Page 1

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY THE DOCTRINE OF MAN: anthropology © Derrick Harrison, 12 October, 2011

THE DOCTRINE OF MAN (Anthropology) The Creation of Man (Ps.8:4-6; Eph.1:4; Gen.1:26-27). Why did God create us? How did God make us like himself? Explanation and Scriptural Basis Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation of human beings (humankind), both male and female – made in the image of God. “We must view man in the light of divine revelation” (Rodman Williams “Renewal Theology” p198)1. Charles Sherlock, an Australian theologian entitled his book on anthropology “The Doctrine of our Humanity.”2 A. The Use of the Word Man to Refer to the Human Race: “Let us make man in our own image” (Gen.1:26). The use of the word man to refer to the human race has biblical sanction. In Gen.5:1-2 we read, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female created he them and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (cf. Gen1:27). The Hebrew term translated “Man” is „ǎdǎm, the same word used for the name of Adam, and the same word that is used to distinguish man from woman (Gen.2:22, 25; 3:12). Therefore the practice of using the same term to refer (1) to male human beings and (2) to the human race in general is a practice that originated in Scripture with God himself. Gen.5:2 specifically describe God choosing a name that would apply to the human race. This is God’s choice and should not be avoided. The theological issue is whether there is a suggestion of male leadership or headship in the family from the beginning of creation, and whether God’s use of language has significance in the discussion of male-female roles to-day. Why did God create 2 humans: a man and a woman? In Gen.2:7 man is described as a “living soul” (KJV), or a “living person.” This is the Hebrew definition of man and still today it is how we describe man. B. Why was Man Created? (Rev.4:11; Ps. 8:4-6; 104:30-31; Rom.1:20). 1. God did not need to create man, yet he created us for his own glory. 1

Rodman Williams “Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective” (Zondervan) 1 Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology pp47-135 2 Charles Sherlock “The Doctrine of Humanity” (Inter Varsity Press, Downers grove, Illinois 1996) p215-227. AOIC Library.


The fellowship in the context of Trinity was totally fulfilling (Jn.17:2, 24) and did not require the creation of man to complete it. Nevertheless, God created us for his own glory (Isa.43:7; cf. Eph.1:11-12). Therefore we are to do all for the glory of God (1Cor.10:31). This means our lives are significant and with purpose. If, we were created for his glory, that means we are important to God himself, not just for now but for eternity. God loved us enough to die for us (Jn.3:16). 2. What is our purpose in life? To fulfil the reason for which we were created. We are to enjoy God and to delight in fellowship with him (Jn.10:10; Ps.16:11; 27:4; Ps.73:25-26; 84:1-2, 10). The normal heart attitude of a Christian is rejoicing in the Lord (Rom.5:2-3; Phil.4:4; 1Thes.5:16-18; James 1:2; 1Pet.1:6, 8). As we rejoice in him, he rejoices in us (Isa.62:5), and Zephaniah says that the Lord “will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival” (Zeph.3:17-18). He is worthy to receive all glory, he is the Creator, and he deserves all glory. He is worthy of receiving glory. The 24 elders around the throne sing of his worthiness (Rev.4:11; Rom.11:36; Mk.12:30). A. Man in the Image of God: “Let us make man in our own image” (Gen.1:26). (Note the comparison between Paul‟s teaching on the first and the second Adam in Rom.Ch.5). 1. The meaning of “Image of God” (cf. Heb.1:3) Out of all the creatures God made, only man is said to be made “in the image of God” Definition: The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God and represents God. When God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen.1:26), the meaning is that God plans to make a creature similar to himself. Both the Hebrew word for “image” (tselem) and the Hebrew word for “likeness” (demũt) refer to something that is similar but not identical to the thing it represents or is an “image” of. The word image can also be used of something that represents something else. What does “the image of God” mean? Some have thought it refers to man’s intellectual ability, others in his ability to make moral choices. Others have thought it referred to man’s original purity. In this discussion it is best to focus on the meaning of the word “image” and “likeness.” To those who originally read these words they simply meant that man was like God, and would in many ways represent God. A detailed explanation is unnecessary and the true meaning will unfold in Scripture and as we discover what God is like in his being and actions. There is a close similarity between Gen.1:26, where God declares his intention to create man in his image and likeness, and Gen.5:3: “When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness (demũt), after his image (tselem), and named him Seth.” Seth was not identical to Adam but like him in many ways, as a son is like his father. The text simply means that Seth was like Adam. Every way in which man is like God, is part of his being in the image and likeness of God. The image of God in Paul meant that he exhorted others 3 to follow him (1Cor. 4:15-17; 11:1; Gal. 4:12; 1Thess.1:6; 2Thess. 3:9; Phil. 3:17; 1Tim.1:16). Compare the reference in 1Cor.11:1 with Eph.5:1 where Paul says that believers have also to be “imitators of God, as beloved children,” Children naturally imitate their parents and so become like them and so by imitating God we become like him. The same idea is expressed by Paul when he says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1Cor.11:1). It is because Christ is the image of God that we are to imitate Him and it is because Paul is the image of Christ that we are to imitate him. Of course there is one fundamental difference in which man is not like God! Man will be eternally man and God will always be God but the ultimate salvation is fellowship for us within the context of Trinity because the exact likeness of Christ, He who is the image of God reproduced in us



See Appendix 1. p16

makes it consistent and real for us to fellowship with God. This was envisaged by Jesus in His high-priestly prayer (Jn.17:21, 23-24). 2. The Fall: God’s Image is distorted but not lost. Was the image of God lost when man fell? The answer to that is found in Gen.9:6 where God gives Noah the authority after the flood to establish the death penalty for murder among human beings. God says “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Even though men are sinful, there is still enough of the image of God remaining in him, that to kill a man is to destroy that part of creation that most resembles God. James 3:9 confirms this image of God in man. Although man after the fall still is in the image of God, and represents him; nevertheless, sin has adversely affected every part of the heart and life. We have to distinguish what was lost resulting from the Fall and what was not lost and what man was in the image of God before the Fall and man as the image of God after the Fall. Those faculties which are part of being human – mortality, creativity, reason, sexuality, love and morality continue after the Fall and indicate that in some measure we retain the image of God but we recognise that it is severely impaired on every level by sin. We also recognise that the whole of creation is affected by man’s rebellion. The Bible uses the word “death” to describe our spiritual condition as separated from God (Eph.2:1). The impairment extends even to our health and longevity of life. But Adam and Eve even after they were expelled from the Garden continued to be persons. Guilt and estrangement from God and the presence of sin in their hearts and the practice of sin in their lives was an awful price to pay for their rebellion. Because we are human Jesus comes to us and speaks to us and challenges us to follow Him. The will is impaired but still able to respond to Jesus’ call. Man no longer enjoys the fresh air of Eden or God’s affirmation as he walked with our first parents. Man is polluted by sin and all that he touches and influences becomes unclean (Mk.7:21-23). The doctrine of sin belongs to our module on Hamartiology. 3. Redemption in Christ: the recovery of the image of God through regeneration. (Man is not yet fully redeemed, the body suffers decay and death).The body of Jesus suffered no decay in the tomb because he was sinless. In the NT we see that our redemption in Christ reverses the results of sin by an experience of New Birth when the roots of sin are dealt with and we become new creatures in Christ. The heart is made clean and we are indwelt by Christ. Paul says that as Christians we have a new nature that is “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col.3:9-10). Our minds are renewed (Rom.12:1), so that we are “renewed in knowledge” and we become more like Christ in our thinking. Paul says that “we are being changed into his likeness (literal “Image,” Gk. eikōn) from one degree of glory to another” (2Cor.3:18). And so we grow in likeness to God throughout our Christian life, “To be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom.8:29). The NT teaches explicitly that the purpose of salvation is to restore the divine image in man. The full measure of our creation in the image of God is not seen in the life of Adam who sinned, nor is yet fully seen in our lives here (Phil.3:12). The NT emphasizes that God’s purpose for creating man in his image was completely realized in the person of Christ. He himself “is the image of God” (2Cor.4:4). “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15). In Him divine invisibility is given tangibility in the Person of Chris’s humanity. In Jesus we see human likeness to God as it was intended to be, and God has predestinated us “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom.8:29; cf. 1Cor.15:49). God plans to recover His full image in us here, for that we have received His fulness (Col.2:9-10; 3:1-3, 9-10 and following verses). Paul says, “ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image (ikon) of him that created him” (Col.3:9-10) and Paul says, “We all, … beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed into His likeness (ikon) (2Cor.3:18). He says, “Put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph.4:24). Our present sanctification is imperative. The Holy Spirit transforms our nature by regeneration and the indwelling Spirit conforms us to the image of the indwelling Christ (see also Rom.Ch.8). Paul says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh” (Rom.13:14).


4. At Christ’s Return: Complete Restoration to the Divine Image. (Jesus died physically and rose again with a resurrection body, a glorified body). The amazing promise is that as we have been like Adam (subject to sin and death), we shall also be like Christ (morally pure and no longer subject to death): “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1Cor.15:49; 2Cor.5:1-10). “When he appears we shall be like him” (1Jn.3:2). 5. Specific Aspects of our Likeness to God, what it means to be to be “God like” as opposed to merely “being human like.” i). Moral Aspects: (1) we are creatures who are morally accountable before God for our actions. Corresponding to that accountability, we have (2) an inner sense of right and wrong that sets us apart from all other creatures (Rom.Ch.2). When we act according to God’s moral standards, our likeness to God is reflected in (3) behaviour that is holy and righteous before him (Jews: Lk.1:6; 2:25; Cornelius: Acts 10:2; Paul: Phil.3:5-6 also Rom.2:15). ii). Spiritual Aspects: (4) We have not only physical bodies but also immaterial spirits, and we can therefore act in ways that are significant in the immaterial, spiritual realm of existence. This means we have (5) a spiritual life that enables us to relate to God as persons, to pray and praise him, and to hear him speaking to us. Connected to this spiritual life is that we have (6) immortality; we will not cease to exist but will live forever. iii). Mental Aspects: (7) We have an ability to reason and to think logically and to learn. (8) Our use of complex and grammatical language sets us far above the animals. We can give instructions to our little children and they can understand. Part of being human was the ability to speak and to articulate words and sentences. They were made so that their ears heard not only sounds but language (Gen.1:28; 2:23; 4:9; 7:1; 8:15; 11:1-9; cf. Acts 2:4, 8-11; 1Cor.13:1 etc.). (9) Another mental difference between humans and animals is that we have an awareness of the distant future, even an inward sense that we will live beyond the time of our physical death, a sense that makes people want to be right with God before they die - God “has put eternity into man’s mind” (Eccl.3:11). (10) Our likeness to God is seen in our creativity – music, art, writing, and scientific inventiveness. It is a part of our everyday life. (11) In the area of our emotions we are like God. Our likeness to God enables us to relate to Him (Deut.6:5). All the faculties of personality were present in Adam and Eve as they are in us. iv). Relational Aspects: There are other relational aspects of being in God’s image. (12) The depths of interpersonal harmony in the marriage relationship and in family, and church. In our family relations we are superior to the angels, who do not marry or bear children or live in the community of God’s people. (13) In marriage we reflect the nature of God. (14) Man is like God also in the relationship to the rest of creation. Man has been given the right to rule over the creation and when Christ returns will even be given authority to sit in judgment over angels (1Cor.6:3; Gen.1:26, 28; Ps.8:6-8). v). Physical Aspects:


