Romans 7:5
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
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(5) The new alliance ought not to be unproductive, for the old alliance was not unproductive. Before that mortification of the flesh which proceeds from our relation to the death of Christ, we bore a fruit generated through our carnal appetites by the Law, and the only being to whose honour and glory they contributed was Death.

The sins committed under the old dispensation are regarded as due to a two-fold agency—on the one hand to the Law (the operation of which is described more particularly in Romans 7:7-8), and on the other hand to the flesh, which was only too susceptible to any influence that would call out its sinful impulses. Those impulses have now been mortified, as if by a course of asceticism, through union with the death of Christ.

The “body” is regarded by St. Paul as a neutral principle, which is not in itself either good or bad. It is simply the material frame of men, which though itself “of the earth earthy” is capable of becoming a dwelling-place for the Spirit, and being put to holy uses. The “flesh” is the same material frame regarded as the seat of sinful appetites, and with a tendency to obey the lower rather than the higher self. The proper way to overcome this lower self is by that spiritual asceticism which the believer goes through by his appropriation of the death of Christ.

Motions of sins.—The same word which is translated in Galatians 5:24, “affections”—those emotions or passions which lead to sin.

Which were by the law.—Which the Law served to stimulate and quicken in the manner described below.

Did work.—Were active or astir, opposed to that state of torpor or mortification to which they were reduced in the Christian.

Unto death.—Death is here personified as the king of that region which sin serves to enrich.

Romans 7:5-6. For — We ought now to be fruitful in good works, because we were formerly fruitful in evil: when we were in the flesh — Under the comparatively carnal dispensation of Moses, and in our natural corrupt state, before we believed on Christ and were regenerated. Thus, οι οντες εν σαρκι, they that are in the flesh, and οι κατα σαρκα οντες, they that are after the flesh, (Romans 8:5; Romans 8:8,) signify those that are influenced and governed by the fleshly principle, in opposition to the guidance and influences of the Holy Spirit; and ειναι εν σαρκι, to be in the flesh,

(Romans 7:9,) ζην περιπατειν κατα σαρκα, to live, to walk according to the flesh, (Romans 7:12-13,) bear the same sense. It is evident, therefore, as Dr. Whitby justly observes, that this expression, when we were in the flesh, not only signifies to be under the carnal ordinances of the law, for so were all the pious Jews, who lived from Moses to gospel times; but that it more especially relates to them who, living under these ordinances, were themselves carnal, and so had the law of the flesh still warring against the law of their minds, and bringing them into captivity to the law of sin, which could not be the state of Zacharias and Elisabeth, or any other of those persons who were righteous before God, and walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless. And if of such [unregenerate persons] only, we understand the apostle’s following discourse in this chapter, the sense will be clear. The motions of sins Τα παθηματα των αμαρτιων, sinful passions; which were by the law — Accidentally occasioned or irritated thereby; did work in our members — Spread themselves all over the whole man; to bring forth fruit — Very different from that which has just been mentioned, even such as would have been unto death, Romans 6:21; Romans 6:23; that is, would have exposed us to, and have issued in, eternal death, if God in his mercy had not interposed, and brought us acquainted with the gospel. But now — Being brought out of that carnal state; we are delivered from the law — Set at liberty from our subjection to it as a law, and our obligation to observe it, and from the condemning, irritating power thereof, and therefore from the sinful passions occasioned by it; that being dead wherein we were held — In subjection, as the wife to her living husband; that law being now made void, and having no further power to condemn us. It may be proper to observe here, that the Syriac and Arabic versions, Origen, Theodoret, Œcumenius, and Theophylact, (with whom agree Bengelius, Mill, Macknight, and others,) read αποθανοντες, we being dead to that by which we were held: which, says Origen, is undoubtedly the best reading, agreeing with Romans 7:4, ye are become dead to the law. That we should serve — God and our generation; in newness of spirit — In a new and spiritual manner; and not in the oldness of the letter — Not in a bare, literal, external way, as we did before. The new service here enjoined implies, 1st, A freedom from the dominion of the flesh, by the power of the Spirit enabling us to mortify the deeds and lusts of the flesh, Romans 8:13. 2d, The serving God, not chiefly with bodily services and carnal ordinances, but in the spirit of our minds, Romans 12:2; Php 3:3; having our minds renewed and transformed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, which are the fruits of the Spirit. 3d, The serving him by the continual aid of his Spirit, strengthening us with might in the inner man, Ephesians 3:16, so as to live and walk in the Spirit, or to live as those who are renewed by the Spirit, and possessed of his various graces. With regard to the believing Jews in particular, it implies, that being loosed from the Mosaic law, they were no longer to worship and serve God with rites and ceremonies pertaining to their flesh, but with services of their spirit, consisting in faith, love, and new obedience. From this, however, we must not infer that the pious Jews under the law did not serve God with spiritual services: all the services in which true piety and morality consist, were enjoined in the covenant with Abraham, and were practised by the pious Israelites. But to these the law of Moses added numberless services pertaining to the body, from which the converted Jews were freed since their embracing the gospel.

