Segment Two: Part One
How do we know that Man is not merely an animal?
- Man was created distinctly in the image of God. (Genesis 1:24-28) In the creation event, God gave Man dominion (used twice in the Genesis passage) which Webster’s defines as supreme authority. The same passage also says that Man was made in the image and likeness of God. Nothing is said in that passage about animals having dominion or made in the image of God. Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10 both talk about the “new man” being created in the image of God. Animals do not have the characteristic of being righteous or holy as referred to in these passages. These are unique aspects of Man that make him different from animals.
- Man is infinitely higher than and different from the animal kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ referred to this in Luke 12:5-7. Jesus gave two important truths in this passage about animals and man: 1) we see that God does care for animals; 2) He gave this fact that man is infinitely greater in value than animals. His reason is that man has an eternal soul and will be held accountable for his actions.
- Animals were made for man’s pleasure. Psalm 8:4-8 give is a clear picture of man’s rule and dominion over the animal kingdom. However, that dominion (authority) over animals does not give man the right to animals with cruelty. It does mean that man was given a divine right to rule over the animal kingdom and God’s creation and use it for his purposes and needs. Proverbs 12:10 even tells us that we should regard the needs of our animals.
- Animals are for man’s food. The nation of Israel ate meat. The Lord Jesus Christ ate meat. The Passover meal was lamb (see Exodus 12:5-10), and Christ ate the Passover. (Matthew 26:17-20)
What about Christians eating meat? The Apostle Peter was certainly a Christian, and in a vision from God he was commanded to eat meat. (Acts 10:10-13) The vision was to instruct Peter that Gentile believers were not unclean. The vision, however, was God’s command to Peter to eat of the various meats. God would not have instructed Peter to do this if He abhorred meat eating. The vision in Acts 10 also shows that God had removed the O.T. dietary restrictions. The Bible clearly says that God created animals to be eaten. Therefore, it is not cruel to kill an animal in hunting, fishing or farming and to eat it. Christians are thereby free to eat meats or not to eat meats. Romans 14 gives very good instruction in regards to eat or not eat meat.
Segment Two: Part Two
- The image of God is seen in man’s moral nature. The image of God is not seen in man’s physical form, nor is it seen in his being intelligent, but in man’s moral attributes that are seen only in God. These are God’s attributes of righteousness and holiness as seen in the new “man.” (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10) From John Wesley’s Notes we see this thought about Adam and Eve: “…Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. But how is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!” Thus God’s image in us is damaged, but belief in Jesus can renew it.
- The image of God is seen in man’s creation as a spiritual being. The Apostle John writes to us Jesus words in 4:23, 24 saying “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Jesus indicates here that man has a spiritual part of his being. Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians tells them “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” As a part of his being, man has a spiritual nature and as such man has the capacity to understand the spiritual concepts of God.
- The image of God is seen in man’s ability to reproduce the very image of God in his offspring. God gave man this command in Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:…” If man was created in the image of God, he then also has the ability to pass that image along to his offspring. Having the image of God within, man is then able to have dominion (authority) over the earth to subdue it.
- The image of God is seen in man’s authority. (See previous comment)
5. The image of God is seen in man’s ability to exhibit this creativeness. We see this in God giving Moses instruction on how to build the tabernacle and its contents. God named Bezaleel to do the work because of his creativeness: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.( Ex 31:3) Also, in the N.T. we see this expressed in another way: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10) In both cases, God gives us the ability to express our creative gifts.
Segment Two: Part Three
Does this mean that man is God or is a little god?
- Man is not God because he cannot accept worship. We see this in the words of Jesus himself when tempted by Satan: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) The prophet Isaiah wrote these words he received from God: I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Is. 42:8) Scripture plainly states that man is not to be worshiped or receive worship at any time. (Acts 14:11-15)
- Man never will be God because he will always be subject to God. Man is God’s creation and as such, the created (man) cannot ever be equal to the creator (God). John the Revelator, writes these words: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3) John continues on in 22:3 “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:” John even makes a point to say that not even the angels are to be worshiped in 22:8 “And I John saw these things, and heard them, And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” Man cannot worship an idol, another man, or even an angel as God is the focus of all worship.
Segment Two: Part Four
Man has a soul.
Scripture tells us that man is a three part being. Paul writes to the Thessalonians this: “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.” (1 TH. 5:23)
This word “soul” has several meanings in scripture.
- Sometimes the soul refers to the whole man. (Ge. 2:7)
- The soul refers to a conscious, immaterial part of man which exists beyond death apart from the body.
Note: Remember that Bible words must be defined by the context in which they are found, since almost all Bible words have various usages and definitions in different contexts. This is true with words in normal language usage in or out of the Bible.
Is Old Testament and New Testament teaching on soul different?
