The Biblical View of Man
God, by His Word created the world out of nothing. He made man in His own image and likeness for His glory, asthe crown of creation, that man might havefellowshipwith Him and worship and serve Him.
Man was created by the direct, personal act of God, apart from any organic evolutionary process (Ge 1:27; 2:7,21-
Adam and Eve are spoken of in the Bible as two human beings, each being endowed by God with a soul (2:7). The Genesis record gives good evidence that this first pair were moral beings, that is, they are equipped with the powers of right and wrong choice as seen in the probation under which they are placed by God (vv. 16-
The Bible as a whole supports the view that man was created by God both as to material and immaterial natures (5:1-
The two accounts of man's creation in Genesis emphasize different aspects. The account of chapter one presents the creation of man in his relationship to his environment whereas the account in chapter two presents the creation of man in his relation to his Creator. Also, the second account (2:7) completes the first (1:26-
The Scriptures clearly teach thatthe whole human race is descended froma single pair(1:27-
The unity of man should also be seen in the context of his sexual nature. The two statements in which God says: "Let us make man" (Ge 1:26) and "Male and female He made them" (v. 27) implies that the idea of man is incomplete in that neither the male nor the female should be considered by itself in isolation from the other. The two together constitute the human species. A solitary male or female individual, therefore, would not constitute the species of man.
The Material Part: The Body
The body was originally made fromdust of the ground(Ge 2:7; 3:19). "Adam" means "red arable soil." Because man was made of dust his body needs elements that are found in soil for its sustenance. We ingest these elements through food. When a person dies, his body returns to dust in its natural state to await its resurrection (Ge 3:19; Jn 5:28-
Although Paul distinguished between human flesh and animal flesh (1 Co 15:39), both areanimatedby the same means: by thesoul(Ge 35:18; Mt 26:38; Lk 12:20) and by thespirit(Ge 7:22; Ps 104:29; Lk 8:55; Jas 2:26). Thus when it is abandoned by these animating principles, the body dies and returns to dust and the soul or spirit of the person returns to God (in the Old Testament literallysheol—the place of the departed dead and since the New Testament times Paradise—where God dwells) who imparted it in the beginning (Ge 2:7; Ecc 12:7; Job 34:14-
Since Adam's sin, human bodies have beeninherently corrupt and mortal(Ro 8:10; 1 Co 15:53). This means these bodies are subject to aging, weakness, degeneration, disease, and eventually death (vv. 42-
Since the body is theonly means people have through which they can express themselves, those who are indwelt by God's Spirit are to glorify God through their bodies in this world (1 Co 10:31). Even though the body still awaits its final redemption (glorification—Ro 8:23), the bodies of those who have been indwelt by God's Spirit (v. 16) are not to be used as tools for the expression of sin. Even in unredeemed bodies, Christians can live a life of holiness as they have died to sin and to its claim upon them (6:2) and yielded them as instruments of God and of righteousness (vv. 6-
Because the body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit" it should not be regarded as our enemy as pagan philosophy teaches. Rather, we should carefullycarefor our body as we nourish, discipline, and yield it to God for His holy purposes (Ro 6:16,19; 13:14; 1 Co 9:26-
Since our physical well-
These bodies will be delivered from their inherent corruption and the resident sin-
In the meantime our bodies are like fallen Adam's body and thus express qualities of Adam's sinful state and the genetic features of our ancestors.
MAN AS MALE AND FEMALE
In the first chapter of Genesis we have a brief, yet magnificent, comment on the meaning of human sexuality. The narrative opens majestically as God brings the universe into existence by speaking the creative word. And this universe that God created is "good, very good" (Ge 1:31).
Human beings are theapexof God's creation. Human creation is set apart from all others, for it is in theimago dei, the image of God. Notice how closely related our human sexuality is to God's image:
"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female. He created them" (v. 27).
Strange as it may seem, our sexuality, our maleness and femaleness, is somehow related to our creation in the image of God. At its essence, sex is not something we do as much as something weare. God made us sexual creatures.
Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, was the first major theologian to help us see the implications of this confession of Scripture that human sexuality is grounded in the image of God. What he has helped us understand is thatrelationshipis at the heart of what it means to be "in the image of God" and that the relationship between male and female is the human expression of our relationship with God.
Our human sexuality—our maleness and femaleness—is not just an accidental arrangement of the human species, not just a convenient way to keep the human race going. Rather it is at the center, at the heart, of our true humanity. We exist as male and female in relationship. Our sexualness, our capacity to love and be loved, is intimately related to our creation in the image of God. What a high view of human sexuality!
