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The Human Spirit

Exegetical and Lexical


Word Studies

Spirit in the NT is pneuma, which is


translated as spirit, wind, or breath. It
is from the verb pneo, to breathe or
blow. There are at least nineteen cases
in the NT of the human spirit and over
100 of the Spirit of God. (See Dunn,
Theology of Paul, 76fn.)
1. Function of the human spirit
2.
1. “The spirit is the highest and
distinctive part of man….(It
is) that part whereby we are
receptive of the Holy Spirit
of God” (Alford, 3:1335).
2.
3. “Our spirit is a mirror
reflecting the attributes of
God and an eye created of a
kindred nature with the sun,
in order to look upon the sun
(Gregory of
Nyssa)” (Delitzsch, 197).
3. “Our spirit is a mirror
reflecting the attributes of
God and an eye created of a
kindred nature with the sun,
in order to look upon the sun
(Gregory of
Nyssa)” (Delitzsch, 197).
4.
5. The spirit denotes “man in so
far as he belongs to the
spiritual realm and interacts
with the spiritual realm.” It is
through the spirit that “God
most immediately encounters
him (and man) is most
immediately open and
responsive to God. (The spirit
is) “that area of human
awareness most sensitive to
matters of the spiritual
realm” (Dunn, DNTT, 693-4;
see also Dunn, The Christ
and the Spirit, 2:3).
6.
7. “The spirit is evidently that
dimension of the human
person by means of which the
person relates most directly
to God” (Dunn, Theo. of
Paul, 77).
8.
9. “The pneuma is that part of
man which was made in the
image of God (and is) the
to God” (Dunn, Theo. of
Paul, 77).
8.
9. “The pneuma is that part of
man which was made in the
image of God (and is) the
faculty of God-consciousness
which has been depraved by
the fall, and which is
dormant, though not quite
dead” (Heard, V).
10.
11. “The sphere of the Spirit's
operation is in the pneuma,
witnessing to our spirits that
we are sons of God”
12.
13.“The true presence-chamber
of God is the pneuma; there
He meets with man. We pass
through the outer court of the
senses and the inner court of
reason even to reach this
sanctuary where God makes
himself known” (Ibid., 102).
14.
15.“Reason or the psyche is
superior to the flesh, it is true;
but it is not the rightful
master within us—it is not
the lord of every motion
there, because it is not the
faculty which brings us into
superior to the flesh, it is true;
but it is not the rightful
master within us—it is not
the lord of every motion
there, because it is not the
faculty which brings us into
relationship with God, the
true Lord of our
being” (Ibid., 197).
16.
17.It “is the spirit by which
alone communication is
maintained with
God” (Lightfoot, Notes, 88).
18.
19.“A divine service in the spirit
is the opposite of a divine
service expressed in purely
material forms” (Moe, Paul,
119).
20.
21.“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” (Nee, Spiritual
Man, 1:26).
22.
God, the spirit is called the
element of God-
consciousness. God dwells in
the spirit” (Nee, Spiritual
Man, 1:26).
22.
23.“The spirit is the noblest part
of man and occupies the
innermost area of his
being….Before the fall of
man the spirit controlled the
whole being through the
soul” (Ibid., 1:27).
24.
25.It is the “spirit by which man
holds converse with the
unseen (and) affinity with
God” (Westcott, Hebrews,
117).
26.

