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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Natural

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ψυχικος , is a term that frequently occurs in the apostolic writings: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Corinthians 2:14 . Here it is plain that by "the natural man," is not meant a person, devoid of natural judgment, reason, or conscience, in which sense the expression is often used among men. Nor does it signify one who is entirely governed by his fleshly appetites, or what the world calls a voluptuary, or sensualist. Neither does it signify merely a man in the rude state of nature, whose faculties have not been cultivated by learning and study, and polished by an intercourse with society. The Apostle manifestly takes his "natural man" from among such as the world hold in the highest repute for their natural parts, their learning, and their religion. He selects him from among the philosophers of Greece, who sought after wisdom, and from among the Jewish scribes, who were instructed in the revealed law of God, 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 . These are the persons whom he terms the wise, the scribes, the disputers of this world—men to whom the Gospel was a stumbling block and foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 1:23 .

The natural man is here evidently opposed to, ο πνευματικος , "him that is spiritual," 1 Corinthians 2:15 , even as the natural body which we derive from Adam is opposed to the spiritual body which believers will receive from Christ at the resurrection, according to 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 . Now the spiritual man is one who has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him, Romans 8:9 , not merely in the way of miraculous gifts, as some have imagined, (for these were peculiar to the first age of the Christian church, and even then not common to all the saints, nor inseparably connected with salvation, 1 Corinthians 13:1-4; Hebrews 6:4-7 ,) but in his saving influences of light, holiness, and consolation, whereby the subject is made to discern the truth and excellency of spiritual things, and so to believe, love, and delight in them as his true happiness. If therefore a man is called "spiritual" because the Spirit of Christ dwells in him, giving him new views, dispositions, and enjoyments, then the "natural man," being opposed to such, must be one who is destitute of the Spirit, and of all his saving and supernatural effects, whatever may be his attainments in human learning and science. It is obviously upon this principle that our Lord insists upon the necessity of the new birth in order to our entering into the kingdom of heaven, John 3:3; John 3:5 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Natural'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/n/natural.html. 1831-2.

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