Physical exercise is work done by the human body for such purposes as strengthening, health, or sport.  Although the Bible contains references to physical exercise, the purpose of the Bible is to define the Spiritual life with God not the physical relationship to the human body.  The Bible is not an exercise manual; therefore, divine guidance will be required when incorporating physical exercise into the personal life.

Contrast of Spiritual and Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is of little value compared to the great benefits of exercising the Spiritual life.
1 Tim 4:7-8
7 But avoid worldly fables and old wives' tales, but, on the other hand, exercise yourself for the Spiritual life. 8 For you see, physical exercise is profitable for a little (the physical), but the Spiritual life is profitable for all things (spiritual, soulish, physical), holding promise for the present life and the future one.
Paul's advise to Timothy was to avoid teaching human viewpoint about such things as dietary laws, worldly wisdom, and old wives' tales.  Instead Timothy should execute the Spiritual life, i. e. "exercise yourself for the Spiritual life."  The word, "exercise," is the Greek, gumnazo (or gymnazo), which literal means to exercise naked.  It was named for the athletes who exercised naked.  It is, thus, a term for physical exercise, but in the context of the Spiritual life, it means simply to exercise.  The word for Spiritual life is the Greek, eusebeia, which refers to the Spiritual (or Christian) life.
By way of explanation, "physical exercise is profitable for a little."  "Physical exercise" is the noun form of gumnazo.  So, this is an explanation of how physical exercise fits into the Spiritual life.  Physical exercise is profitable for a little, which means it only has physical value.  In contrast, "the Spiritual life is profitable for all things," which includes the spiritual, soulish, and physical.  Executing the Spiritual life is far superior to physical exercise.  It has benefits for both this life and the life after death.  This doesn't exclude physical exercise as beneficial, but the Spiritual life must be the priority.  The physical life is still necessary since it is the home of the soul and spirit.

Physical Exercise

Man was created with the ability to do work, and after the Fall, he was required to live by the sweat of the face (Gen 3:19).  Man's work on the farm was physical exercise.  With the Divine Institution of Nationalism came the need to fight in the army to protect wife and family.  Preparation for combat required physical exercise.
Those who were athletically inclined began to participate in sports contests (Eccl 9:11; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Heb 12:1).  Physical exercise was not a problem in Biblical times since walking was the normal mode of transportation and there was ample work to be done in daily life.

Health Benefits of Exercise

The human body requires exercise for good health.  Even though physical exercise does not help the Spiritual life, it does help the body, and the body is the home of the soul and spirit.  Physical exercise is an indicator of a person's self-esteem (love of self).  Taking care of one's health is also an indicator of Spiritual self-esteem, since the human body is needed to live the Spiritual life.  A person who loves the Lord and appreciates the body God created will take care of it.  A person who loves Right Man, Right Woman, or family will take care of his health for them.  Physical exercise, like everything else, should be done in the will of God and Filling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 10:31).


Learning Bible Doctrine and executing the Spiritual life should be the priority.  Physical exercise only benefits the physical, while Spiritual exercise is profitable for all things (including the spiritual, soulish, and physical).  The paramount objective of the Spiritual life should be getting to Spiritual Maturity.  Then, if time permits and the Holy Spirit agrees, physical exercise may be added to preserve physical health.  The physical body needs exercise to maintain health.  And without a body, there can be no Spiritual life on this Earth.

Author:  Larry Wood,   Released June 23, 2010 - Revised Sept. 27, 2011

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