God does not have a body – God is a spirit (Jn.4:24) and He does not have a physical or material body (Ex.20:4; Ps.115:3-8; Rom.1:23). Nevertheless, there are ways our bodies reflect God’s character, and therefore constitute part of what it means to be created in the image of God. Our bodies give us the ability to see with our eyes. God also sees, but not with physical eyes. We hear, and this is a Godlike ability. God hears, but does not have physical ears. Our mouths give us the ability to speak and God also speaks. Our senses give us the ability to enjoy life, reflecting the fact that God enjoys his creation (see my Notes on the “Heart” and the senses with regard to the Song of Songs). It is important we recognize that it is man himself who is created in the image of God, not just his spirit and mind. Our physical bodies are important for us and when Christ returns, they will continue to be part of our existence for all eternity (1Cor.15:43-45, 51-55). Our bodies therefore have been created by God as suitable instruments to represent in a physical way our human nature, which has been made to be like God’s own nature. (15) Our physical bodies in various ways reflect something of God’s own character as well. (16) The God given ability to bear and raise children who are like us is a reflection of God’s own ability to create human beings who are like himself. This rediscovery of our true humanity runs counter to Greek philosophy which placed such a priority on the spirit as opposed to the flesh. The contradiction to this of course was the Greek idolizing of the body’s beauty. For the philosopher the body was basically evil and an impediment to the spirit. Christianity has also seen the body as the vehicle of sin. The fact is that humans express their sexuality through the physical body. This will lead on to our discussion on the constitution of man. However, this does not make the body inherently sinful in itself, but as it is the vehicle for sinful acts (lust originates in the desires of the heart Mat.5:28) so it is named by Paul as this “body of sin” (Rom.6:6). The philosopher is therefore calling unclean what God has now made clean (Acts 10:15; Rom.14:14; 1Thes.4:3-7; 5:23). Although the body does not enjoy release from the law of physical decay (all men of every generation die, usually of old age), yet we enjoy the restoration of Adamic humanity. This is clearly shown to us here in that sanctification is not only in the spirit and soul but extends to the physical body. When we discuss the Biblical teaching of the heart we state that regeneration is not only defined as a “new heart” (Ezek.36:26) and a “new spirit” but the new heart represents the renewal of the heart in all its parts: affections, emotions, desires, mind, imagination, conscience and will. Adam is restored to functioning normality - but there is more. Into the renewed spirit God puts His Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the singular mark of the new covenant and immediately we have a new heredity (Mat.1:1). We are not only children of Adam but we are also now the children of God. Without a due and Biblical appreciation of the restored humanity in Christ we will teach an imbalanced spirituality with an overemphasis on the spiritual dimension. A correct teaching on the Incarnation of Jesus is a counter balance to teaching an imbalanced spirituality. The NT writers emphasise the fact of Christ’s physical death and resurrection as part of His genuine and full humanity. 6. Our Great Dignity as Bearers of God’s Image. We need to think more on this fact. It gives to us dignity, significance and purpose as we reflect on the wonders of God’s creation and realize that we are more like our creator than any of these. All men and women however marred, sinful and broken they are, bear the status of being in God’s image. This affects our attitudes towards others. Through sin men have relinquished their status in relationship to their creator and so their behaviour and their thinking have deteriorated as well as their treatment of others e.g. Cain and Abel; God considered that Cain was accountable for his brother’s death (Gen.4:9-15). Life has no meaning unless in relationship to our Creator.

MAN AS MALE AND FEMALE Why did God create two sexes? Can men and women be equal and yet have different roles?


One aspect of man’s creation in the image of God is his creation as male and female: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them (Gen.1:27). The same connection is made in (Gen.5:1-2). This aspect of God’s image is so important that it is placed in the same verse in which God speaks of the initial creation of man. Grudem shows how God’s image is shown in the context of this relationship. Children need both a father and mother because they have different roles as father and mother (Rom.1:26-27). A. Personal Relationships God created us in such a way that we can attain “Interpersonal unity” in the human family and in the spiritual family, the church; part of being human is living in community and part of being a Christian is participating in community/fellowship: koinonia (Acts 2:44; 4:32). Between men and women the closest union takes place in the context of marriage, where husband and wife become, “two persons in one.” “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen.2:24; Mat.19:5; 1Cor.6:16; Eph.5:31). This unity is not just a physical unity; it is also a spiritual and emotional unity of profound dimensions. A husband and wife joined together in marriage are those that “God has joined together” (Mat.19:6). Sexual union with someone who is not your wife or husband is a specially offensive sin against one’s own body (1Cor.6:16, 18-20), and, within marriage husband and wife no longer have exclusive right over their own bodies but share them with their spouses ( a clear evidence of equality) (1Cor.7:3-5). Husbands “should love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph.5:28). The union between husband and wife is lifelong (Mal.2:14-16; Rom.7:2), and it is a profound relationship created by God in order to picture the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph.5:23-32). The fact that God created two instead of one is part of our being in the image of God. In the verse before the one that tells of our creation as male and female, we see the first explicit indication of a plurality of persons within God: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion” (Gen.1:26). This fellowship that God shared together before the world was referred to by Jesus (Jn.17:5, 24). So God created Adam and Eve in such a way so that they also would share love and communication and mutual honouring to one another in their interpersonal relationship. Of course, neither Jesus nor Paul was married, but the case of Jesus was unique, for he is both the Son of God and also man, and sovereign Lord over creation. Rather than being married to one individual the church is his bride and each member of his church enjoys a bridal relationship with him that will last for all eternity (Eph.5:23-32; Rev.19:7-9; 21:7). Paul gives his own preferences and reasons for singleness (1Cor.7:7 cf. 1Tim.3:2). He gives up one way of reflecting the image of God in order that he might reflect that image in other ways, by fulfilling the Lord’s purposes in the world. He speaks of bearing “spiritual children” and nurturing them in the Lord, thus Paul is a spiritual father (1Cor.4:4; Gal.4:19; 1Thes.1:7-8, 11; 1Tim.1:2; Titus 1:4). The birth and the nurture of the church was a process of bringing thousands of people together in small house churches to reflect the fellowship of the Trinity in their mutual love for each other. Barnabas was different to Paul (1Cor.9:5-6 cf. 7:7). The fellowship/koinonia we enjoy in the community of the church images the fellowship/koinonia enjoyed in the context of the Godhead/Trinity. B. Equality in Personhood and Importance Just as the members of the Trinity are equal in their importance and in their full existence as distinct persons, so men and women have been created by God to be equal in their personhood and importance. Men and women are made equally in God‟s image, and both men and women reflect God’s character in their lives. This means we should see aspects of God’s character in their lives. We see complementary differences (in our spouse), but together husband and wife reflect the beauty of God’s character. If we are equally in God’s image, then men and women are certainly equally important to God and equally valuable to him. When in 1Cor.11:7 Paul says: “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man,” he is not saying that woman is not created in the image of God. He is simply saying that there are abiding differences between men and women that affect their fundamental relationship, and how they dress and behave in the church. Paul goes on to describe their interdependence


(vv11-12). Men and women are created in relationships. An essential part of being human is living in community, in koinonia together (Acts Ch.2 and Ch.4). Our equality as persons before God, reflecting the equality of persons in the Trinity, should lead naturally, to men and women honouring one another. Prov.31:10, 28-30 is a beautiful picture of giving honour to a godly woman. Similarly, Peter tells husbands to “bestow honour” on their wives (1Pet.3:7), and Paul emphasises: “In the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so now man is born of woman” (1Cor.11:11, 12). The equality of personhood with which men and women were created is emphasised in the church. At Pentecost we see the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy in which God promises: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days…. They shall prophesy.”(Acts 2:17-18). Both men and women are given gifts freely. Spiritual gifts are distributed to all men and women, Paul regards every Christian as equally important in the body of Christ, for “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit” (1Cor.12:7, 11; 1Pet.4:10). These verses teach that both men and women have valuable gifts for the church (gifts are not gender based). Men and women are equal in their ability to receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Equal status among God’s people is emphasized by Paul who says to the Galatians: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.” (Gal.3:27-28). Paul is saying that no particular class of people (e.g. Jews) could claim special status in the church. This also applied to the status of men and women. The surrounding culture was not to influence what went on inside the church, nor was it to affect attitudes towards women who must not think of themselves inferior to men. All men and women are equal in the church. C. Differences in Roles 1. The Relationship between the Trinity and Male Headship in Marriage. Between the members of the Trinity there has been equality in importance, personhood, and deity throughout eternity. But there have also been differences in roles between the members of the Trinity. God the Father has always been the Father and has always related to the Son as Father. Though all three are equal in power and in all other attributes the Father has a greater authority. He has a leadership role among the members of the Trinity that the Son and the Spirit do not have. In creation the Father speaks and initiates, but the work of creation is carried out through the Son and sustained by the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit (Gen.1:1-2; Jn.1:11-3; 1Cor.8:6; Heb.1:2). In redemption, the Father sends the Son into the world (Heb.10:7, 9; 5:8-9), and the Son comes and is obedient to the Father and dies to pay for our sins. (Lk.22:42; Phil.2:6-8). After the Son has ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit comes to equip and empower the church. (Jn.16:7; Acts 1:8; 2:1-36). Neither the Father, nor the Holy Spirit came to die for our sin. Each member of the Trinity has distinct roles or functions which are perfectly consistent with equal importance, personhood and deity. If humans are to reflect the character of God we would expect some similar differences of roles between men and women; between male and female. Paul makes this explicit when he says, “I give you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1Cor.11:3). Here is a distinction in authority. Just as God the Father has authority over the Son, though the two are equal in deity, so in marriage the husband has authority over the wife, though they are equal in personhood. In this case the man’s role is like that of God the Father and the woman’s role is like that of the Son. In the context of 1Cor.11:2-16 Paul sees this as a basis for telling the Corinthians to wear the different kinds of clothes appropriate for the men and women of the day, so that the distinctions between men and women are clearly distinguished in the church. The Son’s submission is complete after He has completed His work (1Cor.15:24-28).


