"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Does this necessarily imply that the "flesh" is dead, or could it mean the "flesh" is on the cross, and maybe not dead yet?

  • Romans 8:13: "For if ye live according to flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." Jun 15, 2017 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


The truths in the Bible are usually presented in a balanced way, i.e. it is objective and subjective. In simple terms, we can described it using three words: facts, faith, and experience.

Facts are God's promises, His redemption, His works, and His free gifts.

Faith denotes the way man believes in God, trusts in His work and redemption, and claims His promises. It is a kind of working and attitude through which God's facts are transformed into man's experience.

Experience is the proper living of the believers, which they secure through believing in God. Experience is the realization of all Christ's accomplishments and victories. It is the practical application, manifestation, and living out of God's facts. The histories of all the saints recorded in the Bible belong to this category.

With regards to your question:

The Scriptures reveal that the cross of Christ is an accomplished fact (Rom. 6:6).

Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves;

On the negative side, the cross of Christ terminated everything opposing God and resolved all the problems between God and man (John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14);

Since the cross is an accomplished fact, we do not need to do anything other than to see and know this fact. Although we do not need to be crucified again, we need to see and know the cross. To accept is not merely to believe the truth of our co-crucifixion with Christ but to accept the fact of our co-crucifixion with Christ as a certainty and to acknowledge that we have already died.

Romans 6:11 refers to this, saying,

So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin...in Christ Jesus.

After we have seen and accepted the cross, we will apply the cross. When the Spirit leads us to see and accept the fact of our co-crucifixion, He will further lead us to apply the death of the cross to ourselves in our experience.

Romans 8:13 refers to this experience, saying,

If by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body.

Colossians 3:5 similarly says,

Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth.

To apply the cross to ourselves is to crucify "the flesh with its passions and its lusts," as spoken of in Galatians 5:24.

It is easy to think that Galatians 5:24 and Romans 6:6 are speaking of the same thing, that is, the fact of the cross. Galatians 5:24, however, does not speak of the fact of the cross; it speaks of the application of the cross.


Verse 24 is following verse 17, which contrasts the flesh with the spirit:

For the desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.

By flesh and spirit here is not meant something like physical body and soul. Paul is speaking figuratively of carnal thoughts vs. spiritual thoughts. A latter Byzantine commentary explains:

By flesh he does not mean the body, but rather, earthly, negligent, and lax thoughts. And by spirit he does not mean the soul, but a spiritual attitude to the earthly. What he is describing is not a battle between soul and body, but the contest between good and evil thoughts.1

By the same token, Paul is not writing of physically crucifying the body in v. 24, but rather of crucifying, as he says, the passions and desires of the flesh, alluded to in v.17.

The same commentator here notes:

They have subdued and deadened the will of the flesh. They did not destroy themselves, because, as the father say, the Lord wants us to be slayers of our passions. Understand that flesh here does not refer to the substance and nature of the flesh and the body, but to a carnal, earthly way of thinking. As a result, neither the passions of anger nor desires live in them.2

1. Theophylact of Ohrid, Explanation of the Epistle to the Galatians (tr. from Greek, Chrysostom Press, 2011), p.72.
2. Ibid., p.74-75


After asking the question, I also found this in the Pulpit Commentary: "Have crucified the flesh (τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν). That is, have put it away from them, as a thing to be abhorred, that it might die the death. These three several particulars of thought appear combined in the mixt mode embodied in the word "crucified." The verb, denoting simply affixing to the cross, and not putting to death by crucifixion, intimates the lingering character of the death which the flesh was to undergo. It was, indeed, put away at once, by a final decisive act of the will; but it would still for a while continue to live." http://biblehub.com/galatians/5-24.htm

I find that helpful specifically in terms of the meaning of "crucified."


In answer to your question, Gregory, I think pehkay’s answer is spot on, except for his last sentence: “It is easy to think that Galatians 5:24 and Romans 6:6 are speaking of the same thing, that is, the fact of the cross. Galatians 5:24, however, does not speak of the fact of the cross; it speaks of the application of the cross.”

I believe Galatians 5:24 and Romans 6:6 are in fact speaking of the same thing. They both, in the Greek, speak of us as having (in the past) once-and-for-all crucified the old man (aka, “the flesh” in Galatians). In Romans, it is in the “passive” voice, denoting what God in Christ has done for us; in Galatians it is in the “active” voice denoting our part in appropriating that death in us by our faith, with the same being denoted in Col. 3:9-10 of us (using the “middle” voice) having put off the old man and having put on the new man. Romans just shows God’s part, Galatians and Colossians (and even Eph. 4:22-24) show our part.

