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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. The term. -In English Version‘body’ represents 3 different terms in the original. Once ( Acts 19:12) it renders χρώς, which properly denotes the skin or the surface of the body. Thrice ( Revelation 11:8-9) ‘dead body’ is the equivalent of πτῶμα, which corresponds to Lat. cadaver , Eng. ‘carcase.’ In all other cases ‘body’ stands for σῶμα in the Gr. text. Occasionally σῶμα is used of a dead body, whether of man ( Acts 9:40,  Judges 1:9) or beast ( Hebrews 13:11), but ordinarily it denotes the living body of animals ( James 3:3) or of men ( 1 Corinthians 6:15 etc.). When distinguished from σάρξ (English Version‘flesh’), which applies to the material or substance of the living body ( 2 Corinthians 12:7), σῶμα designates the body as an organic whole, a union of related pads ( 1 Corinthians 12:12); but σῶμα and σάρξ are sometimes used in connexions which make them practically synonymous (cf.  1 Corinthians 5:3 with  Colossians 2:5,  2 Corinthians 4:10 with  2 Corinthians 4:11). In  Revelation 18:13 σώματα is rendered by ‘slaves’ (marg.[Note: margin.]‘bodies’), the body only of the slave being taken into account by ancient law. From the literal meaning of σῶμα as an organism made up of interrelated parts comes its figurative employment to describe the Christian Church as a social whole, the ‘one body’ with many members ( Romans 12:5,  1 Corinthians 12:12 ff.m  1 Corinthians 12:27 etc.). Symbolically the broad of the Lord’s Supper is designated as the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 10:16;  1 Corinthians 11:24;  1 Corinthians 11:27;  1 Corinthians 11:29).

2. The doctrine. -Outside of the Pauline Epistles the references to the body are few in number, and do not furnish materials for separate doctrinal treatment. It is almost wholly with St. Paul that we have to do in considering the doctrinal applications of the word. His use of it is threefold-a literal use in connexion with his doctrine of man, a figurative or mystical use in his doctrine of the Church, a symbolic use in his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.

(1) The literal body .-The assumption is frequently made that St. Paul’s doctrine of man was formed under Hellenistic influences, and that he sets up a rigid dualism between body and soul, matter and spirit (cf. Holtzmann, NT Theol . ii. 14f.). It is true that he makes use of the contrasted terms ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit,’ ‘body’ and ‘soul,’ which had become general among the Jews through familiarity with the Septuagint, and were thus indirectly due to contact with the Greek world. But, notwithstanding his use of these terms, St. Paul’s doctrine of man was firmly rooted in the soil of OT teaching, and anything like the Greek dualistic antithesis between body and soul was far from his thoughts. For him, as for the OT writers, the psycho-physical unity of the human personality was the fundamental feature in the conception of man. The body, no less than the soul, was essential to human nature in its completeness, though the body, as the part that links man to Nature, held a lower place than the soul or spirit by which he came into relation with God. These two strands of thought-the essentiality of the body to a complete human nature, and its subordination to the soul-run through all the Apostle’s anthropological teaching, and come into clear view in his teaching on the subjects of sin, death, sanctification, and the future life.

( a ) The body and sin .-It is here that the argument for a positive dualism in the Pauline teaching regarding the body finds its strongest support. It must be admitted that St. Paul often speaks of the body and its members not only as instruments of sin, but as the seat of its power ( e.g.  Romans 6:12;  Romans 6:19;  Romans 7:5;  Romans 7:23 f.). But it has been further alleged that be saw in the body the very source and principle of sin (Pfleiderer, Paulinismus , Leipzig, 1890, p. 53ff.). The argument depends on the interpretation given to the word ‘flesh’ (σάρξ) in those passages where it is employed in on ethical sense in contrast with ‘spirit’ (πνεῦμα). It is assumed by Pfleiderer and others that σάρξ in such cases simply denotes the physical or sensuous port of man, in which the Apostle finds a substance essentially antagonistic to the life of the spirit, making sin inevitable. But the objections to this view seem insuperable. In St. Paul’s category of the ‘works of the flesh’ ( Galatians 5:19 ff.) most of the sins he enumerates are spiritual, not physical, in their character. When he charges the Corinthians with being ‘carnal’ ( 1 Corinthians 3:3), he is condemning, not sensuality, but jealousy and strife. His doctrines of the sanctification of the body ( 1 Corinthians 6:15;  1 Corinthians 6:19) and of the absolute sinlessness ( 2 Corinthians 5:21) of one born of a woman ( Galatians 4:4) would have been impossible if he had regarded the principle of sin as lying in man’s corporeal nature. The antithesis of flesh and spirit, then, cannot be interpreted as amounting to a dualistic opposition between man’s body and his soul. It is a contrast rather between the earthly and the heavenly, the natural and the supernatural, what is evolved from below and what is bestowed from above. The ‘carnal’ man, with his ‘mind of the flesh’ at enmity with God ( Romans 8:7), is the same as the ‘natural’ man who receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ( 1 Corinthians 2:14), and so is to be distinguished from the ‘spiritual’ man in whom a supernatural and Divine principle is already at work ( 1 Corinthians 2:13 ff.; cf.  1 Corinthians 3:1;  1 Corinthians 3:3).

But while the Apostle does not find in the body the very principle of sin, he does regard it as a lurking-place of evil and a constant source of liability to fall ( Romans 6:6;  Romans 7:23-24). Hence his determination to bring the body into subjection ( 1 Corinthians 9:27), and his summons to others to mortify its deeds ( Romans 8:13; cf.  Colossians 3:5).