2. Indications of Distinct Roles before the Fall. Were the distinctions between male and female roles part of God’s original creation or were they imposed after the Fall, introduced as part of the punishment imposed after the Fall? When God told Eve, “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen.3:16), was that the time when Eve began to be subject to Adam’s authority? However, if we examine the text of the creation narrative in Genesis, we see several indications of differences in role between Adam and Eve even before there was sin in the world. D. Adam was created first, then Eve: The fact that God created Adam first, and Eve later (Gen.2:7, 18-23), suggests that God saw Adam as having a leadership role in his family. The creation of Adam first fits in with the PT pattern of “primogeniture,” the idea that the firstborn in any generation in a human family has leadership in the family for that generation. This runs through the OT text, even when at times because of God’s special purposes the birthright is transferred to a younger brother (Gen.25:2734; 35:23; 38:27-30; 49:3-4; Deut.21:15-17; 1Chron.5:1-2). The birthright belongs to the firstborn son and is his unless special circumstances intervene. The creation of Adam first, reflects an abiding distinction in the roles God has given to men and women, which is supported by 1Tim.2:13, where Paul uses the fact that “Adam was formed first, then Eve” as a reason for restricting some distinct governing and teaching roles in the church to men. E. Eve was created as a Helper for Adam Scripture specifies that God made Eve for Adam. Go said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen.2:18). Paul sees this as significant enough, so as to build an argument. He says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (1Cor.11:9). This shows there was a difference in roles from the beginning. F. Adam named Eve: When Adam named all the animals it showed his authority over them (Gen.2:19-20). God gave names to Abraham and Sarah, and to many others. For the Hebrew a name expresses the character or the function of a person. Therefore, when Adam named Eve by saying, “She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen.2:23), it indicated a leadership role on his part as well. This is true before the Fall as well, when Adam named his wife “Woman,” and it is true after the Fall as well, when “the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen.3:20). d. God Named the Human Race “Man” not “Woman”: Gen.5:2 specifies that: “in the day when they were created God named them Man.” The naming of the human race with a term that also applied to Adam in particular, or man in distinction from woman, suggests a leadership role belongs to the man. This is similar to when a married woman takes on the surname of her husband. e. The Serpent came to Eve first: It is likely that when Satan approached Eve, he was seeking to institute a role reversal by tempting Eve to take the leadership role in disobeying God (Gen.3:1). This stands in contrast to how God spoke to them, he spoke to Adam first (Gen.2:15-17; 3:9). Paul seems to have this reversal of roles in mind when he says, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1Tim.2:14). This suggests that Satan determined to undermine the pattern of male headship that God has established in marriage by going first to the woman. Nevertheless, in the eyes of God man is responsible and accountable for sin (Rom.5:12-21).



God spoke to Adam first after the Fall:

God came first to Adam, and called him to account for his actions: “But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” (Gen.3:9). God viewed Adam as head of his family, the one to be called to account for what had happened to them. g. Adam, not Eve represented the Human Race: Even though Eve sinned first (Gen.3:6), we are counted sinful because of Adam’s sin, not because of Eve’s sin. The NT says, “In Adam all die” (1Cor.15:22; cf. v49), and, “Many died through one man‟s trespass” (Rom.5:15; cf. vv12-21). This indicates that God had given Adam headship with respect to the human race, a role not given to Eve. Did Adam stand by passively as Satan tempted Eve? Through the woman the human race is perpetuated (1Tim.2:15; Mat.1:23; Lk.1:35). To bear children is the unique role of Eve’s daughters (Gen.3:16; 4:1-2, 25). h. The Curse4 Brought a Distortion of Previous Roles, not the Introduction of New Roles: In the punishment God gave to Adam and Eve, he did not give to them new roles or functions, but simply introduced pain and distortion into the functions they previously had. The ground was still Adam’s responsibility but it would not readily yield its former fruitfulness, and Adam would now have to work hard on the land (Gen.3:18, 19). Similarly, Eve would still have the responsibility of bearing children, but to do so would now involve pain (Gen.3:16; 35:16-20). Then God also introduced conflict and pain into the former harmonious relationship between Adam and Eve. God said, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen.3:16). Susan Foh has argued that the word translated “desire” means “desire to conquer,” and that it indicates Eve would have a wrongful desire to usurp authority over her husband. If this meaning of desire is correct, then it would indicate the introduction of conflict into their relationship and a desire on her part to rebel against the authority of her husband. Concerning Adam, God told Eve, “He shall rule over you” (Gen.3:16). Here the word “rule” (Heb. mǎshal) is a strong word used of monarchical rulers, not generally of authority within the family, giving the idea of uncaring use of authority, rather than considerate and thoughtful rule. Adam will misuse his authority by ruling harshly over his wife. So in both cases, the curse brought a distortion of Adam’s considerate leadership and of Eve’s wiling submission to that leadership which existed before the Fall. i) Redemption in Christ Reaffirms the Creation Order: In the NT we would expect the old order that was introduced through sin to be restored to conditions before the Fall and that the results of sin and the curse would be removed. Jesus took the curse (Gal.3:13). This is what we do find: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col.3:18-19; cf. Eph.5:2233; Titus 2:5; 1Pet.3:1-7). New Testament commands concerning marriage do not perpetuate any elements of the curse or any sinful behaviour patterns; they rather reaffirm the order and distinction of roles that were there from the beginning. The natural order is restored in Christ as well as the new dimension of spirituality. In the restoration of the natural order of marriage we image the relationship between Christ and His church. Before we enter into a discussion on the essential nature of man we need to examine Paul’s parallels, similarities and contrasts between the first Adam and the second Adam (Rom.5:125 21). See also 1Cor.15:21-22; 42-50, 54; where Paul says, “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit … The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” This passage distinguishes between the human Adam and 4

Jesus took on Himself our curse Gal.3:13 See Appendix 2 p19.



the divine Christ, the creature given life and the Creator giving life. The resurrected man rises out of death, quickened by the last Adam for life in eternity (the “heavenly man”). These 2 portions of Scripture must be placed side by side to give us the full extent of Paul’s teaching on the first and second Adam.

THE ESENTIAL NATURE OF MAN What does Scripture mean by “soul” and “spirit”? Are they the same thing? A. Introduction to Trichotomy, Dichotomy, and Monism How many parts are there to man? All people agree that we have a physical body, and most people sense that they have an immaterial part – a “soul” that will live on after their bodies die. Some people believe besides a body and a soul we also have a spirit that most directly relates to God. The view that man is three parts is called Trichotomy. Man’s soul includes his intellect, his emotions, and his will. All people have a soul, and they can either serve God or served sin. They argue that man’s spirit is a higher faculty in man that comes alive when a person becomes a Christian – “If Christ is in you, although your bodies be dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom.8:10-11; Jn.6:63); (for an alternative translation see KJV and Fee’s capital “S” for Spirit, which fits better with v11). The spirit of a person then would be that part of him or her that most directly worships and prays to God (Jn.4:24; Phil.3:3). Surely the indwelling Spirit must indwell the renewed spirit of the believer? It would sound a little strange for the Holy Spirit to be indwelling the soul and not the spirit (Ezek.36:26). Others have said “spirit” is not a separate part of man, but simply another word for “soul” and that both terms are used interchangeably in Scripture to talk about the immaterial part of man. The view that man is made up of two parts is called dichotomy. Those who hold this view often agree that Scripture uses the word spirit (Heb. rũach, and Gk. pneuma) more frequently when referring to our relationship to God, but the word soul is also used in all the ways spirit can be used (Grudem). Outside evangelical Christian thought there is one school of thought that views man as only one element, and that his body is the person, this is called monism. The terms “soul” and “spirit” are just other expressions for the person. So many Scriptures say that our souls or spirits live on after our bodies die (Gen.35:18; soul). The following references are by no means comprehensive and the student will need to add to them to get a fuller picture. 1). References to the human “spirit” Ex.35:21; Nu.14:24; Job 32:8; Ps.31:5; Ps.32:2; 51:10; 78:8; 106:33; Eccl.12:7; Mat.26:41; Acts 7:59; Heb.12:23. 2). References to anointing of the Spirit: Isa.42:1 (Lk.4:18); and indwelling Ezek.36:26; Jn.1416). 3). References to the human “soul” Ps.33:19; 34:22; 49:8; 62:1; 63:1; 74:19; etc. Rev.6:9-11; 20:4. 4). References to the “Spirit of God” (Gen.6:3; Nu.11:17; Ps.106:33; 139:7; Jn.4:24). There is no reference to the soul of God, because God is a spirit and he does not share our humanity. Soul belongs to humans and not to God, although throughout Scripture God is described as doing things humanly, showing reactions and emotions, and changing his mind, and so forth (these are called anthropomorphisms). There is a reference to the soul of Jesus associated with Gethsemane Mk.14:34 (Mat.26:38 cf. isa.53:11); but there are several references to His spirit (Lk.10:21; Mk.8:12; Lk.23:46 (Ps.31:5);


24:39). Jesus referred to the souls of men (Mat.10:28; 16:26). The early church were united in soul (Acts 4:32). Of course there are many references to the Spirit of God (Gen.1:2; 6:3 etc.). B. Biblical Data The emphasis of Scripture in on the overall unity of man as a person as created by God. When God made man and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being” (Gen.2:7). Here Adam is a unified person with body and soul living and acting together. Grudem says that “this original and harmonious and unified state of man will occur again when Christ returns forever” (1Cor.15:51-54 cf. 1Thes.5:23). We are to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord” (2Cor.7:1). God created us to have a unity between body and soul, and that every action we take in this life is an act of our whole person, to some extent involving both body and soul. 1. Scripture uses “Soul” and “body” interchangeably. When we look at the usage of the biblical words translated “soul” (Heb. nephesh and Gk. psychē) and “spirit” (Heb. rũach and Gk. pneuma), it appears that they are sometimes used interchangeably. In Jn.12:27 Jesus says: “Now is my soul troubled,” whereas in a very similar context in the next chapter John says Jesus was “troubled in spirit” (Jn.13:21). Similarly we read the words of Mary in (Lk.1:46-47): “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.” This seems to be an example of Hebrew parallelism, the poetic devise in which the same idea is repeated using different but synonymous words. The interchangeability of terms explains why people who have died can be called “spirits” (Heb.12:23; 1Pet.3:19), or “souls” (Rev.6:9; 20:4). 2. At Death, Scripture says either that the “Soul” or the “Spirit” departs. When Rachel died, Scripture says, “Her soul was departing (Gen.35:18). Elijah prays that the young child’s “soul” would come into him again (1Ki.17:21), and Isaiah predicts that the servant of the Lord will “pour out his “soul” (Heb. nephesh) to death” (Isa.53:12). In the NT Jesus tells the rich fool, “This night your “soul” (Gk. psychē) is required of you” (Lk.12:20). On the other hand sometimes death is viewed as the returning of the spirit to God. So David prayed, words later repeated by Jesus on the cross, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Ps.3:15; cf. Lk.23:46). At death “the spirit returns to the one who gave it” (Eccl.12:7). In the NT, when Jesus was dying, “he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn.19:30), and likewise Stephen before dying prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Nowhere in Scripture do we read that man’s soul and spirit departs, it is always one or the other; this poses a problem for a trichotomist. It is also clear from the OT verses quoted that, although the OT emphasises the unity of man, it has a clear concept of the existence of the soul apart from the body. These OT Scriptures show that the writers recognise that a person continues to exist after the body dies. 3. Man is said to be either “Body and Soul” or “Body and Spirit.” Jesus says not to fear those who, “Kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” but to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat. 10:28). Here the word “soul” refers to the part of the person that exists after death. When Jesus talks about “soul and body” he clearly is talking about the entire person. The word “soul” seems to stand for the entire nonphysical part of man. Sometimes man is said to be “body and spirit.” Paul wants the Corinthian church to deliver the brother involved in incest to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1Cor.5:5). Similarly, James says that “the body apart from the spirit is dead” (James 2:26), but mentions nothing about a separate soul. In discussing matters of singleness Paul speaks of the woman who is “to be holy in body and spirit” (1Cor.7:34). Even more explicit is his exhortation: “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord” (2Cor.7:1). Cleansing ourselves from


