Grace Theological Journal 1.2 (Spring 1980) 195-219

          Copyright © 1980 by Grace Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.



                         EPHESIANS 2:3c AND

                      PECCATUM ORIGINALE



                                                   DAVID L. TURNER





THE student of hamartiology soon discovers that Eph 2:3c is a

standard proof text for and often occurs in the various presenta-

tions of original sin (peccatum originale or habituale). It may well be

that after Rom 5: 12-21 this passage is the most important in the NT

on this doctrine. All branches of Christendom, including Reformed,

Lutheran, Anglican, Arminian, and Roman Catholic1 have depended


1 Reformed: The Calvinistic theologians normally view this verse as asserting

hereditary depravity. See for example: Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London:

The Banner of Truth Trust, 1941) 240; John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion

(LCC 20, 21; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), I. 249, 254; 2. 1340; R. L. Dabney,

Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976 reprint) 328, 341;

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 reprint),

2.243-44; W. G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (3 vols.; reprinted; Minneapolis: Klock

and Klock, 1979), 2. 217-19; and A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology (Valley Forge:

Judson Press, 1907) 578-79. See also the Westminster Confession (6:4) and Shorter

Catechism (Question 18): The Confession of Faith (Halkirk, Caithness: Publications

Committee of the Free Church of Scotland, 1962 reprint) 40, 290. Lutheran: It is

evident that Martin Luther viewed Eph 2:3c as support for hereditary sin. For brief

citations from Luther and references to relevant passages see E. W. Plass, ed., What

Luther Says (3 vols.; St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 3. 1295, 1300, 1361 (#4151,4167,

4385). See also article 2 of the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord

(1. 1-3) in the Concordia Triglot: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran

Church (St. Louis: Concordia, 1921) 44, 105, 779. The Lutheran theologian Francis

Pieper also views Eph 2:3c in this manner. See his Christian Dogmatics (4 vols.; St.

Louis: Concordia, 1950), I. 427, 528, 530, 542. Anglican: While the Thirty Nine

Articles of the Church of England do not contain proof texts, the language of Article 9

shows that its framers understood original sin to refer to "the fault and corruption of

the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam." This

definition implies a reference to Eph 2:3c. For an exposition of the conservative

Anglican view, see Gilbert Burnet, An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the

Church of England, rev. by J. R. Page (London: Scott, Webster, and Geary, 1837) 139-

51 and W. H. Griffith-Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the

Thirty-nine Articles (6th ed.; London: Vine Books, 1978) 155-75. Arminian: Theolo-

gians such as Miley and Sheldon spend considerable time with Eph 2:3c. While they

admit "original sin," they deny that man is held responsible or guilty because of it. See

John Miley, Systematic Theology (2 vols.; New York: Eaton and Mains, 1892), 1.512;

196                       GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


upon this passage in formulating their hamartiological positions.

There are those, however, who deny that this passage has any a

relevance to original sin.2 Their arguments are not to be taken lightly.

The purpose of this paper is to determine whether Eph 2:3c actually

supports the concept of original sin, find if so, what that contribution


One point of definition must be clarified first: this paper deals

with original sin proper rather than the broader area of man's

depravity. Kuehner thus explains this term:


It is so named because (1) it is derived from the original root of

mankind; (2) it is present in each individual from the time of his birth;

(3) it is the inward root of all actual sins that defile the life of man.3


It is true that "original sin" is often used with all three of these

concepts .in mind. As "original sin" is used in this paper, however, a

narrower concept is implied: "the phrase original sin designates only

the hereditary moral corruption c01mon to all men from birth.”4


and H. C. Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1903)

316-17. John Wesley preached a sermon on original sin, evidently from Eph 2:3c on

January 24, 1743 at Bath, England. This message showed he certainly believed that

original sin was taught in this text. However, his doctrine of prevenient grace probably

caused him to deny that man was guilty or under wrath due to original sin. See John

Wesley. The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley (4 vols.; New York: E. P. Dutton and

Co., n.d.), 1. 413; and A. S. Wood, The Burning Heart: John Wesley. Evangelist (Grand

Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 232-36. Catholic: Both Augustine and Aquinas used Eph 2:3c

to support original sin, though they had quite different understandings of man's sin-

fulness. See Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine’s Anti-Pelagian Works, trans. by P.

Holmes and R. E. Wallis; rev. by B. B. Warfield, A Select library of the Nicene and

Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (vol. 4; New York: The Christian

Literature Company, 1887) 50, 122, 150,236,290-91. One wonders why G. M. Lukken

translates Augustine's natura (Latin for nature = fu<sij) as "second nature." See

Lukken's Original Sin in the Roman liturgy (Leiden: Brill, 1973) 330. For Aquinas,

see Original Sin (Summa Theologiae, 26; New York: McGraw-Hili, 1963) 11 (Question

81:1). For a modern Catholic perspective see A. M. Dubarle, The Biblical Doctrine of

Original Sin, trans. by E. M. Stewart (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1964) 188-89 and

Ferninand Prat, The Theology of St. Paul, trans. by J..C. Stoddard (Westminster,

Md.: The Newman Bookshop, 1956), 2. 589.

2Among many denials, see Markus Barth, Ephesians (AB; Garden City, NY:

Doubleday, 1974), I. 231; N. P. Williams. The Ideas of the Fall and Original Sin

(London: Longmans, Grren, and Co., Ltd., 1927) 113, n. I; and George B. Stevens,

The Pauline Theology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895), 152-58.

3Fred C. Kuehner, "Fall of Man" in the Wyclliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. by C. F.

Pfeiffer, et al. (2 vols.; Chicago: Moody, 1975), I. 589.

            4A. A. Hodge. Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972 reprint of

1879 edition) 324. It cannot be asserted too strongly that "original" does not refer to

man's original character as created by God, but to his original character as a

descendant of Adam.



The investigation, then, relates to the legitimacy of using Eph 2:3c as

a proof text for the hereditary moral corruption of man’s nature.

The term "nature" is used incessantly in articulating the doctrines

of theology proper (specifically relating to the trinity), Christology

(one person with two "natures"), anthropology (human "nature"),

and hamartiology (sin "nature," old "nature"). However, there is

often confusion in the way this term is used. In this writer's view, it is

imperative to distinguish between a "person" as a substantive entity

and a "nature" as a complex of attributes in any of these branches of

theology.5 Therefore, the term "nature" will be used here to refer to a

complex of attributes. Attributes are viewed as innate char1cteristics,

not acquired habits.

Only an exegetical theology can be a valid biblical theology.

Therefore, the paper is primarily exegetical. The three sections handle

(1) preliminary matters of exegesis, (2) the Semitic nature, of te<kna

... o]rgh?j, and (3) the crucial word fu<sei. The conclusion summa-

rizes the exegesis and briefly interacts with other views from the

perspective that Eph 2:3c does indeed support the idea of hereditary

moral corruption.


                                 PRELIMINARY MATTERS



A well-known approach to the book of Ephesians views its first

three chapters as primarily doctrinal and its second three chapters as

primarily expounding duties based upon doctrine. After his normal

epistolary introduction (1:1-2), Paul breaks out into praise to the

triune God for his glorious salvation (1:3-14). Next he explains his

prayerful desire that the Ephesians might apprehend a greater knowl-

edge of their glorious position in the body of Christ (1: 15-23). The

first three verses of chap. 2 serve to remind the Ephesians of their

sinful past so that they might better appreciate the love, mercy, and

grace of God who saved them by grace through faith for good works

2:4-10). The remainder of chaps. 2 and 3 further explains God's

gracious program of uniting Jew and Gentile in Christ's body, the

church (2: 11-3: 13). Chap. 3 ends, as did chap. I, with a majestic

prayer for the Ephesians' spiritual growth which concludes with a

stirring doxology (3:14-21).


      5See J. O. Buswell, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand

Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 1.55,2.56. R. E. Showers comes to the similar conclusion

that nature refers to character or "inherent disposition." See his "The New Nature,"

(unpublished Th.D. dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1975) 23.



