Flesh

Flesh

I. בָּשָׂר, basar [Chald. בִּשִׂר, besar'] (so called from its plump freshness), σάρξ, terms of extensive application in the O. and N.T. (see Gesenius, Heb. Lex.; Robinson, N.T. Lexicon; Wemyss, Clavis symbolica). They are applied generally to the whole animal creation, whether man or beast; or to all beings-whose material substance is flesh (Ge 6:13,17,19; Ge 7:15-16,21; Ge 8:17); and to the flesh of cattle, meat, as used for food (Ex 16:12; Le 7:19; Nu 11:4,13). SEE FOOD. Specially:

1. All flesh, i.e. all men, the human race, mankind (Ge 6:12; Ps 6:2; Ps 145:21; Isa 40:5-6; Lu 3:6; Joh 17:2; Ac 2:17; 1Pe 1:24; Mt 24:22; Ro 3:20; Ga 2:16);

Bible concordance for FLESH.

2." Flesh," or the body, as distinguished from " soul" or " spirit" (Job 14:22; Job 19:26;. Pr 14:30; Isa 10:18; Joh 6:52; 1Co 5:5; 2Co 4:11; 2Co 7; Col 2:5; 1Pe 4:6); so also "flesh and blood", SEE BLOOD as a periphrasis for the whole animal nature or man (Heb 2:14);

3. Human nature, man (Ge 2:23-24; Mt 19:5-6; 1Co 6:16; Eph 5:29-31); spoken also of the incarnation of Christ (Joh 1:14; Joh 6:51; Ro 1:3; Eph 2:15; Col 1:22; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 5:7; Heb 10:20; 1Pe 3:18; 1Jo 4:2-3; 2Jo 1:7);

Definition of flesh

4. As the medium of external or natural generation, and of consequent kindred, relationship (Ge 29:14; Ge 37:27; Jg 9:2; 2Sa 5:1; 2Sa 19:13; Joh 1:13; Ro 9:8; Heb 2:11-14; Heb 12:9); of one's countrymen (Ro 9:3; Ro 11:14; Ac 2:30; Ga 4:23); also of any other person, a fellow-mortal (Isa 57:17);

5. "Flesh" is also used as a modest general term for the secret parts (Ge 17:11; Ex 28:42; Le 15:2-3,7,16,19; Eze 23:20; 2Pe 2:10; Jude 1:7); in Pr 5:11, the "flesh" of the intemperate is described as being consumed by infamous diseases;

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6. Spoken of circumcision in the flesh, the external rite (Ge 17:11; Ro 2:28; 2Co 11:18; Ga 3:3; Eph 2:11);

7. Spoken figuratively of human nature as opposed to the Spirit of God (Ge 6:3; Job 10:4; Isa 31:3; Ps 56:4; Jer 17:5; Mt 16:17; 2Co 10:4; Ga 1:16); the unregenerate nature, the seat of carnal appetites and desires (Meth. Quart. Rev. April, 1861, p. 240 sq.), whether physical or moral (Ro 7:5; Ro 8:1,4-5,8; Galatians v, 16,17; Eph 2:3); and as implying weakness, frailty, imperfection, both physical and moral (Ps 78:39; Mt 26:41; Mr 14:38; Joh 3:6; Ro 6:19; 1Co 15:50; 2Co 10:3; Eph 6:12).

Other terms occasionally rendered "flesh" in the O.T. are שׁאֵר, sheer' (from a similar idea of fulness), Ps 73:26; Ps 78:20,27; Pr 11:17.; Jer 51:35; Mic 3:2-3 (elsewhere "food," "body," "kin"), which has more especial reference to the muscle or physical element, as food or a bodily constituent (see Weller, Erklarung d. zwei hebr. W"Srter. בָּשָׂר und שׁאֵר, Lpz. 1757); also טִבחָה, tibchah', a slaughtered carcase (1Sa 25:11; i.e. "laughter," i.e. slaughter- house, Ps 44:22; Jer 12:3); and לִהוּם, lechum, food (Zep 1:17; " eating," Job 20:23).

