The physical structure of a human or an animal. The Hebrew word gewi·yahʹ refers to a body, whether alive (Ge 47:18) or dead. (1Sa 31:10; Ps 110:6) The Hebrew neve·lahʹ comes from the root verb na·velʹ (“wither”; Ps 1:3) and is variously rendered “dead body,” ‘carcass,’ and “corpse.” (Le 5:2; De 14:8; Isa 26:19) Ba·sarʹ, the Hebrew word for flesh, can represent the whole body. (Compare Ps 16:9; see FLESH.) The usual Greek word for “body” is soʹma (Mt 5:29), but khros, literally “skin,” is rendered “body” in Acts 19:12. The Greek word ptoʹma, which comes from the root verb piʹpto (fall), refers to a fallen body or “corpse.” (Mt 14:12) The different kinds of physical bodies are composed of different kinds of flesh, together with the life-force.—1Co 15:39; Jas 2:26; Ge 7:22; see SOUL.
Spiritual Bodies. While there are physical bodies, visible and palpable, there are also spiritual bodies, invisible to human eyes and entirely beyond human senses. (1Co 15:44) The bodies of spirit persons (God, Christ, the angels) are glorious. “At no time has anyone beheld God.” (1Jo 4:12) Man cannot see God and live. (Ex 33:20) When the apostle Paul had only a glimpse of the manifestation of Jesus Christ after Jesus’ resurrection, he fell to the ground and was blinded by the brilliance, a miracle being required to restore his sight. (Ac 9:3-5, 17, 18; 26:13, 14) Likewise, angels are far more powerful than men. (2Pe 2:11) They are glorious, brilliant ones and have appeared as such in physical manifestations. (Mt 28:2-4; Lu 2:9) These spirit sons of God have vision strong enough to see and endure the brilliance of the Almighty God.—Lu 1:19.
Because we cannot see God with physical eyes, he uses certain anthropomorphic expressions to help us to understand and appreciate things about himself. The Bible speaks of him as having eyes (Ps 34:15; Heb 4:13); arms (Job 40:9; Joh 12:38); feet (Ps 18:9; Zec 14:4); heart (Ge 8:21; Pr 27:11); hands (Ex 3:20; Ro 10:21); fingers (Ex 31:18; Lu 11:20); nose, nostrils (Eze 8:17; Ex 15:8); and ears (1Sa 8:21; Ps 10:17). It is not to be supposed that he literally possesses these organs in the way that we know them. The apostle John, who had hope of life in heaven, said to fellow heirs of heavenly life: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.” (1Jo 3:2) It will be a body conformed to the “glorious body” of Jesus Christ (Php 3:21), who is “the image of the invisible God,” “the reflection of his glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3) They will, therefore, receive bodies that are incorruptible, having immortality, as distinguished from angels in general and from mankind, who are mortal.—1Co 15:53; 1Ti 1:17; 6:16; Mr 1:23, 24; Heb 2:14.
Christ’s Body of Flesh. At the institution of the Lord’s Evening Meal, Jesus offered the unfermented bread to the 11 faithful apostles, saying: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf.” (Lu 22:19) The apostle Peter later said: “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his own body upon the stake.”—1Pe 2:24; Heb 10:10; see LORD’S EVENING MEAL.
In order for Jesus to be “the last Adam” (1Co 15:45) and to be “a corresponding ransom for all [mankind],” his fleshly body had to be a real human body, no incarnation. (1Ti 2:5, 6; Mt 20:28) It had to be perfect, for it was to be sacrificed to present to Jehovah God the purchase price. (1Pe 1:18, 19; Heb 9:14) No imperfect human could provide the needed price. (Ps 49:7-9) For this reason Jesus said to his Father when presenting himself for baptism, to begin his sacrificial course: “You prepared a body for me.”—Heb 10:5.
The physical body of Jesus Christ was not allowed to decay into dust as did the bodies of Moses and David, men who were used to foreshadow Christ. (De 34:5, 6; Ac 13:35, 36; 2:27, 31) When his disciples went to the tomb early on the first day of the week, Jesus’ body had disappeared, and the bandages with which his body had been wrapped were left in the tomb, his body doubtless having been disintegrated without passing through the process of decaying.—Joh 20:2-9; Lu 24:3-6.
