Carnal - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


sarkikos (G4559) Carnal
sarkinos (G4560) Of Flesh
Our discussion of the relation between psychikos (G5591) and sarkikos naturally leads us to examine the relation between sarkikos and another form of the word, sarkinos.Sarkinos occurs three or four times in the New Testament. It appears only once in the Textus Receptus (2 Cor. 3:3). The evidence overwhelmingly favors accepting it in Romans 7:14 and in Hebrews 7:16, and the evidence strongly favors accepting it in 1 Corinthians 3:1.
Words ending in -inos are common in the New Testament. Thus we have thyinos, hyalinos hyakinthinos, dermatinos, and akanthinos. Sarkinos, the only form of this word recognized in classical Greek, is another example. In 2 Corinthians 3:3, sarkikos is correctly translated "of flesh"being composed of the substance of flesh. I am unable to confirm that the word fleshen ever existed in English, but had it existed and survived, it would be an even better translation, since of flesh or fleshy may mean carnosus (fleshy, abounding in flesh), which is also the case with sarkinos. Fleshen, however, must mean what sarkinos means here, namely carneus or "having flesh for its material." The former existence of a word like fleshen is not improbable, since many such forms once were used that now have passed away. The demise of such words is unfortunate, since they added to the language. German uses both steinig (full of stones) and steinern (consisting of stones), and Latin has lapidosus (full of stones) and lapideus (consisting of stones), and saxosus (full of rocks) and saxeus (consisting of rocks). We might have used stony and stonena "stony" place is one where there are many stones; a "stonen" vessel would be a vessel made of stone. A "glassy" sea is a sea resembling glass; a "glassen" sea is a sea made of glass. Fleshly, fleshy, and fleshen would have been useful, just as earthly, earthy, and earthen each have a proper use.
"Fleshly" lusts are lusts existing in the ethical domain of the flesh, lusts that have their source in that rebellious region of man's corrupt and fallen nature. This is the case with the "fleshly [sarkikai] lusts" in 1 Peter 2:11. The man who allows the sarx (G4561) a position that does not belong to it is sarkikos.Sarx's proper place is under the dominion of the pneuma (G4151), where it receives a law. Sarx becomes the source of all sin and opposition to God when this position is reversed and sarx becomes the ruler rather than the ruled. When Paul said that the Corinthians were sarkinoi (1 Cor. 3:1), this was a serious charge, though not as grave as if he had written sarkikoi. In 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul was not charging the Corinthians with positive active opposition to the Spirit of God but only with intellectually and spiritually pausing at the threshold of the faith (cf. Heb. 5:11-12). Although they might have been carried great distances by the mighty transforming powers of the Spirit freely given to them by God, they were making no progress and were content to remain where they were. Paul did not charge the Corinthians with being antispiritual but unspiritualbeing flesh and little else, when they might have made spiritual progress. In verses 3 and 4, where Paul leveled the more serious accusation that the Corinthians were allowing the sarx to work actively as a ruling principle, he used a different word. Not only were the Corinthians sarkinoi, but they also were sarkikoifull of "envy, strife, and divisions."
On the one hand, it is not easy to suggest a way that our Authorized translators could have distinguished between sarkinos and sarkikos in 1 Corinthians 3. In all likelihood, however, this was not a difficulty for them, since they accepted the Textus Receptus, which does not use two different words. On the other hand, in 2 Corinthians 3:3 the translators' task was plain, and they correctly translated sarkinai plakes (G4109) as "fleshy tables." Erasmus observed that sarkinos, not sarkikos, is used in this passage "in order that you may understand material and not quality." Paul was drawing a contrast between the tables of stone, where the law of Moses was written, and the tables of flesh, where Christ's law is written, and he was exalting the latter over the former. "Fleshy" is not a dishonorable term in this passage but indicates the superiority of the new law over the old. The latter is graven on dead tables of stone, the former on the hearts of living men (cf. Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).

Trench's New Testament Synonyms Topics