The confusion from trying to understand the tripartite person stems from the fact that the human mind is not geared to comprehend the difference between the Spiritual realm and the physical realm. Our minds are geared to comprehend real as things that stimulate the five senses. We only accept as true those things which we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
In actuality the material realm is not the true essence. It is preliminary to Christianity to believe that God created all material things. What is the truth in believing in the supremacy of God is that the Spiritual realm is preexistent to the Material realm.
So what does that statement actually mean? If we are to believe that God is Supreme then we have to accept the first chapter of Genesis. That necessitates that we believe that God, Heaven, The Angels, Satan, and etc. are all of the Spiritual realm. That is to say that they preexisted Chapter one of Genesis. We must also accept that God is the supreme being in the Spiritual realm.
By accepting Chapter one of Genesis, we are in reality accepting that the material realm has a beginning; while the Spiritual realm is eternal.
So let's take a look at what transpires in Chapter one of Genesis; and we are doing so in the belief that we accept Genesis as fact.
Genesis 1:26 KJV And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Let us dissect that verse in the concept of a tripartite God. God in this case consists of three persons in one identity. The God head consists of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost. This is basic to my understanding of the Southern Baptist belief, which is un-arguably based on a tripartite God.
So if we take the first part of that Scripture and allay that to God's creation of man, what we find is that if God consists of three persons, then if man is to be created in his likeness and his image; then he must first of all be tripartite as God is tripartite.
Second man must be supreme to some degree since God is supreme. Therefore God:
Genesis 2:7 KJV 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.
So let's take a look at what that actually says. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, this actually says that God took a part of his original creation and reformed it into a man, however; at this point it is nothing more than a lump which God has given a material form.
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, Here something different has happened. God has now put into this creation something eternal that being the breath of life. Why this is significant is because this is something that is a part of God and we must remember that God in all of his manifestations is Eternal, therefore the breath of life which he breathed into man is also eternal, and as a result part of the man he created is now eternal, and brings about the final part of this Scripture which says that man became a living soul.
So now what do we have, we have the original lump which we call man, We also have the breath of life which is a part of God and therefore eternal, and lastly we have now residing in this lump that God created something that will be eternal.
And so we have now something eternal existing within something material. Or you might say that we have a bipartite creation part of the Spiritual realm paired with something from the Material realm. Even though this is a bipartite being (spiritual and material) it is also tripartite in that it contains two parts Spiritual (breath and eternal existence [also known as soul]) along with one part material.
The body is only a repository for the eternal soul and spirit. The difference between spirit and soul lies in the same as the difference between knowledge and experience.
Experience is the application of knowledge, the soul is the application of spirit (spirit in this case refers to the motivations a person employs), and is the basis for judgment.