“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
This verse clearly establishes and educates us to the fact that Man did not evolve from some previous life form, because the specific material and process God used is explicitly stated:
Fact #1—God formed man from dust. This indicates that there was no previous life form which evolved into man. This text, plus others, clearly reinforces the reality that man was created from the dust of the earth (Job 34:15; Psalm 90:3; Ecclesiastes 3:20, 12:7).
Chemistry has now confirmed that there is a close connection between the body of man and the soil of the ground. In fact, it is now known that there are at least sixteen elements of soil which are found in the human body: “calcium, carbon, chlorine, fluorine, hydrogen, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur. All of these minerals are present in organic forms and compose nearly six percent of the body, the remainder being of water, carbon and gasses” (Systemic Theology Vol. 2, pp. 145-146).
Fact #2—Man is comprised of something material and something immaterial . A physical body formed from the dust of the ground is not enough to produce life. Many who go to beaches form lifeless castles and sculptures from sand; however, those sculptures, no matter how realistic, lack life. In order for dust to produce life or become a man, God must give the body life. It is specifically and directly stated that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”
We immediately observe then that this verse makes it clear that man is clearly, in one sense, bipartite; that is he has two basic parts to his composition–that which is material and that which is immaterial. Man has a material body formed from dust and an immaterial life which has come from the breath of God.
It is also important to note that the statement “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” is peculiar to man and not to any other creation. The Bible asserts that all life has been created by God (i.e. Colossians 1:16). However, it is stated concerning only man that God “breathed into his nostrils.”
This specifically suggests that Man, according to God’s Word, is distinctly different from any other form of life. This conclusion is further supported by the statement that man was created by God “…in His own image (Genesis 1:27). We initially see from this verse that there is a material and immaterial bipartite make-up to Man.
Fact #3—Man’s bipartite make-up seems to lend itself to three parts (tripartite); one from the material side and two from the immaterial side. The “dust” is a distinct reference to the composition of the body. The “breath of life” is a reference to man having a spirit. The words “became a living being” refer to man having a soul. This one verse does not necessarily prove that man has a body, soul and spirit, but it does lend itself to this conclusion, which when compared with other passages (which we will later examine) suggest this conclusion is accurate.
It is clear from this one verse that EVOLUTION IS NOT TRUE. Man was created directly by God and he did not evolve.
What are the two parts that comprise a human being?
Part #1—There is the material part of a human being. This includes all physical parts of a human, including the flesh, bones, blood and organs.
Part #2—There is the immaterial part of a human being. This includes all non-physical things which comprise a human being, including the thinking process, and the soul and spirit of a human.
There are many passages of Scripture which clearly draw a distinction between the material and the immaterial part of a human: Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Luke 8:54-55; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:22-24; Heb. 12:9. These are just some of the main texts which draw a vast distinction between the material and immaterial. When both parts (material and immaterial) are functioning in harmony, we have life as we know it. There is, however, one thing that can separate the material part of a person from the immaterial part of a person and that one thing is death ! It is obvious that at death the material part of a person is still tangibly here.
It is also obvious at death that some part of the person is no longer present. The material part of the person: organs, bones, blood and flesh are all intact at death, but there is something missing from the body, which is definitely needed for life as we know it. The missing agent, at the moment of death, is the immaterial part of the individual. At the precise moment that the immaterial part of a person is separated from the material part of a person–what exists is the death of a person.
Death, then, is the separation of the immaterial from the material. We will discuss this later, but for now we bring this up to show the two main parts of a person. The material and immaterial part of man has never been debated among theologians. However, the total number of parts that comprise the immaterial part of a human being has been discussed and debated in the world of theology. Primarily, there are two schools of thought on this issue:
Thought #1—Man is a trichotomy – Man is comprised of three parts: body, soul, spirit.
Thought #2—Man is a dichotomy – Man is comprised of two parts: body, soul/spirit. A trichotomist is impressed with the differences between soul and spirit. A dichotomist is impressed with the similarities between the soul and spirit. It may be admitted that there are times when the terms soul and spirit are seemingly used synonymously and interchangeably (i.e. Luke 1:46-47).
However, it will also be admitted that there are times when the terms are used separately (i.e. 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). The distinctions between the two schools of thinking are not major. The fact that man is material and immaterial is really the key point. There are good theologians on both sides of the issue.
