Pneuma as the Regenerate Nature
Basil Atkinson writes:
" There are about TWENTY-NINE occurrences in the NT of
pneuma used in reference to the NEW REGENERATE NATURE. In this
sense it sometimes unites and combines the sense of pneuma as
life principle with that of disposition or character. The
new nature is certainly a new life principle, but it is an
essentially moral life principle. It is in itself a holy
disposition or character.
In Matthew 26: 41 and Mark 14: 38 we find the spirit
(pneuma) opposed to the flesh, as so often in the apostle Paul's
epistles......In 1 Peter 3: 18 'spirit' (pneuma) is again
contrasted with 'flesh.' Here 'spirit' means the glorified
nature of Christ in resurrection. We may compare Romans 1: 4 and
1 Corinthians 15: 45. The glorified resurrection nature, this
time of the saints, is again the meaning of pneuma in 1 Peter 4:
6. Believers now dead will one day live again in a glorified
nature with a spiritual body as a result of hearing and believing
the Gospel when they were alive on earth before their death.
There are nine references in the Epistle to the
Romans.....The regenerate nature is represented by pneuma in
Romans 2: 29, where the apostle says it effects circumcision
of the heart. In Romans 8: 1 and 4 we have the contrast between
flesh, the old nature, and spirit, the new. We have the same in
Romans 8: 5, where pneuma in this sense occurs twice.....The
child of God carries a life principle within him, which is the
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and insures his resurrection to
life immortal on the glorious day of resurrection at the second
coming of the Lord (Rom.8: 11)......
Further references to the regenerate nature occur in 1 Cor.
5: 5; 6: 17, 20; Gal.3: 3; 6: 18; Phil. 4: 23; I Thes. 5:
23. where it is contrasted with psychee; Heb. 4: 12, where, the
same contrast occurs; .......We also have references to the
regenerate nature in 2 Tim. 4: 22 and Philemon 25.
Pneuma in 2 Corinthians 7: 1
There is a strange use of pneuma in 2 Cor. 7: 1, which seems
to be unique in the NT, 'Let us cleanse ourselves from all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness
in the fear of God.' We have here, as so often, the contrast
between flesh and spirit, but neither is used in the exact sense
of the old and new natures.....Pneuma here cannot mean the new
nature because filthiness cannot be thought of as affecting the
new nature.....Flesh and spirit are put here for CARNAL
THINGS.....The apostle is exhorting to holiness and to the
avoidance of all defilement in things of the flesh, by which he
means IMMORALITY, and in things of the spirit, by which he means
I would add that the defilement of the spirit can be much
more than false religions. It can be any defilement of the mind,
such as hate, lust, jealousy, coveting, revenge, all and
everything that is against the laws and holiness of God.
Certainly defilement of the body would be using the physical body
in ways of sexual immorality, and today it would also include
defilement of the body through drug abuse and the like, which has
the effect of destroying the body, which is the temple of God,
note 1 Cor. 3: 16-17 (Keith Hunt).
Pneuma as Man's Disposition and Character
Mr. Atkinson continues:
" There are rather under FORTY passages in the NT in which
pneuma appears as a disposition of man and the source of his
character in the same general sense as does ruagh in the OT. An
examination of these passages will show however that some are on
the borderline and it is a matter of judgment whether to class
them in this division of the sense of the word or to place them
among the instances which refer to the regenerate spirit.
The following passages show the pneuma as the source of
HUMILITY: Mat.5: 3; 1 Cor. 4: 21 and Gal. 6: 1.
In the following it is the seat of KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM:
Mark 2: 8; Luke 2: 40; Acts 6: 10; Eph. 1: 17 and 4: 23.
In the following it is the seat of GRIEF: Mark 8: 12; John
11: 33; 13: 21 and Acts 17: 16.
'The Spirit and power of Elias' (Luke 1: 17) is a passage
probably best placed among those instances which refer specially
to the spirit of prophecy.
