by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 April 19, 2015 Dayton, Texas
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.
24 Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].
1901 ASV Translation:
23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at thecoming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
I. The Categories of the Human Essence.
A. The uniqueness of the biblical statement of these categories. This is the only place in the New Testament that the three are put together in one verse (unless I have inadvertently overlooked some use).
1. Some say we ought not to build an entire doctrine off of one verse of Scripture, and they say it with a great deal of justification.
2. But unique statements are not unimportant statements; many times they are simply the only time when the Bible brings everything to a "summary". John did this in 1 John on at least two occasions: 1 John 2:16 clearly identifies three problematic issues in terms of "lust" and claims that they are "all" that is in this world. It is easy to overlook this "all", but significantly problematic to do so. 1 John 2:25, just a few verses further on in this context, also "summarizes" all of God's commitments to us into one issue: "this is the promise He promised us -- eternal life". It cannot be an "accident" that Genesis 3; Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 4; Luke 4; and the whole of the letter of James all contain the same sets of "three" issues that we find John bringing out in the open with his summary in 1 John 2:16.
3. Thus, rather than being "unimportant", these unique summaries ought to be considered as major revelations of the issues about which God, and we, are concerned. Rather than being "one verse of Scripture", these summaries will be seen "everywhere" because of their being "summaries".
B. The most straightforward implication is that Paul conceived of the areas of human existence to be three, with a potent need for some kind of "sanctification" in all three.
C. The precise terminological identification of the "three".
1. The spirit; the analogical equivalent of "the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7) with a very clear connection to inhaling/exhaling "air" through the nose/mouth (the flood killed all who live by this mechanism and none of the creatures who get their oxygen in another way). At issue: the body's "functional" ability. James 2:26 pointedly says "the body without the spirit is dead".
2. The soul; the analogical equivalent of the section of the human body that includes the lower part of the head and the entire neck and the parts therein contained. The analogy of one who is drowning indicates that the "soul" is that part of the body that must be kept above water. Numbers 21:5 ("...our soul loatheth this light bread..."); Psalm 63:1 ("...my soul thirsteth...); Psalm 69:1 ("...the waters are come unto my soul; I am come into deep waters..."); Psalm 124:4-5 ("...the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul..."); Proverbs 25:25 ("As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."); Isaiah 58:11 ("...and satisfy thy soul in drought..."); Jonah 2:5 ("The waters compassed me about, even to the soul..."): all of these texts use "soul" to indicate that part of the body which cannot be submerged into water without the very life of the body being threatened. Thus, "soul" has to mean the "nose, mouth, throat" part of the physical body.
3. The body; the analogical equivalent of the created "house" wherein the spirit and soul function. Hebrews 4:12 clearly insists upon a distinction between soul and spirit that the Word of God exposes within the context of bones and marrow (the body).
II. Paul's Insistence Upon "Sanctification" in Respect to Each of the Three.
A. There is no indication that such "sanctification" has any transformational impact upon the elements (spirit, soul, and body) themselves (the body is clearly declared by Paul to be unredeemed until resurrection/transformation (Romans 8:23); and there would be no need for the Spirit of God if there was not something wrong with the human spirit that energizes every living person).
B. There is every indication that such "sanctification" involves a divine separation of the aspects of each of the elements unto a suitable usefulness by the Spirit of God given to us.
C. The point being this: God has given us His Spirit so that He may override the evil impulses of spirit, soul, and body for the purpose of providing a life of truth in the manifestation of the glory of Christ.