Now here in Galatians, the Greek “sarx” (flesh) is being used in its ethical/moral sense of the old nature (or old man). The English perfect tense “have” of the Greek verb denotes that it has been crucified and is a fact of a completed act in Christ on the cross, and not something that is still to be done (or applied). The “application” of that fact is seen in the body of sin (also sometimes referred to as just the body of “the flesh,” with “flesh” not being used in its ethical/moral sense).[1] This “body of sin” (Gk. soma) in Romans 6:6b is what is to now be suppressed or mortified, as expressed also in Romans 8:13, Col. 3:5, and even in Romans 13:14. Additionally, by saying “body of sin” Paul is not saying that the body is sinful, but only that it is the vehicle in which sin expresses itself. And this “body of sin” is also not to be confused with the old man in the previous part of this same verse either (as many are accustomed to saying); for the Greek “soma” for “body” in the New Testament is always translated with reference to the physical body; whether literally, metaphorically of the Church as the body of Christ to denote diversity and unity, or symbolically of the Eucharist which represents the physical blood and body of Christ. Never is it used for the immaterial human spirit or the fallen human nature. To do so, is to read into this word a meaning that does not bear up under closer scrutiny of the entire New Testament.

Now, the epistle to the Galatians is written to combat those who would rather remain “under the law” as opposed to living under grace (see also Gal. 3:2-6). And the tension described in Gal. 5:16 through 18 and thereon is describing one still living under the law as opposed to living under grace. Those still living under the law are “in the flesh,” or still ruled by their sinful nature, and thus cannot do the good that the Spirit of God wants them to do in verse 17 (w/the same being depicted in Gen. 6:3; and in 1Pet. 3:18-19, if “spirit“ here is “Spirit”).[2] This tension in verse 17 is described of all those still under the law in Romans 7 as well, where Paul in his unregenerate state speaks of not being able to do the good that he really wanted to do. On the other hand, the regenerate person can now do the good that he wants to do. He just now needs to see himself (his old man and old nature) crucified, with the ability to now be able to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law as spelled out for us in Rom. 8:3. And it is upon seeing our old selves “crucified” in Rom. 6:6 that Paul says later on in verse 11 to now “reckon” ourselves dead to sin in the members of our bodies, with us now slaves to righteousness and no longer slaves to sin (cf. vv. 12-22). In Romans 7, Paul (as Saul) was still a slave to sin (v. 14, 25). And he said it was the purpose of the Law to show all unregenerate Jews that they needed a deliverer to set them free. This freedom is again spelled out for us in Romans 8, with chapter 7:7-25 being a short interlude, or detour, between chapters 6 and 8. The saint is the person described in Romans 6 and 8 who walks in the Spirit, and not the person described for us in Romans 7:7-25. And Galatians 5:16-18 refers to this same topic, but only in short order and in reverse of Romans 6-8. Gal. 5:16 is seen in Romans 8 (esp. in verse 13), Gal. 5:17 in Romans 7 (esp. in verses 15-19), and Gal. 5:18 in Romans 6 (see esp. verse 14). I know most people say that these struggles being described here are of the saint, but I beg to differ. Paul is depicting one still “under the law” and still in “the flesh,” as opposed to one no longer “under the law” and “under grace” and who bears fruit unto God.

Many believer’s read into Paul’s words in Gal. 5:24 that we must still keep on crucifying the old nature, but the English perfect past tense “have,” in agreement and unison with the Greek aorist past tense, will not allow for such a convoluted interpretation. It is reading into the text (an eisegesis) something that isn’t there, rather than forming an exegesis from the text. The same is also true in Col. 3:9-10 and Eph. 4:22-24. In both of these instances the Greek aorist past tense is used, showing that it is not something we are to still do but something that has already been done by us. Even in Eph. 4:22-24, many translations translate these passages of putting off the old man and putting on the new man as an aorist imperative, or as a command that we are still to do. But these passages in Ephesians corroborate what Rom. 6:6 and Col. 3:9-10 emphatically substantiate of what happened to us when we first learned of Christ and received Him as our Savior. These passages are not a contradiction of terms that only confuses the issue at hand. And the Kenneth Wuest, J. N. Darby, and Holman Christian Standard Bible translations all give the correct translation of these passages in Ephesians as a “past tense” event.

Now with regards to our passage in Gal. 5:24, the problem is compounded for us when we read in Gal. 5:13 with regards to the word “flesh” there, that the saint is still to deal with an ever-prevalent sinful nature or old man. But that can’t be the meaning of the word “flesh” there, since Paul says it is “crucified” once-and-for-all in the past in verse 24. The word “flesh” in verse 13 can only mean with a reference to our physical bodies, whereas in verses 16 through 24 it is referring to the old nature. If this is not the case, and it is the old nature that is still living within us, then Paul would have said that we must “keep on” crucifying it. He doesn’t. He says it is (past tense) crucified, leading us to believe that the one still in the flesh (or having the sinful nature) in verse 16 through 24, as opposed to the one walking with a new nature in the Spirit and no longer under the law, is going to continue to “continually practice” (the Greek present tense) the vices listed in verses 19-21. Paul is conclusive here that such people who continue “practicing” such vices will never inherit the kingdom of God, something that almost all commentators will say is someone who is not born-again.

