirit of the world is not "without blame". But the personal spirit which lives under the influence of the Spirit of God has been cleansed and is "without blame."

James said, "He (God) jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us." (James 4:5). There is a clear intimation that some other spirit other than the Spirit of God can dwell in us and influence the lives of our personal spirits. Perhaps James 4:5 is recalling Ezekiel 36:26-27 which said, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you....and I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes...."

Now we have a picture of man's spirit being influenced by two other spirits: God's Holy Spirit and the spirit of the world. As man grows up from childhood his spirit inevitably is introduced to and receives influence from the spirit of the world. But the only spirit which God desires to dwell in us with our own personal spirit is His Holy Spirit. Both these spirits, the spirit of the world and God's Holy Spirit, cannot dwell together with man's spirit in the temple of the body. Thus, if the Spirit of God is to dwell in a person, it must be received as a new Spirit to completely replace the old spirit of the world. The spirit of the world must be thrown out before God's Holy Spirit can dwell in a person.

Let John instruct us. "And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the anti-Christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1 John 3:24-4:6).

Men serve in their personal spirits either God, "the Spirit of truth," or they serve "they....from the world," "the spirit of error". Paul said, "For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness." (Rom. 1:9). We can be influenced by the Spirit of truth and serve God in our spirits. Or we can be influenced by "they" of the world, and serve these spirits of the world in our spirits.

But "the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (1 Cor. 6:17). "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Rom. 8:16). But if we have not received the Spirit of God, we have received "a spirit of slavery leading to fear." (Rom. 8:15).

Who are "they" from the world from whom John said we may receive a "spirit of error" and a "spirit of slavery"? Paul informs us that the Holy Spirit said "they" are "demons." "But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Tim. 4:1). John warns us about these demonic spirits in the Revelation. "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan) and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." (Rev. 16:13-14).

Satan himself, and his great servants, the beast and the false prophet, are spoken of as demons who send out "unclean spirits." These "unclean spirits" try to enter into people to take the place that God desires His Holy Spirit to have in them. But God has instructed us all in the New Testament how to get rid of these "unclean spirits."

"If indeed you have heard Him (Christ) and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Christ Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph. 4:21-24). Remember that the "likeness of God" is Spirit, for God is Spirit. When you have been renewed in the spirit of your mind, you will "have come to....the general assembly and church of the first¬born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirit of righteous men made perfect." (Heb. 12:22-23).

Perhaps the most important function of a person's own unique spirit is that, within the person, it becomes united with God's Holy Spirit providing an avenue of communion from the person to the triune God. God intended that the unique personal spirit of a person become the "holy of holies" within the holy temple of the person's body where God's own Holy Spirit might dwell and where communion between the person and God's Holy Spirit might take place. (1 Cor. 6:17-20).

But the Scriptures indicate that the personal spirit of a person can be influenced to commune with evil spirits such as the "spirit of the world," the "spirit of the anti-Christ," the "spirit of slavery," or the deceitful and unclean "spirits of demons." Such communion, of course, will defile the personal spirit of the person and destroy any possibility of communion with God's Holy Spirit unless and until the personal spirit is cleansed, renewed, and again sanctified for the presence of the Holy Spirit.

We are assured that we can "cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit." (1 Cor. 7:34). "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness." (Rom. 8:10). Then, we can commune with God's Holy Spirit again and can "serve God" in our spirits. (Rom 1:9). Also, we can become "fervent in spirit" (John 4:23) and we can "pray" and "sing with the spirit." (1 Cor 14:15).

But note that these scriptures all show the spirit of a person communing and functioning under the control of another part of the person. We cleanse ourselves from all defilement of spirit. The defiled spirit is not cleansed until another part of the person takes action. We serve God in our spirits but other parts of us exert the will power and take the action resulting in service to God. We pray and sing with the spirit but obviously the prayers and songs must first occur in thought and may be expressed with some kind of body action, such as singing or praying aloud. Then the personal spirit does his part and prays and sings too, in a very special way and for a very special purpose, that of conveying our thoughts to the God Head.

