2 Cor. 7:1 (ESV)

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

  1. Does σαρκὸς καὶ πνεύματος, without definite articles, refer to the whole person or the flesh and the spirit of the person?

  2. Can the renewed spirit of the person be stained as the flesh and the soul could be?

I've been trying to find a good answer to this. I've searched all over different kinds of resources, but still, all answers seemed somewhat vague.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. For you question to be valid, you will need to direct our attention to a specific Bible passage or two.
    – Dottard
    Aug 3, 2020 at 23:27
  • 1
    doesn't 1 Pet 3:18 ‘For Christ also died for sins once for all… so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit’ give you a clue? You could use that as your 'scripture'.
    – Steve
    Aug 3, 2020 at 23:51
  • @user48152—Perhaps one the meaning of which is more understood and less debated. Aug 4, 2020 at 0:59
  • oh, sorry, I'd assumed it was understood - it's a pretty basic concept.
    – Steve
    Aug 4, 2020 at 1:06
  • An observation, not an answer: Words don't always have precise definitions. Unlike mathematics, where each symbol has just one meaning, the components of language - words - have meanings that change somewhat based on context. If you were asked to define the English word, "fine", for example, could you come up with a single definition that fits phrases like, "fine day", "fine policeman", "fine thread", and "pay a fine"?
    – Kramii
    Aug 4, 2020 at 4:56

2 Answers 2


The answer may seem to resemble Gnosticism. But only if you accept a ‘one sided’ understanding of that term ‘Gnostic’. So before answering the Q, let me explain this

Gnosticism has been used to describe (or usually defend) anything to do with ‘Christianity’, as soon as you mention ‘spirit’. The gnostic belief that ‘physical’ is bad, and ‘spirit’ is good has ‘some truth’. N.B. Some, that is, an element. Where the Gnostic”s go wrong with this is in the origin of the ‘good’ [spirit] and ‘bad’. [physical].

Adam and Eve having their ‘eyes opened’ after eating - was according to Gnosticism, good. That ‘enlightenment’ after eating is what they ‘link’ to ‘secret understanding’.

As for flesh, flesh is everything apart from the spirit. So, your ‘soul’ and your physical senses (body). When a believer is ‘reborn’, their ‘spirit’ is made alive (renewed). And now that needs to be the source for wisdom. That is ‘live in the spirit’. And the spirit gets its wisdom from the word. So your mind gets renewed by ‘listening’ to your spirit [the word] instead of your natural reasoning [learnt via your ‘senses’.].

GAL 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Prior to being ‘reborn’, you can/could only ‘live’ in your flesh - because your spirit is ‘dead’ - that is - separated from God, courtesy of Adam.

Some Believers can become a little cautious when talking about the ‘spiritual’ dimension - (sometimes rightly so.)


As I understand it, the ancient Christian Fathers taught that the human person is composed of body and soul. They said the body is everything visible and the soul is everything invisible. Spiritual realities are bodiless realities (they are immaterial) and therefore invisible; thus the soul is a spiritual being. (The category of invisible would include our will, thought, emotion, etc.). The "flesh" St. Paul refers to is not skin. St. Paul used the word "flesh" (Sarx in Greek) to denote the mortal, unregenerate and instinctive drives embedded in our bodily nature concerning all motives productive of sin: carnal desires (sex), gluttony, pride, deceit, greed(to which is subjoined envy and hatred, etc.), and all selfishness, resentment, and contempt. Sarx is called by St. Paul the "old man". That is, the person we were before our rebirth in Christ. We reject this self-identity when by Faith we are wedded to Christ and are determined to become holy because God is Holy. But this interior "man" called Sarx remains with us as a second self until the separation of the soul from the body at death. It is an amazing fact of Christianity that we experience in ourselves a new birth by which we are as if doubled upon a mortal and doomed personification of ourselves which we have rejected. This double is Sarx, which urges its own will against our good intentions and with which we must do interior combat. "The Flesh lusts against the Spirit."(Gal. 5:17) Sarx is (unknowingly) hand in glove with Satan by fact of our being born in original sin, and is played upon like a keyboard by our Tempter.
This subject requires a great deal of self-reflexion and I wish you every grace and blessing in your quest. Perhaps others will clarify this distinction between flesh and spirit even more but you will certainly find the proof of this doctrine within yourself as the only thing that makes sense of your personal experience as a Christian.

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    Welcome, Sadly the answer is driven by erroneous concepts, the lack of verse support demonstrates this in part. Jesus was raised into spirit, (becoming immortal) he discussed what his body was like with the disciples. also 1 Corinthians 15:44 spells this out. The so-called Christian fathers had some weird ideas not found in scripture. Adam became a living soul - not given a soul.
    – Steve
    Aug 4, 2020 at 2:45
  • Self examination will never arrive at truth. Scripture is the way to truth. This is also the way of an hermeneutical website.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 4, 2020 at 17:25
  • Sorry, I should better have said "confirmation" instead of "proof". I did not mean to imply that we are ourselves the source of truth, but only that those things Christ taught us about our souls we do experience to be true, eg: temptation and the struggle of the flesh against the spirit. Aug 4, 2020 at 19:22

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