defilement of the “soul” or the “spirit” covers the whole immaterial side of our existence (see also Rom.8:10; 1Cor.5:3; Col.2:5). 4. The “Soul” can Sin or the “Spirit” can Sin. Those who hold to Trichotomy will usually agree that the “soul” can sin since they think that the soul includes the intellect, the emotions and the will. We see that our souls can sin is implied in such verses as (1Pet.1:22; Rev.18:14). The trichotomist, generally thinks of the “spirit” as purer than the soul, and, when renewed, as free from sin and responsive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When Paul encourages the Corinthians to cleanse themselves “from every defilement of body and of spirit” (2Cor.7:1), he clearly implies that there can be defilement (or sin) in our spirits. Similarly, he speaks of the unmarried woman who is concerned with how to be holy “in body and spirit” (1Cor.7:34). Other verses speak in similar ways. For example, the Lord hardened the “spirit” of Sihon the king of Heshbon (Deut.2:30); whilst God hardened the heart of Pharaoh). Ps.78:8 speaks of the rebellious people of Israel “whose spirit was not faithful to God.” A “haughty spirit” goes before a fall (Prov.16:18), and it is possible for sinful people to be “proud in spirit” (Eccl.7:8). Isaiah speaks of those who err in spirit” (Isa.29:24). Nebuchadnezzar’s “spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly” (Dan.5:20). The fact that “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit” (Prov.16:2) implies that it is possible for our spirits to be wrong in God’s sight. Other verses imply a possibility of sin in our spirits (Ps.32:2; 51:10). Finally, Scripture approves of one “who rules his spirit” (Prov.16:32), and implies that our spirits are not simply the spiritual pure parts of our lives, but that they can have sinful desires or directions as well. 5. Everything that the Soul is said to do, the Spirit is also said to do, and everything that the Spirit is said to do the Soul is also said to do. It is difficult for the person who holds to Trichotomy to define the difference between the soul and the spirit. If Scripture gave clear support to the idea that our spirit is the part of us that directly relates to God in worship and prayer, while our soul includes our intellect (thinking), our emotions (feelings), and our will, then a trichotomist would have a strong case. On the other hand, the activities of thinking, feeling and deciding things are not said to be done by souls only. Our spirits can also be described as engaged in these activities, as when Paul’s “spirit was provoked within him” (Acts 17:16), or when Jesus was “troubled in spirit” (Jn.13:21). It is also possible to have a “downcast spirit” which is the opposite of a “cheerful heart” (Prov.17.22). The functions of knowing, perceiving, and thinking are also said to be done by our spirits. Mark speaks of Jesus “perceiving in his spirit” (Mk.2:8). When the Holy Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom.8:16), our spirits receive and understand the witness, which is certainly a function of knowing something. In fact, our spirits seem to know our thoughts quite deeply, for Paul asks, “What person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1Cor.2:11). In Isa.29:24 the prophet is speaking of those who now “err in spirit” but will come to understanding. The point of these verses is not to say that it is the spirit rather than the soul that feels and thinks thing, but rather that “soul” and “spirit” are both terms used of the immaterial side of people generally, and it is difficult to see any real distinction between the use of the terms. Certain activities are not done by one part of us as opposed to the other. Rather, these activities are done by the whole person. When we think or feel things our physical bodies are involved in every point as well. Whenever we think we use our physical brain God has given us. Similarly, when we feel emotion, our brain, our body and our whole nervous system are involved, sometimes those emotions are involved in physical sensations in other parts of our bodies. The overall focus is on man as a unity, with our physical bodies and the nonphysical part of us functioning together as a unity. The trichotomist claims that our spirit is that element in us that relates to God, but does not seem to be borne out by Scripture and to other spiritual activities. We often read of our soul worshipping God (Ps.25:1; 62:1; Ps.103:1; Ps.146:1). Our souls can pray


to God like Hannah (1Sam.1:15). The great commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut.6:5; cf. Mk.12:30). Our souls can long for God and thirst for Him (Ps.42:1, 2), and can “hope in God” (Ps.42:5 see also Ps.35:9; Ps.119:20, 167; cf. Isa.61:10). Our whole person is involved in worship, we are a unity of body and soul/spirit (Mk.12:30; Ps.63:1; Ps.84:2). Our bodies are involved, we clap with our hands (Ps.47:1); we lift up our hands to God (Ps.28:2; 63:4; 134:2; 1Tim.2:8). Often in the psalms musical instruments made of physical materials are used in conjunction with worship (Ps.150:35).

C. Arguments for Trichotomy Certain Scriptures are appealed to: 1. 1Thes.5:23 “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2. Heb.4:12 “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” 3. 1Cor.2:14-3:4 This passage speaks of different kinds of people, those who are of the “flesh” {Gk. sarkinos, 1Cor.3:1); those who are “unspiritual” (Gk. psychikos, lit. soul-ish,” 1Cor.2:14); and those who are “spiritual” (Gk. pneumatikos, 1Cor.2:15). Do not these categories suggest that there are different sorts of people, the non-Christians who are “of the flesh,” “unspiritual” Christians who follow the desire of their souls, and more mature Christians who follow the desires of their spirits? 4. 1Cor.14:14 Paul says, “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful,” is he not implying that his mind does something different from his spirit? (See Fee “Empowering Presence” and his Commentary On 1Cor.). Paul is speaking of praying in tongues, which engages my human spirit but bypasses my mind. 5. The argument from Personal Experience. Many trichotomists say that they have a spiritual perception, a spiritual awareness of God’s presence, which affects them in a way that they know to be different from their ordinary thinking processes and different from their emotional experiences. Should not this be called my spirit? Like the Father the Holy Spirit does not have a soul, but nevertheless the Holy Spirit can be described in anthropomorphic terms, e.g. “the mind of the Spirit and the will of the Spirit. 6. Our spirit is what comes alive in Regeneration. Trichotomists argue that when we become Christians our spirits come alive: “But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom.8:10) see the whole of Ch.8 and Fee’s commentary on that chapter in “Empowering Presence.” D. Response to Arguments for Trichotomy 1. 1Thes.5:23. “Your spirit and soul and body” is by itself inconclusive. Paul could be simply piling up synonyms for emphasis, as when Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mat.22:37 cf. Mk.12:30). In this verse Paul is not saying that soul and spirit are distinct entities (Grudem is categorical here! – but you still don’t have to agree with him). 2. Heb.4:12-3:4. This verse is best understood as 1Thes.5:23. The author is not saying the Word of God can divide “soul from spirit,” but he is using a number of terms (soul, spirit, joints, marrow, thoughts and intentions of the heart) that speak of the deep inward parts


of our being that are impacted by the word of God. In all of these cases the word of God is so powerful that it will search all disobedience, wrong motives and disobedience. Soul and spirit are not thought of as separate parts, they are simply additional terms for our inmost being. 3. 1Cor.2:14-3:4. Paul certainly distinguishes a person who is “natural” (soulish) from one that is “spiritual”. But in the context “spiritual” seems to mean “influenced by the Holy Spirit,” since the entire passage is talking about the work of the Holy spirit in revealing truth to believers. In this context “spiritual” might almost be translated “Spiritual.” But the passage does not imply that Christians have a spirit and non-Christians do not. 4. 1Cor.14:14. When Paul says, “My spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful,” he does not understand the content of what he is praying. Nothing in this verse suggests that the soul is different from the spirit. The point is simply that there is a nonphysical element to our existence that can at times function apart from our conscious awareness of how it is functioning. 5. The Argument from Personal Experience. Does inward spiritual perception occur in something other than what the Bible calls the soul? If we were Mary we would say, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk.1:46). David would say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Ps.103.1). Jesus would tell us to love God with all our soul (Mk.12:30). Paul would use the word “spirit” within us that can perceive the spiritual realm (Rom.8:16; also Acts 17:16). Both terms mean the same thing. 6. Does our Spirit come alive at Regeneration? The Bible speaks of unbelievers having a spirit that is obviously alive but is rebellious against God (e.g. Deut.2:30; Dan.5:20). The children of Israel are described, “Their “spirit was not faithful to God” (Ps.78:8). Paul says of the believer “Your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom.8:10). Before they were awakened they were dead to righteousness but alive to sin (Eph.2:1; Rom.6:1; 2Cor.5:17). It is not just that our spirit has been made alive; we are a completely new person in Christ. The theologian Louis Berkhof says: “The tripartite conception of man originated in Greek philosophy, which conceived of the relation of the body and the spirit of man to each other after the analogy of the mutual relation between the material universe and God. It was thought that, just as the latter could enter into communion with each other only by means of a third substance or an intermediate being, so the former could enter into mutual vital relationships only by means of a third or intermediate element, namely, the soul.” Some trichotomists have a tendency that is also found in Greek philosophy, to view the material world – including our bodies as evil and something to be escaped from. The danger is to say that all that matters is the realm of “the spirit.’ Some trichotomists are anti – intellectual, viewing the spirit a separate from our mind. Emotions and will. By contrast we hold to a dichotomy that upholds the overall unity of man, thus not neglecting all aspects of our mind, emotions and will, or negating our body as something unimportant, or evil. There is a constant interaction between our body and our spirit, which affect one another. E. Scripture does speak of an immaterial part of Man that can exist without his Body. Scripture views man’s unified nature as made up of two distinct elements. The knowledge that we have a spirit or soul is primarily based on Scripture, in which God clearly testifies to the immaterial aspect of our being. Scripture is clear that we do have a soul that is distinct from our physical bodies, which not only can function somewhat independently of our ordinary thought processes (1Cor.14:14; Rom.8:16), but also, when we die, is able to go on consciously acting and relating to God apart from our physical bodies. Jesus told the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:43), even though, for both of them their physical bodies were soon to die. When Stephen was dying, he knew he would immediately pas into the presence of the Lord, for he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Paul expresses his desire to depart and


be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil.1:23). He contrasts this desire with the need to remain in this life, which he calls “to remain in the flesh” (Phil.1:24). He says, “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2Cor.5:8). The book of Revelation says that “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the word of God and for the witness they had born” (Rev.6:9 see also Rev.6:10; 20:4). As we have established the unity of the body and the soul, nevertheless, between death and the return of Jesus Christ our spirits will exist apart from our physical bodies. F. Where do our Souls come from? Creationism is the view that God creates a new soul for each person and sends it to that person’s body sometime between conception and birth. Traducianism, on the other hand, holds that the soul as well as the body of a child is inherited from the baby’s mother and father at the time of conception. Creationism has been accepted by the Catholic Church. In favour of Traducianism it may be argued that God created man in his own image (Gen.1:27), and this includes a likeness to God in the amazing ability to “create” other human beings like ourselves. Adam and Eve also were able to bear children who were like themselves, with a spiritual nature as well as a physical body. This would imply that the spirits or souls of Adam and Eve’s children were derived from Adam and Eve themselves. Traducianism could explain how the sins of the parents can be passed on to the children without making God directly responsible for the creation of a soul that is sinful or has a disposition that would tend towards sin. The biblical arguments in favour of creationism seem to speak more directly to the issue and give strong support for this view. First, Psalm 127:3 says that “sons are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” This indicates that not only the soul, but also the entire person of the child, including his or her body, is a gift from God. David says: Was it not the Lord who knit me together in my mother’s womb?” (Ps.139:13). Isaiah says God gives breathe to the people on the earth and “spirit to those who walk in it” (Isa.42:5). Zechariah talks of God as the one “who forms the spirit of man within him” (Zech.12:1). Hebrews speaks of God as “the Father of spirits” (Heb.12:9). It is hard to escape the conclusion from these passages that God is the one who creates our spirits or souls. For a discussion of Pauline anthropology look at the work of James G. D. Dunn “The Theology of Paul the Apostle” (pp51-101) and Donald Guthrie: “New Testament Theology” (pp163-180). By far the most common way of describing the nature of man is the Biblical doctrine of “THE HEART” a teaching that runs through the entire Bible. REFER TO MY NOTES ON “THE HEART.” These three writers of the “Holiness Movement” of the twentieth Century, who had a personal connection with each other sought to emphasize the difference between the spirit and the soul (a totally different view from Grudem). 6 Appendix 1 PAUL- A MODEL FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS TO FOLLOW (1) This is not a call to leaders- this is not his purpose; this is a call to all Christians to follow him. You might have some questions about the wisdom of following a man, even when we are talking about the apostle Paul, but the fact is that Paul urged his converts to follow him! Now if he had said this about Jesus we would have had no problems with the idea. In actual fact Jesus also asked His disciples to follow Him. Over and over again we hear Him calling men to follow Him; even the rich young ruler is called by Jesus to follow Him. However, Jesus is not only a man He is the Son of God so there are certain ways in which He is not a model for us when it comes to following. In contrast Paul was a human person like us and that is why we probably have some 6

