This body, soul, spirit thing ....as in whether we are two dimensional beings (dichotomy) or three dimensional beings (trichotomy) ....has been a controversy for quite a while. How come I didn't know that?
It goes way back. Way, way back. As far back as Plato who toyed around with theories about the "tripartite soul." And St Augustine who identified 3 Laws....Divine Law. Natural Law. Temporal Law. Or his 3 Characterizations of the "Soul"...Memory, Understanding, Will. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa, Luther, Oswald Chamber, T.Austin-Spark, Watchman Nee all came down on the trichotomy side of the debate. It is also one of the main "go to" beliefs in kingdom ministries.
Two verses in scripture came to mind when I stumbled across this subject this morning.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:12 -
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Sometimes the translators will use the same English word to translate different Greek or Hebrew words. Or visa versa. Sometimes they will use different English words for one word in the original language. Sometimes this accurately conveys the meaning….other times….not so much.
The Scofield Study Bible says this about the distinction:
Man a trinity. That the human soul and spirit are not identical is proved by the facts that they are divisible.
…the distinction between spirit and soul may be traced. Briefly,that distinction is that the spirit is that part of man which "knows" 1 Corinthians 2:11 his mind; the soul is the seat of the affections, desires, and so of the emotions, and of the active will, the self.
“Because man is ‘spirit’ he is capable of God-consciousness, and of communication with God (Job 32:8; Psa. 18:28; Prov. 20:27);
because he is ‘soul’ he has self-consciousness (Psa. 13:2; 42:5, 6, 11);
because he is ‘body’ he has, through his senses, world-consciousness” (The Scofield Study Bible, page 1270.
So....man, a triune being, has the potential to bridge the gap between the two realms, the physical and the spiritual. He is linked to the visible realm....the earth....the material world with his body and he is linked to the spiritual, "other worldly" realm, beyond the veil…. by his spirit. The soul is sort of the swing vote. I can submit to be ruled by the spiritual man and be "seated with Christ in heavenly places"....or allow the carnal man to "be the boss of me." (My friend “Kansas Bob” wrote a post a while back that talks about how we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit to accomplish this)
I found the following quote in an article called "Discovering Your Identity." Disclaimer...there are parts of the article that I don't agree with....like the spiritual warfare kind of view about "the enemy"....and there is a rather blatant altar call toward the end of the article....but he has a really interesting way of explaining the body, soul, spirit concept.
With the union of man's body and spirit, he became "a living soul." The soul is that aspect of man's being that, like a photographer's dark room, develops the impressions of the external world around him, which have been gathered by his physical senses, into distinct expressions of thought, emotions, and desire.
1. Man's spirit is the seat of his God-consciousness - where God dwelt!
2. Man's soul is the seat of his self-consciousness - where self dwelt.
3. Man's body is the seat of his world-consciousness - where his senses dwelt.
Makes sense to me…….