( b ) The body and death .-In his teaching about death, St. Paul lends no support to the doctrine of these Greek philosophers who saw in it a liberation of the soul from bondage to the body as such (cf. Plato, Phaedo , 64ff.). The emphasis he lays on the inner and spiritual side of personality enables him, it is true, to conceive of existence, and even a blessed existence, in the disembodied state ( 2 Corinthians 5:8). His sense, too, of the weakness of the flesh and its subjection to the forces of evil leads him to describe the present body as a tabernacle in which we groan, being burdened. But in the same passage he expresses his confidence that the house not made with hands will take the place of the present tabernacle, and that those who have heretofore been burdened will be so clothed upon, that what is mortal shall be swallowed up of life ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-4). He longs not for deliverance from the body, but for its complete redemption and transformation, so that it may be perfectly adapted to the life of the spirit. In his view, death was not a liberation of the soul from bondage, but an interruption, due to sin ( Romans 6:23), of the natural solidarity of the two component parts of human nature. But as Christ by His Spirit dwelling in ns can subdue the power of sin, so also can He gain the victory over death-the culminating proof of sin’s power ( 1 Corinthians 15:26). In Christ the promise is given of a body not only raided from the grave, but redeemed from the power of evil, and thus capable of being transformed from a natural body into a spiritual body ( 1 Corinthians 15:44; cf.  Philippians 3:21).

( c ) The body and sanctification .-St. Paul’s view of the body as an essential part of the human personality appears further in his doctrine of the bodily holiness of a Christian man. In Corinth the perverted notion had grown up that since the body was not a part of the true personality, bodily acts were morally indifferent things ( 1 Corinthians 6:13 ff.). To this the Apostle opposes the doctrine that the body of a Christian belongs to the Lord, that it is a member of Christ Himself and a sanctuary of the Holy Ghost-thus making the personal life which unites us to Christ inseparable from those other manifestations of the same personal life which find expression in the bodily members. Yet this view of the communion of the body in man’s spiritual life and its participation in the sanctifying powers of the Divine Spirit did not blind him to the fact that the body, as we know it, is weak and tainted, ever ready to become the instrument of temptation and an occasion of stumbling ( Romans 6:19,  1 Corinthians 9:27). And so, side by side with the truth that the body is a Divine sanctuary, he sets the demand that sin should not be allowed to reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof ( Romans 6:12).

( d ) The body and the future life .-Here, again, the same two familiar lines of thought emerge. On the one hand, we have an overwhelming sense of the worth of the body for the human personality; on the other, a clear recognition of its present limitations and unfitness in its earthly form to be a perfect spiritual instrument. The proof of the first is seen in St. Paul’s attitude to the idea of a bodily resurrection. To him the resurrection of Christ was a fact of the most absolute certainty ( Romans 1:4,  1 Corinthians 15:3 ff.); and that fact carried with it the assurance that the dead are raised ( 1 Corinthians 15:15 ff.). Had he thought of the body as something essentially evil, had he not been persuaded of its absolute worth, his hopes for the future life must have centred in a bare doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and not, as they actually did, in the resurrection of the body. But while he clung passionately to the hope of the resurrection, he did not believe in the resurrection of the present body of flesh and blood ( 1 Corinthians 15:50). He looked for a body in which corruption had given place to incorruption ( 1 Corinthians 15:42-43) and humiliation had been changed into glory ( Philippians 3:21). His doctrine of the resurrection includes the assurance that when the dead in Christ are raised (he has little to say of the physical resurrection of others), it will not be in the old bodies of their earthly experience, but in new ones adapted to heavenly conditions ( 1 Corinthians 15:47 ff.), bodies that are no longer psychical merely, i.e. moving on the plane of man’s natural experience in the world, but pneumatical ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ff.), because redeemed from every taint of evil and fitted to be the worthy and adequate organs of a spiritual and heavenly life.

(2) The figurative or mystical body .-In  1 Corinthians 12:12 ff. (cf.  Romans 12:5), St. Paul describes the relations in which Christians stand to Christ and to one another under the figure of a body and its members; and towards the end of the chapter ( 1 Corinthians 12:27) he says of the Corinthian Church quite expressly, ‘Now ye are a body of Christ (σῶμα Χριστοῦ), and members in particular.’ In ancient classical literature the figure was frequently applied to the body politic; and the Apostle here transfers it to the Church with the view of impressing upon his readers the need for unity and mutual helpfulness. As yet, however, the figure is plastic, and the anarthrous σῶμα suggests that it is the Church of Corinth only which St. Paul has immediately in view. This may be regarded, accordingly, as the preliminary sketch of that elaborated conception of the Church as Christ’s mystical body which is found in two later Epistles. In Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:22 f.;  Ephesians 4:12) and Colossians ( Colossians 1:18;  Colossians 1:24) ‘the body of Christ’ (τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ) has become a fixed designation of the universal and ideal Church. Moreover, this further distinction is to be observed, that whereas in Rom. and 1 Cor. Christ is conceived of as the whole body of which individual Christians are members in particular, in Eph. and Col. the Church has become the body of which Christ as the head is ruler, saviour, and nourisher ( Ephesians 5:23 f.,  Colossians 2:19). In its later form the figure suggests not only the unity of the Church as the mystical body of Christ, but its absolute dependence upon Him who is the Head for its strength and growth and very existence.

