Greek Concepts--"nous"

Anyone dispute this?

The Bible teaches that man, in his natural human state, does not have the ability to perceive and understand the things of God. Furthermore, it is only the Lord by His Spirit who is able to open man’s mind in this way; thereby allowing him to see, and to hear, and to know.


The Greek concept of νοῦς (nous) has to do with our perceptive abilities – a way of understanding or interpreting something, a mental impression. Humanly speaking it is being aware of something by way of the senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. While spiritually speaking it refers to the believer’s Spiritual perception, which is necessary for discerning the will of God. The Bible teaches that man, in his natural human state, does not have the ability to perceive and understand the things of God. Furthermore, it is only the Lord by His Spirit who is able to open man’s mind in this way; thereby allowing him to see, and to hear, and to know.

Review ~ Meaning Parts 1 through 3

In our first three articles, we studied Paul’s teachings on this important word (νοῦς, nous, Strong’s 3563) and concept. In Romans, he says believers are in the process of being transformed through the renewing of their mind. Then Ephesians teaches believers are renewed in the spirit of their minds. And finally I Corinthians describes the communal growth process of being knit together in the same mind and the same judgment.

Review ~ Meaning Part 4

Last week we began the second phase of our study of νοῦς (nous). This study centers on how the believer develops spiritual perception. Paul taught in I Corinthians 2:14-16, that a natural-thinking man does not understand the things of the Lord. This is because the things of the Lord are spiritually discerned. The human being with his natural abilities does not have the capacity to comprehend spiritual things. Only the spiritual man can understand spiritual things. Paul concludes chapter two with this statement: But we ourselves have the mind of Christ. The person saved by the Spirit of God has the Spirit of the living God residing within. It is through this indwelling that God’s Spirit reveals the spiritual things of God to God’s people.

νοῦς (nous) Part 5

A great example of this is found in Luke 24:13-45 and it serves as the focus of this week’s study.

Their Eyes Were Held

In his gospel, Luke records that two disciples were traveling to the village of Emmaus on the third day after Jesus had been crucified (Luke 24:13). As they were discussing recent events, Jesus Himself drew near and began traveling with them. Verse 16 says, And their eyes were held in order that they might not recognize Him. The Greek word translated held is κρατέω (krateō, Strong’s 2902) and means to grip . The Lord purposely held their eyes from recognizing Him. As we follow this through, we will understand why the Lord would prevent someone from recognizing Him.


Our examination of the text begins with verse 18. The disciple named Cleopas asked the Lord if He was the only person traveling in Jerusalem who was unaware of the things that had taken place. Jesus asks, “What things?” This provides insight into how the Lord works to develop His followers’ perceptive processes. Obviously, Jesus knew what had happened in Jerusalem. He was not asking the disciples for information. But rather, He was drawing out of them verbal confession of the condition of their heart. He revealed their heart condition so that He might begin to transform them.

The Condition of the Heart

The disciples’ communication with Jesus revealed four things about the condition of their heart.

First, they were referring to the things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth. They described Him as a prophet who was mighty in work and word.

Second, they said the chief priests and rulers delivered Him over unto judgment of death and crucified Him.

Third, they said they were continually putting their hope on this One who had been crucified to be the Redeemer of Israel; but, in discouragement, they said this was now the third day since all of these things had taken place.

Fourth, they related that certain women had gone to the tomb. The women returned and astonished the disciples with news that they did not find His body, but had seen angels declaring, “He is living.”

Without Perception

The two disciples explained that others went to the tomb finding it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see (Luke 24:24). Verses 25 to 27 provides Jesus’ response:

25) “O Senseless and slow in heart to believe upon everything which the prophets spoke;
26) was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and that He should enter into His glory?”
27) And having begun from Moses and from all of the prophets, He was interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The word translated senseless is the Greek word ἀνόητος (anoētos, Strong’s 453). It literally means, to be without perception . The meaning derives from the alpha privative α- (a prefix used to express negation or absence); and νοέω (noeō, Strong’s 3539), the verb form of νοῦς (nous), meaning perception . Jesus was not scolding the disciples for lacking the ability to understand what the Scriptures were saying. He would not expect them to be able to perceive spiritual truth without the Holy Spirit revealing it to them.