3. Distinction between spirit and


soul
4.
1. “The NT seems to make a
clear and substantive
distinction between pneuma
(rûach) and psyche
(nepesh)” (Archer, TWOT,
2:837).
2.
3. In German, “Geist (spirit) has
distinction between pneuma
(rûach) and psyche
(nepesh)” (Archer, TWOT,
2:837).
2.
3. In German, “Geist (spirit) has
the signification of a stronger,
and Seele (soul) the
signification of a weaker,
moving principle; and when
we speak of the breath of life,
the spirit of life, we never say
the soul of life” (Delitzsch,
96-97).
4.
5. The “spirit and soul are in
Scripture, actually
distinguished” (Ibid., 99).
6.
7. “The Scripture certainly
appropriates to the spirit and
to the soul distinct functions,
and often speaks of the two in
juxtaposition” (Ibid., 99).
8.
9. “Scripture speaks (of man) as
absolutely and undeniably
trichotomic, as 1Thess. 5:23
(and) Heb. 4:12” (Ibid., 103).
10.
11. “I certainly agree entirely
with the view that the spirit
and soul of man are
trichotomic, as 1Thess. 5:23
(and) Heb. 4:12” (Ibid., 103).
10.
11. “I certainly agree entirely
with the view that the spirit
and soul of man are
distinguished,…but not with
the view that spirit and soul
are substantially one and the
same ” (Ibid., 109).
12.
13.“The essential condition of
man subsisted in three
concentric circles. The
innermost was his spirit; the
inner, his soul; and the
external, his body” (Ibid.,
147-8).
14.
15.Luther says, “Scripture
divides man into three parts,
as says St. Paul (1Thess.
5:23)….The spirit is the
highest, noblest part of man,
wherewith he is fitted to
apprehend intangible,
invisible, eternal things; and
it is briefly the house within
which the faith and word of
God dwells” (Exposition of
the Magnificat of the Year
1521, quoted by Delitzsch,
460).
16.
it is briefly the house within
which the faith and word of
God dwells” (Exposition of
the Magnificat of the Year
1521, quoted by Delitzsch,
460).
16.
17.In distinction to Hellenistic
thought, “it is the pneuma
which is the highest (or
deepest) dimension of the
person rather than the nous
(mind)” (Dunn, Theo. of
Paul, 77).
18.
19.In the NT there is a
psychological division
(1Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12)
“which is exactly similar to
what we find running through
the whole OT” (Girdlestone,
Synonyms of OT, 55).
20.
21.“Very different is the idea
which Scripture gives of the
spirit from that which is to be
understood by the word soul.
God is not set forth in
Scripture as soul…but as a
spirit….God, and He alone,
has the faculty of
communicating His spirit or
life to His creatures” (Ibid.,
59-60).
Scripture as soul…but as a
spirit….God, and He alone,
has the faculty of
communicating His spirit or
life to His creatures” (Ibid.,
59-60).
22.
23.“The distinction between soul
and spirit…distinguishes
Christian psychology from
that of the (Greek) schools”
of philosophy (Heard, V).
24.
25.“The psychology of the
schools is radically different
from that of Scripture; yet to
this day divines treat the
distinction of soul and spirit
as if it were only a verbal
one, and speak of mortal
body and immortal soul in
phrases which are
unconsciously borrowed from
Plato rather than from St.
Paul” (Ibid., VI).
26.
27.“Those who fail to grasp the
distinction between pneuma
and psyche fail also to grasp
the deep meaning of the
personal indwelling of God
the Holy Spirit in the breast
of a regenerated
distinction between pneuma
and psyche fail also to grasp
the deep meaning of the
personal indwelling of God
the Holy Spirit in the breast
of a regenerated
believer….The pneuma, or
diviner part in man, is
occupied and possessed by
the Holy Spirit of
God” (Ibid., 103).
28.
29.“There is that in the pneuma
which we do not find in the
psyche, viz., that it is made
for God, and meant to enjoy
Him for ever and ever” (Ibid.,
105).
30.
31.“Since Christ was perfect
man, he took all three parts of
our nature, spirit, soul, and
body” (Ibid., 147).
32.
33.“One part in man is the image
of God, and that he can
become after his likeness in
every part. He is Godlike in
his spirit, and is to become
Godly in his spirit, soul, and
body….The end of his being
is to reflect or set forth God
in all parts of his nature;
every part. He is Godlike in
his spirit, and is to become
Godly in his spirit, soul, and
body….The end of his being
is to reflect or set forth God
in all parts of his nature;
whether he eats or drinks, or
whatever he does, he is able
to do all to the glory of God.
One part of his nature, the
spirit, proceeds from God,
but the whole man is of God,
and through Him and to
Him” (Ibid., 133).
34.
35.In 1Thess. 5:23, “a tripartite
division (of man) is
recognized, soma, psyche,
and pneuma” (Lightfoot,
Notes, 88).
36.
37.“Psyche and pneuma are
distinguished in Heb. 4:12
(see also Phil. 1:27)” (Ibid.,
88).
38.
39.“The words, (spirit and soul)
here are (not) to be treated as
a mere rhetorical expression.
The spirit…is the ruling
faculty in man and through
which he holds communion
with the unseen world” (Ibid.,
89).
here are (not) to be treated as
a mere rhetorical expression.
The spirit…is the ruling
faculty in man and through
which he holds communion
with the unseen world” (Ibid.,
89).
40.
41.Spirit and soul are not used
interchangeably. “The spirit
is placed in direct opposition
to both flesh and body—
something quite unthinkable
if one were talking about the
soul” (Moe, Paul, 119).
42.
43.“This verse (1Thess. 5:23)
makes a distinction between
spirit and soul….To fail to
distinguish between spirit and
soul is fatal to spiritual
maturity. Christians often
account what is soulical as
spiritual” (Nee, Spiritual
Man, 1:22).
44.
45.“A complete man is a trinity
—the composite of spirit,
soul, and body” (Ibid., 1:24).
46.
47.“The spirit cannot act directly
upon the body. It needs a
medium, and that medium is
—the composite of spirit,
soul, and body” (Ibid., 1:24).
46.
47.“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 (in creation)” (Ibid.,
1:26).
48.
49.“The separation here made
between pneuma and psyche
implies an express threefold
division of man into body,
soul, and an additional
divinely given
pneuma” (Schweizer, TDNT,
6:395).
50.
51.There is a “fashion of talking
about the soul, as though it
were the highest part of man,
(and the spirit) as though
there were only light shades
of distinction between
them” (Trench, Synonyms,
256).
52.

