NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”

NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”:

But what do “fleshly”…mean? ….[“Flesh”] is so problematic that it would be nice (as I have tried to do with some other technical language) to avoid it altogether, but I have found that doing so produces even worse tangles. Better to learn, once and for all, that when Paul uses the word “flesh” and other similar words he does not intend us simply to think of the “physical” world, in our normal sense, as opposed to the “non-physical.” He has other language for that. The word we translate, here and elsewhere, as “flesh” refers to people or things who share the corruptibility and mortality of the world, and, often enough and certainly here, the rebellion of the world. “Flesh” is a negative term. For Paul as a Jew the created order, the physical world, was good in itself. Only its wrong use, and its corruption and defacing, are bad. “Flesh” highlights that wrong use, that corruption and decay.

Reposted from New Leaven. pp. 140-41, Romans 1-8, Paul for Everyone.

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