Revealing Spiritual Things

The Lord pointed out to these disciples that they did not have the ability to perceive the things of the Lord and that their hearts were slow in grasping everything the prophets spoke. He then proceeded to interpret for them from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Later, these two disciples looked back on this time and said, Was not our heart burning in us as He was speaking to us in the road and as He was opening to us the Scriptures? ” (Luke 24:32). Here we see two principles that the Lord continually taught. The first is that every person does not have the spiritual ability to understand the spiritual things of God. And second, only the Lord, through His Spirit, can reveal spiritual things.


In fact, this is the key to understanding the Lord’s teachings in the Gospels. The Lord never taught His disciples to produce their own faith or spiritual perception and understanding. Instead, He continually put the disciples in circumstances that revealed their inability to function spiritually. The Lord taught His disciples to depend on Him during the three years He physically walked with them. John 15:5 expresses this clearly, where Jesus said, Without Me, you are not able to do one thing. All the time the Lord spent with His disciples, both in Jerusalem and on the road to Emmaus, He was working on them. Mercifully preparing their hearts to receive the truth of the Word of God when the time came.

He Remains

As the Lord and the two disciples drew near to Emmaus, Jesus looked as if He were going to continue traveling. The disciples asked Him to remain with them. Jesus would have gone on had they not constrained Him to stay with them. Their desire for Jesus to spend more time with them was evidence that the Lord’s ministry to them during their travel together was now changing their hearts. Jesus stayed with them for the evening meal. He took bread, blessed it, and was continually giving pieces of the bread to them.

Breaking Bread

Luke 24:31 tells us what happened as Jesus was breaking the bread and giving it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He Himself became invisible from them. The translation were opened represents the passive voice of the verb διανοίγω (dianoigō, Strong’s 1272) that means to open completely . The passive voice means that they were the recipients of the action of having their eyes opened. Although He had held their eyes earlier in the day from knowing Him, the Lord chose, at this time, to cause them to recognize Him. Their hearts had been prepared to realize the final outcome of the Lord’s crucifixion: He is living!


The disciples went back to Jerusalem that very hour and told the apostles what had happened. While they were speaking, Jesus Himself appeared in the room. He showed them the nail prints in His hands and His feet. He also ate a meal in front of them to prove that they were not seeing a ghost, but the resurrected Christ.

Ready to Perceive

Then He said to them, as recorded in Luke 24:44-45:

44) “These are the words which I spoke to you while still being with you, that it is necessary that all things should be fulfilled which have been written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me.”
45) Then He opened their mind (νοῦς) in order that they might understand the Scriptures.

The disciples were now ready to perceive the things of the Lord concerning His crucifixion and resurrection. This happened only after the Lord had prepared their hearts and had opened their perceptive abilities to understand the Scriptures. The natural human being is not capable of arriving at the correct understanding of the things of the Lord using his own human abilities. The Spirit of the Lord must develop the condition of the heart and then reveal the understanding of Christ.

Final Preparation

Jesus continued to explain from the Scriptures that it was necessary for Him to suffer, and to die, and to rise the third day. The disciples were now ready for the coming of the Holy Spirit who would fill their hearts and use them for His glory.


Paul taught it is necessary for a believer to be transformed through the renewing of his perceptive processes. That they should all be in the process of being knit together with the same spiritual perception and judgment. A person can only perceive the spiritual things of the Lord when the Spirit of God reveals them. Additionally, Luke 24 shows the Lord Himself can prevent a person from recognizing Him both in the physical and spiritual realms. He can prevent His people from knowing Him until He has changed their hearts and minds, which are naturally without perception.


It is the Lord, by His Spirit, who opens the perceptive processes of the believer so that he can see the Lord and understand the teaching of Scripture concerning Him.


– Nous is the English font spelling of the Greek word νοῦς.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

Technical Notes

Luke 24:16 (Literal English Translation)
And their eyes were held in order that they might not recognize1 Him.

Luke 24:25-27 (Literal English Translation)
25) “O Senseless and slow in heart to believe upon everything which the prophets spoke;
26) was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer2 these things and that He should enter3 into His glory?”
27) And having begun from Moses and from all of the prophets, He was interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

John 15:5 (Literal English Translation)
…without Me, you are not able4 to do one thing.

