Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), by Watchman Nee


In addition to the spirit, the organ with which he communicates with God, man also has a soul. This soul is where man’s own consciousness lies. Man is conscious of his own existence because of the activity of the soul. The soul is the organ of man’s personality. Everything included in man’s personality, that is, every element that constitutes him a man, is a part of the soul. His intellect, mind, ideals, love, stimulations, judgment, will, etc., are all parts of the soul.

We have said that the spirit and the body are merged into the soul. That is why the soul becomes man’s personality and the center of his being. For this reason the Bible calls man "a soul," as if man has nothing but a soul. For example, Genesis 12:5 speaks of the souls that went forth from Haran. When Jacob brought his household down to Egypt, the Bible says that "all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten" (46:27). There are many other instances like these in the original language, where "soul" is used to denote persons. The reason for this is that the soul is the location of man’s personality and the chief element of his personality. The way a man behaves is governed by his personality. A man’s existence, characteristics, and life all come from his soul. Hence, the Bible calls man a soul.

The three main elements included in a man’s personality are his will, his mind, and his emotion. The will is the deliberating organ; it is where the power of judgment lies. It makes decisions on whether or not one will do something and whether or not one wants something. Without the will, man would be a machine. The mind is the thinking organ; it is our intellect. Our intelligence, knowledge, and everything that has to do with our mental capacity come from the mind. Without the mind, man would become totally foolish. The emotion is the organ of love, hatred, and sentiments. We can love and hate and feel joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness through our emotion. Without the emotion, a man would be senseless like wood and stone. If we study the Bible carefully, we will find that the three main elements of man’s personality belong to the soul. They are all parts of the soul. Because there are too many verses, we will just quote a few to serve as illustrations.

The soul includes the will:

"Do not give me over/To the desire [lit., soul] of my adversaries" (Psa. 27:12).

"Do not give him over to the desire [lit., soul] of his enemies" (Psa. 41:2).

"Delivered thee unto the will [lit., soul] of them that hate thee" (Ezek. 16:27).

"You shall let her go wherever she wishes [lit., according to her soul]" (Deut. 21:14).

"Do not let them say in their heart [lit., soul]" (Psa. 35:25).

"When a man vows a vow to Jehovah or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge" (Num. 30:2).

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God" (1 Chron. 22:19).

"They desire and lift up their soul to return to dwell there" (Jer. 44:14, Amplified Bible).

"The things that my soul refused to touch" (Job 6:7).

"So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life" (Job 7:15).

The words "will" and "desire" in the foregoing verses show that they refer to the human will. The setting, the lifting up, the refusing, and the choosing are all functions of man’s will, and they all issue from the soul. Hence, we see that the soul includes the will.

The soul also includes the intellect or the mind:

"I take from them...that whereupon they set their minds [lit., souls], their sons and their daughters" (Ezek. 24:25).

"With despiteful minds [lit., soul]" (Ezek. 36:5).

"That the soul be without knowledge, it is not good" (Prov. 19:2).

"How long will I bear concern in my soul" (Psa. 13:2).

"Marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well" (Psa. 139:14).

"My soul remembers them well/And is bowed down within me" (Lam. 3:20).

"Keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul" (Prov. 3:21-22).

"So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul" (Prov. 24:14).

Knowledge, setting of the mind, having in remembrance, etc., are all activities of man’s mind, or intellect. The Bible considers all these to be from the soul. The soul includes the human intellect, or the mind.

The soul also includes the emotions:

The soul can love:

"And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 6:5).

"The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (1 Sam. 18:1).

"And you shall exchange the money for anything that your soul desires...or for anything that your soul would like" (Deut. 14:26).

"Whatsoever thy soul desireth" (1 Sam. 20:4).

"My soul longs, indeed even faints,/For the courts of Jehovah" (Psa. 84:2).

"That which your soul pitieth" (Ezek. 24:21).

"So my soul pants/For You" (Psa. 42:1).

"Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth" (S.S. 1:7).

"My soul desires You in the night" (Isa. 26:9).

"My Beloved in whom My soul has found delight" (Matt. 12:18).

"My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46).

"And a sword will pierce through your own soul" (Luke 2:35).

These few verses reveal one function of the soul, which is to love. The desire to love comes from the soul. Hence, human love is a part of the function of the soul.

The soul can hate:

"So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat" (Job 33:20).

"The lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul" (2 Sam. 5:8).

"My soul was impatient with them, and their soul also detested me" (Zech. 11:8).

"My soul is weary of my life" (Job 10:1).

"Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat" (Psa. 107:18).

These few verses teach us that hatred is a function of the soul.

The soul can be affected in other ways:

"The soul of all the people was grieved" (1 Sam. 30:6).

"Her soul is vexed" (2 Kings 4:27).

"His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel" (Judg. 10:16).

"How long will ye vex my soul" (Job 19:2).

"My soul will exult in My God" (Isa. 61:10).

"Cause the soul of Your servant to rejoice" (Psa. 86:4).

"Their soul fainted in them" (Psa. 107:5).

"Why art you bowed down, O my soul? / And why do you groan within me?" (Psa. 42:5).

"Return unto thy rest, O my soul" (Psa. 116:7).

"My soul breaketh for the longing" (Psa. 119:20).

"My soul melteth for heaviness" (Psa. 119:28).

"Sweet to the soul" (Prov. 16:24).

"Let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isa. 55:2).

"When my soul fainted within me" (Jonah 2:7).

"My soul is exceedingly sorrowful" (Matt. 26:38).

"Now is my soul troubled" (John 12:27).

"Tormented his righteous soul day after day" (2 Pet. 2:8).

These few verses tell us how the soul is affected. The feeling of being affected comes from the soul.

From the above verses we can see the functions in our emotions. Love, hatred, feelings of being affected, sensations, etc., all come from the soul. This shows us that our emotion is also a part of our soul.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)