Category Immaterial Makeup of Man

Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Is man a two-part (dichotomous) or three-part (trichotomous) being? Could he in fact be both? Is it possible that God made Adam to be a three-part being but at the fall he became a two part being?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1:27).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soul – psuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάωused in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח)This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1:27).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soulpsuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάω) used in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח). This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

Is Original Sin a Corrupting of Genetic Information?

Question:  OK, I read Corrupting The Image and listened to this segment.  I still don’t get it.  If Jesus was a product of the Holy Spirit providing DNA + Mary providing her DNA, that would make Jesus a hybrid, that is, half God and half human.  HUH?  Satan mixes his seed with a human creating a hybrid: demonic and human = Nephilim.  That I understand.   How does the perfect Jesus virgin birth reconcile with Luke 1.35?  “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (that’s 2 persons of the trinity there), therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  You said it yourself – errors in genetic code from the Fall are passed to ALL decendents (blessed as she was, that would still include Mary); therefore, if Jesus was perfect and without sin, Mary could not have donated half His genetic code.  Unless you’re trying to tell me that Mary/females have perfect DNA.   Jesus was not a God/man hybrid.  So – where am I missing it?  I will look for your response.  Thanks. – Sally

Hi Sally, That is a very fair question indeed. We know from Scripture that genetically speaking that Jesus was of his mother Mary and

Genetics of the Antichrist

Genetics of the Antichrist

hence genetically connected to (from the seed of) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David and ultimately Adam and Eve. However, Jesus was and is still 100% God because He is pre-existent and his “spirit” / “info” came into flesh. I discuss that in my chapter on the genetics of the incarnation. I don’t pretend to fully understand that, but we can at least get a good idea of what happened. Part of the key to understanding the seed issue is that DNA is a storage system for information. What we cannot see when looking at a strand of DNA is the information that it contains. We can decode it just like we can with computers, but information itself is a non-material entity, according to Dr Werner Gitt (again, see my chapter on the genetics of the incarnation). Once we understand the information is non-material, then we begin to see the connection between the spiritual world and our physical world.

In that chapter on the genetics of the incarnation, I also talk about the Y chromosome that was passed from Adam to all of his male descendants. I and every guy on the planet has a copy (virtually identical) to Adam’s. What did Jesus not have? Adam’s Y chromosome! Because sin came through man (not woman) then we need to look for what was passed through men and not women – the Y chromosome. Women do not get off scot-free, however, because Eve was taken out of Adam. That is to say that her genetics came out of his. When he became corrupt so did she. She dies just like Adam. So, concerning Jesus: we know that he was subject to fatigue, hunger, death and yet also was able to walk on water and transfigure. It appears that his pre-resurrection body was the template of the new body but still subject to dangers (like the cross) and his post-resurrection body was no longer subject to such things. Therefore, I would conclude that by sharing the autosomes of Adam and Eve he was subject to our weaknesses but he did not inherit the Y chromosome which was so deleterious that a new 2nd-Adam-Y-chromosome is needed.
Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

This means that whatever information was encoded in Adam’s Y chromosome was passed on unchanged (virtually) to all of his descendants including all of us men alive today! However, if the information in the Y chromosome were faulty, then it would mean that all of his descendants (including us) would also have a faulty code. Discovering the exact make-up of the Y chromosome when Adam was first created is impossible for us to do, however, its current state may tell us something about the fall. The Y chromosome may in fact be a record of an event in the life of our original father. Bradman and Thomas suggest that the Y chromosome contains “a record of an event” [xvi] in the life the man who passed on the current Y chromosome. However, because Bradman and Thomas are committed to the evolutionary paradigm they believe the event “had no effect on the life of the man in whom the change occurred nor, indeed, on the life of his descendants,” (emphasis mine). [xvii] Is it possible that the recorded event is not something that had “little or no effect,” but is in some way the record of the genetic fall of our first father? Thus Adam not only died spiritually by virtue of losing the Holy Spirit, but his genetic information (as recorded specifically in the Y chromosome) was corrupted. God stated that in the day that Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die (Genesis 2:17).

Death, it appears, entered into Adam’s Y chromosome (in some way unique and different than the X) that very moment causing him to go from being genetically perfect to having serious errors in his code that would eventually cause a “crash”. Occasionally people who use computers will experience a scenario where the operating system experiences a “fatal crash”. The crash occurs because there is some conflict in the code of the program. Though the program may be able to sustain data loss for a short period, if uncorrected, the program will eventually crash. In Adam’s case, that crash took 930 years, but he did eventually experience a complete shutdown.

If that is correct, then the Y chromosome (and all of his chromosomes) must have been complete and whole before Adam fell into sin. We know that he was free from all imperfections because God created him and declared him to be good and because death entered into the world via Adam’s sin. Yet, the Y chromosome seems to contain something so deleterious that our savior could not have shared it. After all, every copy of the Y chromosome (that is, every male descendant of Adam) would necessarily have the same genetic flaw that would also lead to the ultimate crash. In order to save mankind on a genetic level, a new Y chromosome would need to be provided. Furthermore, through the disobedience of Adam all of creation was made subject to corruption as Paul states in Romans 8.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will bedelivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body, (Romans 8:19-23).

The Spirit of God in Adam

(Appendix to Corrupting the Image. Footnotes in final edition of the book)

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1:27).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.” [i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soulpsuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay. [ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God [iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state [iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God, He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama [v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. [vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on [vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao ἐμφυσάω) used in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח). This correlation is noted in Thayers Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s ἐμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao ἐμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek ἐμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and risen from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (ἐπί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Tanakh (Old Testament) for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell. [viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned.

The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming. The other thing that Adam apparently lost and we shall gain is a covering of light.


Knowing the Creator

If you are already a Christian, then be encouraged that God loves you, and He rejoices in your resolve to believe His Word to the fullest.  He has many wonderful promises in store for you that are written in the pages of the Bible.

Your Creator Loves You

If you have come to the conclusion that God’s Word is faithful and accurate in all that it says but are not a Christian, then I would like to invite you to enter into a relationship with the God who created everything.  God is awesome and mighty – just imagine how He made everything in only six days!  Nevertheless, even more amazing is that He paid for our sins in less than one day!  Jesus paid the price that our original parents, Adam and Eve, brought upon the world through their disobedience.  But He also paid for your and my personal sin.  Put your trust in Him now and receive a new life.  You can trust the word that He speaks to you:

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again […] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21, emphasis mine)

Jesus Himself also invites you to believe in Him: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26).

If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, as the Scriptures clearly say, then you can have eternal life.  I invite you to receive His gift of life to you and then to rest in the promise that you are a new creation and will live forever with Christ.  If you would like pray or to speak with me one on one, please don’t hesitate to write!