(3) The symbolic body .-The words, ‘This is my body,’ applied by Jesus to the broken bread of the Supper ( Matthew 26:26,  Mark 14:22,  Luke 22:19), are repeated by St. Paul in his narrative of the institution ( 1 Corinthians 11:24). And the Apostle not only repeats the Lord’s words in their historical connexion, but himself describes the sacramental bread as being Christ’s body. ‘The bread which we break,’ he writes, ‘is it not a communion of the body of Christ?’ ( 1 Corinthians 10:16). In like manner he says that whosoever shall eat the bread of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body of the Lord ( 1 Corinthians 11:27), and that a participant of the Supper eats and drinks judgment unto himself ‘if he discern not the body’ ( 1 Corinthians 11:29). There are wide differences of opinion among Christians as to the full significance of this identification of the bread of the Lord’s Supper with the body of the Lord Himself. But whatever further meanings may be seen in it, and even under theories of a Real Presence, which is something other and more than a purely spiritual presence, the bread which Jesus broke at the Last Supper was, in the first place, a symbol of His own body of flesh and blood which was yielded to death in a sacrifice of love.

Literature.-H. Cremer, Bibl.-Theol. Lex .3, Edinburgh, 1880, s.v.  ; relevant sections in J. Laidlaw, Bible Doct. of Man , do. 1879; F. Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychology , Eng. translation, do. 1867; end the NT Theologies of Holtzmann [Tübingen, 1911], Weiss [Eng.translation, Edinburgh, 1882-83], and Beyschlag [Eng. translation, do. 1895], See, further. W. P. Dickson, St. Paul’s Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit , Glasgow, 1883; H. H. Wendt, Teaching of Jesus , Eng. translation, Edinburgh, 1892, i. 156; H. W. Robinson, ‘Heb. Psychology in relation in Pauline Anthropology,’ in Mansfield College Essays , London, 1909: F. Paget, Spirit of Discipline , do, 1891, p. 80ff.

J. C. Lambert.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Old Testament The Old Testament differs from the New in that Old Testament Hebrew does not express the idea of body. Of the thirteen words which refer to the animal or human body, the most frequent is basar , “flesh.” It can designate the body as a whole, but the form or shape of the body or of its parts is not what is important. The focus is on the function or dynamics. Reference to the eye expresses interest in vision, not in the physical organ. Hand and arm stand for power and might. “Body” can mean the earthly existence of an individual. For example, in  Psalm 119:20 , “my flesh” means “I.” This can also occur in a collective sense as in  Ezekiel 11:19 , where “their flesh” means “they.” Humans do not have bodies; they are bodies. (Compare  Genesis 2:24 .) Reference to a person as “flesh” points to the earthly, passing, and decaying nature ( Job 10:4 ). This differentiates humans from God, who is Spirit ( Isaiah 31:3;  John 4:24 ). The material bodily existence binds humans together. Thus “flesh (and bone)” designates kinship ( Genesis 2:23;  Genesis 29:14;  Genesis 37:27;  Leviticus 18:6 ) and fellow human beings in general ( Isaiah 58:7 ).

“All flesh” refers to the entire human race ( Isaiah 40:5-6;  John 17:2 ), or even all living creatures ( Genesis 6:17;  Psalm 136:25 ), since through material bodily existence the human being is tied even with the animal world ( Genesis 6:19 ). Finally, “flesh” can mean simply “human being” ( Leviticus 13:18 ,Leviticus 13:18, 13:24;  Psalm 56:5 ). A person's bodily nature reveals not only human mortality but also provides the plane of attack for sin ( Genesis 6:3 ,Genesis 6:3, 6:12;  Ecclesiastes 11:10 ). Physical existence as flesh withers away under God's judgment ( Isaiah 40:6-7 ), but survives through His grace ( Genesis 9:11-17;  Psalm 78:38-39 ).

Also in the New Testament body and soul are two inseparable aspects of the one human being ( Matthew 6:25 ).

Bible Teachings The Bible then makes basic claims about physical human existence. 1. The body is our realm of personal evaluation. The body is created by God—mortal, with physical needs, weak and subject to temptation. The body is not, however, without significance. In the body the person lives out the “I” of human existence, relating to God and to fellow humans. The body is the place of proper worship ( Romans 12:1 ), the Temple of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ), and thus is to be disciplined ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ). In Corinth the people emphasized spiritual life. Paul followed Jesus in opposing them by showing that the inner and outer life belong together. The inner spiritual life is not to be played off against the outer, physical life ( Matthew 6:22;  1 Corinthians 6:12-20; 2Corinthians 4:7, 2 Corinthians 4:10 ). That means the war in the name of the spirit is not against the body but against sin. The goal is not liberation of a “divine” soul from the body but the placing of the body in service for God. Every action must be accounted for before God one day ( 2 Corinthians 5:10 ).

2. The body and sexuality. Physical love is a gift of the Creator ( Genesis 2:23-24 ). An entire book of the Bible rejoices over this reality—the Song of Solomon. Humans express love with their entire person not only with their sexual organs. This means that sexuality differs from eating and drinking, which satisfy only the requirements of the stomach. Sexual sin rules the body, that is, the entire person. Because the body of the Christian belongs to the Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, sexual sin is forbidden for the Christian ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ).

3. The redemption and resurrection of the body. The earthly human stands under the power of sin and of death. No persons can distance themselves from this power, but all long for redemption ( Romans 7:24;  Romans 8:23 ). Redemption is not guaranteed by a bodiless soul which continues to live after death. Such redemption is guaranteed only by God, who continues to care for the body and soul of humans even after death ( Matthew 10:28 ). Death is not the redeemer; God is. He makes the gift of eternal life ( Romans 6:23 ) in that Jesus Christ became an earthly Human and offered Himself for us ( John 1:14;  Romans 7:4 ). Those who follow Him in faith and baptism experience the reality that the body does not have to remain a slave of sin ( Romans 6:6 ,Romans 6:6, 6:12 ). A person will not be redeemed from the body; rather the body will be redeemed through the resurrection of the dead ( Romans 6:5;  Romans 8:11 ). The existence of the resurrected is a bodily existence. The earthly body of lowliness will be renewed like the glorious body of the resurrected Jesus, becoming an unearthly body or building or house ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-49;  2 Corinthians 5:1-10;  Philippians 3:21 ).