198                              GRACE THEOGICAL JOURNAL



At first glance into the critic I apparatus of the V.B.S. text,6 it

appears that there are no textual variants in 2:3. The Nestle text's

apparatus reveals that manuscripts A and D have the second person

u[mei?j instead of the first person h[mei?j in the first clause of the verse. 7

Tischendorf's more exhaustive apparatus shows that manuscripts A,

D, E, F, G, K, L, and P have h#men instead of  h@meqa as the main verb

in 2:3c.8 Since these two forms are parsed identically, no change in

meaning is involved. A variant more important for exegesis changes

the word order of the phrase from te<kna fu<sei o]rhh?j to fu<sei te<kna

o]rgh?j (mss A, D, E, F, G, L, and P, and some versions).9  At first

glance, this reading seems to place much more emphasis upon the

crucial term fu<sei. However, none of the above variants have

sufficient support to render the text of the passage questionable. This

study, therefore, will proceed with the text of Eph 2:3c as it stands

in the Nestle, U.B.S., and Trinitarian Bible Society (textus receptus)



Change in person


The attentive reader of Ephesians 1-2 will notice that Paul speaks

in the first person plural10 and addresses the Ephesians in the second

person.11 The question arises as to why Paul shifts from first person

to second person and then back again to first person (see I: 12-14; see

also 2: 1-3 for the opposite shift). Does his first person plural "we"

refer to himself and the Ephesians or does it mean "we Jews," as

opposed to "you (Ephesians) Gentiles"? In interpreting 2:3c h@meqa


6Kurt Aland, et al., ed.; The Greek New Testament (3rd ed.; New York:

United Bible Societies, 1975) 666-67.

7Nestle, Eberhard, ed., Novum Testamentum Graece (24th ed.; Stuttgart:

Wiirttem-bergischen Bibelanstalt, 1960) 491.

8Constantine Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece (3 vols.; editio

octavo critica major; Lipsiae: Giesecke and Derrient, 1872), 2. 671. The textus

 receptus also has h#men instead of h@meqa see H KAINH DIAQHKH (London:

Trinitarian Bible Society, 1976) 355.

9Tischendorf, NT Graece, 2. 671. Another very obscure reading listed by

Tischendorf is te<kna o]rgh?j fu<sei. For a rather full textual apparatus on this

verse see S. D. F. Salmond, "The Epistle to the Ephesians"in The Expositors Greek

 Testament, ed. by W. R. Nicoll (5 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint), 3. 285.

10 Notice the first person plural pronouns in 1:2, 3 (2x), 4 (2x), 5, 6, 8,9,

12, 14, 17, 19; 2:3, 4, 5, 7, 14 and the first person plural verbs in 1:7, 11; 2:3 (2x), 9, 10,

14, 18. The question is whether these first person plural expressions ("we," "us") relate

 to Paul and the Ephesians or to Paul and other Jews, exclusive of the gentile Ephesians.

11Notice also the second person pronouns in 1:2, 13 (2x), 15, 16, 17, 18; 2:2

 (2x), 8,11,13,17,22; 3:1 and the second person verbs in 1:13; 2:2,5,8, II, 12, 13,

19 (2x), 22. These expressions undoubtedly refer to the Ephesians collectively.

TURNER:   EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIGINLE                   199


then refers either to Paul and his readersl2 or to Paul and other

Jews.13  The final comparative clause, w[j kai> oi[  loipoi<, refers either

to the rest of the Gentiles,14 or to humanity in general, including Jews

and Gentiles.15 The position taken here is that "we" is a reference to

Paul and the Ephesians, and "the rest" is a reference to mankind in

general. It is not until 2:11ff. that a discernible distinction can be

made between "we" (Jews) and "you" (Gentiles).16


Word order

That the word order of 2:3c was considered difficult at one time

or another is evident from the textual variants which change the

order from te>lma fi>seo o]rgh?j to fu<sei te<kna o]rgh?j and te<kna

o]rgh?j  fu<sei. Robertson notes that this word order is unusual, but

offers no explanation.17 Winer lists some other instances in Paul

where the genitive is "separated from its governing noun by another

word" and suggests that this word order was necessary so that "an

unsuitable stress was not to fall on fu<sei"18 Abbott finds the

position of fu<sei to be unemphatic and even uses this as an argument

against interpreting it to support the doctrine of original sin.19 Alford

agrees that there is no emphasis on fu<sei but states that "its doctrinal


            12For the view that "we" in 2:3c refers to Paul and his readers, Jews and Gentiles

alike, see John Eadie. Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted;

Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, 1977) 130-31; Charles J. Ellicott, Critical and Grammatical

Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted; Minneapolis: James Family,

1978) 45; William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Ephesians

 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967) 109-10; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's

 Epistle to the Galatians. Ephesians. and Philippians (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961)

410; and S. D. F. Salmond, "Ephesians," 285-86.

13For the view. that "we" in 2:3c refers to Paul and other Jews, excluding the

gentile Ephesians (u[ma?j,  2:1), see T. K. Abbott, The Epistles to the Ephesians and

 to the Colossians (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1897) 43; Francis Foulkes. The

Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (Tyndale New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1963) 70; Charles Hodge. An Exposition of Ephesians (Wilmington, DE:

Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., n.d.) 37; and H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and

 Exegetical Handbook to the Epistle to the Ephesians, trans. by M. J. Evans (reprinted;

Winona Lake, IN: Alpha Publications, 1979) 363.

14 Abbott, Ephesians, 46; Foulkes. Ephesians, 70; and Meyer, Ephesians, 368.

15Eadie, Ephesians, 137; Ellicott. Ephesians, 46; and Lenski, Ephesians, 412.

16The writer agrees entirely with Hendriksen on this point. See his Ephesians,


17 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of

Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 419, 503.

18G. B. Winer. A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, rev. by G.

Liinemann; trans. by J. H. Thayer (Andover: Warren H. Draper, 1886) 191.

19 Abbott, Ephesians, p. 45 states that the original sin view "gives a very great

emphasis to fu<sei, which its position forbids."

200                      GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL not thereby lessened.”20 Another differing opinion is

offered by Nigel Turner:


 I would say the position is very emphatic: the word comes as a

            hiatus in a genitive construct construction (Semitic), so that it

            must go closely with tekna and suggests a meaning, "natural

children of wrath.”21


At this juncture, it seems that Abbott's contention lacks proof. As

Alford stated, even if fu<sei is not emphatic, its doctrinal force is not

negated. The meaning of fu<sei is more crucial to its doctrinal import

than its position in the sentence. However, Turner's view deserves

careful consideration, especially when: it is noted that this is the only

place in the NT where this type of construction is interrupted in

this way.22


Syntax of 2:1-3


Only three questions can be noted briefly here. The first concerns

the logical and grammatical connection of 2:1 (kai>  u[ma?j...) with the

preceding prayer of Paul. Westcott's view that u[ma?j in 2:1 is

"strictly parallel" to kai>  pa<nta  u[pe<tacen and au]to>n e@dwken

in 1:2 23 seems untenable in view of the climactic nature of 1:22-23 in

concluding Paul's prayer. Rather, 2:1 is better viewed as a specific

application to the Ephesians (The position of kai> u[ma?j is emphatic

of the power of God mentioned previously (1:19ff.)24

A second consideration is the anacoluthon in 2:1. Paul's exposi-

tion of sin in 2:2-3 breaks the sentence begun in 2:1. Evidently the

main verb lacking in 2:1 (for which u[ma?j o@ntaj nekrou>j was to be

the direct object) is finally supplied by sunezwopoi<hsen. The adjec-

tive nekrou>j, describing man's problem in 2:1, is answered by the

verb sunezwopoi<hsen in 2:5.

The third syntactical question relates to the connection of 2:3c to

the preceding. In 2:3 the subject h[mei?j has a compound predicate.


20 Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, rev.  by E. F. Harrison (4 vols.; Chicago:

Moody, 1958), 3. 91.

21Nigel Turner, personal letter to this writer, February 2, 1980.

22The Semitic construct construction mentioned by Turner will be

discussed in the next chapter. Table 2 lists every NT instance of this construction.

Eph 2:3c is the only instance where another word interrupts between metaphorical

ui[o<j or te<kna and its following genitive.

23B. F. Westcott, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (reprinted; Minneapolis:

Klock and Klock, 1976) 29.

24For this view see Abbott. Ephesians, 38-39; Ellicott. Ephesians, 42; and

 Meyer, Ephesians, 356. Perhaps the kai> in 2:1 is to be understood as emphatic ("indeed").

