The term 'nature' is not used in the OT. nor was the conception current in Hebrew thought, as God alone is seen in all, through all, and over all. The idea came from the word physis from Hellenism. Swine's flesh is commended for food as a gift of nature in 4Ma 5:7. In the NT the term is used in various senses: (1) the forces, laws, and order of the world, including man (Ro 1:26; 11:21,24; Ga 4:8); (2) the inborn sense of propriety or morality (1Co 11:14; Ro 2:14); (3) birth or physical origin (Ga 2:15; Ro 2:27); (4) the sum of characteristics of a species or person, human (Jas 3:7), or Divine (2Pe 1:4); (5) a condition acquired or inherited ('/Ephesians/2/3'>Eph 2:3, 'by nature children of wrath'). What is contrary to nature is condemned. While the term is not found or the conception made explicit in the OT, Schultz (OT Theol. ii. 74) finds in the Law 'the general rule that nothing is to be permitted contrary to the delicate sense of the inviolable proprieties of nature,' and gives a number of instances (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Le 22:28; 19:19; De 22:9-11; Le 10:9; 19:28; 21:5; 22:24; De 14:1; 23:2). The beauty and the order of the world are recognized as evidences of Divine wisdom and power (Ps 8:1; 19:1; 33:6-7; 90:2; 104; 136:6 ff., Ps 147; Pr 8:22-30; Job 38; 39); but the sum of created things is not hypostatized and personified apart from God, as in much current modern thinking. God is Creator, Preserver, and Ruler: He makes all (Isa 44:24; Am 4:13), and is in all (Ps 139). His immanence is by His Spirit (Ge 1:2). Jesus recognizes God's bounty and care in the flowers of the field and the birds of the air (Mt 6:26,28); He uses natural processes to illustrate spiritual, in salt (Mt 5:13), seed and soil (Mt 13:3-9), and leaven (Mt 13:33). The growth of the seed is also used as an illustration by Paul (1Co 15:37-38). There is in the Bible no interest in nature apart from God, and the problem of the relation of God to nature has not yet risen on the horizon of the thought of the writers.
Alfred E. Garvie.
The inherent qualities of a being manifested in the various characteristics which mark and display its existence: the aggregate of such qualities is what is termed its nature, and one class or order of being is thus distinguished from another. Men by nature are the children of wrath, Eph 2:3; whereas the Christian becomes morally partaker of the divine nature, 2Pe 1:4; of which love is the characteristic: he is made partaker of God's holiness. Heb 12:10. The work of God in the Christian which forms his nature thus finds its expression in him. The Creator can design and predicate the nature of a being before that being has an actual existence in fact; but we, as creatures, can discern the nature only from the existent being, and cannot therefore rightly speak of the nature save as characteristic of the being.
Nature is also a term descriptive of the vast system of created things around us, to each part of which the Creator has given not only its existence, but its use, its order, its increase, its decay
NATURE. In Scripture the word nature expresses the orderly and usual course of things established in the world. St. Paul says, to ingraft a good olive tree into a wild olive is contrary to nature, Ro 11:24; the customary order of nature is thereby in some measure inverted. Nature is also put for natural descent: "We who are Jews by nature," by birth, "and not Gentiles," Ga 2:15. "We were by nature the children of wrath," Eph 2:3. Nature also denotes common sense, natural instinct: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame to him?" 1Co 11:14.