Do we have two or three parts? Body, soul, and spirit?

[Moderator's note] The author is asking if humanity is dichotomous (cut in two, body/soul-spirit), or trichotomous (cut in three, body/soul/spirit).

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Genesis 1:26-27 indicates that there is something that makes humanity distinct from all the other creations. Human beings were intended to have a relationship with God, and as such, God created us ...

July 01 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Ema Sabau
This issue is not from yesterday. There are two general views of it.

Some believe we HAVE body (that is evident- matter), soul and spirit.

Others believe we are body and soul only.

General view about soul is this: it is intellect, will and sentiment.

The problem comes when we talk about our spirit. 

I want to raise a logical question: when somebody is born again, what in reality is born again? Is it his/her body? Is it his/her soul? 

After the experience of being born again, a person's body weighs the same amount of pounds. The soul is the same: not more intelligent, nor stronger will and not more sentimental.

All of this elements will be drastically changed after a time.

The only explanation is that the human body must have something else also. That is SPIRIT. But that spirit in a unsaved person is dead. In the process of salvation our spirit is brought to LIFE.
That is necessary in order for us to communicate with God. God is Spirit and we can communicate with Him only through our raised spirit from death.

Now all our faculties starts to act different than when we were dead in old nature. Our intellect, will and sentiment start to be influenced by Holy Spirit through our living spirit and work in God's way better and better according with His Word which is the Bible.

Now we can comprehend the Bible, which was a closed book for us before we receive the Holy Spirit. 

The Bible states this very clearly. Romans 8:16 read "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God". Can it be more clear than that? No. We MUST have spirit otherwise we can not be born again.

Without spirit no man can be born again. Soul is soul and spirit is spirit. The soul can not be born again.

It is truth that the Bible can and is interpreted today in many ways but thank God He gave us mind and discernment to understand His Word.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The discovered things belong to us and the hidden ones belong to God.

May God bless us all with more and more understanding of the Holy Bible.

October 23 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image Tim Thornton Bible student, unprofitable servant
The words spirit and soul are used in different ways as they relate to a human being.

Soul is used in a way that refers to a persons inner response and relational connection with others.
Gen. 27:4 And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Gen. 34:3 His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman.

This shows how intricately the soul and body are woven together

Soul is used to refer to the disembodied representation of the complete humanity of people who had been martyred.
Rev.20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Rev. 6:9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

When scripture speaks of a person being eternally lost or saved, soul is the word that stands for his total humanity.

Mark 8:35-37 
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

The word spirit is never used to refer to the total person.

Where as soul seems to have reference to the distinctly human responses to people and circumstances and also the total humanity that is lost or saved spirit seems to have reference to self awareness.

This is true for both saved and unsaved.

Being spiritually dead doesn't mean having a no spirit it means being separated from God. The body without the spirit is dead because the spirit is separated from the body but still retains conscious existence.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It doesn't say the spirit without the body is dead.

The spirit while continuing to have conscious existence is separated from the body and can still be referred to as a soul.

With reference to the total or disembodied human the word soul is used but the word spirit is distinguished from the body.

The spirit of a man alone knows the things about himself.

It is only the man who has been made spiritually alive that can know the things of God because Gods Spirit who has made him alive, reestablished union with God, reveals the things of God to him.

1 Cor. 2:11-14 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Just as the fallen angels who are spiritual beings are spiritually dead so fallen man retains an active functioning spirit but alienated from God.

The Son of God became a physical man in order to reconcile us to God and it is only by virtue of spiritual union with Him that we have life. This occurs when a person is born again, made alive by God to God. Until this happens a person cannot see the Kingdom of God.

I cant find the words tricodomy or dichotomy in my Bible so can't speak about them

December 20 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image Thomas K M A retired Defence Scientist from Indian Defence R&D Orgn.
" God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:27). "God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and became a living being (Gen.2:7). God created man in a sequential process. Our God is spirit (2Cor.3:17)and God created man in spirit first, then He enveloped soul and body around the spirit. We can assume in this way, though it is not written in the Bible explicitly. 

According to the Bible, mankind is distinct from all the rest of creation, including the animals, in that he is made in the image of God. As God is a tripartite -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- so man is three parts -- body, soul and spirit. 

In the most explicit example from Scripture of these divisions, the Apostle Paul writes: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 Thes.5:23)

Man is made up of physical material, the body, that can be seen and touched. But he is also made up of immaterial aspects, which are intangible. 

