The New Birth -- By: Thomas K. Davis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 066:262 (Apr 1909)
Article: The New Birth
Author: Thomas K. Davis


The New Birth

Prof. Thomas K. Davis

In the New Testament the new man is described as made up of body, soul, and spirit — soma, psyche, and pneuma. This suggests the true psychology of man in his normal state, that is, as he came from the hand of his Creator; and the true psychology, also, when man is restored to the divine image by regeneration and sanctification. I have noticed that those persons who accept this psychology, and who make a practical use of it, as a part of divinely revealed truth, appreciate it very highly, and they testify that it is a great help to them in understanding some of the most important truths of spiritual Christianity. Luther found in the Temple at Jerusalem a beautiful analogy to this threefold distinction in human nature in its normal condition. The body he likened to the atrium, or outer court; the soul to the sanctum, or holy place; and the spirit to the sanctum sanctorum, or holy of holies. The apostle Paul prayed for his Thessalonian converts, “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

From the earliest age of Greek philosophy, down to the present time, man has been generally regarded as made up only of body and soul. This is not to be wondered at. Aristotle and the other fathers of Greek philosophy cannot be supposed to have apprehended the spiritual part of human nature. They were unacquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures; and the

clearer revelation of truth, through Jesus Christ, had not yet been given. And, indeed, speaking in a general way, man has a twofold nature. He is made up, on the one hand, of that which is visible and tangible, and, on the other, of that which is invisible and immaterial. The Scriptures often speak in this general way. Our Lord himself used to speak of man’s body and soul. And even to consult our own consciousness, we seem to have only a body and a soul.

But the question is, whether a further analysis may not properly be made; whether a careful reading of the Scriptures will not render a further analysis necessary. If such an analysis be made in the light of Holy Scripture, it may perhaps be found that the psyche, or soul, is the life, the intelligent life, the mere intelligence, intellect, or mind which is common to men and animals; and that the pneuma, or spirit, is that which is attributed, as a rule, only to some men, to the angels, and to God. The word psyche, or soul, and its equivalent in Hebrew, nephesh, is applied indiscriminately to men and to animals; the word pneuma, or spirit, and its Hebrew e...

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