See Appendix 2. P21


reserves about following him. My proposal is that we carefully examine each Scripture where Paul instructs his converts to follow him so that we can come to a correct understanding of what he means, and see where we can properly follow the apostle. Read the following Scriptures: 1Cor. 4:15-17; 11:1; Gal. 4:12; 1Thess.1:6; 2Thess. 3:9; Phil. 3:17; 1Tim.1:16. 1Cor. 4:16 “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” The entire chapter is important for us. The background is that Paul is grappling with a whole series of moral and spiritual problems at Corinth and not least of these is the personal animosity against him and the questions about his apostleship. From the outset we must determine the exact areas in which Paul is urging Christians to follow him. I do not believe we are to follow Paul in his ministry as an apostle because he never uses himself in this way as a model to follow, although he does demonstrate his apostolic life-style as authenticating his own authority. (Act 20:18-27; 1Cor. 4:9-13) We are not all called to be apostles! Another area in which he is not a model is in his conversion experience – nowhere does he urge people to have a conversion experience like his, because his meeting with the risen Christ was unique (2 Cor.15:8). He had a unique calling that is clearly outlined to him from the beginning (Acts 9:15-16; 14:15; 26:16-18). Paul does not expect us to follow him for this reason. Paul is a model for each one of us is in his Christian experience of God, we call this spirituality. 1) Observe the realism and the humility of the apostle about himself “that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written” (1Cor.4:6). 2) Read his description of his own life as an apostle (4:9-13). 3) His urging them to follow him was based on his unique relationship to them– they were his spiritual children. He had born them in Christ through the preaching of the gospel, and thus his appeal to them to: “IMITATE ME”. He told them that Timothy would remind them of “my ways which be in Christ” (v17). 1Cor.11:1 “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” Paul is not urging them to follow him because he is their spiritual father but he urged them to copy him in his following of Christ- which was a pattern for them to follow. The Gospel’s portray Jesus as continually challenging the crowds and individuals to “follow” Him. All the disciples had been called to follow Him: “Take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Lk.9:23). Jesus’ last word to Peter: “You follow Me” (Jn.21:22). What did Jesus mean? He meant that the disciples were to embrace His teaching, His mission, and His core values and embrace a life-style that was costly in service to others and to become part of an intimate group of disciples who recognised the central figure of Jesus as the focus of their lives. Paul was not suggesting that he should replace that central Person but he was encouraging Christians to imitate his Christian life specifically in regard to the way in which he followed Christ and experienced the dynamic of His life. Can we take this a little further and discover what Paul means in the context in which he writes? If we go back to the situation at Corinth we see that Paul has been addressing the matter of idolatry. He had come out strongly and stated that behind the idols were demons (1 Cor.10:20). In the light of this there were those believers who out of sensitivity of conscience refused to eat meat that had been dedicated to idols – all the meat in Corinth had been dedicated to idols! Paul also addressed those who were not at all sensitive but enjoyed a liberty that did not ask questions about the origins of such meat but preferred to eat it asking no question – Paul was in this camp himself. But the matter was not so simply resolved and Paul advocates sensitivity to those Christian brothers who seek to maintain their personal integrity by refusing to eat this meat. Christians are to imitate Paul in his selflessness and in his concern for the well being of the entire fellowship of God’s people and beyond that his concern for the salvation of those outside the family of God (10:33). Gal. 4:12 “Brethren, I urge you to become like me” What was Paul like? What is it that is so important about the change that had taken place in Paul’s life that they should follow him? He is not talking about the change that took place in his heart when he met Jesus, rather he is referring to the change in his attitude to the Law that he describes more fully in Philippians. Christian Jews had visited his churches in Galatia and told Paul’s converts that to be good Christians they must also keep the Law. Thus they had undermined the gospel that Paul had


preached to them, but to do this they had first to discredit the messenger who had brought the gospel to them – by discrediting the messenger they were then able to undermine his teaching. This is the background to Paul’s urgent plea to be as he was. He was free from the Law as a means of justification before God and he was not required to keep the Law as a means of sanctification. In other words the keeping of the Law did not contribute to his spirituality, rather it undermined his gospel and bought new believers into the bondage of legality against which Paul was prepared to fight. His plea to the Galatian Christians was to live in the true liberation of the children of God. His letter is an exposition of that liberation. 1 Thess. 1:6 “And you became followers of us and of the Lord”. Paul by his own behaviour demonstrated what he taught. His life authenticates his gospel. In our previous reference it was noted how important the messenger was in the preaching of the gospel; making the gospel effective in people’s lives. This becomes clear as we read how Paul lived before the people in Thessalonica. Paul was clearly a model for them to emulate, and they followed his example. He gave a full description of how he preached and lived among them: 1. Boldness in preaching the gospel, despite conflict (1 Thess. 2:2). 2. Integrity of heart (2: 3-6). 3. Gentle as a mother nursing her own child (2:7). 4. Strong affection and desire towards those they were winning to Christ (2:8). 5. Ceaseless labour and toil to provide their own needs rather than relying on new believers to meet their needs (2:9). 6. The life-style of the apostle was blameless and one of complete integrity (2:10). 7. Words of exhortation and comfort were given in a fatherly way for believers to walk worthy of God (2:11-12). Their response to the gospel resulted in them becoming followers of Paul but in their response to persecution they became followers of the churches in Judea (2:14). In their response to the gospel they were also an example to other churches and they were so effective in their witness that they made Paul redundant! (1:7, 8). We can now see more clearly what Paul had in mind when he urged these new believers to follow his example – he was describing his behaviour towards them as he had won them to Christ: behaviour that was characterised by gentleness, affection and integrity. 2Thess. 3:7-10 “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us” “To make ourselves an example of how you should follow us” Again, Paul refers back to the time when they heard the gospel and observed the life-style of the messengers. Paul’s pointed to his pattern of working manually to supply his own needs and those of his team. The believers were urged to work and not make themselves a burden on the church. It is important that Christian leaders provide a clear example to the flock as to how we work so that with integrity we can urge others to follow our example. We have one further Scripture that brings us to the very heart of Paul’s experience as a Christian - because I believe it is in regard to his Christian experience that he proves a model for us. As I said at the outset, it is not as an apostle that he urges me to follow him; nor does he ask me to follow him in his Damascus road experience, but rather he brings me into Jesus Christ and shows me his inner experience with Him. This he does in Phil. Ch.3. We each have to meet Jesus face to face and to experience new life in Him, which is a unique experience for each one of us. PAUL – A Model for Christians to follow (2) When Paul (Saul) met Jesus of Nazareth on the Damascus Road his entire values were overturned and everything was examined in the light of that experience and the worth of that Person he met. Those things that had been his core-values as a Jew he now viewed as “refuse” or garbage in comparison to the worth of Christ. Paul had quickly realised that the risen Jesus who had met him was indeed the Christ because he immediately began to preach in the synagogues “that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The most complete accounts that we have of Paul’s conversion are all from Luke in Acts 9:1-19; 22:4-16; 26:9-19. In his letters Paul only


refers to this event three times (Gal. 1:11-17; Phil. 3:2-11; Rom. 7:13-25). Luke records the events that followed Paul’s conversion, his filling with the Holy Spirit and his baptism. Phil. 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern”. This key verse must be viewed in context of the chapter – a chapter that gives us the clearest and fullest account of Paul’s Christian experience. He wrote against the background of his roots in Judaism and those Christian Jews who wanted to incorporate elements of their Judaism into their Christianity. You may recall that Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Christians in Galatia. He spoke of his own estimate of his former life as a devout Pharisee – “a Hebrew of the Hebrews”, “touching the righteousness which is in the Law blameless”. In a society that has no concept of righteousness or real structures to promote and foster righteousness we may never have met a person who made such claims for himself. The standard testimony seems to be the opposite – it is rather how bad I was! What he counted loss he continued to consider as worthless in comparison with “the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). (I have emphasised the personal pronoun because throughout Paul was intensely personal). V8 “The Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (Phil.3:8). Paul is speaking of that which is most important to him as a Christian, not only to have met Him but also to understand the truth about Him. Paul revealed the truths about God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the meaning of His cross for salvation. The truth of His return, and the nature of the church; Paul’s teaching is contained in his “apostle’s doctrine” (Eph.4:4-6). These revelations came to Paul as a result of his particular gifting from God and his unique calling, but they also resulted from his great passion for Jesus. V9 “And be found in Him” Paul referred to the righteousness which he has found in Christ. This was the great truth restored to the church through the Reformation – justification by faith. Paul pointed to the faith of Jesus who believed God for our justification, reconciliation, and our living experience of Christ. The righteousness provided by Christ stands in stark contrast to the attainable righteousness of the Law that Paul had rejected. The righteousness attained by Christ has been reckoned to Paul by faith (Rom.4:24). Paul proceeded from justification to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the heart. Reckoning by faith on the finished work of Christ Paul declared that the Christian has died with Christ, and has been raised with Him. He described this as God revealing His Son “in me” (Gal. 1:16, 24). V10 “That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection” Paul had met the risen Jesus but here he was talking about the resurrection and the cross in relation to his own experience. This was a central truth for Paul (Rom.6:3-11); “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is significant that Paul speaks firstly about the resurrection before the cross, because we cannot embrace the sufferings that are part of discipleship until we have first experienced the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in our lives. Paul described “the exceeding greatness of His power” that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places (Eph.1:19-20). That same power is at work in those who believe. Paul longs to know more of this power that raised Christ. V11 “I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” This is the ultimate accomplishment of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. Paul does not separate these great events. The Christian has not only a part in Christ’s death and resurrection but he has a part in the exaltation of Jesus. “And (God) raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). Nor does it end here – Paul saw our exaltation opening for us the great expanse of eternity, the future ages for us has already begun! God who is rich in mercy and love has shown to us His grace and kindness in the Person of the Lord Jesus. God’s ultimate purposes for us will not be realised in this life – they require eternity for their fulfilment. The “after life” ought to have a great attraction for us; Paul said: “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). The means of reaching this ultimate goal is not easy. Paul described the Christian life as a race in which the only winner is the person who disciplines


