Soul vs. Spirit

The Bible and the Saints teach that humans are body, soul, and spirit. Can anyone elaborate on the difference between the soul and spirit? 


  • The soul is life...the thing that make the body animals have souls because they are alive and die.
    The spirit is the part in us that we received from God when He breathed in us life. It's the thing that lives forever and leaves the body and goes back to its original place, Paradise. 
  • Truth is soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably. Unless you want to discuss Aristotelian philosophy and Neo-Aristotelian Christian philosophy, there is no real difference in the minds of people. 

    I guess the simplest, although not thoroughly consistent way to think about this is a soul is always attached to a body to animate the body, as mina said. However, a spirit is an ontological entity in itself. Demons are spirits. Angels are spirits. God is a spirit. Abstract power is a spirit ("The spirit of Elijah"), etc. They can inhabit bodies but they are not attached to bodies for existence. 

    Keep in mind, our Coptic Church does not dogmatize these things. We are quite content to say we don't know the difference between soul and spirit and body sometimes. It's all a mystery that we are looking at through a dim mirror. 
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