SPECIAL TOPIC: FLESH (SARX)

This term is used most often by Paul in Galatians and its theological development in Romans.  Scholars differ on how to characterize the different connotations of the term.  There is surely some overlap in meanings.  The following is merely an attempt to note the wide semantic field of the term.

A. the human body, John 1:14; Rom. 2:28; 1 Cor. 5:5; 7:28; 2 Cor. 4:11; 7:5; 12:7; Gal. 1:16; 2:16,20; 4:13; Phil. 1:22; Col. 1:22,24; 2:5; 1 Tim. 3:16

B. human descent, John 3:6; Rom. 1:3; 4:1; 9:3,5,8; 11:14; 1 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 4:23,29

C. the human person, Rom. 3:20; 7:5; 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 1:29; 2 Cor. 10:3; Gal. 2:16; 5:24

D. humanly speaking, John 8:15; 1 Cor. 1:26; 2 Cor. 1:12; 5:16; 10:2; Gal. 6:12

E. human weakness, Rom. 6:19; 7:18; 8:5-6,9; 2 Cor. 10:4; Gal. 3:3; 5:13,16,19-21; Col. 2:18

F. hostility of humans toward God, related to the consequences of the Fall, Rom. 7:14; 13:14; 1 Cor. 3:1,3; Eph. 2:3; Col. 2:18; 1 Pet. 2:11; 1 John 2:16

 

It must be emphasized that "flesh" is not viewed as evil in the NT, as it is in Greek thought.  For the Greek philosophers, "flesh" was the source of human problems; death freed one from its influence.  But in the NT, "flesh" is the battle ground of the spiritual conflict (cf. Eph. 6:10-18), yet is neutral.  One can use the physical body for good or evil.

 

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