Body, soul and spirit - and if the human being were only one?

Body, soul and spirit - and if the human being were only one?

Part II – the Greek concepts

Let us now compare the main key anthropological concepts in Greek LXX and NT to each other in order to know whether the Greek texts propose a dichotomistic or trichotomistic view of man.

Greek anthropological terms

Septuagint Translation | Logos LXX

Textual Searches


128 results in 119 verses

New Testament

142 results in 120 verses

Apostolic Fathers

36 results in 30 verses

New Testament Apocrypha

19 results in 16 verses


159 results in 138 verses


292 results in 273 verses


971 results in 860 verses

Greek Classics

6276 results in 4696 verses

The English word « body » is the translation for a panoply of Greek terms, which are not synonyms. Thus, every one of those Greek terms has its own semantic field. This means that the English idea of body is not derived from one Greek concept. Greek does therefore not propose one concept that would lead to the idea of “body”. In this already the first idea of “body” in the body, soul, spirit or body, soul/spirit view of man fails. Nevertheless, the Greek word soma corresponds roughly to the idea of body. As the indication of the number of occurrences of soma in the different Greek bodies of literature indicate, it is much more important to Philo and Greek classical literature than to the LXX and the NT. One of the reasons is that there is no body cult in the Bible as there is in parts of Hellenism and there is no body despise in the LXX and NT as there is in Hellenism. The extreme poles being widely discussed in the classical Greek and Philo, the absence of these extreme poles of thinking explains the less frequent usage of soma in the LXX and the NT.


Septuagint Translation | Logos LXX


912 results in 842 verses

New Testament

156 results in 149 verses

Apostolic Fathers

149 results in 128 verses

Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls

3 results in 3 verses

New Testament Apocrypha

8 results in 8 verses


168 results in 158 verses


3 results in 3 verses


36 results in 35 verses

Greek Classics

496 results in 425 verses


  1. Heart as center of physical life Ps 101:5; 103:15; Acts 14:17; James 5:5.

  2. Will 2 Cor 9:7 ; Lk 21:14; Ac 5:4. 11:23. J 13:2.

  3. Thoughts Hebrews 4 :12.

  4. Emotions Rom 1:24. Ezra 1, 1, 8;; Matt 5:28.—6:21; 12:34f; Luke 6:45; 12:34; 24:32

  5. Relationship with Christ: can be controlled by the peace in Christ Col 3:15; Phil 4:7.

  6. Relationship with the Holy Spirit: Dwelling place of the Holy Spirit Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal 4:6; Eph 3:17.

The comparative chart between kardia and lev shows that the LXX uses very consistently kardia as a translation of lev. Thus, kardia has the same semantic field as the Hebrew lev. Although the classical Greek literature body is exponentially much more voluminous than the LXX, the LXX has more than the double number of occurrences of the word kardia, which shows its extreme anthropological importance for the LXX based on the Hebrew text. Surprisingly, kardia is an organ and belongs therefore to the body. Nevertheless, most occurrences do not deal with the idea of organ or body in the LXX, but with mind, feelings, relationships. No separation between body and inner life is in view, therefore the same concept can be used.


Septuagint Translation | Logos LXX

Textual Searches


29 results in 29 verses

New Testament

24 results in 22 verses

Apostolic Fathers

12 results in 11 verses

New Testament Apocrypha

1 result in 1 verse


42 results in 42 verses


32 results in 32 verses


673 results in 551 verses

Greek Classics

1 result in 1 verse

Created 5/5/2020 6:24:20 PM


Thinking, understanding, intellect (Rom 7:22-25 ; Luke 24:45; Rev 13:18; 17:9; Phil 4:7; 1 Cor 14:14-19; 2 Thessalonians 2:2 ; 1 Cor 1:10 ; Rom 14:5; 11:24; 1 Cor 2:16).

In texts such as Ro 14:5; .Is 40:13) 11:34; 1 Cor 2:16 , νοῦς functions as synonym of πνεῦμα and could be replaced by it. In 1 Cor 14:14-15, νοῦς is used as antonym of πνεῦμα.

Nous is very important to Philo, especially as opposed to soma. This is not so in the LXX and the NT. Nous is important, but not as opposed to the body.


Phronema and its cognates have a very similar semantic field as nous. The same is therefore true as for nous. The LXX and the NT do not oppose phronema to soma since phronema is a brain activity that takes place in the body.


