A Theology of the Body
by Greg Williamson (c) revised 2022

Bodily Introduction
Body in the Bible
Bodily Truths
Bodily Examples
Bodily Bible References
Bodily Conclusion
Appendix A: Bodily Application
Appendix B: Where Do Our Souls Come From?
Appendix C: Family
Appendix D: Dying
Bodily Sources

Samson with his strong body had a weak head or he would not have laid it in a harlot's lap. - Benjamin Franklin [ref]


True Teamwork

The human body is probably the most amazing example of teamwork anywhere. Every part needs the other. When the stomach is hungry, the eyes spot the hamburger. The nose smells the onions, the feet run to the snack stand, the hands douse the burger with mustard and shove it back into the mouth, where it goes down to the stomach. Now that's cooperation! -- Joni Eareckson Tada [ref]

"The human body describes the essential physical aspect of human beings during their earthly existence, as well as -- following Christ's return and the resurrection of their bodies -- in the age to come. The body is the material component of human nature distinct from -- but intimately linked with -- the immaterial component, commonly called the soul or spirit." [ref]

While scientists, philosophers, and other thinking people down through the ages have sought to better understand all dimensions of the body human,

[r]ecent intellectual developments have prompted sustained theological reflection on the body, leading to important developments. Renewed interest in sacramental theology and spiritual disciplines has generated fresh appreciation for the body in Christian life. Theologies of disability and suffering have directed attention to the body's role in shaping personal identity. Feminist and minority theologies have emphasized the ways in which society shapes our perception and experiences of our bodies. John Paul II's influential Theology of the Body brought renewed focus on the importance of embodiment for a theology of marriage and celibacy. Important developments in social ethics focused attention on issues such as human sexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and transhumanism -- all involving the body and its role in human existence. [ref]

The sovereign and utterly good God created a good universe. We human beings rebelled; rebellion is now so much a part of our make-up that we are all enmeshed in it. Every scrap of suffering we face turns on this fact. - D. A. Carson [ref]



Old Testament

The doctrine of creation sets forth the essential corporeality of human existence. When God created Adam and Eve, he provided them with physical bodies (Gen. 2:7, 22). The fact that God formed the physical body first and then breathed into it the breath of life means that we are living bodies, not simply incarnated souls. This holistic relationship between body and soul undermines any thought that a human being is simply the sum of its parts (i.e., mind + soul + body, etc.). One does not have a body, one is a body.

Bodily existence is not only an essential aspect of being human, it is also God's perfect will. In the beginning God pronounces that all of his creation is "very good" (Gen. 1:31). So to be truly human is to exist bodily. This divine affirmation of physical existence is diametrically opposed to any notion that the body is inferior to the spirit. Unlike the Gnostics of the second and third centuries a.d., the Scriptures never represent the physical body as a prison from which the spirit must be freed. There is absolutely nothing inherently evil about the human body. Throughout the Old Testament, the body is presented as a marvelous gift from God, which evidences his indescribable wisdom and power (Ps. 139:14–16). It is never represented as an impediment to communion, service, or worship of God. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect fellowship with God, and that fellowship was experienced in the body (Gen. 1:27–31). This integration of body and soul constitutes an internal dynamic that is truly remarkable. The body becomes the expression of the soul. The voice articulates prayer, raised hands express praise, bowing low reflects humble adoration and worship.

This essential relationship of body and soul provides for an extraordinary integration of the material and spiritual realms. For example, the sin of Adam and Eve not only affected their spiritual status before God, but had physical consequences as well. They died and the earth from which the body was formed was cursed (Gen. 2:17; 3:17–19). With regard to the final disposition of the body the principle of "dust to dust" holds true (Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; Ps. 104:29; Eccles. 3:20; 12:7). The body is folded as a tent and returns to the earth from which it came (Ps. 146:4; Isa. 38:12). Job declares that despite the natural decomposition of his body, he will see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh (Job 19:26–27). The psalmist rejoices that God will not allow his holy one to see corruption (Ps. 16:10). Isaiah speaks of the earth casting out the dead and Daniel prophesies that those who sleep in dust shall awake (Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2). Throughout the intertestamental period, the belief in the future resurrection and glorification of the body became even more developed (1 Enoch 20:8; 22:13; 2 Baruch 50:3–4; 2 Macc. 7:9, 36). [ref]

Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all -- out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto his glorious body. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the spirit will live forever. - Dwight Lyman Moody [ref]


New Testament

The essential corporeality of human existence is supremely set forth in the New Testament. The incarnation is God's ultimate endorsement of the physical body (Matt. 1:20–25; Luke 1:26–35; Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 4:2–3). Complete redemption means the reclamation of humanness in the most comprehensive sense, and this mandates the "in fleshing" of the Word (John 1:14). Jesus' body becomes the locus for God's redemptive activity in the world. Indeed his body is both temple and sacrifice in that it manifests the glory of God and atones for the sins of the world (Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; John 1:14; 2:21; Rom. 3:24–25; Heb. 9:14; 1 Peter 2:19, 24). The physical resurrection of his body not only served as the Father's "amen" to the life and ministry of Jesus, but also as a kind of "firstfruits" of the resurrection of all believers (1 Cor. 15:20–23). [ref]

The apostle Paul made the term "body" a fundamental reference in the understanding of Christian experience. Most of the NT references to "body" are in his letters.

The Sinful Body

In Romans 6:6 Paul spoke of the destruction of the "sinful body." The phrase did not mean that the body itself is sinful, as though sin is in some way tied to physical matter. Neither did it refer to some entity, sin, thought to dwell within human nature. Nor did it personify sin. Rather, the phrase referred to the physical life of human beings -- life on earth -- which is dominated by sin's influence. In Christian conversion Paul saw that familiar pattern of human experience being destroyed. To link sin with the body is only to recognize that human beings in their earthly life ("life in the body") are pervasively sinful. After describing the awful conflict in human experience, Paul cried out, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). Human life, "spoiled" by sin and its consequences at every point, requires Christ's redemption (Rom 7:25–8:4).

The Body of the Believer

In conversion, believers are said by Paul to experience not only the "saving of the soul" but the transformation of present life. They have "died to sin" and have been freed from sin's bondage. Paul therefore called for holiness of life "in the flesh." "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions" (Rom 6:12). Righteousness, not sin, is to govern a Christian's physical experience. The social and personal lives of believers are to be characterized by holiness. Believers are in the world (Jn 17:11) and are to live for God in the world (i.e., in their bodily existence); they are not to be indifferent to the world.

Physical, earthly life thus takes on new significance. Paul told Christians to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rom 12:1). Each individual human life is to be a "living sacrifice" to God. Far from deprecating earthly existence, Paul saw that in Christ it had new potential. The reason is that the Holy Spirit is found there. "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God" (1 Cor 6:19). That affirmation is not to be read materialistically, as though the Spirit takes up residence in certain tissues; "body" means one's whole physical, earthly existence.

Paul also anticipated an ultimate transformation of life in the body through Christ. He spoke of the "redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23) and of the transformation of "our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body" (Phil 3:21). Thus the Bible, although it has a realistic view of human sin and physical deterioration, does not share the pessimism of world-views that seek escape from the world.

The Body of Christ

In his account of the Lord's Supper, Paul spoke of the bread as Christ's body "which is given for you" (1 Cor 11:24). Elsewhere in Paul's letters, similar expressions indicate that he understood Christ's death to be the means of human deliverance. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 he speaks of "participation in the body of Christ." Believers are closely identified with Christ's atoning death. They are said to have died to the Law "through the body of Christ" (Rom 7:4). Believers are reconciled in "his body of flesh by his death" (Col 1:22). Paul's repeated use of "body, " "flesh, " and "death" underscores his point that the vicarious ministry of Jesus in the world, culminating in physical death, is the fundamental basis of Christian faith. Peter concurred when he wrote that Christ "bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Pt 2:24).

Paul's most frequent use of the word "body, " however, is in a metaphor of the church in its relationship to Christ. In a number of passages the church is the "body" and Christ the "head" (Col 1:18). Christ has been made "Head over all things for the church, " which "is his body" (Eph 1:22, 23). The body grows by "holding fast to the Head" (Col 2:19). As head of the body, Christ is its Savior (Eph 5:23). The head/body metaphor stresses the organic dependence of the church on Christ and his lordship over the church. The church finds its self-understanding in terms of its Head. The relationship is organic in that the life flows from, and is sustained by, the Head. The relationship is immediate, direct, and complete. Apart from Christ, both in his historic atoning sacrifice and in his present position at the right hand of God, the church has no existence.