Apparently, God intended that it be the spirit's function to know the thoughts, will, and actions of a person and to serve that person in his communications with God! Indeed, "The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor. 6:17), and "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:16). Praise God! Our personal spirit can become one with the the Holy Spirit bearing witness to God the Father along with the witness of the Father's own Holy Spirit!

But when Paul speaks of defilement of spirit we know that we can defile our personal spirits. The thoughts, will, and actions of a person can defile that person's spirit. And, when Paul tells us that the spirit is alive because of righteousness, we know that without the righteousness imparted to us by God the personal spirit is "dead." We must conclude that a person's personal spirit which has not been cleansed from defilement is without righteousness and is not alive, therefore is "dead."

Here are revealed some very important concepts. One's personal spirit, given to each of us by God to impart and sustain life in one's body of flesh, while accomplishing that function, in some sense can be "dead." But, one's personal spirit can be "cleansed," made "holy" and can become "alive." While sustaining life in one's body, we conclude that one's spirit is controlled for better or worse by another part of one's triune being.

Through God's sanctification, the "spirit" along with the "soul" and the "body" may be "preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:23). And "the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5).

WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN SOUL?

When God formed the body of man from dust and gave a spirit to him by breathing into his nostrils, "man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7). "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." (1 Cor. 15:45). God's word in both the old and new testaments calls men "souls": "All the souls of the house of Jacob." (Gen. 46:27), "There were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41).

The word soul is translated "life" in Matt. l6:25 when Jesus said, "Do not be anxious for your life (soul), as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life (soul) more than food, and the body than clothing." This passage shows that the soul of a person is the unique life of the person and it is sustained in the person's body by food and drink. It also shows that the emotion of anxiety in a person is closely associated with the soul.

The word soul is translated in some Bible passages as "person," as in the words of Paul in Rom. 13:1, "Let every person (soul) be in subjection to the governing authorities." In this passage the word soul is used to denote the unique personality of the person. The souls of Christians are also to be watched over by the elders of the church for Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls." Souls, then, have the ability to commit and subject themselves to others.

Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 2:11 that while we live on the earth we should "abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul." We have already noted that it is the body that lusts (Rom. 6:12-13). Now we see that the lusts of the body influence the soul in an unhealthy manner. This influence can be such that the soul will do evil. "There will be tribulations and distress for every soul of man who does evil." (Rom 2:9). If the soul does evil (sins), it will die! (Ezekiel 18:4).

It is clear that the soul of a person has the function of choosing for the person. The soul can choose either to abstain or to partake of fleshly lusts. The soul of a person can be influenced by temptations and by warnings and commandments from God contained in the Scriptures. The soul can weigh evidences and can accept or reject evidence. This shows the intellectual function of the soul. Furthermore, the soul has the ability to know and understand the consequences of choices, especially those consequences which are clearly enunciated in the Scriptures. The soul is warned of tribulations, distress, and even death if wrong choices are made.

It is this death of the soul that Jesus referred to when He said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28). Again, "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). And again, "You fool! This very night your soul is required of you." (Luke 12:20).

What is the nature of this death of the soul which occurs when it sins? It is quite different from the death of the mortal body when killed or slain. Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28). We must conclude that man cannot kill a soul by murder or manslaughter as he can kill a body. The soul lives on after the death of the body. The nature of the death of a soul is different from the death of a body.

Jesus continued in Matt. 10:28, "But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." We must conclude that the only death for the soul is the death in hell, eternal separation from God, caused by sin, to be imposed by God on unrepentant souls at the judgement.

Although God did not create in man a living soul just to have that soul die (become separated from God), all souls of men have died at one time or another because all men (all souls) have sinned. (Rom 3:23). Souls of men can and do choose to lead men into sins against God.

However, God has provided redemption for the souls of sinful men. Souls of men can and often do choose to accept God's provision of redemption. David of old said, "He (the Lord) restores my soul." (Psalms 19:7). Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 1:9 that "salvation of your souls" is "the outcome of your faith" in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:39 says faith brings about "the preserving of the soul." James tells us that "the word implanted ....is able to save your souls." (James 1:21). Peter says that "souls" may be "purified....in obedience to the truth." (1 Peter 1:22). "Those who received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41). "And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47). It becomes clear that souls of men are saved from the consequences of their sins through their faith and obedience to the word of God.

