What are the three major components of man; and, what are their distinctive traits?
In brief, man is a tripartite being made in the image of God, a tripartite Being. Man is composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit. The body is a person’s physical structure, which includes the bones, flesh, organs and life sustaining fluids. It is the corporal substance that is characteristic of man, animal, and earth. Although it appears solid, microanalysis reveals that it is a universe of revolving atoms, employing more space than substance. Nevertheless, it is that part of a man that allows him to have physical contact with the biophysical environment. The soul is the animating principle of the body of flesh, which essentially is its life (essence and quality) — including all the experiences, desires,, emotions, sensations, likes and dislikes of a person — and which enables him to be self-aware (self-conscious), to be expressive (employing emotions [feelings, affections, passions, and desires]), to discern (mentality), and to make choices (volition). The soul (life) is contained in the blood of man, (Leviticus 17:11). The spirit is the enabling link between man and God, the part of a person that is dead at his physical birth, but, when made alive by means of the birth from above, permanently unites him to God.
Note the following additional commentary:
Arlen L. Chitwood
Man is a tripartite being comprised of spirit, soul, and body; and the salvation of man within its complete scope (past, present, and future) pertains to the salvation of man with respect to his complete being. In the study of Scripture it is revealed that each of these three parts of man is subject to salvation at different times. Thus, to understand salvation in its complete scope, one must first understand certain things about man’s tripartite nature. Then, salvation in relation to this tripartite nature becomes the issue.
Chapter one of Genesis reveals that man was created in the “image” and “likeness” of God. The word translated “God” in the Hebrew text of this statement is Elohim. This is a plural noun, which, in complete keeping with related Scripture, would include all three members of the Godhead — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (e.g., cf. John 1:1-3). Since Elohim is a trinity, for man to be created in the “image” and “likeness” of God, he too must be a trinity. Unlike the dichotomous animal kingdom (created apart from the “image” and “likeness” of God) possessing only bodies and souls, trichotomous man (created in the “image” and “likeness” of God) is a triune being. Man not only possesses a body and a soul, but he also possesses a spirit as well.
Jesus is Elohim manifested in the flesh; and having been made in the “likeness” of man (but apart from man’s fallen nature), He, as man, must also be a trinity (John 1:14; Philippians 2:7). This tripartite nature of Christ, in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9), was clearly revealed at the time of His death. At this time Jesus yielded up His spirit, which went back into the presence of His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46; cf. Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59); His soul went into Hades, the place of the dead, housed inside the earth at this time (Acts 2:27); and His body was removed from the cross and placed in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-61). This threefold separation persisted until the soul and spirit re-entered the body at the time Christ was raised from the dead.
Thus, God, Elohim, is a trinity; Jesus, Elohim, manifested in the flesh, is likewise a trinity; and man, created in the “image” and “likeness” of Elohim, can only be a trinity as well. Accordingly, a complete redemption provided by the triune God must, of necessity, pertain to man as a complete being. Man’s complete redemption must encompass spirit, soul, and body. . . .
The spiritual nature is that part of man that links him directly with God. “God is spirit,” and man’s worship of God must be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The death of Adam’s spirit separated him from God (establishing the primary meaning of “death” in Scripture — separation from God), and this death (this separation from God) “passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12).
Scripture speaks of an unsaved person as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). With an unredeemed, inanimate spirit (spiritually dead), he is alienated from God, separated from God (Ephesians 2:12). But once the person has been born from above, he is then spoken of as having passed “from death to life,” as having been “quickened” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:5). Possessing an animate spirit, possessing spiritual life (having been made alive spiritually), he is no longer separated from the One who Himself is “Spirit” (John 4:24).
This aspect of salvation is brought to pass through the Spirit of God breathing life into the one having no life, based on Christ’s finished work at Calvary; and once this has been accomplished, everything surrounding the work effecting this aspect of salvation has been completed, with this work existing in a finished state (as previously seen through the use of the perfect tense in Ephesians 2:8). Thus, the salvation experience that man enters into at the time of the birth from above is a work of the Spirit, based on a previous work of the Son. It is a spiritual birth and has to do with man’s spirit alone: “. . . that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6b). . . .
The Greek word translated “natural” in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is psuchikos, a form of the word psuche. Psuchikos is the “natural” or “soulical” life (self-life) that man has in common with the animal kingdom. The soulical man is dominated or ruled by his soul, which includes all the experiences, desires, emotions, sensations, likes, and dislikes within the personal life of the individual. Such likes, dislikes, etc. will vary from individual to individual, but all emanate from the soul-life of man. The soulical man is alienated from God and thus possesses no way to grasp spiritual truth. A man must be born from above — made alive spiritually — before he can possess spiritual discernment.
A. Edwin Wilson
A study of the three words: spirit, soul, and body, in good lexicons will be very valuable. In the Hebrew the word for “soul” is nephesh, and in the King James translation is indiscriminately translated “life” and/or “soul.” In the Greek the word for “soul” is psuche and it also in the King James is translated indiscriminately “life” and/or “soul.” In Latin the word “soul” comes from the word anima, or that which animates the body, and is usually translated “life.” In Leviticus 17:11 we learn that the “soul” or “life,” nephesh, is in the blood; hence the soul is that which gives life to our physical organization. This is true of animals as well. . . .
When man sinned in the Garden of Eden he died (Genesis 2:17). Since his body continued to live and his soul continued to live, it was his spirit that died; and the death of the spirit in an individual is separation from God. The Bible speaks of a person who is living and is unsaved as being dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). When he is saved he is spoken of as having been quickened, or passing from death unto life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). Other Scriptures confirm the fact that when one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he receives life (John 3:15, 16, 36). The truth expressed in the above indicated Scriptures brings to our attention that the new birth that takes place the moment one believes, and the spirit of man comes to life under the begetting power of the Word of God. In the language most commonly used, man is saved. This phase of salvation is eternal, irrevocable, indestructible, and it cannot be altered under any circumstances or conditions (Romans 8:38, 39). . . .
The Scripture definition of soul is the English word “life” with all of its implications. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). The word translated “life” in this verse is nephesh in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruach. The literal translation, therefore, is “the soul is in the blood.” Jesus, then, poured out His soul for the atonement of souls (Isaiah 53:12). The soul being in the blood is at once seen to be the animating principle of the body of flesh. When a man is born from above and has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, the body then is torn betwixt and between. The soul, which is the natural man and is in the blood, pulls man toward the world and the things of the world. At the same time the born-again spirit of man pulls him toward God and the things of God. This is the great conflict described so graphically in Galatians 5:16-26. . . .
Failure to distinguish between soul and spirit has caused many to err and make shipwreck of their faith — not that they are lost, but that they may experience the tragedy of having their spirits and bodies saved but their souls lost. Is not the soul and spirit the same? By no means. The soul is the natural life of the man — the self-life. It is the sum total of the experiences that pertain to the man himself — his own separate personality. It is the life he lives daily after he is saved. He can live for the Lord or he can live for the world, the flesh and the devil. Such a life can issue in rewards or losses. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
Gary T. Whipple
To further understand this, the Scriptures speak of the soul or life of man in three aspects. (1) The life principle of the body (Leviticus 17:11). (2) The life essence of man, with or without his body, with all his normal faculties (Luke 16:22, 23; Revelation 6:9-11). (3) The life quality of man either in this present life or the life to come (James 1:21).
 Salvation of the Soul — Saving of the Life by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 3,4, 6, 7, 9
 Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, edited by Arlen L. Chitwood, Schoettle Publishing Co. Inc., 1996, pages157-159, 161
 Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Schoettle Publishing Co. Inc., 2003, page 21