An aspect of the church as the body of Christ is its essential unity within its obvious diversity. Historic distinctions are to disappear as Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free, become one body in Christ (Gal 3:27, 28). Because there is one Spirit, there is one body (Eph 4:4). The result is a new humanity formed out of formerly alienated parties (Eph 2:11–16). The unity of the body is not a goal but a fact brought about by the baptism of believers into one body (1 Cor 12:13). The body of believers should give expression to that unity (Phil 2:2).

Paul found it necessary to add that the body's unity and corporate nature does not result in destroying or minimizing the individual. By their "incorporation" into Christ, believers belong not only to him but also to each other, "and each needs all the others" (Rom 12:5 LB). The individual "parts of the body" find their significance by virtue of their belonging to the body. In Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul took note of different gifts found within the body, which he said should not be stifled but expressed. "Let us use them according to the grace given to us" (Rom 12:6). Taken together, the variety of gifts contribute to building up the body (Eph 4:12). In the process the body grows in love (Eph 4:16) and becomes the visible manifestation of divine love in every age.

The Resurrection Body

The possible separation of body and soul did not occur to the Hebrew mind. Biblically, life beyond death is not bodiless, but an existence for which a "new body" is prepared. Though Paul raised many questions in 1 Corinthians 15:35–57, it is clear that he saw continuity between the earthly body and the resurrection body. "It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:44). That expression may be derived in large part from the experience of Jesus, whose dead body was not only brought to life but also transformed so that it was not bound by earth. His resurrection body was derived from the earthly. But Paul was sure that in the promised resurrection, life would return to the body without its present limitations and with new manifestations. Death, said Paul, is thereby "swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:54). [ref]

The Church is everywhere represented as one. It is one body, one family, one fold, one kingdom. It is one because pervaded by one Spirit. We are all baptized into one Spirit so as to become, says the apostle, one body. - Charles Hodge [ref]


The Imagery of Body


The bite of legalism spreads paralyzing venom into the body of Christ. Its poison blinds our eyes, dulls our edge, and arouses pride in our hearts. Soon our love is eclipsed as it turns into a mental clipboard with a long checklist. - Charles R. Swindoll [ref]



As Christians, having a biblically informed view of life in the human body will encourage us to value the body from conception through eternity. We can live out this value in many practical ways, including:
  • Ruling out abortion at the beginning of human existence and euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide at the end of life. God and God alone is the Creator of human life, and he alone decides when that life is over. His human creatures do not possess this divine prerogative and should not take human existence into their own hands.
  • Being thankful for the gender God created us to be. This includes avoiding any sense of superiority or inferiority because we are male or female. Gender differences should be celebrated, and men and women should learn to enjoy personal and pure relationships with the other gender.
  • Expressing human sexuality lovingly and with respect in the context of a monogamous marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. As part of this appropriate view of sexuality, there should be no hint of sexual immorality.
  • Ministering to others as holistic human beings created in the image of God. This entails treating all people -- both Christians and non-Christians alike -- with respect for their inherent dignity. In addition, we should engage in helping the poor and marginalized through deeds of mercy, communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ to all, and discipling other Christians by addressing their needs -- intellectual, emotional, volitional, physical, educational, and socio-economic.
  • Worshipping the Lord with proper physical expressions. Because we are embodied people, our worship can include kneeling, prostration, bowing, singing and dancing, and raising hands in praise, petition, and blessing.
  • Resisting sins that are particularly associated with human embodiment: lust (Matthew 5:27–30), gluttony and drunkenness (Proverbs 23:20–21), and sloth (Proverbs 6:6–11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15).
  • Following a regimen of physical discipline, including regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, and avoidance of body-harming substances. When spiritual disciplines call for accompanying physical activities like fasting, solitude, temporary celibacy, and temporarily withholding other legitimate bodily pleasures, the goal should always be to increase our spiritual vitality and never the punishment of our body as an opponent or enemy.
  • Standing against the destruction of human life. This includes issues such as embryonic stem cell research that results in the destruction of fertilized eggs, experimentation to develop human cloning that results in the destruction of human life, genetic engineering that feeds human pride and greed for the creation of perfect children, and transhumanist experimentation that fuels human autonomy in the development of superhuman beings or cyborgs (man-machine complexes).
  • Focusing on our true and ultimate hope: physical resurrection for an eternal embodied existence in the new heavens and new earth. [ref; bold italics added]

The highest gift and favor of God is a pious, kind, godly, and domestic wife, with whom thou mayest live peaceably, and to whom thou mayest intrust all thy possessions, yea, thy body and thy life. - Martin Luther [ref]


Here we touch on but a few of the Bible's many examples of body.

The creation of Adam & Eve (Genesis 2:7, 18-23)

Genesis 2:7
Like a potter, God formed (yatsar) man ('adam) from the dust of the ground ('adamah). There is a wordplay between "man" and "ground." "Ground" represents red soil (from the root '-d-m, "red"). Whether it indicates that the man's skin was copper-colored is difficult to determine. Furthermore, 'adam is particularly hard to translate, for it is used for all humans as well as for the name of the first man. Versions vary widely in rendering 'adam as Adam or man. The KJV renders it Adam eighteen times out of the thirty-four occurrences, but the NIV translates it Adam only four times (Gen. 2:20; 3:17, 20, 21), emphasizing the representative role of the first human. Agreeing with this interpretation, this commentary renders 'adam as "man" until the woman has the name Eve (Gen. 3:20); then Adam is used. Thereby the representative role of the first man and the first woman is kept in the foreground throughout the narrative.

God then breathed into the man's nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living being (nepesh khayyah). The latter phrase classifies humans as members of the animal world (Gen. 2:19), while "breath" establishes that humans continually and uniquely depend on God for their life force (Job 27:3). Whenever God takes the breath away, that person dies (Ps. 104:29–30).

Genesis 2:18–20a
God perceived that it was not good for the man to be alone. In striking contrast to the frequent use of "good" in the creation account (Gen. 1:1–2:4a), God here states that there is something that is not good in regard to the man. This wording grabs our attention as it highlights something that God must provide in order for the man to be fulfilled. This surprising use of "good" communicates how crucial companionship is for humans. The man needed a helper, one suitable for him. "Suitable" (negdo) suggests a person who was significantly different from him so as to contribute distinctively to his life, yet one who was of the same essence and on the same level. "Helper" implies the ability to assist another person. A helper may be inferior or superior, the latter concept substantiated by references to God as the helper of Israel (e.g., Deut. 33:7, 26, 29; Ps. 33:20). By definition, the person needing help admits some type of limitation.

God, the Creator, knew that a man by himself could not experience the full dimensions of human existence. Although the man had to have a complement in order to have offspring, "suitable" suggests that this helping counterpart would also provide enriching companionship. God made humans to find a depth of meaning to life by living together in families.

In the search for this helper God formed (yatsar) the animals and the birds out of the ground ('adamah; Gen. 2:7). The use of the same verb and the same material as in the formation of the man underscores the bond between humans and animals. Each is a living creature (nepesh khayyah). The NIV obscures this connection since it has "being" for the man (Gen. 2:7) and "creature" for the animals. In addition, the NIV understands that the animals already existed by translating the verb as a past perfect, had formed. Usually this type of Hebrew verb describes consecutive action in a narrative. Then the sense is that, after making this assessment about the man, God proceeded to form the animals.

God then brought the animals to the man, empowering him with the task of naming (qara') these new creatures. In so doing, God acknowledged that the man possessed the insight or wisdom necessary for giving each animal a name appropriate to its nature. The man was searching for a true complement while performing this task, but he found none.

Genesis 2:20b–23
Since the man found no suitable helper among the animals, God set about to make one. Whereas the man's origin is recounted in one verse (Gen. 2:7), the origin of the woman is told in three verses, emphasizing God's care in making one who was so important for the man and for the achievement of God's goal in creating. The fact that she is the last of God's creations in this account also conveys her importance.

For this operation God caused … a deep sleep to fall on the man. God sometimes used such a deep sleep when he communicated directly with a human (Gen. 15:12). Being asleep, the man did not contribute anything to the woman's structure or character.

In order that the helper might fully correspond to the man, God made her from a part of the man's side rather than of the dust from which he had created both the man and the animals. "Side" is a better rendering for tsela' (so NIV margin) than rib, for it conveys that God took both bone and flesh for building or constructing (banah) the woman. The use of "build" instead of "form" underscores that the woman was made of the same substance and according to the same model as the man. Furthermore, the fact that God made the woman establishes her as a person in her own right. These details teach that no other living creature could ever become woman's rival in serving as man's helper, counterpart, and intimate companion (Gen. 1:26–27).