Luke 24:44-45 (Literal English Translation)
44) “These are the words which I spoke to you while still being with you, that it is necessary that all things should be fulfilled5 which have been written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me.”
45) Then He opened their mind (νοῦς, nous), in order that they might understand6 the Scriptures.”

1 The Greek articular infinitive of purpose τοῦ μὴ ἐπιγνῶναι: the not to recognize is translated by διὰ νὰ μὴ γνωρίσωσιν: in order that they might not recognize .

2 The infinitive of purpose παθεῖν with the accusative subject τὸν χριστὸν is translated, νὰ πάθῃ ὁ Χριστὸς: that the Christ should suffer .

3 The infinitive of purpose εἰσελθεῖν is translated, νὰ εἰσέλθῃ: that He should enter .

4 The Greek word δύναμαι (Strong’s 1410) that is usually translated can in most English translations, literally means ability or capacity . Jesus is telling His disciples that without Him, they have no ability or capacity to function in the spiritual things of Christ.

5 The infinitive πληρωθῆναι: to be fulfilled is translated νὰ πληρωθῶσι: that they might be fulfilled .

6 The articular infinitive τοῦ συνιέναι expressing purpose: the to understand , is translated, διὰ νὰ καταλάβωσι: in order that they might understand .

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The Bible also teaches that God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed and people are without excuse if they don’t see them.

Couldn’t it also be the case that the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus because his resurrected self was physically different and it wasn’t a matter of spiritual blindness at all? Recognizing spiritual truths and recognizing the identity of a person are not the same thing.

I agree that the Spirit of God unites us with Christ and works in our hearts and minds to give us the capacity and sensitivity to grasp and apply spiritual truth. This is clearly taught throughout the New Testament. But if you are trying to conflate all perceptive processes with spiritual insight and make the point that people not filled with the Holy Spirit cannot perceive truth rightly (i.e. do science), then I disagree completely and don’t think that idea is at all supported by the Scripture presented.


Don’t faint but I agree with this. But only because it is limited to our perception of Jesus.

Was the point supposed to be our perception of the natural world, because if it is then I would strongly disagree.

It’s funny, but I think that on a clear day unbelievers can rightly perceive the sky to be blue.

Dunno why I am having trouble with this, could you elaborate?

I was referencing Romans 1:19-20 which says, “For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Ah, I see now thank you for the clarification.

The book of Romans 1:18-25. Actually I’ll start at 17. For in it the righteousness of God is being revealed in it from faith unto faith; as it has been written, “But the just shall live from out of faith.” 18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from Heaven against or upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, the ones who are SUPPRESSING the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because or on account of that, that which may be known of God is manifest or made visible or clear in them, for God has manifested it to them. 20 For the invisible things or attributes of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood or perceived by the things made that is creation . The invisible things even His eternal power and Godhead, His existence, His character, so that they are without excuse. 21 Because that when they KNEW God, they did not glorify Him a God, nor became thankful. But they became empty or vain in their imaginations, it is literally the word dialogues, the dialogues of their mind became purposeless and empty, and their foolish heart, the word foolish means without understanding and their heart that is without understanding became darkened. 22 While professing themselves to be wise, they became foolish. That is where we get our English word moron from, foolish, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up, literally over, to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves, 25 who changed the truth of God into the lie, in the Greek text is the definite article and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen .

Pastor Bill Klein

My comment: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works,
there is none that doeth good.
This is about a heart response to the Truth.
What about those who are born blind? They don’t see His creation.

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What does Paul mean when he writes of the natural man?

natural manaudio


In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, the natural man is compared to the spiritual man and the carnal man. Verse 14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (NASB). This verse does not define the natural man, as such; rather, it uses the term to describe one who does not understand God’s words and thoughts. The one who can understand God’s words is a “spiritual” man (verse 15).

Dr. Henry Morris, in the New Defender’s Study Bible , gives this comment on verse 14: “The ‘natural’ man, still unsaved, cannot appreciate spiritual truths. He must first understand Christ’s atoning sacrifice for him, but even that is ‘foolishness’ to him (1:18) until the Holy Spirit Himself convicts him of its reality (John 16:7-11).” Basically, the “natural” man is one who does not have the Holy Spirit residing within him. As Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6).

