Aspects of Man (Part II)

We’re in STII, and working through the doctrine of man.

Last time we began talking about the various aspects of man.

We looked only at the OT last time, and examined all the terms the OT uses to speak about man.

The initial conclusion was that we must understand man holistically.

We can’t break him into “parts.”

Rather, while man is a complex being, he must be understood in a holistic manner.

To break him into parts is to error, not only in understanding what man is, but also how we’re to then approach the various issues that affect man.

Today we’ll look at how the NT understands speaks of the nature of man.

The Aspects of Man in the NT

When a person comes to the NT, they will find that the terms simply continue to express the OT terms. The Greek is much more precise, but it is important to understand that the NT is still building off of a solid OT foundation, rather than creating new terms and functions.


Meanings (BAGD):

“The living body of a human being or animal” (Matt. 6:25; Jas. 3:3).

“The dead body of a human being or animal corpse” (Mk. 15:43; Heb. 13:11).

“As the material part of man in distinction from soul and spirit body”

*Interestingly, all three terms (body, soul, and spirit) will be used in one verse, and at other times two will be used. And, then, at other times, just one of the terms will be used, but as a synecdoche. Again, the point to understand is that the NT treats the various aspects of man holistically.


Paul uses both “Spirit (pneuma)” and ”soul (psuche)” [1Thess. 5:23].

Other times you’ll see just “spirit” (pneuma) [1Cor. 7:34; Jas. 2:26].

Other times, you will see just “soul (psuche) [Matt. 6:25-- and, here, it is translated as just “life,” again, showing how Jesus, Himself, has the whole essence of man in mind].

“The body is the instrument of human experience and suffering (Rom. 12:1; 2Cor. 4:10).

Anthropological significance of soma:

“Soma is the body as a whole, the instrument of life, whether of man living, dead, or in the resurrection. Sometimes, the word stands as a synecdoche, for the complete man.... The body is not the man, for he himself can exist apart from his body (2 Cor. 12:2), but the body is an essential part of the man, and therefore the redeemed are not perfected until the resurrection (Heb. 11:40). No man in his final state will be without his body.” (Vine, Expository Dictionary).

The body is not the source of sin; it is a neutral instrument. There is no war going on between the soul of man and the body of man. That perception comes straight out of pagan thought and religion, rather than the Bible. But it is very common in modern thought and preaching still.


Meanings (adapted from Friberg’s Lexicon and G. Zemek’s work, ‘Sarx in the NT”):

“As the muscular part that covers the bones of a human, or animal, body of flesh (Lk. 24:39; 1 Cor. 15:39).

“By synecdoche, the physical body as a whole body” (Acts 2:31).

“Flesh” as the physical body” (Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 5:5).

“As a connotation of creaturely weakness” (Jn. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:24).

“As a designation of family and marital relationship” (Rom. 1:3; 9:5).

In hamartiological passages (e.g., Rom. 7; Galatians).

“In such contentexts the physical connotation of sarx is defined and controlled by the idea of the entire man (versus only the fleshy part) being apart from God” (Guthrie, NT Theology).

“Flesh is, then, the whole nature of man, turned away from God, in the supreme interest of self, devoted to the creature… The ruling principle of the flesh is undoubtedly selfishness” (Lange, The Epistle of Paul to the Roman).

“The self-reliant attitude of the man who puts his trust in his own strength, and in that which is controllable by him” (Bultmann, Theology of the NT).

“Our fallen, ego-centric human nature and all that belongs to it” (Cranfield, Romans).

“Mere human nature… apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God” (Thayer, Lexicon).

“In an ethical sense in Paul’s epistles; (a) as a sinful and sensual power tending toward sin and opposed to the Spirit’s working; (b) as life apart from the Spirit of God and controlled by sin in its expressions of the flesh” (Friberg).

Anthropological significance of sarx:

“Since the meaning of sarx varies radically from context to context, several distinct points must be made about the hermeneutics of the term… In some contexts… sarx calls attention to man’s creatureliness and frailty; to the fact that he is fragile, fallible, and vulnerable… The biblical writers… give a warning against any false hope and consequent disillusionment brought about by putting undue confidence and trust in man as a fallible and frail creature… The Bible also calls attention to man’s creatureliness before God, and distance from him, in his otherness and transcendence…. In times of oppression or persecution, the believer is encouraged not to fear an enemy who is mere flesh… Also, the physical nature of sarx has positive significance in terms of the bodily obedience of the Chrstian. Paul is far from endorsing the verdict of flesh as ‘useless.’ … the believer still lives ‘in’ the flesh, although not ‘according to’ the flesh.... In other passages (in Paul) the mental aspect of flesh is hostile to God. ‘Flesh,’ in this use, evaluates man as a sinner before God. The outlook of the flesh is the outlook oriented towards the self, that which pursues its own ends in self-sufficient independence of God” (Thiselton’s in NIDNTT).

So when we say that a believer is “walking in the flesh” we are saying that he is conducting himself without reliance upon God and is not concerning himself to live in such a way that honors God. Rather, at the center of his thoughts, motives, and actions is self for the purpose of pleasing self.

Because man is easily deceived (though man doesn’t like to believe this to be true), motives must always be examined and a basic distrust should be present in his thinking. It is here that we must learn to bring the Bible into all that we do (c.f., Heb. 4:12; Psa. 119:105).


Meanings (adapted from Burton’s, “Spirit, Soul, and Flesh”):

It is a many-sided word whose meaning is derived from the context.

It speaks of the “derived existence of all living creatures, incl. human beings life-principle, physical life, and breath” (Acts 20:10; Rev. 8:9).

“As an earthly existence, in contrast to a supernatural existence of life. It is natural life, or one’s life on earth” (Matt. 6:25; Acts 20:24).

“As distinguished from the physical body of man, and able to exist separately from it” (Matt. 10:28; Rev. 6:9).

“As a constituent element of man’s nature, the seat of vitality, thought, emotion, will; the human mind in the larger sense of the word; most frequently with special reference to its religious capacities and experiences” (Matt. 22:37; Heb. 12:3; 3 Jn. 2).

However, it’s most common meaning is to denote a human being:

“A person, an individual man” (Acts 2:43; Rom. 2:9).

“In enumerations” (Acts. 2:41; 1 Pet. 3:20).

Acts 2:41 - “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousands souls.”

“With possessive limitations, for self (Lk. 1:46).

Lk. 1:46 - “And Mary said, ‘My soul exalts the Lord…”

Anthropological significance of psuche:

The term is used in essentially the same way as nephesh is used in the OT.

"However, “there is a disparity of concept between the OT nephesh and the NT psuche. The basic difference lies in the fact that the nephesh, unlike the psuche, is not a spiritual entity which exists apart from the body… To the Hebrew, man was not a ‘body’ and a ‘soul,’ but rather a ‘body-soul’... The nephesh is then simply the individual in his totality.... The NT, although it continues the idea of the soul (psuche) as the life-principle… which becomes personified (Acts 2:43), yet also views it as a spiritual entity which continues to exist after death” (Baker’s Dictionary of Theology).

“When Paul uses the term, it is much more characteristic of Paul’s terminology to use the word ‘spirit’ to talk about our relationship to God in worship and in prayer. Paul does not use the word ‘soul’ (psuche) very frequently [14 times of the NT’s 101 occ