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Dictionaries :: Spiritual

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


spir'-it-u-al (pneumatikos, "spiritual," from pneuma, "spirit"): Endowed with the attributes of spirit. Any being made in the image of God who is a Spirit (Joh 4:24.), and thus having the nature of spirit, is a spiritual being.

(1) Spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph 6:12), in distinction from beings clothed in "flesh and blood"-the devil and his angels. This use of the word has reference to nature, essence, and not to character or moral quality. God, angels, man, devil, demons are in essence spiritual. The groundwork and faculties of their rational and moral being are the same. This limited use of the word in the New Testament has its adverb equivalent in Re 11:8, "which (the great and wicked city) spiritually is called Sodom." As the comprehensive term moral includes immoral, so spiritual includes unspiritual and all that pertains to spirit.

(2) With the above exception, "spiritual" in the New Testament signifies moral, not physical antithesis: an essence springing from the Spirit of God and imparted to the spirit of man. Hence, spiritual in this sense always presupposes the infusion of the Holy Spirit to quicken, and inform. It is opposed

(a) to sarkikos, "fleshly" (1Co 3:1), men of the flesh and not of the spirit;

(b) to psuchikos, "natural," man in whom the pneuma, "spirit," is over-ridden, because of the Fall, by psuche, the principle of the animal life, "soul"; hence, the unrenewed man, unspiritual, alienated from the life of God (1Co 2:14; 2Pe 2:12; Jude 1:10). See MAN, NATURAL;

(c) to natural, meaning physical, ".... sown a natural body;.... raised a spiritual body" (1Co 15:44).

(3) In the New Testament and general use "spiritual" thus indicates man regenerated, indwelt, enlightened, endued, empowered, guided by the Holy Spirit; conformed to the will of God, having the mind of Christ, living in and led by the Spirit. The spiritual man is a new creation born from above (Ro 8:6; 1Co 2:15; 3:1; 14:37; Col 1:9; 1Pe 2:5).

(4) Ecclesiastically used of things sacred or religious, as spiritual authority, spiritual assembly, spiritual office.

Written by Dwight M. Pratt


Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g4152 Greek: pneumatikos


"always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power. It does not occur in the Sept. nor in the Gospels; it is in fact an after-Pentecost word. In the NT it is used as follows:

(a) the angelic hosts, lower than God but higher in the scale of being than man in his natural state, are 'spiritual hosts,' Eph 6:12;

(b) things that have their origin with God, and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character, as His law is, are 'spiritual,' Rom 7:14;

(c) 'spiritual' is prefixed to the material type in order to indicate that what the type sets forth, not the type itself, is intended, 1Cr 10:3, 4;

(d) the purposes of God revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, 1Cr 2:13, and the words in which that revelation is expressed, are 'spiritual,' 1Cr 2:13, matching, or combining, spiritual things with spiritual words [or, alternatively, 'interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men,' see (e) below]; 'spiritual songs' are songs of which the burden is the things revealed by the Spirit, Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; 'spiritual wisdom and understanding' is wisdom in, and understanding of, those things, Col 1:9;

(e) men in Christ who walk so as to please God are 'spiritual,' Gal 6:1; 1Cr 2:13 [but see (d) above], 1Cr 2:15; 3:1; 14:37;

(f) the whole company of those who believe in Christ is a 'spiritual house,' 1Pe 2:5;

(g) the blessings that accrue to regenerate men at this present time are called 'spiritualities,' Rom 15:27; 1Cr 9:11; 'spiritual blessings,' Eph 1:3; 'spiritual gifts,' Rom 1:11;

(h) the activities Godward of regenerate men are 'spiritual sacrifices,' 1Pe 2:5; their appointed activities in the churches are also called 'spiritual gifts,' lit., 'spiritualities,' 1Cr 12:1; 14:1;

(i) the resurrection body of the dead in Christ is 'spiritual,' i.e., such as is suited to the heavenly environment, 1Cr 15:44;

(j) all that is produced and maintained among men by the operations of the Spirit of God is 'spiritual,' 1Cr 15:46....

"The spiritual man is one who walks by the Spirit both in the sense of Gal 5:16 and in that of Gal 5:25, and who himself manifests the fruit of the Spirit in his own ways....

"According to the Scriptures, the 'spiritual' state of soul is normal for the believer, but to this state all believers do not attain, nor when it is attained is it always maintained. Thus the Apostle, in 1Cr 3:1-3, suggests a contrast between this spiritual state and that of the babe in Christ, i.e., of the man who because of immaturity and inexperience has not yet reached spirituality, and that of the man who by permitting jealousy, and the strife to which jealousy always leads, has lost it. The spiritual state is reached by diligence in the Word of God and in prayer; it is maintained by obedience and self-judgment. Such as are led by the Spirit are spiritual, but, of course, spirituality is not a fixed or absolute condition, it admits of growth; indeed growth in 'the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,' 2Pe 3:18, is evidence of true spirituality." *
[* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 308-319.]

B-1 Adverb Strong's Number: g4152 Greek: pneumatikos


"spiritually," occurs in 1Cr 2:14, with the meaning as (j) above, and Rev 11:8, with the meaning as in (c). Some mss. have it in 1Cr 2:13.


(1) In Rom 8:6, the RV rightly renders the noun pneuma "(the mind) of the spirit," AV, "spiritual (mind)."

(2) In 1Cr 14:12 the plural of pneuma, "spirits," RV, marg., stands for "spiritual gifts" (text).

(3) In 1Pe 2:2, the RV renders logikos "spiritual."


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.