Although it is the "body" which is "washed with pure water" in baptism (Heb. 10:22), it is the soul whose sins are forgiven and who, along with the body, is saved. And it is the soul which chooses to accept and obey God's plan of belief and repentance leading to baptism. And it is the soul of the person which directs the body of the person to submit to baptism. "In the days of Noah....eight persons (souls) were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience." (1 Pet. 3:20-21). That appeal to God through the act of baptism is an appeal by the soul, in behalf of the complete person, to be saved from eternal separation from God.

After salvation of the soul through baptism of the body, it is the soul of man which motivates him to continue doing the will of God, "as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (soul)." (Eph. 6:6). Then Christ becomes "the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." (1 Pet. 2:25). Then, "you shall find rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:29). Then, we have "this hope....as an anchor of the soul." (Heb. 6:19).

We are told in Luke 1:46 that the soul of Mary exalted the Lord. Surely, a function of our souls is also to exalt the Lord. Also, it is with "all your soul" that you are to love the Lord and your neighbor. (Matt. 22:37,39). The soul is that part of a person which has the ability to commit to the principle of love in the soul-life of the person, and to direct the body of the person to perform acts to exercise the love of God in the world.

The life (soul) is to be lost in order to save it, Jesus said in Matt. 16:25. And Jesus demonstrated this principle when He gave "His life (soul), a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28). The admonition from Jesus to His disciples that they must "lose" their souls in order to save them refers to selfish characteristics which men have inherited from the flesh of Adam. Inevitably, men's souls lead them into selfish, prideful and willful actions, with rejection of humble submission to the leadership of God. Men often seek to impose service on God which is directed only by a selfish and prideful soul. Jesus teaches that men must "lose" these "soulish" characteristics if they are to successfully commune with God and be useful in God's service. (It is perhaps this "circumcision" of one's soul from one's spirit, to be brought about by the soul's consideration of the Word of God, that is spoken of in Hebrews 4:12.)

The prophet Isaiah recognized a function of the human soul of Jesus when the prophet said, "His soul would render Himself as a sin offering." God will be satisfied "as a result of the anguish of His soul." "He poured out His soul to death." (Isaiah 53:10-12). Afterwards, John said, "He laid down His life (soul) for us; and we ought to lay down our lives (souls) for the brethren." (1 John 3:16). So, perhaps the most noble function of our souls is to lay down (lose) our souls for the brethren just as Jesus laid down His soul for us.

The word "soul" is used in the Bible to describe the essence of man, that which makes up his unique personality, including his volitional, intellectual, and emotional makeup. The soul lives on earth in a fleshly body which gives that soul contact with the material world, and allows the soul to have influence on, or receive influence from the material and fleshly world. The soul also has closely associated with it a personal spirit which gives life to the fleshly body which the soul inhabits, and provides for the soul an avenue of communion with the spiritual realm. In accordance with the soul's choosing, the personal human spirit may provide communion either with evil spirits or with the Holy Spirit of God.

However, in no way can the souls of people strike out "on their own," or dictate their communion with God. Without Scriptural revelation from God we would not even know about the spiritual realm or that we have a personal spirit to provide communion within the spiritual realm. Our spirit does not operate within our consciousness, but rather behind the fleshly scenes in "other dimensions" of the spiritual realm. But the revelations of God found in the Bible tell us something of this unseen realm of spirits. And our God has created us with a limited ability to think in terms of the expanded dimensions of the realm which we inhabit as He reveals their existence to us in Scripture.

We have examined a few Bible passages which help us to understand some separate functions of the three parts of our true makeup, spirit and soul and body, as we live here upon the earth. But our earthly lives are not the whole of our eternal lives. Indeed, the ratio of our few short years on earth to our eternal existence after we depart from this earth is infinitesimally small. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:18 that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed." Not only should we be interested in the function of each part of the triune man while he lives in the flesh on earth, we also should be intensely interested in what God has revealed to us concerning the function and destiny of each part of the triune man after this life on earth is ended.

WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN BODY?

