That Which Is Born of Flesh is Flesh

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Judeans. 2 He came to Yeshua by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”

3 Yeshua answered him, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”

4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Yeshua answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and Spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8  The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3 WMB

The Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words does a great job given the meaning and primary references to flesh, fleshly, carnal, spirit, spiritual. So, let’s start there.

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Flesh

1: σάρξ (Strong’s #4561 — Noun Feminine — sarx — sarx ) has a wider range of meaning in the NT than in the OT. Its uses in the NT may be analyzed as follows: “(a) “the substance of the body,” whether of beasts or of men, 1 Corinthians 15:39 ; (b) “the human body,” 2 Corinthians 10:3 ; Galatians 2:20 ; Philippians 1:22 ; (c) by synecdoche, of “mankind,” in the totality of all that is essential to manhood, i.e., spirit, soul, and body, Matthew 24:22 ; John 1:13 ; Romans 3:20 ; (d) by synecdoche, of “the holy humanity” of the Lord Jesus, in the totality of all that is essential to manhood, i.e., spirit, soul, and body, John 1:14 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; 1 John 4:2 ; 2 John 1:7 ; in Hebrews 5:7 , “the days of His flesh,” i.e., His past life on earth in distinction from His present life in resurrection; (e) by synecdoche, for “the complete person,” John 6:51-57 ; 2 Corinthians 7:5 ; James 5:3 ; (f) “the weaker element in human nature,” Matthew 26:41 ; Romans 6:19 ; 8:3 ; (g) “the unregenerate state of men,” Romans 7:5 ; 8:8,9 ; (h) “the seat of sin in man” (but this is not the same thing as in the body), 2 Peter 2:18 ; 1 John 2:16 ; (i) “the lower and temporary element in the Christian,” Galatians 3:3 ; 6:8 , and in religious ordinances, Hebrews 9:10 ; (j) “the natural attainments of men,” 1 Corinthians 1:26 ; 2 Corinthians 10:2,3 ; (k) “circumstances,” 1 Corinthians 7:28 ; the externals of life, 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; Ephesians 6:5 ; Hebrews 9:13 ; (l) by metonymy, “the outward and seeming,” as contrasted with the spirit, the inward and real, John 6:63 ; 2 Corinthians 5:16 ; (m) “natural relationship, consanguine,” 1 Corinthians 10:18 ; Galatians 4:23 , or marital, Matthew 19:5 .” * [* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 111,112.]

In Matthew 26:41 ; Romans 8:4,13 ; 1 Corinthians 5:5 ; Galatians 6:8 (not the Holy Spirit, here), “flesh” is contrasted with spirit; in Romans 2:28,29 , with heart and spirit; in Romans 7:25 , with the mind; cp. Colossians 2:1,5 . It is coupled with the mind in Ephesians 2:3 , and with the spirit in 2 Corinthians 7:1 . Note: In Colossians 2:18 the noun sarx is used in the phrase “(by his) fleshly mind,” lit., “by the mind of his flesh” [see (h) above], whereas the mind ought to be dominated by the Spirit.

Fleshly

1: σαρκικός (Strong’s #4559 — Adjective — sarkikos — sar-kee-kos’ ) akin to No. 1, under FLESH, signifies (a) associated with or pertaining to, “the flesh, carnal,” Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11 ; (b) of “the nature of the flesh, sensual,” translated “fleshly” in 2 Corinthians 1:12 , of wisdom; in 1 Peter 2:11 , of lusts; in 2 Corinthians 10:4 , negatively, of the weapons of the Christian’s warfare, RV, “of the flesh” (AV, “carnal”). See CARNAL.

2: σάρκινος
(Strong’s #4560 — Adjective — sarkinos — sar’-kee-nos ) denotes “of the flesh, fleshly” (the termination, inos signifying the substance or material of a thing); in 2 Corinthians 3:3, RV, “(tables that are hearts) of flesh,” AV, “fleshly (tables),” etc. See CARNAL.

Carnal carnally

1: σαρκικός (Strong’s #4559 — Adjective — sarkikos — sar-kee-kos’ ) from sarx, “flesh,” signifies (a) “having the nature of flesh,” i.e., sensual, controlled by animal appetites, governed by human nature, instead of by the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 3:3 (for ver. 1, see below; same mss. have it in ver. 4); having its seat in the animal nature, or excited by it, 1 Peter 2:11 , “fleshly,” or as the equivalent of “human,” with the added idea of weakness, figuratively of the weapons of spiritual warfare, “of the flesh” (AV, “carnal”), 2 Corinthians 10:4 ; or with the idea of unspirituality, of human wisdom, “fleshly,” 2 Corinthians 1:12 ; (b) “pertaining to the flesh” (i.e., the body), Romans 15:27 ; 1 Corinthians 9:11 .