These immaterial characteristics exist beyond the physical lifespan of the human body. The Bible makes it clear that the soul and spirit are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity, while the body is the physical container that holds them on this earth.

The soul consists of mind,will and emotions. Genesis 2:7 states that Man was created as a "living soul." 

The spirit consists of conscience, intuition and fellowship. The heart consists of soul and conscience.

The soul and the spirit are mysteriously tied together.

June 25 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
As noted previously, the Bible uses the terms "soul" and "spirit" in varying ways. I have personally always thought of one (by whatever name it is called) as the animating principle that distinguishes a living organism (whether human or not) from a dead organism, whereas the other, while also being immaterial, is the seat of intellect, conscience, emotions, and will that separates human beings from other life forms, and that originally (prior to the Fall) constituted the fullest sense of humanity being created in the image of God, and made it possible for humans to have a unique fellowship with their Creator that other living creatures did not share, and that God originally intended to be eternal. 

After the Fall, the body became mortal, and the seat of intellect, conscience, emotions, and will was corrupted by sin, and came under the control of Satan, with its restoration to God being achievable only through the redemption accomplished by Christ, and as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit.

November 26 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Andy  3 photo Andy Mangus I am a Christian since October 1979 & devoted truth seeker.
God tells us that when we " believe on the name of Jesus Christ, asking Him for forgiveness, while trusting in Him to cleanse us of all our sins, all our iniquities, then He will send the Holy Spirit to take up residence in our heart". When this occurs, we are "Born again"! The Bible tells us to "be ye transformed in the Body of Christ". "The spirit knows the spirit". 

My testimony is like many, many others that have shared with me since I got saved. What got saved?...my soul!...and, their souls got saved. We are birthed into this world in human flesh that also has a conscience mind and spirit that has not the spirit of God residing in us. Our spirit has to be changed and cleansed of all unrighteousness; to be made new! This is the exact moment His Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts! This is God's supernatural transformation of the future residence of our very souls. "Jesus came to save our souls! We are body, mind and soul(spirit).

June 26 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Belfastfella Casper Mcconnell Casper the Irish
What experience do you have thart can provide any evidence we as humans actually have a spirit? Are you aware of having one, or can see it in other humans? If your friend is unsaved his spirit must be dead. So no sign there of a spirit within. So then, how do we know people have spirit?

Also the bible talks less about seperate parts like soul or body, far more often it speaks of Flesh... our physical conscious and unconscious selves, the will, emotiond, mind and body as all one whole being. 
Psychology, medicine nor surgeons, psychiatrists, nobody can see the spirit nor measure evidence of its existence. They can only see the Flesh Spirit in Man is on that level just a matter of faith since only the Word can discern it

October 31 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Luanne Hastings
I believe Genesis 2:7, King James Bible, says Adam got a soul at creation. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Our living soul is what makes us different from Gods other living creations. Genesis 1:26, says God let us have dominion over the rest of living creations, I believe this is saying we are unique because we have a soul.

April 20 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini frank Fradella
God the Father has set a pattern of 3's in the bible. Father, Son,Holy spirit. Baptism of water, Fire, and into the cloud. The spirit, soul And body. Just to name a few. I agree with other believers that understand that we have a Spirit(regenerated after Jesus Christ) we have a soul(made up of our mind, will and emotions) and we live in a body. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit housing the spirit of God in us,and we have a mind that all should function together to glorify God upon the earth. When we live carnal we live after the flesh, when we have an opinion that doesn't line up with the Word,we can be fleshly arrogant, prideful, haughty etc. But to be truly Spirit led or spiritual we must line up with the Word of God and then be doers of that Word. Even when you don't FEEL like it. When Jesus becomes Lord we must put off the old man and his appetites and put on the new man which is created after Christ Jesus. Psalms 131:2. Surely I have behaved myself and quited myself as a child weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Our soul must not rule our Spirit man must tell that first born sit down I am ruling here. Be ye holy as I am holy says the Lord.

June 27 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Dscf1720 Myron Robertson Seeking God's heart
To understand what is real you have to dig a little bit. You also have to be willing to find that what you have been taught in the past might be more than a little bit false. The false teachings involved here entered the Jewish religion long before the time of Jesus and was a basis for the major division between the Pharisees and Sadducees, so we can see the debate long predates Christianity.