There is no question but that the fleshly body formed by God from the dust of the ground, will, upon death of the body, return to dust. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground. Because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). "All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust" (Eccl. 3:20).

But this is not the end of the matter. Isaiah prophesied, "Your dead will live. Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed dead" (Isaiah 26:19). Isaiah intimates that the death of the body is like a sleep, for he commands the dead to "awake". Daniel tells us clearly that this body, although dead and decayed, is but asleep and it can awake. "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake" (Dan. 12:2). Ezekiel prophecied, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves" (Eze. 37:12). Paul said, "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay" (Acts 13:36). And Paul speaks of the bodies of those Christians who had died during his generation as simply having "fallen asleep". Then he said, when the Lord Himself descends from heaven "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thess. 4:15-16). In Acts 2:26 Peter quotes a prophecy of David, "My flesh also will abide in hope".

After Lazarus had died, Jesus said of him, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep". When the disciples misunderstood the meaning of "fallen asleep", Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." (John 11:11-14). Later Jesus said to Martha concerning Lazarus, "Your brother shall rise again" (John 11:23). When Jesus went to the place where Lazarus was buried, He called him forth from the grave and "He who had died came forth." It is clear that the body of Lazarus was whole, possessed of his own spirit, and Lazarus was again, in an earthly sense, a living soul. (John 11:4344).

A preview of the resurrection of dead bodies of saints occurred when Jesus was resurrected. We are told that "the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many." (Matt. 27:50-53). But Christ Himself was the first fruits of them that slept when He was raised from the dead. (1 Cor. 15:20).

Thus we see that the body, (as well as the soul and the spirit) will be preserved complete at the coming of the Lord, even though the body may have decayed and returned to dust. (1 Thess. 5:23). Paul in that passage prays that the spirit and soul and body may be "without blame" at the coming of our Lord. If, at that time, the body is not "without blame," it will be destroyed along with the soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). Daniel prophesied, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2).

But Paul tells us "that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (1 Cor. 15:50). Of what use to the Christian, then, is the resurrection of the fleshly body if it cannot inherit the imperishable kingdom of God?

Paul makes it clear in the verses which follow 1 Cor. 15:50 that the perishable body of the Christian is raised simply for the purpose of changing it for an imperishable body. "Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor. 15:50-53).

What will the imperishable body be like? John said, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet that we shall be. We know that, if He should appear, we shall be like Him." (1 John 3:2). Paul said, Christ "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:21). Paul also said that the body, when buried, or "sown", is a "natural body." But "it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, the first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:44-49).

In discussing the function of the human body (above) we pointed out that the body is meant to be a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit enabling one to glorify God in his body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In Romans 8 Paul enlarges on this concept pointing out that, even in this earthly life, one can preview the great change that will be made to the body when Jesus comes again. Paul said, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if the Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you." (Rom. 8:8-11).

In like manner to the way that the human spirit, breathed into the human body by God, gave life to the human body, so the Holy Spirit indwelling the body of the Christian gives him a taste, even as he lives on this earth, of eternal life in the imperishable body to be received when Jesus comes again. And just as the fleshly body without the human spirit is dead, so the body of the Christian does not have eternal life unless the Holy Spirit dwells in it. Paul's message of Romans 8 is that the body, although doomed to fall asleep and decay, can start serving God now as it will in eternity "if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body." (Rom 8:13). Even now the Holy Spirit will give life even to your mortal bodies so that you can "therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor. 6:20).

Although an attempt has been made to discuss the subjects of the body's function and the body's destiny separately from a discussion of the soul and spirit, it has not been possible. A body without its spirit is dead. And a fleshly body with its spirit becomes a living soul. Nevertheless, the soul functions as a separate entity from the body or spirit of the triune person. The body will die and return to dust but not the soul (Matt. 10:28). And the soul and spirit can and should be divided asunder (Heb. 4:12). The three serve each other with the soul being the "captain" of the triune person.

WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT?

When a person's body dies that person's personal spirit does not die but is released from the body. It is God's desire that the spirit then return to Him, the One who gave it. "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). When Jesus died on the cross He "cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." (Matt. 27:50). Luke tells us, as does the Prophet of the Psalms, what Jesus said when He cried out. "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46; Psalms 31:5). Thus we see an example in Jesus' death on the cross of the body yielding up its spirit and the spirit returning to God who gave it.

