We saw last time that man is the natural picture which teaches us something about the nature of God (see the teaching tools of scripture to learn about the teaching tool of natural pictures), for man was created in the image of God:
Then 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.” Gen 1:26
Going back to Deu 6 and the foundational statement about God that defines for us His nature:
“Hear, O Israel: YHVH is God, YHVH alone is God! You shall love YHVH your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deu 6:4-5
Now why is the instruction of the Lord to man, to love Him repeated three times in this way? He did not just say, love Me with all you are, although that is the message we take away from this verse. He said, love Me with all your heart, soul, and strength.
In the ancient world, the Greek philosophers had undergone centuries of debate on the nature of man, and one school of thought defined two parts to man: the soul, the immaterial and invisible part, and the body. But for the Hebrews, that there was an immaterial and invisible part to man was never a debate. Statements in the Torah and Hebrew Bible such as this one of Jacob’s:
Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,” Gen 49:29
Firmly set in the Hebrew mind that there was an immaterial part to man that lived on after death. The person left the body at death and was gathered to his fathers who had gone on before him. God is (present tense), after all, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of the living.
Jesus, in fact, when quoting Deu 6:4-5 in answer to a question that was asked of Him, said: ‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mar 12:30), indicating that the mind of man was part of this nature of man mix.
Paul repeated the theme begun in Deuteronomy when he said in one of his letters:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 The 5:23
Based on these passages and others, my current understanding of the biblical nature of man, is that he exists in three parts. He is an eternal spirit, who possesses a soul consisting of the mind, will, and emotions – the personality – and the spirit/ soul inhabits the body as a house. The spirit is of the spiritual world, the body is of the natural world, and the soul is the interface between the two, that allows a spiritual being such as we are to function in the natural world.
When Deu 6:5 says, Love YHVH your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, that is Torah’s way of saying, Love God with all you are: your heart (your eternal spirit), your mind (your soul consisting of your mind, will, and emotions; your personality), and your strength (your body). The Torah, upon which every other biblical doctrine is founded, is teaching us about the triune nature of man.