Explain the trinity of man? Since the trinity of man is a reflection of the Trinity of God, one cannot be dogmatic in his comments because he must first understand the Trinity of God, a mystery which simply cannot be grasped by mortal mind. Only a fool would attempt a dogmatic exegesis of this enigma. We can only trust what the Bible says, but what man says is subject to his own weaknesses. Now having qualified my remarks I will proceed, with help from the Holy Spirit I pray, to explain my human understanding of what the Bible says in this matter.
The concept of the trinity of man does not imply that man is equal to God. God is unique, He is our creator, He is our King, and He is our superior. But, Adam before he sinned, and man in his born again state are in the image of God and are therefore a trinity.
Neither plants nor animals have a spirit. Not even Balaam’s ass is referred to as having a spirit. So, while it is true that animals do have a certain good or bad demeanor, it is pushing the issue to infer that they have a spirit that is a supernatural essence in the same sense as a spirit being. Nor do they have a soul. I invite anyone to prove me wrong on this. The only case of animals having spirits, that I’m aware of, was when a legion of devils invaded a herd of swine, and then the swine did not possess spirits but spirits possessed them.
I John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” God is a Trinity, a three-in-one God.
Genesis 1:26-27 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Mankind was created in God’s image, therefore, as God is a Trinity, man was created as a trinity.
Having a Spirit, which is analogous to God the Holy Spirit; a soul, which is analogous to God the Father; and a body, which is analogous to God the Son.
Are born-again believers really three-in-one persons? Definitely! Paul, in I Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body...” Spirit, and soul, and body; a trinity.
Adam was created in the image of God, but when he sinned the spirit which God had breathed into him died just as God had warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God doesn’t lie. Adam’s spirit died on the same day that he sinned and he was thus no longer in the image of God! He was left as a two-in-one person having only a soul and body.
God and born again believers have a three-in-one characteristic. I prefer to use the word triune to describe the Trinity instead of the word trichotomous, which is favored by several philosophers. Triune means three-in-unity and it fits the concept of the Trinity, whereas the word trichotomous means something cut into three pieces, according to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. The same is true for the word diune versus dichotomous, when describing the two-fold nature of unsaved man.
If Adam’s spirit had died, departed into hell presumably, how could Adam beget an offspring that would be born with a spirit? Notice that Genesis 5:3 says, “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:” This does not say that Seth was in the image of God, it says that Seth was in the image of Adam! Therefore, while man (Adam) was created in God’s image, mankind in their unsaved state are not in His image.
Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” …to be conformed to the image…this implies that the unsaved do NOT conform to His image. Therefore, there is no scriptural demand for unsaved people to be three-in-one beings and thus have a spirit. Unsaved mankind are not spiritual beings. This is all according to God’s plan.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The natural man…unsaved mankind, are not spiritual beings, therefore, they do not understand spiritual matters.
Colossians 3:10 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” The new man is in the image of Him…not the old man! The unsaved man is not in the image of God. The new man must be triune, having body, soul, and spirit. But the old man has no spirit, only a body and soul.
Also II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We are changed into the image of God by the Spirit of the Lord. We wouldn’t have to be changed into the image of God if we were already in His image.
II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” …he is a new creature, not like the old man who was in the image of fallen Adam. When a person gets born again he becomes a new creature, in the triune image of God, a child of God. Our relationship to God went from being like apples and oranges to being like apples and apples.
Ephesians 4:24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Notice that it says, “…after God…” this means like God, in His image, which we obviously were not before. If the old man was not in the image of God then there is no scriptural requirement for the old man to be a triune being.
Spirits are spoken of throughout the Bible. Many are evil spirits. Mark chapter five mentions a man who had a legion of unclean spirits. Spirit also means demeanor, as has been mentioned earlier. Whenever the word spirit appears in the Bible one should not assume that this refers to a spirit being. Some people equate the mind with the soul, but if they were the same thing what would happen to a person who gets Alzheimer’s Disease and loses his mind? Did he lose his soul?
Daniel 7:15 says, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” But this use of the word “spirit” refers to Daniel’s demeanor, not to an indwelling spirit. Daniel was among the Godliest of men, but he did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit at the time he wrote the book of Daniel.
Matthew 12:45 says, “Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Was this a ten-in-one man? He was definitely not in the image of God. This man was not a spiritual being, he did not possess a spirit, he was possessed by a spirit. In fact eight spirits possessed him. Can an unsaved man have a spirit? Here in verse 43 it indicates that the first spirit was free to come and go, therefore the man did not possess that spirit. That spirit was a demon and not a normal component of unsaved mankind. An unsaved man does not possess a spirit but a spirit can possess him.
I rather like the King James practice of using the expression “Holy Ghost.” This eliminates a lot of misunderstanding. This clearly refers to a Spiritual Being. When a person gets born again a ghost is born within him. God’s spiritual essence, a ghost, is what God breathed into Adam. When Adam sinned he lost that ghost which God had breathed into him. The word ghost has fallen into disuse because the word conjures up thoughts of Halloween.
Throughout the Old Testament people are spoken of as having a spirit, but the context rules out a ghost. The Spirit of God is sometimes referred to as coming upon an individual, but that individual did not possess that spirit or any other. Spirits are not always Godly spirits. Also, according to the context sometimes the use of the word “spirit” refers to an attitude, or demeanor, or simply one’s mind.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God is spoken of as having come upon certain people, but the Spirit of God is never referred to as indwelling anyone. In the Old Testament, The Spirit of God came upon selected people to empower them to do certain things. For example: Judges 6:34, “But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.” You see, this “coming upon” is not the same as “indwelling.” We become children of God when we are born of God.
Gideon did not become a child of God when the Spirit of God came upon him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon to give him power to accomplish the things which God had for him to do. Search the Old Testament scriptures and you will see that no one was ever referred to as the children of God. They were referred to as the children of Israel, or the children of Reuben, or the children of Simeon, or some other earthly man. They could not be born again as the children of God until Jesus had actually atoned for their sin. Deceased Old Testament saints were held in paradise awaiting the redemption of Christ. They are now in heaven with the Lord, and are children of God. Their bodies are still in the grave awaiting the rapture.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon men to empower them to perform something, but the Holy Spirit never indwelt them, except in the case of young Adam and Eve. Prove me wrong on this. The Spirit of God coming upon a man does not mean the same as indwelling a man. Coming upon and indwelling don’t mean the same thing. Before Pentecost God’s Spirit came upon men; after Pentecost God’s Spirit indwells them.
Only two people ever died spiritually, Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve were ever subsequently saved then possibly the spirit which they originally possessed was returned to them from wherever it had been. But other people who are born again cannot have a spirit returned to them if they have never had one in the first place. We are spiritually born again, begat, a new creature…we receive a spirit, a new creation which we did not have before. This is not a spirit that was dragged out of the torment of hell and is now revived.
Remember this: we are not saved by what we know; we are saved by Who we know.