Stephen at his death also expected his body to give up his spirit and for the Lord to receive it. As he was being stoned to death "he called upon the Lord and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59).

Paul speaks of one in 1 Cor. 5:5 with whom the Christians were not to associate ("but deliver such a one to Satan") "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." This indicates not only that his spirit can be saved, but that it possibly can be lost. Paul prays in 1 Thess. 5:23, "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This indicates not only that "your spirit can be without blame," but that it can possibly be blamed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, else it would not be necessary for Paul to pray this prayer.

What then happens to the personal spirit of a person upon the death of his body? It goes back to God who gave it. God preserves it until the day when the Lord comes back. We conclude from the words of the dying Stephen that he expected the Lord Jesus Christ to receive his personal spirit immediately. Perhaps, then, it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who receives the spirits of faithful Christians and preserves them "without blame" until that day.

But what happens to the spirits of those whose bodies die while they are in a disobedient state, who have not allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, but have continued to allow an unclean spirit of the world to dwell in them? Peter tells us about the destiny of such spirits of men. "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through the water." (1 Peter 3:18¬20). In this passage Peter tells us that the spirits of the people whose bodies died in the great flood are now held "in prison". He says that it was the Holy Spirit of Christ who spoke to this world of people through Noah during the construction of the ark. Noah tried, but failed to bring the people of the world to God by obedience to his preaching. But they were disobedient, all except Noah and his immediate family. The spirits of those who were disobedient are now "in prison". These spirits of disobedient people have not been destroyed but are preserved "in prison" until the day of judgment.

What happens to men's spirits after the judgment? Since "the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him," (1 Cor. 6:17) he has a composite spirit consisting of his own personal spirit and the Holy Spirit of the Lord. Surely it will be this composite spirit which God will breath into the "changed" body to give it life when the bodies of the faithful ascend into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air when He comes again. The "natural body....is raised a spiritual body" when "we shall all be changed, in a moment" (1 Cor. 15:44, 51,52). "The dead in Christ (as well as) we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

But the spirits of the unfaithful have joined themselves to "unclean spirits" of "demons". The spirits of the unfaithful dead are "in prison". When the Lord comes again will they not meet the same fate as the demons, Satan, the beast, and the false prophet? "And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped his image, these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone" (Rev. 19:20). "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:14-15).

WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF THE HUMAN SOUL?

We have already discovered from the Scriptures that the human soul cannot be killed nor does it die and decay as does the human body. But the soul will die a death of a different kind when it sins. This death is a destruction in hell at the last judgement. (Matt. 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4). And if the human soul is found dead in sin at the last judgement, the complete person, spirit and soul and body, will be destroyed in Hell. The human soul can escape this death in hell if it is purified in obedience to the truth. (1 Peter 1:22). Faith in Jesus Christ will result in the salvation of the human soul. (1 Peter 1:9). Christ is the "shepherd" of all saved souls. (1 Peter 2:25). The human soul finds rest in Christ. (Matt. 11:29). And in the salvation promised for the soul, the entire person, spirit and soul and body find salvation.

But what happens to the human soul after the death of the body? Our Lord Jesus Christ has been subjected to all human experiences. What happened to His soul when his body died on the cross?

David said in prophecy in Psalms 16, and Peter quoted him in Acts 2:27, "Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay". This Scripture does not say that the soul of Christ would not go to Hades (an unseen place), but that it would not be abandoned there. Since the soul does not die and decay with the slain body, the reference to decay must refer to the body of Jesus. It does not say that the body of Christ would not die, but that it would not undergo decay while it was in the tomb. Thus, we conclude that upon the death of Jesus' body on the cross, His soul went to the unseen realm of Hades and remained there for three days until His body was resurrected. Though His body "slept" for three days in the tomb, it did not undergo decay. When His body was resurrected, His soul was restored to His body for He again appeared to His disciples as a living soul. (We have also learned that His spirit departed from His body when He breathed his last and went back to God who gave it. His personal spirit also must have been restored to His body to give him complete life, spirit and soul and body, at His resurrection.)

