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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 occurrences] and when he does, he often uses it simply to refer to a person’s ‘life,’ or as a synonym for a person himself. Use of the world ‘soul’ to refer to the non-physical side of man is more characteristic of the gospels, and of many passages in the OT” (Grudem, Theology).


Meanings. (Drawn from Burton, Galatians ICC).

“Wind” or “breath” (Jn. 3:8; 2 Thess 2:8).

“Embodied human spirit - that element of a living man by virtue of which he lives, feels, perceives, and wills.”

As the seat of life, or that in man which constitutes him as a living being (Matt. 27:50; Lk. 8:55; Jas. 2:26).

“As the seat of emotion and will, especially of the moral and religious life, including thought as concerned with religion (Mk. 8:12; Jn. 11:33)

“As the seat of consciousness and intelligence (Mk. 2:8; 1 Cor. 2:11).

“The spirit of man separated from the body after death (1 Cor. 5:5; Heb. 12:23).

Anthropological significance of Pneuma:

“As in earlier Jewish thought, pneuma denotes that power which man experiences as relating him to the spiritual realm… Within this broad definition pneuma has a fairly wide range of meaning… At one end of pneuma’s spectrum of meaning it denotes the human spirit, or perhaps better, man in so far as he belongs to the spiritual realm and interacts with the spiritual realm” (J. D.G. Dunn, NIDNTT).

“There is a personal pneuma, the natural possession of every man… and is not easily distinguished from psueche” (Stacey, The Pauline View of Man).

“In the case of pneuma, the predominant element of Paul’s thought was the divine power issuing from God and operative in the believer, so we find in the case of sarx the predominant thought of man standing by himself or left to himself over against God (Dickson, Paul’s Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit).


Meanings (from Friberg’s lexicon in TDNT).

“Viewed as the seat of physical vitality” (Lk. 21:34; Acts 14:17).

“Viewed as the human dwelling place of heavenly beings and powers” (e.g., “God’s love has been poured out within our hearts [Rom. 5:5]).

“Viewed as the innermost man, the source and seat of functions of soul and spirit in the emotional life, the volitional life, and the rational life:

Desires and passions:

Joy (Jn. 16:22).

Pain and sorrow (Rom. 9:2).

Love (2 Cor. 6:11).

Desire (Lk. 24:33).

Lust (Rom. 1:24).

As the seat of understanding, thinking, and reflection (Matt. 9:4; Lk. 1:51).

As the seat of the will (Acts 5:4; Heb. 4:12).

“Thus, the heart is supremely the one centre in man to which God turns, in which religious life is rooted, which, then, determines moral conduct (Matt. 13:15; Jas. 4:8) -- Friberg’s Lexicon.”

Anthropological Significance:

The NT uses kardia to refer to the whole inner essence of man. It’s that mission control center. Out of the heart flows all thoughts, intentions, dreams, desires, expressions of the will, emotions, etc.

“Although explanations of the four functions of the heart have been given, the heart must be seen as a whole or totality to be correctly understood. These functions, in reality, cannot be separated because they interact and depend one upon the other. Therefore, volition, moral, consciousness, thinking and emotion stem from the heart, interacting and functioning, dependent on one another. The person acts as a unit, not as a sectionalized being” (E. Towns, ‘The Meaning of Heart in the NT’).


Meaning (excerpt from Friber’s Lexicon):

As the faculty of intelligence understanding, mind, and intellect (Lk. 24:45; 2 Thess. 2:2).

As the faculty of moral perception (practical) reason, insight, awareness (Rom. 7:23;

1 Cor. 1:10).

As the total inner orientation or moral attitude way of thinking, mind (set), disposition (Eph. 4:17; 1 Tim. 6:5).

Anthropological significance:

“The total inner man viewed from the mental perspective, which consciously acts in making practical moral judgments” (Eggleston).

“In the NT, there is no connection with the philosophical or mystico-religious use” (TDNT).


Meaning (Friberg’s Lexicon):

As perceptive awareness within oneself-- the consciousness (Heb. 10:2; 1 Pet. 2:19).

As the faculty of moral consciousness, or awareness, by which moral judgments, relating to right and wrong, are made conscience (Acts 23:1; Rom. 2:5).

Anthropological significance:

“Mind and conscience at times are distinct… Nous is that which creates a purpose or act: suneidesis is that which judges a purpose or act, given to us by God” (B.F. Harris).

“In addition, it seems clear that the heart is considered as the seat of the moral consciousness. Heb. 10:22 also implies the conscience as being in the heart-- “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” The root for ‘conscience’’ is suneidesis, a knowing with oneself. Since memory, thinking, and volition are necessary functions of the conscience, it is natural to place the conscience in the heart, because memory, thinking, and volition function in the heart. The conscience and heart are also the place where God works with the individual” (E. Towns).

“Inner/Outer man”

This is a uniquely Pauline conception and distinction (Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16).

Anthropological significance:

The biggest hurdle that the reader must get over is the constant tendency to read a Greek dualism into these terms.

“The distinction between the ‘inner’ man and the ‘outer’ man is non-Biblical; the Bible is always concerned with the whole man, with a man’s deeds and not just with a man’s motives. As good deeds do not justify evil motives, so good motives do not justify evil deeds. A man lives as much from ‘without’ to ‘within’ as he lives from ‘within’ to ‘without’ (Richard Bube, in JETS).

It is best to see that when the bible is speaking of the outer man, it is referring to man in relation to the physical world in which he lives. When the inner man is used, it is referring to man in relation to the spiritual realm in which he lives.


So this was basically one giant word study.

The point to walk away with, is that the NT supports the OT understanding-- we must view, and approach, man, as a whole. It’s such an important concept to grasp, as again, there are many implications.

Again, if you view man as having parts, and not aspects, it determines how you will deal with man physically, mentally , spiritually, emotionally, etc.

Now, as we’ll see next time, we’re not arguing that because man is holistic, you shouldn’t see a medical doctor. So don’t hear us wrongly. But it will affect how you understand things such as counseling, psychology, cognitive, and behavioral issues.

We’ll try to draw some of this out next time, when we deal with the questions of whether (or not) man is dichotomy (i.e., body and soul/spirit) or trichotomy (i.e., body, soul, and spirit).


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