The Greek philosopher Plato (4th century bc) perceived the soul as the eternal element in man: whereas the body perishes at death, the soul is indestructible. At death the soul enters another body; if it has been wicked in this life, it may be sent into an inferior human being, or even an animal or bird (cf.reincarnation in Hinduism). By means of transmigration from one body to another, the soul is eventually purged of evil. In the early centuries of the Christian era, Gnosticism also taught that the body was the prison house of the soul. Redemption comes to those initiated into the Gnostic secrets, leading to the release of the soul from the body. Biblical thought about the soul is different. In the OT the soul signifies that which is vital to man in the broadest sense. The Hebrews and Greek words for soul often can be translated as “life”;

Translation | ESV

Septuagint Translation | Logos LXX

The Greek word “ψυχή” is translated differently into English in different context. This also shows that it does not refer to one single idea. Looking at the English translations, it becomes clear that ψυχή is used in different contexts and even as anthropological term does not refer to the entity “soul” as understood by trichotomists and dichotomists.

The English word “soul” is always the translation for the Greek word psyche. However, the English word “soul” in its usage is predominantly Platonic and does not correspond to the usage of the word psyche. Doing a word study based on the word “soul” in an English translation delivers therefore different results than doing a word study in the Greek text based on psyche. The word study in English with soul, depending on which translation is being used, may indicate some texts that could lead to the idea that the “soul” is a second part of the human make-up because this is how, in part, the English word “soul” is being used. A typical example would be Acts 2:27. Some Hellenistic Jewish writers, such as Philo, are very Platonic in their thinking and mix ideas with the Hebrew Semitic thinking in their writings, which can additional lead to the false impression that the Hebrew texts correspond to ideas that Greek authors propose though the origin of some these ideas in those cases are the Greek texts not the Hebrew texts. The LXX is at some points influenced by Hellenistic thinking but in the case of psyche the usage of the Hebrew words נֶפֶשׁ nephesh and lev are followed and therefore, if psyche in the LXX is read with those Hebrew concepts in mind, the outcome of the word study is a monistic, not a dicho-or trichotomistic understanding.

In the LXX, Psyche is almost always the translation of the Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ nephesh or lev. The NT follows the usage of LXX psyche. Psyche is rarely opposed to pneuma or soma. The semantic field is as wide as נֶפֶשׁ nephesh and lev and therefore includes

1. an entity with personhood, person Lev 7:27; 23:29 ; Ac 2:43; 3:23 (Lev 23:29); Ro 2:9; 13:1; Jd 15; 1 Cl 64; Ac 2:41; 7:14 (Ex 1:5); 27:37; ; Mk 3:4; Lk 6:9 ; 9:55 [56]

2. life on earth in its animating aspect making bodily function possible Gen 9:4) Rv 8:9. (Gen 35:18; 3 Km 17:21; Ac 20:10. ; psyche leaves the body means life leaves the body , not a part of a human make up leaves the body Lk 12:20, the translation soul distorts the meaning because it creates another idea in the thoughts of the English reader than the Greek semitic reader. Isa 53:12 should not be translated by “he poured out his soul to death,” but “he poured out his life to death,” which means he died. Acts 2:27 should not be translated by “you will not pour out my soul to Hades,” but “my life to Hades,” which means I will not die. This is why there is no decomposition of the body. The Psalm 16:10 (lxx 15:10), which is quoted in Acts 2:27, addresses the hope of the king that God will interfere so that the king will be saved from his enemies and not be killed. The messianic interpretation then refers to God’s interference so that the killed Messiah cannot remain dead, but must resurrect. Therefore, the resurrection is the proof that Jesus is the Messiah. Luke does not transfer Hebrew monistic anthropology to a Greek dichotomistic anthropology, but uses the same meaning of the Psalm to discuss what happened to Jesus. Also the rhetorical structure of Acts 2:27-28 demonstrates this: 2:27 uses psyche, which is opposed to hades as antonymous coextension. 2:28 uses zoe as synonymous coextension to psyche and antonymous coextension of hades. The two verses are structured according to a Hebrew parallelism. The idea is therefore not that a part of the human being will enter hades, but that God’s servant will not die and enter sheol but he will live and enjoy God’s protection. This is not in contradiction with the fact that Jesus indeed died because the point is that Jesus resurrected due to God giving life to the Messiah. The message of Ps 16 is reinforced by the fact that the Messiah died but even having died the kingdom of death could not hold him back. Before the bodily decomposition could occur, Jesus resurrected physically (2:31) and conquered therefore the strongest enemy, which is death. Though the meaning of Ps 16 and Acts 2 is then slightly different, the text is a prophetic and actualising usage that applies the promise of Ps 16 validly to Jesus being the fulfilment. The fulfilment being finally stronger than what the first reader of Ps 16 could expect to happen. The priniciple of God’s protection, salvation and giver of life to the one who places his trust in the Lord is in qal wahomer fashion (litterally, “light and heavy,” a Hebrew hermeneutical tool by which a case is taken and applied in a stronger way to another case. This says then for Acts 2:27-31 that what is true for the king in Ps 16 is more so true for Jesus by having died coming to life again before the time of decomposition), reinforced, applied to Jesus, who is the final fulfilment of the messianic theme and the ultima summa of what Ps 16 is indicator for. Also Rev 6:9 and 20:4, written by a Hebrew knowing Hebrew Scriptures, should be read in the light of Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ nephesh.

