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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Body

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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’.)


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Body'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/b/body.html. 2004.

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