THE HUMAN SPIRIT: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
I) THE HUMAN SPIRIT IS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE SOUL
A) [Compare Heb 4:12]:
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
B) [Compare 1 Thes 5:23]:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
[Notice that the soul and the spirit are not one and the same thing, together they constitute the immaterial part of man's being]
II) IN THE ORIGINAL CREATION OF MAN THE HUMAN SPIRIT WAS RECEIVED ALONG WITH THE HUMAN SOUL
A) [Compare Gen 2:7]:
"The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being "
"of life" = "caiyah" Strongs # 2416, alive, a living thing, creature, and from Strongs # 2421, to live, life, quicken, and from Strongs # 7307, "ruach", wind; by resemblance, breath, figuratively, life) Note that the Hebrew word here is used in the masculine sense, and is thus plural, i.e. the "breath of LIVES", the same breath common to every living creature.
So God breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of lives, (not life but lives - plural), i.e., giving man soul life for his contact with other people, ("man consciousness contact"); and giving man spirit life for "God consciousness contact".
III) TODAY A PERSON IS BORN PHYSICALLY WITH A DEAD SPIRIT
A) [Compare Jude 19]:
"Apostates not having the Spirit, ,i.e., they have a human spirit which is dead - not being made alive by God the Holy Spirit. They are therefore spiritually dead."
B) [I Cor 2:14]:
"The natural man, i.e., the unbeliever, who has a dead human spirit, is incapable of receiving the things of the Spirit of God - because they are spiritually discerned."
That is to say, the things of the Spirit of God are discerned by means of the spirit, (small 's'); and the natural man does not have an alive human spirit with which to do this.
C) [Compare Jn 4:23]:
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
Jesus told the woman at the well: "They that worship God worship Him in spirit, [their human spirits] and truth" (which is Bible doctrine - God's Word: You cannot worship God except through the learning of the Word of God. A person is born physically alive but with a dead human spirit).
IV) THE BELIEVER'S HUMAN SPIRIT HAS BEEN MADE ALIVE AT THE POINT OF SALVATION
A) [Compare Eph 2:1]:
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins"
How has God made us believers alive? Obviously not physically, we were already physically alive that way before. This passage refers to coming alive in the human spirit.
B) [Compare Eph 2:5]:
"[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."
The human spirit is made alive at the point of salvation.
C) [Compare Jn 3:5-6]:
(v. 5) '''Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water [= fig. for the Spirit of God] and the spirit [="pneumatos" = out of the spiritual realm].
(v. 6) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." '''
V) ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE WERE (AND ARE) CREATED BY OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST WHO IS OUR CREATOR GOD
A) [Compare Col 1:15-16]:
(v. 15) "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
(v. 16) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."
B) [Compare Jn 1:1]:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
C) [Compare Eph 3:9]:
"And to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things."
VI) SINCE SOUL AND SPIRIT REFLECT ASPECTS OF THE IMMATERIAL BEING OF A MAN AND ARE THUS INSEPARABLE, THEY ARE OFTEN USED INTERCHANGEABLY IN SCRIPTURE
The word "spirit" is generally defined as that part of a man related to worship and divine communion with God.
The word soul is generally defined as that immaterial part of a man which concerns life, action and emotion.
Hence the general meaning of soul differs from the word spirit. However, since both soul and spirit reflect the immaterial being of a man and are inseparable in the sense that one cannot exist without the other, Scripture often uses the two terms interchangeably with the same functions being ascribed to each as if to say that they are including both in an inseparable unit.
A) [Compare 1 Pet 3:19-20]:
(v. 19) "through Whom [the Spirit] also He [Jesus Christ] having gone [to earth in the times of Noah] proclaimed [the gospel of salvation] to the spirits [i.e., to the condemned unbelievers who are NOW in spirit form] in [the] prison [of Hades as a result of their disbelief in the gospel]
(v. 20) who [the unbelieving people of Noah's day] disobeyed [i.e., disbelieved in the message of Noah - the proclaimed gospel] long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through [the floating on top of, not the immersion into] water,"
"to the spirits" = "tois pneumasin", neuter. The word "spirits" refers to those unbelievers who rejected the gospel that Christ preached in Noah's time through God the Holy Spirit through the witness of Noah.
What Peter is saying in 1 Peter 3:19 is, 'Christ died for the sins of all people to bring all people to God, (v.18). And in Noah's time the preincarnate Jesus Christ proclaimed the gospel through the Holy Spirit through the witness of Noah himself to those [the spirits] who are now in Hades, they having disbelieved, (v. 19).
B) [Compare Jn 12:27]:
''' "Now My [Jesus'] soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour.'''
C) [Compare 1 Cor 16:18]:
"For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men."
D) [Compare I Pet 2:11]:
"Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul."
E) [Compare Jas 5:20]:
"Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins."
VII) THE DEAD ARE ALSO REFERRED TO AS SOUL OR SPIRIT:
A) [Compare Rev 6:9]:
"And when He broke the fifth seal, I say underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained:"
G) [Compare Pr 11:13]:
"He [he = "ruach" = spirit] who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he [he = "ruach" = spirit] who is trustworthy conceals a matter."
So it is not unusual to refer to persons who are living or dead as souls or spirits.