Resurrection of the body does not mean that the personality dissolves into an idea, into posterity, or into the society. It means, instead, the total transformation of “flesh and blood” into a “spiritual body,” that is a personality created and formed anew by God's Spirit. The resurrection body is that communion with the Lord and with people that begins before death and finds an unimaginable completion through the resurrection.

4. The body of Christ. Jesus Christ had a physical, earthly body which was crucified in front of the gates of Jerusalem ( Mark 15:20-47;  Colossians 1:22;  Hebrews 13:11-12 ). The body of Christ also designates the body of the Crucified One “given for you,” with which the church is united together in the celebration of the Lord's Supper ( Mark 14:24;  1 Corinthians 10:16;  1 Corinthians 11:24 ). The continuing power of the sacrifice of Golgotha leads humans to join together in a church community, which in a real sense is joined together with the exalted Lord. Bodily is not, however, physical. The joining with the body of Christ does not occur magically through bread, but historically through the realization of the presence of the suffering and death of Jesus.

5. The church as the body of Christ. The image of the body calls the differing individual members into a unity ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ); however, the church is not just similar; it is one body, and, indeed, one body in Christ ( Romans 12:5;  1 Corinthians 10:17 ). In Christ the body of the church community is incorporated. The community of Christians does not produce the body; the body is a previously given fact ( 1 Corinthians 12:13 ). In the body of Christ the body of the church community lives, because Christ is greater than the church. He is the Head of the entire creation ( Ephesians 1:22-23;  Colossians 2:10 ) and as Head does not only belong to the church community but rather also stands over against the church. While the world stands in a relationship of subjection to Christ ( Ephesians 1:20-23;  Philippians 2:9-11 ), only the church is His body ( Colossians 1:18 ,Colossians 1:18, 1:24;  Ephesians 4:4 ,Ephesians 4:4, 4:12;  Ephesians 5:23 ,Ephesians 5:23, 5:30 ), which He loves ( Ephesians 5:25 ). The church is joined to Him in organic growth ( Colossians 2:19;  Ephesians 4:15-16 ). The church grows by serving a future which through Christ has already begun to be incarnate ( Colossians 2:9 ,Colossians 2:9, 2:16 ). The growth of the body occurs as the church marches out in service to the world ( Ephesians 4:12 ), even to the demonic world ( Ephesians 3:10 ). The individual Christian is joined to Christ only as a member of the body. The Bible knows nothing of a direct, mythical union of the individual with the Lord. The Bible knows of a union with Christ only as faith embodied in the realm of the church community and with the church in the realm of the world.

Christian Wolf

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

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 ( Genesis 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" ( Genesis 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 ( Psalm 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 ( Genesis 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 ( Genesis 2:17;  3:17-19 ). With regard to the final disposition of the body the principle of "dust to dust" holds true ( Genesis 3:19;  Job 10:9;  Psalm 104:29;  Ecclesiastes 3:20;  Ecclesiastes 12:7 ). The body is folded as a tent and returns to the earth from which it came ( Psalm 146:4;  Isaiah 38:12 ). Job declares that despite the natural decomposition of his body, he will see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh (19:26-27). The psalmist rejoices that God will not allow his holy one to see corruption ( Psalm 16:10 ). Isaiah speaks of the earth casting out the dead and Daniel prophesies that those who sleep in dust shall awake ( Isaiah 26:19;  Daniel 12:2 ). Throughout the intertestamental period, the belief in the future resurrection and glorification of the body became even more developed (1Enoch 20:8; 22:13; 2Baruch 50:3-4;  2 Maccabees 7:9,36 ).

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 (  Matthew 1:20-25;  Luke 1:26-35;  Romans 1:3;  Galatians 4:4;  1 Timothy 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;  Romans 3:24-25;  Hebrews 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 Corinthians 15:20-23 ).

The bodies of the regenerated are also the arena of faith and practice. The primary allegiance of the body is not to the things of this world or to the sinful desires of the flesh ( Romans 6:12-23 ). On the contrary, the body is the Lord's and the Lord is to be glorified in the body ( 1 Corinthians 6:13,20 ). The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ). Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the body becomes the place of kingdom expression in this present age. This special presence of God constitutes a community of faith whose identity cannot be confined to this world. In a very real sense, the church is the body of Christ ( Romans 12:4-5;  1 Corinthians 6:15;  12:12-31;  Ephesians 4:4-13 ).

All of these things are a proleptic realization of greater glory yet to come. At the second coming, all in Christ will receive a glorified body designed to exist in a heavenly realm ( 1 Corinthians 15   2 Corinthians 5:1-5;  Philippians 3:21;  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ). Just as the fall of Adam brought a curse on the earth, the resurrection of the body has consequences of cosmic proportions. The redemption of our bodies ushers in the liberation of the entire creation, breaking the bondage of suffering and death forever ( Romans 8:18-25 ).

William A. Simmons

See also Personhood Person

Bibliography . R. S. Anderson, On Being Human: Essays in Theological Anthropology  ; G. H. Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man  ; R. W. A. McKinney, Creation, Christ and Culture: Studies in Honor of T. F. Torrance  ; J. A. T. Robinson, The Body: A Study in Pauline Theology  ; E. C. Rust, Revep 58 (1961): 296-311; A. A. Vogel, Body Theology: God's Presence in Man's World .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

In the language of Scripture, somewhat more is meant than the mere animal life, when speaking of the body. The whole church of Christ is his body. And the Holy Ghost, by his servant the apostle Paul, saith, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." ( 1 Corinthians 15:44) So that the term is variously used.