 See H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament

 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1955) 250-51.



The two main verbs, a]nestra<fhme<n and h@meqa portray first

the acts and then the state of the Ephesians' past lives. Two e]n plus

relative pronoun phrases are the means of connecting both v 1 to v 2

and v 2 to V 3.25


                     THE ALLEGED SEMITISM


General definition of Semitisms


The precise nature and literary identity of the language of the NT

has long been a matter of scholarly debate. Gone are the days when

the NT was viewed as "Holy Ghost Greek," written in a mystical

language unrelated to the secular world26 It is commonly recognized

today that the NT was written largely in koine Greek, the language of

the people, rather than in the polished literary style of classical

Greek.27 More controversial is the degree of influence exercised by


25The writer would like to introduce the question of a chiastic arrangement in 2:1-

3. This is merely a tentative suggestion, not a dogmatic conclusion. Note that vv. I and 3b

both have verb forms which refer to a state of being (o@ntaj present participle of ei#mi and

 h@meqa imperfect indicative of ei#mi. Also note that vv. 2 and 3a, both of which begin with

prepositional phrases in e]n have verbs which present analogous concepts of habitual behavior

periepath<sate and a]nestra<fhme<n, probably constative aorists. The possible ABBA

chiasmus, diagrammed below, has as its first and fourth elements the idea of sin as a state,

while its second and third elements view sin as activity. Let the reader analyze this and

decide whether it is intentional or merely coincidental. Whether or not chiasmus is

 accepted, it is evident that conceptually 2:3b is similar to 2:1, and that 2:2 is similar to

 2:3. For some insights and additional sources on chiasmus, see Nigel Turner, Syntax

(A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 3; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1963) 345-47;

and J. H. Moulton, Style (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 4; Edinburgh: T. and

T. Clark, 1976) 3, 6~, 87, 97ff., 116, 147.

116, 147.

2:1 A: kai>  u[ma?j  o@ntaj  nekrou>j

                        toi?j  paraptw<masin  kai>  tai?j  a[marti<aij  u[mw?n

                           2:2 B:  e]n ai#j pote periepath<sate kata>  to>n  ai]w?na tou?  ko<smou

                                        tou<tou,  kata> to>n a@rxonta th?j  e]cousi<aj tou?  a]e<roj,  tou?

                                       pneu<matoj tou?  nu?n e[nergou?ntoj  e]n  toi?j ui[oi?j th?j


                           2:3 B1  e]n  oi$j  kai>  h[mei?j  pa<ntej a]pestra<fhme<n  pote  e]n  tai?j

                                           e]piqumi<aij  th?j  sarko>j  h[mw?n, poiou?ntej ta>  qelh<mata

                                          th?j  sarko>j  kai>  tw?n  dianoiw?n,

2:3b A1:  kai>  h@meqa te<kna fu<sei o]rgh?j  w[j  kai>  oi[  loipoi<

26See Adolf Deissmann, Bible Studies, trans. by A. Grieve I (reprinted; Winona

Lake, IN: Alpha, 1979) Deissmann viewed the "Holy Ghost Greek" theory as a

 corollary of verbal inspiration. In deprecating one, he deprecated the other, as if the

doctrine of verbal inspiration ruled out the personalities and culture of the human authors

of Scripture. This indicates a need for conservatives to adequately articulate a Bibliology

which avoids the pitfalls of both errantism and docetism.

27This writer is aware that this statement is perhaps over-simplified. Obviously

 the style of the NT writers varies exceedingly; Luke and the author of Hebrews both

 used a rather polished style.

202                      GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


Semitic culture and language upon the NT writers. Related to this

influence are the literary similarities and disparities between the NT

and the LXX.28 Deissmann directed much of his labors against an

extreme theory of heavy dependence an the LXX and emphasized the

living nature of language and the various circumstances present in the

lives of the NT writers.29 One must take care, however, to notice the

Semitic background of the NT writers.30

The terms Hebraism, Aramaism, and Semitism are all used to

describe Semitic influence upon the I vocabulary and style of NT

Greek. As Moule states, "this ugly and rather jargonistic word seems

to have 'come to stay' as a term to describe features of Greek which

are tinged with either Aramaic or Hebrew."31 Moule's definition is

perhaps over-simplified, since other works distinguish between "Semi-

tisms" and "secondary Semitisms." A Semitism proper (or primary

Semitism) is defined as "a deviation from genuine Greek idiom to a


28For a concise discussion of Semitisrns and a valuable bibliography on the

subject, see C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (London:

Cambridge University, 1959) 171-91. For a more current discussion and bibliography

see Weston Fields, "Aramaic New Testament Originals?" (unpublished Postgraduate

 Seminar paper, Grace Theological Seminary, 1975). H. St. John Thackeray discusses

the nature of LXX Greek from the perspectives of its koinh< basis and its Semitic

element. See his Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University

Press, 1909) 16-55.

29Deissmann stated "The theory 1ndicated is a great power in exegesis, and

that is not to be denied. It is edifying and what is more, it is convenient. But it is

 absurd. It mechanises the marvellous variety of the linguistic elements of the Greek

Bible and cannot be established either by the psychology of language or by history."

See his Bible Studies, 65. In Deissmann's view the key to understanding NT Greek

was not found in the "translation Greek" of the LXX but in the inscriptions and

papyri of the NT period (80-84).

30While respecting the work of Deissmann and J. H. Moulton in relating NT

Greek to secular Greek, C. F. D. Moule cautions that "the pendulum has swung rather

too far in the direction of equating Biblical with 'secular' Greek; and we must not allow

 these fascinating discoveries to blind us to the fact that Biblical Greek still does retain

 certain peculiarities, due in part to Semitic influence...and in part to the moulding

influence of the Christian experience, which did in some measure create an idiom

and a vocabulary of its own." See his Idiom-Book, 3-4;cf. 188. Similarly Nigel

Turner speaks of the "strongly Semitic character of Bibl. Greek.;' Turner views

the language of the NT to be as unique as its subject matter. See his Syntax, 9.

31Moule. Idiom-Book, 171. For additional discussions of Semitisms see F.

Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early

Ozristian literature, trans. and rev. by R. W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago,

1961) 3-4; James H. Moulton, Prolegomena (A Grammar of New Testament Greek,

I; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1908) 1-20; J. H. Moulton and W. F. Howard,

Accidence and Word Formation (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 2;

Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1920) 412-85; A. T. Robertson, Grammar, 24-29,

88-108; and G. B. Winer, Grammar, 238.

               TURNER: EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIG NALE           203


too literal rendering of the language of a Semitic original.”32 In this

sense, Eph 2:3c is not a Semitism (primary). A secondary Semitism,

however is a possible but unidiomatic Greek construction, which

strains ordinary Greek usage to conform to a normal Semitic con-

struction.”33 It is only in this secondary sense that the term Semitism

relates to Eph 2:3c.


A specific Semitism:  te<kna o]rgh?j


Hebrew syntaxes and lexicons often note the use of NBe in the

construct state followed by a noun expressing quality, character, or

other attributes.34 According to Gesenius, this construction is used

"to represent a possessing some object or quality, or

being in some condition.”35 While normal Greek or English idiom

would simply supply an adjective, Davidson states,


The genius of the [Hebrew] language is not favorable to the formation

of adjectives, and the gen. is used in various ways as explicative of the

preceding noun, indicating its material, qualities, or relations.36


Certain other Hebrew words are used comparatively, often with this

type of "qualifying genitive:" wyxi, lfaBa, and tBe. Two good examples

of NBe in this construction are tOKha NBe (Deut 25:2, a "son of stripes" =

"deserves beating") and LyiHa-yneB; (2 Kgs 2:16, "sons of strength" =

"strong men"). For further examples, see Table 1.


32Moulton and Howard. Accidence and Word Formation, 14, 477. This

definition assumes Hebrew or Aramaic NT source documents or perhaps; even originals.

This theory has been evaluated in Fields' work cited in n. 28.

33Moulton and Howard. Accidence and Word Formation 477. Nigel Turner's

definition is similar. He describes Semitisms as "those Greek idioms which owe their

form of the frequence of their occurrence to Aramaic, or Hebrew, or to an influence

which might equally well apply to both languages." See his Style, 5.

