Spirit, Soul and Body?
NCW 33, April 1996 (Part II)
Q. How many parts are there to a person? Is it two (body + spirit = soul) or three (spirit + soul + body -- 1 Thes.5:23)?
Were it not for Paul's reference to three parts in the scripture you cite, there would be no doubt as to the uniform Bible teaching that we are made up of "spirit and body", i.e. two parts only. Most evangelical commentators believe in 1 Thes.5:23 Paul is merely emphasising the whole person, and not making a theological statement differentiating a person's parts. New Covenant Christians would agree with this conclusion.
Perhaps what is more important is the nature of a human in the resurrection, for in this immortal state all the parts are inseparably united so that we will no longer speak of having a "spirit" or a "body".
In the meantime there is still the unresolved question of what a "spirit" is in Christendom. On the one hand, there are those (like the Seventh Day Adventists, Christadelphians, Armstrongites, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others -- the so-called "soul-sleepers") who, taking the Old Testament to be a literal, scientific description of the anatomy of the soul, maintain that the "spirit" is no more than God's invisible breath ("like electricity"); and the rest (of which New Covenant Christians are a part) who believe that the "spirit" is the real person or "spiritual double" of the physical body which remains alive as a conscious spiritual being after death.
The fact of the matter is that the Bible does not resolve the issue, and nor does it try to. Indeed, the people of the Old Testament age had very little conception of the nature of the after-life and were content to describe their understanding of it in symbolic and poetical terms. Occasionally they contradict themselves (in a strictly scientific sense) when, for example, they refer to God as a "soul" (a designation otherwise strictly reserved for mankind).
We further believe what we do because of our personal experience, and the experience of hundreds of thousands of others who have had "out of body experiences" (this writer being one of them).
- Body, Soul and Spirit - The Teachings of Kenneth E. Hagin Compared with the Bible
- The Bible Teaching on "Soul"
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Last updated on 9 May 1998
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