7:1-6 So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death. Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them. Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses. The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband. The second marriage is to Christ. By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master's yoke. The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or any thing that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.For when ... - The illustration in this verse and the following is designed to show more at length the effect of the Law, whenever and whereever applied; whether in a state of nature or of grace. It was always the same. It was the occasion of agitation and conflict in a man's own mind. This was true when a sinner was under conviction; and it was true when a man was a Christian. In all circumstances where the Law was applied to the corrupt mind of man, it produced this agitation and conflict. Even in the Christian's mind it produced this agitation Romans 7:14-24, as it had done and would do in the mind of a sinner under conviction Romans 7:7-12, and consequently there was no hope of release but in the delivering and sanctifying power of the gospel Romans 7:25; Romans 8:1-3.

In the flesh - Unconverted; subject to the controlling passions and propensities of a corrupt nature; compare Romans 8:8-9. The connection shows that this must be the meaning here, and the design of this illustration is to show the effect of the Law before a man is converted, Romans 7:5-12. This is the obvious meaning, and all the laws of interpretation require us so to understand it.

The motions of sins - (τα παθήματα ta pathēmata.) This translation is unhappy. The expression "motions of sins" conveys no idea. The original means simply the passions, the evil affections, the corrupt desires; see the margin. The expression, passions of sins, is a Hebraism meaning sinful passions, and refers here to the corrupt propensities and inclinations of the unrenewed heart.

Which were by the law - Not that they were originated or created by the Law; for a law does not originate evil propensities, and a holy law would not cause sinful passions; but they were excited, called up, inflamed by the Law, which forbids their indulgence.

Did work in our members - In our body; that is, in us. Those sinful propensities made use of our members as instruments, to secure gratification; Note, Romans 6:12-13; compare Romans 6:23.

To bring forth fruit unto death - To produce crime, agitation, conflict, distress, and to lead to death. We were brought under the dominion of death; and the consequence of the indulgence of those passions would be fatal; compare the note at Romans 6:21.

5. For when we were in the flesh—in our unregenerate state, as we came into the world. See on [2210]Joh 3:6 and [2211]Ro 8:5-9.

the motions—"passions" (Margin), "affections" (as in Ga 5:24), or "stirrings."

of sins—that is, "prompting to the commission of sins."

which were by the law—by occasion of the law, which fretted, irritated our inward corruption by its prohibitions. See on [2212]Ro 7:7-9.

did work in our members—the members of the body, as the instruments by which these inward stirrings find vent in action, and become facts of the life. See on [2213]Ro 6:6.

to bring forth fruit unto death—death in the sense of Ro 6:21. Thus hopeless is all holy fruit before union to Christ.

For: q.d. For bringing forth of which fruit unto God, we have now better helps than formerly we had; or we are in much better circumstances than formerly we were: and so he proceeds to show how our present state does differ from the former.

When we were in the flesh; i.e. in our carnal, fleshly state, before we were regenerated, or under the carnal pedagogy of the law; for in the next verse he speaks of our being now delivered from the law.

The motions of sins which were by the law; i.e. the corrupt inclinations to sin, which are drawn forth by the law, as ill vapours are raised out of a dunghill by the sun; or which are irritated by the law; of which by and by.

Did work in, our members: see Romans 6:13,16.

