“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
King James Version (KJV)
2:3 Among whom we - Jews. Also, formerly had our conversation: doing the will of the flesh - In gross, brutal sins. And of the mind - By spiritual, diabolical wickedness. In the former clause, flesh denotes the whole evil nature; in the latter, the body opposed to the soul. And were by nature - That is, in our natural state. Children of wrath - Having the wrath of God abiding on us, even as the gentiles. This expression, by nature, occurs also, #Gal 4:8|; Rom 2:14; and thrice in the eleventh chapter. #Rom 11:24 But in none of these places does it| signify, by custom, or practice, or customary practice, as a late writer affirms. Nor can it mean so here For this would make the apostle guilty of gross tautology, their customary sinning having been expressed already, in the former part of the verse. But all these passages agree in expressing what belongs to the nature of the persons spoken of.
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation. In Eph 2:1,2, the second person is used, meaning the Ephesians; here the person is changed to the first. Meyer thinks that "ye" refers to Gentile Christians; "we" to Paul and his Jewish brethren. The Gentile Christians had been dead in trespasses and sins; nor had the Jewish Christians differed in this respect. Fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Not only fleshly desires, but the impulses of a sinful mind, such as malice, envy, pride, etc. And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. This declares that "we", now Jewish Christians, were once, when in a state of nature, under condemnation, just as the "others", the rest of the world, or the Gentiles. Some have held that this passage teaches innate, hereditary depravity. I am sure that this was not in the apostle's mind. (1) Two classes are spoken of, "you" and "we", Gentiles and Jews. (2) Both were equally sinful, the first "dead in trespasses and in sins" (Eph 2:1), and the second "by nature the children of wrath, even as the others". (3) The passage then simply affirms that Jews and Gentiles alike, before conversion, were dead in trespasses and sins, and under the divine condemnation. However, "by nature" is supposed to teach that the depravity is innate, and that all "are born" under the wrath of God. Such an interpretation would put the passage in conflict with Paul's teaching elsewhere, and with that of Christ. For instance, Mt 18:3 19:14 are inconsistent with the view that little children are born "under the wrath of God". Indeed, it is taught in this passage that both classes have been brought into this state of condemnation by walking in sin, not by their birth. But does not "by nature" imply that they are born "children of wrath"? The word "phusis", rendered "by nature", is found in Ro 2:14 1Co 11:14 Ga 2:15 4:8. In only one of these passages can it refer to natural birth at all, and there it refers to race (Ga 2:15). In not one passage does it describe what is innate. It does describe custom, practice, and unconverted state. No one would say that the Gentiles, who "do by nature the things of the law" (Ro 2:14), do so because it is innate. It means that they do so without the revelation. In a similar sense it is used here, and means that "we", as well as others, before we were converted by the gospel, were dwelling in sin like others, and were like them, "the children of wrath". The state of nature is the unconverted state.