Spirit. This word, like its Greek correspondent
πνεῡμα, is derived
from the notion of breeze or breathing. It serves generally to denote
immaterial substance, and a spirit means an unembodied or a disembodied
being. In its highest application it denotes the Third Person of the
blessed Trinity. When it refers to ourselves it may be thought merely
synonymous with soul or
mind, and so it often is. But
there is a philosophy, and that a sacred one, which distinguishes
In the New Testament the human being is
regarded as threefold, consisting of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. v. 23); and the distinction between
the two latter of these, soul and spirit, is found in 1 Cor.
II. 14; XV.
44, 45, and in Heb. IV. 12. This trichotomy pervades the philosophy of
the time» and something equivalent to it must be acknowledged by
any which takes a large view of human nature.
The distinction between
and πνεῡμα, soul and spirit, in a great degree corresponds to that of
the Greeks between διάνοια and
νοῡς, that of the Latins between
and animus, and in our later schools
to that between understanding and reason, though in the New Testament it
is connected with considerations beyond what would necessarily be
brought out by these.
The adjective ψυκικὸς(1) is rendered in our version by
natural man" "a natural body"; in the Vulgate more felicitously by
animal—"the animal man," "an animal body."
(2) "This is exactly what Wiclif meant when he translated the
'corpus animale' which he found in
his Vulgate, 'a beastly body.' The word (beastly) had then no ethical colouring."
The recognition of this distinction between soul and spirit, whatever
terms for the two we may employ, is essential, as I have said, to any
large or just survey of human nature. From its frequent occurrence in
the New Testament, such recognition is of necessity to the right
understanding of that, both as regards its view of our present
condition, in such places as 1 Cor. II. and many others, and of our
prospects in the future in 1 Cor. XV. 44, 45. The spirit which is in us
now, ennobling our being, and giving us rank higher than that of merely
first among animals, must not be confounded with the illuminating and
sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit though it makes us susceptible
of these. The spiritual body in which we are to be raised is
to differ from our present psychical one in this, that whereas the
latter is animated by the lower faculty the psyche or soul and is the
organ of that; the former is to be animated by the
πνεῡμα or spirit,
and to serve for the organ of that, a sublime expectation, the object of
which we can only contemplate darkly and fitfully at present, and with
mingled wonder and awe.
(1) 1 Cor.
II. 14 ; XV. 44, 45.
(2) In St. Jude it is translated
Select Glossary, p.