Flesh and Blood

By Charles H. Welch

Flesh and Blood. These words by an accepted figure of speech (synedoche) represent human nature, man as such, man as opposed to God, to angel or spirit. So, Christ said to Peter on the occasion of his great confession:

"Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17).

Similarly, Paul sets aside all human intervention in connexion with his call and commission, saying:

"When it pleased God. . . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:15,16).

When speaking of the resurrection, and answering the question "with what body do they come?" he says in 1 Corinthians fifteen:

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50).

In the two other places where the A.V. used the phrase "flesh and blood", namely in Ephesians 6:12 and Hebrews 2:14, the order of the words is reversed in the original "blood and flesh". It has been hastily assumed by some that the phrase "flesh and blood" is the common and accepted formula in the Scriptures to represent human nature, but when we turn to the O.T. we discover that where the expression "flesh and blood" would come naturally to our lips, the language of the O.T. differs; there the usual form is "flesh and bones". When Adam beheld his wife, and realized her most intimate oneness with himself, he did not say "she is of my flesh and blood" but "this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen. 2:23). What should we do with any attempt to reason from the absence of reference to the word "blood" here, that Adam purposely intended to affirm that his wife was a bloodless creature? We should reject it as unworthy of serious consideration. When Jacob arrived at the home of his mother's brother, Laban said to him, "surely thou art my bone and my flesh" (Gen. 29:14), and he would have been astonished had Jacob interposed by saying-surely I am of the same blood also! Or yet once again, when David would remind certain that they were his brethren, he said "ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh" (2 Sam. 19:12).

We hesitate to bring the most sacred Person of the Saviour into an atmosphere of ridicule, but in the light of these passages, what can we do but reject that interpretation of the words of the risen Christ, as recorded in Luke 24:39, "a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have", that argues from the absence of the word "blood" that the Lord intended us to understand that His risen body was bloodless. One might just as reasonably argue from Hebrews 2:14 and the absence of the word "bones" that He had no bony skeleton. All that the Lord intended was to establish His identity, and invited the disciples to "see" and to "handle" and one would not so readily "see" the blood of a person as his erect human form, and "handling" would reveal the hidden bony structure. The human body is an organized whole. Where there is no blood, no oxygen is required, and where no oxygen is needed, nostrils would be superfluous.

Further, the slightest acquaintance with the process of digestion demands the blood stream as its goal, and the Lord demonstrated the reality of His risen humanity, by eating some broiled fish and a portion of honeycomb. We do not know the nature of "heavenly" or "spiritual" bodies, and all speculation is cut short by the Apostle in 1 Corinthians fifteen. It is unwise to argue from the Lord's risen body to our own, for He saw no corruption. All that we hope to have accomplished by this short note is to call the reader's attention to a shallow yet dangerous form of argument, which not only vitiates the teaching of the particular passage, Luke 24:39, but is applied with equally harmful results to other subjects which are presented to us in similar figurative ways. For fuller details see RESURRECTION and HOPE.

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