But I should not have thought it necessary on this account to have made any pause at the word body, it not been in reference to a subject of an infinitely higher nature; I mean, in relation to the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wonderful condescension of the Son of God in taking upon him our nature, and assuming a body, such as ours, in all points like as we are, yet without sin; makes it a most interesting subject, and comes home recommended to our tenderest affections, that it is impossible ever to pass by it, or to regard it with coolness and indifference. I would beg the reader's indulgence for a few moments on the occasion.

The Scripture account of this mysterious work is not more marvellous than it is endearing. It became necessary, it seems, in the accomplishment of redemption, that the great and almighty Author of it should be man, yea, perfect man, as well as perfect God. The relation which God the Holy Ghost hath given, concerning the Son of God becoming incarnate, is said to the church in so many sweet and blessed words, that the soul of the believer, methinks, would chime upon them for ever. "Wherefore (he saith) in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hence, therefore, the Son of God passed by the nature of angels, for an angel's nature would not have suited his purpose, nor ours. He was to be in all points like those he redeemed, sin only excepted; and, therefore, a body he assumes for the accomplishment of this great end. (See  Hebrews 2throughout, but particularly  Hebrews 2:14-18.)

This, therefore, being determined on in the council of peace, that He who undertook to redeem our nature, should partake of the same nature as those he redeemed; the next enquiry is, What saith the Scripture concerning the Son of God resuming our nature, and how was it wrought?

The Scriptures, with matchless grace and condescension, have shewn this, and in a way, considering the dulness of our faculties in apprehension, so plain and circumstantial, that under the blessed Spirit teaching, the humblest follower of the Lord, taught by the Holy Ghost, can clearly apprehend the wonderful subject. Under the spirit of prophecy, Jesus declared, ages before his incarnation, Jehovah had provided a body for his assumption. "Sacrifice and offering (said the Lord,) thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me." (See  Psalms 40:6 with  Hebrews 10:5, etc.) But how was the Son of God to assume this body? The Holy Ghost takes up the blessed subject, and by his servant the Evangelist Luke, records the whole particular's of a conference which took place between an angel and a Virgin Called Mary, whose womb, by his miraculous impregnation, and without the intervention of a human father, was to bring forth this glorious Holy One, as the great Saviour of his people. The Holy Ghost (said the angel to Mary,)"shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also that Holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." I beg the reader to turn to the wonderful account, and read the whole. ( Luke 1:26-53) And I would farther beg him to turn to the Scriptures of the prophets, who, with one voice, pointed to this great event in all their ministrations, ( Isaiah 7:14; Isa 9:6;  Micah 5:2) And when the reader hath gone over all these Scriptures of the Old Testament, I request him to finish the enquiry in reading the history of the facts themselves, as they are recorded in the New, and bless God for his grace and condescension in bringing the church acquainted with such an event, in the interest of which our present and everlasting happiness is so intimately concerned.

In speaking, therefore, or having a right conception of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ; this is the point of view in which the Scriptures of God teach us to regard that holy body. The Son of God as God, assuming this holy thing, so expressly called by the angel, underived from our fallen nature, and as to any shadow of imperfection, unconnected with it; becomes a suited Saviour for all the purposes of redemption, and being by this sacred and mysterious union, God and man in one person, formed one Christ: he, and he only, becomes the proper Redeemer and Mediator, the God-man Christ Jesus. And hence the plain and obvious meaning of all these Scriptures. God in Christ. "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." ( 2 Corinthians 5:19;  Colossians 2:9;  1 Timothy 3:16;  John 1:14) and  John 17:1-26 throughout.

I must not enlarge. Neither ought I to dismiss the subject without first adding, to what I have said, one observation more; that by virtue of this union of our nature with the Son of God, his church is brought into an intimate union and oneness with him. And while we are taught to behold Christ as taking upon him our nature, we are no less taught, to consider every regenerated believer as a "member of his body, his flesh, and his bones." ( Ephesians 5:23-33.) And it is a matter of holy joy and rapture, never to be lost sight of by the humblest and poorest of his redeemed people, that the hand of God the Father is in all these glorious concerns, "who gave his dear Son to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." ( Ephesians 1:22-23)

See Mary

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

Although the Bible may speak of the body as being distinct from a person’s spirit, soul, or mind ( Micah 6:7;  Matthew 10:28;  Romans 7:23-25), it also speaks of the body as representing the person ( Nehemiah 9:37;  Romans 12:1;  1 Corinthians 13:3). This is because the Bible regards a human being as a unified whole, not as something that can be divided into separate independent parts.

Part of a unified whole

Each human being, as created in God’s image, exists in a living body ( Genesis 1:27). For this reason the Christian’s hope is not for the endless life of the spirit or soul in a bodiless existence, because a person without a body is not a complete person. What Christians look forward to is the resurrection of the body to full and eternal life ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; see Humanity, Humankind ) They do not yet know the exact nature of this resurrection body, but they know at least that it will be imperishable, beautiful, strong, suited to the life of the age to come, and patterned on Christ’s glorious body ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-54;  Philippians 3:20-21;  1 John 3:2; see Resurrection ).

Since the whole person is created in God’s image and the whole person is destined for eternal glory, Christians should not despise the body. They should not consider it something evil. They may be ashamed of the wrong things they do through the body, but this is all the more reason why they must exercise discipline over it ( Matthew 5:27-30;  Romans 6:12-13;  Romans 8:13;  1 Corinthians 9:27;  1 Thessalonians 5:23;  James 3:3-5; see Flesh ). Another reason to exercise such discipline is that the body is God’s temple, God’s dwelling place within each individual believer ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). (Concerning the church as the body of Christ see Church .)