Let’s look at some other uses in the Bible of the word natural . In Romans 11:21 we read, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.” In 1 Corinthians 15:44-46, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, then there is also a spiritual body. …However the spiritual is not first, but the natural ; then the spiritual.” Ezekiel 44:31 speaks of a natural death. Daniel 10:8 speaks of a natural color. James 1:23 speaks of a natural face, and James 3:15 states, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural , demonic.”

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul uses the word natural to refer to someone still in his original (sinful) state. The Greek word psuchikos (“natural”) can be defined as “animal,” as opposed to “spiritual.” Natural men are those who are occupied with the things of this material world to the exclusion of the things of God. They are led by instinct rather than by the Spirit of God. They intuitively choose sin over righteousness. They are the “pagans” Jesus refers to in Matthew 6:32 who only seek after the things of this world.

The supernatural work of God is to change the natural man into a spiritual one. When a person trusts Christ, God exchanges what is natural (received from Adam) for what is spiritual (received from Christ). “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The Christian life is, therefore, a supernatural one. We do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).

Thanks Shannon

The Truth Of Christ Cannot Be Understood By Human Ability

I generally agree that the truth of Christ requires a spiritual sensitivity enabled by God to some degree. But if that is the case, why do Christian groups spend so much time doing apologetics and debating non-Christians. Why not just pray for them?


Hi Christy
2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Not all are going to receive the Lord but the ones who have agape are concerned for the spiritual well-being of others. Nothing wrong with a born again believer praying for others in accordance to His will. Our prayers are not a magical formula to get God to move in accordance to our will and desire.

Did you read the study of the Truth of Christ cannot be understood by human ability?

Of course we have a multitude of faiths on the discussion board and I know it will not be a blessing to all.

And unbelievers who understand the truths of God’s creation revealed by the gift he has given us in science will not be attracted to the truth of the gospel because the falsehoods proclaimed by YECism.

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Interesting comment Dale. This is based on what? :thinking:

In the Gospel of John 1:9, John says that Jesus Christ was the True Light who enlightens every man coming into the world. Every human being who comes into this world is enlightened by Christ, the Light, so that they are without excuse.
No one will have an excuse for rejecting God.

I have no issue with your quote which refers to spiritual truths, but it does not rectify nor address the scientific untruths promoted by YECs.

This is what the LORD says: If I have not established my covenant with the day and the night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth…
Jeremiah 33:25

I don’t know if you’re scientifically savvy enough to understand, but YEC ‘scientists’ make all kinds of claims for the variability of those fixed laws, like the speed of light and radionuclide decay rates, ignoring the verse just cited. Then there is the scientifically ridiculous ‘flood geology.’

I have never seen a YEC answer to the science in the following cool phenomena about ‘girdled rocks’ (and reported by a Christian):

New evidence always supports the antiquity of the earth and God’s awesome cosmos, and it continues to build. It’s too bad that YECism is so frequently so closely identified with Christianity as to be integral to it.

I posted a PDF of a study and no one here was interested with the exception of Shannon. I see you responded with a link without checking out the PDF study.
I think we can both say neither of us are being persuaded by each other.

Wow my head is spinning…What do any of the responses have to do with the OP of “nous” or the subject of the “natural man” or “The Truth of Christ Cannot Be Understood By Human Ability”?
Nothing but debate, argue, and diversion

I see you not responding to what people actually say without ever engaging in thought with them and just parroting the party line, never mind any links.

It is quite understandable that you prefer not to admit the reality of the Jeremiah reference and just be silent about it.

I have no problem with it at all, that God has to work in people’s hearts before they will turn to him. The diversion is actually the thread, failing again to address the reality of God’s creation.

God uses the physical reality of their circumstances and the cosmos to point people to himself, however, to prepare their hearts, and YECism denies the truth of that reality, especially the latter. Maybe Psalm 19 should come to mind? Does it? How about Psalm 104? Psalm 8? Romans 1? The reality of big bang cosmology has inclined many to consider the claims of Christianity. You do not realize the irony of your accusation.

My point was, I think Christians often focus a lot of energy into developing arguments for why everyone should believe the same things they do. I think this is misguided and people’s “spiritual eyes” are much more likely to be awakened by grace and love in action than by arguments. That’s why I personally spend zero energy on Christian apologetics and try to focus on living out my own knowledge of God’s truth and putting into practice the things Jesus calls us to.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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