And 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. (Genesis 2:7, KJV)
The term “soul” often confuses Christians. Despite its complexity, grasping the concept is vital for a spiritually-centered life.
Years ago, I initiated a comprehensive study of “soul,” still in progress. My comparison between Scripture and popular Christian views revealed striking discrepancies.
Genesis 2:7 is foundational for understanding human nature from a biblical perspective. This verse touches on three components: body, spirit, and soul. “God formed man of the dust of the ground” signifies the body. Notably, God calls the body “man.” He then infused the human spirit by breathing into man’s nostrils the breath of life. As a result, man becomes a living soul.
Two key insights emerge from this text. First, God created both body and spirit, not the soul. When body and spirit combine here on earth, the soul manifests. Second, man—the first Adam— is a living soul; he doesn’t merely “have” a soul, as some interpretations suggest. The soul is the living being or creature capable of thought, emotion, and free will. Through the body it engages with the physical world, and through the spirit, it relates with the spiritual realm. Thus, humanity is a complex blend of spirit, soul, and body. The concept becomes even more intriguing when considering the “new creature” in Christ, labeled a “quickening spirit” as opposed to the first Adam, who was “a living soul” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Many doctrinal and theological debates might find a resolution if Christians are taught how to proactively and effectively study Scripture themselves instead of solely leaning on Bible teachers(like me!), Bible scholars, or Pastors of Churches and denominations. For example, many of you probably have strong opinions about the soul and spirit, but how many have personally studied this subject in the Bible?
Gaining a nuanced understanding of the spirit, soul, and body can significantly deepen your grasp of the spiritual realm and God’s workings within you.
Contemplate the meaning of “becoming a living soul,” as explained above.
Apply the Word
I alluded to a transformative change at the new birth. How does “a living soul” differ from a “quickening spirit” according to 1 Corinthians 15:45? Challenge yourself and become an astute student of the Bible: study this verse systematically to understand what the scriptures say about these terms—do not listen to a sermon about it! Like commentaries, you can listen to sermons later.
Ask the Spirit of the Lord to give us an understanding of ourselves and how He functions in us.
- What is the Human Spirit?
- What is the Human Soul?
- The Difference Between the Spirit and the Soul
- Einstein’s E= mc2 Clarifies the Difference Between the Soul and the Spirit
- How the Human Spirit Manifests
- View All Deshen Daily Devotionals
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