The creation story begins with God forming the body of Adam by sweeping the dust of the ground into a pile and then shaping it. It was the first of its kind. The finished work was the product of his creativity (for God did not have a body himself), his unfathomable wisdom (which was needed for such an intricate creation), and his sovereign will (because it pleased him).
As the carefully formed but lifeless body of man laid on the ground, God sighed. It was a sigh of tiredness because creation can be hard work. Of everything that God made in the six days of creation, two stood out. First, God formed the man of the dust of the ground, implying thoughtfulness and a loving touch. The second was the Garden of Eden which God personally planted (Gen 2:8). Nothing was left to chance. Man was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14).
It was also a sigh of elation. As God stood back and reviewed what he had made, he saw that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31).
His breathe found its way into the nostrils of the man and he became a “living soul”. The Hebrew word for breathe neshamah also means spirit, but it is not a reference to the Holy Spirit. Man was not given the Holy Spirit that day, but the spirit of man (1 Cor 2:11). God is spirit, but man only has a spirit. Man’s spirit is eternal, making him capable of living forever, but it does not have eternal life.
I am trained in the life-saving technique called CPR. It can mean a difference between life and death for a man (or woman) who has collapsed and is under cardiac arrest. When I apply CPR to a patient and deliver the ‘breathe of life’, am I imparting my spirit to him also? In no way am I doing that. My spirit remains within me. Only my breathe enters the patient. So, it was not the Spirit of God that was imparted to the man but simply God’s breathe (of life).
The breathe from God, the “breathe of life”, became the spirit of man when it entered his body. This spirit, in turn, gave life to the body. The spirit gives life (John 6:33) and “the body without the spirit is dead” (Jas 2:26). In an instant, the grains of sand miraculously turned into cells that, as if being instructed, arranged themselves to form organs, tissues, muscles, and limbs.
Besides life, which every human that has a spirit possesses, the spirit also made man unique. The spirit of man contains DNA written in spiritual code authored by God who, in his foreknowledge and good pleasure, stitched together a tapestry of physiological, emotional, and psychological characteristics, and then breathed upon the body with love. This DNA makes us who we are, and no two persons are exactly alike.
So, man received a spirit that day and became a living soul (Gen 2:7). What is the difference between spirit and soul?
Soul and Spirit
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is “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.” In case you have never seen the inside of a bone where bone marrow is found, here is a picture of it.
As you can see, the border between man’s spirit and soul is quite hard to discern. It was only with sufficient advancement in science and technology that Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) became a feasible method to treat diseases related to bone marrow malfunction. The first successful transplantation was performed quite recently in 1968. Hallelujah! Whatever is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27).
Although the border between soul and spirit is hard to discern, a difference exists between the two. Just as bone and marrow performs different functions, so does soul and spirit. And just as bone encloses marrow, so soul encloses spirit.
The spirit is the innermost part of man that makes him God-conscious. With this part man worships God. Jesus said that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). A spirit-less Adam would not have been able to communion with God in the Garden. The physical body, the outermost part of man, allows him to be world-conscious. With his five senses he interacts with the physical world: observing, reacting or responding to it.
The soul, where the spirit and body meet, is the seat of personality; man’s will, intellect, and emotion all lie in the soul. In the New Testament, the Greek word psyxḗ, from where we get our English words psyche and psychology, is used. Therefore, the soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are at our core, our identity.
This is an example of what members of the Torah Club will learn. Contact me if you wish the Torah Club today.