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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Natural; Nature

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nat̬ ´- ū́ - ral , nā´t̬ûr ( לח , lēaḥ ; ψυχικός , psuchikós , φυσικός , phusikós , φύσις , phúsis ) :

1. As Used in the Old Testament:

"Natural" is the translation of lēaḥ , "freshness or vigor" ( Deuteronomy 34:7 ). Of Moses it is said, "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."

"Nature" in the sense of a system or constitution does not occur in the Old Testament. The world and men, each individual, were conceived as being the direct creation of a supra-mundane God, and conserved by His power and Spirit. The later conception of "nature" came in through Greek influences.

In the Apocrypha, we find "nature" in the sense of innate character or constitution (The Wisdom of Song of Solomon 7:20 , "the natures ( phúseis ) of living creatures"; The Wisdom of Song of Solomon 13:1 , "Surely vain are all men by nature" ( phúsei ), 3Macc 3:29, "mortal nature" ( phusis )).

2. As Used in the New Testament:

In the New Testament "nature" ( phusis ) is frequently found in the latter sense ( Romans 1:26 , "against nature"; Romans 2:14 , "by nature"; Romans 2:27 ; Romans 11:24 , also "contrary to nature"; 1 Corinthians 11:14 , "Doth not even nature itself teach you?"; Galatians 2:15 ; Galatians 4:8 ; Ephesians 2:3 ; in 2 Peter 1:4 , we have "that ye might be partakers of the divine nature," the Revised Version margin "or, a") ; phusis occurs also in James 3:7 , "every kind of beasts," the Revised Version margin "Greek: nature," also "mankind" ( James 3:7 ), the Revised Version margin "Greek: the human nature." "Natural" (Romans 11:21 , Romans 11:24 ) is the translation of katá phúsin , "according to nature." Paul in 1 Corinthians speaks of "the natural man" (1 Corinthians 2:14 , the American Revised Version margin "or unspiritual, Greek: physical") and of a "natural body" (1 Corinthians 15:44 twice), the Greek word being psuchikos , "of the soul" (psuchḗ ), the animal, natural, principle, as contrasted with what pertains to the higher principle of the spirit (pneúma ). In 1 Corinthians 15:46 the contrast is expressed, "Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural," the American Revised Version margin "Greek: physical." The "natural man" is the man in whom the spirit is unquickened, the "natural body" is that corresponding to the psychical or soul-nature, the "spiritual body" that corresponding to the Spirit as the dominant principle of the life. In Judges 1:10 , we have phusikṓs , "naturally" "naturally, as brute beasts," the Revised Version (British and American) "naturally, like the creatures without reason"; génesis , "origin," "birth," is translated "natural" (James 1:23 , "his natural face," the Revised Version margin "Greek: the face of his birth"); and "nature" (James 3:6 , "the course of nature" the Revised Version (British and American) "the wheel of nature" margin "or birth") ("wheel" probably means "circle of nature" (the whole creation; see COURSE )); gnēsı́ōs , "genuine" ("true to right nature") "legitimate," "sincere," is translated "naturally" (Philippians 2:20 , "who will naturally care for your state," the Revised Version (British and American) "truly," margin "Greek: genuinely").

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Natural; Nature'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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