himself in training; “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor.9:27). There is no question that the demands that Paul makes on himself are far greater than those he makes on others and that many of his sufferings were the result of his calling to preach the gospel (Acts 9:16). V12 “Not that I have already attained or am already perfected” Paul has not yet arrived at the ultimate goal of perfection (Heb. 12:23). He speaks of this perfection when he teaches about the resurrection body (1Cor. 15:51-54: 2Cor. 5:1-4) and the ultimate attainment of immortality. It is the completion of our salvation in Christ. Paul is not content to view this life in the future as if it was something safe he is stretching out with all his power and energy to “lay hold” of all that Christ has already stretched out for and obtained for him. This man is consumed by spiritual energy – Paul’s is a purpose driven life! He is focused on Christ and all that is to be appropriated from Him. Paul said quite categorically that he has not yet appropriated all that there is for him in Christ but he is pressing on to the goal! This is the picture of the runner set on the prize (1Cor. 9:24-27). This picture of Paul focused and employing all his energies in the Christian race is the picture that Paul presented for us to follow and to imitate. The prize that Paul sought was the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This call came to Paul as to each of the disciples of Jesus who called them to follow Him. It was not only a call to discipleship but to a fellowship with the risen Jesus that transcends life and takes us into eternity where Christ dwells in all His fullness. When we attain to that ultimate perfection we will no longer be hindered by imperfections and weaknesses that hinder our pursuit and enjoyment of God. (2 Cor.12:30) V15 “as many as are mature have this mind” The word “mature” is the same word that was translated “perfect” in v12 and shows the difficulty of translating this word. The Greek word here is “teleioi” which literally means “perfect ones” and we can translate the sentence: “as many of us then as are perfect”. I do not think that the word “maturity” gives us the meaning of Paul and perhaps a better word would be “completed”. I am concerned that we do not impose on the word ideas of our own; we must always allow the text to impose upon a word its own meaning. Paul uses this word twice in this passage to describe a perfection that he has not yet attained (v12); he is emphatic about this, and here he speaks of a perfection that he has attained too. Surely all that Paul has described about his own heart experience in these verses must contain the answer to the meaning of this word. Let us remind ourselves that we are not referring to those strong aspirations that Paul has expressed that focus on realities that will be ours in the future in Christ, but that which is our possession now in Christ. I believe the answer is to be found in v9, where Paul speaks of: “the righteousness which is of God by faith”, which has been obtained for Paul by “the faith of Christ”. That is an attainment of Christ through the cross that requires nothing to be added to it, it is complete and through faith in Christ is now my possession as the gift of God. I rejoice in that completed work. Previously, Paul had sought for righteousness through keeping the Law, and he says that that he had attained to blamelessness. But in comparison, the blamelessness he now enjoys as the result of Christ’s righteousness he now views it in comparison as refuse. The foundation of my Christian experience is the salvation won by Jesus Christ on my behalf. All that Christ has accomplished is now mine; it is my possession in Christ. All the benefits of Christ’s redemption become mine when I experience new birth. Certainly new birth is a completed work in our heart, on which we can build. Paul says that we “have been saved”, that we “are being saved”, and that we “will be saved!” Paul describes the work of new birth when he says “you are the workmanship of God, created in Him” (Eph.2:10). I will not immediately realize all that is mine in Christ. The full extent of Paul’s understanding of Christian experience requires us to explore the meaning of being “in Christ”, as in the book of Ephesians. Conclusion Paul concludes this section of Scripture by urging Christians to follow his example (Phil.3:17). It is important to note that Paul’s confident advocating of himself as an archetype is not because of himself but because of God’s initiative and power in his life. Paul does not present himself as having attained the ultimate spirituality. Here in Philippians he says he has not yet attained to the ultimate perfection that is only attainable after death. He does speak of having attained “perfection” (translated in the KJV (A.V.) as “perfection”). Alongside these Scriptures we must take into account Paul’s reference’s to weakness and infirmity so that we do not end up with


an example set before us that is unattainable and idealistic. This will only produce a false spirituality, an idealism and a legalism that is most unlike the great apostle who said “that you might learn in us not to think of men above what is written” (1 Cor.4:6; see also 2Cor. 11:30; 12:910). Whatever may be the dangers of looking to others as models of spirituality there is no doubt that we need to see genuine spirituality- and by that I mean Christian character as outlined for us by Paul in the context of leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-13); these qualities are not only for leadership but they are the character qualities that result from meeting Jesus and being transformed by Him. Appendix 2. Paul’s Contrast between the First and the Second Adam (Rom.5:12-21). These verses stand at the heart of the development of Paul’s thought. He has presented all men as sinners and Christ the one who died to save them. He now deals with the origins of universal sin in the human race taking us back to Adam and the effects of his sin. In contrast, another man, Jesus Christ, the second Adam has brought justification. v12 The one man through whom sin entered the world is not named immediately. The other man is also not named until v.15. There are only two references in the NT outside of Paul that mention Adam (Lk.3:38; Jude 14). Paul’s references are (1Tim.2:14; 1Cor.15:17, 22, 56). In Rom.5:12 Paul says that sin and death entered the world through one man, with the result that death permeated the entire race. Death has come to all men “because all sinned.” Despite the inheritance of sin that was received from Adam, Paul has already pronounced all guilty (Rom.3:23). Nature demonstrates the presence of the sinful nature in man, but people are convicted of guilt for the sins resulting from it; the sins they themselves commit. The Holy Spirit convicts the person sinning through his conscience (Jn.16:8). When Adam sinned, the race sinned, because the race was in him. What he did has been repeated over and over again in every son of Adam. The immediate repercussions were shown in Cain. There is a hereditary aspect to sin. If one thinks that this is unfair one must consider carefully the significance of reconciliation as stated by Paul: “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men‟s sins against them.” (2Cor.5:19). Those sins that result from Adam’s sin are not reckoned against those who put their trust in Christ. Vv13, 14 (Vv.13-17 are parenthetical, with v.18 stating the conclusion of v.12). The necessary conclusion to v.12 has really been stated already in vv.15-17. Judging from the use of “for” at the beginning of v.13 these two verses are meant to support v.12. The point is that from Adam to Moses the law was not yet given, so sin was not present in the form of transgression. However, the presence of death is proof that there was sin to account for, seeing that death is the result of sin. The sin in view is the sin of Adam, which involved all his descendents resulting in physical death. Adam is described as “a pattern of the one to come”, Paul’s word is typos, meaning “type”. It may seem strange that Adam is a type of Christ, but both stand at the head of a race, and what they did and what they communicated was of tremendous consequence. Vv15-17 Christ’s effect on men is totally different from that of Adam, and vastly superior: Paul moves from parallels through “type” to contrasts between Adam and Christ. One clear parallel Paul brings in here is that the work of Adam and the work of Christ refer to “the many”, which refers to “all men”. The use of “the many” points to the importance of these two men. The expression goes back to Isa. 53:11-12; which underlies Mk.10:45. The expression “so much more” (v.15, v.17), suggests that the work of Christ not only cancels out the effects of Adam’s transgression but gives to man far more than he lost in Adam., more indeed than Adam ever had. The gift, prompted through grace, includes righteousness (v.17), and life (v. 18), which is later defined as eternal life (v.21). Now Paul turns away from his attention to sin to focus on death; both are mentioned in v.12 and death is enlarged upon in v.17. The point of “the much more” is that Christ breaks the hold of death and because of Christ’s redeeming work the believer is able to look forward to reigning in life through Christ. vv18, 19 “Consequently” shows Paul’s intention to summarize. One trespass brought condemnation for all humanity and one act of righteousness brought justification for all. Adam’s sin is labelled a “trespass”, indicating that he was “breaking a command” in v.14. The reference


is to Gen.2:17 where Adam violated the divine restriction, resulting in condemnation for the entire human race. Over against Adam’s act Paul put another of an entirely different character - an act of righteousness. The word “justification” is set over against “condemnation”, although Paul is speaking more than justification, he is speaking of a passport to life, the sharing of God’s life. Another word for Adam’s failure occurs in v.19, “disobedience”. This underlines the voluntary character of his sin, in sharp contrast to the obedience of Christ (Phil.2:5-11). The result of His obedience is that “the many will be (future tense) made righteous.” This refers to Christian character, in contrast to sinful character resulting from disobedience. Those who were sinners were “actual sinners by practice”, but those who are obedient shall be made righteous - as really and actually righteous, as completely so as the others were made really and actually sinners. The believer in Christ and united to Him, is made righteous, by a real and spiritual union with a righteous head. As sin was the inevitable law of the sinful nature, in contrast righteousness is the law of the new nature, enabling the believer to practice righteousness. Vv20, 21 Paul now introduces another factor - the law, to show its bearing on the issues of sin and righteousness (see also 3:20). Also Ch.7 traces the relationship between the law and sin. The law results in the multiplication of the trespass, “but where sin was multiplied, grace did beyond measure abound.” God makes sin serve His gracious purpose. V.21 concludes the passage. “Sin reigned in death” picks up vv 12, 14; “grace” looks back to vv.15, 17; “reign” reflects vv.14, 17; “righteousness” to v.17 and 1:17; “eternal life” completes and crowns the reference to “life” in vv.17, 18. The treatment of sin, death, and salvation in terms of righteousness is crucial to our understanding of our relationship with God. No person by his good works can win approval with God. Adam has intervened between man and his Creator; still another Jesus Christ has intervened to make a way for man to return to God and for his relationship to be restored (this material is taken from my module on Romans). Apendix 3. 3 Writers who distinguish between the spirit, soul and body Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927) was a Welsh evangelical speaker/teacher and author of a number of Christian evangelical works. Her father was a Calvinist Methodist minister. She was married to William Penn-Lewis. She was involved in the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival, one of the largest Christian revivals ever to break out, although the revival was abruptly shortened with the mental and physical collapse of one of the leaders, Evan Roberts. Penn-Lewis traveled internationally to take her message to audiences in Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, the U.S., and India. She is a controversial figure among Christians today due to the nature of her writings. “The ignorance of Christians concerning the distinction between "soul" and "spirit" is very general, and is a primary cause of the lack of full growth in the spiritual life in many devoted and earnest believers. G. H. Pember points out as the cause of this ignorance the popular phraseology of "soul and body", which has caused a deficiency in the English language. He says that although we have the nouns "spirit and sou” which are too often treated as synonyms - we have no adjective from the latter, with the consequence that the omission of such an adjective has almost concealed man's tripartite nature in the versions of the English Bible, where the Greek word which signifies 'pertaining to the soul' is sometimes rendered "natural" and sometimes "sensual" (see ICor.2:14, James 3:15, Jude 19). Of course Greek scholars know well the different words in the original which stand for spirit pneuma; soul psuche; flesh - sarx; but to the generality of Christians these distinctions are veiled, with the result that they are unable to discriminate in experience between things that differ and yet which vitally belong to their peace. The need of knowledge is becoming of more than academic importance, for the fallen Archangel, with his superhuman wisdom, knows the make-up of human beings, and is now, as an angel of light, bringing to bear all the power of the knowledge which he possesses, upon counterfeiting the working of the Holy Spirit, and CREATING IN THE REALM OF THE SOUL such perfect imitations of the pure life of the Spirit of God indwelling the man's spirit, that the most earnest Christians are liable to be deceived. It is therefore necessary that the teaching of the Scripture upon the distinction between soul and spirit, should be


