Φύσις as Genetic Nature Pertaining to Origin
Etymology From φῠ́ω (phúō, “grow”) + -σῐς (-sis).
My hypothesis is that physis pertains to functional order of the world; the birth-nature; species; biological functional order. Its root is φύω fyo- So, it seems appropriate for the created beings, the way creatures ought to behave, the natural order the way they were created or grew up. I thought into this because the word is never used for Jesus and God, when it could be the perfect word choice in describing the divine nature of Christ, if it meant "nature" as we understand it today. But he chose morphe (form), not physis. This is why the word could not be appropriate to be used for the eternal Christ who has no origin and ancestor.
Strong's: φύω phýō, foo'-o; a primary verb; probably originally, to "puff" or blow, i.e. to swell up; but only used in the implied sense, to germinate or grow (sprout, produce), literally or figuratively:—spring (up).
- to beget, bring forth, produce; passive, to be born, to spring up, to grow: Luk 8:6; Luk 8:8;
- intransitive, to shoot forth, spring up: Heb 12:15 (Winer's Grammar, 252 (237). Compare: ἐκφύω,
- Strong's- φύσις phýsis, foo'-sis; from G5453; growth (by germination or expansion), i.e. (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension, a genus or sort; figuratively, native disposition, constitution or usage:—(man-)kind, nature(-al).
Physis: Nature means
-a. the nature of things, the force, laws, order, of nature; as opposed to what is monstrous, abnormal, perverse: ὁ, ἡ, τό παρά φύσιν, that which is contrary to nature's laws, against nature, Rom 1:26; the natural branches, i.e. branches by the operation of nature, Rom 11:21; Rom 11:24.
-b. birth, physical origin: ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι, we so far as our origin is considered, i.e. by birth, are Jews, Gal 2:15; ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία, who by birth is uncircumcised or a Gentile (opposed to one who, although circumcised, has made himself a Gentile by his iniquity and spiritual perversity), Rom 2:27.
-c. a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature: ἦμεν φύσει τέκνα ὀργῆς, by (our depraved) nature we were exposed to the wrath of God, Eph 2:3
-d. the sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others, distinctive native peculiarities, natural characteristics: φύσις θηρίων (the natural strength, ferocity and intractability of beasts (A.V. (every) kind of beasts)), ἡ φύσις ἡ ἀνθρωπίνῃ (the ability, art, skill, of men, the qualities which are proper to their nature and necessarily emanate from it), Jas 3:7; θείας κοινωνοί φύσεως, (the holiness distinctive of the divine nature is specially referred to), 2Pe 1:4 (Ἀμενωφει ... θείας δοκουντι μετεσχηκεναι φύσεως κατά τέ σοφίαν καί πρόγνωσιν τῶν, ἐσομενων, Josephus, contra Apion 1, 26).
-condition or circumstance as determined by birth, natural endowment/condition, especially as inherited from one's ancestors in contrast to status or characteristics that are acquired after birth, eg, Gal 2:15, Rom 2:27, Eph 2:3, Rom 11:21, 24, etc.
LSJ: φύσις (φύ˘σις, εως,) Etym. φύω
- the nature, natural qualities, powers, constitution, condition, of a person or thing, Od., Hdt., attic
- like φυή, form, stature, ἢ νόον ἤ τοι φύσιν either in mind or outward form, Pind.; τὸν δὲ Λάϊον, φύσιν τίν' εἶχε, φράζε Soph.; τὴν ἐμὴν ἰδὼν φύσιν Ar.
- of the mind, one's nature, natural bent, powers, character, Soph., etc.
- often periphr., πέτρου φύσιν σύ γ' ὀργάνειας, i. e. would'st provoke a stone, Soph.; ἡ φ. αὐτοῦ for αὐτός, Plat.
II. nature, i. e. the order or law of nature, κατὰ φύσιν πεφυκέναι to be made so by nature, naturally, Hdt., etc.;—opp. to παρὰ φύσιν, Eur., Thuc.; so, προδότης ἐκ φύσεως a traitor by nature, Aeschin.:—so, in dat. φύσει, by nature, naturally, Ar., etc.:—f4usin 24exei, c. inf., it is natural that . . , Hdt., Plat.
- origin, birth, φύσει γεγονότες εὖ Hdt.; φ. νεώτερος Soph.; so, τὴν φύσιν Xen.