On seeing the woman for the first time the man exclaimed ecstatically that she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, meaning that she was one with whom he desired to establish a bonding relationship. She truly was the helper, complement, and companion God perceived that the man needed (Gen. 2:18). This phraseology certainly conveys that the two were on the same level. The man went on to say she shall be called "woman" ('ishah) since he was man ('ish). The similarity in the sound of these two Hebrew words underscores that a man may find a true counterpart in a woman and vice versa. It is important to note that "called" (niqra') is in the passive and lacks the term shem, "name." The man was not naming her but was identifying their commonness in difference (P. Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality [OBT; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978], pp. 99–100). This is confirmed by the general terms of identification, "man" and "woman"; these terms convey the respective sexuality of each of them. The close bond between them, enriched by their sexual differences, afforded them companionship that overcame loneliness. So together a couple finds fulfillment in life. [ref]

David responds to Goliath's blasphemy (1 Samual 17:45-51)

1 Samuel 17:45–47
Undaunted by the Philistine's words, David launched a verbal counterattack. He began by demonstrating that he was not going into the battle ignorantly: he was fully aware of Goliath's arsenal -- "sword, spear, and scimitar" (1 Sam. 17:45; "javelin"). David also proved he was aware of the greatest of his own military resources, "the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel" (cf. Ps 18:10–12).

Furthermore, David expressed an awareness that Goliath had committed a capital crime by insulting, and thus blaspheming, the God of Israel. According to the Torah, any individual guilty of blasphemy -- even a non-Israelite -- must be stoned (Lev 24:16). Perhaps this was an underlying reason why David chose the weapon he did in confronting the Philistine; even before serving as Israel's king, David would prove himself to be a diligent follower of the Torah and thus a man after the Lord's heart. At the same time, of course, David's use of the sling and stone also must have been motivated by the fact that he was skillful in their use and the weapon was especially suited for exploiting Goliath's vulnerabilities.

As David viewed it, Goliath was outnumbered and would soon be overpowered, for the Lord would fight with David against the giant. In the battle that would occur "this day" (1 Sam. 17:46), the Lord would "hand [Goliath] over" to David; then for his part the young shepherd would "strike [Goliath] down and cut off [his] head." David's efforts would not be limited to slaying Goliath; he also would slaughter and humiliate the Philistine army. Yet the Philistines would not die in vain. In fact, their destruction would serve a high theological purpose; it would be a revelatory event by which "the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel" (cf. Josh 2:10–11). Achieving a depth of insight remarkable for a person of any age, young David perceived that the events of this day would give rise to narrative accounts that would reveal the Lord's power and reality to all who might hear them. Eyewitnesses to the ensuing battle would learn an additional truth from the Lord, "that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD's" (1 Sam. 17:47; cf. 1 Sam. 2:9–10; 13:22; Jer 9:23–24; Zech 4:6).

David, the Lord's anointed one, discerned a theological purpose in warfare. This perspective is one that must be examined because it is of utmost importance for understanding the mind-set of orthodox Israelites in the Old Testament. For David -- and, we judge, for all Old Testament Israelites of true faith in God -- armed conflict was fundamentally a religious event. Only when the Lord willed it were Israelites under David's command to engage in it (cf. 2 Sam 5:19). And when the Lord ordained battle for David's troops, it was to be performed in accordance with divine directives (cf. 2 Sam 5:23–25). Furthermore, because soldiers were performing God's work, only individuals who were in a state of ritual purity were to participate in military missions (cf. 1 Sam 21:5). The Lord was the one who gave victory to David and his troops in battle (cf. 1 Sam. 17:47; 2 Sam 22:30, 36, 51), and thus the Lord alone was worthy of praise for David's and Israel's military successes (2 Sam 22:47–48).

1 Samuel 17:48–51
The conflict reached a climax as words ceased and both parties moved toward one another for battle. David was clearly the more dynamic combatant; whereas as Goliath merely "walked" (Hb. hālak; 1 Sam. 17:48), David "ran quickly" (lit., "hastened and ran") to meet him.

David's weapon of choice against Goliath (the sling) provided him with a tremendous advantage over the weapons at Goliath's disposal. All of Goliath's weapons were of value only in close combat; even the giant's spear, because it weighed over fifteen pounds, could not have been used effectively against an opponent standing more than a few feet away. On the other hand, David could use his sling with deadly force from comparatively great distances. With his youthful vigor and unencumbered by heavy armor and weaponry, David could quickly move to locations from which he could hurl the tennis-ball-sized stones directly at Goliath.

Taking a single stone, David felled the Philistine with facility and deadly accuracy. The rock was hurled with such great force that it crushed the frontal bone of Goliath's cranium and "sank into his forehead." In accordance with the requirement of the Torah (cf. Lev 24:16), "without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him" (1 Sam 17:50).

David had achieved a stunning victory over the Philistine. Immediately after Goliath died, David followed the battlefield customs of the day (cf. 1 Sam. 31:9) by stripping the dead man of his weapon and decapitating the corpse. These final acts against the giant served as undeniable proof to the Philistines "that their hero was dead." In shock and confusion, "they turned and ran" in a westerly direction, away from the Israelites. [ref]

The slain bodies of Saul and his three sons (1 Samuel 31:8-13)

1 Samuel 31:8–10
The Philistines' plundering of the dead soldiers reflects standard practice. Metal weapons in particular could be made good use of by conquering armies. Their seizing the opportunity to use Saul's head and armor as trophies and his body as a signal of victory is not surprising. That they did so is recorded without comment. The writers manage to communicate a sense of hopelessness and of hope: hopelessness because the victory is total, hope because such a victory, with similar great national rejoicing on the Philistines' part, had been seen before when the longer-term result did not prove to justify such rejoicing. The hopelessness after the ark of God had been captured was followed by Israelite rejoicing when it was returned to Israel (chs. 4–6). The temple feasts after Samson was captured (Judg. 16:23–24) were followed by devastation for the Philistines. The enemy may not have remembered these things, but Israel should take heed and remember that God remained God.

1 Samuel 31:11–13  
The hope is unstated, but the brave action of the people of Jabesh Gilead serves as a fitting epitaph for Saul. His reign had not been without its failures and disasters, but it had not been without achievements either. One of his first acts after being anointed as king was to rescue Jabesh Gilead from the Ammonites (ch. 11). Their gratitude remained strong, and they could not allow Saul's death to pass without a proper burial showing the respect that they felt he deserved. [ref]

A plea for mercy (Psalms 31:9-13)

Psalms 31:9–10
 Here the feelings of confidence ebb away in a flood of tears. As in the previous psalm, the psalmist details his troubles in the center of his prayer (cf. Ps 30:6–7). The enemies to whom he has thus far alluded take on real shape. They create "distress" (Ps 31:9) by their ridicule and shunning, whereas Yahweh creates a "spacious place" (Ps 31:8). They are agents of death (Ps 31:9–11), but Yahweh is the author of life!

In his distress the psalmist casts himself on the mercy or favor of the Lord. He knows that by covenant he has a right to expect the Lord to act, but his situation is so desperate that he cannot wait. His cry for mercy is an expression of deep despair. He describes his desperation as physical collapse. His joy in life is gone, his strength diminished (cf. Ps 6:6–7; 44:25). The poetic expression need not imply that he is physically sick but can mean that his mental anguish has sapped his physical strength to a point approaching death. The references to "soul," "body" (lit., "belly"), "my life," "my years," "my strength," and "my bones" (cf. Ps 6:2) refer to the whole human being, i.e., physical and spiritual (Ps 31:9). He experiences divine abandonment, which is the absence of God's blessing of well-being. He is robbed of the enjoyment of life.

Psalms 31:11–13
The psalmist's life ebbs away because of his enemies. He knows that the Lord has promised him life. But he is downcast and disgraced (Ps 31:11; cf. Ps 44:13–14; Jer 20:7–8). The enemies have deeply affected him by their slanderous schemes (Ps 31:13; Jer 20:10). He feels as though he has been completely rejected by his contemporaries. The phrase "I am forgotten by them" (Ps 13:12, lit., "I am forgotten … from heart") expresses the depth of despair. The psalmist has become useless, "like broken pottery" (cf. Jer 22:28). He is the object of mockery (Ps 31:13). Like Jeremiah, who in his soliloquies spoke of "terror on every side" (Jer 6:25; 20:4, 10; 46:5; 49:29), the psalmist is surrounded by troubles. His enemies dread him like a disease and act as though he does not exist. He is a living corpse, and deep inside he knows that this situation is not right. The last clause -- "and plot to take my life," [Ps 31:13 -- sums up his concern with life over against death, with justice in opposition to injustice, and with Yahweh's fidelity in contrast to the treachery of human beings. [ref]

The link between emotional & physical health (Proverbs 14:30)

Proverbs 14:30
The life of the body is a healthy heart,
     but jealousy is a rot of the bones.