THE CREATION OF MAN
God spoke all of the creation into existenceexcept for human beings. To create Adam, God took the dust of the earth and breathed life into it:"And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground andbreathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being [soul]" (Ge 2:7).
Man is made up of dust and God's breath: Dust & God's Breath=Man. Man is described by Moses (v. 7) as a "living being" (NIV), "living creature" (ESV) or "soul" (KJV). Solomon in describing man’s death says, "andthe dust [the body] returns to the groundit came from, andthe spirit returns to Godwho gave it" (Ecc 12:7). This implies the immortality of man’s spirit.
Man as "living being" or "soul" includes his whole person. This means that his body is part of who he is rather than just something he has (as the Greeks taught). Man does not, therefore,havea body, heisa body. In the same way man does nothavea spirit, heisa spirit. Man does nothavea soul, heisa soul.Man is a unified being: body and soul (if spirit is included as part of soul as it is in Hebrew thought), or body, soul and spirit (to emphasize the distinctive makeup of man). Thus what affects the body deeply affects the soul as well, and vice versa.
Thatunion of earthly dust and divine breathgives us one of the most insightful descriptions of human nature. As in the case of Adam, God did not speak Eve into existence as the rest of the creation as though she were a part of nonhuman reality. And because she was not breathed into dust as Adam was, she was not a creation unrelated to man. Her very creation shows her related-
Moses points out that "the man said,""This is nowbone of my bonesandflesh of my flesh;she shall be called 'woman,'for she wastaken out of man"(Ge 2:23). Instead of independent autonomy, the two of them are interwoven, interdependent, interlaced. Notice Adam's need for a partner: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. It will make ahelper suitable for him" (v. 18).
We see here that sex was originally designed to end isolation and aloneness. This reflects something that exists in the persons of the Triune God—communionof Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even though there is no physical or sexual expression of the persons of the Godhead, since they are spirits (except for God the Son who is both God and man: God-
The Bible points out that a helper for Adam was not to be found in what God had already created:"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field andall the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would namethem; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. Sothe man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts ofthe field.But for Adamno suitable helperwas found" (Ge 2:19-
In Sumerian, one of the languages of Mesopotamia, the word for "rib" also means "life." Something of that concept is intended here: the woman comes into being out of the very life of the man. Life begets life. And then it is the woman who becomes the lifegiver as she is given the gift to give birth.
The word "helpmate" in Hebrew means "suitable helper" (literally "as against him"). The idea is that this "suitable helper" will bring balance to the male. It is best understood by the ancient method of using counterweights to attain a balance. One weight without the counterweight is imbalanced. Only as the weights are used "against each other" is balance synthesized. Man was created imbalanced even before the Fall. He needed the woman to bring the balance God intended. Augustine, in order to show the interdependence of the man and the woman, stated: "The woman was not made from one of the bones in the man's head in order to make it possible for her to lord it over him, nor was she made from one of the bones in the foot in order to enable him to trample and crush her. Rather, she was made from one of the bones in his side, so that they might share life together in mutual protection, concern, love and care."
THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN
Man's Psychological Constitution
All are agreed that man has both a material and an immaterial nature. His material nature is his body; his immaterial nature is his soul and spirit. The question arises, Is man a two-
The Dichotomous Theory
Theologian A. H. Strong claims:
"The immaterial part of man, viewed as an individual and conscious life, capable of possessing and animating a physical organism, is called psuche; viewed as a rational and moral agent, susceptible of divine influence and indwelling, this same immaterial part is calledpneuma. Thepneuma, then, is man's nature looking Godward, and capable of receiving and manifesting the Holy Spirit, thepsucheis man's nature looking earthward, and touching the world of sense. Thepneumais man's higher part, as related to spiritual realities or as capable of such relation:psucheis man's higher part as related to the body, or as capable of such relation. Man's being is therefore not trichotomous but dichotomous, and his immaterial part, while possessing duality of powers, has unity of substance."1
(1) God breathed into man but one principle, the living soul (Ge 2:7). In Job 27:3 and 33:18 "life" and "spirit" seem to be used interchangeably (33:18). At times the word "soul" is used in such a way as to be synonymous with one's self or life (Mt 16:26).