3. the condition of being alive, earthly life, life itself Mt 2:20 (Ex 4:19); Ro 11:3 (3 Km 19:10, 14). Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; J 10:11, 15, 17, (18); 13:37f; 15:13; 1J 3:16ab; Ac 15:26; Phil 2:30) Rv 12:11; Mt 6:25ab; Lk 12:22f. 14:26; Ac 20:24; 27:10, 22; 28:19 ; Ro 16:4..

4. by metonymy, that which possesses life/soul a person that is alife Gen 1:24) Rev 16:3 ; 1 Cor 15:45 ; Gen 2:7 ; Rv 16:3.

5. Emotions, desire, joy in life Pr 25:25; Is 29:8; 32:6; Lk 12:19 ; Rv 18:14; Ps 41:6, 12; 42:5 ; Mt 26:38; Mk 14:34 ; J 12:27; Ac 2:43 ; Lk 1:46; 2:35; J 10:24; Ac 14:2, 22; 15:24; Ro 2:9; 1 Th 2:8 ; Hb 12:3; 2 Pt 2:8; Is 58:3, 5, 10 ; Mt 12:18 (Is 42:1); Hb 10:38 (Hab 2:4);

6. Relationship with God and people (most often Hebrw lev): Mt 22:37; Lk 10:27; Dt 6:5; 10:12; 11:13 ; Mk 12:30, 33 ; Lk 10:27 ; Eph 6:6; Col 3:23; (Is 58:10a); Phil 1:27; Ac 4:32 ; 1 Ch 12:39

Life after death as individual in non-physical form before the parousia, in physical form after the resurrection, whereby the physical form is then of a different, of a spiritual nature (cf. 1 Cor 15): James 1:21; 5:20; Hb 10:39. Mt 10:28ab; Mt 16:26a; Mk 8:36 ; Mt 16:26b; Mk 8:37 ; 1 Pt 2:11 ; 2 Pt 2:14; Mt 11:29 ; 1 Pt 1:22 ; Jer 6:16). ; 1 Pt 4:19; 1 Pt 2:25; 2 Cor 12:15; Hb 13:17 ; 6:19. ; 2 Cor 1:23.; ; Mk 8:35 ; Mt 10:39; 16:25; Lk 9:24; 17:33; ; J 12:25 ; .Mt 10:39ab ; Rv 18:13 (Ezk 27:13). Mt 11:29; 26:38; Mk 10:45; 14:34; Lk 12:19; 14:26; J 10:24; 12:27; 2 Cor 1:23; 3J 2; Rv 18:14; 1 Clement 16:11 (Is 53:10); Letter of Barnabas 3:1, 3 (Is 58:3, 5); 4:2; 17:1; 2 Cor 12:15; Hb 13:17.

Death means the physical life is withdrawn, but the spiritual life continues, not soul or spirit is separated from the body.

νοῦς in the NT only in Pauline lit except for Lk 24:45; Rv 13:18; 17:9.

Mind, intellect, understanding, thinking Rom 7:22-25 (opposed to σάρξ) ; Lk 24:45. Rv 13:18 Phil 4:7. 1 Cor 14:14, 15, 19 .; 2 Th 2:2; 1 Cor 1:10; Relation with the Holy Spirit via μεταμορφοῦσθαι and anakainoo Ro 12:2 ; Eph ; 4:23 ; or resistance to the Holy Spirit Rom 1:28 ; Eph 4:17; Col 2:18. ; 2 Ti 3:8; 1 Ti 6:5 ; Tit 1:15.


1. the material that covers the bones of a human or animal body, flesh Gen 40:19; 1 Km 17:44; 4 Km 9:36; Lk 24:39; Rv 19:18, 21 ; Rv 17:16. ; Ac 2:31 . Ro 2:28; Eph 2:11b; Col 2:13 ); Gal 6:13

2. person Col 2:1; Luk 2:26; Lk 3:6 (Is 40:5); J 17:2; Ac 2:17 (Jo 3:1); 1 Pt 1:24 (Is 40:6); 1 Cl 59:3; 64; 2 Cl 7:6; 17:5; Is 66:24); Mt 24:22; Mk 13:20; Ro 3:20 (Ps 142:2); 1 Cor 1:29; Gal 2:16.