The translation of the proverb offered here is rather literal, awkward, and hard to understand. To provide a thought-for-thought translation, though, would require a rendition hard to track with the Hebrew, so for the purposes of this commentary, I have chosen to stay with a word-for-word translation.

There is a kind of semantic chiasm here: the "life of the body" is contrasted with "rot of the bones," and "healthy heart" is contrasted with "rot of the bones." The result is a rather striking psychological insight that shows an early awareness of what today is called "psychosomatic disease."

The first colon states that an emotionally healthy person enjoys physical well-being; the second colon observes that psychological turmoil results in physical illness. The "heart," after all, is roughly equivalent to one's core personality, including emotions (see Prov. 3:1). (Many commentators believe that "heart" focuses on the "mind," in seeming contrast to the emotions. I think this needlessly limits our understanding of this Hebrew word, which more generally refers to one's "inner life.") A coolheaded person, an emotionally intelligent person, enjoys "life in the body." The latter term (from bāśār) focuses on the physical aspect of human existence. On the other hand, jealousy is an emotion that can destroy one's inner peace and have a physical effect. Murphy rightly points out that the association of jealousy with rot in the bones well indicates the nature of jealousy, which "eats away at a person." Not all jealousy is wrong-minded. It can be an emotion that moves a person to restore a threatened exclusive relationship. Even God may be described as a jealous God (Nah. 1:2), and Paul talks about his jealousy toward the exclusive religious devotion of the Corinthians as reflecting the "jealousy of God" (2 Cor. 11:1–4 NLT). However, often jealousy is wrongly directed and can lead to violent behavior, which is always inappropriate. In any case, jealousy can destroy one's mental, emotional, and physical health. [ref]

King Nebuchadnezzar's punishment (Daniel 4:31-33)

Daniel 4:31–32
While the boastful words were still coming out of the king's mouth, a voice from heaven pronounced judgment upon him. Evidently this was an audible announcement (at least to the king). The voice, probably of an angel, declared that heaven had "decreed" his judgment. It was as good as done. Nebuchadnezzar would live with the wild animals and eat grass like the cattle for seven years ("seven times") until he finally repented of his pride and gave glory to God.

Daniel 4:33
Immediately the horrible sentence was carried out. Nebuchadnezzar fell under the strange delusion and began to act like an animal. Because of this bizarre behavior, he "was driven away from people." He lived outdoors with the beasts, "ate grass like cattle," and was exposed to the weather ("drenched with the dew"). (Archer relates that the temperature in Iraq ranges from 110–20 degrees Fahrenheit in summer to well below freezing in winter.) The king's "hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." Archer explains that his hair became "matted and coarse" and "looked like eagle feathers; his fingernails and toenails, never cut, became like claws." How ironic that the king who felt himself superior to other men had now sunk to a subhuman level.

For seven years the king continued in this condition until he finally came to his senses, repented of his pride, and recognized that God was sovereign over the affairs of men. Baldwin notes that information concerning Nebuchadnezzar's last thirty years is sparse, and no record of the king's illness has been found in Babylonian annals. Yet such a humiliating experience certainly would have been omitted from official accounts, for "corroboration of it [the illness] can hardly ever be expected from archaeology, for royal families do not leave memorials of such frailties." This fact would be doubly true of ancient monarchs whose annals were chiefly political propaganda written to exalt the reputation of the nation and the king. [ref]

Radical commitment to inward purity (Matthew 5:29-30)

Matthew 5: 29–30
So important is inward purity (cf. Matt. 5:8) that it would be better to suffer the loss of an eye or a hand and enter heaven blind or dismembered than to enter hell unscathed. Jesus is not teaching some masochistic doctrine of self-mutilation for spiritual ends, nor is he suggesting that the way to meet evil desire is to inflict radical physical surgery. The imagery emphasizes the crucial importance of taking whatever measures are necessary to control natural passions that tend to flare out of control. The right hand is mentioned because it corresponds to the place of honor (cf. 1 Kings 2:19; Ps. 110:1). For the same reason, it is the right eye that should be torn out and thrown away rather than being allowed to cause the whole body to be discarded in hell. The Greek verb translated causes (you) to sin is skandalizō, cognate with a noun that stands for the bait-stick in a trap that, when sprung, closes the trap and secures the animal. It is ironic that the eye, which is supposed to prevent stumbling, becomes the skandalon that causes one to stumble. [ref]

Baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13)

1 Corinthians 12:13
From the outset of this discussion it is clear that this metaphor is possible because of the unifying work of the Spirit. The emphasis on unity cuts sharply across all social boundaries. Then, as Paul develops the metaphor, he ponders the significance of "body" from alternating points of view. Paul expands, or perhaps even mixes his metaphors, with the additional reference to being baptized by one Spirit into one body. Nevertheless, this expansion of the basic image of the body makes it clear that the power of the Spirit is at work, so that one sees that God creates the unity of the body despite the original complexity or even seeming incompatibility of the constituent parts. Ethnicity (Jews or Greeks) and social class (slave or free) are superseded and even consolidated by the power of the Spirit at work among humanity. In Christ, as a body, believers may come from one group or another -- and in worldly terms those origins might be irrelinquishable or irrevocable -- but in Christ such diversity finds meaning (or is made meaningless) as believers are unified despite differences. Paul's ultimate concern is to emphasize unity. [ref]

The martyrdom of the two Christian witnesses in the book of Revelation (Revelation 11:7-10)

[In Revelation 11:1-14,] John goes on to speak of the tremendous opposition faced by the people of God throughout the centuries and especially in the last days. He tells of two witnesses who bear unflinching testimony to the word of God and of the terrible figure of the antichrist, who however, is not able to overcome God's people in the end.

Revelation 11:7
But there is a limit to their exercise of power. When their testimony is concluded, their invulnerability goes. Finished (telesōsin) means that the testimony has reached its end or aim (telos). The witnesses are not cut short. They accomplish their task. Then they are opposed by the beast. It is not 'a' beast, but the beast, an evil being who is prominent throughout the second part of this book. He comes up from the Abyss (see note on Rev. 9:1), which indicates his connection with the forces of evil. The two witnesses are clearly not individuals but a mighty host, for the beast will not simply kill them; he will 'make war' (poiēsei polemon) with them (cf. Dan. 7:21). In this war he will be victorious, with fatal consequences for the witnesses. When Christ's martyrs have completed their task they are removed from the scene. The words have relevance to every persecution the church has suffered, though especially to that in the last days. Hendriksen, commenting on [Rev. 11:8], sees this illustrated by conditions in countries (such as Russia) where the church is seriously restricted: 'Thus, just before the second coming, the corpse of the Church, whose public and official testimony has been silenced and smothered by the world, lies on the great city's High Street.'

Revelation 11:8
Bodies is actually singular, 'body', which may point to a close unity between the two. There is no verb and we must supply one (NIV will lie). The meaning apparently is that they are killed in the street and their corpses are left there. The city is identified in two ways. First it is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt. The two names are proverbial for wickedness and oppression (for Sodom, Isa. 1:9–10; Ezek. 16:46, 55; Egypt is the place where Israel was a slave; Sodom and Egypt are linked in Wisdom 19:14–15, and Egypt is a name for persecuting nations in Gen. Rabbah 16:4). They also both felt the judgment of God. Despite its might Sodom was destroyed. And despite its might Egypt was 'ruined' by the plagues God sent (Exod. 10:7). Secondly, the city is the place where also their Lord was crucified. Some conclude that Jerusalem was in mind. But if the passage is symbolical, as I have maintained, it is unlikely that any one earthly city is meant. The 'great city' is every city and no city. It is civilized man in organized community.

Revelation 11:9
Men from (partitive ek; part of each of the groups) every people, tribe, language and nation (see note on Rev. 5:9) is very comprehensive. John is speaking of representatives of all mankind, which is another indication that it is not one earthly city that he has in mind. The bodies are left where they fell for three and a half days (cf. three and a half years, Rev. 11:3). No reason is given for the refusal of burial, but among the Jews proper burial was important. To refuse it was to heap shame on the deceased. In this case it is also probably an expression of triumph. The persecutors rejoice in the discomfiture of the Christians.