To answer this question, we will look at several words that scripture relates to the use of soul. These words are conscious, created; connect, whole, and spiritual. We will examine each of these to see how they are used in both testaments as we continue.
Segment Two: Part Five
The Old Testament teaching on “soul.”
The soul is a functioning part of man’s being. It is not physical (as a hand), but an immaterial part of man’s consciousness. Cults teach that the soul is attached to the body and does not leave at death, which is contradictory to what the Bible teaches. We will look at two O.T. examples of Rachel and a young boy:
- Genesis 35:16-18 records the death of Rachel in childbirth. with Benjamin’s birth we see the following note made: “as her soul was in departing, (for she died).” The writer of Genesis makes this note with this reference to “her soul.” God would not have allowed that note to be made if it were not true. But this is not the only reference to a soul departing.
- Elijah’ ministry is told in 1 Kings 17. In this chapter is a story about a young boy that has died but was raised again by Elijah. (1 Kings 17;17-22) “…and he [Elijah] cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” In this passage we see the specific recording of two unique things: 1) The child is dead in the mother’s arms and Elijah prays for God to return the child’s soul to his body. 2) After Elijah’s prayer we see that the child’s soul is returned and he revived.
This understanding of man having a “soul” as a part of his being is noted throughout the O.T. David in the Psalms writes about the soul. This way of thinking about man and that he has a soul is common thread in the O.T. In both of the above examples, there is an understanding that when the “soul” leaves the body, that “consciousness” also leaves. In the case of the young boy, not only did his “soul” leave his body, but also his consciousness. After Elijah prayed, the young boy “revived” and not only did his soul return but also his consciousness. Consciousness, therefore, did not exist separately from his soul, but with it.
Segment Two: Part Six
The Old Testament teaching on “soul.” (cont.)
We read in the Bible that each individual is created by God in the womb of the mother and the soul comes from God. David said in Psalm 139:13 that God possessed or fashioned David’s reins. The word “reins” is a bible term for the immaterial part of man. Reins, like the word “heart” refer to the non-physical part of man. This word like “heart” refers to the center of man’s will which is the seat of his desires, affections, and passions. (Also study: Psalm 26:2; Isa. 11:5; Jeremiah 17:10; and Rev. 2:23) As God creates us, he also fashions our material being.
The above O.T. scriptures connects our soul that immaterial part of man’s being with his desires and earthly appetites. We see this in that man hunger’s and thirsts. (Isa. 29:8) It is the soul of a man that longs for a woman. (Ge. 34:3,8) The souls of the Israelites “got discouraged because of the way” (Nu. 21:4) and loathed the manna. (Nu. 21:5) The soul can be “dried out.” (Nu. 11:6) It is the soul of a man that loves a friend. (1 Sa. 18:1-3) It is also in the soul that a man is anguished. (Ge. 42:21) From these references, we can see how the soul of man is connected with his desires and earthly wants.
Segment Two: Part Seven
New Testament Teaching on the Soul
Abbreviated Biblical teaching on the “soul” is difficult at best. One must look at both O.T. and N.T. uses of “soul.” One’s understanding of “soul” must come with an in depth study of how they are used and the context that they are used in. Also understand that what we know from English is derived from translations. The translator’s conscious and sometimes sub-conscious filters can color what comes through. Space for a thorough analysis is not the point of this post, but to give general knowledge of what “soul” means.
In the O.T. review we saw several ideas on how “soul” was used. Many of those ideas are carried through to the N.T. However, we will look at two subject areas on the meaning of “soul.” One is the whole man, and the other is related to possible spiritual meaning or use.
Sometimes “soul” refers to the whole man as a person or being. We see this idea in Romans 13: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. In this verse, “man” could just as easily be used instead of “soul” and it would not materially change the meaning. We see this same concept also in Acts 2:41 which says: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Again we see this in Acts 7:14 where the writer pins this: Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. The author of Acts also writes a similar thought about Paul’s shipwreck. (Acts 27:37)
“Soul” can also be used to describe a spiritual part of man distinct from his body. Jesus says the following: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Here the use is that the physical body can be killed, but the spiritual part “soul” cannot be killed like the body. Other distinctives about the “soul” are that it can be troubled. (Jn. 12:27) It can also fear (Acts 2:43), can be vexed (2 Pet. 2:8), can prosper (3 Jn 1:2), and the “soul” can lust. (rev. 18:14) Hebrews 4:12 even tells us that “dividing asunder” of the soul and spirit can happen. These are only a few examples of how “soul” can be used and understood.
One last thought, and this is from an internet website discussion about how to understand the “soul.” This writer used this analogy: “the words translated as “heart” and “soul” are like the computer terms “software” and “hardware,” but for people.” For those who are techies, that might help increase understanding about the soul.