To bring forth fruit unto death; i.e. such ill fruit as ends in death, Romans 6:21.

For when we were in the flesh,.... This respects not their being under the legal dispensation, the Mosaic economy; which lay greatly in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, such as regarded the flesh chiefly; so their meats and drinks concerned the body; their ablutions and washings sanctified to the purifying of the flesh; their circumcision was outward in the flesh; the several rituals of the law consisted in outward things, though typical of internal and spiritual ones; hence those that trusted in them trusted in the flesh: but to be "in the flesh" stands opposed, Romans 7:8; to a being "in the spirit"; whereas there were many under that legal and carnal dispensation who were in the spirit, and had the Spirit of God, as David and others; besides, the apostle must be thought to use the phrase in such a sense, as to include all the persons he is speaking of and writing to, who were both Jews and Gentiles, for of such the church at Rome consisted; and the sense is this, "for when we", Jews and Gentiles, who are now believers in Christ, "were" formerly, before our conversion to, and faith in Christ, "in the flesh", that is, in a corrupt, carnal, and unregenerate state and condition; in which sense the word "flesh" is frequently used in the next chapter: now not all such who have flesh, sin, or corrupt nature in them, must be reckoned to be in the flesh, for there is a difference between flesh being in persons, from which none are free in this life, and their being in the flesh; nor all such who commit sin, or do carnal things at times, for there is not a just man that doth good and sinneth not; but such who are as they were born, without any alteration made in them by the Spirit and grace of God; who have nothing but flesh in them, no fear of God, nor love to and faith in Christ, nor any experience of the work of the Spirit of God upon their souls; no true sight and sense of sin, nor any spiritual knowledge of salvation by Christ; in whom flesh is the governing principle, whose minds and principles are carnal, and their conversation wholly so; yea, persons may be in the flesh, in an unregenerate state, who may abstain from the grosser immoralities of life, and even make a profession of religion: now such these had been the apostle is speaking of and to, and tells how it was with them when in this state;

the motions of sins which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death: by "the motions of sin" are meant, the evil passions and affections of the mind, the lusts of the heart, sinful desires, evil thoughts, the imaginations of the thoughts of the heart, the first motions of the mind to sin: these "were by the law"; not as the efficient cause of them, that neither produces nor encourages them; it is holy, just, and good, requires truth in the inward parts, and not only forbids the outward acts of sin, but even covetous desires, and lustful thoughts: no, these inward motions of sin arise from a corrupt heart and nature; are encouraged and cherished by the old man that dwells there; and men are enticed by Satan to a compliance with them. Some think that the meaning of the phrase is, that these secret lusts of the heart are made known by the law, as in Romans 7:7, so they are, but not whilst a man is in the flesh, or in an unregenerate state, but when he comes to be wrought upon powerfully by the Spirit of God, who makes use of the law to such a purpose: but the true sense of it is, that these motions of sin are irritated, provoked, and increased, through the law's prohibition of them; which is not to be charged as a fault on the law, but to be imputed to the depravity and corruption of man; who is like to one in a burning fever, very desirous of drink, who the more it is forbid, the more eager is he of it; or like a mighty torrent of water, which rises, rages, flows, and overflows, the more any methods are taken to stop its current; or like a filthy dunghill, which when the sun strikes powerfully on it, it exhales and draws out its filthy stench; which nauseous smell is not to be imputed to the pure rays of the sun, but to the filthiness of the dunghill: these motions of sin are said to "work in our members"; in the members of our bodies, which these sinful affections of the soul make use of to put them into action, and so they bring forth fruit; very evil fruit indeed, for nothing else can be expected from such an evil tree as the corrupt nature of man is: and this fruit is "unto death": deadly fruit, worthy of death, and would issue in eternal death, if grace did not prevent: the rise, beginning, motion, progress, and issue of sin, are most exactly and beautifully described, agreeably to this account here, by the Apostle James, James 1:13.

{3} For when we {e} were in the flesh, the {f} motions of sins, which were by the {g} law, did {h} work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

(3) A declaration of the former saying: for he says that the fleshly desires which the law stirred up in us were in us as if they were a husband, from whom we brought forth very deadly and cursed children: but now that husband is dead, and so consequently, being delivered from the force of that killing law, we have passed into the control of the Spirit, so that we bring forth now, not those rotten and dead children, but rather living children.