II. ESHPAR' (אֶשׁפָּר), an obscure Heb. word, found only in 2Sa 6:19; 1Ch 16:3. The Sept. appears to understand by the term some peculiar sort of bread (ἐσχαρίτης, ἀρτοκοπιακός v. ar. ἀρτοκοπικός), and the Auth. Vers., following the Vulg. (assastura bebulce carnis, pars assae carnis bubulae, apparently with the absurd derivation from אֵשׁ, fire, and פָּר, a bullock), renders it " a good piece of (roasted) flesh." But there, can be little doubt that it was a certain measure of wine or drink (for שׁפָר 'with א prosthetic), a measure, cup., An approach to the truth was made by L. de Dieu, who, following the same etymology, understands a portion of thee sacrifice measured out (Gesesius, Heb. Lex. s.v.)- SEE MEAT.

FLESH. The word flesh (בָּשָׁר, σάρξ) is used both in the O. and N.T. with a variety of meanings, physical, metaphysical, and ethical, 'the latter occurring especially in the writings of St. Paul.

I. Old Testament.— In the O.T. it designates

(1.) a particular part or parts of the body of man and of animals (Ge 2:21; Ge 41:2; Job 10:11; Ps 102:6);

(2.) is a more extended sense, the whole body (Ps 16:9; Ps 84:2) in contradistinction from the heart (לֵב) ar soul (נֶפֶשׁ)-the body, that is, as - possessed of a soul or spirit-(Le 17:11; Job 12:10). Hence it is also applied

(3.) to all living things having flesh (Ge 6:13), and particularly to man and humanity as a whole, which is designated as "all flesh" (Ge 6:12). It is often connected

(4.) with the ideas of mutability,' of degeneracy, and of weakness, which are the natural defects of the flesh proper. It is thus represented as the counterpart of the divine strength, as the opposite of -God or of the Spirit, as in 2Ch 32:8, " With -him is an -arm of flesh, but with as is the Lord our God to help us" (see also Isa 31:3; Ps 78:39). To this we can also add Ge 6:3 the only passage in the 0. T. in which the word approaches to an ethical sense, yet without actually acquiring it. The peculiar softness of the flesh is also

(5.) the basis of the expression "heart of flesh" (לכ בָּשָׂר, as opposed to "heart of stone" (Eze 11:19).

(6.) The expression "my flesh" (oftener "my flesh and bone"), to indicate relationship '(Jg 9:2; Isa 58:7), evidently refers to the physical and corporeal connection between persons sprung from a common father. In all these cases the 0. T. only uses the word flesh in the physical and metaphysical senses.'

II. New Testament.-These senses of the word "flesh" are also found in the N.T.

(1.) As a same for the body, the exterior appearance of humanity, it easily passes on also to denote external phenomena in general, as opposed to what is inner and spiritual. So, when Christ says to the Jews, "I judge not after the flesh," he means "the flesh is the rule by which you judge" '(Joh 7:15; compare also Php 3:3; 2Co 5:16). In Ro 4:1, the ethical sense appears. The word "flesh" here denotes man's incapacity for good apart from divine aid. This impotence, both practical and spiritual is also expressed in other passages, as ins Ro 6:19; Mt 16:17; and in Mt 26:41, where the lower, earthly and sensual element in humanity, as opposed to the "spirit," is, as such, incapable of bearing trial and temptation. The root of this weakness is in dwelling in the flesh (Romans 7:18; 17:20), by which man is divided within himself as well as separated from God, inasmuch as he -has, on the one side, the self-conscious spirit (νοῦς), which submits to the divine law, and takes pleasure in this obedience, desiring all that is commanded, and avoiding all that is forbidden; and, on the other hand, thee flesh, which, being inhabited by sin, seeks only for the lower satisfactions, thus inclining to evil rather than good, and opposed to thee divine law (see Ro 7:7-25; Ro 8:3). The "sinful flesh" (σὰρξ ἁμαρτίας) hinders the efficacy' of the divine law, so that, although it (the law) gains the assent of the "inner man," it is not fulfilled, because of this tendency of the flesh towards what is forbidden. Hence the " being in the flesh" means. in fact, such activity of the sinful passions (παθήματα ἁμαρτιῶν) of the organism (ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν) as results in death (Ro 8:8-9). To live and act " according to the flesh" is to live and act sin-fully; the "carnal mind is enmity against God" (Ro 8:4-5,7,12). The "wisdom according to the flesh" is a mistaken, Godless wisdom (1Co 1:26). All efforts, boasts, etc., having the flesh for object or for motive (βουλεύεσθαι στρατεύεσθαι, καυχᾶσθαι κατὰ σάρκα, 2Co 1:17; 2Co 10:2; 2Co 11:18), are foreign- to the life of the true Christian. The lusts, desires, and works of the flesh are sinful, and opposed to holy, divine impulses and actions (Ga 5:16; Eph 2:3). To crucify the flesh and the works of the flesh is the great object of the Christian, which he attains through the power of the spirit of Christ which dwells in him (Ga 5:25; Ro 8:11). The fleshly mind is the mistaken mind, leading away from Christ to pride, and consequently to error (Col 2:18-19). Finally, to act according to the flesh is called to " be sold under sin" (Ro 7:12; comp. 1Jo 2:16; Ro 8:3).

