Humans Are Physical and Spiritual Beings

Kevin Zuber
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The Bible says humans are physical, or material:

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28

The Bible says humans are spiritual, or immaterial:

“At night my soul longs for You,
Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” – Isaiah 26:9

“And Mary said:
‘My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’” – Luke 1:46-47

“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.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23

“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.” – Hebrews 4:12

Some theologians see a distinction between the spirit (Hebrew, rûacḥ; Greek, pneuma) and the soul (Hebrew, nepheš [lit. “life”]; Greek, psyche) and suggest that this indicates the two facets of man’s immaterial being. Man’s material being, his body [Greek, sōma], would constitute a third facet making man a tri-partite being (trichotomy). However, the term soul is used often to refer to the whole person (see Acts 2:41) as well as to man’s immaterial being (see Matt. 10:28), while the term spirit is used only for the immaterial being of man. It is therefore doubtful to suggest that the immaterial being man is made of two parts. However, man’s constitution is not simply two parts (dichotomy) because the Scriptures identify man’s immaterial being with a variety of terms beside “soul” and “spirit” such as “heart” (see Matt. 15:19–20; Rom. 10:9–10) and “mind” (see Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23). It seems better to affirm that man’s being is multifaceted in both his material and immaterial being.

For Further Reading:

The Essential Scriptures

by Kevin Zuber

Which Bible verses support that doctrine? All good theology is grounded in the Word of God. Yet sometimes it’s hard to keep track of...

book cover for The Essential Scriptures