Studies in Biblical Anthropology: Human beings as flesh, body and spirit (Part 1: Genesis).

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Adam. Interesting word in Hebrew, Dam is “blood”. Adam means “human being” or “man” (the male version of adam). The word may have a derivative meaning of “red” or “red clay”, such as the word adamah. Blood is, of course, red. God made Adam on the sixth day according to our text. But, we are going to focus in on the word, ruach, or “spirit”. In Genesis, ruach (pronounced, ruh- ock) occurs 11 times. It’s an important word, and one that we find right in the beginning: “And the wind of God hovered over the water’s surface” (Gn 1.2, all translations are mine). Here, “wind” is the word ruach, which many translations have, “Spirit”. It’s a long debate.

The next occurrence we would expect to find when God made the male and female pair. But, we don’t. It is again associated with Yehovah Elohim, the LORD God (he’s not just a god, but he also wields authority as Lord over his creation that he made – it’s his, and everything in it belongs to him). “And they heard the voice of Yehovah Elohim rustling to and fro in Paradise at the wind (ruach) of the day” (Gn 3.8). Again, one may infer “Spirit” here, as in 1.2 above. I have no issues, either way.

In Genesis 6.3 we have no doubts as to the translation: ‘And Yehovah said, “My Spirit, he will not contend in adam for indefinite time, for he is but flesh” (Gn 6.3). This is not the first time we encounter the term “flesh” (basar – Hebrew). Male and Female become one basar through intimacy (Gn 2.24); and Adam calls his counterpart, “flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2.23). God made man, flesh. Eve is flesh, and Adam is flesh. These two can produce other flesh-beings, too. But, here, in Genesis 6.3, man is flesh. It’s what defines him – well, at least one of the characteristics that defines him. We should note that “flesh” is not a bad term, for it used to describe the human beings before their disobedience. God made man, flesh.

The next verse follows closely, “…to destroy all flesh which in it there is a spirit (ruach) of life” (Gn 6.17). This deepens the understanding concerning the creation of adam, for in Genesis 2.7 we are told, “Yehovah Elohim formed the human being (adam) – he used dust from the ground. Then he blew into the formed nose breath of life. By this man was now a living, human being.” Well, here we have our vocabulary cut out for us. The term, “breath”, is neshamah. We also have another word, nephesh, which is commonly translated in many places as “soul.” What I wish to point out is in comparing Gn 2.7 with 6.17, “breath” and “spirit” are interchangeable terms. Thus, it is not until 6.17 that we come to see human beings as having a spirit, and in 2.7 we know when that took place. Human beings are flesh, made of dust from the ground, animated by God’s breath, and by this is given spirit, or, “became a living nephesh.” All of these terms are intertwined with each other, woven together as a single fabric (adam) with various threads (nephesh, basar, ruach, neshemah). If one thread is removed, man ceases to be man in terms of his perfection as man “in the begining.”

We may, at this point, add one more very important detail about adam and eva that does not involve any other creature: God made them, male and female, “in his image” (Gn 1.27). The word there is tselem. Man is an icon that God made; a visible image – a material image – that is reflective of God Himself. Man is a visible image of the invisible God. What God is as Spirit, Man is as flesh. There is a great profundity here. However, what cannot be missed is that man, created as flesh, spirit, breath, and soul-life – all of those aspects in one being – is the image that God made. Man does not have the image of God; he is the image of God. The image of God is not “in” man; it is man as one being with nephesh, basar, ruach, neshemah.

Now, 6.17 may infer that the “spirit of life” is also in the creatures God made, but a careful reading of the text does not bear this out. The term, spirit of life, applies only to the human beings. The creatures, on the other hand, are also described as nephesh beings (soulish beings), or “living beings”. Only Adam and Eve, and in 6.17, Noah, his wife, and their sons and their wives (male and female) that have “the spirit of life” in them, together with “every living creature”, two by two, that Noah brought upon the boat, lived. We may note, too, that the living creatures are referred to as “flesh” (Gn 6.19). Animals, then, are made “of the earth” (Gn 1.25) and are “living beings”. However, “spirit” is never applied to them, and neither is “image of God.” It is not ever said that God “breathed into” the living creatures of the earth. Such intimacy is left for the human beings. This would mean that creatures, as wonderful as they are, lack aspects that human beings have.