3. physical existence Eph 2:14; Hb 10:20; 1 Pt 3:18; 4:1a; 1J 4:2; 2J 7; 1 Cor 7:28. 2 Cor 4:11; Col 1:24. Jn 1:14; Rom 4:1

4. Man living without God, in war with God, opposed to pneuma 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Cor 7:1; Col 2:5; 1 Pt 4:6; Gal 5:19-21

5. Wrong way of thinking Col 2:18

6. Evil will Eph 2:3

The anthropological Πνεῦμα

1. Breath (the Spirit gives life anthropologically breath gives life) J 3:8a ; Hb 1:7; 1 Cl 36:3 (both Ps 103:4) ; 2 Th 2:8 (Is 11:4; Ps 32:6).

2. Physical existence together with spiritual existence. Pneuma and σάρξ sarx (2 Cor 7:1) together can refer the to the complete human existence, in the non-ethical sense pneuma and σάρξ sarx are not opposed but refer to two aspects of human reality in relation with God. This idea is opposed to platonism and gnosticism.

3. The whole person/individual 1 Cor 5:5 (opposition between flesh and spirit on the one hand and the individual as a spiritual being made for eternity and God on the other hand; excommunication can lead the person to repentance); 1 Cor 15:45 opposition between Adam and Jesus, the last Adam who lived entirely by the Holy Spirit despite the physical life on earth).

4. Thoughts Col 2:5; 1 Cor 5:3-5; 1 Cor 7:34; Phil 1:27; Mk 2:8; Eph 4:23; Rom 1:9; 11:8; 12:11; 1 Cor 5:3-4; 1 Cor 14:32; 2 Cor 4:13.

5. Emotions Lk 10:21; Jn 11:3; Rom 12:11; 1 Cor 16:18; 2 Cor 2:13 ; .

6. Attitude 1 Cor 4:21; Gal 6:1. 1 Pt 3:4

7. Relationship with God or resistance to God 1 Cor 5:5; 6:17; 1 Cor 14:14-16 (emotions, thoughts, but without reasoning in connection with a known language).


The two states

The net result of the biblical anthropological vision for both the Hebrew and the Greek texts, following them, is that we can live in two states or conditions. One is our physical state or condition. Our life on earth is entirely physical including emotions and thoughts leading to relationships with God and people, another state or condition is spiritual. On earth we live in a spiritual reality at the same time as in a physical reality. For eternity we will live with God. After physical death, we will be in God’s presence, in the intermediate state regarding the eschatological period. The body will resurrect. The resurrected body will be different from the current body. The resurrected body will be able to live in God’s presence for eternity. Paul calls this body spiritual body. One unity. Now we live in an earthly body, one unity. All our existence on earth, movement, positions (sitting, lying, standing), emotions, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, conscience, communication with God and people are experienced in physical form, our earthly existence, we are one. After death, before the return of Christ, we will be bodiless in the intermediate state, a strange and unacceptable situation for Paul, that is why that state cannot last forever, because then we are not complete, we are made in bodily form. Angels have no physical essence but are heavenly or spiritual bodies. They are limited not as God, who is unlimited. The same is true for the both OT and NT Greek. The Hebrews thinking is visible in the usage of the words, reflecting OT theological and here anthropological thinking.

The NT anthropological vision is clearly not derived from Plato or his Greek colleagues but from the OT anthropology. The number of anthropological concepts is an indicator that there cannot be a vision that is based on two or three parts composing the human being.

The reality of the human existence is in the biblical texts does not lead either to a two or three part view since reality is not described as physical opposed to non-physical, but is an entirely physical reality that experiences God or not and is at the same time a spiritual reality in a physical world. The key anthropological terms are used to express the human reality both with or without God but do not divide the individual into parts.

If there is any dichotomy, it is therefore the life with God or the life without God, but not a composition of the human being. Another dichotomy would be the life before the Parousia and the life after the Parousia. This is a chronological and cosmological dichotomy, not an anthropological one.

The triune God is one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Man and woman are supposed to be one. שָׁלוֹם not only means peace, but first of all wholeness, completeness, nothing is missing, undividedness. God made the human being in his image. The human being is one and lives in two states, or aspects of reality: the physical and the spiritual. Everyone lives constantly as a physical being. Emotions and thoughts can be measured physically. At the same time, we live in a spiritual reality, God’s reality. A world of angels and demons. Our physical life is lived in a spiritual reality. We are spiritual beings and as such can live in an intimate relationship with God. We can open or close our hearts to demons, evil spirits. We can open or close our hear to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our relationship with God has an impact on our whole physical being: thoughts, emotions, bodily functions. May the peace of the Holy Spirit be with your heart, mind, spirit, body, thoughts, emotions and relationships. Amen, come Lord Jesus.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Est-ce que le corps est le royaume de Dieu ?

Blog Français Academics Q&R : Est-ce que le corps est le royaume de Dieu ? Quelqu’un disait que le mot « corps » dans le NT n’est jamais utilisé ayant le sens « royaume de Dieu. » Vrai ou faux ?

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Payment info:

Ralf Lubs

IBAN: BE24 0000 7266 6538

©2020 by PeaceLiterature