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1st Corinthians makes a distinction between the first Adam and Jesus Christ and it also distinguishes between the soul and the spirit. What does the expression a "quickening spirit" mean here and how is a contrast from the previous expression "living soul"?

1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.

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migrated from Aug 6 '13 at 18:59

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When one first reads this, perhaps they may be compelled to examine Gen. 2:7 (since Paulos quotes it), in which it is written,

English translation:

And YHVH God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

Hebrew text (Masoretic):

וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן־הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָֽאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּֽה

Greek text (LXX):

καὶ ἔπλασεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον χοῦν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐνεφύσησεν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνοὴν ζωῆς καὶ ἐγένετο ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν

Notice what occurs.

  • YHVH God forms man.
  • YHVH God breathes the "breath of life" into man.
  • Man becomes a "living soul."

What is interesting about the LXX is that it uses the Greek verb ἐνεφύσησεν (enephysēsen), a conjugation of the root verb ἐμφυσάω (emphysaō), "meaning "to breathe on, infuse." In the entire corpus of the Greek text of the Bible, this verb only occurs twice: Gen. 2:7 of the LXX, and John 20:22 of the NT, in which it is written,

English translation:

And when he said this, he breathed on [them] and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit!"

Greek text:

καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον

Arthur W. Pink, in his Exposition of the Gospel of John, p. 1100, wrote,

The Greek word here used is employed nowhere else in the New Testament, but is the very one used by the Septuagint translators of Gen 2:7: 'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.' There, man's original creation was completed by this act of God; who, then, can fail to see that here in John 20, on the day of the Saviour's resurrection, the new creation had begun, begun by the Head of the new creation, the last Adam acting as 'a quickening spirit' (1Cr 15:45)!"

John Gill, on the phrase "quickening" or "life-making spirit," writes,

though rather I think it is to be understood of his spiritual body, of his body, not as it was made of the virgin, for that was a natural, or an animal one; it was conceived and bred, and born as animal bodies are; it grew and increased, and was nourished with meat and drink, and sleep and rest; and was subject to infirmities, and to death itself, as our bodies be; but it is to be understood of it as raised from the dead, when it was made a spiritual body, for which reason it is called a "spirit":

not that it was changed into a spirit, for it still remained flesh and blood; but because it was no more supported in an animal way; nor subject to those weaknesses that animal bodies are, but lives as spirits, or angels do; and a quickening one, not only because it has life itself, but because by virtue of the saints' union to it, as it subsists in the divine person of the Son of God, their bodies will be quickened at the last day, and made like unto it, spiritual bodies; also because he lives in his body as a spiritual one, they shall live in theirs as spiritual ones: and so the apostle shows, that there is a spiritual, as well as an animal body; that as the first man's body, even before the fall, was an animal or natural one; the last Adam's body upon his resurrection is a spiritual and life giving one, as the Syriac version renders it

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As Paul quoted from Genesis 2:7, Man became living soul which means that he is created with a animal soul - the body with a life and soul, the living principle of his body.

Quickening spirit would mean not only living soul but the soul which makes alive or the soul which has the power/authority to give life. The gospel of John has more textual evidence of quickening spirit, the one which is alive and gives life ( John 5:21 , John 6:33, John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:54, John 6:57, John 6:62 and John 6:63).

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Tertullian, in his On the Resurrection of the Flesh 410, opined:

Now the apostle ... fairly distinguishes between the two states, in the very essentials of their difference.

And what is their difference? As I understand Tertullian's comment in the light of the OT scripture referred to by Paul (Gen. 2:7), the spirit of the first man (Adam) became alive (sentient, animated) with self-centered animal energy (vitality) and instincts.

But "the last Adam" (Jesus of Nazareth) became a supernatural energy (spirit) capable of influencing and motivating animalistic people to, among other things, willingly demonstrate continuous benevolence (unselfish, kind, and charitable acts of goodwill) toward other people.

FWIW, that's how I see the differences between a "living soul" and a "quickening spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45).

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