Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



The body, soul and spirit of man are generated at the moment of conception. The body being man's environmental, or world consciousness, is the container of the soul which is man's self consciousness (intellect, emotion, and reason), and the spirit, being man's God consciousness.



The Bible tells us that man was made in God's image. In what way are we made in God's image? Are we physically similar to God? No. Is our soul similar to God? Quite possibly. He has intellect, emotion and reason as we do. Is our spirit similar to God? I assume that all spirit beings are similar in some ways.

On the other hand "in the image of God" has some distinct limitations that are apparent. Our spirit being, will not fill the entire universe, nor is our intellect as God's, nor are our emotions as deep as His. We are in His image, yet limited by our finiteness. In our fallen state we are not holy, righteous nor can we have a good understanding of God. God however through redemption allows a certain amount of these things to the believer. (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10)

As a side note to holiness we might consider a question that Chafer raises. Can a person have a habit of holiness before he knows the principle of holiness? Not really. The habit is a consequence of the principle. For example would any of you begin studying for several hours a day if you didn't know why you were doing it or what study was. Probably not.

We should not condemn people for not living holy lives until we know for sure they have the principle in their mind. Indeed, is this not where the lost are today. They do not have the principle of God's holiness so they are not apt to enter into the habit, or life of holiness.

We should understand also that redemption is not a process of God trying to salvage something that Adam's sin destroyed. Redemption is a process of restoration. He is desirous of bringing us to a state that would be the same as Adam's pre-fall condition. This of course is dependant on the righteousness of Christ.

The unsaved man still has the image of his creator. Chafer suggests Gen. 5:1-3 as proof of this. "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth." Adam was in the image of God and Seth was in the image of Adam.

Gen. 9:6 also suggests this thought. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man." James 3:9 also is a foundation for this thought. "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the similitude of God."

God's view of the sacredness of life is also carried in these verses. We are created in God's image and this image is not lost. Lost man is in His creator's image.

There are some differences, however now that the fall has come to pass. Our moral likeness is somewhat soiled and lowered, and the lost man's mind is somewhat clouded by sin.

We are encouraged to follow the example of Christ in the New Testament and this will tend to bring us toward the image that God desires for us in this life.

There are three basic theories as to where the immaterial part of man came from.

1. PRE-EXISTENCE: This thought would come from Hinduism in the past, and Theosophy in our own time. I believe that Origin also held to this thought. (Chafer has a good section on this, page 174.) The doctrine of reincarnation is the basis of this thought. Reincarnation tells us that the immaterial part of man is recyclable. As we die, we are freed to reenter into another body to continue on in this life.

The immaterial part of man has pre-existence in this view. It can enter the body of the child at any time in it's development according to some reincarnationists.

My question is this. Why would anyone that lived this life through once want to go around for a second time? The previous life usually relates to your next life. If you are a really bad person in a life then you usually come back as a bug or some very lowly person. This is why the people of India can walk by a beggar without feeling sorrow or pity. The beggar was probably a murderer in another life. To be caught in a cycle of existence like this would be very depressing to me.

Some older theologians surmised with this theory that in a previous life all of us sinned and that is where the sin nature came from.

The objections to this view are: a. The philosophy totally ignores the Word of God and all that it says on the subject. b. The philosophy totally ignores original sin. c. It ignores the need of proof for validity. They do not have proof.

2. CREATION THEORY: This theory would come from the Eastern Orthodox church of ages past, and I suspect even today. The theory tells us that the parents create the body of the child and that God creates the soul and spirit directly and immediately for each birth. Their thinking is as follows: a. The body is from earth, but the soul is from God, thus the soul can't come from the parent. b. The soul is not material so how could physical parents produce it. c. If Christ is like man and He is, then if the soul and spirit came from the parents, Christ would have a sin nature.

The people holding to this view mention that there are verses that speak of God creating the soul. There are also verses that state He creates bodies, however neither is literal. In the sense that He created all of mankind in Adam and Eve would be true, and He did create souls and bodies in this way.

