About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Faulty And Flimsy Premises


All of what I’ve been saying is to help us have a sound premise to build our teaching on.  If we have a flimsy or faulty premise our teaching will be in error. 


As a young Christian in 1972 I wrote about "spirit soul and body".  This teaching states that man is triune in nature, consisting of three distinct and separate parts - a spirit and a soul housed in a body.  I based my teaching on one verse, something we should never do.  1 Timothy 5:23 says, "I pray your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless…"  Those who hold to this teaching believe from this verse that Paul taught that we consist of these three parts.  It never crossed my mind that Paul ”might” not have meant for me to build a doctrine from these three words, but I did  until one of my Bible college teachers suggested another way of thinking.


It’s bad hermeneutics to base a teaching on one sentence as I did with 1Timothy 5:23.  There’s also another problem that arises from this, and that is we often base secondary teachings on this one teaching we derive from just one verse.  If the premise of the original teaching is faulty because it’s based on one verse, then any secondary teaching we build from the original teaching will be faulty as well.  If you base spirit soul and body solely on 1 Tim.5:23 then any subsequent teaching that comes from spirit soul and body will be based on a flimsy foundation and is thus questionable. 


Those who hold to spirit soul and body whole-heartedly do build secondary doctrines on it, such as generational curses and demon possession.  Some of these people suggest that a curse or a demon can reside in your soul but not your spirit. To say this you need to believe in a distinct separation of spirit and soul. Personally I believe the line between spirit and soul is way too blurry and indistinguishable to build such secondary teachings on.


My Bible college teacher pointed out to me that when God made man, He made him to be a living soul as the KJV puts it. (Genesis 2:7)   Therefore my teacher suggested that the totality of man is a “living soul”.  If man is a soul, then there’s no logic in saying we are a body housing a distinctly separate soul and spirit.


My teacher also pointed out that Jesus told us to love the Lord with all our  hearts, souls, minds and strength” – four parts that doesn’t even include our bodies.  (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30).  He suggested that if you believe that Paul told us we consist of three parts then you should believe that Jesus told us that we consist of at least four parts.  Also, spirit soul and body teaching states that the mind is part of the soul, but Jesus makes a distinction between soul and mind as if they were distinct and separate.


I’m not sure Jesus and Paul wanted us to make a well defined doctrine out of these particular words.  What I think they were saying is that we should love the Lord and be blameless in every part of who we are, whatever those parts are.   


On the other side to what I've just said, those who hold to man being a living soul also build their doctrine on just one verse.  That's Genesis 2:7, which by the way, the KJV translates poorly.  The NIV uses the words "living being".  The Hebrew word that is translated as soul or being means "breath".  Man did not become a living breath.  He was created as a material being, not s soulish or spiritual being.  Besides, the same Hebrew word that the KJV translates as soul in Genesis 2:7 that some claim to be the totality of man, is used in a number of places in the Old Testament in a New Testament sense.  That is the soul within the body. 


On both sides of this fence people have made some bad premises.


How you view this issue is beside the point.  Building your thinking on one statement that can easily be interpreted differently from person to person results in questionable teaching.  


Next Chapter

Previous Chapter