2: σάρκινος (Strong’s #4560 — Adjective — sarkinos — sar’-kee-nos ) ( a) “consisting of flesh,” 2 Corinthians 3:3 , “tables that are hearts of flesh” (AV, “fleshy tables of the heart”); (b) “pertaining to the natural, transient life of the body,” Hebrews 7:16 , “a carnal commandment;” (c) given up to the flesh, i.e., with almost the same significance as sarkikos, above, Romans 7:14 , “I am carnal sold under sin;” 1 Corinthians 3:1 (some texts have sarkikos, in both these places, and in those in (a) and (b), but textual evidence is against it). It is difficult to discriminate between sarkikos and sarkinos in some passages. In regard to 1 Peter 2:11 , Trench (Syn. lxxi, lxxii) says that sarkikos describes the lusts which have their source in man’s corrupt and fallen nature, and the man is sarkikos who allows to the flesh a place which does not belong to it of right; in 1 Corinthians 3:1 sarkinos is an accusation far less grave than sarkikos would have been. The Corinthians saints were making no progress, but they were not anti-spiritual in respect of the particular point with which the Apostle was there dealing. In 1 Corinthians 3:3,4 , they are charged with being sarkikos. See FLESHLY , FLESHY.

Spirit

1: πνεῦμα (Strong’s #4151 — Noun Neuter — pneuma — pnyoo’-mah )primarily denotes “the wind” (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath;” then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows:

“(a) the wind, John 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hebrews 1:7 ; cp. Amos 4:13 , Sept.; (b) the breath, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 ; Revelation 11:11 ; 13:15 ; cp. Job 12:10 , Sept.; (c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luke 8:55 ; Acts 7:59 ; 1 Corinthians 5:5 ; James 2:26 ; cp. Ecclesiastes 12:7 , Sept.; (d) the disembodied (or ‘unclothed,’ or ‘naked,’ 2 Corinthians 5:3,4 ) man, Luke 24:37,39 ; Hebrews 12:23 ; 1 Peter 4:6 ; (e) the resurrection body, 1 Corinthians 15:45 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; 1 Peter 3:18 ; (f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Matthew 5:3 ; 26:41 ; Mark 2:8 ; Luke 1:47,80 ; Acts 17:16 ; 20:22 ; 1 Corinthians 2:11 ; 5:3,4 ; 14:4,15 ; 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; cp. Genesis 26:35 ; Isaiah 26:9 ; Ezekiel 13:3 ; Daniel 7:15 ; (g) purpose, aim, 2 Corinthians 12:18 ; Philippians 1:27 ; Ephesians 4:23 ; Revelation 19:10 ; cp. Ezra 1:5 ; Psalm 78:8 ; Daniel 5:12 ; (h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect: 1st person, 1 Corinthians 16:18 ; cp. Genesis 6:3 ; 2 nd person, 2 Timothy 4:22 ; Philemon 1:25 ; cp. Psalm 139:7 ; 3 rd person, 2 Corinthians 7:13 ; cp. Isaiah 40:13 ; (i) character, Luke 1:17 ; Romans 1:4 ; cp. Numbers 14:24 ; (j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Romans 8:15 ; cp. Isaiah 61:3 ; stupor, Romans 11:8 ; cp. Isaiah 29:10 ; timidity, 2 Timothy 1:7 ; cp. Joshua 5:1 ; good, as of

adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Romans 8:15 ; cp. Psalm 51:12 ; meekness, 1 Corinthians 4:21 ; cp. Proverbs 16:19 ; faith, 2 Corinthians 4:13 ; quietness, 1 Peter 3:4 ; cp. Proverbs 14:29 (k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Matthew 4:1 (see below); Luke 4:18 ; (l) ‘the inward man’ (an expression used only of the believer, Romans 7:22 ; 2 Corinthians 4:16 ; Ephesians 3:16 ); the new life, Romans 8:4-6,10,16 ; Hebrews 12:9 ; cp. Psalm 51:10 ; (m) unclean spirits, demons, Matthew 8:16 ; Luke 4:33 ; 1 Peter 3:19 ; cp. 1 Samuel 18:10 ; (n) angels, Hebrews 1:14 ; cp. Acts 12:15 ; (o) divine gift for service, 1 Corinthians 14:12,32 ; (p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 ; 1 John 4:1-3 ; (q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, John 6:63 ; Romans 2:29 ; 7:6 ; 2 Corinthians 3:6 ; (r) a vision, Revelation 1:10 ; 4:2 ; 17:3 ; 21:10 .” * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204,205.] Notes: (1) For phantasma, rendered “spirit,” Matthew 14:26 ; Mark 6:49 , AV, see APPARITION. (2) For the distinction between “spirit” and “soul,” see under SOUL , last three paragraphs.