Revelation 11:10
For the inhabitants of the earth see note on [Rev. 6:10]. People in general will gloat. The coming of the beast sees wickedness triumphant and that on an unprecedented scale. The reason for the world's joy is that the witnesses, now called these two prophets, had tormented them. The faithful preaching of the gospel is never soothing to the impenitent, so that the removal of an outstanding preacher is commonly a matter of rejoicing for those whose consciences he has troubled. This provokes Torrance into some searching questions: 'Why does the Church of Jesus Christ today sit so easy to her surroundings? Why do Christian people live such comfortable and such undisturbed lives in this evil and disturbed world? Surely it is because we are not true to the Word of God.' [ref]

We would do well to seek a new appreciation of the inarticulate many who make up the Body of the Church. They do a large share of the praying and pay most of the bills. Without them not a preacher could carry on, not a Bible school function. They are the flesh and sinews of the missionary program. They are the private soldiers of the Lord who do most of the fighting and get fewest decorations. The big stars of the Church get a lot of their glory now; the plain Christians must wait till the Lord returns. There will be some surprises then. - A. W. Tozer [ref]



body/bodies (in NASB) occurs 271 times in 233 verses:


Genesis 15:4; 25:23; 47:18; Exodus 22:27; 30:32; Leviticus 13:2, 3, 4, 11, 13, 18, 24, 38, 39, 43; 14:9; 15:2, 3, 13, 16, 19; 16:4, 24, 26, 28; 17:16; 19:28; 22:6; Numbers 8:7; 19:7, 8, 13; 25:8; Deuteronomy 28:4, 11, 18, 53; 30:9; Joshua 8:29; Judges 8:7; 14:8, 9; 1 Samuel 17:46; 31:10, 12; 1 Kings 13:22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30; 2 Kings 6:30; 23:30; 1 Chronicles 10:12; 2 Chronicles 26:14; Nehemiah 9:37; Job 14:22; Psalms 31:9, 10; 32:3; 44:25; 73:4; 79:2; 109:18; 132:11; Proverbs 3:8; 4:22; 5:11; 14:30; 18:8; 26:22; Ecclesiastes 2:3; 11:10; 12:12; Isaiah 10:18; 49:1; Jeremiah 7:33; 26:23; 31:40; 34:20; 36:30; 41:5; Lamentations 4:7; Ezekiel 1:11, 23; 3:3; 6:5; 10:12; Daniel 3:27, 28; 4:33; 5:21; 7:11; 10:6; Micah 6:7; Nahum 2:10; 3:3

Matthew 5:29, 30; 6:22, 23, 25; 10:28; 14:12; 26:12, 26; 27:52, 58, 59; Mark 5:29; 6:29; 14:8, 22, 51; 15:43, 45; Luke 11:34, 36; 12:4, 22, 23; 17:37; 22:19; 23:1, 52, 55; 24:3, 23; John 2:21; 19:31, 38, 40; 20:12; Acts 9:37, 40; 19:12; Romans 1:24; 4:19; 6:6, 12, 13; 7:4, 5, 23, 24; 8:10, 11, 13, 23; 12:1, 4, 5; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 6:13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20; 7:4, 34; 9:27; 10:16, 17; 11:24, 27, 29; 12:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27; 13:3; 15:35, 37, 38, 40, 42, 44; 2 Corinthians 4:10; 5:6, 8, 10; 12:2, 3; Galatians 6:17; Ephesians 1:23; 2:16; 3:6; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:23, 28, 30; Philippians 1:20; 3:21; Colossians 1:18, 22, 24; 2:5, 11, 19, 23; 3:5, 15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 3:17; 9:10; 10:5, 10, 22; 13:3, 11; James 2:16, 26; 3:2, 3, 5, 6; 1 Peter 2:24; Jude 1:9; Revelation 11:8, 9

carcass(es)/corpse(s) (in NASB) occurs 48 times in 45 verses: Genesis 15:11; Leviticus 5:2; 11:8, 11, 24, 25, 27, 28, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40; 22:4; Numbers 14:29, 32, 33; 19:11, 13; Deuteronomy 14:8; 21:23; 28:26; Judges 14:8; 2 Kings 9:37; 2 Chronicles 20:24; Psalms 110:6; Isaiah 5:25; 14:19; 26:19; 34:3; 66:24; Jeremiah 9:22; 16:4, 18; 19:7; 33:5; 41:9; Ezekiel 43:7, 9; Amos 8:3; Nahum 3:3; Haggai 2:13; Matthew 24:28; Mark 9:26

flesh (in NASB) occurs 319 times in 280 verses:


Genesis 2:21, 23, 24; 6:3, 12, 13, 17, 19; 7:15, 16, 21; 8:17; 9:4, 11, 15, 16, 17; 17:11, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25; 29:14; 37:27; 40:19; Exodus 4:7; 12:8, 46; 21:28; 22:31; 28:42; 29:14, 31, 32, 34; 38:3; Leviticus 4:11; 6:10, 27; 7:15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 8:17, 31, 32; 9:11; 11:8, 11; 12:3; 13:10, 14, 15, 16, 24; 16:27; 17:11, 14; 21:5; 26:29; Numbers 12:12; 16:22; 18:15; 19:5; 27:16; Deuteronomy 5:26; 12:23, 27; 14:8; 16:4; 28:53, 55; 32:42; Judges 9:2; 1 Samuel 17:44; 2 Samuel 5:1; 19:12, 13; 1 Kings 19:21; 2 Kings 4:34; 5:10, 14; 9:36; 1 Chronicles 11:1; 2 Chronicles 32:8; Nehemiah 5:5; Job 2:5; 4:15; 6:12; 7:5; 10:4, 11; 13:14; 15:27; 19:20, 22, 26; 21:6; 33:21, 25; 34:15; 41:23; Psalms 16:9; 27:2; 38:3, 7; 50:13; 63:1; 73:26; 78:39; 79:2; 84:2; 102:5; 109:24; 119:120; 136:25; 145:21; Proverbs 5:11; Ecclesiastes 4:5; Isaiah 9:20; 17:4; 31:3; 40:5, 6; 49:26; 58:7; 65:4; 66:16, 17; Jeremiah 7:21; 11:15; 17:5; 19:9; 25:31; 32:27; 45:5; 51:35; Lamentations 3:4; Ezekiel 11:3, 7, 11, 19; 20:48; 21:4, 5; 23:20; 24:10; 32:5; 36:26; 37:6, 8; 39:17, 18; 40:43; 44:7, 9; Daniel 2:11; Hosea 8:13; Micah 3:2, 3; Nahum 2:12; Zephaniah 1:17; Zechariah 2:13; 11:9, 16; 14:12


Matthew 16:17; 19:5, 6; 26:41; Mark 10:8; 14:38; Luke 3:6; 24:39; John 1:13, 14; 3:6; 6:51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 63; 8:15; 17:2; Acts 2:26, 31; Romans 1:3; 2:28; 3:20; 4:1; 6:19; 7:5, 14, 18, 25; 8:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13; 9:3, 5, 8; 13:14; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 3:1; 5:5; 6:16; 15:39, 50; 2 Corinthians 1:17; 4:11; 5:16; 7:1, 5; 10:2, 3, 4; 11:18; 12:7; Galatians 1:16; 2:16, 20; 3:3; 4:23, 29; 5:13, 16, 17, 19, 24; 6:8, 12, 13; Ephesians 2:3, 11, 15; 5:29, 31; 6:5, 12; Philippians 1:22, 24; 3:3, 4; Colossians 1:24; 2:11, 13; 1 Timothy 3:16; Philemon 1:16; Hebrews 2:14; 5:7; 9:13; 10:20; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:24; 3:18, 21; 4:1, 2, 6; 2 Peter 2:10; 1 John 2:16; 4:2; 2 John 1:7; Jude 1:7, 8, 23; Revelation 17:16; 19:18, 21

Other (in NASB): baby/babies (11x/11vv); boy(s) (42x/42vv); child/children (493x/433vv); father(s) (1827x/1554vv); female (79x/72vv); girl(s) (55 x/52vv); human (38x/38vv); male(s) (256x/235vv); man/men (4144x/3442vv); mother(s) (335x/303vv); soul(s) (303x/289vv); woman/women (563x/522vv)

Note: An exhaustive list of Bible references for the human body would include entries for (in NASB): toe(s) (14x/13vv), foot/feet (365x/335vv), ankle(s) (3x/3vv); leg(s) (24x/24vv), knee(s) (34x/32vv), thigh(s) (36x/34vv), loin(s) (48x/46vv), stomach(s) (19x/18vv), bowels (4x/3vv), chest(s) (9x/8vv), breast(s) (43x/42vv), back(s) (?x/?vv), shoulder(s) (50x/48vv), arm(s) (91x/84vv), elbow (1x/1v), hand(s) (1653x/1469vv), wrists (4x/4vv), finger(s) (43x/40vv), neck(s) (71x/67vv), face(s) (408x/366vv), lip(s) (115x/114vv), tongue(s) (141x/138vv), ear(s) (275x/196vv), eye(s) (562x/515vv), nose(s) (11x/11vv), hair(s) (93x/87vv), head(s) (527x/476vv), etc.

