St Paul

Spirit, Soul and Body

According to St Paul, man is placed in a world of change between two possibilities: the seen and the unseen; the temporal and the eternal; the law of the flesh and the law of the spirit; the body of sin and death and the body of the Lord and of everlasting Life.

In so far as he turns his energies to the realization of one possibility, so does the other seem to recede from him; in so far as one is present to him, so is the other absent.

"Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord...and willing to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."   (2 Cor.5/6-8.)...

If man has affinities with these two possibilities and likewise possesses a distinctive nature of his own, then it is evident that in some manner he must be fundamentally threefold, potentially, if not actually so...

"May your Spirit and Soul and Body be preserved entire (i.e.,sound, perfect), without blame at the coming (or appearance) of our Lord Jesus Christ."   (I Thess., 5/23.)...


...The term "Spirit" is a translation of the Greek "pneuma" in the original version. It signifies that Divine Breath upon which man depends for the interior and inspired conviction of his divine parentage and heritage.

"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." (Rom. 8/16-17.)

"Know ye not that your body is the temple (or sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God, and ye are not your own?"  (I Cor. 6/19.)

The Holy Spirit is not really our own; therefore man is not essentially divine and spiritual, but becomes so by participation...

The Spirit is omnipresent and eternal: it is man's possibility of transcending the limitations of time and space...


...The manner in which St Paul employs the word "Soul" evinces that it is to be regarded as an intermediary principle: one that has the choice of union with either the natures above or the natures below, and according as it chooses, so is its condition...

The human soul-faculties mentioned by St Paul may be summarized under the headings of the heart, the conscience, and the mind, with their various aspects, upward tending and downward tending.

The heart denotes the affectional, aspirational, and desire nature. The conscience is the will or volitional nature, whilst the mind includes the understanding...

"They shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith."   (Rom. 2/15)

"Whatsoever ye do, work heartily (Greek, from the soul); as unto the Lord, and not unto men."   (Col. 3/23)

"For the mind of the flesh is death: but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace."  


...The gross body of man, in common with that of the animals, comes from the earth, and in so far as it remains gross, it returns to mother earth.

However, it is not only the terrestrial instrument of the Soul, but it is also the soil in which is to be sown the seed of the Soul's celestial possibilities...

"There are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another."   (I Cor.15/40.)

"For we know that if the earthly body of our tabernacle (or bodily frame) be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"   (2 Cor. 5/1-6.)  

...Therefore the natural man must in some way give place to the Spiritual man.  He must die, in a mystical sense.  "I die daily", says St Paul.

"present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."   (Rom. 12/I.)


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The Shrine of Wisdom 1927