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Author: Ron Graham


Is our Mind our Brain?
—Brain is flesh, mind is spirit.

In this study about mind and brain, we look at a second idea, the belief that the human mind is the fleshly brain.


Is the mind the brain or part of the brain? Does mind consists of electro-chemical processes in the physical brain?

Paul says, "We have the mind of Christ" (1Corinthians 2:16). Paul refers to the thoughts and words of Christ which are spiritual and not the product of a brain.

If mind originates from nerve signals transmitted to the brain, or from within the brain itself, then mind is entirely physical. In this case, thought is but a bodily process, and sentience is a state that physical science will explain by and by. But is that true? Is mind and thought really a function and product of the brain?

Paul writes, "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit. For to be fleshly minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:5-6).

So you are a spirit in your fleshly body. You control the thoughts in your mind. Your brain has a role in connecting your mind to your body, but your brain is not your master.

Mind-Brain Questions

When exhorting someone to think, we say, “Use your brains!” or “Use your head!”  We acknowledge the brain as an apparatus for thinking; but who or what is the user and thinker? Isn't it you?

Throughout the ages, philosophers have discussed the different natures of mind and body (“mind-body dualism”) and the question of their interaction and union (“the mind-body problem”).

The Bible does not address the mind-body problem. It does not tell us how the spiritual and eternal mind unites and interacts with the physical and temporal body. of which the brain is a part.

However, the Bible clearly teaches the dualistic position. It distinguishes the mind from the flesh, and considers the human being to have two distinct natures, spiritual and physical.

According to the Bible, the mind is not an organ of the body, or a result of bodily functions; the mind interacts with the body but is distinct from the body and superior to the body.

1 Nebuchadnezzar’s Head

Nebuchadnezzar said, "The visions of my head troubled me" (Daniel 4:5 NKJV), but some translations say, " the visions of my mind..." (Daniel 4:5 NASB). There is no doubt that the visions were in Nebuchadnezzar’s brain. But who put them there? From whose mind did they come?

Daniel says, "But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:" (Daniel 2:28 NASB).

The visions did not originate in Nebuchadnezzar’s head, but in the mind of God. Nebuchadnezzar thought about the visions. He did so in his mind, while using his brain which God had also used.

2 The Apostle Paul’s Mind-Body View

Paul regards the fleshly body as subordinate to the spiritual mind, and he distinguishes the spiritual mind from the fleshly members of the body, as our earlier quotes and the following instances show:

Paul says, "I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law which is in my members" (Romans 7:23).

Paul goes on to show that, through Christ, the mind can conquer the flesh. This sort of talk would hardly make any sense if Paul believed his mind to be the brain, a fleshly member of his body.

Paul says that he was once "caught up into the third heaven... whether in the body or out of the body I do not know... I heard inexpressible words..." (2Corinthians 12:2-4). Paul allows here the possibility of an “out of body experience” requiring “mind-body dualism”.

3 Jesus Christ’s Dualistic View

Jesus once asked the rhetorical question, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37).

Jesus is evidently talking about a part of a human that is spiritual and eternal, and should not be lost. By contrast, the brain is lost at death, and this loss cannot be helped.

Jesus was asked to select the greatest commandment. He chose, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:36-37).

It is hardly likely that Jesus quoted the words “heart”, “soul”, and “mind”, believing that the passage meant, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your brains."

Jesus also said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Worship is primarily an act of the mind, but it's hard to see how a mind made of flesh and blood could worship in spirit.

4 Luke’s Understanding of the Mind

Luke, in his writings indicates a belief in a spiritual part of human makeup as opposed to a solely physical makeup. Luke, being a physician, would have to consider the nature and relationship of body and mind.

"Then Jesus opened their mind so they could understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:45). "And the Lord opened Lydia's heart to respond to what Paul said" (Acts 16:14).

Luke speaks of God opening mind and heart, not a physical opening or manipulation.


In this lesson I have made no distinction between “heart”, “soul”, “mind”, “spirit”, and “inner being”.

In the Bible, the spiritual nature of man is referred to by various terms which are pretty much interchangeable as you can see by comparing the following scriptures

  • "...the inner man..." (2Corinthians 4:16)
  • "...the hidden person of the heart..." (IPeter 3:4)
  • "...heart... soul... mind..." (Matthew 22:37)
  • "...soul... spirit... heart..." (Hebrews 4:12)


Webservant Ron Graham

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