Man - A Tri-Partite Being
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 2. We will begin our study with verse 4 because that is where chapter 2 actually begins. We have mentioned to you at other times that the chapter divisions of the Bible are not always where they might be for the subject matter. I personally am very grateful for the effort that went into dividing the Bible into chapters and verses. In the original Hebrew and in the original Greek, there were no chapters and no verses, and a number of scholars went to monumental effort to divide the Bible so that we might be able properly to locate things.

But the fact remains that they did not always make the chapter divisions according to subject matter. Theologians have a little joke they tell among themselves, and you hear it often in seminaries and colleges. It is that one of the bishops who did a good bit of the dividing of the Word of God into chapters and verses did his work on horseback, and every time his horse missed a step, he put a new chapter mark down when he did not really mean to.

A New Section of Genesis

It really is not a great big thing to be concerned about, one way or the other, but as far as actual divisions are concerned, chapter 2 of the book of Genesis should begin with verse 4. This is the key verse of this section, and it contains the key phrase for the divisions of the book.

Genesis 2:

4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

When we first considered the book of Genesis together, we called your attention to the phrase, “these are the generations.” We said that every time you find that phrase, you find a new section of the book. Since we are beginning a study of the first portion of the book other than the introduction, I suggest that we go hurriedly through this portion of the book and notice the divisions.

The Third Section of Genesis

Turn with me to chapter 5:

Genesis 5:

1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

In chapter 2, we are told that we will have discussed for us the beginning of creation with special reference to man. In chapter 5, we find a new portion beginning, and we are told that we will have a discussion of the beginnings of Adam and his descendants.

The Fourth Section of Genesis

Then turn to chapter 6, verse 9:

Genesis 6:

9These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

From verse 1 of chapter 5 to verse 9 of chapter 6, we have one division. Then begins another division which carries through the rest of chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Other Sections in Genesis

In chapter 10, verse 1, we have the phrase again:

Genesis 10:

1Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

In chapter 11, verse 10, we find the phrase again, indicating another division:

Genesis 11:

10These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

This is an important division of the book, because here we are introduced to the founding of the Jewish nation, the descendants of Shem.

Then notice chapter 11, verse 27:

Genesis 11:

27Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat lot.

This introduces a rather long division of the book. There is a discussion of Abraham's life and the life of his family until verse 12 of chapter 25:

Genesis 25:

12Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

You will remember Ishmael was someone whom God did not intend to come on the scene. He was the result of human flesh and human effort. A portion of the book of Genesis is devoted to him, but it is a very brief portion. Then look at verse 19:

Genesis 25:

19And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

We have a much longer portion related to Isaac. It goes completely through chapter 35. Then notice chapter 36, verse 1:

Genesis 36:

1Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

The story of Esau is told because Esau and Esau's descendants played a very important part in the life of the nation of Israel.

In chapter 37, verse 2, we find the he-man in the story, as Isaac had been the he-man in earlier years:

Genesis 37:

2These are the generations of Jacob…

This is a long section, and it is the last division of the book. From chapter 37 to the end, Jacob and his descendants are presented to us.

A Review of the Facts in Genesis 2

I would like for you to read chapter 2 with me, that we may have the facts in our minds, and then we will go back and think about it together:

Genesis 2:

4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Let us notice what we do have in this chapter. In verses 4 through 7, we have presented to us the origin and the nature of man. In verses 8 through 14, we have the environment in which man was placed. In verses 15 through 16, we have man placed on probation. In the remaining portion of the chapter, we have the story of man's companion, or man's counterpart.

Creation of Plants-Not Evolution

You will notice in verse 4 the phrase, “these are the generations of the heavans and of the earth.” That phrase is never a subscription in the Scriptures. It is a superscription. It is an introduction of what is to follow. In chapter 1, we had what we might call the highlights of the creation . In chapter 2, we have the details of the story. That is important if we are to understand verse 5:

Genesis 2:

5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

The only way we can understand that verse is to go back and combine verses 4 and 5, reading them this way: “These are the beginnings of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, and the beginnings of every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew.”

The reason we are emphasizing that is that the plants and vegetation, etc. were not the result, as people would have you believe, of a certain period of evolution. They were the result of a creative act of God. God created the earth, and He created the plants. God was the gardener. He planted them in the ground, and from the original plants which God placed there, we have the vegetation we have today.