A couple of things to think about concerning the Creation theory. If man is fallen at birth, and if God creates the soul and spirit, then, God is creating souls and spirits in the fallen state and they are destined for Hell. This is not a concept that is consistent with the Word. This would place God in the position of creating beings for destruction. Also, it must be then assumed that they did not fall in Adam. This contradicts the clear teaching of the Word.

3. TRADUCIAN THEORY: Most of the western church holds to this concept. The body soul and spirit are generated by the parents at each individual conception.

In the creation of Adam and Eve there was all that was needed for all of mankind present and potential, for production of body, soul, and spirit.

There is one main objection to this thought and that is this: If this is true then Christ would have had a sinful nature. That is a big problem, however there are some answers for this. Some answer this by saying that the sin comes through the male, thus no problem. Others state that the soul of Christ was sanctified by the fact of the conception by the Holy Spirit. Others state that the nature He took from Mary was sanctified before the union with Himself. The Roman Catholics go a step further and say Mary was perfect, and that she gave Him the pure nature. This, however, only puts the problem of a perfect being at the feet of Mary's parents. Mary's soul would have to be perfect to produce a perfect child.

It seems easiest to assume that the fallen nature is transmitted via the father. This was the reason for the virgin birth. With no earthly father involved, there was no possibility of transmission of a sin nature.

If you desire to hold to the traducian theory, it is important to make the distinction of the sin nature coming from the father.

Let's consider Christ's perfect nature for a moment: a. If the traducian theory is correct, in that the entire being is created by the parents, plural, then He would have received the fallen nature. The key is the fact that Christ was a product of God and woman, not man and woman, thus there was no sin nature.

The fact that the sin nature comes from the male is indicated in the Word. Adam chose to sin - he turned against an express command of God while Eve was deceived. We all sinned in "Adam" not in "Adam and Eve". (I Cor. 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;") Thus it must be concluded that the sin nature is transferred to the child via the man side of the union. Why else is there a need for the virgin birth of Christ. No other answer really fits the facts that we have available from Scripture. In Gen. 3:7 both Adam and Eve's eyes opened at the same time to nakedness. This indicates Adam's sin was the clincher, not Eves.

How can you trace the I Cor. 15:22 concept of "we all fell in Adam", if the soul and spirit are created at the point of birth? You can't. Luke 1:41 shows John the Baptist responding to Mary's presence while he was in the womb. "the babe leaped in her womb;" Excuse me if I feel it a bit ridiculous for a mass of flesh and bone responding to something supernatural. Logic would demand that there was some spirit consciousness present that was responding!

Heb 7:9,10 mention the fact that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of his father. It takes more than flesh and bones to do this. A body does not pay tithes. A complete being does.

A result of the creation concept is abortion. That mass is not a person until it is outside the mother's body. Logically inferior, thus we can get rid of it with no moral problems. The traducian thought relegates a fetus, of any age, to being a spiritual and physical being fully present and growing, or if you will, in the aging process.

God's creating was finished on the sixth day and it was good. There is no indication that he continues to create each time a baby is brought into the world.

One author suggested that Mary was a surrogate mother. The entire being of Christ was created by God and raised in Mary. To state that the entire being of Christ was placed within Mary for incubation, is to deny the Lord's humanity.

Conclusions concerning our being created in God's image:

1. "Thus, also, G.F. Oehler declares man bears the divine image in view of the facts that (a) human nature is distinguished from that of the beast, for there was no mate for man among lower forms of creation, and man may kill the beast but not the being which is made in the image of God. (b) Man is set over nature as a free personality, since he is designed for communion with God, and is appointed to exercise divine authority in the affairs of earth. . . ." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, p 170)

2. The following verses indicate some of the areas of similarity between God and the creatures of His image. Matt 5:48; Luke 6:36; I Pet. 1:15,16.