* The Holy Spirit The “Holy Spirit” is spoken of under various titles in the NT (“Spirit” and “Ghost” are renderings of the same word, pneuma; the advantage of the rendering “Spirit” is that it can always be used, whereas “Ghost” always requires the word “Holy” prefixed.) In the following list the omission of the definite article marks its omission in the original (concerning this see below): “Spirit, Matthew 22:43 ; Eternal Spirit, Hebrews 9:14 ; the Spirit, Matthew 4:1 ; Holy Spirit, Matthew 1:18 ; the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 ; the Spirit, the Holy, Matthew 12:32 ; the Spirit of promise, the Holy, Ephesians 1:13 ; Spirit of God, Romans 8:9 ; Spirit of (the) living God, 2 Corinthians 3:3 ; the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:11 ; the Spirit of our God, 1 Corinthians 6:11 ; the Spirit of God, the Holy, Ephesians 4:30 ; the Spirit of glory and of God, 1 Peter 4:14 ; the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead (i.e., God), Romans 8:11 ; the Spirit of your Father, Matthew 10:20 ; the Spirit of His Son, Galatians 4:6 ; Spirit of (the) Lord, Acts 8:39 ; the Spirit of (the) Lord, Acts 5:9 ; (the) Lord, (the) Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18 ; the Spirit of Jesus, Acts 16:7 ; Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9 ; the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:19 ; Spirit of adoption, Romans 8:15 ; the Spirit of truth, John 14:17 ; the Spirit of life, Romans 8:2 ; the Spirit of grace, Hebrews 10:29 .” * [* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 193.]

The use or absence of the article in the original where the “Holy Spirit” is spoken of cannot always be decided by grammatical rules, nor can the presence or absence of the article alone determine whether the reference is to the “Holy Spirit.”Examples where the Person is meant when the article is absent are Matthew 22:43 (the article is used in Mark 12:36 ); Acts 4:25 , RV (absent in some texts); 19:2,6; Romans 14:17 ; 1 Corinthians 2:4 ; Galatians 5:25 (twice); 1 Peter 1:2 . Sometimes the absence is to be accounted for by the fact that Pneuma (like Theos) is substantially a proper name, e.g., in John 7:39 . As a general rule the article is present where the subject of the teaching is the Personality of the Holy Spirit, e.g., John 14:26 , where He is spoken of in distinction from the Father and the Son. See also 15:26 and cp. Luke 3:22 .

In Galatians 3:3 , in the phrase “having begun in the Spirit,” it is difficult to say whether the reference is to the “Holy Spirit” or to the quickened spirit of the believer; that it possibly refers to the latter is not to be determined by the absence of the article, but by the contrast with “the flesh;” on the other hand, the contrast may be between the “Holy Spirit” who in the believer sets His seal on the perfect work of Christ, and the flesh which seeks to better itself by works of its own. There is no preposition before either noun, and if the reference is to the quickened spirit it cannot be dissociated from the operation of the “Holy Spirit.” In Galatians 4:29 the phrase “after the Spirit” signifies “by supernatural power,” in contrast to “after the flesh,” i.e., “by natural power,” and the reference must be to the “Holy Spirit;” so in Galatians 5:17 .

The full title with the article before both pneuma and hagios (the “resumptive” use of the article), lit., “the Spirit the Holy,” stresses the character of the Person, e.g., Matthew 12:32 ; Mark 3:29 ; 12:36 ; 13:11 ; Luke 2:26 ; 10:21 (RV); John 14:26 ; Acts 1:16 ; 5:3 ; 7:51 ; 10:44,47 ; 13:2 ; 15:28 ; 19:6 ; 20:23,28 ; 21:11 ; 28:25 ; Ephesians 4:30 ; Hebrews 3:7 ; 9:8 ; 10:15 .