34See A. B. Davidson. Hebrew Syntax (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1901)

30-33; W. R. Harper. Elements of Hebrew Syntax (5th ed.; New York: Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1899) 30-31; S. P. Tregelles. Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee

Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 126, sec (7); Ludwig Koehler and

Walter Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (2 vols.; Leiden:

Brill/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 1. 133; and Francis Brown, S. R. Driver,

and Charles Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament

(Oxford: Clarendon, 1906) 121, § 8; H. Haag, "NBeTDOT, 2 (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1975) 152-53. For ,this in the LXX see Thackeray, Grammar,


35W. Gesenius and E. Kautzsch, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar

(2nd English ed.; ed. by A. E. Cowley; Oxford: Clarendon, 1910) 417.

 Examples of the construction are given on 418.

36Davidson, Syntax, 32.

                    GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL                         204


Many Greek grammars and lexicons note that ui!oj and te<knon

are sometimes used in a manner equivalent to this Hebrew construc-

tion. It is described in various sources as the "Hebraic genitive,”37 the

"genitive of relationship,"38 the "attributive genitive,”39 the "adjectival

genitive",40 the "genitive of quality",41 and the "genitive of a thing.”42

All of these terms describe the same grammatical feature: instead of

modifying a noun with a simple adjective, the word ui!oj or te<knon is

followed by a noun in the genitive which modifies the noun. For

example, instead of describing a person as "peaceful" (ei]rhniko<j), he

is described as a "son of peace" (ui!oj ei]rhnhj, Luke 10:6). For

further NT examples, see Table 2.43

Although an impressive array of scholars view Eph 2:3c as a

Semitism,44 some deny or diminish the Semitic influence. Adolf

Deissmann in his Bible Studies made a case for ui!oj or te<knon

followed by the genitive as a genuine Greek idiom. Distinguishing

such expressions in the gospels (which he regarded as translation

Greek) from those in the Pauline and Petrine epistles, he concluded

concerning the latter:


In no case whatever are they un-Greek; they might quite well have been

coined by a Greek who wished to use impressive language. Since,

however, similar turns of expression are found in the Greek Bible

[LXX], and are in part cited by Paul and others, the theory of

analogical formations will be found a sufficient explanation.45


37Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 440. M. Zerwick

similarly refers to the "Hebrew genitive." See his Biblical Greek (English ed.; Rome: .

Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963) 14.

38Blass-Debrunner-Funk, Grammar, 89.

39Robertson, Grammar, 496-97.

40Moule, Idiom-Book, 174-75.

41Turner, Style, 90.

42 J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh:

 T. and T. Clark, 1901) 635; and W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English

 Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. by F. W.

Gingrich and F. W. Danker (2nd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979) 834.

43Table 2 has been adapted from a list in Moulton and Howard, Accidence

 and Word Formation, 441.

44To mention only a few scholars, see Arndt and Gingrich, Lexicon, 839;

Alexander Buttman, A Grammar of the New Testament Greek, trans. by J. H.

Thayer (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1880) 161-62; C. F. D. Moule, Idiom-Book,

 174; Moulton and Howard, Accidence and Word Formation, 441; Albracht Oepke,

pai<j TDNT, 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 639; Thayer, Lexicon, 618; and

Winer, Grammar, 238. Nearly all critical commentaries also view te<kna ... o]rghj

as a Semitism.

45Deissmann, Bible Studies, 166. Evidently "analogical formation" meant

that NT writers used a Greek idiom analogous to the Hebrew idiom.



Deissmann's argumentation was twofold. First, he supplied inscrip-

tional evidence of similar pure Greek idiom.46 Second, he pointed out

that even the translators of the LXX did not slavishly translate

metaphorical NBe with ui!oj.47 While Moulton and Milligan followed

Deissmann,48 this writer must agree with the majority of scholars,

who view Eph 2:3c as a genuine Semitism. Nigel Turner's statement

seems adequate: "The LXX translators so often faced the problem of

the construct state in its adjectival function...that apparently the

habit of using a genitive of quality had been caught by Paul...”49


Three lingering questions


While most scholars view te<kna in 2:3c as synonymous with ui[oi>,

there are a few dissenters. In 2:2 Paul used the Semitic toi?j ui[oi?j th?j

a]peiqei<aj. Why then in the next verse did he switch from ui!oj to

te<kna? Was this unconscious, or for literary variety, or was it a subtle

emphasis of a birth concept (te<knon from ti<ktw, "to beget,')?50 It is

interesting to note that there seem to be comparatively few instances

in the LXX where te<knon translates metaphorical NBe.51 As seen in

Table 1,  ui!oj is the predominant word. However, as shown in Table

2, there are six NT instances where te<knon seems to be used in the

Semitic metaphorical sense. Only further study will show whether this

change from ui!oj to te<knon is exegetically significant. Presently,

however, such significance seems doubtful.


46Ibid., 165-66.

47Ibid., 164. I

48 J. H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament

 Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1976 reprint) 649.

49Tumer, Style, 649. It is interesting to note that scholars before Deissmann

 (when NT Greek was explained as either Semitic or derived from classical) and after

Deissrnann (when NT Greek is viewed in its koine context) are agreed that Eph

2:3c is a Semitism.

50C. F. Ellicott, citing Bengel as in agreement, states that te<kna is not simply

 identical with the Hebraistic ui[oi< ver. 2 ..." He believes that the word connoted "a

near and close relation" to God's wrath. See his Ephesians, 46 and Alford, "Ephesians,"

3. 91. M. R. Vincent views te<kna as emphasizing the connection to wrath by birth.

See his "The Epistles of Paul" (Word Studies in the New Testament, 3; reprinted;

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 375. The great American theologian Jonathan

Edwards also noted the change from ui!oj to te<knon and saw in it an emphasis on

birth. See his Original Sin (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 3; New Haven/London:

Yale University,1970) 301. In opposition to this view see J. Armitage Robinson,

St. Paul’s Epistleto the Ephesians (2nd ed.; London: James Clarke and Co., n.d.)

 51 This writer has not done the concordance work necessary for dogmatism

 on this point. However, thus far he has found te<knon for metaphorical NBe only in

Hos 2:4; 10:9. Isa 57:4 has te<kna a]pwlei<aj for fwap,-ydel;yi

206                       GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


            In the introductory section on word order, the writer has already

presented several opinions on the sequence of words in this phrase.

At this point the question of word order must be directed to the

question of Semitic influence. Of all the OT examples of metaphori-

cal NBe and the NT examples of metaphorical ui!oj/te<knon only in 2:3c

does a word intervene between the term "son" and the qualifying geni-

tive. This fact seems to make fu<sei quite emphatic. Is this unique word

order relevant to the question of Semitism? Perhaps this indicates that

2:3c is more emphatic than a normal Semitic construction.52


While the nature of the genitive-whether subjective or objec-

tive is not broached in many sources, it is an important question.53

The ambiguity of such constructions is evident from the NIV's

translation ("those who are anointed:" objective) and margin ("two

who bring oil:" subjective) of Zech 4:14. In Eph 2:2 toi?j  ui[oi?j th?j

a]peiqei<aj must be subjective. However, 2:3c is normally taken as

objective: te<kna... o]rgh?j means those who are presently under

God's wrath (cf. John 3:18, 36; Rom 1:18; 9:22) or those who are

worthy of God's wrath (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6). It is grammatically possible

that te<kna... o]rgh?j should be understood as those characterized by

wrath in the same sense that the toi?j  ui[oi?j  th?j  a]peiqei<aj are

characterized by disobedience. In other words, is this wrath another

aspect of man's rebellion against God? Is it his own wrath against

others? While this interpretation does not commend itself to this

writer, it deserves further consideration.54


                         THE CRUCIAL WORD:  fu<sei


In many ways, the doctrinal import of this passage depends upon

the sense of this word. The preceding discussion of the Semitic

background of the, phrase h@meqa  te<kna fu<sei o]rgh?j does not really

assert or deny that peccatum originale is taught in Eph 2:3c. While

the Semitic idiom certainly does not specify why men are under God's

wrath or when they come under it. These two questions must be

answered from the exegesis of fu<sei.   If  fu<sei refers to innate

character, then the sense of hereditary moral corruption is supported.

