Part of humanity and not of God. Although the word, sarx in Greek, is used in the literal sense of the physiology of the human body, or indeed of horses (Isa. 31: 3), meaning that they are mortal, it is also used sometimes of the body itself or of humanity in general. However, ‘flesh’ tends to have a connotation of weakness (Ps. 78: 39) or even of sin. ‘According to the flesh’ denotes inadequacy or failure (1 Cor. 1: 26 NRSV marg.). It is humanity viewed apart from God, and is to be contrasted with ‘spirit’. Jesus' fleshly descent from David is less significant than his resurrection by the Spirit (Rom. 1: 3–4). In the letters of Paul ‘flesh’ describes the works of the Law (Gal. 3: 2–3) as well as persons who do not have the Spirit (1 Cor. 2: 12–3: 4). Vices condemned as fleshly are not necessarily carnal or physical (Gal. 5: 20) but all lead equally to ‘death’ (Rom. 8: 6) because they are egocentric. Christ, however, lived an entirely God‐centred life while sharing real human fleshly existence (Rom. 8: 3).
Because of the width of meaning of the word, modern English versions resort sometimes to other translations: ‘human weakness’ or ‘unspiritual nature’.