But "flesh" does not always denote sinfulness (see Ro 1:3; Ro 9:5; 1Ti 3:16; Joh 1:14). The flesh, in Christ, was not sinful; God sent him only " in the likeness of sinful flesh" (έν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας, Ro 8:3). This sinless flesh, as the organ of the 'Word of life, contains the divine life, which is communicated to, men also living in the flesh, to redeem them from the death of sin, and to make them partakers of everlasting life (Joh 6:51).

We see, then, that the meaning of the word flesh was, on the one hand, gradually extended from a physical to a metaphysical, and finally to an ethical senses In the ethical use in thee N.T., moreover, of the term "flesh," we do not find the idea of essential sin as lying in the flesh.. Flesh in itself is neither bad nor sinful. It is the living body the casket of the soul, containing within itself the interior and exterior organism of the senses, which, by its union with the spirit, conceives ideas, sensations, desires, and contains the so-called faculties of the soul with their divers functions. In the normal state, its whole activity is governed by the spirit, and in so far as the latter remains in unison with God from whom it proceeds, it is in turn governed by him. But sin, which disturbs this unison of the spirit with God, alters also the power of the spirit over the body. The ego oversteps the bounds of the divines life, moves no longer in harmony with the divine spirit, and, being no longer supported by the divine power, gradually becomes earthly and worldly, and all its functions partake of this character. The spirit endeavors, it is true, to bring the flesh under subjection to the higher laws, but does not succeed. It may, under the form of conscience, succeed in regaining some ground, but not in bringing back the state of abnegation and of detachment from the world, It is only through an immediate action on the part of God that the original relation of the flesh to the spirit is restored, the lost power regained, and the flesh brought back to its normal condition (And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, fell of grace and truth, John i, 14).

The original source of sin in man is neither to be found in the spirit, the organ of God's revelation within us, nor in the flesh, which is in turn the physical organ of the spirit. According to Scripture, it is the heart, the centre of our personality, in which all the influences, both godly and ungodly, meet-in which the choice between them is made. If the heart then gives entrance to sin, permits any doubt of God's truth, any mistrust of his love and kindness, and thus lowers him to put self in his place (Genesis 3), the union between God and man ceases; the inner man loses his energy to govern the σάρξ; the flesh starts s-p in opposition to the divine commands in its feelings and its desires. It asserts its independence. Self is made the centre. Hence hatred, strife., desire for worldly superiority. creating envy, and giving rise to all the "lusts of the flesh." That both selfishness and sensualism have their seat in the σάρξ, and that the actions of men are guided by one or the other, is clearly shown in the enumeration given by the apostle of the works of the flesh (Ga 5:19), which are clearly the effects of selfishness and of sinful passions; and that the word flesh, as used by Paul, is intended to signify both, is proved by the apostle's warning (Ga 5:13) not to use Christian liberty for "an occasion to the flesh," i.e. to satisfy the desires of the flesh, adding to it the recommendation " but by love serve one another." Whichever of the two is then especially alluded to when .he Scriptures, and especially St. Paul, speak of the nature, the life, or the works of the flesh, the context will show. Sometimes. both are equally active, sometimes the one only to the exclusion of the other. This is the only way in which we can arrive at a true appreciation of the meaning in each case. Those interpreters who, in view of the substitution of σάρξ for σῶμα and μέλη, consider it as meaning exclusively the bodily, sinful side of human nature, fall into the errors of the Manichoeans. See Tholuck, Erneute Untersuchung i. σάρξ als Quelle d. Siinde (Theol. Stud. u. Kritiken, 1855, 3); Stirm, i. d. Tiib. Zeitschr. 1834 (i. d. n. t. Anthropol.); Neander, Planting and Training, vol. ii; Kling, in Herzog. Rerl-En2cyklopddie; Campbell, On Four Gospels, diss. i, § 2.

 
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