2 Corinthians 5:16 (DRB):

Wherefore henceforth, we know no man according to the flesh. And if we have known Christ according to the flesh; but now we know him so no longer.

What is the meaning of "have known Christ according to the flesh"?

Is there a relationship between 2 Corinthians 5:16 and Hebrews 5:7?

Hebrews 5:7 (DRB):

Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.

Does "the days of his flesh" mean his earthly life?. I mean "not some days of his earthly life" but "all the days of his earthly life"?

  • exactly. Physically
    – Walter S
    Apr 16, 2020 at 6:13
  • You seem to have answered your own question.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 7:35
  • @NigelJ could you clarify how I answered my question?
    – salah
    Apr 16, 2020 at 8:16
  • @salah The 'days of his flesh' means 'his earthly life' : as you state.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 9:30
  • @NigelJ the days of his flesh, I ask: is it the earthly life of Jesus, namely: all 33 years that Jesus lived? Or is it some days of his earthly life e.g: time of crucifixion or time of temptation by Satan (40 days). I just ask.
    – salah
    Apr 16, 2020 at 10:08

3 Answers 3


The Greek phrase, κατὰ τὴν σάρκα (according to the flesh), or, κατὰ σάρκα (according to flesh) occurs more than 20 times in the NT. Its meaning is rather simple - it is ancient Hebrew idiom for what we would now say, "humanly speaking", or, "from a human point of view", or similar. See John 8:15, Acts 2:30, Rom 1:3, 4:1, 8:1, 4, 5, 12, 13, 9:3, 5, 1 Cor 1:26, 10:18, 2 Cor 5:16, 10:2, 3, 11:18, Gal 4:23, 29, Eph 6:5, Col 3:22, etc.

The phrase should be understood in the light of Rom 8:1-13 where Paul encourages all Christians: "do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (v4). That is, "no longer follow our sinful [human] nature but instead follow the Spirit."

This passage in Rom 8 is at pains to stress that not living according to human passions but living a life in step with, or, motivated by, the Holy Spirit is the most important change occuring when a person becomes a Christian. This is precisely because those who live according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit are constantly learning more about Jesus, 1 John 2:6, John 16:13. The great task of the Holy Spirit is to teach us about Jesus (John 16:13).

Paul takes up the same theme in 1 Cor 5:16. V17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." The new person is the one motivated by the Spirit not human passions (= according to the flesh).

In Heb 5:7, "in the days of his flesh" simply means the time when Jesus was human on earth; ie, His 33 years before His crucifixion. Sometimes this is denoted by "His earthly life", or similar.


To "know Christ according to flesh", means not to understand and appreciate in full what does it mean that the Being co-eternal with God the Father, who shared equal glory with the Father for all eternity and infinity even before the world was made by Them (John 17:5), got incarnated for salvation of mankind. The very semantics of this "salvation", of Jesus' salvific action for humankind was misunderstood even by his closest disciples, who saw Him according to flesh, and awaited from Him an earthly salvation from Roman oppression and establishment of an earthly, albeit divinely protected and divinely guided, kingdom, with Him being its king and the apostles - chief ministers (Mark 10:37).

This earthly and "according to flesh" understanding of Christ was there because the apostles weren't in full enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the coming of Whom was possible, in Jesus' words, only with His departure from the disciples (John 16:17). After the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost the disciples changed: they no more coveted for restoration of the earthly kingdom of the Israel, but understood Jesus as the heavenly King of the Heavenly Kingdom that does not come or is detected in a visible way (cf. Luke 17:20), but is in human hearts cleansed from sins (Luke 17:21), and thus this Kingdom cannot be only of Jews, but all nations, all people who cleanse their hearts and sinful inclinations through invisible powerful action of Christ within their hearts (Collosians 1:29), so as to make them "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is to know Christ no more according to flesh, but according to Holy Spirit.


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; St. John 1:1 Both passages that you mentioned my brother are from the days of his flesh or when Jesus walked this earth. The Apostles knew him when he walked this earth and much more in the Spirit!!

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