The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author. - Benjamin Franklin [ref]



It was A. W. Pink who wisely observed: "Though poor in this world's goods, though grieving the loss of loved ones, though suffering pain of body, though harassed by sin and Satan, though hated and persecuted by worldlings, whatever be the case and lot of the Christian, it is both his privilege and duty to rejoice in the Lord." [ref]

In closing his first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul included these words: "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT). Joy, prayer, and gratitude. While every Christian should be known for all three, one source notes in particular some of the many tangible benefits of genuine gratitude:

... [P]hysical and emotional stress is reduced most effectively not by success, pleasure, or even love; stress is best reduced when we feel grateful. ...

True gratitude calms the mind and body for several reasons. First, gratitude is an admission to ourselves that indeed we have received something. Our feelings confirm we have made contact with the object of our search and that some sense of fulfillment has occurred. We therefore feel more relaxed.

Second, genuine gratitude promotes happiness. When we are truly grateful we rejoice, and we do so spontaneously from our inner depths. The celebration relieves stress and makes us feel better because we let our guard down and deeply feel the relief or the joy for whatever has pleased us. Part of the happiness usually includes an awareness that we did not achieve our goals by pure chance but by the help of others or the guidance of God. We are even more joyous when we sense others care enough about us to help us. Gratitude confirms we are not alone in our efforts. Those who cannot genuinely say thank you are unwilling to accept the fact that someone has given to them.

A third benefit of gratitude is that it assures us that we are effective. When we celebrate our achievements we are admitting we had a direct hand in our own success. Exaggerated expressions of humility that disown any claim to personal excellence or diligent labor are unrealistic and rarely sound genuine. The fact that good fortune has come to us or that we were in the right place at the right time is insufficient reason to celebrate. However, we need to give ourselves credit for seizing the moment, for making something good happen from the opportunities fortuitously bestowed upon us. As we appreciate our victories we must appreciate also our own skill in obtaining them. This does not ignore being grateful to God for success but adds the affirmation of self that will encourage us to reciprocate to others. [ref]

As Christians, we have so very much for which to be grateful. Among our many blessings, we should offer to God our heartfelt thanks for this marvelous miracle called the human body. We should work to take care of it through proper diet, exercise, and rest. We should routinely -- even daily -- present our bodies to God for his service as we strive to know, love, and serve him with every ounce of our being and to value other people as much as we value ourselves. As members of Christ's body, the Church, let us remain loyal to both our Savior and our fellow believers as together we seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness. All this until the day we trade in these jars of clay for spiritual bodies with no expiration date.

Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury -- to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind. - Albert Einstein [ref]



HUMANNESS (Being, Personhood, Value)

Why is it important that Jesus was human?

Bible Reading: Hebrews 2:14–18
Key Bible Verse: Because God’s children are human beings -- made of flesh and blood -- Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

  • Jesus’ humanity allowed him to destroy death. Jesus had to become human (“flesh and blood”) so that he could die and rise again, in order to destroy the devil’s power over death (Romans 6:5–11). Only then could Christ deliver those who had lived in constant fear of death, and free them to live for him. When we belong to God, we need not fear death, because we know that death is only the doorway into eternal life (1 Corinthians 15).
  • Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives us hope. Christ’s death and resurrection set us free from the fear of death because death has been defeated. Every person must die, but death is not the end; instead, it is the doorway to a new life. All who dread death should have the opportunity to know the hope that Christ’s victory brings. How can you share this truth with those close to you?

BIBLE READING: Matthew 4:1–11
Key Bible Verse: Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. (Matthew 4:1)

  • Jesus demonstrated that temptation can be resisted. This temptation by the devil shows us that Jesus was human, and it gave Jesus the opportunity to reaffirm God’s plan for his ministry. It also gives us an example to follow when we are tempted. Jesus’ temptation was an important demonstration of his sinlessness. He faced temptation and did not give in.
  • Jesus experienced the limitations of being human. Jesus was hungry and weak after fasting for forty days, but he chose not to use his divine power to satisfy his natural desire for food. Food, hunger, and eating are good, but the timing was wrong. Jesus was in the desert to fast, not to eat. And because Jesus had given up the unlimited, independent use of his divine power in order to experience humanity fully, he wouldn’t use his power to change the stones to bread. We also may be tempted to satisfy a perfectly normal desire in a wrong way or at the wrong time. If we indulge in sex before marriage or if we steal to get food, we are trying to satisfy God-given desires in wrong ways. Remember, many of your desires are normal and good, but God wants you to satisfy them in the right way and at the right time.
  • Jesus used Scripture to resist temptation. Jesus was able to resist all of the devil’s temptations because he not only knew Scripture, he also obeyed it. Ephesians 6:17 says that God’s Word is a sword to use in spiritual combat. Knowing Bible verses is an important step in helping us resist the devil’s attacks, but we must also obey the Bible. Note that Satan had memorized Scripture, but he failed to obey it. Knowing and obeying the Bible helps us follow God’s desires rather than the devil’s.

Bible Reading: Philippians 2:5–11
Key Bible Verse: Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. (Philippians 2:5–7)

  • By being fully human, Jesus made God known to us as never before. The incarnation was the act of the preexistent Son of God voluntarily assuming a human body and human nature. Without ceasing to be God, he became a human being, the man called Jesus. He did not give up his deity to become human, but he set aside the right to his glory and power. In submission to the Father’s will, Christ limited his power and knowledge. Jesus of Nazareth was subject to place, time, and many other human limitations. What made his humanity unique was his freedom from sin. In his full humanity, Jesus showed us everything about God’s character that can be conveyed in human terms. The incarnation is explained further in these passages: John 1:1–14; Romans 1:2–5; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; and 1 John 1:1–3.

How does God work through our human limitations?

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1–18
Key Bible Verse: This precious treasure -- this light and power that now shine within us -- is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

  • God presents the gospel through frail human beings. The supremely valuable message of salvation in Jesus Christ has been entrusted by God to frail and fallible human beings. Paul’s focus, however, was not on the perishable container but on its priceless contents -- God’s power dwelling in us. Though we are weak, God uses us to spread his Good News, and he gives us power to do his work. Knowing that the power is his, not ours, should keep us from pride and motivate us to keep daily contact with God, our power source. Our responsibility is to let people see God through us.
  • God displays his power through our limitations. Paul reminds us that though we may think we are at the end of the rope, we are never at the end of hope. Our perishable bodies are subject to sin and suffering, but God never abandons us. Because Christ has won the victory over death, we have eternal life. All our risks, humiliations, and trials are opportunities for Christ to demonstrate his power and presence in and through us.

Bible Reading: Colossians 2:6–23
Key Bible Verse: You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ. (Colossians 2:13–15)

  • God gives us a new nature in Christ. Before we believed in Christ, our nature was evil. We disobeyed, rebelled, and ignored God (even at our best, we did not love him with all our heart, soul, and mind). The Christian, however, has a new nature. God has crucified the old rebellious nature (Romans 6:6) and replaced it with a new loving nature (3:9–10). The penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross. God has declared us “not guilty,” and we need no longer live under sin’s power. God does not take us out of the world or make us robots -- we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin. The difference is that before we were saved, we were slaves to our sinful nature; but now we are free to live for Christ (see Galatians 2:20).

Bible Reading: Romans 6:1–14
Key Bible Verse: He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:10–11)

  • We can have fellowship with God through Christ. We can enjoy our new life in Christ because we are united with him in his death and resurrection. Our evil desires, our bondage to sin, and our love of sin died with him. Now, united by faith with him in his resurrection life, we have unbroken fellowship with God and freedom from sin’s hold on us. (For more on the difference between our new life in Christ and our old sinful nature, read Ephesians 4:21–24 and Colossians 3:3–17.)

