Here and Hereafter



1 Thessalonians 5:23: “And 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.” Because the words “soul” and “spirit” are here used, the common reader, misled by the popular definitions given to these terms, is apt to take this text at once as recognition of such an immortal part of man as current theology pictures before us. But it will be noticed that here are two terms, each of which is, at different times, thrust forward as meaning the immortal part of man. In the face of this text, one or the other of these terms must now be surrendered as bearing that signification; for surely man has not two immortal parts. Here, then, it must be conceded that either the term, “spirit” does not signify an immaterial and immortal part of man, or that the term “soul” does not signify any such part. Now one term has just as much claim to be considered an immortal part of man as the other, and whichever one is surrendered as not signifying such part, it will be just as easy to disprove the claims of the other. Three terms here are applied to man, with the evident idea of giving enough to make it sure that man’s entire being is intended. This is apparent from the opening expression: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly,” etc.; and later the use of the word “whole,” conveys the same idea: “Your whole spirit and [whole] soul and [whole] body.” But it will be noticed that no wish is expressed in regard to any one part independently of the others. Paul does not say, May your spirit be preserved blameless, without the soul and body, or your soul without the spirit and body, or your body without the soul and spirit. But the prayer takes in all three together as an inseparable compound, the whole constituting the entire man. In the Bible description of man, there is no “line of cleavage” between these different parts. It takes them all to make the whole responsible being. HHMLD 122.2

If one feels that any exposition which does not locate these different parts, is unsatisfactory, it is very easy to make such location. The “body” is composed of matter — it is a quantity of material; the organization into a condition capable of being endowed with life, makes a “soul,” or an “organized being;” and the “spirit,” or “breath of life,” gives it vitality; and as the result an organized, living, rational being appears. The material of which man is composed, the organization and the life with which he is endowed, makes the whole being. The definitions of the terms as already shown, will fully bear out this application. It is a periphrasis, or expression drawn out in full, to describe the whole person. As such it is an unfortunate text for the popular view. HHMLD 123.1