Likewise in their dealings with unbelievers Christians must remember that it is the whole person, not just the spirit or soul, that is made in the image of God. They should therefore do what they can to meet the bodily needs as well as the spiritual needs of their fellows human beings ( James 2:15-16;  1 John 3:17-18). In this they will be following the example of Jesus Christ ( Matthew 14:14-16;  Mark 1:40-42); though like Jesus Christ they will realize that ‘life is more than food and the body more than clothing’ ( Matthew 6:25).

A wrong view

In the church of the first and second centuries a kind of false teaching developed which asserted that the body, being material, was evil. This produced extremes of behaviour, from strict self-denial to unrestrained immorality. The false teachers claimed to have a special knowledge in relation to the world of matter and the world of spirit. Their ‘knowledge’, however, was false and its outcome was wrong behaviour ( Colossians 2:23;  1 John 1:8;  1 John 3:10). (For further discussion see Colossians, Letter To The; John, Letters Of; Knowledge sub-heading ‘Knowledge and morality’.)

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): (n.) The bed or box of a vehicle, on or in which the load is placed; as, a wagon body; a cart body.

(2): (n.) Amount; quantity; extent.

(3): (n.) The shank of a type, or the depth of the shank (by which the size is indicated); as, a nonpareil face on an agate body.

(4): (v. t.) To furnish with, or as with, a body; to produce in definite shape; to embody.

(5): (n.) A person; a human being; - frequently in composition; as, anybody, nobody.

(6): (n.) The real, as opposed to the symbolical; the substance, as opposed to the shadow.

(7): (n.) The trunk, or main part, of a person or animal, as distinguished from the limbs and head; the main, central, or principal part, as of a tree, army, country, etc.

(8): (n.) The material organized substance of an animal, whether living or dead, as distinguished from the spirit, or vital principle; the physical person.

(9): (n.) Any mass or portion of matter; any substance distinct from others; as, a metallic body; a moving body; an aeriform body.

(10): (n.) Consistency; thickness; substance; strength; as, this color has body; wine of a good body.

(11): (n.) A figure that has length, breadth, and thickness; any solid figure.

(12): (n.) A number of individuals spoken of collectively, usually as united by some common tie, or as organized for some purpose; a collective whole or totality; a corporation; as, a legislative body; a clerical body.

(13): (n.) A number of things or particulars embodied in a system; a general collection; as, a great body of facts; a body of laws or of divinity.

(14): (n.) That part of a garment covering the body, as distinguished from the parts covering the limbs.

(15): (n.) The central, longitudinal framework of a flying machine, to which are attached the planes or aerocurves, passenger accommodations, controlling and propelling apparatus, fuel tanks, etc.

King James Dictionary [7]

BOD'Y, n.

1. The frame of an animal the material substance of an animal, in distinction from the living principle of beasts, and the soul of man.

Be not anxious for your body.

2. Matter, as opposed to spirit. 3. A person a human being sometimes alone more generally, with some or no as, somebody nobody. 4. Reality, as opposed to representation.

A shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. Col.2

5. A collective mass a number of individuals or particulars united as the body of mankind. Christians united or the Church is called the body, of which each Christian is a member, and Christ the head.  1 Corinthians 12;  12.27 . 6. The main army, in distinction from the wings, van or rear. Also, any number of forces under one commander. 7. A corporation a number of men, united by a common tie, by one form of government, or by occupation as the legislative body the body of the clergy body corporate body politic. 8. The main part the bulk as the body of a tree the body of a coach, of a ship, &c. 9. Any extended solid substance matter any substance or mass distinct from others as a metaline body a floating body a moving body a light body a heavy body.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [8]

 John 2:21 (a) In this passage, the body of the Lord Jesus is represented as a temple in which GOD dwells.

 Romans 6:6 (b) Here the word is used as though sin itself owned the body as, in fact, it does in some instances. The entire body, from head to foot, is used by some to serve sin.

 Romans 12:5 (a) All the Christians bound together by the Holy Spirit are referred to here as forming the body of Christ The believers on earth are called His very body because they are so precious to Him, and because of His utmost care for them. His life indwells all His church.

 Ephesians 1:23 (a) The body is used here in the sense that all the members of the body of CHRIST, those who are saved by grace, belong to one another. As the parts of the body belong to one another and are made to serve one another, so each member of the body of CHRIST serves each other member. No part of the body is independent of any of the rest of the body and so it is among true believers.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [9]

BODY in OT represents various Heb. words, especially that for ‘flesh.’ In   Exodus 24:10 it means, by a common idiom, ‘the framework of heaven’; there is no personification. In NT, though the body may be the seat of sin and death (  Romans 6:6;   Romans 7:24 ), it is never treated with contempt (  Romans 12:1 ,   1 Corinthians 6:13;   1 Corinthians 6:19 );   Philippians 3:21 is a well-known mistranslation. Accordingly it could be used metaphorically of the Church, Christ being sometimes the Head, sometimes the Body itself.

