Our bodies give us a consciousness of our world,
the physical things that we can see and touch. Through them we are related to the external world and we can influence or be influenced by it.
Our spirits give us a consciousness of God and the spiritual world. Through our spirits we may be the recipients of the Spirit of God and then minister by it's life and power. (Acts 1:8; Rom 8:9)
Standing between these two worlds and belonging to both is the soul. It is the meeting place between the physical and the spiritual and gives each of us an awareness of ourselves.
The first reference, Gen
2:7, concerns when God was creating the earth and everything in it.
In Gen 1:26 we find that we are made in the image of God, according to His likeness. The start of chapter 2 is a summary of God's creation. From verse 8 onwards Genesis tells us of God forming from the ground trees and setting up the garden of Eden, where He placed the man He had formed to cultivate it and keep it.
Genesis 2:7 starts with and, (kai), which in greek links it to the previous summary of creation.
After He had formed man the next verb used is enefushsen. It is very relevant to the above argument and may be the crux of many arguments concerning our living existence. This verb in the third person, singular number, is in the indicative mood with an active voice and an aorist tense.
In Genesis it wasn't a
breath of fresh air that God breathed into man. The adjective used
pnohn, ( a breath, wind, blast of wind), and is qualified by the following genitive form of zwhs (life, living existence, source of spiritual life). This word pnohn only appears twice in the New Testament, and only in the book of Acts. Luke uses this word to describe the sound of the Holy Spirit when it came upon them at Pentecost....see Acts 2:2.
The second incident of this word is by Paul while in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy(Acts 17:15-16). He had noticed that the city was full of idols and his spirit was provoked within him. He had found an alter inscribed unknown god and proceeded to proclaim God to them, part of which was Acts 17:25 "neither by human hands [does] He receive service, wanting of anything/anyone, He (Himself) giving to all life,and breath, and all [things](everything)" These words attributed to Paul tell us that God is giving to all life and breath and everything. Why do we need breath as well if God has given us life?. Every time this word pnohn is used it has come from God, either stated directly from Him or from heaven. There is nothing normal about this breath/wind, it is godly and He uses it as a light to search the hidden room of our inner selves.
In 1 Thes 5:23 Paul uses the aorist tense and the
optative mood of the verb to sanctify, here indicating a process seen in perspective and so contemplated as a complete act. It is followed by plural adjectives, which means Paul was asking for
a blessing on the complete church of Thessalonia.
In the next phrase, Paul uses the nominative case and singular number. Through the difference Paul is drawing attention to the fact that he means every part of each one of the church. He specifically states which parts he wants God to sanctify, the spirit, the soul and the body.
For greek students, with umas at the beginning of this triplicate subject we can translate it as your spirit, your soul and your body. In both these prayers Paul's emphasis is on the thoroughness of God's sanctifying work.
Of the three parts of man's nature the part linking him to God is the highest and his body linking him to the animals is the lowest.
The soul is the bond through which these can act on each other. It's work was to maintain them in this order, to keep the body subject to the spirit, itself to receive through the spirit and pass down to the body. After the fall this order changed.
The flesh envelopes man and subjugates him. ( the body takes over). This is why we need to deny the flesh (Mark 8:34), its desires are against the Spirit, (Gal 5:17), and be renewed (Tit 3:5; Eph 4:23), so that we walk in the Spirit and not the flesh (Gal 5:16).