5. Divine and human spirit


6.
1. “Scripture distinguishes…a
52.

5. Divine and human spirit


6.
1. “Scripture distinguishes…a
human pneuma from the
pneuma of God or of Christ
(which) is shown by passages
such as Rom. 8:16, 2Cor. 7:1,
comp. 1Cor. 2:11, 5:3,
without a
contradiction” (Delitzsch,
398).
2.
3. Paul “teaches that it is only
by…opening the human spirit
to the divine Spirit that the
human being can be
whole” (Dunn, Theo. of Paul,
78).
4.
5. “Scripture…tells us of a
faculty—let us call it God-
consciousness—which is
dead or dormant in a great
degree since the fall, and
which it is the office and
work of the Holy Ghost first
to quicken, and then to direct,
sanctify, and govern. This
faculty, to which Scripture
gives the name of rûach or
pneuma, is altogether ignored
which it is the office and
work of the Holy Ghost first
to quicken, and then to direct,
sanctify, and govern. This
faculty, to which Scripture
gives the name of rûach or
pneuma, is altogether ignored
by Aristotle, and confounded
by Plato with the intellectual
nous” (Heard, 84-5).
6.
7. “The working of the divine
spirit on man begins right in
that human spirit which is
that element in man's nature
most closely akin to
God” (Moe, Paul, 118).
8.