The place in Hades where the soul of Jesus went after the death of His body, Jesus called "Paradise". "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise", Jesus told one of the thieves as he hung on the cross. (Luke 23:43). Where is "Paradise"? It is not in heaven with God. For Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, after His soul had spent three days in "Paradise", "I have not yet ascended to the Father" (John 20:17). Therefore we know that "Paradise" is not in heaven with God the Father. It is in the unseen realm of "Hades" where the soul of Jesus went for three days, but where it was not abandoned by God.

At death, the body of Jesus went to "sleep" for three days in the tomb. The personal spirit of Jesus went back to the Father of spirits. The soul of Jesus rested for 3 days in "Paradise" in the unseen place, "Hades." Upon the resurrection of the body of Jesus, His personal spirit was returned to give life to the body and His unique soul was restored. Jesus has gone through everything to which Christians will be subjected. Christians need have no fear. As God raised and restored Jesus, He will raise and restore us as well.

After learning what happened to the spirit, soul, and body of the man Jesus, we know now the state of the poor man Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried". Both Lazarus and the rich man died and the bodies of both were buried to undergo decay. But some part of Lazarus was carried away to a place called "Abraham's bosom". And some part of the rich man was carried away to "Hades". "And in Hades he (the rich man) lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom". The rich man was in Hades (the unseen place), and though "far away" from the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham were there also.

It was not the eyes of the body with which the rich man saw Lazarus because his body was in the tomb undergoing decay. It was not the dead body of the rich man which was in torment. It was that part of him which was in "Hades".

What part of the rich man was in "Hades"? David tells us in the Hebrew language that it is the "soul" which goes to "Sheol". "Sheol" is the Hebrew word for the Greek word "Hades", the unseen place. Peter quotes David in the Greek language to tell us that it is the "soul" which goes to "Hades", the unseen place. (Acts 2:27). Therefore, we must conclude that it was the "soul" of the rich man that was in torment in "Hades". We must also conclude that the "soul" of Lazarus went to "Hades", but to another part of "Hades" from that of the rich man, to a place where the soul of Abraham is. Jesus called the place in Hades where His soul and that of the former thief went, Paradise. Was it not, then, Paradise where Lazarus and Abraham went?

The temporary dwelling place of human souls, after the death of their bodies, is Hades, the unseen place. Hades must be divided into at least two sections, one of which is Paradise, and one of which is a place of torment. Between the two places in Hades, Abraham said, "there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross from there to us." (Luke 16:26).

The Scriptures refute the doctrines of men that say that people's souls are just like the souls of animals, and that they cease to exist when the body dies. There are false doctrines which say that Jesus' story of Lazarus and the rich man is a story of the resurrection of their bodies back to fleshly life in a day of judgment. The rich man is said to be in torment simply in anticipation of being thrown (his body only) into the lake of fire. However, Jesus told this "true to life" story almost 2,000 years ago. The judgment has not happened yet. If Jesus was giving a preview of the rich man's fate upon the resurrection of the body at the judgment, he could not have shown the rich man being concerned about his five brothers who had not yet died! Could the five brothers, who lived in the time of Christ some 2,000 years ago, be living still? Have their bodies not yet tasted death?

It is clear that neither the rich man, nor Lazarus, nor Abraham have as yet experienced any kind of resurrection from the dead. The rich man asked that someone be sent from them the dead souls in Hades back to his five brothers in life. (Luke 16:27-30). But Abraham said, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Abraham knew that they all were dead and not yet resurrected!

ARE REDEEMED SOULS ACTIVE IN PARADISE (DURING THE TIME BETWEEN DEATH OF THE BODY AND THE JUDGEMENT)?

Paul prayed that "your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23). The soul without blame is preserved, then, in Paradise until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The souls that are not without blame are preserved also, in an unseen place of torment, until the judgment when they will be destroyed, along with their personal bodies and spirits, in hell. (Matt. 10:28).

Do the Scriptures reveal any more information to us concerning the activities of souls in the unseen place? In Rev. 6:9-11 John tells us of a vision Christ gave him of souls awaiting the coming of the Lord. "And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also".

