Body, Soul, and Spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…

I. Every department of the universe of matter finds itself represented in the BODY of man.

1. Whenever he receives, digests, and is nourished by food, and experiences bodily pain, man lives the life of the: animal.

2. The hair, which grows and is nourished, and yet which is endowed with no sensation, belongs to, and connects us with, the vegetable kingdom.

3. Mineral matter enters largely into the composition of the circulating lifeblood, whose current throbs in every extremity of our frame — and thus a link of sympathy, and community of nature, is established between man and a third great department of matter.

II. The Soul is that, which when held in combination with the body, connects us with the beasts of the field. For by the soul is probably to be understood the passions or affections — such as have no element of reason or the higher nature in them — perhaps natural instincts would be a more generally intelligible term. It will not be denied that brutes manifest fear, when they are threatened or punished; that there is a strong spirit of emulation and competition among horses; that anger and jealousy will lead stags to encounter one another; that all animals care for their young, and that in some the maternal instinct is developed with a power which almost surpasses that feeling as it exists in man. Now fear and emulation and anger and parental affection, and other such instincts — in their crude state, unmodified by reason, and the sense of right and wrong — constitute, I suppose, the ψυχὴ, or soul, of which the apostle is here speaking.

III. The SPIRIT comprises all that higher part of human nature, by which man holds of God and blessed angels. The spirit gives him a sympathy with the world above, even as the soul gives him a sympathy with the animals, and as the body gives him a sympathy with the material universe. Angels are said to be "ministering spirits." And it is remarkable that when man is spoken of in the Scriptures as holding communion with God, the spirit and not the body is mentioned as the organ through which that communion is held (Romans 1:9; John 4:24). The beasts that perish cannot apprehend God, cannot understand the Divine Word and Will, or hold communion in any form with the Eternal. Why not? They have no natural capacity for doing so. Some link in their nature is wanting, which, if it were present, might make them competent to an exercise so sweet and yet so awful. That link is πνεὺμα — spirit.

(Dean Goulburn.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WEB: May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Body, Soul, and Spirit
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