7. Soulish and spiritual man


8.
1. “The difference between
spirit and soul is seen clearly
in Paul's contrast of the
spiritual (pneumatikos) with
the unspiritual (RSV) or
natural (psychikos, i.e.,
soulish) person (1Cor.
2:13-15). The first knows
God because that person has
received the Spirit of God,
not the spirit of the world, so
that he may understand the
things of God (vs. 12). The
2:13-15). The first knows
God because that person has
received the Spirit of God,
not the spirit of the world, so
that he may understand the
things of God (vs. 12). The
second knows only human
wisdom and is unable to
understand the spiritual truth
which must be 'spiritually
discerned'; to him the latter is
folly (vs. 14). The contrast is
especially sharp because Paul
recognizes no neutral ground
between them” (Osterhaven,
EDT, 1041).
2.
3. “The psyche is the center of
the personal being, the 'I' of
each individual. It is in each
man bound to the spirit,
man's higher part, and to the
body, man's lower part;
drawn upwards by the one,
downwards by the other. He
who gives himself up to the
lower appetites, is fleshly; he
who by communion of his
spirit with God's Spirit is
employed in the higher aims
of his being, is spiritual. He
who rests midway, thinking
only of self and self's
interests, whether animal or
spirit with God's Spirit is
employed in the higher aims
of his being, is spiritual. He
who rests midway, thinking
only of self and self's
interests, whether animal or
intellectual, is the psychikos,
the selfish man, the man in
whom the spirit is sunk and
degraded into subordination
to the subordinate
psyche” (Alford,
4:1776-1777).
4.
5. “The psychikos (soulish)
person is by definition one
who is unable to receive or
appreciate the things of the
pneuma ” (Dunn, Theo. of
Paul, 78).
6.
7. “So long as we are in the
outer court of the intellect,
we have no open vision, no
sense of His presence and
nearness. We are dealing
with notions about God, but
His own being we do not feel
(nor have a) sense of His
presence. Of this the
psychical man knows
nothing, he does not even
desire it” (Heard, 101).
8.
(nor have a) sense of His
presence. Of this the
psychical man knows
nothing, he does not even
desire it” (Heard, 101).
8.
9. “Psychikos is markedly
opposed to pneumatikos as
the natural to the spiritual in
1Cor. 2:14; 15:44-46. And
not in St. Paul only; compare
also James 3:15; Jude
19” (Lightfoot, Notes, 88).
10.
11. “In 1Cor. 2:13-15 the
pneumatikos is the man who
knows God's saving work by
virtue of the Spirit of God,
while the psychikos is blind
thereto” (Schweizer, TWNT,
6:436).
12.
13.“Psychikos (soulish) was
used as the highest in later
classical Greek literature
(Aristotle, Plutarch, etc.) and
constantly employed in
praise, as the noblest part of
man….That old philosophy
knew of nothing higher than
the soul of man; but
Revelation knows of the
Spirit of God, and of Him
praise, as the noblest part of
man….That old philosophy
knew of nothing higher than
the soul of man; but
Revelation knows of the
Spirit of God, and of Him
making his habitation with
men, and calling out an
answering spirit in them.
According to it the psyche, no
less than the sarx, belongs to
the lower region of man's
being (and) it is plain that
psychikos is not a word of
honor any more than
sarkikos….The psychikos of
Scripture is one for whom the
psyche is the highest motive
power of life and action; in
whom the pneuma, as the
organ of the divine Pneuma,
is suppressed, dormant, for
the time as good as
extinct….It may be said that
the sarkikos and the
psychikos alike, in the
language of Scripture, stand
in opposition to the
pneumatikos. Both epithets
ascribe to him of whom they
are predicated a ruling
principle antagonistic to the
pneuma.…When St. Paul
reminds the Ephesians how
they lived once, 'fulfilling the
ascribe to him of whom they
are predicated a ruling
principle antagonistic to the
pneuma.…When St. Paul
reminds the Ephesians how
they lived once, 'fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the
mind' (Ephesians 2:3), he
describes them first as
sarkikoi, and then as
psychikoi” (Trench,
Synonyms, 256-7).
14.
15.“There are sarkikoi in whom
the sarx is more the ruling
principle, as there are
psychikoi in whom the psyche
(is the ruling
principle)” (Ibid., 258).
16.

9. Soulish body and spiritual body


10.
“The soma psychikon (soulish
body) which the faithful now bear
about is contrasted with the glory
of the soma pneumatikon
(spiritual body) which they shall
bear (1Cor. 15:44-46)” (Trench,
Synonyms, 255).