3. Heb. 1:1-3 shows Christ to be the express image of God. Rom. 8:29 shows that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Mentally and spiritually we are under reformation, so to speak, to become as Adam was before the fall in these areas.

4. God took the time and effort to create man in His own image. Based on this truth, we are not to kill, nor slander another man. How about the thousands of unborn fetuses that are being destroyed every year by abortion. How about the man that pulls out in front of you from the stop sign? "You dumby" isn't quite the terminology to use, is it.

Every man is cared for, by our creator -- we ought to have a care and love for those people as well. They are created in OUR GOD'S IMAGE even if he rejects our God!

Another question: Is salvation a restoration to the pre-fall condition? Not exactly. We as Christians are not as Adam and Eve were before the fall. Proof: If I ask you all to take your clothes off in a crowd could you do it without knowing that you were naked? No. We are in the post-fallen state. We are partially restored, but we are being conformed to the image of Christ not the image of pre-fall Adam (Rom. 8:29). We have a fallen body as well, for it is dieing (Phil 3:21).

Most theology books raise the question, Are soul, spirit, heart, flesh and mind separate things? They are similar yet separate.

Illustration: My soul can know that something is wrong, my heart may tell me not to do it, but my flesh may go for it anyway. They are separate in their activities.

We have a couple more terms to consider: DICHOTOMIST AND TRICHOTOMIST.

DICHOTOMISTS think that there are two parts to man. There is the material part which is the body, and the immaterial which is the soul and spirit.

TRICHOTOMISTS feel that there are three parts to man. The body, soul and spirit.

Do you see a semantic problem at this point? The dichotomist is speaking material/immaterial while the trichotomist is speaking body/soul/spirit. They are comparing potatoes with Corvettes. The immaterial part is of course the soul and spirit. Naturally when speaking material/immaterial there are two. When you speak of body, soul and spirit there are three.

Most trichotomists would see that the immaterial part was made up of soul and spirit, yet within the one immaterial there are two parts. The dichotomists also deal with the soul and spirit as two items.

There are three texts which the trichotomist presents.

I Cor. 15:44, "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

I Thess. 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."

Heb. 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a descerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

I am not sure that I Cor. 15:44 relates to the study.

In Thessalonians it is a simple statement that Paul is trusting that all three would be preserved. Indeed, it probably is an emphasis to say, I trust, that you will be wholly preserved. It does state that there are three items!

The construction of the Hebrew's text shows that the two are separate items. The contrast of joints and marrow would indicate soul and spirit are two items. This still does not say that the two are not parts of the immaterial man. They are different, but both immaterial.

To sum up this confusion may we say that when talking about material/immaterial we are dichotomists. When we are talking about body/soul/spirit we are trichotomists.

I HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT! If you are a trichotomist then you believe that there are two parts of man - material and immaterial thus you are a dichotomist. If you are a dichotomist then you believe that there are three parts to man - body, soul and spirit, thus you are a trichotomist. HA!


There are two parts of man - material and immaterial. There are three main aspects to man - body, soul and spirit. The soul and spirt are in the immaterial part of man.

Let's think about the body, soul and spirit for a few moments. What is the body? It is chemicals. It is conscious to it's environment. It is a vehicle for our soul and spirit. It is in a process of decay. It is our contact with other believers.

What is the soul? It is our self consciousness. It is our memories. It is our ego. It is our emotions. It is our reasoning. It has been put this way:






 We might illustrate this. A student knows via his intellect that it is wrong to bribe a teacher, especially with M&M's. He feels through his sensibility that he should not, but knows that he needs to, to get his grade up. He uses his will to choose to bribe the teacher and determine whether to get a package of plain, peanut or almond M&M's. He goes to the store and picks up a bag of M&M's and bribes the teacher. Naturally, immediately he feels bad because his conscience has said, "Hey you perverse person that was wrong." He sets all of this out of his mind for the day and goes on with his studies. The next day his memory brings what he has done to mind, and he feels bad again, so gives the teacher another bag of M&M's to make amends.