If fu<sei legitimately can be viewed as an acquired characteristic

("second nature"), then this verse should not be used to support the


52Buttmann (Grammar, 387) views this as hyperbaton, an inverted construction

used for emphasis and perspicuity. Arndt and Gingrich (Lexicon, 877) cite an instance

 in Plutarch with fu<sei in this position.

53In each case it must be asked whether the noun modified by the genitive is its

subject or object. See Turner, Style, 90.

54Ellicott, Ephesians, 171 and Alford, "Ephesians," 3. 91 react against the subjective sense.

                      TURNER: EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIGINALE        207


doctrine. This section of the paper will survey the etymology of fu<sij

and its use in both the extra-biblical and biblicalliterature.55 Then the

meaning of the word in Eph 2:3c will be discussed.




The noun fu<sij seems to be a "verbal abstract”56 derived from

fu<omai or fu<w meaning "bring forth, produce, put forth" (transi-

tive) or "grow, wax, spring up or forth (intransitive ).57 It is often used

of the natural growth of the physical creation, especially of plant life.

Thus, the noun fu<sij is related to the external form of plant life as a

state of its growth. It came also to be applied to the natural state of

humanity resulting from birth.58


Extra-biblical use


In addition to its botanical and anthropological senses, fu<sij

"became a key concept among the Pre-Socratic philosophers in

considering the nature of the world, and similarly the Sophists in the

question of the foundation and basis of law.”59 In Stoic philosophy,

fu<sij became a god of the universe, with whom man must live

harmoniously.60 The following outline summarizes the diverse usages

of the word.61


I. Origin (of persons and plants)

A. origin or birth

B. growth


55Due to lack of space, this survey must necessarily be quite brief. For

more detailed information see G. Harder, "Nature," (NIDNTT, 2; Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1976), 2. 656-62; H. Koster, “fu<sij...“ TDNT, 9 (1974) 251-77;

and H. G. Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and aug.

by H. S. Jones (9th ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 1964-65.

56Koster, "fu<sij" TDNT, 9. 252. It is attested as early as Homer (eighth

century B.C.). See Harder, "Nature," 656.

57Liddell and Scott, Lexicon, 1966.

58Koster, "fu<sij..." TDNT 9. 252. Other related words are the adjective

 fusiko<j ("natural, inborn, native"), the nouns fusi<wma and fusi<wsij

 ("natural tendency, character"), and the verbs fusio<w ("to dispose oneself

naturally"), fusiologe<w ("to discourse upon nature or natural causes"),

and fusiopoie<w ("to remold as by a second nature").

59Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT, 2. 656.

60lbid., 2. 657-58. The citation of Marcus Aurelius' words w$ fu<sij,

 e]k sou?  pa<nta,  e@n  soi?  pa<nta, ei#j se pa<nta  (cf. Rom 11:36) may

provide a vivid illustration of e]la<treusan t^?  kti<sei  para>  to>n 

kti<santa (Rom 1:25).

61 Adapted from Liddell and Scott, Lexicon 1964-65.




208                    GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


     II. Natural form or constitution resulting from growth (persons or


             A. nature, constitution

             B. outward form, appearance

             C. constitution

              D. mental character or nature or instinct (animals)

    III. Regular order of nature (men, plants, the world in general

    IV. Philosophical

              A. originating power of the universe

               B. elementary substance of the universe

               C. concretely for the universe

    V. Concrete term for men, animals or plants collectively 

  VI. Kind, sort, or species (of plants)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 VII. Sex (organs or characteristics)

"There is no Hebrew equivalent in the Old Testament for phy-

sis,”62 due to the creator/creature distinction in OT revelation. God is

the ultimate reference point instead of fu<sij.  Thus fu<sij does not

occur in the LXX canonical writings, but only in the apocryphal

books of Wisdom and 3 and 4 Maccabees. In these books, usage

generally parallels Greek literature. Probably the most significant

occurrence is Wis 13: 1: ma<taioi me>n  ga<r  pa<ntej  a@nqrwpoi fu<sei.

Does fu<sei here mean "birth" (cf. NEB "born fools”)63 or "nature"

(created nature)? If innate created nature is in view, this concept is in

contrast to Paul's explanation (Rom 1:19ff.) of the perspicuity of

natural revelation.64 The Jewish writer Philo modified fu<sij in his

unsuccessful attempt to harmonize the OT and Greek philosophy,65

Josephus similarly adapted fu<sij using it often to describe the

natural topography of the land, human character, and nature as a



62Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT, 2. 658.

63The New English Bible with Apocrypha: Oxford Study Edition (New

York: Oxford University, 1976) 107.

64Koster, fu<sij...TDNT, 9. 267.

65Fu<sij is extremely common in Philo, who viewed it as divine power

and agency. See Koster, "fu<sij…" TDNT, 9.267-69 and Harder, "Nature,"

NIDNTT, 2. 658-59.

66See Koster, "fu<sij…" TDNT 9. 279-81; Harder, "Nature," NIDNTT,

2. 659-60. One passage from Josephus has been urged in proof that fu<sij

need not always refer to innate character but also may refer to acquired

characteristics or habits. Thus fu<sij in Eph 2:3c need not refer to sin as

in inherited or innate trait but instead to an acquired sinfulness. The passage

 is found in the Antiquities, 3:8: I. In it he describes the Pharisees' philosophy

of punishment in the words of a@llwj te kai>  fu<sei  pro>j  ta>j  li<an

 e]xale<phne which is translated "any way they are naturally lenient in the

matter of punishments." Eadie describes this as "constitutional clemency"

(Ephesians, 135). While it appears that this use may include habitual

practice, it is practice which

TURNER: EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIGINALE                  209


 New Testament use


Fu<sij occurs 14 times in the NT (12 of these are in Paul). Three

related words also occur: (1) the adjective fusiko<j (three times); (2)

the adverb fusikw?j (once); and (3) the verb fu<w (three times). All of

these occurrences are listed in Table 3. According to Koster, the

relative rarity of fu<sij in the NT (as compared with its frequency in

extra-biblical literature) is noteworthy.67 Abbott-Smith's summary of

its occurrences is accurate and concise:


(1) nature (natural powers or constitution) of a person or a thing:

Jas 3:1; 2 Pet 1 :4; Eph 2:3

(2) origin or birth: Rom 2:21; Gal 2:15

           (3) nature, i.e., the regular order or law of nature: 1Cor 11:14;

Rom 1:26; 2:14; 11:21, 24; Gal 4:868

Scholars are agreed that the concept of natural, innate character is

present in all but three of these passages: Rom 2:14, 1 Cor 11:14, and

Eph 2:3c. Rom 2:14 and 1 Cor 11:14 will be briefly discussed before a

more extensive treatment of Eph 2:3c.

Fu<sij in Rom 2:14. While this may not be "the most important

and also the most difficult passage in which Paul uses fu<sij69 it is

certainly not an easy text, as the discouraging comments of Sanday

and Headlam show.70 The hermeneutical problem here is to deter-

mine in what sense, if any, do Gentiles e@qnh by nature



emanates from natural characteristics. For the original Greek and the English

translation see Flavius Josephus, Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, Books 12-14, The

Loeb Classical Library, 1 [London: Wm. Heinemann, 1943]) 314-15 (13:294).

67Koster ("fu<sij...," TDNT, 9. 211) finds the absence of fu<sij from

such passages as Acts 11 and Romans 1:18-25 as an indicator that Paul would say

 "nein" to natural theology!

68G. Abbott Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament

 (3rd ed.; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1931) 416. The analysis of W. E.

Vine is identical. See his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

(.Old Tapan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1966 reprint) 103. Arndt and Gingrich's

classification (lexicon, 869-10) differs slightly: (1) natural endowment or

 condition, inherited from one's ancestors:" Gal 2: 15; Rom 2:21; Eph 2:3;

Rom 11 :21, 24; (2) "natural characteristics or disposition:" Jas 3:1b; 2 Pet

I :4; Gal 4:8; (3) "nature as the regular natural order:" Rom 1 :26; 2: 14; 1

Cor 11:14; and (4) "natural being, product of nature, creature” Jas 3:7a. It

 is difficult to distinguish between the first and second categories. Other

possibilities for fu<sij are simply "physically" in Rom 2:21 and "species"

in both instances in Jas 3:1 (cf. NASB, NIV, and Harder, "Nature, NIDNTT, 660-61.