(2) The term "soul" and "spirit" seem to be used interchangeably in some references (Ge 41:8 and 42:6; Jn 12:27 and 13:21; Mt 6:25; 20:28 and 27:50; Lk 1:46-
Death is described as giving up the soul (Ge 35:18; I Ki 17:21; Ac 15:26) and as giving up the spirit (Ps 31:5; Lk 23:46).
(3) "Spirit" as well as "soul" is ascribed to brute creation (Ecc 3:21; Rev 16:3). However the living principle is beasts (soul or spirit) is believed to be irrational and mortal; in man, rational and immortal.
(4) "Soul" is ascribed to Jehovah (Am 6:8; Jer. 9:9; Isa 42:1; 53:10-
(5) The highest place in religion is ascribed to the soul.
(Mk 12:30; Lk 1:46; Heb 6:18-
(6) Body and soul (or spirit) are spoken of as constituting the whole of man (Mt 10:28;
1 Co 5:3; 2 Jn 2) and that to lose the "soul" is to lose all (Mt 16:26; Mk 8:36-
Consciousness testifies that there are two elements in man's being: a material part and an immaterial part. But the consciousness of no one can discriminate between soul and spirit.
The Trichotomous Theory
This theory holds that man consists of three distinct elements,body,soul, andspirit. The body is the material part of our constitution; the soul is the principle of animal life; and the spirit is the principle of our rational life. Some add to this last statement "and immortal" life. This can, however, not be made an essential part of the theory. Those who take this extreme view hold that at the death the body returns to the earth; the soul ceases to exist, and the spirit alone remains to be reunited with the body at the resurrection.
(1) In the first place, Genesis 2:7 does not absolutely declare that God made man a two-
(2) Paul seems to think of body, soul, and spirit as three distinct parts of man's nature
(1 Th 5:23). The same thing seems to be indicated in the Word is said to pierce "even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow" (Heb 4:12).
(3) Such a threefold organization of man's nature seem also to be implied in the classification of men as "natural, "carnal," and "spiritual" (1 Co 2:14-
It is probable, however, that we are to think of man's immaterial nature as composed of a lower and a higher portion (Heb 4:12). To the soul would belong man's imagination, memory, understanding; to the spirit, his powers of reason, conscience, and free will. This variation from the traditional trichotomous view makes it possible to conserve the arguments for the dichotomous view, and yet explain how some Christians are "carnal" and others "spiritual." It also agrees with, the teaching that the present body a "soul-
Man's Moral Constitution
Man'smoral constitutionrefers to those powers which fit him for right or wrong action. These powers are intellect, sensibility or emotion and will, together with that peculiar power of discrimination and impulsion, which we call conscience.
Intellect enables man to discern between what is right and what is wrong; it is that faculty that can be impressed with a course of action or the choice of several courses of action.
Emotion or Sensibility
The emotions appeal to him to do the same or the other; they set value on the course of action.
The term "will" is used in a twofold sense:
The will is referred to in the sense of inclination or disposition of mind. We speak now of the particular bent, tendency or proclivity that a person may follow. They, of course, involve individual acts but this has to do mainly with the general trend or practice of which one is inclined.
Volition is the exercise of that power to act in given situations. It is the actual choosing, the termination of a course of action in the mind of the person.
Man does not commit a moral act without the function of thewill. The intellect may be impressed with a certain course of action, the emotions will set value on pursuing one course or another but the transaction is not complete until the will has acted. This distinguishes man from animals. Man can think objectively, weigh circumstances, obey his conscience and act in the light of revealed circumstances. This makes a moral creature.
The word "heart" is the most comprehensive term in Scripture in describing the nonphysical parts and functions of man. It is used to represent soul, spirit, mind, conscience-
This word (Hebrewleborlebab) is used 850 times in the Old Testament with the following connotations:
• the seat of physical energy (Ps 22:14; Isa 1:5).
• the seat of desire (Pr 6:25).
• the seat of one's disposition or mood.
(Ex 4:21; 2 Sa 17:10; 1 Ki 8:23; 11:3; 12:27; Eze 21:7)
• the seat of the will (2 Sa 7:27; 2 Ki 12:4).
• the seat of reasoning (Ge 6:5).
• the seat of perception (Dt 29:4).
• the seat of understanding (1 Ki 3:9; Pr 28:26).
• the seat of the self (Ge 17:17; 1 Ki 8:47, or "themselves"—Ecc 2:1).
• the seat of the conscience (1 Sa 24:5; 2 Sa 24:10).
In the New Testament the word "heart" (Gk. kardia) occurs about 155 times and has functions or meanings similar to its Old Testament usage:
• the seat of physical life and energy (Jas 5:5).