In four passages the pneuma is the seat of JOY: Luke 1: 47;
1 Cor. 16: 18; 2 Cor. 2: 13; 7: 13.
In Luke 9: 55 is an instance of PERVERSE spirit.
There are four instances of the spirit being the seat of
COURAGE or STRENGTH: Acts 18: 5, 25; Romans 12: 11 and 2 Timothy
In Acts 19: 21 and 20: 22 the pneuma is the source of
PURPOSE or RESOLVE.
There are several Pauline passages in which the pneuma is
seen as the seat of WORSHIP and the SERVICE of God. In these we
are probably intended to think of the regenerate spirit. They
are: Rom. 1: 9; 8: 16; 1 Cor. 5: 3, 4; 7: 34; 14: 2, 14; 16:
18; 2 Cor. 4: 13; Phil. 1: 27; Col. 2: 5......In John 4: 23,
24 worship in spirit and truth means inner worship, the lifting
of the heart to God in faith, prayer and obedience, as opposed
to ritual or legal or any other form of outward worship. The
regenerate spirit is seen as the instrument and channel of
worship because its nature is in some sense akin to that of God,
Who is Spirit (verse 24).
In 1 Corinthians 2: 11 the pneuma is seen as the seat of
SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS. This is a unique use in the NT. Only a man
himself knows the depths, and the motives of his own heart, and
the apostle says that this knowledge of himself lies in his
spirit (pneuma). We should almost expect to read the word 'heart'
here and we may well think that the use of the word pneuma is
influenced by its use for the Spirit of God in the next sentence.
It would be very unwise to read into this unique use of the word
the idea that the pneuma is the seat of a CONSCIOUSNESS that can
SURVIVE AFTER the spirit leaves the body at death. Such an idea
is not found in the verse itself.
The Pneuma of the Prophets
Apart from possibly Luke 1: 17 the NT adds ONE instance to
the TEN to be found in the OT where ruagh relates specially to
the prophets. This is to be found in Revelation 22: 6, 'the Lord
God of the spirits of the prophets.' The meaning is the same as
that of ruagh when it is connected with the prophets.
Ruagh and Pneuma
We have now examined carefully the meaning of these Hebrew
and Greek words and so far as space will allow provided examples
of every sense that could possibly bear on our argument. The only
places in which the idea of the spirit surviving the body might
be deduced from them are the instances in Ecclesiastes
(especially 12: 7) where the spirit is said to go back at death
to God who gave it, and such passages as Luke 23: 46 and Acts 7:
59 where the spirit at death is commended into the hands of
....it would be useful to glance at the Hebrew and Greek
words translated 'heart.' We might not have found it necessary to
do so, as these words are not used in connection with the
creation of man, as are nephesh and ruagh. Yet a well-known
evangelist recently quoted in a public address Psalm 22: 26,
'Your heart shall live for ever,' to prove NATURAL IMMORTALITY
for all men, righteous or wicked, and elaborated the theme that
the 'heart' would survive the body at death and go on living to
all eternity either in heaven or hell. A glance at the text will
show the impossibility of rightly extracting such a notion from
it. The context makes quite clear that the wicked are not in view
in the passage at all. It is concerned with 'the meek' and 'they
that seek the Lord.' The eternal life that is promised is
promised to them alone. Nor does this life consist of survival
after death as if the 'heart' lived but not the body. The
expression 'your heart' (or whatever the appropriate pronoun may
be) is frequently used for 'you,' just as we have seen to be the
case in the 'weak' use of nephesh. The promise is thus a promise
of eternal life to the people of God, which comes, as we shall
later see, in the only way known to Scripture, by a glorious
resurrection.....We appreciate his difficulties....but should he
not have been warned by the words that occur in verse 29 of the
same psalm, only three verses lower down, 'None can keep alive
his own soul.' We may compare Psalm 69: 32.