69Koster, "fu<sij...," TDNT, 9. 213.

70The impression received when one reads their note on this verse is that

rationalists have taken it more literally than orthodox theologians. See William

Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the

Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1902) 59-60.

The treatment given this verse

210                                GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


fulfill the law's demands? The clause in question reads o!tan ga>r  e@qnh

ta>  mh>  no<mon  e@xonta fu<sei  ta>  tou?  no<mou  poiw?sin, . . .  While

orthodox scholars have proposed some plausible solutions to the

problem, most of them assume a questionable point. That is, most of

them take fu<sei with the following clause, making it modify poiw?sin.

This writer tends to agree with Cranfield in taking fu<sei with what

precedes, modifying e@xonta. Thus, the difficulties of either toning

down fu<sei (viewing it as an acquired "second nature") or implying

Pelagianism are eliminated. Instead, the passage is interpreted as

describing regenerate Gentiles who practice the law, though by their

birth and natural circumstances they do not possess the law. This

allows fu<sij to retain its normal meaning. This passage cannot

be legitimately used to deny that fu<sij refers to innate character in

Eph 2:3c.71


            Fu<sij in 1 Cor 11:14. Paul's teaching on hair length is reinforced

in 11:14-16 with two arguments. Paul first states that "nature"

confirms his teaching (11:14) and then adds that this is the custom

(sunh<qeia) of all the churches. While some expositors may tend to

blur the distinction between fu<sij and sunh<qeia making fu<sij

equivalent to acquired habit or style, such exegesis is untenable in

light of Pauline usage. Paul in Rom 1:26-27 stated that homosexual-

ity was para>  fu<sin obviously referring to mankind's innate sexual

orientation resulting from his being created by God.72 Therefore, it

would seem that Paul in I Corinthians again appeals to the God-

given natural order for men and women. The innate sexual orienta-

tion of men and women is the basis of Paul's position on hair length.

Again, this passage provides no evidence for those who wish to make

fu<sij in Eph 2:3c an acquired "second nature."


Use in Ephesians 2:3c


In this writer's view, fu<sij in this passage retains its normal

meaning of innate or natural character. While this passage alone


by C. E. B. Cranfield is a decided improvement. See his Critical and Exegetical

Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark,

1975), I. 155-57.

71Francis Foulkes does just this with this passage. See his The Epistle

of Paul to the Ephesians (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1963) 71. Cf. Cranfield's stimulating discussion in Romans, I. 156, 157

 with footnotes. Hodge (Romans, 55) takes fu<sei with poiei?n but distinguishes

between merely Turner, outwardly doing the law and actually spiritually fulfilling

the law. This view is also possible.

72This refutes the current claim that homosexuality is the "natural"

orientation for some people.

                  TURNER: EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIGINALE        211


certainly would not sustain the developed Christian doctrine of

original sin, it does make a contribution. While the word fu<sij is

neutral and in itself has no sinful connotation, this can be supplied

from context. There is no contextual connection with Adam's first

sin, nor is there any explicit proof of Traducianism. However, this

passage does seem to have its place in asserting the hereditary moral

corruption of the human race, which corruption results from Adam's

first sin and is passed along by natural generation. In addition to the

lexical support for this view, many scholarly commentaries have also

advocated it.73

The form of fu<sij in this verse is dative. What is its precise

significance? The answer to this question is admittedly subjective and

interpretive, for the dative case is used to express a wide range of

nuance. From most of the English translations, the idea of instrumen-

tality surfaces ("by nature”).74  Turner and Winer, however, favor the

dative of respect idea, which seems milder than instrumentality.

Instead of being under wrath "by nature," it is thus "with respect to

nature.”75 A third option is supported by Green who views fu<sei as


73Karl Braune, "Ephesians," Langes Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

(Grand Rapids: Zondervan) 76-77; John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle

 to the Galatians. Ephesians. Philippians. and Colossians (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1965) 141-42. Calvin says that "by nature" means "from their very

origin, and from their mother's womb. In further comments he critiques

Pelagianism and makes an important distinction between two ways the word

nature is used: (1) man's original nature created by God, and (2) man's fallen

nature corrupted by Adam's sin. John Eadie, Ephesians, 133-40. Eadie's extended

 treatment of 2:3c is one of the best this writer has found. He cites evidence from

classical and Jewish Greek writings and interacts with sources who hold opposing

 views. He concludes thus: "The modus may be and is among 'the deep things

of God,' but the res is palpable; for experience confirms the divine testimony

that we are by nature 'children of wrath,' per generationem, not per imitationem."

Charles Hodge, Ephesians, 38-39. In his fairly full treatment Hodge briefly deals

with the Semitic background, the use of fu<sij and other views. Hodge cautiously

states "this doctrine [hereditary depravity] may be fairly implied in the text but

it is not asserted" (38). Lenski, Ephesians, 412-13. While viewing fu<sij as innate

 here, Lenski concedes that fu<sij may sometimes mean a "habitually and gradually

developed...'second nature.'" This writer is not convinced that such a concession is

necessary. It seems that even when fu<sij refers to development or growth it

does so in the context of an outward development of an inner nature. Salmond,

"Ephesians," 286-87. He also

makes the questionable concession that fu<sij can mean habit, but his treatment

 is very helpful, especially the section refuting Meyer's view, which will be

explained later. E. K. Simpson and F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Epistles

to the Ephesians and the Colossians (New International Commentary on the

New Testament; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 46-50. In a stirring manner Simpson

defends this view by citing classical authors and interacting with J. A. Robinson,

 whose views will be explained later.

74Robertson, Grammar, 530, speaks of this as "instrumental of manner."

75Nigel Turner, personal letter; Winer, Grammar, 215.

212                  GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


dative of sphere.76 While the instrumental idea seems most accept-

able, in reality there is little difference between the three possibilities.

The view of fu<sij favored above has not gone unchallenged.

Several other views have been suggested and are briefly summarized

here.77 First, it is asserted by some that fu<sei is the equivalent of an

adverb such as o@ntwj, a]lh<qwj,  or gnhsi<wj.  Thus Paul only says that

"we were truly or genuinely children of wrath." The problem with this

view is that, while fu<sij may imply this sense, it means much more.78

A second view takes the whole expression (te<kna fu<sei o]rgh?j) as a

subjective genitive. In this view o]rgh?j is human wrath which char-

acterizes the individuals described. This view is grammatically pos-

sible but exegetically and contextually doubtful. A third view is that

fu<sei simply means "in or by ourselves," apart from God's grace.79

While fu<sei certainly includes this idea, it means much more. Fur-

ther, this view is vague and does not really answer the question of

whether fu<sei refers to original or actual sin.80 A fourth view, that

fu<sij refers to developed or habitual behavior,81 (a "second-nature")

cannot be sustained from the NT and extra-biblical usage of the




This study has demonstrated that Eph 2:3c is relevant to the

doctrine of original sin. The Semitic phrase te<kna... o]rgh?j places

the unsaved individual as a worthy object of the wrath of God.

Perhaps even more is implied by this phrase. The word fu<sei

presents the reason or cause for this most perilous of all positions.

While it is true that God's wrath is upon all men for their actual sins,


            76Samuel G. Green, Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek New

Testament (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1912) 228. He defines sphere in a

 logical sense as "that in which a quality inheres."

77For more detailed interaction see the works of Alford, Eadie, Hodge,

Simpson, and Salmond cited previously. These works cite sources holding the

 opposing views listed here.

780nly one source consulted by this writer said that this was a legitimate

meaning of fu<sij but the source viewed fu<sij as having this meaning only in

Gal 4:8. See Markus Barth, Ephesians, I. 231. Even Meyer, who would not agree

with the original sin view, denies the validity of this view. See his Ephesians, 368.

79For advocates of this view see F. W. Beare and T. O. Wedel, "The

Epistle to the Ephesians" (The Interpreter's Bible; 10; Nashville: Abingdon-

Cokesbury, 1953) 641; C. F. D. Moule, Idiom-Book, 174 ("perhaps"); J. A.

Robinson, Ephesians, 50; and N. P. Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and

Original Sin, I 13 n. I.