We are all familiar with cultivated plants and hothouse plants, and we are aware that if left to themselves, they will revert to the original plants that God planted. Man may change the appearance, the size, the shape, the form, but left to themselves, plants will revert to what God put in the earth originally.

It is emphasized here that rain did not come upon the earth. The earth was watered by the mist until the Flood, in order that God might be recognized as the Creator of all the plant and animal kingdom.

Creation of Man, Not Evolution

In verse 7, we have the verse we want to discuss, and the crown of all God's creations:

Genesis 2:

7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Will you go back to chapter 1, please, and notice verse 26, where we have an announcement of this creation. In Genesis 1, we have the announcement, and in Genesis 2 the details:

Genesis 1:

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

These two verses tell us simply that God created man, and that is all. They do not tell us how God created him. If we did not have the verse in Genesis 2, we might fall into the error of the evolutionist authorities and say, “Well, of course, God was the primeval cause. He was the primary reason. But God created man a little piece of protoplasm, and through successive centuries, man has developed into what he is today.”

We go to chapter 2 for the details:

Genesis 2:

7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

This verse reveals two things to us. One of them is the word formed , which is a translation of the Hebrew word which describes making something in perfect mold and in perfect pattern. There is no indication at all in the original text that God made anybody like the Neanderthal man or some other awful ape-like creature. God molded man in exactly the way he should have been molded, perfect in every way. That is all involved in the one little word formed . It is not apparent in the English translation, but it is in the original text.

A Three Part Man

The other thing that we get from this verse is that God created man a tripartite being—body, soul, and spirit. Notice very carefully what I am saying. Distinction is always made between the body and the inner man. For example, Paul said that our outward man perisheth, but our inner man is renewed day by day (II Corinthians 4:16).

The inner man is composed of both the soul and the spirit. That is the immaterial man—the soul and the spirit. Though man is recognized as a tripartite being, distinction is not always made between the soul and the spirit. Quite often the two words are used interchangeably.

I think these brief statements will become the clearer if we examine a few passages of Scripture. Will you turn, please, to I Thessalonians 5, and notice a prayer the Apostle Paul made for all believers. This is a tremendous prayer, and we accept it by faith because the Word of God declares it:

I Thessalonians 5:

23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a definite statement that we are a tripartite being—body, soul, and spirit. The tremendous thing about this verse is that Paul is saying, “My prayer is that your whole body, soul, and spirit will be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” They will be, because the Word of God declares they will be. The verse is tremendous from a number of standpoints.

For example, the Bible teaches us that when we die, the spirit goes to God who gave it, and here the spirit and the soul are spoken of as one. The spirit goes to God who gave it, and the body returns to dust. Yet Paul is saying here, “I am praying that your whole body and soul and spirit will be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

They certainly will be, because the Bible very plainly tells us that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His Church, these bodies of ours which have returned to dust will be resurrected. In the process of resurrection, they will be changed and made like unto the glorious body of the Lord Jesus Christ, blameless, without any fault, without any blemish whatsoever (Phil. 3:21). I say that is a tremendous truth. We believe it because the Bible declares it, but our finite minds may not be able to comprehend it as quickly as we can some other truths.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 4, and notice that here again a distinction is made between body, soul, and spirit:

Hebrews 4:

12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

We will not discuss this verse from an expository standpoint. The only reason we read it is that you may see again that there are the soul, the spirit, and the bones and marrow constituting the body. Once again, man is a tri-partite being.

Soul and Spirit

What I would like for you to recognize—I personally am not able to explain it—is that soul and spirit are used interchangeably to speak of the inner man. What I am saying is this: Man has a soul, and man has a spirit, because the Bible says he does. But the Bible does not always speak of the soul and the spirit as separate. Many times it speaks of them interchangeably or together. If you will look with me at a few verses of Scripture along this line, I think you will be able to see that. In the Gospel of John 12:27, we have a word of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning His soul and His spirit:

John 12:

27Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was speaking about the Cross which He was approaching. You will notice that He said, “Now is my soul troubled.” Then turn, please, to John 13:21:

John 13:

21When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

One time He said His soul was troubled, and another time John said His spirit was troubled.

Turn, please, to Matthew 20:28:

Matthew 20:

28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Will you notice the word life . Keep in mind that here in Matthew 20 the Lord said He came to give his life a ransom for many—His soul. And then in Matthew 27:50:

Matthew 27:

50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [or yielded up the spirit].