The Sadducees held the Greek view of a bipartite being in which matter was inherently evil and spirit inherently good and soul and spirit are essentially synonymous. The Biblical model the Pharisees believed is a tripartite being and there is a big difference between the soul and spirit. Paul even went so far as to teach that both soul and spirit have a consciousness and those war within us all the time.

There are two words for spirit in the Bible. Ruach is by far the most common, and means wind, breath and spirit. I found long ago that in Hebrew three definitions are common and frequently we must think this, this AND this, not this, this OR this. Neshamah is the other word, the one used at the creation of Adam and means breath, INTELLECT and spirit. It is this spirit which separates us from the lower animals. 

Soul is nephesh, the most mistranslated word in scripture. There are 38 different translations for this word used in the KJV according to Strong's lexicon. This most common of these is life. These mistranslations hide a great deal of information we MUST know if we are to properly understand the concept of soul and what it is.

The SOUL is in the blood (Gen 9:4, 5, Lev 17:11, 14, Dt 12:23) so the soul is clearly something that is not the spirit. Paul continues this them in the NT. Paul explains Hebrew concepts using the Greek language, and that language does have different words for soul and spirit. 

In 1 Cor 15:44, 46 when Paul speaks of the natural man vs the spiritual man he uses the word pseuke (soulish) and we translate it as natural. In Rom 7 he uses different terminology calling the natural man the man of sin and also uses the word carnal (of the flesh). Rom 5:12, translated properly says we sin BECAUSE we are mortal, not we are mortal because we sin as most translations state. The soul, which can sin is thus closely related to the flesh in Paul's writings. This also separates these two things from the spirit which cannot sin according to Paul and John (I cannot find these references right now); so long as we remain in the mortal flesh we cannot help but sin even with that spirit within us; thus the constant war between soul and spirit.

Eze 18:4, 20 say the soul that sins must die. Now, there are two forms of death. The second death is not a physical death, and that is why Paul was able to die daily (1 Cor 15:31). The second death is defined in Rev 20:14 as the lake of fire, which in the temple was represented by the molten sea (1 Kg 7:23, 2 Chr 4:2) which was also called the laver. We are told that God's fire is his word so often that I will not list the texts here except to say the law is described in this manner (Dt 33:2). When we submit to God's law we have died the second death, so Ezekiel 18 tells us the soul that sins must be brought to repentance and submit to the spirit within us.

Finally, the neshamah is why we can have life more abundantly (Jn 10:10). To be spiritually alive body, soul and spirit must be together but the wisdom provided by neshamah increases as we learn and mature. Thus we start with the intellect of an infant, but so long as we do not reject knowledge we grow in wisdom and have a more abundant life.

October 18 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Dale Richardson
There isn’t any split there is only one whole. Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The Hebrew word translated as breath is neshamah which is also translated as spirit. So according to Genesis 2:7 God’s breath(neshamah) of life + the body = a living soul. That is the first time the word soul appears in the bible and that is the definition of it as well. 

Therefore in accordance with the plain reading of scripture a soul is the body plus the breath and every living person is a living soul.

September 02 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The Scriptures seem to indicate that man is a 2-part being, rather than a 3-part being. 

The passages of Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4, Ecclesiastes 12:7, considered together, state that the body is formed from the dust of the ground, and God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life or spirit, Hebrew “neshamah”. As a result, he became a living, Hebrew “chai,” being, Hebrew “nephesh.” Actually, all living humans and animals, have the breath of life, Genesis 6:17, 7:15, 22.

When man dies, the creation process is reversed. The spirit or breath (Hebrew “ruah,” Greek “pneuma”) leaves the body, James 2:26, Acts 7:59, Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30, Acts 7:59-60. The spirit returns to God, and the body returns to the earth, Psalm 104:29, 146:4. 

“Soul” is not an adequate translation for the Hebrew word “nephesh” (the last word of Genesis 2:7) and its Greek counterpart “psuche.” A suggested translation is “person,” “being,” or “life.” 

Some translations have “soul” for animals, Genesis 1:20-21, 24, etc., and corpse, Numbers 6:6, which make no sense, but “creatures” or “person” does. They also use “soul” for individuals, Genesis 46:27, II Peter 3:20, Matthew 2:20, when “persons” makes much better sense. Matthew 10:28 seems to suggest a soul can be destroyed, but Jesus was merely pointing out two kinds of death: the death of the body and the permanent death or separation from God in Gehenna or the Lake of Fire. Consistently, “person,” “creature,” or “life” fits every time “nephesh” and “psuche” are used. Even the phrase “my soul” can be rendered “I” for “my being.”

