Studying Paul and the Mind

Since the early 2000’s, I have been fascinated with what Paul says about the mind/heart (our thoughts and feelings) and its role (their role) in discipleship.

In the Bible, mind and heart are synonyms.

  • Mind (NOUS) seems to refer more often to thinking, intellect;
  • Heart (KARDIA) seems to refer more often to feelings and desires, impulses.
  • The line between the two is not hard and fast, there is an amount of crossover between them.
  • I also suspect that some authors will use “mind” where another might use “heart”; we have to allow for variations of use between the different authors.

So I am attempting to compile a list of Paul’s references to mind/heart in discipleship.  Not every Pauline reference to mind/heart relates to discipleship.  These are passages where the mind/heart is seen as the seat of behavior, the foundation of lifestyle.

Here are the ones I can think of off the top of my head; I haven’t done a concordance search yet.

I have categorized them as GOOD (good thinking = good living) and BAD (bad thinking = bad living).  Those are rather blunt definitions, open to refining.

FIRST: BAD (bad thinking goes with bad living)

The obvious example here is Romans 1:

Romans 1.21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. …

28 As they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

 

Ephesians 4.22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I’m sure I’ll find more examples, but this clearly shows the pattern.  Bad thinking leads to bad living leads to more bad thinking.

SECOND: GOOD (good thinking goes with good living)

Here are the examples that come to mind:

Romans 8.5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8.5-8 actually goes in both categories, doesn’t it?  So does Ephesians 4.22-24.

Romans 12.1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ephesians 4.22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Philippians 2.1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

Colossians 3.1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Can you think of other examples?

One thought on “Studying Paul and the Mind

  1. Pingback: Studying Paul and the Mind, Step 2 | Circleslide

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