• Kent Brandenburg

Belly and Bowels

Paul says in Philippians 3:19 that enemies of Christ worship their koilia, their “belly,” their passions. In Colossians 3:12 Paul tells believers at that church to put on splankna, their bowels or their affections, of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. People hearing these words would have already known what they meant in the context they were used. It might not make sense to us today without looking into them. As the seat of affections, the splankna was things like love, joy, courage, and compassion. As the seat of the passions, the koilia was things like appetite, sexuality, fear, and rage. The affections were to be nurtured, developed, and encouraged, and the passions were to be held under control. The distinction between the two was not delineated in the New Testament, because that was already known from writings previous. However, Jonathan Edwards, colonial pastor, later wrote about these in his classic book, Treatise on the Religious Affections. In his writing, exposing scriptural truth on this matter, he showed that a saved person must never be governed by his passions. The Bible calls this part of man his “belly,” what we might call his “gut” today, and it reveals an unbeliever to be a slave to it. The physical passions are not evil in themselves, but they must always be kept under control. Left unchecked, passions always lead to sin. For example, anger over sin is required, but the Apostle Paul said that the sun was not to go down upon that anger, that is, even anger at sin must be kept under control (Eph 4:26).

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