80 As Meyer points out (Ephesians, 367), in this view "nothing is


81For advocates of this view see Foulkes, Ephesians, 71; Thayer,

Lexicon, 660 sec. c; and the Arminian theologians John Miley, Systematic

Theology, I. 512; and H. C. Sheldon, System of Christian Doctrine, 316-17.



Paul's use of fu<sij here indicates a more basic problem. Men's evil

deeds are done in a state of spiritual and moral separation from God

(2: 1). Man is in this state of spiritual death due to his sinful

nature-his hereditary moral corruption. And it is this innate condi-

tion which ultimately brings the wrath of God upon him. Men are

"natural children of wrath."82


 Opposition to this view


Diverse arguments have been offered by the opponents of this

view. Some of the arguments are exegetical and deserve an answer.

While this could not be done in detail in this study, Appendix I has

begun the task. Other arguments are more "logical" in nature but

actually seem to place reason over revelation, as in the extreme case

of those who would dismiss original sin an immoral monstrosity

on a priori grounds.83 The answer to this objection must emphasize

that man's present natural state is in a sense also unnatural.84 His

sinfulness, though included in God's plan, is viewed by God as man's

own fault. God cannot be blamed for original sin for he did not

create man sinful, but holy. All this aside, however, the final answer

is "who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" (Rom 9:20, NIV).

While some would admit to a doctrine of original sin, they would

deny that men are accounted guilty for this reason. Shedd sum-

marizes the situation quite well:


The semi-Pelagian, Papal, and Arminian anthropologies differ from

the Augustinian and reformed, by denying that corruption of nature is

guilt. It is a physical and moral disorder leading to sin, but is not sin



82"Natural children of wrath" is the translation suggested by Nigel Turner

in his letter to this writer.

83For example see Charles G. Finney, Systematic Theology (Whittier, CA: Col-

porter Kemp, 1946 reprint) 244. Finney said that Eph 2:3c "cannot, consistently

with natural justice, be understood to mean, that we are exposed to the wrath of God

on account of our nature. It is a monstrous and blasphemous doctrine..." On a more

modern note, C. H. Dodd spoke of the "figment of an inherited guilt." He asked, "how

could anything so individual as guilty responsibility be inherited?" In the same context

he also speaks of the "monstrous development of the doctrine of total depravity."

See his The Meaning of Paul for Today (New York: The New American Library,

1974) 61.

84See Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 219: "As opposed to what is natural

in the sense of created by God, man's inability is moral, not natural; but as opposed

to what is moral in the sense of acquired by habit, man's inability is natural. When

"natural means innate, we assert that inability is "natural." When natural means

"created" we assert that inability is "moral," that is, "voluntary." See also Calvin,

 Ephesians, 141-42.

85Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 198. Even in reformed circles, however,

some theologians have attempted to dilute the idea that corruption of nature is

 guilt. See Nathaniel W. Taylor, Concio ad Clerum: A Sermon Delivered in the

Chapel of Yale

214                           GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


The Romanist perspective alleviates the guilt of original sin with its

understanding of limbus infantium and infant baptism.86 The Armin-

ian position as articulated by Miley is "native depravity without

native demerit.”87 This position is exegetically and logically unten-

able. It does not handle fu<sij properly. Neither does it make sense,

for the innate disposition to sin, which leads to sin, is not viewed as

sinful or guilty. How can the effect be worthy of wrath and the cause

be innocent?88


Implications for Christian living


The study of Scripture (What does it mean?) is incomplete unless

the student asks, "What does it mean to me?" In the context of Eph

2:1-10 the answer is not hard to find. The believer is God's workman-

ship, created for good works. When one contemplates his sinfulness

in all its degradation, and when he realizes he deserves only the wrath

of God, he then begins to appreciate the glorious gospel of God's

grace and realizes a true incentive for a holy lifestyle. C. H. Spurgeon


A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavored with a deep and

bitter sense of sin is of great value to him that hath had it. It is terrible 

in the drinking, but it is most wholesome in the bowels, and in the

whole of the after-life. Possibly, much of the flimsy piety of the present

day arises from the ease with which men attain to peace and joy in

these evangelistic days...Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore

think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before his God,


College, September 10. 1828 (New Haven: A. H. Moltby and Homan Hallock, 1842)

1-43. Taylor represented "New School" Presbyterianism.

86See S. Harent, "Original Sin" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 11, New York:

Robert Appleton Co., 1911), 2. 314; and P. J. Toner, "Limbo," The Catholic

Encyclopedia, 9. 256. To a lesser degree one wonders whether the Lutheran and

Anglican views of baptismal regeneration for infants have also tended to minimize

the guilt of original sin.

87Miley, Systematic Theology, I. 521ff. This is also the basic position

advocated by Meyer, Ephesians, 367. Meyer believes in a sinful natural constitution

which eventually awakens and vanquishes man's "moral will," thereby incurring guilt

and wrath. He bases this on his view that Romans 7 describes the experience of the

natural man. OveraU, the Arminian doctrine of universal prevenient (preliminary)

grace has probably tended to obscure the guiltiness of man by nature. This seems to

 be the position of John Wesley. See the analysis of his views on original sin in

Mildred B. Wynkoop, A Theology of Love: The Dynamic of Wesleyanism (Kansas

City, MO: Beacon Hill, 1972) 150-55.

88See Calvin, Ephesians, 141-42; Eadie, Ephesians, 136; and Salmond,

"'Ephesians," 287. Salmond correctly observes that this "is to make a nature

which originates sinful acts and which does that in the case of all men without

exception, itself a neutral thing." Cf. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2. 199-202.



convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to

weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been

forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose

blood he has been cleansed.89

                                            TABLE 1


                                                USED METAPHORICALLY*

Text                      NASB                                       NIV

Num 17: 10     rebels or sons of rebellion            the rebellious

Num 24: 17     sons of Sheth or tumult                sons of Sheth or the noisy


Deut 25:2       deserves to be beaten or a son       deserves to be beaten

                       of beating                                      (LXX a@cioj  plhgw?n

Judg 18:2       valiant men or sons of valor          warriors

Judg 19:22     worthless fellows or sons of          wicked men


Judg 21:10     valiant warriors                             fighting men

1 Sam 14:52   valiant man                                   brave man

1 Sam 26: 16  must surely die or are surely        deserve to die

                       sons of death

2 Sam 2:7       valiant or sons of valor                  brave

2 Sam 7: 10    the wicked or sons of                     wicked people


2 Sam 12:5    deserves to die or is a son of           deserves to die


I Kgs I :52     a worthy man                                   a worthy man

2 Kgs 2:3     sons of the prophets                        company of the prophets

2 Kgs 2: 16  strong men                                       able men

2 Kgs 14:14 hostages                                           hostages

I Chr 17:9      the wicked or sons of                        wicked people


Neh 12:28      sons of the singers                            the singers

Ps 79: 11        those who are doomed to die            those condemned

                       or children of death

Ps 89:22         sons of wickedness or                      wicked man

                       wicked man

Isa 57:3          sons of a sorceress                            sons of a sorceress

Dan 11:14      violent ones                                       violent men

Hos 10:9        the sons of iniquity                           the evildoers (LXX ta> te<kna


Zech 4: 14      anointed ones or sons                       of two who are anointed or

                       fresh oil                                             two who bring oil

* This chart is representative-not exhaustive. It was compiled from exam-

ples given in the lexicons and from a similar list compiled by Prof. Donald


89C. H. Spurgeon, The Early Years (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1962) 54.