11. Regeneration (new birth)


12.
(spiritual body) which they shall
bear (1Cor. 15:44-46)” (Trench,
Synonyms, 255).

11. Regeneration (new birth)


12.
1. “We are in our regenerate
nature mystically one with
the Lord—the seed of the
divine life in our spirits,
which cannot sin, being taken
from Christ, as Eve was taken
from the side of
Adam” (Heard, 169).
2.
3. “The new birth is the
quickening of that conscience
or pneuma by the Divine
Spirit, the Lord and giver of
life. The person and work of
the Holy Spirit is thus
evidenced by His indwelling
in our spirit. So that believers
have the witness that they are
born again—the spirit
witnessing with their spirits
that they are the sons of
God” (Ibid., 328).
4.

13.Scripture references
14.
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
God” (Ibid., 328).
4.

13.Scripture references
14.
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
2.
1. “ 'And the very God of
peace,' says the apostle,
'sanctify you
holotelais,'—Lat., vos
totos; German, as Luther
pithily translates,
'through and through,' so
that nothing in you
remains uninfluenced by
the sanctification;
—'and…may your spirit
and your soul and your
body be preserved
blameless at the coming
of our Lord Jesus
Christ!' ” (Delitzsch,
109).
2.
3. “Paul distinguishes three
essential elements of
man, to every one of
which the work of
sanctifying grace
extends” (Ibid., 110).
4.
5. Man's order is “body,
man, to every one of
which the work of
sanctifying grace
extends” (Ibid., 110).
4.
5. Man's order is “body,
soul, and spirit. But the
Most High…will not
leave His work till spirit,
soul, and body are all
redeemed” (Govett,
Thessalonians, 46).
6.
7. “Just as all courts of the
Jewish temple were
holy, and not only the
priest's court, or the
innermost court of all, in
which the Shekinah
immediately dwelt: so it
is with our body and our
soul. If sanctification is
entire, it must enter
everywhere. It must
sanctify man as a whole
by wholly occupying
every part” (Heard, 69).
8.
9. “The complete
sanctification of the
believer thus suggests
those parts of man's
nature that the Divine
Spirit is to enter and
9. “The complete
sanctification of the
believer thus suggests
those parts of man's
nature that the Divine
Spirit is to enter and
entirely (entierement)
inwardly sanctify by His
indwelling Power….If
sanctification, as the
work of God the Holy
Spirit, is to reach its
proper telos, or end, He
must first enter in and
occupy each several part
of man's nature, and then
sanctify that several part
thoroughly. This
passage…teaches us, in
the first place, that there
are three parts in man,
and not two only….It
also confirms those other
passages of Scripture
which speak of the
indwelling of the Holy
Ghost as not being
confined to the human
spirit, but extending as
well to the soul and
body” (Ibid., 68).
10.
11. Justin Martyr gave “the
comparison…that the
spirit, but extending as
well to the soul and
body” (Ibid., 68).
10.
11. Justin Martyr gave “the
comparison…that the
body is the house of the
soul, and the soul the
house of the
spirit” (Ibid., 58).
12.
13.First Thessalonians 5:23
points “to the actual
inward sanctification of
the Thessalonians 'in
their whole persons.'...It
will not do to regard the
three subjects (spirit,
soul, body) as of 'mere
rhetorical significance'…
(but a) view of the
constitution of
man” (Milligan, Epis. to
Thess., 78).
14.
15.“The Word of God does
not divide man into two
parts of soul and body. It
treats man, rather, as
tripartite—spirit, soul,
and body” (Nee,
Spiritual Man, 1:21).
16.
parts of soul and body. It
treats man, rather, as
tripartite—spirit, soul,
and body” (Nee,
Spiritual Man, 1:21).
16.
17.God's order is 'your
spirit and soul and body.'
In the OT “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….And
this is the order God still
wants: first the spirit,
then the soul, and lastly
the body” (Ibid., 1:30).
18.
19.Man is tripartite
according to 1Thess.
5:23, which gives Paul's
“analysis of man's
constitution…with the
fundamental division…
body, soul,
spirit” (Westcott,
Hebrews, 117).
20.

