Do I have a soul - Part 5

SERMON TOPIC: Do I have a soul - Part 5

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 18 March 2018


Sermon synopsis: Christian theologians differ on how many components make up the human being.

- One part (Monism) – the view that humans are not composed of various components (i.e. body, soul), but rather as a radical unity.
- Two parts (Dichotomism) - the belief that humans are comprised of a material component (body) and a nonmaterial component (soul, or spirit).
- Three parts (Trichotomism) – holds that humans are comprised of three different elements: body, soul, spirit.
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(PART 5)

Christian theologians differ on how many components make up the human being.

One part (Monism) – the view that humans are not composed of various components (i.e. body, soul), but rather as a radical unity.

Two parts (Dichotomism) - the belief that humans are comprised of a material component (body) and a nonmaterial component (soul, or spirit).

Three parts (Trichotomism) – holds that humans are comprised of three different elements: body, soul, spirit.



Some believe that the human being is an indissoluble unity. This is known as holism or monism. The body and soul are not considered separate components of a person, but rather as two facets of a united whole.

Monism is the position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians and liberal theologians like the Anglican scholar J.A.T. Robinson (1919-83).

Monists correctly emphasize that the physical nature (flesh) of man is good because God created it. They also correctly assert that God’s ultimate desire is that his people be created anew as a unity (body + soul).

However they are mistaken that there can be no separation between the two natures at death!



Dualism is the traditional Christian view that the human being is made up of 2 components: material (body/ flesh) and spiritual (soul/ spirit). The soul or spirit departs from the body at death, and will be reunited with the body at the resurrection.

In fact the most common conception of the nature of man is that man has an immortal soul and/ or spirit within him that is conscious after death. This was the understanding of the Greek philosophers, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and remains the common belief in Islam, Eastern religions, animism, Gnosticism and various pagan religions.

Notable adherents: Augustine, John Calvin, Charles Hodge


Seventh-day Adventists teach “Soul Sleep” i.e. we have no consciousness when we die until the resurrection.

JW’s teach “soul annihilation.” i.e. when we die, the soul ceases to exist. At the future resurrection, the souls of the redeemed are recreated.

But when the Bible describes a dead person as being “asleep” (Luke 8:52; 1 Cor 15:6), it is not a reference to literal sleep. The word “sleep” is used because in God’s eyes, death is a temporary condition – like sleep – and the sleeper can be woken.


Scripture plainly teaches that the soul leaves the body at death. The Bible also teaches consciousness after death.

Paul speaks of existing away from his body.

2 Cor 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

If you don’t have a soul/ spirit, how can “you” be away (or absent) from your body? If there is no consciousness after death, how can you be at home with the Lord when your body is dead?


CLAIM BY MONISTS: This belief in Soul Sleep is traditionally accompanied by the belief that the unrighteous soul will cease to exist instead of suffering eternally (annihilationism).

Annihilationists claim that everlasting punishment is a concept not found in the OT, yet Daniel writes:

Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Jesus said the fire of hell is eternal (Matt 18:8, 25:41).

What need is there for an eternal fire if those thrown into it are exterminated immediately?



Some theologians argue that human beings are made up of three distinct components: body/ flesh, soul, and spirit. This is known as Trichotomism.


Notable adherents: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Watchman Nee, Bill Gothard, C.I. Scofield, Clarence Larkin.






(no single word)




basar and se'er






anima mea








cor meum


ruach, neshamah

pneuma, pnoe



Ru-ach https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h7307


https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h1320

Ne-phesh https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h5315

Soma (sommer) https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4983&t=KJV

Psyche (su-chay) https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5590

Pneuma https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4151

Sarx (sa-ruks) https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4561

Corpus (cor-puss)

Carne (car-nay) https:// word/ carne/

Spiritus (spi-ri-tuss) https:// word/ spiritus/

Dichotomists maintain that soul and spirit are synonymous terms while Trichotomists see these as 2 separate entities.

E.g. When Rachel dies, Gen 35:18 says “her soul was departing (for she died)”. Her death is attributed to departing of the soul from the body, but James says “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26).

Yet the above statements of Scripture would still both be true if soul and spirit are distinct and both leave the body at death. All the above verses disprove is Monism.


At times the terms “soul” and “spirit” seem to be used interchangeably.

“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” - John 12:27 (NASB)

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” - John 13:21 (NASB)

But we’ll see that there are passages where the two words are contrasted. In any event the above example does not prove a distinction between soul and spirit. When one part of our composite being is troubled, the entire person is affected. If our spirit is troubled, our soul is affected. Likewise if our body is sick, our soul may be depressed etc.


Trichotomists share much in common with dichotomists in that both camps agree that there is a material and immaterial part of man that separate at death and are united at the resurrection.

It is true that the term “soul” is sometimes used of man as a whole and at other times can simply refer to the eternal part of man as contrasted with the body (or flesh), which is mortal.