After Jesus’ resurrection he appeared in different bodies. Mary mistook him for the gardener. (Joh 20:14, 15) He again appeared, entering a room with locked doors, having a body with wound marks. (Joh 20:24-29) Several times he manifested himself and was recognized, not by his appearance, but by his words and actions. (Lu 24:15, 16, 30, 31, 36-45; Mt 28:16-18) Once a miracle performed at his direction opened his disciples’ eyes to his identity. (Joh 21:4-7, 12) Jesus, having been resurrected as a spirit (1Pe 3:18), could materialize a body for the occasion as the angels did in past times, when they appeared as messengers. (Ge 18:2; 19:1, 12; Jos 5:13, 14; Jg 13:3, 6; Heb 13:2) During the days before the Flood, the angels that “did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place” performed an incarnation and married human wives. That these angelic sons of God were not truly human but had materialized bodies is shown by the fact that the Flood did not destroy these angels, but they dematerialized and returned to the spirit realm.—Jude 6; Ge 6:4; 1Pe 3:19, 20; 2Pe 2:4.
Symbolic Usage. Jesus Christ is spoken of as the Head of “the congregation, which is his body.” (Eph 1:22, 23; Col 1:18) This Christian body of people has no divisions racially, nationally, or otherwise, Jews and people of all nations being represented in it. (Ga 3:28; Eph 2:16; 4:4) All are baptized by holy spirit into Christ and into his death. They are, therefore, all baptized into one body. (1Co 12:13) Thus all the body follows the head, dying his kind of death and receiving his kind of resurrection.—Ro 6:3-5; see BAPTISM (Baptism Into Christ Jesus, Into His Death).
The apostle Paul uses the functioning of the human body to illustrate the operation of the Christian congregation, likening the members living on earth at any particular time to a body, with Christ as the invisible Head. (Ro 12:4, 5; 1Co 12) He emphasizes the importance of the place each member occupies, the interdependency, the mutual love and care, and the accomplishment of work. God has set each one in his position in the body, and through the various operations of the holy spirit the body performs what is necessary. The Head, Jesus Christ, as liaison member, supplies the members of the body the things they need through the “joints and ligaments,” the means and arrangements for supplying spiritual nourishment as well as communication and coordination, so that “the body” is spiritually well fed and each part is informed of the task to perform.—Col 2:19; Eph 4:16.
Proper Use of One’s Body. The Christian should appreciate the body God has given him and should love himself to the extent of caring properly for his body so that he may be able to present it in acceptable, sacred service to God. (Ro 12:1) This requires the use of reason and the maintaining of the body with food and other necessities, as well as physical cleanliness, but other types of care are even more important. These involve spirituality, seeking God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, and practicing moral uprightness. (Mt 6:25, 31-33; Col 2:20-23; 3:5) The apostle counsels: “Bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1Ti 4:8.
One who is an anointed member of the Christian congregation, the body of Christ, and who commits fornication is taking a member of the Christ away and making that one a member of a harlot. Any such Christian committing fornication is bringing in moral defilement and is also “sinning against his own [fleshly] body.” He is putting himself in peril of being removed from the body of Christ, the temple organization, and is exposing himself to the danger of loathsome diseases. (1Co 6:13, 15-20; Pr 7:1-27) He may be ‘handed over by the congregation to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.’—1Co 5:5.
One who is a member of the body of Christ, as well as other dedicated persons who are associated with these spiritually begotten body members, must avoid not only physical fornication but also spiritual fornication. The Scriptures call one who has friendship with the world an ‘adulteress.’ (Jas 4:4) Jesus said of his disciples: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (Joh 17:16) Therefore, Jesus is careful that those who make up the members of his body are clean morally and spiritually. (Eph 5:26, 27) They are said to have their “bodies bathed with clean water.” (Heb 10:22) As the apostle Paul says, speaking of husbands: “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This sacred secret is great. Now I am speaking with respect to Christ and the congregation.”—Eph 5:28-32.
See parts of the body under individual names.