When speaking of the conscience we need to realize that the lost and the saved have a different type of conscience. I will list these for your further study.

THE LOST Defiled Titus 1:15

Evil Heb. 10:22

Convicting Jn 8:9

Seared I Tim 4:2

THE SAVED Purged Heb. 10:1,2

Good I Pet. 3:16

Witnesses Rom. 9:1

Wounded I Cor. 8:12

We might make mention here that the mind has two directions of flow. It can serve the Spirit or it can serve the flesh. It is the will that determines which.

To recap:




The body is the flesh and bone that moves and ultimately dies returning to the ground from which it came.

The soul is the part of man that thinks, remembers, feels and decides.

The spirit is the part of us that allows us to be conscious of God. Through it we can respond to our creator.

INTELLECT is the capacity to think. Eph. 1:17-18 states, "...the eyes of your understanding being enlightened;". The term for understanding is "kardia" or heart. Paul seems to think that understandings seat is in the heart which is usually accepted as the seat of the emotions as well.

The term heart is used 600 times in the Old Testament and 120 times in the New Testament. Anyone for a research paper?

SENSIBILITY is an ".....awareness of and responsiveness toward something....." (By permission. From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) In short, if we can see someone and respond to them we have the quality of sensibility.

WILL is defined by Chafer as follows: "Will is the soul's power to choose between motives and to direct its subsequent activity according to the motive thus chosen...." (Vol. II, p 193)

We have mentioned flesh and should probably look at the term briefly.

1. It can relate to the material part of man. The meat and skin.

2. It can relate to the human relationships and classifications. Both the meat and the immaterial part of man.

3. It can relate to the immaterial part of man. Only the moral and ethical meaning involved.

The body, as in the meat, is not ethically good or bad. The immaterial aspect of the flesh is bad. It opposes God and all right things of life. A related term is "carnal" which describes a believer that is living in, or is dominated by the flesh.

Victory can be had over the flesh. A couple of verses for your future reference on this are Rom. 8:2-4 and Gal. 5:16-17. We won't spend time on this right now.


The soul of man consists of the intellect, man's knowing; Sensibility, man's feeling; will, man's choosing; conscience, man's judging. These make up life for man.

1. The soul is quite intricate in its make up. God has given man all the facilities by which to respond to God in a positive manner.

Anyone choosing to reject Christ when he hears the Gospel certainly condemns himself.

Intellect is knowing of the Savior.

Sensibility is feeling the need of a Savior - feeling the heaviness of sin.

Will is making the choice to accept Him as Savior.

Conscience, if the person is saved, it becomes your guide to the Christian walk; if the person is lost, it becomes seared.

2. How does the knowledge gained in this study apply to James 1:14-15? "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

Intellect: Soul knowing - temptation

Sensibility: Soul feeling - lust

Will: Soul making a choice - sin

Conscience: Soul judging

Note that the way to holiness is the same as to sin. The difference hinges on your decision of the will. It is just as easy to be holy as it is to sin.

3. Ps. 62:5-8 mentions, "My soul, wait thou only upon God;" The Psalmist seems to be addressing his soul. "Wait" ONLY upon God.

Your intellect - only thinking of God.

Your sensibility - feeling and sensing only God.

Your will - only deciding toward God.

Your conscience - always clear before God.

WOW! "My expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be Moved."

If your soul is centered on God you will not be moved!

The intellect and sensibility, however both need to be upon God, else Mr. Will may stray!

4. I am responsible for all my actions.

5. I am body soul and spirit, and need to control all of them.

6. The immaterial man comes from God and only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger within. We are very complex beings, and only the Word can help us understand ourselves.

I trust that this section will be the stepping stone to the readers further study in this area. It should be a beginning point in understanding yourself and your relationship to your Creator.