The Personality of the Spirit is emphasized at the expense of strict grammatical procedure in John 14:26 ; 15:26 ; 16:8,13,14 , where the emphatic pronoun ekeinos, “He,” is used of Him in the masculine, whereas the noun pneuma is neuter in Greek, while the corresponding word in Aramaic, the language in which our Lord probably spoke, is feminine (rucha, cp. Heb. ruach). The rendering “itself” in Romans 8:16,26 , due to the Greek gender, is corrected to “Himself” in the RV.

The subject of the “Holy Spirit” in the NT may be considered as to His Divine attributes; His distinct Personality in the Godhead; His operation in connection with the Lord Jesus in His birth, His life, His baptism, His death; His operations in the world; in the church; His having been sent at Pentecost by the Father and by Christ; His operations in the individual believer; in local churches; His operations in the production of Holy Scripture; His work in the world, etc.


Spiritual

A — 1: πνευματικός (Strong’s #4152 — Adjective — pneumatikos — phyoo-mat-ik-os’ )”always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power. It does not occur in the Sept. nor in the Gospels; it is in fact an after-Pentecost word. In the NT it is used as follows: (a) the angelic hosts, lower than God but higher in the scale of being than man in his natural state, are ‘spiritual hosts,’ Ephesians 6:12 ; (b) things that have their origin with God, and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character, as His law is, are ‘spiritual,’ Romans 7:14 ; (c) ‘spiritual’ is prefixed to the material type in order to indicate that what the type sets forth, not the type itself, is intended, 1 Corinthians 10:3,4 ; (d) the purposes of God revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:13 , and the words in which that revelation is expressed, are ‘spiritual,’ 1 Corinthians 2:13 , matching, or combining, spiritual things with spiritual words [or, alternatively, ‘interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men,’ see (e) below]; ‘spiritual songs’ are songs of which the burden is the things revealed by the Spirit, Ephesians 5:19 ; Colossians 3:16 ; ‘spiritual wisdom and understanding’ is wisdom in, and understanding of, those things, Colossians 1:9 ; (e) men in Christ who walk so as to please God are ‘spiritual,’ Galatians 6:1 ; 1 Corinthians 2:13 [but see (d) above],15; 3:1; 14:37; (f) the whole company of those who believe in Christ is a ‘spiritual house,’ 1 Peter 2:5 ; (g) the blessings that accrue to regenerate men at this present time are called ‘spiritualities,’ Romans 15:27 ; 1 Corinthians 9:11 ; ‘spiritual blessings,’ Ephesians 1:3 ; ‘spiritual gifts,’ Romans 1:11 ; (h) the activities Godward of regenerate men are ‘spiritual sacrifices,’ 1 Peter 2:5 ; their appointed activities in the churches are also called ‘spiritual gifts,’ lit., ‘spiritualities,’ 1 Corinthians 12:1 ; 14:1 ; (i) the resurrection body of the dead in Christ is ‘spiritual,’ i.e., such as is suited to the heavenly environment, 1 Corinthians 15:44 ; (j) all that is produced and maintained among men by the operations of the Spirit of God is ‘spiritual,’ 1 Corinthians 15:46 . …

“The spiritual man is one who walks by the Spirit both in the sense of Galatians 5:16 and in that of Galatians 5:25 , and who himself manifests the fruit of the Spirit in his own ways. …

“According to the Scriptures, the ‘spiritual’ state of soul is normal for the believer, but to this state all believers do not attain, nor when it is attained is it always maintained. Thus the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 , suggests a contrast between this spiritual state and that of the babe in Christ, i.e., of the man who because of immaturity and inexperience has not yet reached spirituality, and that of the man who by permitting jealousy, and the strife to which jealousy always leads, has lost it. The spiritual state is reached by diligence in the Word of God and in prayer; it is maintained by obedience and self-judgment. Such as are led by the Spirit are spiritual, but, of course, spirituality is not a fixed or absolute condition, it admits of growth; indeed growth in ‘the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,’ 2 Peter 3:18 , is evidence of true spirituality.” * [* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 308-319.]

B — 1: πνευματικῶς (Strong’s #4153 — Adverb — pneumatikos — pnyoo-mat-ik-oce’ ) “spiritually,” occurs in 1 Corinthians 2:14 , with the meaning as (j) above, and Revelation 11:8 , with the meaning as in (c). Some mss. have it in 1 Corinthians 2:13 .

Notes: (1) In Romans 8:6 , the RV rightly renders the noun pneuma “(the mind) of the spirit,” AV, “spiritual (mind).” (2) In 1 Corinthians 14:12 the plural of pneuma, “spirits,” RV, marg., stands for “spiritual gifts” (text). (3) In 1 Peter 2:2 , the RV renders logikos “spiritual.”

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