• the seat of the emotions (Jn 14:1; 16:6; Ac 2:26; 2 Co 2:4).
• the seat of the will (Ac 11:23; 2 Co 9:7).
• the seat of desires (Ro 10:1).
• the seat of the disposition (Mt 11:29; 13:15; 1 Pe 1:22).
• the seat of reasoning (Lk 12:45).
• the seat of the mind (Ac 7:23; 1 Co 2:9).
• the self (Mt 15:8; Ro 6:17; 10:10).
• the conscience (1 Jn 3:20-
The heart often pictured as the control center of a person's life (Pr 4:23; Mt 6:21; 12:35; Mk 7:21-
• Being inherently corrupted, the heart of unsaved people is inclined toward sin (Je 17:9; 18:12).
• Being purified by Christ's blood, the heart of the saved person is inclined toward righteousness (Ac 15:9; 2 Ti 2:22; Heb 10:22; 1 Pe 1:22).
• From the heart springs both good and evil conscience.
(Ps 119:11; Ac 5:3; Ro 5:5; Col 3:15,16; Eph 3:17; Rev 17:17)
• The heart is dominated by sin (Mt 12:34-
When the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as being "given to our heart" (2 Co 1:22; Gal 4:6) this means that He was given to us at salvation and now indwells us (Jn 14:16-
In addition to its physcial meaning, the word "belly" (Heb. beten) in the Old Testament represents the seat of the emotions (Job. 20:20; Ps 31:9) and thought (Job 15:35), and one's self (v. 2). In the New Testament the word (Gkkoilia) means one's inner being (Jn 7:38) or self (Ro 16:18). Generally, it refers to the physical organ (Lk 15:16).
Sometimes, this refers to the physical organ, but more often it has psychical or spiritual functions. In the Old Testament the bowels (Heb. meim) are the seat of the emotions
(Isa 16:11; Jer 31:20; SS 5:4; La 1:20). In the New Testament the word (Gk. splagchna) represents the seat of the emotions (2 Co 6:12; Php 1:8; 2:1; Col 3:12; Philemon 7) and the self (Phm 12,20).
Reins or Kidneys
In the Old Testament "reins" (Heb. keylayoth) refers to the seat of the emotions (Pr 23:16); the mind (Ps 16:7); the inner self with its thoughts, purposes, motivations (Ps 7:9; 25:2; Jer 11:20; 12:2; 20:12); and the conscience (Ps 73:21). In the New Testament the word (Gk.nephros) occurs only as the inner self with its thoughts, purposes, and motivations (Rev 2:23).
Man by his intellect reasons what should be done in a given situation. His will, however, must be put into action to accomplish such an act. Many times man's powers of reason are not sufficient alone to move the will, thus man's emotions or feelings come into play. He will not only reason what should be done but will begin to love one course of action and dislike the other.
Therefore, the emotions, which are so closely tied to the will, serve as a force to cause the will to act. It is possible in some cases for the emotions to play such a large part in the transaction that actually the reasoning powers have been left out and the will have been "overpowered" by theemotions. In such cases the man has done what he hasdesired, not necessarily what he reasoned to be the best course of action. When the will acts in conjunction with the intellect and the emotions then a moral act is accomplished.
The term "conscience" (Gr.suneidesis) never occurs in the Old Testament, but it appears thirty times in the New Testament. It comes from the Greek meaning "an accompanying knowledge" or "co-
Functions of Conscience
The primary work of conscience isdiscriminatoryin that it is involved in declaring whether or not a man's acts and states conform to the standard.
The standard is that law or rule of conduct which man has adopted for himself. The conscience merely judges whether or not man conforms to it. It will always decide correctly as to man's conforming; in that sense the conscience is uniform and infallible. The conscience has the power of discrimination and will always render its decision in the light of the standard given it.
Conscience is alsoimpulsivein that it declares those acts and states which conform to be obligatory. That is, the conscience impresses upon the consciousness of the individual that he has either acted correctly or should have acted correctly after it has renders a certain decision.
The conscience judges according to the standard given to it. If the moral standard accepted by the intellect is imperfect, the decisions of conscience, though relatively just, may be wholly unjust.
Theonly true standard for the conscience is the Word of God as interpreted by the Holy Spirit. When it judges according to other standards its decision is not certainly infallible; but when it judges according to the divinely inspired Scriptures, its verdict is absolutely infallible.