What is better than presence of mind in a railway accident? Absence of body. - Anonymous [ref]



What is the origin of our individual souls? Two views have been common in the history of the church.

Creationism is the view that God creates a new soul for each person and sends it to that person's body sometime between conception and birth. Traducianism, on the other hand, holds that the soul as well as the body of a child are inherited from the baby's mother and father at the time of conception. Both views have had numerous defenders in the history of the church, with creationism eventually becoming the prevailing view in the Roman Catholic Church. Luther was in favor of traducianism, while Calvin favored creationism. On the other hand, there are some later Calvinist theologians such as A. H. Strong who favored traducianism (as do most Lutherans today). Creationism has had many modern evangelical advocates as well. (See, for example, Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 196–201)

There is one other popular view called preexistentianism, namely, that the souls of people exist in heaven long before their bodies are conceived in the wombs of their mothers and that God then brings the soul to earth to be joined with the baby's body as he or she grows in the womb. But this view is not held by either Roman Catholic or Protestant theologians and is dangerously akin to ideas of reincarnation found in Eastern religions. Moreover, there is no support for this view in Scripture. Before we were conceived in the wombs of our mothers, we simply did not exist. We were not. Of course, God looked forward into the future and knew that we would exist, but that is far removed from saying that we actually did exist at some previous time. Such an idea would tend to make us view this present life as transitional or unimportant and make us think of life in the body as less desirable and the bearing and raising of children as less important.

In favor of traducianism it may be argued that God created man in God's image (Gen. 1:27), and this includes a likeness to God in the amazing ability to "create" other human beings like ourselves. Therefore, just as the rest of the animal and plant world bears descendants "according to their kinds" (Gen. 1:24), so Adam and Eve also were able to bear children who were like themselves, with a spiritual nature as well as a physical body. This would imply that the spirits or souls of Adam and Eve's children were derived from Adam and Eve themselves. Moreover, Scripture sometimes can speak of descendants being somehow present in the body of someone in the previous generation, as when the author of Hebrews says that when Melchizedek met Abraham, "Levi … was still in the loins of his ancestor" (Heb. 7:10). Finally, traducianism could explain how the sins of the parents can be passed on to the children without making God directly responsible for the creation of a soul that is sinful or has a disposition that would tend toward sin.

However, the biblical arguments in favor of creationism seem to speak more directly to the issue and give quite strong support for this view. First, Psalm 127 says that "children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward" (Ps. 127:3). This indicates that not only the soul, but also the entire person of the child, including his or her body, is a gift from God. From this standpoint, it seems strange to think of the mother and father as being responsible by themselves for any aspect of the child's existence. Was it not the Lord who, David says, "knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13)? Isaiah says that God is the one who "created the heavens, " and the one who "spread out the earth, " who gives breath (Heb. nephesh) to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it" (Isa. 42:5). Zechariah talks of God as the one who "formed the spirit of man within him" (Zech. 12:1). The author of Hebrews speaks of God as "the Father of spirits" (Heb. 12:9). It is hard to escape the conclusion from these passages that God is the one who creates our spirits or souls.

Yet we must be cautious in drawing conclusions from this data. Our discussion of the doctrine of God's providence in chapter 16 demonstrated that God usually acts through secondary causes. God often brings about the results he seeks through the actions of human beings. Certainly this is so in the conception and bearing of children. Even if we say that God does create individual souls for human beings sometime before they are born, and that he is the one who allows children to be conceived and born, we must also recognize that apart from the physical union of man and woman in the conception of a child, no children are born! So we must not make the mistake of saying that the father and mother have no role in the creation of the child. Even if we say that God is the "Father of spirits" and the Creator of every human soul, just as he is the Maker and Creator of each of us, we must still also affirm that God carries out this creative activity through the amazing process of human procreation. Whether God involves the human mother and father to some degree in the process of the creation of a soul as well as of a physical body, is impossible for us to say. It is something that occurs in the invisible realm of the spirit, which we do not have information about except from Scripture. And on this point Scripture simply does not give us enough information to decide.

However, the arguments listed above in favor of traducianism must be said not to be very compelling ones. The fact that Adam and Eve bear children in their image (see Gen. 5:3) could suggest that children somehow inherit a soul from their parents, but it might also indicate that God gives an individually created soul to the child and that that soul is consistent with the hereditary traits and personality characteristics that God allowed the child to have through its descent from its parents. The idea that Levi was still in the body of Abraham (Heb. 7:10) is best understood in a representative or figurative sense, not a literal sense. Moreover, it is not simply Levi's soul that is talked about but Levi himself, as a whole person, including body and soul -- yet Levi's body was certainly not physically present in any meaningful sense in Abraham's body, for there was no distinct combination of genes at that time that could be said to be Levi and no one else. Finally, since God brings about events in the physical world that are consistent with the voluntary activities of human beings, there does not seem to be any real theological difficulty in saying that God gives each child a human soul that has tendencies to sin that are similar to the tendencies found in the parents. In fact, we read in the Ten Commandments of God "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate [him]" (Ex. 20:5), and quite apart from the question of the human soul, we know from human experience that children do in fact tend to imitate both the good and bad traits in their parents' lives, not only as a result of imitation but also because of hereditary disposition. For God to give each child a human soul that accords with the imitation of parents that we see in the lives of children would simply be an indication that God, in creating a human soul, acts consistently with the way he acts in relation to the human race in other matters as well.

In conclusion, it seems hard to avoid the testimony of Scripture to the effect that God actively creates each human soul, just as he is active in all the events of his creation. But the degree to which he allows the use of intermediate or secondary causes (that is, inheritance from parents) is simply not explained for us in Scripture. Therefore, it does not seem profitable for us to spend any more time speculating on this question.

Night is the sabbath of mankind, To rest the body and the mind. - Samuel Butler [ref]



The family is viewed in both Testaments as a basic unit of the believing community. In the NT the image of the family is one of the primary ways in which Scripture explains the nature of Christians’ relationships with God and one another.

Old Testament
The Hebrew concept of family
The foundation for the biblical view of family is laid in Ge 2. There God instituted marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman. This stable relationship is the foundation of a stable society. The larger groupings of OT society -- the tribe and the clan -- are expressions of extended family relationships. It is particularly significant that the OT focuses on the family as central in communicating faith to children.

Two Hebrew words are typically used to indicate the family: mishpâchâh is translated “family” in the NIV and NASB and bayith means “house” but is often used in the sense of “family” (as in “the house of” someone; e.g., Ex 2:1; 2 Sa 21:1; 2 Ch 10:19; Hos 1:4) or is translated “household.”

In American culture, the family is increasingly perceived as the nuclear unit of husband and wife and their children. Both mishpâchâh and bayith are terms with much more flexible meaning. Depending on context, a family or household in the OT might be the nuclear family, an extended family of three or more generations plus any servants living with them, or an even wider circle of relatives who trace their family bond back to a common male ancestor. Thus when we read “family” or “household” in the OT, we need to let the context determine how many persons this very flexible term is intended to include.

New Testament
The Greek words translated “family”

The most common words to express the concept of family in the NT are oikos, “house,” and its derivatives. This parallels the use of bayith in the OT. Oikos may indicate the couple, their children, and any servants or relatives living in the home (1 Ti 3:5, 12). It may also represent an entire people, such as Israel (Lk 1:33; Ac 7:42), or the Christian community (1 Ti 3:15; 1 Pe 4:17; cf. Eph 2:19, “household” [oikeios]).

The significant term patria is found only three times in the NT. This term for family means “father’s house” and focuses attention on the particular forefather who is the origin of the family group and who also provides it with its identity (Lk 2:4; Ac 3:25; Eph 3:15).

The church and the family
The house, or family, is the smallest natural group in the NT congregation. In the church the family remains basic in the nurture of children in the faith. In NT times the house was the primary place of meeting and fellowship for believers (e.g., Ac 2:46; 16:15; Phm 2). For the first centuries of the Christian era, believers did not meet in church buildings but in smaller, more intimate groups in homes. Thus, the greeting in Ro 16:5 to the “church that meets at” the house of Priscilla and Aquila is a reflection of the normal pattern of early church life. It was very natural for early Christians, meeting in household groups, to sense deeply the family quality of their mutual relationship as children of God.
It is also significant that the NT pays attention not only to relationships within families (Eph 5:22–6:9; Col 3:18–24; 1 Pe 3:1–7) but also to relationships between believers who are called on to live together and to “love as brothers” (e.g., Ro 12:9–16; Eph 5:1–21; Col 3:12–15; 1 Ti 5).

