Body, Soul and Spirit

Dancing in the Kingdom – Table of Contents

Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 3 – The Image-bearers

[Bible references: Genesis 2; Matthew 3:16-17; 19:6; Acs 2:42-47; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 12:4-30; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 21-22]

The mystery of perichoresis which tries to describe the one person God consisting of the relation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may very well be the best approach to the mystery of God’s image-bearers. There are conflicting views on whether a person consists of a body and soul or body and spirit or body and soul and spirit. Are we two parts or three parts then which parts? A similar issue arises in the attempts to figure out the relation between the brain and consciousness.[1] Although some researchers reductionistically think that consciousness is all biology and that we will be able to eventually build a computer with a conscious, it is likely that the mystery of perichoresis will prevail.

As image-bearers, being created as community of male and female points one way to the community of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also points in another way to their unity as represented by becoming “one flesh.” There is an element of equality with a difference between male and female as represented by the woman being created from, what has been commonly translated, a “rib” from Adam’s side. The equality becomes more apparent however, when we understand the word that has been translated as “rib” is more usually translated as “side” – as if Eve were constructed from a full half Adam’s side.[2]

Yet the Hebrew word צלע (tsela) does not mean “rib,” but rather “side.” … Adam’s own words clarify that Eve comes from one of his sides when he declares of his wife, “Finally, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” (Gen 2:23). Had Eve been created from the man’s rib alone, Adam would only have been able to say that she was “bone of his bone.” As Adam’s bone and flesh, the woman is the man’s “other half.” When man and woman cleave to one another and return to being “one flesh” (2:24), the two equal halves of humanity are brought back together.[3]

Adam’s “deep sleep” (תרדמה, tardemah) connotes a hospital patient’s sleep via anesthesia. However, the practice of anesthesiology was unknown in ancient Israel; Genesis does not have modern medicine in mind. Rather than physical sleep, tardemah denotes a visionary trance … Instead of splitting Adam physically, God provides him with a vision to show him the meaning of the relationship that he will have with his wife: a fully equal partnership with a person who constitutes his “other half.”[4]

The mystery deepens further when we consider the sexual union of husband and wife. Our male and femaleness show us our human incompleteness without each other. In the joining of the male and female bodies we manifest a completeness. Humans are unlike all other creatures in that we are made in God’s image with body, soul and spirit, and our spirit is joined to God’s Spirit. Therefore, the sexual union of husband and wife, unlike other creatures, is described as becoming “one flesh.” The combination of spiritual union and physical union creates a living metaphor of the union of Christ with the Church. The love, intensity and passion of two different but complementary bodies united both in spirit and in “one flesh” is an extension of the perichoresis of the Trinity as the bodies of the image-bearers united in spirit with Christ become the body of Christ on earth, joined in love, intensity and passion, enjoying the overflowing goodness and shalom that God has intended for us.

We are created body, soul and spirit with the intention that when heaven and earth are rejoined, we will be restored body, soul and spirit (although it will be in resurrected bodies) in the new heaven and earth. It is also through our bodies that we are restored to Christ. When he took on flesh.

God created the flesh of man, which the Son assumes in the Incarnation, all so that he might save the flesh of man. Tertullian states this idea straightforwardly: caro salutis cardo, the flesh is the hinge of salvation …Thus, our bodies are not meat-suits to be discarded or clusters of atoms that will disintegrate and disappear. They are made to last, because God’s kingdom will last, taking up from this world all that is good and preserving it. All that is made in and through Christ – including the body – will find its ultimate meaning in him. “My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Ps. 84:2 RSV).[5]

When fellow Christ-bearers assemble together, they are together the Body of Christ, with each person bringing different gifts to support and strengthen the others in the Body.

Paul’s marital imagery in describing the relationship between Christ and the church. By wedding himself to humanity, Christ truly becomes “one flesh” with them (Ephesians 5:30–32), making them his members, “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), with Christ as their Head (Colossians 1:18). Head and body are joined through the “bond of charity,” the love that has been “shed abroad in our hearts” by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The union of love between Head and body is so close that “Head and body speak as one,” because they are “no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6).[6]


[1] Tolson, Jay. “Is There Room for the Soul?” CBS News 15 Oct 2006 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-there-room-for-the-soul/

[2] Walton, John. “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate”. InterVarsity Press. 2015 Kindle Edition. p. 78

[3] Schaser, Nicholas J. “Did Eve Come From Adam’s “Rib?” Israel Bible Weekly 8 May 2021 weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/eve-come-adams-rib/

[4] Schaser, Nicholas J. “Splitting the Adam” Israel Bible Weekly 23 July 2021 weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/splitting-the-adam/

[5] Franks, Angela. “What’s a Body For?” Plough Quarterly 6 Aug 2018 http://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/culture-of-life/whats-a-body-for

[6] Colbrook, Niamh. “Inhabiting Our Feeling Bodies” Comment Essay 26 Aug 2021 comment.org/inhabiting-our-feeling-bodies

Reflect

If God’s love is expressed through our current bodies which were used to shape our character, do you think that it is possible that our resurrected bodies will retain aspects of our current bodies which have shaped us in the same way that Jesus’ resurrection body still bore his scars?

Observe

Read Genesis 2. Unlike other creatures who were simply created male and female, Genesis 2 gives a story of a man being specifically made from the dust and a woman being created from the side of the man. What do think was God’s purpose for describing the origin of his image-bearers?

Author: transcendenttouched

I have been teaching the Bible to children and adults for over twenty years. Most recently, including teaching Discipleship/Confirmation classes. I have also been involved in various church leadership roles for many of those years. Until recently, my writing endeavors have been confined mainly to poetry. I've written an anthology of my first 40 years of writing poetry in my book, Growing. I have also written an overview of the Bible called, God Reveals Himself.

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