Questions, Insights, & Responses

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#52 - Paul's use of "the flesh"

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #52: In Galatians 5:19, KJV, Paul states the the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultry, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strife, etc. In the Wuest New Testament, he translates the word "flesh" as follows: "Now the works of the evil nature are well known, works of such a nature as, for example fornication, uncleanness, wantonness, idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, strife, etc."

Is [Wuest's] translation possibly a more accurate rendition of the word "flesh" seeing that most of the implied discussion is more of a spiritual than a physical body manifestation?

Response #52:

Your question is a good one. The word translated in the KJV and elsewhere as "flesh" is actually a translation of the Greek word sarx <Strong's number 4561>, and its etymologically literal meaning is "flesh." In this particular instance, Wurst's understanding of that passage is consistent with a number of modern translations, including the TEV, which is used frequently by the website. As with English words, the meaning of the Greek word sarx has different nuances, according to the context. You can read a further explanation of the Greek word sarx at:

Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer