This verse, 1 Corinthians 15:44, is extremely important in our study of 1 Corinthians. In it, Paul contrasts two words. He has formed those words from the words PNEUMA and PSUCHE in the Greek language. We usually translate those words as ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’.
In the English language, ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ usually have a similar meaning. We use both words to describe the part of a person that we cannot see. In other words, the real person, which directs the actions and behaviour of that person’s body.
However, here Paul uses the words as opposites. A spiritual person is someone who allows God’s Holy Spirit to guide his own spirit. So, everything that his body does, is a result of his relationship with God. On the other hand, a natural person tries to do whatever he wants to do with his body. It is not God who guides that person, but the person’s own soul.
The Christians in Corinth considered themselves to be spiritual people. So, they claimed the right to do whatever they wanted with their own bodies. However, that is how a natural person – not a spiritual person – behaves. The Holy Spirit was working in their lives, but they were not spiritual people yet. In fact, they were not even mature Christians yet.
We are all born as natural people. We are born again when we begin a relationship with God. God wants Christians to allow his Holy Spirit to guide them. However, most Christians continue to follow their own desires. So God continues to work patiently in their lives.
In the future, all Christians will become spiritual people. This will happen when Christ returns. Then, his people will not allow the desires of their own souls to guide them. They will not want to do what they themselves choose. Instead, they will allow the Holy Spirit to guide their spirits. Their only desire will be to obey God.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.