C. W. Emmet.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

bod´i  :

I. Philological

Generally speaking, the Old Testament language employs no fixed term for the human body as an entire organism in exact opposition to "soul" or "spirit." Various terms were employed, each of which denotes only one part or element of the physical nature, such as "trunk," "bones," "belly," "bowels," "reins," "flesh," these parts being used, by synecdoche, for the whole: עצם , ‛ecem = "bone," or "skeleton," hence, "body," is found in  Exodus 24:10 the King James Version;   Lamentations 4:7; נפשׁ , nephesh = "living organism" (  Leviticus 21:11;  Numbers 6:6 ,  Numbers 6:7 ,  Numbers 6:11;  Numbers 19:11 ,  Numbers 19:13 ,  Numbers 19:16;  Haggai 2:13 ); נבלה , nebhēlāh = "a flabby thing," "carcass" ( Deuteronomy 21:23;  Isaiah 26:19;  Jeremiah 26:23;  Jeremiah 36:30 ); בּטן , beṭen = "womb" ( Deuteronomy 28:4 ,  Deuteronomy 28:11 ,  Deuteronomy 28:18 ,  Deuteronomy 28:53;  Deuteronomy 30:9;  Job 19:17 the King James Version;   Psalm 132:11;  Micah 6:7 ); ירך , yārēkh = "thigh," "generative parts," "body" ( Judges 8:30 ); גּויּה , gewı̄yāh = "a body, whether alive or dead" ( 1 Samuel 31:10 ,  1 Samuel 31:12;  2 Kings 8:5 the King James Version;   Daniel 10:6 ); מעים , mē‛ı̄m , "body" ( Song of Solomon 5:14 ); גּוּפה , gūphāh = "corpse" ( 1 Chronicles 10:12 ); גּוה , gēwāh = "the back," i.e. (by extension) "person" ( Job 20:25 ); שׁאר , she'ēr = "flesh, as living or for food," "body" ( Ezekiel 10:12 ); גּשׁם , geshem = "a hard shower of rain" hence, "a body" ( Daniel 4:33;  Daniel 5:21;  Daniel 7:11 ); נדנה , nı̄dhneh = "a sheath," hence, the receptacle of the soul, "body" ( Daniel 7:15 ).

The Greek word which is used almost exclusively for "body" in the New Testament is σῶμα , sō̇ma , Latin corpus (  Matthew 5:29 ,  Matthew 5:30;  Matthew 6:22 ,  Matthew 6:23 ,  Matthew 6:25;  Matthew 26:26;  John 2:21;  Acts 9:40;  1 Corinthians 15:35 ,  1 Corinthians 15:37 ,  1 Corinthians 15:38 ,  1 Corinthians 15:44;  Ephesians 1:23;  Ephesians 2:16;  Ephesians 4:4 ,  Ephesians 4:12 ,  Ephesians 4:16;  Ephesians 5:23 ,  Ephesians 5:30 ). χρώς , chrō̇s , signifying primarily the "surface" or "skin," occurs in  Acts 19:12 . A compound word with sōma , as its base, σύσσωμος , sússōmos = "a member of the same body," occurs in  Ephesians 3:6 . From the above, it appears that the New Testament places the body as a whole into opposition to the spirit or the invisible nature. Paul, of course, employs the term also to designate the sublimated substance with which we are to be clothed after the resurrection when he speaks of the "spiritual body" ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ).

II. General

1. In the Old Testament

σῶμα , sō̇ma , Latin corpus  : The term "body" is not found in the Hebrew of the Old Testament in the sense in which it occurs in the Greek "The Hebrew word for 'body' is גּויּה , gewı̄yāh , which is sometimes used for the 'living' body ( Ezekiel 1:11 ), 'bodies of the cherubim' ( Genesis 47:18;  Nehemiah 9:37 ), but usually for the dead body or carcass. Properly speaking the Hebrew has no term for 'body.' The Hebrew term around which questions relating to the body must gather is flesh " (Davidson, Old Testament Theology , 188). Various terms are used in the Old Testament to indicate certain elements or component parts of the body, such as "flesh," "bones," "bowels," "belly," etc., some of which have received a new meaning in the New Testament. Thus the Old Testament "belly" (Hebrew beṭen , Greek koilı́a ), "Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth unto the earth" ( Psalm 44:25 the King James Version) - as the seat of carnal appetite - has its counterpart in the New Testament: "They serve ... their own belly" (  Romans 16:18 ). So also the word translated "bowels" ( mē‛ı̄m , raḥămı̄m ) in the sense of compassion, as in  Jeremiah 31:20 , King James Version: "Therefore my bowels are troubled for him," is found in more than one place in the New Testament. Thus in  Philippians 1:8 the King James Version, "I long after you all in the bowels ( splágchna ) of Christ," and again, "if there be any bowels ( splagchna ) and mercies" ( Philippians 2:1 the King James Version).

2. In the New Testament

"Body" in the New Testament is largely used in a figurative sense, either as indicating the "whole man" ( Romans 6:12;  Hebrews 10:5 ), or as that which is morally corrupt - "the body of this death" ( Romans 6:6;  Romans 7:24 ). Hence, the expression, "buffet my body" ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 , hupōpiázō , a word adopted from the prize-ring, palaestra ), the body being considered as the lurking-place and instrument of evil. (Compare  Romans 8:13 the King James Version "Mortify the deeds of the body.")

3. Other Meanings

Between these two the various other meanings seem to range. On the one hand we find the church called "the body of Christ" ( Ephesians 4:16;  1 Corinthians 12:13 ), with diversity of gifts, enjoying the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." On the other we read of a spiritual , incorruptible body, a resurrection-body as opposed to the natural body, which is doomed to corruption in death (  1 Corinthians 15:44 ). Not only do we find these meanings in the word itself, but also in some of its combinations. On the one hand we read in  Ephesians 3:6 of the Gentiles as "partakers of the promise in Christ" as "fellow-heirs," and "of the same body" ( sússōma ) in corporate union with all who put their trust in the Redeemer of mankind; on the other, we read of mere "bodily (somatic) exercises," which are not profitable. ( 1 Timothy 4:8 ) - where "body" evidently is contrasted with "spirit." And again, we read of the Holy Ghost descending in "bodily" (somatic) shape upon the "Son of God" ( Luke 3:22 ), in whom dwelt the "fullness of the Godhead bodily" (somatically) ( Colossians 2:9 ). So, too, the "body" is called a temple of the Holy Ghost: "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ).

