One of the Top 100 Most-Asked Questions About the Bible

Question: Is there a connection between spiritual and physical health?

Answer: Generally, we must acknowledge that our Creator knows what is best for us, so in that regard our physical health and spiritual well-being are closely connected. The Hebrew word used most often to describe humans in the Old Testament is nephesh, translated person. It described the wholeness of life and was not easily reduced to the “body” and “soul” distinctions that emerged later in the Greek world of the New Testament.

As part of God’s design to make Israel a spiritually vibrant nation, long sections of the social codes in Leviticus were devoted to dietary regulations and hygiene as well as acceptable responses to illnesses, injuries and blood flow. The psalmist David clearly connected the blight of his physical condition to spiritual distress, noting that when he failed to confess his sins and remained at odds with God and others, his bones wasted and his strength was sapped (Ps 32:3 – 4). Paul recognized the connection between spiritual laxity and physical sickness (1Co 11:27 – 30) as well as the need for physical sustenance to maintain spiritual strength (1Ti 5:23).

Still, care must be taken not to completely equate spiritual righteousness and physical health. The psalmist Asaph observed that many wicked people were models of vibrant strength (Ps 73:3 – 5). And the apostle Paul struggled constantly with at least one, if not several, physical ailments (2Co 12:1 – 10; Gal 4:13 – 15) that were by no means a result of spiritual deficiency.

Humans are complex beings, and although we know there are connections between our physical and spiritual health, we can’t always pinpoint what those connections are. Our task is to nurture our souls so that we maximize our spiritual health and take the best possible care of our bodies to maximize our physical health. We are to consider our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit (1Co 3:16; 6:19 – 20).

 

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Content adapted from the NIV Quest Study Bible, which features over 7,000 notes written in an engaging question and answer format that give insight into the common, uncommon, and sometimes perplexing passages from the Bible. Now available in personal size.

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