But at times the Bible refers to man consisting of body, soul and spirit.

1 Thess 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.


Dichotomists claim the verse above from Luke 1:46-47 shows that the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are interchangeable because the two are involved in the same kind of activity - which is worship of God.

Trichotomists argue that both spirit and mind (soul) are involved in worship. In fact the body can also be involved in worship (e.g. singing, raising your hands, kneeling down).


My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…

Paul distinctly differentiates between praying with the mind (soul) and praying with the spirit.

1 Cor 14:14-15 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

If soul is simply the equivalent of spirit, then what Paul says makes no sense – it would reduce the statement to, “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my spirit”.

Again the body can also be involved in prayer – if the words are verbalised.


One of the clearest Scriptures in favour of the Trichotomist view is the following.

Heb 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 (psyche) and spirit (pneuma), of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Thus the Word of God is said to highlight the conflict that sometimes exists between soul and spirit.





A major concern with the first two theories is that God has clearly revealed himself in 3 persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As man is created in the image of God (Gen 1:26), it makes sense that we too are triune beings.










Outer Court

Holy of Holies

Holy Place





We are called a temple of God and the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

John 2:21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

The Temple had 3 main parts with different functions.














The universe is made up of space. In this space exists matter/ energy. To describe the motion of the matter/ energy through space, we use the denotation of time.

Man’s threefold nature.

BODY: makes us conscious of the world (through the 5 senses)

SOUL: makes us conscious of self (Intellect, Will, Emotions, Memory)

SPIRIT: makes us conscious of God (Fellowship, Intuition, Faith, Conscience)


















The soul is the seat of personality and makes us conscious of self. It arbitrates between the flesh and spirit and chooses a course of action based on reason, memory, our emotions and our will.

MIND (Intellect, Reason)

Prov 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul (nephesh).

Naturally the brain (part of the body) is also part of the intellect as evidenced by the fact that brain damage or deterioration will impair the intellect. Dualists debate whether the brain is the seat of intelligence or if it is simply a tool used by the unconscious soul (similar to the way a computer CPU might use RAM or a hard drive).


Mario Beauregard is a Canadian cognitive neuroscientist who is affiliated with the University of Arizona’s psychology department. He is known for arguing that matter is not all that exists, writing that “Along with an increasing number of scientists, I believe vehemently that the materialist framework is not science.” For this reason, he contends that the mind and the brain are fundamentally separate entities. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Mario_Beauregard

Mario Beauregard



Lam 3:20 (NASB) Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me.

Just as intellect is also associated with the physical brain so there are areas of the brain (the hippocampus, the amygdala, the striatum, or the mammillary bodies) that appear to be involved in the storage and retrieval of memory.


But while the brain is also involved in the functions relegated to the soul, there is clearly an overlap or duplication. People retain intellect, emotion, will and memory when the soul leaves the body – as evidenced not only from Scripture, but by anecdotal accounts of NDE (Near Death Experience) experiences.

E.g. In a fairly typical example, an elderly woman had been blind since childhood. But during her NDE, she had regained her sight [although her eyes were defective] and was able to accurately describe the instruments and techniques used during the resuscitation of her body. She was able to tell her doctor who came in and out, what they said, what they wore, what they did, all of which was true. 1

1 experiences/ evidence03.html


Pam Reynolds Lowery from Atlanta, Georgia, was an American singer-songwriter. In 1991, at the age of 35, she stated that she had a near-death experience (NDE) during a brain operation performed by Robert F. Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Her experience is one of the most notable and widely documented in near-death studies because of the unusual circumstances under which it happened. Reynolds was under close medical monitoring during the entire operation. 1

1 http:// wiki/ Pam_Reynolds_case

Pam Reynolds (1956-2010) [Photo: Rick Diamond]


During part of the operation she had no brain-wave activity and no blood flowing in her brain, which rendered her clinically dead. She claimed to have made several observations during the procedure which later medical personnel reported to be accurate. 1

In an interview that took place for a BBC documentary in 2002, Spetlzer affirmed many of the observations that Pam had made and later admitted that he had no explanation for them. 2

1 Ibid 2 http:// wiki/ Robert_F._Spetzler

Robert F. Spetzler (1944-)


There are many other cases in NDE experiences when people recollect (i.e. memory is functional) seeing and hearing things despite the fact that their brain (besides their eyes and ears) are non-functional.

If the soul can do these things without the aid of the physical body one might ask what useful function the body serves.

The body enables physical interaction with the material world. While the soul has intellect and memory, it lacks the capability to engage with the natural world without the aid of the body, in particular the brain.

Some posit that the physical, material brain simply acts as an interface to the mind, which resides in the immaterial soul.