4. The Body and Sin

From all this it is apparent that the body in itself is not necessarily evil, a doctrine which is taught in Greek philosophy, but nowhere in the Old Testament and New Testament. The rigid and harsh dualism met with in Plato is absent from Paul's writings, and is utterly foreign to the whole of Scripture. Here we are distinctly taught, on the one hand, that the body is subordinated to the soul, but on the other, with equal clearness, that the human body has a dignity, originally conferred upon it by the Creator, who shaped it out of earth, and glorified it by the incarnation of Christ, the sinless One, though born of a woman. Julius Müller has well said: "Paul denies the presence of evil in Christ, who was partaker of our fleshly nature ( Galatians 4:4 ), and he recognizes it in spirits who are not partakers thereof ( Ephesians 6:12 the King James Version, 'spiritual wickedness in high places'). Is it not therefore in the highest degree probable that according to him evil does not necessarily pertain to man's sensuous nature, and that sárx (say body ) denotes something different from this?" ( The Christian Doctrine of Sin , I, 321, English edition). He further shows that the derivation of sin from sense is utterly irreconcilable with the central principle of the apostle's doctrine as to the perfect holiness of the Redeemer, and that "the doctrine of the future resurrection - even taking into account the distinction between the sōma psuchikón and the sōma pneumatikón ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ) - is clearly at variance with the doctrine that sin springs from the corporal nature as its source" (318).

5. The First Sin

The very first sin was spiritual in its origin - an act of rebellion against God - the will of the creature in opposition to the will of the Creator (Gen 3). It was conceived in doubt - "Hath God said?"; it was born in desire - "The tree was good for food"; it was stimulated by a rebellious hankering after equality with God: "Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil"; it was introduced from without, from the spiritual world, through the agency of a mysterious, supernatural being, employing "a beast of the field more subtle than any which Yahweh God had made." That the serpent in the Old Testament is not identified with Satan, and that the clearest utterance in pre-Christian times on the subject is to be found in the Book of The Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 ("by the envy of the devil death entered into the world"), may be true. That the narrative of the Fall is figurative or symbolical may also be granted. But the whole tendency of the early narrative is to connect the first human sin with a superhuman being, employing an agent known to man, and making that agent its representative in the "subtlety" of the great temptation as a prelude to the mighty fall. The New Testament is clear on this point ( John 8:44;  John 16:11;  2 Corinthians 11:3;  1 Timothy 2:14;  Hebrews 2:14;  Revelation 12:9 ). Great historic truths are imbedded in that narrative, whatever we may think of the form which that narrative has assumed. There can be no doubt that the oldest and truest traditions of the human race are to be found there. It is not denied that sin has desecrated the temple of the liv ing God, which is the body. That body indeed has become defiled and polluted by sin. Paul recognizes "an abnormal development of the sensuous in fallen man, and regards sin as having in a special manner entrenched itself in the body, which becomes liable to death on this very account ( Romans 6:23;  Romans 7:24 )" ( Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics , I, 761). But we may safely say that theory which connects sin with the physical body, and gives it a purely sensuous origin, is alien to the whole spirit and letter of revelation.

III. Figurative

In the New Testament (σῶμα , sō̇ma , "the body" both of men and animals) the word has a rich figurative and spiritual use: (1) The temporary home of the soul ( 2 Corinthians 5:6 ); (2) "the temple of the Holy Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ); (3) "temple" ( John 2:21 ); (4) "the old man," the flesh as the servant of sin or the sphere in which moral evil comes to outward expression ( Romans 6:6;  Romans 7:7; compare Paul's use of sárx , "flesh"); (5) The "church" as Christ's body, the organism through which He manifests His life and in which H is spirit dwells ( Ephesians 1:23;  Colossians 1:24 ); (6) The spiritual "unity" of believers, one redeemed society or organism ( Ephesians 2:16; a corpus mysticum ,  Ephesians 4:4 ); (7) "substance" (spiritual reality or life in Christ) versus "shadow" ( Colossians 2:17 ); (8) The ascended and glorified body of Jesus ( Philippians 3:21 ); (9) The resurrection or "spiritual" (v. natural) body of the redeemed in heaven ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ); (10) the whole personality, e.g. the spiritual presence, power and sacrificial work of Christ, the mystical meaning of "the body and the blood" symbolized in the bread and cup of the sacrament ( 1 Corinthians 11:27 ). The term body is exceptionally rich in connection with the selfgiving, sacrificial, atoning work of Christ. It was the outward sphere or manifestation of His suffering. Through the physical He revealed the extent of His redeeming and sacrificial love. He "bare our sins in his body upon the tree" ( 1 Peter 2:24 ), Thus forever displacing all the ceaseless and costly sacrifices of the old dispensation ( Hebrews 9:24-28 ). Special terms, "body of his flesh" ( Colossians 1:22 ); "body of sin" ( Romans 6:6 ); "body of this death" ( Romans 7:24 ); "body of his glory" ( Philippians 3:21 ).

πτῶμα , ptō̇ma , used only of fallen , i.e. dead bodies (  Revelation 11:8 ,  Revelation 11:9 ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(represented by numerous Heb. terms; Gr. Σῶμα , the animal frame of man as distinguished from his spiritual nature. Body is represented as opposed to shadow or figure (Colossiana 2:17). The ceremonies of the law are figures and shadows realized in Christ and the Christian religion. '" The body of sin" ( Romans 6:6), called also "the body of this death" ( Romans 7:24), is to be understood of the system and habit of sin before conversion, and which is afterward viewed as a loathsome burden. The apostle speaks of a spiritual body in opposition to the animal ( 1 Corinthians 15:44). The term also indicates a society; the Church with its different members ( 1 Corinthians 12:20-27).