Before I found Christ, I never heard of the word carnal or carnality. It wasn’t until I began reading my Bible that I came across this word. Using context clues, you can kind of get the idea of what it means. It’s usually used in contrast to the Spirit or the inner man. Many Christians may not know the full scope of this important word. That’s why I decided to research and share what the word carnal means in Greek.

All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

What Does The Word ‘Carnal’ Mean In Greek?

sarkikos- pertaining to the flesh; bodily; temporal.

Sarkikos represents fleshly nature, sensual (controlled by human nature instead of the Holy Spirit), animal nature, and anything pertaining to the flesh. This word speaks of a human being who has weakness in spiritual warfare.

Also, it’s used to speak about the unspirituality of human wisdom.

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”

– 2 Corinthians 10:4

In 1 Peter 2:11, sarkikos is used to describe the lusts which come from man’s corrupt and fallen nature.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

– 1 Peter 2:11-12

1 Corinthians 3:3

sarx- flesh; meat of an animal (for food); the body; flawed human nature.

This word is similar to the previous one. It speaks of the substance of the body, whether from man or beast, the human body, and mankind.

It’s used when speaking about the humanity of the Lord Jesus as well as the flawed, weaker element of human nature.

 “…who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

– Hebrews 5:7-8

It describes the unborn again human being who is still at enmity with God. Also, sarx is used to speak about the deep-seated sin of man and the outward of man compared to the inner man.

“For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”

– Romans 7:5


The word carnal can mean the physical body or the fallen, sinful state of man. Therefore, it can be considered the opposite of the Holy Spirit and His workings within us. I pray this article was helpful to you. Please feel free to share any thoughts below and share this content. Thanks for reading!

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What does the word carnal mean in Hebrew and Greek?

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Thanks for sharing!