EMOTIONS (and desire)

Love and hate:

Song of Solomon 1:7 (NASB) “Tell me, O you whom my soul (nephesh) loves…”

Ps 107:18 (NASB) Their soul (nephesh) abhorred all kinds of food…


Isaiah 61:10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul (nephesh) rejoices in my God…

Ps 86:4 (NASB) Make glad the soul (nephesh) of Your servant…



1 Sam 30:6 (ESV) … because all the people were bitter in soul (nephesh)…


Judg 10:16 (KJV) … his soul (nephesh) was grieved for the misery of Israel…

Job 30:25 Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul (nephesh) grieved for the poor?

It also includes desire:

Ps 41:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul (nephesh) pants for you, my God.



Num 30:2 (KJV) If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul (nephesh) with a bond; he shall not break his word…

Job 7:5 (NASB) So that my soul (nephesh) would choose suffocation, Death rather than my pains.

1 Chron 22:19 (NASB) “Now set your heart and your soul (nephesh) to seek the LORD your God…”


The spirit is our “inmost being”.

Prov 20:27 (NASB) The spirit (neshamah) of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts (cheder) of his being.

Cheder (Strongs 2315): inner chamber, inner room, innermost, innermost parts

The spirit in man makes him conscious of God. It is the equivalent of the Holy of Holies in the analogy used between the tri-part man and the Temple.


https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h5397


https:// lang/ lexicon/ lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h2315


Watchman Nee expressed the importance of acknowledging that we have a spirit:

It is imperative that believers recognize a spirit exists within them, something extra to thought, knowledge, and imagination of the mind, something beyond affection, sensation and pleasure of the emotion, something additional to desire, decision and action of the will. This component is far more profound than these faculties. God’s people not only must know that they possess a spirit; they also must understand how this organ operates--its sensitivity, its work, its power, its laws. Only in this way can they walk according to their spirit and not the soul or body of their flesh. 1

1 Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man


FELLOWSHIP: The spirit is the part of man that “connects” with God.

Our spirit enables us to worship God.

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Communicate with God in unknown tongues.

1 Cor 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.

It enables us to have assurance of salvation.

Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children


INTUITION: Our spirit can know what our soul cannot. Our soul knows by reason or by circumstance, but our spirit can perceive without these. This is intuition or spiritual insight, the direct sense in our spirit. The spirit gives us wisdom.

Job 32:8 “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.”

1 Cor 2:14 says that “the things that come from the Spirit of God… are spiritually discerned”.


FAITH: Faith acts as our spiritual eyes. Just as our physical eyesight gives us evidence of the visible, material world, faith gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world.

2 Cor 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

Heb 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)


CONSCIENCE is a person’s moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one’s behaviour. It resides in the spirit of man.

Mal 2:15 (NASB) Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.

The spirit is aware of the thoughts and intents of the mind.

1 Cor 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?


And so the conscience expresses itself in the soul (mind) by thought.

Rom 2:15 … since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.


But since the Fall, man is spiritually dead i.e. the part of man that connects to God has died. God’s words in Eden, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17 NASB) – referred to spiritual death i.e. separation of man from God, when mankind was driven from God’s presence (Adam did not die physically when he sinned).


As we are dead spiritually because of sin, we have lost:

Fellowship: our relationship with God has been severed.

Ps 5:4 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome.

Intuition: we have lost our spiritual discernment.

1 Cor 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Cor 1:22-23 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles


Faith: We no longer have faith and rely only on what we can see with our physical eyes. This is why saving faith is a gift from God.

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

Conscience: Our consciences have been seared and we do not realise we are sinners. This is why God has to bring conviction of sin by his Holy Spirit.

John 16:8 (NASB) “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”


Through Christ the spirit is made alive through renewed relationship with God:

Rom 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. (NASB)

John 3:5-6 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”


There was a small plane that was about to crash. On-board were 4 people: the pilot, a scientist, a pastor and a student. But they discovered that there were only 3 parachutes.


The pilot took one of the parachutes saying to the others that it took years to become a pilot, so it was best he stayed alive.


The scientist took a parachute, explaining to the last two that as he was the smartest, he was worth more alive than they were.

That left the pastor and the student. The pastor knowing Christ and trusting that he would be with the Lord if he died, told the student that he should take the last parachute.

The student responded that there was no need; there were still 2 parachutes left, because the scientist had jumped with the student’s backpack!

The “smart” scientist jumped thinking he had a real parachute.


Have you ever thought you had the real thing, only to find out that it wasn’t real at all?

Maybe you had what you thought was a gold ring, but it kept tarnishing!

Maybe you bought an expensive watch, only to find out it was a fake.

You thought what you had was real, but then found out otherwise and you were probably disappointed.

Many people think they are alive and are living “good” lives. But the truth is that if you are not saved, you are not really living the abundant life God created for you to live. What you have is a fake. You are actually dead.


Although we were spiritually dead in sin, through what Christ has done - God has made a way for us to become spiritually alive.

Eph 2:1-5 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (