Andrew Fuller Fridays: Fuller on Passages that Seem Contradictory (Rom. 2:14 & Eph. 2:3)

By David E. Prince “The Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law.”—Rom. 2:14.

“Among whom we all had our conversation in times past.… and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”—Eph. 2:3.

The term “nature” in these two passages is of very different signification. In the former it stands opposed to the written law of God, or the light of revelation. In the latter it is opposed to custom, education, or any thing merely accidental. In the one case, it is expressive of their want of external means; in the other, of the inward disposition of their minds. The phrase “by nature,” in the former, refers to the rule of action; but, in the latter, to the cause of it. All arguments, therefore, against the total depravity of human nature, or in favour of a natural disposition to virtue, drawn from the former of these passages, are entirely unfounded.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 667–684). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.


David E. Prince is assistant professor of preaching at Southern Seminary and is pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. This article originally appeared on his blog, Prince on Preaching.