The Hebrew words for 'heart' are LEV, LEVAV, and LIBBAH,
the Aramaic words occurring in Daniel are LEV and L'VAV, and the
Greek word is KARDIA. These words have certain parallels with
ruagh and pneuma. They are sometimes used in a strict parallelism
with ruagh. They are used in much the same sense as ruagh in its
references to the disposition and the seat of the emotions, but
they cover a wider ground. There is a regenerate heart, which is
the same as a regenerate spirit. The heart is the deepest
part of man, the seat of the will and conscience. One or other of
the words is sometimes used to express the centre or midst of
something, e.g. the sea (Ex.15: 8). 1 Peter 3: 4 has something
of this sense.
In the case of Nabal we read of the death of his heart (1
Samuel 25: 37). This probably means that he became unconscious.
He seems to have had some sort of stroke. As in the case of
nephesh the Scripture speaks in several places of the heart of
God (2 Sam. 7: 21, etc.). In Job 1: 8 and 2: 3 we read of Satan's
heart and in Daniel 4: 16 and 5: 21 of 'the heart of a beast,'
meaning the nature of a beast. This is sufficient proof that the
heart never expresses an IMMORTAL part of a man which has the
property of surviving death and living forever.
Several times in the book of Proverbs we find the expression
'to lack understanding' (e.g. 6: 32, etc.). In Hebrew this is
always 'to lack heart.' Similarly we find 'to get heart' (e.g.
15: 32). The occupation of the heart with material things (as we
should call them) as well as spiritual seems proved by Proverbs
27: 9, where we find that it enjoys ointment and perfume.
There is an interesting passage in Song of Solomon 5: 2, 'I
sleep, but my heart waketh.' This looks like the heart could be
conscious while its owner asleep, but the context is best suited
by the R.V. rendering, 'I was asleep, but my heart waked,' that
is, she woke up when she heard her beloved knocking.
In 1 Thessalonians 3: 13 we find the heart, put for the
person himself, appearing before God at the coming of our Lord
In addition to Psalm 22: 26 which we have already examined,
there is only ONE passage from which it has been found possible
to deduce the IMMORTALITY of the HEART. This is Ecclesiastes 3:
11, 'He has made everything beautiful in His time: also He has
set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the
work that God makes from the beginning to the end.' 'The world'
translates in Hebrew olam, which usually means 'eternity' or 'the
world to come.' Most commentators (though not all) and modern
translators read 'eternity,' and it has been concluded that
because eternity is in man's heart, his heart is eternal or
This would by no means follow, especially when based upon a
single obscure and difficult passage without ANY SUPPORT
elsewhere in Scripture at all. But is not the heart, the heart
(or midst) of the beautiful things ('everything beautiful')? The
beautiful creation that God has made is all related to eternity,
so that man cannot find out the meaning of God's work 'from the
beginning to the end,' that is, in time. "
The Hebrew/English Interlinear by J.P. Green translates this
verse as : "Everything He has made beautiful in its time. Also
eternity He has set in their heart, without which man can not
find out the work that God makes from the beginning even to the
Notice, God has set in the heart of man "eternity" - man
has a mind that desires to know and understand the WHY about the
beautiful works of God from the beginning to the end. He has that
eternity seeking mind WITHOUT WHICH he cannot find out, search
into, examine, and seek to discover the meaning and reason as to
why God created the beautiful works that He did create. A heart
that wants to know the answers as to why God created the physical
works of the universe and what is to be the end or destination of
all God's beautiful works, the plan of God for the universe and
This in part is answered in my study called "A Christian's
Destiny." And the book of Revelation, the last number of
chapters give us an over-view of the plan of God for this
earth and the works thereupon (Keith Hunt).
The Great and Wonderful "spirit" in Man
I personally, Keith Hunt, will finish this second study on
this subject with the verses that tell us about the spirit of man
that does go back to God in heaven upon our death. There are a
number of passages in the OT and in the NT that when put together
would show that man has a "spirit" in him that does return to God
upon his death. Some have seen this, in fact they have seen that
the soul of man is NOT immortal, but because of the Scriptures we
shall now look at, they proclaim, it is the "spirit" within man
that goes on consciously living, thinking, talking, walking, etc.
after man dies.