So here again are the soul and spirit used interchangeably in the Word of God.

Will you turn, please, to Hebrews 12:22:

Hebrews 12:

22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, [notice this phrase]and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Here the inner man of a human being is referred to as a spirit in the presence of God. Now will you turn to Revelation 6:9:

Revelation 6:

9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

In this passage, those who are in the presence of God are referred to not as spirits, but as souls. This should help you to see that the two words soul and spirit are used interchangeably in the Word.

You may be asking, “What difference does all this make?” The difference it makes is that if you are aware of this fact, you will not be led off into error, straining at gnats when there are no gnats there, and swallowing camels which you ought not to swallow because the Bible does not make the careful distinction between the soul and the spirit that many of the false cults of our day make. Keep in mind that the two words are used interchangeably.

Why Have A Tri-partite Man?

Why did God create man a tri-partite being? What is the purpose of man's having a body, a soul, and a spirit? Perhaps if we can answer that question, the picture of man as a tri-partite being will be the clearer to us.

Let me say that God created man a soul, using that term very generally, that he might be self-conscious. He created man a spirit, that he might be God-conscious. He gave him a body, so that his soul and his spirit could become world-conscious. If we examine some Scripture along that line, I think you will understand the better what we are talking about. Will you turn with me, please, to I Corinthians 2:11:

I Corinthians 2:

11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Notice this verse:

I Corinthians 2:

14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Ability To Be Self Conscious

Notice the word natural . It is the adjective form of the Greek word which is translated “soul.” You could read this verse of Scripture: The soulish man—the natural man—receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.” A soulish man, then, is a man who understands things purely on a human level, and in no other way.

If you will look at verse 11, you will find that the words spirit and soul are used interchangeably:

I Corinthians 2:

11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?…

By means of a soul, man is made conscious of himself, for the soul is the seat of the emotions. That is why the natural man is so unpredictable. He is a soulish man, living purely at the prompting of his emotions. A Christian man, a man who is born again, need not (Notice what I said.) live at the prompting of his emotions, for he is a spiritual man, not a soulish man.

Ability To Be God Conscious

Will you turn with me, please, to Romans 8:14, and notice why God gave us a spirit:

Romans 8:

14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Notice this verse particularly:

Romans 8:

16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

If God had not made us a spirit, then we would not be conscious of God. It would be impossible for us to be conscious of God. It is possible for a person or even a creature to be subject to emotions and to feel, to feel love and to feel anger related to soulish inclination. But only man who has a spirit can be in contact with God, for it is that which responds to Him.

The Spiritual Image of God

One other word I would say about the creation of man, certainly not suggesting that we have exhausted everything that could be said about it. If you will, go back to Genesis l:26 and 27:

Genesis 1:

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;…

What does it mean for man to be created in the image of God? What does it mean for man to have the form of God? We can learn what it means by examining a few verses of Scripture, but let me tell you where we are going before we go so you will be able to follow.

The two terms which describe the complete man—soul and spirit—are used in reference to God. The term used to describe man in his body is never used in reference to God. The image of God that is presented to us in the Bible is God as a soul, God as a spirit. If we say that man was created in the image of God, we must recognize that it was not in the physical image of God because that would be another impossibility; rather, in the spiritual image of God, God being a soul and a spirit.

Turn with me, please, to Isaiah 42. This is God speaking:

Isaiah 42:

1Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Here God is spoken of as having a soul. Look at Jeremiah 9:9 for another illustration. There are many in the Word. God is speaking again:

Jeremiah 9:

9Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Summing all this up in regard to the creation of man, I would say that the inner man is created in the image of God, but not the outer man. The outer man is created in the image of man. The inner man is created in the image of God. The reason I mention this is that when we insist that God looks as some of us look, it gives a sorry picture of God. This gives rise to idolatry.

Let us look at Romans 1:18:

Romans 1:

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Notice these verses very carefully:

Romans 1:

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Notice:

Romans 1:

23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,…

If man were made in the image of God, then we would try to fashion a form or figure of God that looks like a man. That would give rise to idolatry. It is the desire on the part of man to have a God that is like him that causes him to make idols and images. There is no way to make an idol to represent the inner man. If the outer man were created in the image of God, then we would want to make an image of God that looks like that man. But it is not. The outer man is made in the image of man.


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