In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul says,
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.“
Here we see three parts of a man which are separate from each other: spirit, soul, and body. “Spirit” is the Greek pnuema. “Soul” is the Greek psuche.
The soul is used interchangeably for that third part of man (not his spirit and not his body) which is the breath/life animating force AND also it is used for the spirit of man.
“Soul” in 1 Thess 5:23 is speaking of the life/breathe/animating force of man. In that passage, the “spirit/pneuma” of man is the part of man that goes to heaven or hell, and thus the “soul/psuche” part of man must refer to the life/breath of man – because Paul is not being redundant, by repeating himself.
However, and this is the confusing part for some, the Greek psuche/soul can also refer interchangeably to the spirit of man that goes to heaven or hell (see James 1:21, 5:20; and Rev 6:9). By receiving the word implanted, you save your souls, Jas 1:21; 5:20. There the soul/psuche is – most agree – talking about the spirit of man that goes to heaven or hell. It was the souls/psuche of the martyred Christians who were seen under the altar in heaven. Context tells which usage is appropriate understanding of the soul/psuche.
Another possible example of soul/psuche being used for the spirit of man include Mark 12:30 where the command is for us to love God with all of our heart, SOUL, mind and strength (nor in the Luke 10:27, Mt22:37). Is the command telling us to love God with our life/breath or is it telling us to love God with our spirit? I would be interested to hear others thoughts.
So what? What’s the point then of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians? Well if body, soul, and spirit speak of the entire man, as he also said, “may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely”, then may not part of the Christian be unsanctified or unholy at the coming of Christ. Paul is wishing them to be fully sanctified until the coming of Christ.
Humbly I offer this. Dan