We need to look at these verses, admit what they do say, try
not to fancy foot around them, yet at the same time we need to
use common human logic as we meditate on this "spirit in man" or
"spirit of man" in relation to the physical facts pertaining to
this human life on earth, as well as the other revealed
Scriptures that state clearly what happens to the actions, works,
and thoughts of the human person when they die this physical
death that we have been experiencing for thousands of years.
In Psalm 31; 5 a foreshadowing of the Lord's words on the
cross, we have, "Into thine hands I commit my spirit." At the
point of death the Lord Jesus committed the spirit which was
leaving Him into the safe hands of the Father.
We read in Job 34: 14, 15 these words, "If He (God) set His
heart upon man, if He gather unto Himself his spirit and his
breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again
unto the dust." It would seem from this verse that clearly man
not only has breath that God can reclaim, but there is also his
"spirit" in him that He can also reclaim. When God does claim
them both, the man is dead. Let us not be too swift to say the
spirit here is the man's mind, thoughts, emotions. That is also
true that these stop functioning at death, as other Scriptures
plainly teach ( and as we shall see in our third section on this
study) , but when we have finished looking at all the verses we
must under this section, it may well be we shall have to admit
mankind does have something very unique within them, that is part
of the mind but yet not the physical mind or brain itself.
Job 32: 8, "But there is a spirit in man: and the
inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding." Again, we
must not be too quick to answer that this is referring to the
human brain or mind in its purely physical state only. For
modern science has studied the human brain with all its modern
space age technology and with all its marvellous machines, and
cannot find WHY the human brain can think and reason the way it
does over and above some of the other brains of animals that it
has also studied with its same high-tech equipment. Modern
science has no answer as to why mankind has this inspiration that
gives them understanding, far out classing the rest of created
things. Some of the animals can do wonderful things in their
sphere of life, but none of them can type research and read the
Bible and type what I am typing in this study, and come to
understand some of the truths and wonders of the Almighty. It
would seem then that there is something within man, given to man
by God, that is not material or physical. A something that works
WITH the human brain to give man inspiration and understanding
that is then unique in all of God's physical creation.
We shall now turn our attention to Ecclesiastes 3: 19-21.
"For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one
thing befalls them; as the one dies so dies the other; yes, they
all have one breath; all are of dust, and all return to dust
again. Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the
spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth?"
Better sense is made of verse 21 by the rendering not only
from the Hebrew, but from the Greek Septuagint, the Targum on the
passage, the Syriac Peshito and the Latin Vulgate, which say,
"WHETHER it goes upward...WHETHER it goes downward." It is really
a QUESTION that Solomon is asking. The spirit of men and animals,
does it go upward or downward at death, is that spirit reclaimed
Solomon answers his own question later in the same book he
wrote, and that answer we shall look at presently. but in
passing we see from this passage that death in all its basic
elements is exactly the SAME for BOTH man and the beast. This
teaching of sameness for both in death we shall investigate more
closely in part three of this study.
Now to Solomon's answer to his question. He gives his answer
in chapter 12 and verse 7. "Then shall the dust return to the
earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave
It is true that we could say that the ruagh here is the
breath of life that God gave to man by breathing into his
nostrils that air or breath of life that must come into a man
and be part of man, to be mixed with his blood, in order for him
to survive as a human being on this earth. We could say that at
death that air or breath leaves the person (as it surely indeed
does) and in that sense returns back to God who first gave it. In
a figure of speech, and the Bible is full of figures of speech
(so much so that Bullinger wrote a large 1000 page book on the
subject), we could here say that God reclaims the breath of life
on death that He gave to man in order for him to live. Yet,
because of the other Scriptures we have already seen and ones we
shall yet see in the NT, there is really more to this verse than
God just taking away the literal air or breath from a person on
death. God is accepting and keeping safe something other than
air, something that is a part of man, given to him by God, that
makes mankind very unique in all of god's physical creation. It
is something we can hand over, ask God the Father to keep safe
until the resurrection, just as Jesus said upon His death, "into
thy hands I commit my spirit."
