Anthropology – A Study of the Doctrine of Mankind

Creation of Adam

Creation of Adam

Anthropology – A Study of the Doctrine of Mankind.



The modern controversy: Creationism versus Evolution.

Creationism is the belief that the Universe and living organisms originated from specific acts of a divine Creator, as in the Biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as through evolution.

Evolution is the belief in the gradual development of the Universe and living organisms, from a simple to a more complex form.


I. The origin of Mankind and the Universe.

  1. Non-biblical Theories:
  • Naturalistic Evolution
  • Theistic Evolution
  • Punctuated Equilibrium
  1. Biblical Options:
  • Progressive Creation
  • Fiat Creation ex-nihilo
  • Genesis as Literary Framework
  • Day = Age Creation
  • Matter is Old – Life is Young
  • Created with appearance of age
  • Intelligent Design
  1. Biblically non-negotiable premises, if the Bible is to be interpreted literally:
  • Adam and Eve are real people (Rom. 5).
  • First humans are recent (Gen. 5).
  • God is the Direct Creator ex-nihilo (Gen. 1).
  • What God created was “very good.” (Gen. 1:31).
  • Creation shows God’s glory (Psa. 19).
  • The whole Trinity involved in Creation (Gen. 1, Jn. 1:3, Psa. 104).
  • God purposefully guided the process (Gen. 1).


II. Theories of the origin of the human soul.

  1. Theories of the soul’s origin (only the first two have Scriptural support):

A) Pre-existence (Based on Jeremiah 1:4-5).

  • God created all human souls in the beginning and they are transmitted to human bodies at conception/birth.

B) Creationism (based on Genesis 2:7).

  • God creates each human soul at the moment of conception and immediately unites it with the body.

C) Traducianism (The theory that the human soul is generated and grows along with the development of the physical human body, brain and nervous system.)

  • The soul is transmitted along with the body by the process of natural generation. This may imply that the soul dies along with the body at the moment of death.


III. Biblical aspects of Humanity.

  1. Biblical terminology concerning the human race:
  • “Man” Adam ( אָדָמ ) – the name given by God to the firs man(Gen. 5:2) – taken from the adamah ( אָדָמָה) (ground).
  • “Woman” Isha ( אִשָה ) – taken from the man (אִש).
  • “Male” Zakar ( זָכָר ) – the remembering or pointing one.
  • “Female” Neqaba ( נְקֵבָה ) – the pierced or tunneled one.
  • “Flesh” (σαρξ) – man in weakness, prone to sin.
  • “Soul” (ψυχη) – man as a living being.
  • “Spirit” (πνευμα) – man with breath, alive.
  • “Heart” (καρδια) – intellectual, volitional, emotional and spiritual life.
  • “Conscience” (συνειδησις) – guide for decision making.
  • “Mind” (νους) – capacity to be a rational thinker.
  • “Inner/Outer Man” (εσω/εξω ανθρωπας) – immaterial/material man.
  • “New Man/Old Man” (παλαιος/καινος, νεος ανθρωπας) – unregenerate or regenerate person or community.


IV. The nature of Man – Holistic but complex.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” – Psalm 139:13-14

  1. Man is the only creature consciously and intellectually aware of the following:

A) His own existence (“I think, therefore I am.”).

B) The probability of a Creator/Supreme Being (The law of ‘causality’: “Every effect must have a cause.”).

2. Dichotomy versus Trichotomy? Biblical scholars cannot agree. Some see the ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ as the same thing; while others see the ‘soul’ as the personality and intellect, and the ‘spirit’ as the eternal God-conscious part of Man.

  • Dichotomy = We are made up of two parts: Material (body) and Immaterial (soul/spirit) (1 Corinthians 7:34; 15:50-58).
  • Trichotomy = We are made up of three parts: Physical (Body), Personality and intellect (soul), and Spiritual and eternal (spirit) (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12).

3. According to Biblical revelation, Man’s nature has gone through three transitions since its creation, and will go through a fourth transition after Christ’s second advent.

  • God created Man in a state of ‘innocence’. He was ‘holy’ in that he was created in God’s ‘image’. (Gen. 3:4-5)
  • When Adam and Eve fell into sin, their very ‘nature’, (i.e. their motives, impulses and desires) became selfish and corrupt. This ‘fallen’ nature was passed on to their offspring genetically. (1 Cor. 2:14)*
  • Because of Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for sin, and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, Christians now have ‘two natures’, called in Scripture, “the old man” and “the new man”. Living the Christian life is therefore a struggle between the two natures. (Galatians 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-24)
  • At Christ’s Second Coming, believers will be given “glorified” bodies; bodies which are holy and have no tendency to sin. (Philippians 3:20-21)

*We will study more about this under the topic of ‘Hamartiology – A study of the Doctrine of Sin’.


V. Man and Woman – Equal but different.

  1. Both Man and Woman are created in the image of God.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27

  1. The ontological equality of Man and Woman.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:27-28 (NKJV)

  • Equal Image Bearers in Being
  • Balanced Image Bearers in Importance
  • Different Image Bearers in Design
  • Distinct Image Bearers in Role
  • Essential Image Bearers in Purpose
  1. Equal, but meant to live according to God’s design in Christ.

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” – Paul the Apostle, 1 Corinthians 11:3


VI. God created Man to enjoy Him forever.

  1. Specific reasons for Man’s creation:
  • For God’s glory (Isa. 43:7).
  • For God’s praise (Eph. 1:3-14).
  • To know full life (John 10:10).
  • To enjoy life as God’s gift (Eccl. 2:24-26; 3:12-13; 5:18-20).
  • To fear God and obey Him (Eccl. 12:13).


VII. The identity of Man – ‘Imago Dei’.

  1. Created in God’s image.

A) A reflection of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2):

  • Image (Heb., tselem) “image, model, replica”.
  • Likeness (Heb., demut) “to be like; to resemble”.

B) A representative for God (Genesis 1:28):

  • Rule (Heb., radah) “ruling, exercising dominion and even domination”.
  • Subdue (Heb., cabash) “to bring under one’s control for one’s advantage”.

C) Capacites like God:

  • Personal Beings (Genesis 2:18) – With the capacity for relationship.
  • Rational Beings (2 Corinthians 10:5) – With the capacity for thinking.
  • Volitional Beings (Joshua 24:15) – With the capacity for choosing.
  • Emotional Beings (Ecclesiastes 3:4) – With the capacity for feeling.

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