Which view is correct: Trichotomy or Dichotomy?

Which view is correct? Trichotomy or Dichotomy? Thank you. God bless

Well, depending on which way you choose to look at it, there’s nothing exactly “wrong” with either view.

The Bible does talk about our “outer man” and our “inner man” (II Corinthians 4:16), meaning everything about us that comes from this material world on the outside and everything immaterial that was breathed into our race through Adam. The body enables us to interact with the natural world, and the spirit enables us to interact with the supernatural world, and as God’s reflections in this Creation, we really do need both elements in that dichotomy.

But that triune likeness of God that was breathed into Adam - that human soul - reveals in us a mind that can reason as God does, a heart that can feel as He feels, and a free will that can act as He acts.

Of course, the sin nature (which is actually alien and destructive to our humanity) has impaired our reason with lies so that we cannot see God’s truth as clearly as we should, it has impaired our heart with lusts so that we do not desire God’s ways as we should, and it impairs our will, so that we do not make the choices we should.

But one of the reasons Jesus entered this world was to replace that sin nature within and without with a new spirit now and a new body later. So His indwelling Spirit is working in us now through His word to restore our reason with His truth, restore our hearts with His love and restore our wills with His power - transforming us into the image of the only perfect Man - restoring our lost humanity.

So depending on what you’re focusing on, you could describe humans in either dichotomous or trichotomus terms. There’s no real problem either way.

I hope these thoughts will help you.


Thank you for your response Ptr. James. I really appreciate it. :slight_smile:

A comment on Trichotomy. @jlyons gave a great answer as is his practice, but I thought I would add this personal view just as an aside to perhaps help.

Generally Trichotomy refers to the man being: Spirit, Soul, and Body. I believe when God created man He arranged this being to be:

  1. The spirit of man (man’s will) to govern the soul
  2. The soul of man (man’s reason) to govern the body
  3. The body of man (man’s emotions and flesh) to exist forever without death.

When Man sinned the order of the his trichotomy was reversed and significantly impacted.

  1. The body of man (man’s emotions and flesh) began to govern man’s soul primarily to deal with its now oncoming death.
  2. The soul of man (man’s reason) began to govern man’s spirit to exalt himself as a means of establishing purpose due to the reality of death.
  3. The spirit of man (man’s will) began to function only to satisfy man’s body as it had become finite in time.

When Jesus Christ came, suffered, died and rose from the dead. He conquered death and allowed for man to reestablish his original order of spirit, soul, and body. BUT the body does not give up its previous precedence easily and this what Paul refers to as the old man.

I believe there are many Scriptures that support this view, but all this train of thought began for me on the study and meditation of Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Just something to think about.


Hi Sir Dan. Thanks much for your detailed explanation re the above subject. I truly appreciate it. I prefer Trichotomy but our Dean Professor(who happened to be your namesake) in Bible School is Dichotomist:-) Anyway, Like what Ptr. James said, there’s nothing exactly “wrong” with either view. :-): God bless