In his exegesis of Romans 7:17, Italian reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) argues that with regard to sin, Aristotelian anthropology conflicts with the understanding of humanity found in Paul’s writings. Whereas Aristotle taught that the most important parts of the human mind innately tend to the good, Vermigli finds that Paul teaches that sin affects all aspects of the person and leads them away from God.

The Whole Person Affected by Original Sin

Aristotle says that in each sin, some kind of ignorance is involved. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the Philosophers and Paul’s sense. For they judged a power to be innate in the nature of mind, reason, and will—that it always desires and approves the good—so confusion arises only in the coarser parts of the mind. The apostle, on the other hand, asserts that all parts of the man or woman, both inferior and superior, because of original sin, are opposed to the Spirit of God.

Commentary on Romans 7:17 (1560).

Romans 1-8, ed. Gwenfair Walters Adams, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT vol. VII, p. 395.

RCS Series: Pauline Anthropology


Martin Bucer | The Inexpubgable Notio Dei Implanted by God

Huldrych Zwingli | Image Bearers of the First and Second Adam

John Davenant | The Natural Image and the Redeemed Image

Johannes Brenz | A Wolf, a Serpent, and Forgiveness in Spite of the Old Nature

Johann Wild | Spiritual Sacrifices of the Spiritual Priesthood

Martin Luther | There Is No Such Thing as Free Will

Peter Martyr Vermigli | The Whole Person Affected by Original Sin

Martin Luther | Men Are Like the Sun, Women Are Like the Moon

Johannes Bugenhagen | What Human Reason Is Good For