III. nature, universe, Plat., Arist.
IV. as a concrete term, creatures, animals (cf. φύστις), θνητὴ φ. man kind, Soph.; πόντου εἰναλία φ. the creatures of the sea, Soph.; θήλεια φ. woman- kind, Xen.; οἱ τοιαῦται φύσεις such creatures as these, Isocr.
V. a nature, kind, sort, βιοτῆς φύσις Soph.: species, Xen.
VI. sex, Soph., Thuc.
Notice Thayer's better translation of Romans 2:27 "uncircumcised by birth", instead of the Bible versions, which use "by nature" or "physically uncircumcised". Also, Gal 2:15 We are Jews by birth, not sinners. Gentiles' uncircumcision and Jew's circumcision is not incidental, contingent or acquired, it is their inherited culture. It is best to conclude that the word means inherited-nature, genealogical upbringing, genetic-instinct. It doesn't mean nature as in proper-characteristic in general, but the traits something grew up with; or a habitual practice which becomes like a second nature, a figurative usage. The word is only used for creaturely species (man or animals), and their genetic behaviour. For this may not be an appropriate word choice to use for God or Christ, who has no origin.
Peter writes, however, that we become shareholders of the divine nature, in 2Peter 1:4. Here, the phrase divine nature θείας φύσεως, is adjectival: divine or godly nature/order/righteous-behaviour - cf Hebrews 12:10 share his holiness, rather than the genetic-nature-of-God himself. So, we can avoid this as an example of the word used for God's own nature.
ESV [2Peter 1:4] .. so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
[1Pet 1:3-4] ...According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
It must mean sharing the divine gifts, inheritance, and works of righteous functions/order, those who gain divine nature (godly order of function) by being begotten of God, or by godly acts, like becoming the righteousness of God by following the righteousness required by God; and not the divinity itself: Noun Theotes, from Rom 1:20 his eternal (power) and divinity.
Abbott-Smith Manual Greek Lexicon Theotes: θειότης, -ητος, ἡ,
[in LXX: Wis 18:9*;]
divine nature, divinity: Rom 1:20 (for ex. from Papyri, v. MM, Exp., xv). †
SYN.: θεότης G2320*, deity, godhead, divine personality. θει. = divine nature and properties, a summary term for the attributes of deity, differing from θεότης as quality or attribute from essence.
Compare the usage of μέτοχος - partaker, Heb 6:4 tasted the heavenly gifts and become partakers in the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 3:14 For we have been partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our foundation firm to the end (SLT).
Galatians 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. This phrase τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσι θεοῖς is used for the pagan gods, "those not being Gods by their birth-nature, or original-nature", they are imagined/made Gods by men.
This word is not used for God/Christ, as far as I have searched, and I am eager to find any references in the Bible-apocryphal scope; feel free to answer in comments. The Romans however, creatures of their instinct, sinners by nature, had no problem using physis for Christ, in their theological creeds after the end of the world, as we see from their creeds and history.
The Chalcedon Creed in 451 AD.
ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν Χριστόν, υἱόν, κύριον, μονογενῆ, ἐκ δύο φύσεων [ἐν δύο φύσεσιν] ,69 ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως ,70 ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως 71 γνωριζόμενον· οὐδαμοῦ τῆς τῶν φύσεων διαφορᾶς ἀνῃρημένης διὰ τὴν ἕνωσιν, σωζομένης δὲ μᾶλλον τῆς ἰδιότητος ἑκατέρας φύσεως καὶ εἰς ἓν πρόσωπον καὶ μίαν ὑπὸστασιν συντρεχούσης, οὐκ εἰς δύο πρόσωπα μεριζόμενον ἢ διαιρούμενον, ἀλλ᾽ ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν υἱὸν καὶ μονογενῆ, θεὸν λόγον, κύριον Ἰησοῦν
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures,75 inconfusedly, unchangeably,76 indivisibly, inseparably;77 the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as
You can notice, and it is well known to the scholars that the Romans, being pagans, misunderstood the word mono-genes which means only (Latin unicus) with monogennetos- only-begotten and shamelessly twisted monogenes in the Latin translation as unigenitus. They had no knowledge of religion and theology (of the Jews). They believed Jesus was really a begotten smaller god, caused by God the father who alone is the uncaused cause. Hence, coming from the womb of God, the Son shares the same divine physis nature. This contingent, created (although not ex-nihilo) or begotten god concept was close to their polytheistic culture, hence they could freely use physis for Christ to describe his inherited, ancestral divine nature. He is god from his origin or birth-nature, according to them.