An Apple: Three Parts in One Fruit
The familiar apple presents another three-in-one illustration. An apple can be summarized and divided into three primary parts. 1. The outer part/skin is protective and external. 2. The flesh of the fruit is inner and edible. 3. The seed area is central and reproductive. In this comparison, the skin represents the human body, the fruit’s flesh represents the soul, and the apple seed(s) represent the spirit.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).
In some sense all these parts are necessary to make a complete apple. Similarly, man comprises body/soul/spirit. (Thus, we speak of the “holistic trichotomy” of man.) Yet, the skin is ontologically distinct from the inner part. Peeling an apple is an obvious and common practice. The skin is protective and usually temporary. The flesh of the apple is designed to have the primary volume and nutrition. Even so, the human body and soul are separable and distinct. The core of this fruit houses the apple seeds. Like the flesh of the apple, the seed area is separate and distinct from the apple’s skin. While having this similarity with the apple’s flesh, the apple seed is ontologically distinct from the fruit’s flesh. If the apple’s flesh is planted, it disintegrates. (This was a big deal to Johnny Appleseed!) However, if the seed is planted, it can reproduce an apple tree. (Also, nutritionists discourage the eating of apple seeds.)
Invariably, when an apple is peeled, the flesh of the fruit will contain the seeds. Similarly, man’s soul contains his spirit; they are always connected. Yet, the soul and spirit are ontologically distinct.
As in the multifaceted view of man, although the three parts listed above can be identified as fundamental, they can be further differentiated and detailed. For example, the outer part has a temporary stem and leaves. The core of the apple has five carpels, or seed pockets, etc. Similarly the Bible identifies additional aspects of man’s inner makeup: mind, will, emotions, intuition, conscience, communion, etc.
By the way, the the core of the apple may be a useful illustration in considering man’s (spiritual) “heart”. Technically, the heart is not a fourth “part” of man. Yet, as the core holds the apple seeds, the heart relates to man’s spirit. (See a study on the heart in the context of the spirit/soul/body model of man.)
Hopefully, this comparison will be a fruitful endeavor!
– John Woodward