7.15, 22 contain the elements we have covered. 8.1 states, “And God caused a wind (ruach) over the earth and the waters subsided.” Here again we find “wind over the waters” (1.2), and one may infer the activity of the Spirit of God “hovering over the waters.” God is personally involved over his creation. Even the wind obeys him.

We have some other terms to add, found in 8.21 and earlier in 6.5. There, man uses “imagination” (yetser) and “thought” (machashavah). Also, “heart” (lev) – the imagination of the thought of the heart (man’s images in his inner thinking, man making his own images). This would, so it would seem, suggest that the spirit “in” man, or man as a living being (nephesh) thinks “inner” thoughts (heart). These thoughts would certainly involve the flesh as well (brain, or “head” as later called). Yet, “in his heart” together with “spirit” connects them together.

Moses, the author of Genesis, takes a long break from the word, ‘spirit.’ Not until 26.35 do we find it again, and there, Isaac and Rebekah are “bitter in spirit”. Likewise, in 41.8 Pharaoh’s “spirit was troubled”. 41.38 is a real gem: “Can we find anyone like this, a man the Spirit of God dwells in?” This is a remarkable passage because we cannot infer that Joseph’s spirit is meant. No translation does. God’s Spirit is “in” Joseph, together with Joseph’s spirit! Finally, in 45.27 Jacob’s “spirit revives” when he hears about his son, Joseph. The Hebrew simply has, “his spirit lived”, whereas the Septuagint, the Greek version (3rd Century BCE) has anazopureo – rekindling a fire: Jacob’s spirit (pneuma) was rekindled, aflame again.

This concludes the use of the term “spirit” in Genesis. Spirit is the active source of what we may call “affections” or “thought”. It works in harmony with the flesh (if the spirit is happy, the flesh leaps, if it is sad, the flesh will express a downcast, or bitter expression in the face, or what have you). Flesh and spirit; “living being” (nephesh), breath of God (same as spirit), heart, thoughts, bitterness, renewed vigor, evil imaginations – are all products of man as basar, nephesh, ruach, lev, macahshavah, yester, neshemah. Together, man is tselem; image. God thinks, reacts, has thoughts, is troubled in heart (Gn 6.6), has a Spirit (Who is God). God “moves” and “hovers”, he “rustles about”, “walks” and “speaks” with a “voice” and a “mouth.” He “sees”, “acts”, uses his “hands” and “breathes.” The invisible God has made a creature that materially reflects the immateriality of God. Thus God created man to “relate” to the actions of the invisible God by analogy of arms, a tongue, voice, mouth, feet, legs and grief, anger, knowledge, right, wrong, good, evil. God can relate to man because God created man to relate to him. More importantly, however, is that man cannot be reduced to any one material description as being; that is, man cannot be reduced to “spirit”, or “flesh”, or “heart”, or “breath”, or “soul.” Man is all of these together, at once, at one time. Man is one person with several, necessary attributes. Remove one, and man ceases being man.

Next week we will delve into Exodus. Please feel free to ask any questions or make any observations, or criticisms. All are welcome.

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

3 thoughts on “Studies in Biblical Anthropology: Human beings as flesh, body and spirit (Part 1: Genesis).”

  1. Creation itself and your thoughts here further solidify in my heart the absolute necessity of our promised bodily resurrection by Christ. God, who had a perfect plan before “the beginning” to create the material world and our material being that reflects His image, would never renege on His perfect plan, and discard or disregard any part of His material creation (nature or mankind). Jesus demonstrated widely His regard for human bodies by healing the sick during His earthly walk. God the Father’s plan, before the beginning, shown in Christ, was to redeem all of it back to Himself. He never went to “Plan B.” Thanks, brother, for your continued studies and thoughts.

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    1. I wholeheartedly concur! The perfect creation of man in the beginning is restored in Christ Jesus, the only perfect Man, devoid of sin. The abiding humanity of Christ is a central doctrine of God’s salvation of lost humanity. In Him, mankind is redeemed from sin and its curse of death, being restored to the perfection of the original creation and again welcomed into the presence of God. Although these things are presently true (in a spiritual sense) for those who are in Christ, the day of resurrection (promised by Christ) will irrevocably restore man, in the fullness of manhood, i.e., body, soul, and spirit, from the ravages of sin and death to an eternal life of bliss in the presence of the Creator. Man, the image of God, was not abandoned by the Creator due to sin; rather, man is redeemed, reconciled, and re-created for honorable habitation with God. Isn’t this the heart of the gospel? How have so many become disenchanted with the bodily resurrection of man? Good work.

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