(e) When we were in the state of the first marriage, which he calls in the following verse the oldness of the letter.

(f) The motions that urged us to sin, which show their force even in our minds.

(g) He does not say of the law but by the law, because they spring from sin which dwells within us, and take occasion to work in us in this way, by reason of the restraint that the law makes, not that the fault is in the law, but in ourselves. {h} Worked by their strength.

Romans 7:5. Confirmation of the ἵνα καρποφ. τ. Θεῷ. That we should bring forth fruit to God, I say with justice; for formerly under the law we bore fruit to death, but now (Romans 7:6) our position is quite different from what it was before.

ὅτε ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σαρκί] This is the positive and characteristic expression for the negative: when we were not yet made dead to the law. Then the σάρξ—the materially human element in us, in its psychically determined antagonism to the Divine Spirit and will—was the life-element in which we moved. Comp Romans 8:8 f.; 2 Corinthians 10:3. We are ἘΝ Τ. ΣΏΜΑΤΙ, 1 Corinthians 5:3 (2 Corinthians 12:2), even after we have died with Christ, because that is an ethical death; but for that very reason we are now, according to the holy self-consciousness of the new life of communion with the Risen One, no longer ἐν τ. σαρκί; and our body, although we still as respects its material substance live in the flesh (Galatians 2:20), is ethically not a ΣῶΜΑ Τῆς ΣΑΡΚΌς any more, Colossians 2:11. The interpretation of Theodoret: Τῇ ΚΑΤᾺ ΝΌΜΟΝ ΠΟΛΙΤΕΊᾼ (so also Oecumenius), though hitting the approximate meaning of the matter, has its inaccurate arbitrariness exposed by the reason assigned for it: ΣΆΡΚΑ ΓᾺΡ ΤᾺς Τῇ ΣΑΡΚΊ ΔΕΔΟΜΈΝΑς ΝΟΜΟΘΕΣΊΑς ὨΝΌΜΑΣΕ, ΤᾺς ΠΕΡῚ ΒΡΏΣΕΩς Κ. ΠΌΣΕΩς. The description ἘΝ Τῇ ΣΑΡΚΊ must supply the ethical conception which corresponds with the contents of the apodosis. Therefore we may not render with Theodore of Mopsuestia: when we were mortal (the believer being no longer reckoned as mortal); but the moral reference of the expression requires at least a more precise definition of the contents than that the existence of the Christian had ceased to be an existence locked up in his inborn nature (Hofmann).

τὰ παθ. τῶν ἁμαρτ.] the passions through which sins are brought about, of which the sins are the actual consequence. On παθήματα compare Galatians 5:24, and ΠΑΘΉ, Romans 1:26. They are the passive excitations (often used by Plato in contrast to ΠΟΙΉΜΑΤΑ), which one experiences (ΠΆΣΧΕΙ). Comp esp. Plat. Phil. p. 47 C.

τὰ διὰ τ. νόμου] sc[1542] ὄντα, which are occasioned by the law; How? see Romans 7:7-8. It is erroneous in Chrysostom and Grotius to supply φαινόμενα. Comp rather 1 Corinthians 15:56.

ἘΝΗΡΓΕῖΤΟ] were active, middle, not passive (Estius, Glöckler) which would be contrary to Pauline usage. See 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 5:6; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The Greeks have not this use of the middle.

ἐν τ. μέλ. ἡμ.] in our members (as in Romans 7:23; Romans 6:13) they were the active agent.

