- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions about Mankind or Humanity
- Published on Monday, 07 February 2011 10:02
THE “FLESH” AND THE “BODY”
Explain the difference between the terms “flesh” and “body”? What is meant by the “redemption of the body”?
If the inquirer can examine, in any good Lexicon of New Testament Greek, or better still, in Mr. Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the great variety of meanings which each of the two words “sarx” (flesh) and “soma” (body) may bear, according to the context in which they occur; he will realise that it would be difficult to reply to his question adequately, within the bounds of this page. And if he can avail himself of a Young’s or Wigram’s Concordance to go through all the occurrences of each word, he will probably glean more help in that way than he would from any formal answer.
The fact is that, as used in some passages, there is little or no difference between the two words; and yet in certain other passages a clear distinction is made between them. For instance, in 2 Corinthians 4:10 we have the phrase, “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our BODY”; while in the parallel statement of the next verse it is, “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal FLESH.” Here the two words are practically synonymous. The opposite extreme may be seen in Colossians 2:23 (R.V.), where one can show “severity” to the BODY, and at the same time be showing “indulgence” to the FLESH.
Taken in its most literal sense, the “body” is the physical or material part of man, viewed as an organised whole (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). The “flesh” is the substance of which this body is to a large extent composed (see Luke 24. 39). But either word may be used to represent the entire man, as “body” in Luke 20: 36, and “flesh” in Luke 3:6.
It is when the thought of evil, either in state or in tendency, is suggested, that a deeper distinction is at times made between the two words. For example, the expression “in the flesh” may be employed as in Romans 7:5 and 8:8, , of the moral standing of the unsaved, but “in the body” is never so used. The latter phrase may refer to one’s bodily presence in some particular place, as in 1 Corinthians 5:3, or to the present earthly life of man, as in 2 Corinthians 5:10; but this is not distinctive of it, for “in the flesh” may also have either of these meanings, as in Colossians 2:1 and in Philippians 1:24.
Again, “tendency to evil” may sometimes be signified by the term “the flesh,” especially in such phrases as “after the flesh,” etc.; but “the body” is not so used, except in a few remarkable expressions, “the body of sin” (Romans 6: 6), “the body of this death” (Romans 7:24), “the deeds of the body” (Romans 8: 13), and “the body of the sins of the flesh” (Colossians 2:11).
The body is frequently spoken of as capable of being used for God (Romans 12:1), and so are its members (Romans 6: 12, 13); but this is never predicated of the flesh (see Rom. 7. 25), the members of which seem rather to be those named in Col. 3. 5. Moreover, the body of the saint is called a temple of the Holy Ghost and a member of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19), but it is his “flesh” that lusteth against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). Finally, the saint’s body, having been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), awaits its full “redemption” when our Lord Jesus comes again (Romans 8:23). Then He “shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory” (Philippains 3:21 R.V.); and when He has done so, “WE (not merely our bodies) shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).