Unconverted men are so called ( 1 Corinthians 3:3 ). They are represented as of a "carnal mind, which is enmity against God" ( Romans 8:6 Romans 8:7 ). Enjoyments that minister to the wants and desires of man's animal nature are so called ( Romans 15:27 ; 1 Corinthians 9:11 ). The ceremonial of the Mosaic law is spoken of as "carnal," because it related to things outward, the bodies of men and of animals, and the purification of the flesh ( Hebrews 7:16 ; 9:10 ). The weapons of Christian warfare are "not carnal", that is, they are not of man's device, nor are wielded by human power ( 2 Corinthians 10:4 ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Carnal". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .


Of the flesh; denoting human nature.

For ye are yet CARNAL: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not CARNAL, and walk as men? ( 1 Corinthians 1:1 Exodus 3:3 )

Source: A King James Dictionary. (Used with permission. Copyright © Philip P. Kapusta)

Bibliography Information

"Entry for 'Carnal'". A King James Dictionary.



In the Old Testament there is an expression which indicates sexual intercourse shikhebhath zera`, "lying of seed," (Leviticus 18:20; 19:20; Numbers 5:13). In the New Testament the words rendered "carnal" are derived from sarks, "flesh." This refers to the flesh as opposed to the pneuma, "spirit," and denotes, in an ethical sense, mere human nature, the lower side of man as apart from the Divine influence, and therefore estranged from God and prone to sin; whatever in the soul is weak and tends toward ungodliness (see FLESH). Thus one may be carnal (sarkinos), sold under sin (Romans 7:14). Christians may be carnal (sarkinos, 1 Corinthians 3:1; sarkikos, 1 Corinthians 3:3); the lower side of their being is dominant and not the spirit, hence, they fall into sins of envy and strife. The weapons of the Christian warfare are not carnal, not merely human (of the flesh the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version), but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:4); "not after the law of a carnal commandment" (Hebrews 7:16); "The carnal mind is enmity against God" ("mind of the flesh" the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, Romans 8:7). So, "to be carnally minded is death" ("mind of the flesh" the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, Romans 8:6). There are "carnal ordinances," in contrast to the spiritual ones of the gospel (Hebrews 9:10); "Minister unto them in carnal things," those that pertain to the body in contrast to spiritual things (Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11). The same expressions are elsewhere rendered "fleshly" (2 Corinthians 1:12; 3:3 the Revised Version (British and American) "hearts of flesh"; 1 Peter 2:11).

Is there any difference between sarkinos and sarkikos? The former more definitely denotes the material of which an object is made. It may express with emphasis the idea of sarkikos, the spiritual given up as it were to the flesh.


G. H. Trever

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CARNAL'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.