brought within the range of the apprehension of the youngest believer, and made as clear as possible from the Word of God. The writer is not attempting to meet the need of those who are able to go direct to the Greek Testament, and read for themselves, but to assist those who must have other help, as they earnestly seek the aid of the Spirit of God to enable them to grasp the truth, and receive spiritual understanding of spiritual facts set forth in the Scripture as necessary for their growth in life and godliness. Let the reader, then, pause at this point, and in an act of faith take the promise of John 14: 26 - "The Holy Spirit ... shall teach you all things . . . " and John 16:13, "He will guide you into all truth " with confidence that the Spirit of God will fulfil His office to the teachable child of God. The Holy Spirit is able to teach the believer in experience the distinction between "soul and spirit ", without his ever knowing the truth intellectually; and vice versa, the scholar may see clearly the difference as expressed in the Greek without knowing all that the words mean experimentally - i.e., he may hold the truth in mental instead of spiritual power, and then it is but the letter of the Word without the spirit. Moreover, the believer who has been taught experimentally by the Holy Spirit the dividing of "soul and spirit" before apprehending the distinction with his intelligence, is better able to understand, and "rightly divide the word of truth," than the reader of the Greek who is untaught of God, for back of the words in the Scriptures there are spiritual verities which cannot be understood by the natural man - i.e. the "pertaining to the soul" man (lit. ICor.2: I4) - and can only be known by revelation (See I Cor.2:10-12). But first as to the missing adjective! G. H. Pember says that an attempt is being made to use the Greek word "psychic" for expressing in English the adjective for soul. The word is, however, too "Greek", so to speak, to commend itself for general use. In connection with James 3:15, Pember uses the word "soulish" and this seems more nearly to express what is needed. Stockmayer also uses this same word - "soul-ish"-to signify that which “pertains to the soul ", for he says in reference to 1Corinthians 2:14, "the Greek text has it, the 'soulman', or 'soulish-man'. As spiritual is the adjective of spirit, so is soulish the adjective of soul." The word "soulish" therefore might well be generally accepted by English readers as the missing adjective, which will enable us to speak of the "soulish" as well as the "spiritual "(1Cor.3:1) or "carnal" (fleshy), Christian, and the meaning be understood. For this purpose it will so be used in the present treatise. As to the distinction between soul and spirit, Gall points out that not only in the English language is the distinction made, but in every classic language from Hebrew downward. In the English New Testament two passages only bring out the distinction clearly, viz., Hebrews 4:I2 “dividing soul and spirit " - and 1Thess.5:23 “Sanctify you, spirit, soul and body ". These two, however, are sufficient for the English reader to see that man is tripartite, and not only "soul" and "body." The "soul" (psuche) and its functions: The next point for consideration is the question, “What is the 'soul' in distinction from the spirit, and what are its functions?" Here some quotations from other writers will help us before we turn to the Scriptures, to discover what the Apostle means by the "dividing of soul and spirit", and thus more clearly understand how spirit, soul and body "can be sanctified, and preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord. Tertullian, one of the Fathers who wrote in the early centuries of the Christian era, calls the "flesh "- or physical being - the "body of the soul," and the soul the vessel of the spirit " The soul stands between the spirit and the body, for “direct communication between spirit and flesh is impossible; their intercourse can be carried on only by means of a medium" - the "soul" being that medium. The spirit expresses itself through the soul and the body, but the spirit must control the soul and the body, just as the spirit must be in submission to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is Lord then the Christian is “spiritual” and not “soulish.” The "soul was the meeting place, the point of union between body and spirit," also writes Dr. Andrew Murray. "Through the body, man - the living soul (Gen.2:7) - stood related to the external world of sense," through the "spirit he stood related to the spiritual world." – and to God. Pember explains the function of each very clearly when he says, "The body we may term the sense consciousness; the soul the self - consciousness; and the spirit the God - consciousness ". Again he says, the body "gives us the use of the five senses" and the soul the "intellect which aids us in the present state of existence, and the emotions which proceed from the senses," whilst the spirit is the highest part which "came directly from God, and by which alone we apprehend and worship Him."


Dr. Andrew Murray accords with this, when he writes that the gifts with which the soul was endowed when man became a "living soul," were those of "consciousness, self-determination, or mind and will;" and these were to be but the "mould or vessel" into which the life of the spirit was to be received. Dr. Murray also says "The spirit is the seat of our God-consciousness; the soul of our self-consciousness; the body of our worldconsciousness. In the spirit God dwells; in the soul, self; in the body, sense." Again, Pember writes concerning the creation of man, and how the tripartite being was formed - "God first moulded the senseless frame, and then breathed into it the 'breath of lives' (Genesis 2:7). The original is in the plural)," and this "may refer to the fact that the inbreathing of God produced a two-fold life - sensual (in the meaning of pertaining to the senses) and spiritual...." He adds, in a footnote, that possibly the meaning of the use of the plural in the "breath of lives" is that "the inbreathing of God became the spirit, and at the same time by its action upon the body, produced the soul." Briefly, we see that all these writers practically define the "soul" as the seat of the personality, consisting of the will and the intellect or mind; a personal entity standing between the " spirit " with its openness to the spiritual world, and the " body " - open to the outer world of nature and sense - having the power of choice as to which world shall dominate or control the entire man. For instance, when Adam walked in the Garden of Eden, the spirit breathed into him by God dominated his "soul" - i.e., intellect, mind, will - and through the vessel the "soul" shone out in, and through, the earthly tabernacle of clay - the body - making it luminous with light, impervious to cold and heat, and able perfectly to fulfil the object of its creation Watchman Nee (1903-1972) Born into a Methodist family, Watchman Nee experienced a religious revival, and joined the Church of Heavenly Peace, Fuzhou in 1920 at age 17 and began writing in the same year. In 1921, he met the British missionary M. E. Barber, who was a great influence on him. Through Miss Barber, Nee was introduced to many of the Christian writings which were to have a profound influence on him and his teachings. Nee did not attend a theological school or Bible institute. His knowledge was acquired through studying the Bible and reading various Christian spiritual books. During his 30 years of ministry, beginning in 1922, Nee traveled throughout China planting churches among the rural communities and holding Christian conferences and trainings in Shanghai. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. The ordinary concept of the constitution of human beings is dualistic - soul and body. According to this concept soul is the invisible inner spiritual part, while body is the visible outer corporal part. Though there is some truth to this, it is nevertheless inaccurate. Such an opinion comes from fallen man, not from God; apart from God's revelation, no concept is dependable. That the body is man's outward sheath is undoubtedly correct, but the Bible never confuses spirit and soul as though they are the same. Not only are they different in terms; their very natures differ from each other. The Word of God does not divide man into the two parts of soul and body. It treats man, rather, as tripartite - spirit, soul and body. I Thessalonians 5.23 reads: "May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This verse precisely shows that the whole Man is divided into three parts. The Apostle Paul refers here to the complete sanctification of believers, "sanctify you wholly." According to the Apostle, how is a person wholly sanctified? By his spirit, and soul, and body being kept. From this we can easily understand that the whole person comprises these three parts. This verse also makes a distinction between spirit and soul; otherwise, Paul would have said simply "your soul." Since God has distinguished the human spirit from the human soul, we conclude that man is composed of not two, but three, parts: spirit, soul and body. Is it a matter of any consequence to divide spirit and soul? It is an issue of supreme importance for it affects tremendously the spiritual life of a believer. How can a believer understand spiritual life if he does not know what is the extent of the realm of the spirit? Without such understanding how can he grow spiritually? To fail to distinguish between spirit and soul is fatal to spiritual maturity. Christians often account what is soulical as spiritual, and thus they remain in a soulish state and seek not what is really spiritual. How can we escape loss if we confuse what God has divided? Spiritual knowledge is very important to spiritual life. Let us add, however, that it is equally as, if not more, important for a believer to be humble and willing to accept the teaching of the Holy Spirit. If so, the Holy Spirit will grant him the experience of the dividing of spirit and soul, although he may not have too much knowledge concerning this truth. On the one hand, the most ignorant believer, without the slightest idea of the division of spirit and soul, may yet experience such a dividing in real life. On the other hand, the most informed believer, completely conversant with the truth concerning spirit and soul, may nonetheless have no experience of it. Far better is that person who may have both the knowledge and the experience. The


majority, however, lack such experience. Consequently, it is well initially to lead these to know the different functions of spirit and soul and then to encourage them to seek what is spiritual. Other portions of the Scriptures make this same differentiation between spirit and soul. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4.12). The writer in this verse divides man's non-corporal elements into two parts, 11 soul and spirit." The corporal part is mentioned here as including the joints and marrow organs of motion and sensation. When the priest uses the sword to cut and completely dissect the sacrifice, nothing inside can be hidden. Even joint and marrow are separated. In like manner the Lord Jesus uses the Word of God on His people to separate thoroughly, to pierce even to the division of the spiritual, the soulical, and the physical. And from this it follows that since soul and spirit can be divided, they must be different in nature. It is thus evident here that man is a composite of three parts. THE CREATION OF MAN "And Jehovah God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen.2.7 ASV). When God first created man He formed him of dust from the ground, and then breathed "the breath of life" into his nostrils. As soon as the breath of life, which became man's spirit, came into contact with man's body, the soul was produced. Hence the soul is the combination of man's body and spirit. The Scriptures therefore call man "a living soul." The breath of life became man's spirit; that is, the principle of life within him. The Lord Jesus tells us "it is the spirit that gives life" (John 6.63). This breath of life comes from the Lord of Creation. However, we must not confuse man's spirit with God's Holy Spirit. The latter differs from our human spirit. Romans 8.16 demonstrate their difference by declaring that "it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God." The original of the word "life" in "breath of life" is chay and is in the plural. This may refer to the fact that the inbreathing of God produced a twofold life, soulical and spiritual. When the inbreathing of God entered man's body it became the spirit of man; but when the spirit reacted with the body the soul was produced. This explains the source of our spiritual and soulical lives. We must recognize, though, that this spirit is not God's Own life, for "the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man, neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God's Own life as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of "eternal life." "Formed man of dust from the ground" refers to man's body; "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" refers to man's spirit as it came from God; and "Man became a living soul" refers to man's soul when the body was quickened by the spirit and brought into being a living and self-conscious man. A complete man is a trinity; the composite of spirit, soul and body. According to Genesis 2.7, man was made up of only two independent elements, the corporeal and the spiritual; but when God placed the spirit within the casing of the earth, the soul was produced. The spirit of man touching the dead body produced the soul. The body apart from the spirit was dead, but with the spirit man was made alive. The organ thus animated was called the soul. "Man became a living soul" expresses not merely the fact that the combination of spirit and body produced the soul; it also suggests that spirit and body were completely merged in this soul. In other words, soul and body were combined with the spirit, and spirit and body were merged in the soul. Adam “in his unfallen state knew nothing of these ceaseless strivings of spirit and flesh which are matters of daily experience to us. There was a perfect blending of his three natures into one and the soul as the uniting medium became the cause of his individuality, of his existence as a distinct being." (Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages) Man was designated a living soul, for it was there that the spirit and body met and through which his individuality was known. Perhaps we may use an imperfect illustration: drop some dye into a cup of water. The dye and water will blend into a third substance called ink. In like manner the two independent elements of spirit and body combine to become living soul. (The analogy fails in that the soul produced by the combining of spirit and body becomes an independent, indissoluble element as much as the spirit and body.) God treated man's soul as something unique. As the angels were created as spirits, so man was created predominantly as a living soul. Man not only had a body, a body with the breath of life; he became a living soul as well. Thus we find later in the Scriptures that God often referred to men as "souls." Why? Because what the man is depends on how his soul is. His soul represents him and expresses his individuality. It is the organ of man's free will, the organ in which spirit and body are completely merged. If man's soul wills to obey God, it will allow the spirit to rule over the man as ordered by God. The soul, if it chooses, also can