In this vision John saw souls. They were the souls of men whose bodies have died but whose souls live on. The final judgment by the Lord at His coming had not occurred at the time portrayed in this vision. People were still dwelling on the earth. These were the "souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained".

The souls referred to in Rev. 6:9-11 were not united with fleshly bodies. The "voices" with which they "cried out" could not have been the voices of their fleshly bodies. The "white robes" which were given to these souls could not have been literal robes to wear on their fleshly bodies. Surely Revelation speaks here in figurative speech of some kind of "spiritual" communication and some kind of "spiritual" clothing that is proper for eternal souls living in a spiritual environment. In like manner, could it be that the reference to "souls of those who had been slain" is a figure of speech describing faithful Christians who have "lost their lives (souls)" for the sake of Jesus Christ in the sense in which Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to lose his life (soul) for My sake shall find it"?

A soul is figuratively slain, as Jesus' body was literally slain, when the soul's "old self" is "crucified" with the Lord. (Rom. 6:6). Those souls who have lived on earth for Christ "have died with Christ", that they might also "live with Him". (Rom. 6:8). Paul spoke in this figurative sense when he said, "But I do not consider my life (soul) of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course." (Acts 20:24).

Perhaps then, the souls which John saw in the vision of Rev. 6:9-11 are those who have figuratively "died with Christ" on earth and are now departed from the earth. They are asking, "How long, O Lord" before we can be spiritually complete to live with our Christ in His spiritual realm. In other words they are asking how long will it be before we can depart this unseen dwelling place and go to heaven. They are now souls without bodies in Hades, the unseen place, in Paradise. If this is a correct understanding of this figurative language, then the description "underneath the altar" mentioned in Rev. 6:9 may be another description of "Paradise".

Are there any other Scriptures revealing to us the activities of souls in the unseen place? In Rev. 20:46 John saw another vision of souls. "And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."

This vision portrays great and wonderful activities of souls who belong to Christ. But, surely this vision does not describe great events for souls that have not previous to this been fully described in Scriptures. Let us examine this vision carefully in the light of other Scriptures.

In this vision of Rev. 20:46 only "souls" are mentioned. These "souls" are seen as "priests" reigning with Christ. Before they became "priests", "they came to life". This "coming to life" is called the "first resurrection". The "second death" has no power over these "souls" who have experienced the "first resurrection". "This is the second death, the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14). Remembering these important points let us also note:

1. The soul cannot be slain nor can it die except by sinning (Matt. 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4). After sinning, the soul's death is a prospective one in hell until its actual execution after judgment. Every soul has died in this way because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23).

2. Any coming back to life of a "dead" soul must occur during the earthly life of that soul as it lives in a body. For, once the body dies, the soul goes to Hades, the unseen place, either to Paradise or to the place of torment. There is no crossing over by a soul from the place of torment to Paradise.

3. Souls are brought to life, or saved, only as "the outcome of your faith" in the Lord Jesus Christ while the soul lives an earthly life in a body. (1 Peter 1:39). This bringing to spiritual life of a "dead" soul is God's "first resurrection" of that soul.

4. When souls are brought to life by God, even while they live on earth, they are a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). Christ has made them, even while living on earth, to be "a kingdom, priests to His God and Father" (Rev. 1:6). "They will reign upon the earth" (Rev. 5:10).

5. Those who live and serve as priests on earth for Christ have "died with Christ". Their "old self" has been "crucified" with Christ. (Rom 6:6-8). They no longer follow their own personal "head", but figuratively have been "beheaded" and now follow a new "head", Christ, in a new body, His church.

6. Christ started his reign over His kingdom as soon as His sacrifice was complete and there were "souls" who had "died", "brought back to life" by God's Holy Spirit, and added to the kingdom. Christ started His reign over His kingdom of "souls" as soon as, or shortly after, He arose from the dead. And He will reign until His next coming, "the end", when He delivers the kingdom to God (1 Cor. 15:20-25). Apparently this period of Christ's reign is referred to figuratively as a "thousand years" in Revelation 20.