The church as family
Eph 3:15 uses the theologically significant term patria to affirm that God’s “whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” from him whom we know as Father. As children of the same Father, we believers have a common origin and common identity that is shared with all other believers everywhere. Paul goes on to pray that, “rooted and established in love,” we who are God’s family may grow “together” to experience Jesus’ love and so be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:16–19). We are family. Experience of the intimacy and love appropriate to family members is basic to personal and corporate spiritual growth (4:12–16).

Images of the family relationship abound in the NT. Believers are addressed as brothers and sisters; the church is considered to be the household of God (Eph 2:19–20).

The intimate link between the family and the church is also seen in Paul’s instructions concerning recognition of spiritual leaders. A leader is to “manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” (1 Ti 3:4–5). The same emphasis is found in Titus, which suggests that a leader be “a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6). Because the church is a family, leadership in the church has strong parallels to the leadership to be provided by a parent for his or her children.

Household salvation
One of the theological questions posed by some Christians focuses on the link between natural family relationships and God’s plan of salvation. The OT covenant provided a special relationship between God and the descendants (family) of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Is there also established between the Lord and the believer a special relationship that extends beyond the believing individual to encompass his or her family too? Two NT passages are used to support such a relationship.

Ac 16:31 records Paul’s promise to the Philippian jailer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -- you and your household.” The passage continues: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God -- he and his whole family” (16:32–34).

There seems no need to understand this passage to teach household salvation. The promise was given to the jailer and his whole household. All were there to hear the gospel presented, and all believed.

What is possibly suggested here is the influence of the head of a household. In many cultures, individual decisions are strongly influenced by what the head of a family or clan decides to do. In this sense certainly the faith of the head of a household has significant impact on family members.

The other passage used is 1 Co 7:14. This says that the unbelieving partner in a mixed marriage is in some sense sanctified by the believer, as are any children. This is a difficult passage. But there is no compelling reason why its meaning should be pressed beyond the fact that each family with a believing member is in a unique position to hear the gospel.

The basic reason for questioning the concept of household salvation, however, comes from the nature of the very OT covenant on which the doctrine is based. The Abrahamic covenant did establish a special relationship between God and the people of Israel, but each individual Israelite was still called on to make a personal choice. Each had to either trust the God of the covenant and obey him or else remain in unbelief and disobedience. The covenant promises to Israel never, in themselves, guaranteed the salvation of any given individual. In fact, Israel’s history is marked by the massive unbelief of whole generations, despite the covenant. Thus the OT covenants can hardly be used to support the notion that the salvation of the head of a modern household, or the salvation of one of its members, is a divine guarantee that other family members will be saved.

Both OT and NT view the family as the basic unit of society and of the believing community. The family is the first and most significant influence in the spiritual training of children.

The concept of family is flexible in the OT and may indicate a number of widening blood relationships. The NT concept reflects both OT thought and the culture of the NT world.

In the NT we see that the family is particularly important in the Christian congregation. The early church met in homes, an ideal context for building household and family-type personal relationships. The church saw itself as family -- a relationship based on common spiritual birth into the household of God. NT descriptions of relationships among believers constantly stress the intimate and sharing love that is appropriate among brothers and sisters.

The modern church cannot and should not try to reproduce every structure of the early Christian community. But there are certain things that are basic to the very nature and identity of the church. Whatever structures a local congregation evolves, it is clear that these structures must help members live together and love one another as family. This is utterly basic to what it means to belong to Jesus and his church.

Jesus is hungry but feeds others; He grows weary but offers others rest; He is the King Messiah but pays tribute; He is called the devil but casts out demons; He dies the death of a sinner but comes to save His people from their sins; He is sold for thirty pieces of silver but gives His life a ransom for many; He will not turn stones to bread for Himself but gives His own body as bread for people. - D. A. Carson [ref]



In today's world death is the great unmentionable, just as physical sex was a hundred years ago. Apart from cynical paradings of a sense of life's triviality (the Grateful Dead; "he who dies with the most toys wins") and egoistic expressions of belief in reincarnation (the New Age; Shirley MacLaine), death is not ordinarily spoken of outside of medical circles. To invite discussion of it, even in the church, is felt to be bad form. It has become conventional to think as if we are all going to live in this world forever and to view every case of bereavement as a reason for doubting the goodness of God. We must all know deep down that this is ridiculous, but we do it all the same. And in doing it, we part company with the Bible, with historic Christianity, and with a basic principle of right living, namely, that only when you know how to die can you know how to live.

There is a great contrast here between past and present. In every century until our own, Christians saw this life as preparation for eternity. Medievals, Puritans, and later evangelicals thought and wrote much about the art of dying well, and they urged that all of life should be seen as preparation for leaving it behind. This was not otiose morbidity, but realistic wisdom, since death really is the one certain fact of life. Acting the ostrich with regard to it is folly to the highest degree.

Why has modern Protestantism so largely lost its grip on this biblical otherworldliness? Several factors have combined to produce the effect.

First, death is no longer our constant companion. Until the twentieth century most children died before they were ten, and adults died at home with the family around them. But nowadays deaths in the family are rarer, and as often as not happen in hospitals, so that we can easily forget the certainty of our own death for years together.

Second, modern materialism, with its corollary that this life is the only life for enjoying anything, has infected Christian minds, producing the feeling that it is a cosmic outrage for anyone to have to leave this world before he or she has tasted all that it has to offer.

Third, Marxist mockery of the Christian hope ("pie in the sky when you die") and the accusation that having a hope of heaven destroys one's zeal for ending evil on earth have given Christians a false conscience that inhibits them about being heavenly-minded.

Fourth, modern Christians are rightly troubled at the cultural barrenness, social unconcern, and seemingly shrunken humanity that have sometimes accompanied professed longings for heaven. We have come to suspect that such longings are escapist and unhealthy.

Fifth, man's natural sense of being made for an eternal destiny, the awareness formerly expressed by the phrase "the greatness of the soul," has largely atrophied amid the hectic artificialities of Western urban life.

How then should Christians think about death -- their own death, to start with? Surely as follows:

1. Physical death is the outward sign of that eternal separation from God that is the Creator's judgment on sin. That separation will only become deeper and more painful through the milestone event of dying, unless saving grace intervenes. Unconverted people do well, therefore, to fear death. It is in truth fearsome.

2. For Christians, death's sting is withdrawn. Grace has intervened, and now their death day becomes an appointment with their Savior, who will be there to take them to the rest prepared for them. Though they will be temporarily bodiless, which is not really good, they will be closer to Christ than ever before, "which is better by far" (Phil. 1:23).

3. Since believers do not know when Christ will come for them, readiness to leave this world at any time is vital Christian wisdom. Each day should find us like children looking forward to their holidays, who get packed up and ready to go a long time in advance.

4. The formula for readiness is: "Live each day as if thy last" (Thomas Ken). In other words, "Keep short accounts with God." I once heard Fred Mitchell, Overseas Missionary Fellowship director, enforce this thought shortly before his own instantaneous homecall when the plane in which he was traveling disintegrated in midair. Mitchell lived what he taught, and his biography was justly given as its title the last message radioed by the pilot of the doomed aircraft -- Climbing on Track. I hope I never forget his words.

5. Dying well is one of the good works to which Christians are called, and Christ will enable us who serve him to die well, however gruesome the physical process itself. And dying thus, in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ, will be a spiritual blossoming. As being born into this temporal world was our initial birthday, and as being born into God's spiritual kingdom was our second birthday, being born through physical death into the eternal world will be our third birthday.

Dag Hammarskjöld was thinking Christianly when he wrote that no philosophy that cannot make sense of death can make sense of life either. No one's living will be right until these truths about death are anchored in his or her heart.

The human body has been called the microcosm of the universe, a little world of wonders and a monument of divine wisdom and power, sufficient to convince the most incredulous mind of the existence of the Great Designer. - A. B. Simpson [ref]


(Click on title for more info)

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible
Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling
The Complete Gathered Gold
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Dictionary of Everyday Theology and Culture
Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World
The Early Tozer: A Word in Season
Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (3rd ed)
The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Revised Edition
God's Plans for You
The Handbook of Bible Application
Holy Bible, New American Standard
Holy Bible, New Living Translation
The New American Commentary
New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words
oChristian Christian Quotes
Phillips' Treasury of Humorous Quotations
Proverbs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom & Psalms)
The Quotable Tozer 1: Wise Words with a Prophetic Edge
Systematic Theology (2nd ed)
The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart/Swindoll's Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes
Tyndale New Testament Commentaries
Understanding the Bible Commentary Series