The Nature of man: Body, Spirit & Soul

I. Two different views of man's nature:

A. Carnalist/apostate view: Man is a monochotomous (single natured) being:

  1. "carnalist" groups all hold this view: Jw's, Adventists, Plain Truth/Armstrong, Christadelphians
  2. Carnalists are merely modern day Sadducees: Acts 23:6-9 notice that in regard to the three items mentioned, Paul sided with the Pharisees against the Sadducees.
  3. They teach man is composed wholly of matter and cannot exist or function apart from the body
  4. They define spirit and soul as breath, blood, energy, life force etc.
  1. They do not believe man has any existence or consciousness after death: No life after death!
  2. They believe Jesus ceased to exist for the three days he was dead

B. Biblical view: Man is a dichotomous (dual natured) being:

  1. Man is composed partly of matter (body) and partly of non-material soul and spirit.
  2. In a more technical sense man is trichotomous possessing body, soul and spirit: 1 Thess 5:23
  3. Soul and spirit can be divided: Heb 4:12 "Joints & marrow" are to the physical half of man what "soul & spirit" is the spiritual half of man
  4. Soul and spirit, although different in some way are used interchangeable in scripture: Lk 1:46-47

II. Arguments to prove the dichotomous (dual) nature of man:

A. Properly define the meaning of the word death:

  1. Carnalists define death as the cessation of all activity, awareness and consciousness
  2. It is never defined by lexicographers as annihilation, non-existence or unconsciousness but a separation. Death in the Bible is pictured as a separation between two things.
  1. Hell is described as the second (spiritual) death: Rev 20:14-15 Our first spiritual death was when we first sinned and were separated from God. We will be reuited with God again at the judgement. The wicked will be separated from God a second time for eternity in hell.
  2. Dead to sin joined to God: Rom 6:2,11; Gal 2:24
  3. Dead to the Law of Moses, joined to Law of Christ: Rom 7:4; Gal 2:19

B. The word soul is used in many different ways in the Bible

  1. Carnalists emphasize that man does not have a soul, rather man is a soul. Soul=physical life
  2. Carnalists quickly point out that both man and animals have "souls": Gen 1:30; Job 12:10
  3. How can a corpse of a man be called a "soul" according to their narrow definitions? Num 19:13
  4. Different meanings of soul:

C. The word spirit is used in many different ways in the Bible

  1. When Carnalists show you a verse to prove their definition of the word soul or spirit, their proof texts are usually interpreted correctly. Simply agree to their definition in that verse then turn to the many verses where none of their definitions fit.
  2. Carnalists teach that man's spirit is his breath or life force like electricity and is non-conscious
  3. Spirit means breath in Gen 2:7 & 2 Th 2:8, does it mean this every time it is used in the Bible?
  1. Spirit can refer to material things like wind-Jn 3:8
  1. Spirit can refer to the sum of all character qualities:
  1. Spirit can refer to intelligent conscious being apart from the physical body: Lk 24:39

D. "I think I saw a ghost!" (Jesus' disciples believed in spirits and He didn't correct them)

  1. Transfiguration had Elijah and Moses appear in spirit form: Mt 17:1-5
  2. Jesus appeared twice after resurrection and disciples thought He was a ghost Mk 6:47-51
  3. Jesus stood in disciples midst after raising & thought they were seeing a spirit Lk 24:36-39
  4. Sadducees deny angel & spirit but Paul & Pharisees accept them: Acts 23:6-9

E. Carnalists believe man is wholly physical and material yet the Bible says:

You're not getting older...but better!


Outward man

Inward man

2 Cor 4:16

Outward man decaying

Inward man renewed

Rom 7:22

The body

The inward man

Mt 26:41

Flesh weak

Spirit willing

3 Jn 2

Be in good health

just as your soul prospers

F. Carnalists believe man is monochotomous (single) natured yet the Bible says:

The body is the house or sheath of the soul




Mt 10:28

Man can kill the body

but not the soul

2 Pet 1:13-15

Lay aside my dwelling

after my departure

Dan 7:15

In the midst of its sheath

my spirit was distressed

Mt 27:52

Many bodies arose

of the saints

Lk 8:52-56

She immediately rose from dead

Her spirit returned

Ps 42:6

within me

My soul is in despair

Zech 12:1

within him

God forms the spirit of man

1 Cor 2:11

which is in him

the spirit of a man

Num 16:22

all flesh

The God of the spirits of

G. Carnalists reject any kind of life or consciousness apart from the body or after death, yet the Bible says:

Not the god of the dead...but of the living



Life after

Lk 16:19-31

Poor man died

was carried away by angels

Mt 17:1-5

Moses: 1500 BC & Elijah: 730 BC

Appeared to disciples 33 A.D.

1 Sam 28:1-20

Samuel died

Appeared to Saul soon after

1 Sam 28:19

Saul and two sons died

joined the presence of Samuel

Gen 25:17

Breathed his last, died

was gathered to his people

Eccl 12:7

Dust to earth

Spirit to God

Rev 6:9-11


Souls of dead Christians under altar

Lk 20:37-38

Jehovah is not the God of the dead

Abraham, Samuel, Moses & Lazarus live now

H. Carnalists deny that when Christians die they are immediately in presence of God, yet the Bible says

To be or not to be ... That is question


To be in body

To be with Lord

Phil 1:22

To abide in flesh

To die and be with Christ much better

2 Cor 5:6-8

To be home in body, absent Lord

To be absent from body and with Lord

2 Cor 12:3

Whether in body

or out of body

2 Tim 4:6


Time of departure has come

Acts 2:27-31

Flesh abide in hope

Soul not abandoned in Hades

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