By Charles H. Welch

Flesh. This word, which translates the Greek sarx, occurs in a variety of ways and contexts, and although this analysis is concerned with the dispensational point of view, it may be wise to set out the sixfold subdivision, which is a digest of a longer treatment of the theme found in Cremer's Biblico-Theological Lexicon.


  1. Flesh. Jas. 5:3. F1esh and bone, the substance of the body, Luke 24:39, Eph. 5:30.

  2. Corporeity according to its material side, which, as an organic whole is called soma, body. So 1 Cor. 15:39. The corporal part of man, Acts 2:26.

  3. It mediates and brings about man's connexion with nature. Gen. 2: 23,24, 1 Cor. 6:16. So the contrast between "children of the flesh", and "children of the promise" , Rom. 9:8. It indicates kinship, Rom. 9:3, 11:14, 1:3 and all mankind are designated "all flesh" (John 17:2).

  4. It denotes human nature in and according to its corporeal manifestation. 1 John 4:2 "Jesus Christ came in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16 "Manifest in the flesh."

  5. All that is peculiar to human nature in its corporeal embodiment is said to belong to it. This is specially the aspect of Paul's epistles and his use of sarx. It is in contrast with the new creation, 2 Cor. 5:16,17. It stands in contrast with pneuma, Spirit, the divine nature, in a metaphysical and moral sense. Rom. 8:3, Gal. 3:3, 5:17. Thus sarx comes, at length, in distinct and presupposed antithesis to pneuma, to signify.

  6. The sinful condition of human nature, in and according to its bodily manifestation. So we have "the flesh of sin" (lit.), Rom. 8:3, "satisfying of the flesh", Col. 2:23, "an occasion to the flesh", Gal. 5:13. Such expressions as "the mind of the flesh", Rom. 8:6,7; "the lusts of the flesh", Gal. 5:16,24; and "the wills of the flesh", Eph. 2:3 (lit.), may be explained by the fact that sarx denotes sinfully conditioned human nature.

We are concerned mainly with the employment of the term by the Apostle in Romans 9:3-5 as compared with Ephesians 2:11,12, where the "advantage" of being a Jew, and the "disability" of being a Gentile is stressed. These two passages are set out according to their structure in the article entitled ADOPTION. It becomes abundantly clear from these passages that whatever blessing Israel may have had in the past or may yet enjoy in the future "in the flesh" no such hope can be entertained by any member of the One Body. Its blessings as well as its legitimate foes are "spiritual", outside of which, whether viewed as being "in the flesh" or "in the world", the Gentile is looked upon not only as the "uncircumcision" but as being without hope, without Christ, and without God. The Apostle moreover went so far as to say, "Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more" (2 Cor. 5:16 R.V.), and this before the dispensation of the Mystery was ushered in. How much less therefore can any fleshly advantages obtain now, since the middle wall has been broken down, the enmity that was abolished in His flesh has gone, and the veil, that is to say His flesh, removed? For further light on this aspect of the subject, the reader is directed to the article entitled MIDDLE WALL.

An Alphabetical Analysis

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