Correcting the translation of “nephesh” and “psuche,” concludes that man does not actually have a soul. If there is no soul, questions about soul sleep or the immortal soul going to their destinations are inconclusive. Some think “soul” is synonymous for spirit or is a part of the immaterial part of man, but there is no basis for it. Others think “soul” is used as part of the whole body, as “seeing no living soul in sight” means no person could be seen. But this is an English concept, not Hebrew.

I Thessalonians 5:23 is taken to mean man has three parts. However, Paul is not defining the parts of man, but praying that God would sanctify the saints completely or thoroughly. The idea of entirety or totality is also found in Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27 (compare Deuteronomy 6:5). 

Hebrews 4:12 seems to indicate the soul and spirit are parts of man, but the verse says the sword of the Word is able to pierce and penetrate, dividing the soul (“psuche” or “person”), the spirit, the joints, and the marrow, and revealing the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The whole man, even its inward condition, is transparent and discernible to God.

The simple truth suffices that man has just two parts, a body and a spirit.

April 15 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Justin Hale
Jesus clearly differentiates our different 'parts' when asked what the greatest commandment is:


The Bible presents us with a few fundamental doctrines that are so all-encompassing that we can actually choose to 'superimpose' them over the entirety of scripture and view the Book itself as an expression of just that doctrine, if we wish. This is one of those.

That is because this is the 'greatest commandment' given to humans. You should note in some of the parallel scriptures describing this same statement, (Matthew 22:37) the account only uses 'three' rather than four 'parts.' I think that you will find, as I did, that the fourth 'part' mentioned here in Mark and also in Luke 10:27, (given in reverse order), is part of the 'third' and is an important aspect of that third part of us. The rest of scripture highly develops these words, as I mentioned. However, I can give you a brief description of our three 'parts' as a basis for further study.

While we start out in 'parts' because of our fallen spiritual state, 'salvation' is actually a healing of these divided parts back into distinct 'persons' who then develop at their own separate pace. The Holy Spirit begins this work in our 'heart' after this deepest chamber of our psyche is confronted with the reality of Christ's 'resurrection,' causing a spontaneous verbal confession, (Romans 10:9-10).

The Holy Spirit enters our heart and a process begins like 'infancy.' A 'spirit-based person' is installed inside of us whom GOD created in heaven. This new 'person' already knows how to return 'home' and is acceptable to GOD through Jesus Christ, so this is the 'new you' that will be entering heaven upon the death of your physical body, (unless Christ returns in the interim). 

The next 'person' is your earthly soul. Scripture clearly indicates that this person was created here 'in the depths of the earth,' (Psalm 139:15), and will return to this location known as 'Sheol' to the Hebrews and 'Hades' to the Greeks, upon the death of the physical body, unless Christ intervenes and 'saves' this soul through a transformation process, (2 Corinthians 3:18), that involves both the 'death' of this earthly soul, (Galatians 2:20), and its replacement with the growing new 'person' being nurtured inside of your 'heart.' Whether this process is completed while here on earth or afterwards in heaven, Yahweh promises us in Christ that it will be 'completed before the day of Christ's return,' (Philippians 1:6).

While this holy work is busy being completed through 'fear and trembling,' (Philippians 2:12, a reference to learning to truly revere and respect GOD), another more superficial work is simultaneously occurring in your 'mind and strength.' 

This third 'person' is a team made up of the conscious intellect, (Greek koine: 'nous'), and the 'deep intellect' (Greek koine: 'dianoia,' what modern people call the 'subconscious'). This 'person' is the nexus point for how we join social movements, church movements, larger ideological viewpoints, business ventures, politics, and other shared human ambitions. 

This person will also be 'transformed' through a perpetual process of renewal, (Romans 12:2), and can choose to become a 'living sacrifice,' (Romans 12:1), effectively surrendering its earthly ambitions for new superior ones modeled directly after the life and example of Jesus.

This new 'person' is then also governed by a new divine law that wages direct war with the law governing our physical body, (Romans 7:23-25). In time, we can learn to train the physical body to obey this law too, but it involves sharing in aspects of Christ's suffering on the cross, (1 Peter 4:1-2). 

This overall process is described as the 'One baptism' made up of water, (the baptism of repentance), fire, (the baptism in the Holy Spirit), and blood, (the cup of suffering).

April 15 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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