suppress the spirit and take some other delight as lord of the man. This trinity of spirit, soul and body may be partially illustrated by a light bulb. Within the bulb, which can represent the total man, there are electricity, light and wire. The spirit is like the electricity, the soul the light, and body the wire. Electricity is the cause of the light while light is the effect of electricity. Wire is the material substance for carrying the electricity as well as for manifesting the light. The combination of spirit and body produces soul, that which is unique to man. As electricity, carried by the wire, is expressed in light, so spirit acts upon the soul and the soul, in turn, expresses itself through the body. However, we must remember well that whereas the soul is the meeting-point of the elements of our being in this present life, the spirit will be the ruling power in our resurrection state. (Comment: To be “spiritual” means that the Spirit is now the ruling power). For the Bible tells us that "it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body" (ICor.15.44). Yet here is a vital point: we who have been joined to the resurrected Lord can even now have our spirit rule over the whole being. We are not united to the first Adam who was made a living soul but to the last Adam Who is a life-giving spirit (v.45). RESPECTIVE FUNCTIONS OF SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY It is through the corporal body that man comes into contact with the material world. Hence we may label the body as that part which gives us world-consciousness. The soul comprises the intellect which aids us in the present state of existence and the emotions which proceed from the senses. Since the soul belongs to man's own self and reveals his personality, it is termed the part of self-consciousness. The spirit is that part by which we commune with God and by which alone we are able to apprehend and worship Him. Because it tells us of our relationship with God, the spirit is called the element of God-consciousness. God dwells in the spirit, self dwells in the soul, while senses dwell in the body. (Comment: The Spirit utilizes and functions in co-ordination with the heart/personality, because in worship we love God and we feel deep emotions and exercise our will and our minds when we pray. Perhaps the higher forms of worship do not employ these faculties of the heart, but I doubt it. In worship the spirit utilizes the soul as its vehicle of expression. The opposite scenario would be the soul employing the body for carnal purposes which would be quite different) As we have mentioned already, the soul is the meeting point of spirit and body, for there they are merged. By his spirit man holds intercourse with the spiritual world and with the Spirit of God, both receiving and expressing the power and life of the spiritual realm. Through his body man is in contact with the outside sensuous world, affecting it and being affected by it. (Comment: this does not have to be sinful contact, Nee is talking about functioning as a person). The soul stands between these two worlds, yet belongs to both. It is linked with the spiritual world through the spirit and with the material world through the body. It also possesses the power of free will, hence is able to choose from among its environments. The spirit cannot act directly upon the body. It needs a medium, and that medium is the soul produced by the touching of the spirit with the body. The soul therefore stands between the spirit and the body, binding these two together. The spirit can subdue the body through the medium of the soul, so that it will obey God; likewise the body through the soul can draw the spirit into loving the world. Of these three elements the spirit is the noblest for it joins with God. The body is the lowest for it contacts with matter. (Comment: This is Platonic dualism, making a strong distinction between the natural and the spiritual realm. God sanctifies: spirit, soul and body! Jesus has sanctified our humanity by living sinlessly).The soul lying between them joins the two together and also takes their character to be its own. The soul makes it possible for the spirit and the body to communicate and to cooperate. The work of the soul is to keep these two in their proper order so that they may not lose their right relationship - namely, that the lowest, the body, may be subjected to the spirit, and that the highest, the spirit, may govern the body through the soul. Man's prime factor is definitely the soul. It looks to the spirit to give what the latter has received from the Holy Spirit in order that the soul, after it has been perfected, may transmit what it has obtained to the body; then the body too may share in the perfection of the Holy Spirit and so become a spiritual body. (Comment: This teaching if not understood correctly can lead to a false spirituality; it is too theoretic and too tidy). The spirit is the noblest part of man and occupies the innermost area of his being. The body is the lowest and takes the outermost place. Between these two dwells the soul, serving as their medium. The body is the outer shelter of the soul, while the soul is the outer sheath of the spirit. The spirit transmits its thought to the soul and the soul exercises the body to obey the spirit's order. This is the meaning of the soul as the medium. Before the fall of man the spirit controlled the whole being through the soul. (Thus man is termed a “living soul”).


The power of the soul is most substantial, since the spirit and the body are merged there and make it the site of man's personality and influence. Before man committed sin the power of the soul was completely under the dominion of the spirit, its strength was therefore the spirit's strength. The spirit cannot itself act upon the body; it can only do so through the medium of the soul. This we can see in Luke 1.46-47: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Darby). "Here the change in tense shows that the spirit first conceived joy in God, and then, communicating with the soul, caused it to give expression to the feeling by means of the bodily organ." (Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages) To repeat, the soul is the site of personality. The will, intellect and emotions of man are there. As the spirit is used to communicate with the spiritual world and the body with the natural world, so the soul stands between and exercises its power to discern and decide whether the spiritual or the natural world should reign. Sometimes too the soul itself takes control over man through its intellect, thus creating an ideational world which reigns. In order for the spirit to govern, the soul must give its consent; otherwise the spirit is helpless to regulate the soul and the body. But this decision is up to the soul, for therein resides the personality of the man. Actually the soul is the pivot of the entire being, because man's volition belongs to it. It is only when the soul is willing to assume a humble position that the spirit can ever manage the whole man. If the soul rebels against taking such a position the spirit will be powerless to rule. This explains the meaning of the free will of man. Man is not an automaton that turns according to God's will. Rather, man has full sovereign power to decide for himself. He possesses the organ of his own volition and can choose either to follow God's will or to resist Him and follow Satan's will instead. God desires that the spirit, being the noblest part of man, should control the whole being. Yet, the will - the crucial part of individuality - belongs to the soul. It is the will which determines whether the spirit, the body, or even itself is to rule. In view of the fact that the soul possesses such power and is the organ of man's individuality, the Bible calls man a living soul." THE HOLY TEMPLE AND MAN "Do you not know," writes the Apostle Paul, "that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1Cor.3.16) He has received revelation in likening man to the temple. As God formerly dwelt in the temple, so the Holy Spirit indwells man today. By comparing him to the temple we can see how the tripartite elements of man are distinctly manifested. (Comment: Nee is employing the typology of the tabernacle to teach spiritual truth). We know the temple is divided into three parts. The first is the outer court which is seen by all and visited by all. All external worship is offered here. Going further in is the Holy Place, into which only the priests can enter and where they present oil, incense and bread to God. They are quite near to God-yet not the nearest, for they are still outside the veil and therefore unable to stand before His very presence. God dwells deepest within, in the Holy of Holies, where darkness is overshadowed by brilliant light and into which no man can enter. Though the high priest does enter in once annually, it nonetheless indicates that before the veil is rent there can be no man in the Holy of Holies. Man is God's temple also, and he too has three parts. The body is like the outer court, occupying an external position with its -life visible to all. Here man ought to obey every commandment of God. Here God's Son serves as a substitute and dies for mankind. Inside is man's soul which constitutes the inner life of man and which embraces man's emotion, volition and mind. Such is the Holy Place of a regenerated person, for his love, will and thought are fully enlightened that he may serve God even as the priest of old did. Innermost, behind the veil, lies the Holy of Holies into which no human light has ever penetrated and no naked eye has ever pierced. It is "the secret place of the Most High," the dwelling place of God. It cannot be reached by man unless God is willing to rend the veil. It is man's spirit. This spirit lies beyond man's selfconsciousness and above his sensibility. Here man unites and communes with God. No light is provided for the Holy of Holies because God dwells, there. There is light in the Holy Place supplied by the lamp stand of seven branches. The outer court stands under the broad daylight. All these serve as images and shadows to a regenerated person. His spirit is like the Holy of Holies indwelt by God, where everything is carried on by faith, beyond the sight, sense or understanding of the believing


1. The soul resembles the Holy Place for it is amply enlightened with many rational thoughts and precepts, much knowledge and understanding concerning the things in the ideational and material world. The body is comparable to the outer court, clearly visible to all. The body's actions may be seen by everyone. The ORDER which God presents to us is unmistakable: your spirit and soul and body" (IThess.5.23). It is not soul and spirit and body," nor is it "body and soul and spirit." The spirit is the pre-eminent part, hence it is mentioned first; the body is the lowest and therefore is last mentioned; the soul stands between, so is mentioned between. Having now seen God's order, we can appreciate the wisdom of the Bible in likening man to a temple. We can recognize the perfect harmony which exists between the temple and man in respect to both order and value. Temple service moves according to the revelation in the Holy of Holies. All activities in the Holy Place and in the outer court are regulated by the presence of God in the Holiest Place. This is the most sacred spot, the place upon which the four corners of the temple converge and rest. It may seem to us that nothing is done in the Holiest because it is pitch dark. All activities are in the Holy Place; even those activities of the outer court are controlled by the priests of the Holy Place. Yet all the activities of the Holy Place actually are directed by the revelation in the utter quietness and peace of the Holy of Holies. It is not difficult to perceive the spiritual application. The soul, the organ of our personality, is composed of mind, volition and emotion. It appears as though the soul is master of all actions, for the body follows its direction. Before the fall of man, however, the soul, in spite of its many activities, was governed by the spirit. And this is the order God still wants: first the spirit, then the soul, and lastly the body.

It is not at all easy to read this material from these three writers. Does it make sense to you? Do you wish to make a clear distinction between soul and spirit? Can you do it better than these writers? You will need to do this from a biblical perspective. If you have a copy of Gordon Fee God‟s Empowering Presence in the Library that would be a good place to start, (Fee is a foremost Pentecostal hermeneutical scholar). What does John mean when he says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”? (Rev.1:10). Could he have equally said, “I was in the soul”? I don’t think so! I also refer you to the Charismatic theologian, J .Rodman Williams, “Renewal Theology” p210-214. BIBLIOGRAPHY Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology (pp47-135) A.H. Strong Systematic Theology (pp111-242) J. Rodman Williams Renewal Theology (pp208-219) James D. G. Dunn The theology of PAUL the Apostle (51-78) Gordon Fee God‟s Empowering Presence (Ch.2. pp14-32) Donald Guthrie New Testament Theology (pp187) Classic Devotional Literature: Oswald Chambers Biblical Psychology; Andrew Murray The Spirit of Christ; see also works by Watchman Nee and Jessie Penn-Lewis Soul and Spirit Christian Literature Crusade, James Houston The Heart‟s Desire Lion, Oxford (1992) Colin Brown: Editor The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (4 volumes):”soul, spirit, body, heart.” Dictionary of Paul and his Letters IVP Leicester (1993)



Doctrine of Man  

Answers the question "What is man?" A discussionof the Biblical definition of man - tripartite or dichotomous?

Doctrine of Man  

Answers the question "What is man?" A discussionof the Biblical definition of man - tripartite or dichotomous?