Inner Man, Inward Man

INNER MAN, INWARD MAN (ἔσω ἄνθρωπον). The concept of the inner man is prob. as old as the Bible record. It is the recognition of an inner man related to the outer man, but distinctive enough to have identity. The inner man is the true ego, whereas the outer man may or may not be a genuine portrayal of the inner man. Jesus castigated the scribes and Pharisees for their religious hypocrisy, comparing them to “whitewashed tombs” (Matt 23:27f.); and, He warned against “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (7:15).

In the period of the Judges when Israel was clamoring for a king, Samuel, under divine guidance, had to make a distinction between the inner and outer man. Seven of Jesse’s sons were rejected, but David, the youngest, was selected for king; for “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). The inner man is the real and dominant self. Paul was a living example of the distinction in the better way, and consequently prayed that God would grant the Ephesians “to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16).