7. Apparently, the "souls" whom John saw in his vision of Revelation 20 had experienced bodily death and had completed their lives upon the earth. They were not in heaven with God as yet for Jesus had not yet delivered up His kingdom to God. They had experienced a "first resurrection" while they lived in the flesh upon the earth. They had been "beheaded" because of their "testimony of Jesus" and their labor in the "word of God" while they lived in the flesh upon the earth. They had "not worshiped the beast or his image" while they lived in the flesh upon the earth. They "had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand" while they lived in the flesh upon the earth. And "they came to life" in the "first resurrection" while they lived in the flesh upon the earth. And now John sees them in "Paradise" of the unseen place still reigning with Christ, for the entire figurative period of Christ's reign, a "thousand years"! Does this not tell us that the souls of Christians who have departed the earth, who are in "Abraham's bosom", in "Paradise", "under the altar" of God, are somehow actively serving the Lord even as they await the second coming of the Lord and the final judgment?

When John saw the vision of the souls "who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus", was this not another figure of those who have "died with Christ"? When these souls came to life in the vision, could it have been any other occasion than their conversion and salvation by Christ while they were upon the earth? Remember, there is no death for a soul except by its sinning, and there is no gaining of life again for that soul except through Jesus Christ while the soul lives on earth. When the souls are seen to become priests and to reign with Christ, is this not a vision of the work of souls after they become Christians? Is not the salvation of a soul from death a resurrection? (Rom. 6:4). There is no resurrection of the soul prior to that time, so, is not this the "first resurrection"?

John saw in this vision only faithful souls, plural, who have departed the earth. How can they reign with Christ for the entire period of a "thousand years", from the start of Christ's reign over His kingdom until His delivery of the kingdom to God? In this figurative context, it seems perfectly logical that the vision included a succession of souls, some of whom were "raised to newness of life" at the time of Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost. Some of these souls undoubtedly lost their bodies to fleshly death shortly after that day of Pentecost and were carried away to Paradise in the unseen place to continue their reign there with Christ. And all down through the years since that first Pentecost, God has continued to raise souls to newness of life, and souls have continued to depart the earth to wait the second coming of their Lord in the Paradise of the unseen place. This will continue to happen until Christ comes again and delivers the kingdom to God the Father. This encompasses the figurative one thousand years.

AN IMPORTANT QUESTION: IS MANKIND REALLY TRIUNE, WITH THE SPIRIT, SOUL, AND BODY CREATED BY GOD AS SEPARATE ENTITIES?

God's creation of man as stated in Genesis is somewhat indeterminate as to his creation with three separate entities. "Then the LORD formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul)." (Genesis 2:7 NASB). The phrase: "the LORD formed man of dust from the ground," seems clearly to refer to the Lord's creation of the fleshly "body" of man. Concerning the phrase: "and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," there is general agreement that the description refers to the LORD's granting of a personal "spirit" to man. "Body" and "spirit" seem to be identifiable as separate entities. But the phrase: "and man became a living soul," seems to make the "soul" a sort of merger or combination of "body" and "spirit," not necessarily a sparate entity. Also, since the Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh, meaning "breath," it is thought by some that the "soul" is similar to, or even identical to, the "spirit" which is translated from the Hebrew word "ruach" which means "wind." Indeed, the "soul," being invisible to the senses of the fleshly "body," must certainly exist in the "spiritual" realm along with the personal "spirit" of man. What then is the "soul," a part of the "body," a part of the "spirit," a part of the combined "body and "spitit," or an entity of it's own?

This writer recommends the answer: "an entity of it's own." By the facts that the "soul," by inspiration, is given a name, "soul," different from either "spirit" or "body," that it is treated in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12 as though it is a separate entity, and that it is given functions in man that are done by the "soul" alone, then it is a separate entity. I believe man is truly a triune being in the image of his Creator.

That the "soul" is related to the "body" in earthly life is certainly true for the "soul" is responsible for controlling the "body." That the "soul" of man may be related to the personal "spirit" of man as being of the same spiritual essense would not prevent God from forming the soul to function as a separate entity.

With Love, F. M. Perry, First drafted June 5, 1989, revised August 15,2007.

(If you would like to write to me concerning this article, please use my Contact Page).

© 2002, F. M. Perry




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