216                               GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


Fowler. In each case except Deut 25:2 and Hos 10:9 the LXX renders the

construction with ui!oj plus the genitive. Notice the varying degrees of

literality or dynamic equivalence used in translating the Hebrew NBe



                                                              TABLE 2

                                NT USES OF ui!oj AND te<knon WITH GENITIVE

                                                IN A METAPHORICAL SENSE


Reference                                Text

Matt 9: 15             oi[  ui[oi>  tou?  numfrw?noj

Matt 23: 15           ui[o>n  gee<nhj

Mark 2:19             oi[  ui[oi>  tou?  numfrw?noj

Mark 3:17             ui[oi>  bronth?j

Luke 5:34              tou>j  ui[ou>j  tou?  numgrw?noj

Luke 10:6              ui!oj  ei]rh<nhj

Luke 16:8              oi[  ui[oi>  tou?  ai]w?noj  tou<tou (also in 20:34)

Luke 20:36            th?j  a]nasta<sewj  ui[oi>

John 17:12             o[ ui!oj  th?j  a]pwlei<aj     

Acts 4:36               ui!oj  paraklh<sewj

Rom 9:8                 ta>  te<kna  th?j  e]paggeli<aj

Gal 4:28                 e]paggeli<aj  te<kna

Eph 2:2                  toi?j  ui[oi?j  th?j  a]peiqei<aj (also in 5:6)

Eph 2:3                  te<kna fu<sei o]rgh?j

Eph 5:8                  te<kna fwto>j

Col 1:13                tou?  ui[ou?  th?j  a]ga<phj au]tou?

Col 3:6                  tou?j  ui[ou>j  th?j  a]peiqei<aj (textual?)

I Pet I: 14              te<kna u[pakoh?j

2 Pet 2:14              kata<raj te<kna


                                                 TABLE 3

                     NT USES OF fu<sij AND RELATED WORDS.


Reference                                        Text


Rom I :26   meth<llacan  th>n  fusikh>n  xrh?sin  ei]j  th>n  para>  fu<sin

Rom 2:14   o!tan ga>r  e@qnh  . . . fu<sei ta>  tou?  no<mou  poiw?sin

Rom 2:27   krinei?  h[  e]k  fu<sewj  a]krobusti<a

Rom 11:21 ei] ga>r  o[  qeo>j  tw?n  kata>  fu<sin  kla<dwn  ou]k  e]fei<sato



Reference                                                   Text


Rom 11 :24        ei]  ga>r  su>  e]k  th?j  kata>  fu<sin  e]ceko<phj  a]grielai<ou,

                             kai>  para>  fu<sin  e]nekentri<sqhj  ei]j  kallie<laion,  po<s&

                             ma?llon  ou$toi  oi[  kata>  fu<sin  e]gkentrisqh?sontai

1 Cor 11: 14       ou]de>  h[  fu<sij  au]th>  dida<skei  u[ma?j

Gal 2: 15            h[mei?j  fu<si  ]Ioudai?oi

Gal 4:8               e]douleu<sate toi?j  du<sei mh>  ou#sin  qeoi?j

Eph 2:3               h@meqa te<kna  fu<sei  o]rgh?j

Jas 3:7                pa?sa ga>r  fu<sij  qhri<wn  te kai>  peteinw?n . . . dama<zetai

                           . . . t^?  fu<sei  t^?  a]nqrwpi<n^

2 Pet 1:4             i!na  dia>  tou<twn  ge<nhsqe  qei<aj  koinwnoi>  fu<sewj


Rom 1 :26          meth<llacan  th>n  fusikh>n  xrh?sin

Rom 1 :27 6       o[moi<wj  te  kai>  oi[  a@rsenej  a]fe<ntej  th>n  fusikh>n 

                                    xrh?sin  th?j  qelei<aj

2 Pet 2: 12          w[j  a@loga  z&?a  gegennhme<na  fusika>


Jude  10              o!sa  de>  fusikw?j  w[j  ta>  a@loga  z&?a e]pi<stantai


Luke 8:6             fue>n  e]chra<nqh  dia>  to>  mh>  e@xein  i]kma<da

Luke 8:8            fue>n  e]poi<hsen  karpo>n  e]katontaplasi<ona

Heb 12:15          mh<  tij r[i<za  pikri<aj  a@nw  fu<ousa e]noxl^?


* Adapted from W. F. Moulton and A. S. Geden, A Concordance to the

Greek Testament, rev. by H. K. Moulton (5th ed.; Edinburgh: T. and T.

Clark, 1978) 997.                                             

                                                       APPENDIX I



1. Argument from the Context of Ephesians 2:1-3: The context treats

actual sin, not original sin. (See Abbott, Ephesians, 45-46; Foulkes,

Ephesians, 71; Meyer, Ephesians, 365-66; George B. Stevens, Pauline

Theology [NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895] 152ff.)

Answer: 2:1 speaks not only of actual sin but also of sin as a state

   of separation from God. Even so, this may be an example

   of an argument leading up to a climactic statement, ab

              effectu ad causam.

II. Argument from the Word Order of Ephesians 2:3c: The word order

of the phrase must be fu<sei te<kna o]rgh?j for the original sin view to

be true. The position of fu<sei is unemphatic. (See Abbott, Ephesians.

45; Meyer, Ephesians, 366.)

Answer: Interpretation of word order is quite subjective, but there

is some reason to view fu<sei in its position between te<kna

218                     GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


and o]rgh?j as quite emphatic. Even if it is not emphatic it

could possibly indicate that Paul was implicitly assuming

hereditary moral corruption.


III. Argument from the time Reference of Ephesians 2:3c: The original

sin view "supposes Kat 1'jJ.1f.9a to refer to, or at least include, a time

prior to e]n  oi$j a]n (See Abbott, Ephesians, 45.)

Answer: Nothing in the original sin view necessitates this supposi-

    tion.  @Hmeqa does refer to the same time as the previous

               context. At that time, before the Ephesians were con-

               verted, they were deserving objects of God's wrath due to

               innate depravity.

IV. Argument from the Analogy of Scripture: The ecclesiastical dogma of

original sin is not Pauline. Paul views actual sin as the reason why

man is under God's wrath. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366.)

Answer: This argument begs the question. It is true that Paul in

               other contexts views wrath coming upon men due to actual

               sin (Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; e.g.). However, sin, like beauty, "is

               more than skin deep." The Scripture speaks of man's

               conception in a state of sin (Psa 51 :5), of his sinful heart

               (Jer 17:9; Matt 15:17-19), of his sinful mind set (Eph 2:3ab;

               4:17-19). The sinful heart (a term implying an innate

               nature or essence) is viewed in Matt 15:19 and Eph 4:18 as

               the root of sinful activity. Ultimately man's nature causes

               him to be under God's wrath.

V. Argument from Romans 11:17-24: If Paul views the Jews as inborn

children of wrath, he contradicts his teaching in Rom 11:17-24 where

he speaks of Jews as the "natural branches" of the olive tree of the

theocracy. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366.)

Answer: Fu<sij in Rom 11 is used in an illustration of Israel's

              favored position in God's program. The natural branches

              of the olive tree are Jews who are the objects of God's

              theocratic dealings. The unnatural branches are Gentiles

              who may become objects of God's grace in Christ. Paul's

              perspective in Rom 11 is national and positional: the Jews

              naturally enjoyed God's special theocratic favor and the

              Gentiles did not. The perspective in Eph 2:3 is quite differ-

              ent. Here individuals, both Jews and Gentiles, are viewed

              as naturally objects of God's wrath. This is no more

              contradictory than the words of Hos 3:2. Israel's special

              position in God's plan is viewed as a reason for her


VI. Argument from 1 Cor 7:14: Paul could not have taught an inborn

liability to wrath for this would contradict his words about the

children of believers in I Cor 7:14. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 366-67.)

                   TURNER: EPH 2:3c AND PECCATUM ORIGINALE        219


Answer: 1 Cor 7: 14 is admittedly a difficult passage. It seems best

               to view the sanctification and holiness spoken of here not

               in an experiential moral sense. Instead there is a sense in

               which the unsaved marriage partner and the children in

               such a home are set apart by the believer there. This is a

               matter of privilege and exposure to Christian testimony. It

               should be noted, however, that whatever "holiness" is

               spoken of in the verse is true of the unbelieving adult

               as well as the children. This weakens Meyer's argument



VII. Argument from Matthew 18:2ff; 19:14ff: This view of original sin

contradicts the words of Jesus Christ concerning children, especially

His promise that whoever becomes like a child will enter the King-

dom of heaven. (See Meyer, Ephesians, 367.)


Answer: Our Lord's exhortation was not to become "morally neu-

               tral" or "innocent" as infants are sometime supposed to

               be. Instead His emphasis evidently was upon the humility

               (Matt 18:4) and faith (18:6) of the children. It is neces-

               sary to exercise child-like faith to enter the Kingdom. Jesus

              was certainly not making a blanket statement on infant




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