We do need to notice here in this passage in Ecclesiastes
that God receiving the spirit of humans is NOT talking just about
godly or Christian persons, that if a Christian your spirit lives
on in heaven, but if not a Christian, it does not, but as some
would teach, goes to hell-fire and is tormented for all eternity.
This verse here in chapter 12 is talking about ALL people! As we
saw in chapter 3, so dies one so dies the other, all people have
a spirit, all people do die, all people do return to dust, so the
spirit of ALL PEOPLE shall return unto God who gave it.
I suppose some would argue that is indeed the case but after
the spirit has returned or been reclaimed by God, then God
decides if that spirit will live in heaven or live in
ever-burning hell-fire. They would say God judges them at that
time. that could be a valid argument if it was not for the
Scriptural teaching that judgment comes for the Christian at the
visible coming of Christ in glory and power.
Then we could add that if judgment for everyone comes at
death, when the spirit of man goes back to God, to either be
judged to live in full consciousness in heaven or in hell-fire,
then why BOTHER, why the NEED, of a future RESURRECTION? To be
sure some come up with a few fancy ideas as to why a resurrection
is still needed, but common logic and as we are seeing, and shall
see, such ideas and theories are merely the imagination of the
mind of men who must try to reconcile the teaching of the
immortal soul or spirit with the clear teaching of a resurrection
to life, as taught throughout the word of God.
We must now turn our attention to a few important verses in
the NT as to the spirit of man that returns, upon his death, to
The Christian upon earth is a child of God, as shown by
numerous passages in the NT. As a child of God that Christian can
come before God's throne as clearly taught in Hebrews 4: 15-16.
Picking up that same teaching the apostle Paul elaborates on
coming before that throne in Hebrews chapter 12, starting in
verse 18. He takes us in the mind's eye to many of the things
both in the literal and in symbolic "written" in heaven,
in the verses that follow verse 18.
Notice verse 23. As we as Christians on this earth come
before the throne of heaven, we also come before the "spirits of
just men made perfect."
So, the spirits of these righteous ones do go back to God at
death, and they are in heaven with God at His throne. Clearly
then we can (as Jesus and Stephen did, see Acts 7: 59) commit our
spirit to the Father upon our death, and He does place it in
heaven at His throne.
We must now put all this together and make sense of it all.
To do this we need to look at one more important NT passage on
the teaching of the spirit of man. It is found in 1 Corinthians
The same one Greek word pneuma is used for "spirit" in both
verses. Verse 10 tells us that to know and understand the deep
things of God, it requires the Spirit (pneuma) of God in us to
understand such things of God (see also verse 12). It takes the
Spirit of God to know and understand God, who is, as we have seen
already, SPIRIT (John 4: 24). Notice that truth in the last half
of verse 11.
Now, notice the first half of verse 11, "For what man knows
the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him..."
Only mankind can know the things that mankind can know about
the things of mankind. The animals, some with as large a physical
brain and some with even larger, cannot know the things of
mankind. My little dog cannot know and cannot understand the
situations and circumstances in life that lead me to cry, or to
laugh, or to be angry at someone. Animals with the brain and
spirit they may have, cannot begin to figure out and to know and
to understand all the simple or complicated ways of the human
life with all of its emotions and wonders that the human being
can do, accomplish, invent, investigate, and discover, plan and
bring to pass those plans.
