Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Tripartite Man (Watchman Nee)
Biblical Support for the Tripartite Man
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Throughout both the Old and New Testament, the Scriptures reveal that man has been created with three basic parts: the body, the soul, and the spirit.
This trichotomous view of man is apparent even from the moment of man’s creation. In Genesis 2:7 “Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground.” With this act, God created man’s body. The verse continues, “And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” “Breath” is derived from the Hebrew word neshamah which, significantly, is translated “spirit” in Proverbs 20:27: “The spirit [neshamah] of man is the lamp of Jehovah.” We can thus infer, that God’s breathing into man the breath of life produced man’s spirit. Zechariah 12:1 corroborates the creation of man’s spirit by telling us that just as Jehovah stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth, He also formed the spirit of man within him. Genesis 2:7 concludes “And man became a living soul.” The soul (man’s intrinsic person) was the issue of the breath of God entering into the nostrils of the body of dust. The biblical record of the three-step creation of man clearly reveals him to be tripartite.
This trichotomous view of man is apparent even from the moment of man’s creation
The New Testament continues and expands on this revelation. First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here Paul enumerates man’s three distinct parts: “spirit and soul and body,” the repetition of the conjunction “and” serving to reinforce their distinctness. Furthermore, Hebrews 4:12 specifies “The word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow.” All three parts are once again articulated in this verse: the joints and marrow pertain to the body, and the soul is explicitly separate from the spirit. These Old and New Testament references exemplify the Bible’s consistent presentation of the tripartite man.