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The Soul and The Spirit

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Christian Article Bank | The Soul and The Spirit

By: Rev. George Pryor

It is clear from the Bible that man is composed of three distinct parts: spirit, soul, and body.
We are triune just as God is Triune.

In the first part of this article I will focus on the first two and unite the three at the end.

Many think that there is no difference between the spirit and soul, but there most definitely is. It’s spelled out for us in scripture
The “soul” and the “spirit” are similar in the manner in which they are used in the spiritual life of the believer. They are however different in their reference. The “soul” is man’s horizontal view with the world. The “spirit” is man’s vertical view with God. It is important to understand that both refer to the immaterial part of man, but only the “spirit” refers to the man’s walk with God. The “soul” refers to man’s walk in the world, both material and immaterial.


The word “spirit,” refers only to the immaterial facet of man. Mankind has a spirit, but we are not a spirit. However, in Scripture, only believers, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are said to be “spiritually alive” (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26). Unbelievers are “spiritually dead” (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul’s writing the “spirit” was pivotal to the spiritual life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; 15:45; Ephesians 1:3; 5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in man which gives him the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word “spirit” is used, it refers to the immaterial part of man including his soul.
According to the revelation of the Bible the human spirit can be said to have three main functions. These three functions are conscience (Rom. 9:1; 8:16), intuition (Mark 2:8), and communion (John 4:24). The conscience is the part of the spirit which distinguishes right from wrong and is not influenced by knowledge stored in the mind; it is rather a spontaneous direct judgment. The intuition is the “knowing” part of the spirit. All true knowledge originates not in the mind, but in the spirit.


The word “soul” refers not only to the immaterial part of man but also the material part. Unlike man having a “spirit,” man is a soul. (Gen.2:7) In its most basic sense the word “soul” means “life.” However, the Bible moves beyond “life” and into many areas. One of those areas is to man’s eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). Man is naturally evil and his soul is tainted as a result. The life principle is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). The “soul” as with the “spirit,” is the center of many spiritual and emotional experiences (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). Whenever the word “soul” is used, it can refer to the whole person, alive or after death.
The three main functions of the soul are the will (Job 7:15), the mind (Lam. 3:20, RSV), and the emotion (2 Sam. 5:8; Deut. 6:5). The will is the instrument for making decisions and choices. The second function of the soul is the mind, the instrument for thinking. It is in this part of the soul that man reasons and has knowledge (Prov. 2:10). The third function of the soul is the emotion. This is the instrument of likes and dislikes. Through the emotions we are able to express love or hatred, joyfulness, anger, sadness, or happiness. A shortage in this area will render us insensitive. By a careful study of the Bible we cannot help but be impressed that these three primary functions of the personality belong to the soul.

When a Believer dies, the Spirit returns to God who gave it Eccl. 12:7. The soul will either be joined with the spirit and live forever with God or it will be eternally separated from God in hell (Ezekiel 18:4). The physical body of a person is world conscious. Our body receives information to the soul through the five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. The body can only relate to this world because it is composed of elements of this world (Genesis 2:7). When the body dies, it will return to the dust of the ground (Ecclesiastes 12:7). We have to make a decision about which “part” of us will have the most influence in our lives: our born-again spirit (God conscious), the soul (self conscious) or the body (world conscious). The only way that the spirit can have total influence in our lives is to be born-again. The way to become born-again is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. If you have not made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, I invite you to answer the Savior’s call and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior Right NOW. Let Romans 10:9-10) guide you

May God Richly Bless You,
Rev. George Pryor Th.M.

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