Science as I've already stated, can collect the physical
brains from humans and from animals, and dissect them, probe
them, scan them, use all the scientific space age machines on
them, but they still, from a physical function of knowledge,
cannot figure out why the human brain is far above the animal
brain in knowing the things of man, or as Paul put it, "what man
can know the things of a man but the spirit of man which is in
There is something PUT WITHIN mankind that is unique. The
Bible calls it "spirit." It is invisible, cannot be seen by any
space age technology of any kind. It is a human "spirit" that is
united with the physical brain, to make mankind very unique in
all of God's physical creation. It then makes man, mankind, gives
them the ability to think and reason and know what only mankind
can know about the world of mankind. It enables mankind to do the
wonders that mankind can do and is doing. That spirit which is
in man is only for man as living on this earth in his physical
world. That spirit of man, cannot understand he Spirit of God, or
the mind of God, the ways of God, the living of God as God lives,
thinks, and wills. God is Spirit. He lives in a different world
dimension, a Spirit world. Hence as Paul was inspired to tell us
in this passages, it takes the Spirit of God placed within us, to
unite with our spirit mind, to understand the mind or Spirit of
There is an invisible spirit essence placed within us by God
(sometime after onception, the Bible does not tell us when God
exactly gives us that spirit), which then nites with our physical
brain, much like putting gasoline into the engine of the car to
make it fire up and work. This spirit united with our brain makes
us uniquely mankind, and s the two work together human character
can be formed. If the Spirit of God also comes o unite with the
spirit of man, then righteous Godly character can be produced.
That human godly character can be likened to a cassette tape
placed within a assette machine. The character of all that is
righteously you is being recorded and reserved. All that is not
desirable in that righteous character is cleansed and washed
away by say, brushes and liquid, while and as long as the tape is
moving and rogressing. The analogy in reality is this. As a
Christian the Spirit of God united with our uman spirit essence
is producing godly character, and it is being preserved. All the
unwanted and damaging specks of dirt and sin are being washed
away by the Jesus lood and by His advocating work as our High
Priest in heaven, because of our basic umble and repentant
attitude. All that is on the tape is holy righteous perfectness.
When he tape comes to the end of its length of life and it STOPS
in our DEATH, we have only PERFECT RIGHTEOUS character tape in
our physical body. That perfect character pirit tape is reclaimed
by the one who gave it and made it all possible. He takes that
perfected character and brings it back to Himself in heaven, to
His throne, where it is kept n safe keeping, committed safely to
His trust, until the day of RESURRECTION and IFE, when that
perfect spirit character is given a perfect spirit body and life
for evermore, just as Paul was inspired to tell us about in that
wonderful resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15.
Is this spirit within man somehow the real man that lives on
in full and complete consciousness, talking and walking, thinking
and doing, crying and sighing or laughing? Can this spirit in
man take over or carry on IF the physical brain or some part of
the physical body breaks down or is lost? NO it can not! That
should be readily seen by the daily history of the workings of
the unfortunate lives of people on this earth. If someone
looses a bodily limb in an accident, say an a hand, or an arm, or
a leg, the spirit in man does NOT take over and give out an
invisible hand or leg, and work as if the physical limb was not
missing at all. If a part of the physical brain is damaged by
whatever means, the spirit of man in him does not automatically
take over and work for the part of the brain that is lost, as if
it is not lost at all.
The spirit in man that is united to his mind and that makes
mankind unique, can only work its work correctly in this human
life time, with a full and natural and orderly physical body.
As we shall see very clearly from the Scriptures in our
future studies on this subject of DEATH and IMMORTALITY, the
spirit in man is NOT the man, it is not an immortal person that
keeps on living consciously after death. It is a spirit essence
that working with the brain of man, makes mankind able to know
the things of mankind in a way that only mankind can know, which
no other physical creation of God can know or understand.
Upon the death of a Christian that perfected spirit
character returns to God in heaven who first gave it.
Actually the spirit of all persons, as we have seen, return
to God in heaven for safe keeping until their resurrection, for
it is written that in God's plan and time, ALL will be
resurrected (John 5: 25-29).
So I, Keith Hunt end this second section of our study on
Death and Immortality.
We shall continue with a third section.
Compiled and written May 2000
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trust
nothing will be changed (except for spelling and punctuation
errors) without his consent.