3. Hebrews 4:12
body, soul,
spirit” (Westcott,
Hebrews, 117).
20.

3. Hebrews 4:12
4.
1. Since “Paul
distinguishes three
essential elements of
man (1Thess. 5:23),…
how else in the Epistle to
the Hebrews (4:12),
could a dividing asunder
of the soul and spirit,
which God's word
effects in us, be spoken
of ? This passage,
together with 1Thess.
5:23, is valuable as the
special deposit of the
Pauline view of the
essential condition of
man” (Delitzsch, 110).
2.
3. “The writer attributes to
the word of God a
dividing efficacy…
which extends to the
entire spiritual,
psychical, and corporeal
condition of man” (Ibid.,
111).
4.
dividing efficacy…
which extends to the
entire spiritual,
psychical, and corporeal
condition of man” (Ibid.,
111).
4.
5. “The sword of the Spirit,
not only pierces through
to the spirit, it divides
between soul and spirit.
Here we come to the
important truth that the
trichotomy of man's
nature is only discovered
under the Spirit's
convincing
power” (Heard, 58-59).
6.
7. “The writer in this verse
divides man's non-
corporal elements into
two parts, 'soul and
spirit.'...Since soul and
spirit can be divided,
they must be different in
nature” (Nee, 1:23).
8.

5. 1 Corinthians 2:11
6.
“1Cor. 2:11, the apostle lays
down this principle, that man
needs a corresponding divine
5. 1 Corinthians 2:11
6.
“1Cor. 2:11, the apostle lays
down this principle, that man
needs a corresponding divine
faculty in order to understand
divine truth; that as the eye is
the organ for seeing and the
ear for hearing, so the
pneuma is the organ or
faculty by which we know
God” (Heard, 75).

7. 1 Corinthians 15:44-45
8.
1. Adam “was of the earth,
earthy, and hence his
name Adam. In his case
the soul, and not the
spirit, was the center of
his personality….He was
endowed with a living
soul, but not yet given
the quickening spirit as
the center of his
personality” (Heard, 78).
2.
3. “This pneumatical
nature, therefore, must
come by spiritual birth
from our spiritual head,
just as the psychical
2.
3. “This pneumatical
nature, therefore, must
come by spiritual birth
from our spiritual head,
just as the psychical
nature comes by natural
birth from our natural
head” (Ibid., 80).
4.

9. James 3:15
10.
“earthly wisdom, unlike that
which comes down from
above, has its seat in the
psychical nature only. As
there is nothing heavenly
about it, so it does not spring
from the pneuma, but only
from the soul, the seat of his
affections and
impulses….Satan, not the
Holy Spirit, is the inspirer of
this kind of wisdom; it is
devilish, not godlike” (Heard,
81).

11. Jude 19
12.
1. “These men have not
indeed ceased to have a
spirit, as a part of their
11. Jude 19
12.
1. “These men have not
indeed ceased to have a
spirit, as a part of their
own tripartite nature; but
they have ceased to
possess it in any worthy
sense; it is degraded
beneath and under the
power of the psyche, the
personal life, so as to
have no real vitality of
its own” (Alford,
4:1777).
2.
3. “Luther renders it
'Fleischliche die da
Keinen Geist haben.' But
the Berlenburgh Bible,
…renders it more
accurately still,
'Seelische die Keinen
Geist haben,' men, that
is, who act on psychic
principles only, because
they lack the
pneumatical
faculty” (Ibid., 82).
4.

13.2 Peter 1:4


14.
pneumatical
faculty” (Ibid., 82).
4.

13.2 Peter 1:4


14.
“become, through the God-
man, who thus communicates
to us of His essential fullness,
and makes us partakers of
His nature, and at the same
time partakers of the divine
nature, theias koinonoi
phuseos, 2Peter
1:4” (Delitzsch, 404).