THE ORIGINAL STATE OF MAN
The Scriptures represent man's original condition by the phrase, "in the image and likeness of God" (Ge 1:26-
Image means "the shadow or outline of a figure, whilelikenessdenoted the resemblance of that shadow to the figure" but that also makes the two mean practically the same thing. Of what does that "image and likeness" consist?
It was aSpiritualLikeness
Spirituallyman is like God in that God who is Spirit communicates to man’s spirit (Ro 8:15-
"God is a Spirit, the human soul is a spirit. The essential attributes of a spirit are reason,conscience, and will. A spirit is a rational, moral, and therefore also, a free agent. Inmaking man after his own image, therefore, God endowed him with those attributeswhich belong to his own nature as a spirit. Man is thereby distinguished from all otherinhabitants of this world, and raised immeasurably above them. He belongs to the sameorder of being as God Himself, and is therefore capable of communion with his maker.This conformity of nature between man and God . . . is also the necessary condition ofour capacity to know God, and therefore the foundation of our religious nature. If wewere not like God, we could not know Him. We should be as the beasts which perish."3
In sanctification man is "being renewed to knowledge after the image of Him who created him" (Col 3:10). This renewal begins in regeneration; but it is continued in sanctification. This likeness to God is inalienable, and since it constitutes man's capacity for redemption, it gives value to the life even of the unregenerated (Ge 9:61; 1 Co 11:7; Jas 3:9). The evolutionist however, thinks of the first man as only a step above the brute.
It was aMoralLikeness
This "likeness of God" was moral conformity to God. That is, man was fitted with powers for right and wrong action.
That man had such a likeness to God is clear form the Scriptures. If in regeneration the new man "after God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph 4:24), it is reasonable to infer that originally man had both righteousness and holiness. The context in Genesis 1 and 2 bears this out. Only on this ground was it possible for man to have communion with God—the Holy One, Who cannot look upon evil (Hab 1:13). Ecclesiastes 7:29 confirms this by stating that "God made man upright." From this we may also infer from the statement in Genesis 1:31, that "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." This includes man, and would not be true if man had been morally imperfect.
Holiness is more than innocence. It is not enough to say that man was created in a state of innocence. It would be true, if he had been destitute of a moral disposition. But man was made not only negatively innocent, He was positively holy. Man's regenerate condition is a restoration of his primitive state. His righteousness as "regenerate" is described in Ephesians 4:21 and as "true holiness" in Ephesians 4:24. This is positive character, and not mere—innocence.
This original holiness may be defined as a tendency of man's affections and will which is accompanied by the power of choice. It is distinguished from the experiential holiness of the saints, as instinctive affection and childlike innocence differ from the holiness which has developed and been confirmed by temptation.
It was aSocialLikeness
As God has a social nature, so He has endowed man with a social nature. Consequently man seeks companionship.
In the first place, He found this fellowship in God Himself. Man "heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Ge 3:8), and held conversation with His Maker. God had made man for Himself, and man found supreme satisfaction in communion with his Lord.
Secondly, God provided also human fellowship. He created the woman, for, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a suitable helper for him" (2:18). To make this a very intimate fellowship, He made the woman out of a bone taken from the man. Adam recognized that Eve was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, and so he called her "woman." Because of this intimate relation between the two, "therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (vv. 23-
It is evident, therefore, that God has made man with a social nature, even as He has a social nature. It is clear that God provided for man's social nature. Human love and social interests spring directly from this element in man's nature, which he had not entirely lost in the fall (although it has been marred or distorted).
We have seen that man is the apex of God’s creation "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14). Because mankind is made in the image and likeness of God, there is a sense in which we are like God. The image of God in humanity comprises those characteristics of God which make worship, personal interaction, and work possible. Part of the image includes mankind’s call to rule the earth and to have dominion over it. We are called to fill the earth and tend to it as we reflect the character of God who righteously rules over the universe in justice and kindness.
Spirituallyman is like God in that God who is Spirit communicates to man’s spirit (Ro 8:15-
Man is depraved in his very nature at birth even before he commits acts of sin (Ps 51:5) because of the disobedience of Adam who represents all mankind (Ro 5:12-
Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all people. Those who repent and believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood, are born again of the Holy Spirit, and become children of God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith which is manifested in good works. We are not saved by grace plus good works (works-
A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Philadelphia, PA; The Judson Press, 1958).
Francis Brown, C. Driver, Charles Briggs, Hebrew-
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Grand Rapids: W. M. B. Eerdmans, 1940). 15