It was not unusual for Paul to use words in his letters in a given context that were spelled the same way (such as with the word “sarx”), but used with different meanings. He does this in other places with the word “sarx,” as in 2Cor. 10:2-4. In English, this is known as an “anastrophe” or an “inversion” of wording. Many words in our own English language are used this way, such as with the word “bear,” etc. St. John often used the Greek kosmos for “world” in this manner.

To my surprise, the well-known Greek expositor, A. T. Robertson, agrees with my analysis above of Paul’s use of the Greek word “sarx” in verses 13-24. And so does the Amplified Bible’s translation.

Under verse 24, Robertson says, “Paul uses sarx here in the same sense as in verses 16, 17, 19, ‘the force in men that makes for evil’ (Burton).” (Word Pictures; vol. 4, p. 313). Notice that Robertson left out verse 13. Evidently, according to him, “flesh” in verse 13 is not used “in the same sense” as in these other verses. He also notes the force of the Greek aorist tense used by Paul in verse 24 as a, “definite event…emphasizing the completeness of the extermination of this evil force and the guarantee of victory over one’s passions and dispositions towards evil” (Ibid).

The Amplified Bible likewise translates Gal. 5:13 as, “your flesh and opportunity or excuse for selfishness”; verse 16 as, “human nature without God”; verse 17 as, “the flesh (Godless human nature)”; verse 19 as, “the doings (practices) of the flesh”; and verse 24 as, “have crucified the flesh—the Godless human nature.” Clearly, the Amplified Bible sees “flesh” spoken of differently in verses 16-24 than in verse 13. Regardless, like I said earlier, Paul cannot be telling us to make no occasion for the sinful nature in verse 13, when he just got through telling us that we “have” (past tense) once-and-for-all definitively crucified it in verse 24. Dead men no longer tell anymore tales; let alone influence us or assert their ways over us anymore. How can they? They’re dead! And this is what Paul means by us being “crucified” in Rom. 6:6, Gal. 4:24, and even in Gal. 2:20, by the fact that he says in Romans 6, in the context of us having been “crucified,” that “we died.” The old man’s death is not a slow process as many mistakenly and naively claim. It is a once-and-for-all definitive existential fact, never to be done again.

Time and space will not permit for a more exhaustive analysis on all of this. And I am sure there are more questions that necessitate answers. And so for some more further thoughts and ideas with regards to all of this, I would suggest reading a book I wrote, called: Created in God’s Image, Not Adam’s! It can be purchased at Lulu Press and through most bookstores.


[1] Paul uses the Greek word “sarx” this way in many instances in Galatians (Gal. 1:16; 2:20; 4:13-14, 23, 29; 6:12, 13). It is specifically used by Paul with a reference to Christ’s physical body of flesh in Col. 1:22. Countless more examples could be given.

[2] Keil and Delitzsch say here with regards to Gen. 6:3, “Men, says God, have proved themselves by their erring and straying to be flesh, i.e., given up to the flesh, and incapable of being ruled by the Spirit of God and led back to the divine goal of their life” (biblehub.com; public domain). They also note how the Hebrew word for “flesh” here, “is used already in its ethical signification, like σάρξ [sarx] in the New Testament, denoting not merely the natural corporeality of man, but his materiality as rendered ungodly by sin” (Ibid). Transliterated word in brackets mine; italics mine for emphasis.

Matthew Henry remarks on Gen. 6:3: “It is the corrupt nature, and the inclination of the soul towards the flesh, that oppose the Spirit’s strivings and render them ineffectual….When a sinner has long adhered to that interest, and sided with the flesh against the Spirit, the Spirit justly withdraws his agency, and strives no more” (Comm. on the Whole Bible). You might as well of thought you were reading a commentary on Romans 7:15-21 and Gal. 5:17. But we're not, we are talking about the ungodly who are in the flesh that continually resist the Spirit, whether through the revelation of creation or the proclamation of His Word.

W. Roberts, in the Pulpit Commentary, likewise says: “the striving of God's Spirit comes to an end not because God's willingness to help comes to an end, but because HUMAN NATURE SINKS BEYOND THE POSSIBILITY OF HELP.”

Adam Clarke also writes: “It is only by the influence of the Spirit of God that the carnal mind can be subdued and destroyed; but those who willfully resist and grieve that Spirit must be ultimately left to the hardness and blindness of their own hearts, if they do not repent and turn to God.”

Additionally, this idea of even the ungodly “striving” against God is seen in Isaiah 45:9: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” Here we see men wholly of the flesh striving against the Spirit and kicking against the pricks, as Paul (as Saul) was accustom to doing. Someone has once wisely said, “Things contrary will vent their contrariety in mutual strife.”

  • 1
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    – Caleb
    May 31, 2017 at 7:24
  • Duly noted. Was not aware of this. I came on as a guest and had no clue about all of these rules. Several people told me about this and just ruined my reputation. One comment was only necessary, not a plethora of them. I have made the necessary changes in my answer.
    – SMJT
    Jun 12, 2017 at 0:52
  • Why the negative down-vote?
    – SMJT
    Jun 15, 2017 at 5:37

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