εἰς τὸ καρποφ. τ. θανάτῳ] This is the tendency (the parallel ἵνα καρποφ. τ. Θεῷ in Romans 7:4 is decisive here against the interpretation, everywhere erroneous, of the consequence) which the passions of sin, in their operation in our members, had with us: that we should bring forth fruit unto death, that is, divested of figure: that we should lead a life falling under the power of death. The subject ἡμᾶς is supplied, as often along with the infinitive (comp Kühner, a[1545] Xen. Mem. iii. 6, 10; Anab. ii. 1, 12), naturally and easily from the immediately preceding ἡμῶν (comp 1 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 9:14). There is therefore the less reason to depart from the mode of conception prevailing in Romans 7:4, and to understand the ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ as the fruit-bearing subjects (Hofmann; comp Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, and others), in which case there is imported the conception that the occurrence is something foreign to the man himself (Hofmann). The θάνατος, personified as the lord-paramount opposed to Τῷ ΘΕῷ in Romans 7:4, is not physical (Fritzsche) but eternal death, Romans 6:21; Romans 6:23, which. is incurred through sinful life. The καρποφ. however retains here the figure of the fruit of marriage, namely, according to the context, of the marriage with the law (Romans 7:4), which is now dissolved since we have died with Christ. Comp Erasmus, Paraph.: “ex infelici matrimonio infelices foetus sustulimus, quicquid nasceretur morti exitioque gignentes.” In Matthew 12:39 the conception is different. But comp Jam 1:15.

[1542] c. scilicet.

[1545] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

Romans 7:5. Contrast of the earlier life. “ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ” is materially the same as “ὑπὸ τὸν νόμον”; the same state of the soul is described more from within and more from without. The opposite would be ἐν τῷ πνεύματι, or ὑπὸ χάριν. τὰ πὰπαθήματα τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν are the passions from which acts of sin proceed: Galatians 5:24. τὰ διὰ τοῦ νόμου: it is through the law that these passions become actualised: we would never know them for what they are, if it were not for the law. εἰς τὸ καρποφορῆσαι τῷ θανάτῳ: there is no allusion to marriage here any more than in Romans 7:4. Death is personified here as in Romans 5:17 : this tyrant of the human race is the only one who profits by the fruits of the sinful life.

5. when we were in the flesh] For illustration of this important phrase see especially Romans 8:8-9. St Paul here assumes of Christians (1) that they were once “in the flesh;” (2) that they are so no longer. To be “in the flesh” thus describes the man’s condition previous to the special gift of the Holy Spirit connected with justification; (see ch. Romans 5:5, and Galatians 4:6;) the condition in which the dominant element was the very antithesis of the Spirit—the “carnal mind.” (See on Romans 8:6-7.) Such passages as Galatians 2:20 shew that “in the flesh” may, with a proper context, mean no more than “in the body,” “in the surroundings of material, earthly, life.” But when, as here, the context points to a contrast between “the flesh” and better things, it is plain that the essential idea of “the flesh” is that it is the special vehicle of sin.

It is most needful to observe that, according to St Paul, the dominance of this element is the invariable condition of man before special grace.

motions] Lit. passions, as marg. E. V.; instincts of evil.

by the law] i.e., to which the law, as calling out the rebellion of the carnal will, gave special direction and energy. See below on Romans 7:7-8.

did work] were active. The Gr. verb is the original of “energize.”

in our members] i.e. in our body, viewed in the variety of its parts and powers. See on Romans 6:13.

unto death] The doleful parallel to “unto God” in Romans 7:4. Death was, as it were, the Power to which the results of the unregenerate life were dedicated. He “who had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14) was the usurping god.

Romans 7:5. Ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ, we were in the flesh) that is [we were] carnal. See the opposite Romans 7:6, at the end.—διὰ, by) Romans 7:8.—τῷ θανάτῳ, to that death) of which Romans 7:13, ch. Romans 8:6, speak.

Verse 5. - For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were through the Law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. In the flesh, to which might be opposed in the Spirit (cf. Romans 8:9), denotes our state when under the power of sin, before we had risen to a new life in Christ; it is virtually the same as what is meant by being under the Law, as is shown by the opposed expression in ver. 6, κατηργήθημεν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου. What is signified by "the passions of sins" being "through the Law" will be considered under vers. 7 and 8. Romans 7:5In the flesh (ἐν τῇ σαρκί)

Σάρξ flesh, occurs in the classics in the physical sense only. Homer commonly uses it in the plural as denoting all the flesh or muscles of the body. Later the singular occurs in the same sense. Paul's use of this and other psychological terms must be determined largely by the Old-Testament usage as it appears in the Septuagint.