Although the full ramifications of the immaterial part of Man will not be known until we get into eternity, we certainly cannot be wrong in holding to a trichotomy position. This certainly is legitimate, based upon terminology found in Scripture and based upon a literal interpretation. In trying to make sense of each of the three parts–the trichotomist typically agrees to the following
1) The body of a person is physically concerned with this world.
2) The soul of a person is mentally concerned with self.
3) The spirit of a person is spiritually concerned with God . Dr. Chafer quotes C.A. Auberlen in saying the body is a world consciousness, the soul is a self consciousness and the spirit is a God consciousness (Systemic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 185). The critical area of focus in biblical salvation is clearly that of the immaterial part of man. The primary issue at stake in salvation is the salvation of the soul. It is the soul and spirit then which becomes the central issue in salvation and not the body.
This point is easily illustrated by a funeral. Any person who has ever looked into a casket at another believer realizes the body was not the primary issue of salvation, for the body is left behind until some future time of resurrection in which a new glorified body will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
Clearly, at salvation, the real issue at stake is the soul and spirit, and not the body. The apostle Paul makes it very clear that it is impossible for an unregenerate person to understand the spiritual things of God 2 Corinthians 2:14). The unregenerate person will be totally concerned with his own self, his own will, and will have a very distorted spiritual concept of God (Rom. 1:21-23; 3:9-18).
In light of this important information, Hebrews 4:12 becomes extremely important. The only thing that can penetrate a soul and spirit, which is extremely distorted, is the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. At salvation, the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to convict the immaterial part of a person to an awareness of the fact that he is a sinner, he is not righteous, and he is heading for judgment (John 16:8).
The Spirit of God also enables the immaterial part of a person to become aware of the holiness of God and the pending judgment of God as it relates to Jesus Christ for salvation. At the moment of salvation, God illumines the soul and spirit and positionally purifies both at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:2, 10).
This positional purification begins the process of practical purification (1 Peter 1:22; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). It is quite evident that when one believes in Jesus Christ, the body does not change, but something has drastically changed with the spirit and soul. One who has the Spirit of God move in his life has a new heartbeat for God. There may be a moment of spiritual lapse, but if the person continues or persists to be the same, we may assume that there really has not been the saving work of God.
How may we understand the subject of death?
At the moment of death, every immaterial part of a person is instantly separated from the material part of a person. Since death is a subject pertinent to man, it naturally falls under the doctrine of Anthropology. There is one key word in understanding the biblical doctrine of man as it pertains to death and that word is separation . In any form of death, something is separated from something else.
Scripturally speaking, there are three types of death:
Type #1—There is spiritual death. Spiritual death means that every person is born spiritually separated from God because of his sin. Many passages of Scripture make it clear that every human being is spiritually dead and is, in fact, physically born in this condition (Eph. 2:1-5; Rom. 3:10-18). It is precisely this reason why physical birth is not enough to make one right with God and why a person must be “born again.” Although a person is physically alive, he is spiritually dead and thus there is the need to be “born again” (John 3:1-8).
Type #2—There is physical death. As we have previously stated, at physical death the immaterial part of a person is separated from the material part of a person We see very clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 that at death, the immaterial part of a person is separated from the material part of a person.
Type #3—There is eternal death. In eternal death, the person is separated from God forever in eternal torment. Several passages speak of eternal condemnation: John 3:18, 36; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8. As pertaining to the different types of death:
- For spiritual death, there is a cure: salvation.
- For physical death, there is a cure: resurrection.
- For eternal death, there is NO cure for damnation.
One obvious question that must be considered when dealing with the subject of death is the question of “Why?”
Why do people die and why do they have to die? Any form of anthropology that is true to facts must deal with this subject for this is clearly one that is connected to every human being.
The answer to this important question is clearly found in Romans 5:12 (compare Genesis 2:17). It is clear from these passages that death is a penalty for sin. Dr. C.I. Scofield writes: “The first sin wrought the moral ruin of the race.” The demonstration is simple:
Death is universal (vv. 12, 13); all die–little children, moral people, and religious people equally with the depraved. For a universal state there must be a universal cause; that cause is a state of universal sin.” The proof and evidence that every person needs to be saved is that every person will physically die. The reality of the need for salvation is established by the reality of death.
Pastor David E. Thompson is pastor/teacher at Texas Corners Bible Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan with a nationally syndicated radio show reaching all across the United States. Pastor Thompson may be classified as a true systematic Bible expositor and communicator of God’s Word. He carefully expounds books of the Bible in a way that is contextually, exegetically, grammatically, historically, and theologically accurate to the text and relevant to the time. He is also an very skilled in New Testament Greek.