From my reading of the Bible, spirit gives Man a consciousness of God and soul gives Man a consciousness of the self and the body gives Man consciousness of the world. Spirit is also the immaterial part of us, the image of God. When today's seculars use the word consciousness and even some Christian apologists like William L. Craig, what exactly do they mean when they use the word 'consciousness" for example "the hard problem of consciousness" what's the difference between spirit and soul and consciousness from a anthropological tripartite/trichotomy view of the nature of Man?

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    Can you please quote where the bible says: 'spirit gives Man a consciousness of God and soul gives Man a consciousness of the self and the body gives Man consciousness of the world.' ?
    – Grasper
    Jan 25, 2021 at 14:42
  • @Grasper For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Rom 8:15–16, ESV)
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 26, 2021 at 10:15
  • @PerryWebb, that is a reference to baptism.
    – Grasper
    Jan 27, 2021 at 18:47
  • "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit..."
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 27, 2021 at 20:49
  • The ancient Israelites used the word "soul" to mean "being/self", nothing else. To them, all creatures become living souls due to the breath/spirit of life that God gives (Gen 2:7, 6:17, 7:15,22) and that God may take back (Psa 104:2-29). That's why souls can come out from the loins of Jacob (Exo 1:5), can be smited and killed (Num 15:30), and be dead (Num 6:6). That's also why YHWH too has a soul (Zech 11:8) and can swear by it (Amos 6:8).
    – David
    Jan 22, 2022 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


I assume you want the Biblical meanings, which can differ from modern usage. Nephesh and psyche often are translated life. When Jesus said greater love has no one than to give his life for his friend (John 15:13), the word translated life in the Greek New Testament is psyche (soul). Animals as well as humans have this kind of life. In the Old Testament nephesh (soul) is also used for animals.

The modern term psyche in psychology means something different and is closely related to consciousness.

Spirit (ruha and pneuma) of a human is the ability to relate to God. God is Spirit.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23–24, ESV)

The Bible doesn't talk about consciousness, but does use conscience. The Greek term like the English term, from Latin, is a compound word to know with/together. Paul used this term in Romans 2:15 for the laws written in the human heart.

Thus, from the standpoint of consciousness, the ability to relate to God (spirit) gives us consciousness of God. With our individual life (soul), we learn to be conscious of self. The baby first learns that he/she has arms and legs that can move eventually in a controlled manner.

Since you tagged heaven and referred to a tripartite/trichotomy view of man, the Judeo-Christian view of the soul differs from the Greek philosophers with respect to the bodily resurrection (the body with the soul). The Greeks thought the soul was freed from the body at death. 1 Corinthians 15 deals with this conflict.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Cor. 15:12–14, ESV)

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