1. In the physical sense. The literal flesh. In the Septuagint τὰ κρέα flesh (plural) is used where the reference is to the parts of animals slain, and αἱ σάρκες, flesh (plural) where the reference is to flesh as the covering of the living body. Hence Paul uses κρέα in Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13, of the flesh of sacrificed animals. Compare also the adjective σάρκιμος fleshy 2 Corinthians 3:3; and Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26, Sept.

2. Kindred. Denoting natural or physical relationship, Romans 1:3; Romans 9:3-8; Romans 11:14; Galatians 4:23, Galatians 4:29; 1 Corinthians 10:18; Plm 1:16. This usage forms a transition to the following sense: the whole human body. Flesh is the medium in and through which the natural relationship of man manifests itself. Kindred is conceived as based on community of bodily substance. Therefore:

3. The body itself. The whole being designated by the part, as being its main substance and characteristic, 1 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7. Romans 2:28; Galatians 6:13, etc. Paul follows the Septuagint in sometimes using σῶμα body, and sometimes σάρξ flesh, in this sense, so that the terms occasionally seem to be practically synonymous. Thus 1 Corinthians 6:16, 1 Corinthians 6:17, where the phrase one body is illustrated and confirmed by one flesh. See Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:28, Ephesians 5:31, where the two are apparently interchanged. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3, and Colossians 2:5. Σάρξ, however, differs from σῶμα in that it can only signify the organism of an earthly, living being consisting of flesh and bones, and cannot denote "either an earthly organism that is not living, or a living organism that is not earthly" (Wendt, in Dickson). Σῶμα not thus limited. Thus it may denote the organism of the plant (1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:38) or the celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). Hence the two conceptions are related as general and special: σῶμα body, being the material organism apart from any definite matter (not from any sort of matter), σάρξ, flesh, the definite, earthly, animal organism. The two are synonymons when σῶμα is used, from the context, of an earthly, animal body. Compare Philippians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8.

Σῶμα body, and not σάρξ flesh, is used when the reference is to a metaphorical organism, as the church, Romans 12:4 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:18, etc.

The σάρξ is described as mortal (2 Corinthians 4:11); subject to infirmity (Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7); locally limited (Colossians 2:15); an object of fostering care (Ephesians 5:29).

4. Living beings generally, including their mental nature, and with a correlated notion of weakness and perishableness. Thus the phrase πᾶσα σάρξ all flesh (Genesis 6:12; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 49:23). This accessory notion of weakness stands in contrast with God. In Paul the phrase all flesh is cited from the Old Testament (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16) and is used independently (1 Corinthians 1:29). In all these instances before God is added. So in Galatians 1:16, flesh and blood implies a contrast of human with divine wisdom. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12. This leads up to

5. Man "either as a creature in his natural state apart from Christ, or the creaturely side or aspect of the man in Christ." Hence it is correlated with ἄνθρωπος man, 1 Corinthians 3:3; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17. Compare Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9; Galatians 5:24. Thus the flesh would seem to be interchangeable with the old man.

It has affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24); willings (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 8:6, Romans 8:7); a mind (Colossians 2:18); a body (Colossians 2:11).

It is in sharp contrast with πνεῦμα spirit (Galatians 3:3, Galatians 3:19; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:17, Galatians 5:19-24; Galatians 6:8; Romans 8:4). The flesh and the spirit are thus antagonistic. Σάρξ flesh, before or in contrast with his reception of the divine element whereby he becomes a new creature in Christ: the whole being of man as it exists and acts apart from the influence of the Spirit. It properly characterizes, therefore, not merely the lower forms of sensual gratification, but all - the highest developments of the life estranged from God, whether physical, intellectual, or aesthetic.

It must be carefully noted:

1. That Paul does not identify flesh and sin. Compare, flesh of sin, Romans 8:3. See Romans 7:17, Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 2:20.

2. That Paul does not identify σάρξ with the material body nor associate sin exclusively and predominantly with the body. The flesh is the flesh of the living man animated by the soul (ψυχή) as its principle of life, and is distinctly used as coordinate with ἄνθρωπος man. As in the Old Testament, "it embraces in an emphatic manner the nature of man, mental and corporeal, with its internal distinctions." The spirit as well as the flesh is capable of defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1; compare 1 Corinthians 7:34). Christian life is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2; compare Ephesians 4:23).


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