Having indescribable depth, the soul was one of the most examined topics amongst the early church fathers. It is so significant that the mighty men and women, who have gone before us, strived in a continuous pursuit to understand the power of the soul and how to strengthen it. The word power in Greek is ‘dunamis’, and means “strength, power, power of performing miracles, moral power and excellence of the soul.” (1) Knowledge of the soul was imperative to understand salvation, restoration, transformation, consummation, and the glorified body. Through in-depth study of the Temple, taught as tripart, the early church explained that the soul too is tripart, and thus recognizing the Temple is integral in understanding the depth of the soul.
The soul as “Tripartite” is a doctrine that has been taught by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Lactantius, Origen and many others amongst the earliest church. Tripartite is defined as “Divided into three parts. In botany, a tripartite leaf is one which is divided into three parts down to the base, but not wholly separate.” (2) Just as the Temple has three parts (outer court, holy place and holy of holies), yet remains one Temple, the same applies to the soul. The Apostle Paul asserted “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), and Origen (250 AD) teaches an even deeper understanding, stating “But it may also be the case that the natural temple is the soul skilled in reason, which, because of its inborn reason, is higher than the body;”(3) It is truly the soul that inhabits the presence of God, and the body is what contains the soul.
According to the Word, the whole man is considered tripart as well. It is written “And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) The Apostle Paul is referring to the completion of the third temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 2:16). There are many who would profess to have Jesus inside them, as a result of simply confessing His name, or praying a prayer of salvation, however according the Messiah the only way that we become the habitation, or the temple of God, is through obedience of the commandments.
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seenby him and make Myself real to him.] Judas, not Iscariot, asked Him, Lord, how is it that You will reveal Yourself [make Yourself real] to us and not to the world? Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. (John 14:21-23)
Keeping the commandments is the proof of our love to Jesus, and because of our obedience to the commandments we are found worthy to become the temple of God. It took seven years to build the Temple, likening this to the mystery of the seven days of Creation (hence the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles) and as mentioned, the Temple had three parts to it. Three and seven combined is ten, thus representing the commandments of Yah. We are not automatically a temple because we believe in Jesus, we must walk in obedience to His Word. I can believe I am a doctor, however unless I went to school and put my education into practice, abiding by the laws of my profession, I’m only a doctor by name. Our confession pertains to action more than mere words. Ignatius (107 AD) clearly outlines this point in his epistle to the Ephesians,
It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1Co 4:20) Men “believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth,” the one “unto righteousness,” the other “unto salvation.” (Rom 10:10) It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. For he who shall both “do and teach, the same shall be great in the kingdom.” (Mat 5:19) Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, first did and then taught, as Luke testifies, “whose praise is in the Gospel through all the Churches.” (2Co 8:18) There is nothing which is hid from the Lord, but our very secrets are near to Him. Let us therefore do all things as those who have Him dwelling in us, that we may be His temples, (1Co 6:19) and He may be in us as God. Let Christ speak in us, even as He did in Paul. Let the Holy Spirit teach us to speak the things of Christ in like manner as He did. (4)
The doer of the Word is one who becomes a true believer, according to Gods Word, and this is the person who is becoming a temple of habitation for the Holy Spirit. The only way to be doers of the Word is to understand it spiritually (Deuteronomy 29:29). Yahushua said the wise man who built his house on the rock is the one who hears His words and does them (Matthew 7:24). If you were to build a physical temple, would it ever develop because you just really, really wish it to or say that you will? Or would you have to put a great deal of thought and physical effort into the process? Clement (220 AD) spoke of the tripart soul (Temple) being saved through obedience.
For the tripartite soul is saved by obedience, through the spiritual power hidden in it by faith; or because the power of the word which is given to us, being strong and powerful, draws to itself secretly and invisibly everyone who receives it, and keeps it within himself, and brings his whole system into unity. (5)
The whole man becomes saved and comes into unity through obedience to the revelation of the truth being received and kept. The soul receives power from the revelation of the Word, and thus gains virtue. In Greek ‘virtue’ is also known as “dunamis.” “For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power (moral power and excellence of soul).” (1 Corinthians 4:20).
According to Scripture the third temple is going to be raised on the third day. Peter wrote “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) In the Gospel of John Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). Hosea also testifies to this “COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up. After two daysHe will revive us (quicken us, give us life); on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.” (Hosea 6:1-2). We are coming to that time frame, that kairos, where Yah is about to raise up His third temple. Origen likened those three days to being out of Egypt (Exodus 8:7) and to being pure in our words, deeds, and thoughts; being completely sanctified unto the Lord and no longer a part of the world. Apostle Paul warned us that we must be blameless in every aspect of our spirit, soul, and body, word deed and thought. Irenaeus (202 AD) explains how the perfect man is the temple.
Neither is the soul itself, considered apart by itself, the man; but it is the soul of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the spirit a man, for it is called the spirit, and not a man; but the commingling and union of all these constitutes the perfect man. And for this cause does the apostle, explaining himself, make it clear that the saved man is a complete man as well as a spiritual man; saying thus in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, “Now the God of peace sanctify you perfect (perfectos); and may your spirit, and soul, and body be preserved whole without complaint to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now what was his object in praying that these three — that is, soul, body, and spirit — might be preserved to the coming of the Lord, unless he was aware of the [future] reintegration and union of the three, and [that they should be heirs of] one and the same salvation? For this cause also he declares that those are “the perfect” who present unto the Lord the three [component parts] without offence. Those, then, are the perfect who have had the Spirit of God remaining in them, and have preserved their souls and bodies blameless, holding fast the faith of God, that is, that faith which is [directed] towards God, and maintaining righteous dealings with respect to their neighbors. Whence also he says, that this handiwork is “the temple of God,” thus declaring: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man, therefore, will defile the temple of God, him will God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.” (1Co 3:16)
This correlates with what the Apostle Paul said, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” (1 Corinthians 13:9). What of the Word did the Apostle Paul understand in part? Was it through the spirit only? The Spirit and the Soul only? We will know face to face when we understand and know in Spirit, Soul and Body; that is the completion of the third temple- the perfect man. This is why the Apostle Paul defined himself as a wise master builder (1 Corinthians 3:10) and further reveals the importance to the purpose of having the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). This is why the early church was waiting for Elijah, who prepares the temple to receive the glory of Yah. This is our hope. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,” (Malachi 3:1). To Yah be the glory, Amen!
1. Thayer’s Dictionary
2. Websters 1828 Dictionary
3. Origen Commentary on the Gospel of John Bk. 10 Pt. 2 Vol. 9
4. Ignatius-Epistle to the Ephesians Ch. XV, Vol. 1
5. Clement-Stromata Bk. V Ch. XII, Vol. 2
6. Irenaeus-Against Heresies Bk V Ch. VI, Vol. 1