On The Resurrection Of The Flesh by Tertullian
Chapter XXIII.--Sundry Passages of St. Paul, Which Speak of a Spiritual Resurrection, Compatible with the Future Resurrection of the Body, Which is Even Assumed in Them.
The apostle indeed teaches, in his Epistle to the Colossians, that we were once dead, alienated, and enemies to the Lord in our minds, whilst we were living in wicked works; that we were then buried with Christ in baptism, and also raised again with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. |And you, (adds he), when ye were dead in sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.| And again: |If ye are dead with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?| Now, since he makes us spiritually dead -- in such a way, however, as to allow that we shall one day have to undergo a bodily death, -- so, considering indeed that we have been also raised in a like spiritual sense, he equally allows that we shall further have to undergo a bodily resurrection. In so many words he says: |Since ye are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.| Accordingly, it is in our mind that he shows that we rise (with Christ), since it is by this alone that we are as yet able to reach to heavenly objects. These we should not |seek,| nor |set our affection on,| if we had them already in our possession. He also adds: |For ye are dead| -- to your sins, he means, not to yourselves -- |and your life is hid with Christ in God.| Now that life is not yet apprehended which is hidden. In like manner John says: |And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: we know, however, that when He shall be manifest, we shall be like Him.| We are far indeed from being already what we know not of; we should, of course, be sure to know it if we were already (like Him). It is therefore the contemplation of our blessed hope even in this life by faith (that he speaks of) -- not its presence nor its possession, but only its expectation. Concerning this expectation and hope Paul writes to the Galatians: |For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.| He says |we wait for it,| not we are in possession of it. By the righteousness of God, he means that judgment which we shall have to undergo as the recompense of our deeds. It is in expectation of this for himself that the apostle writes to the Philippians: |If by any means,| says he, |I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect.| And yet he had believed, and had known all mysteries, as an elect vessel and the great teacher of the Gentiles; but for all that he goes on to say: |I, however, follow on, if so be I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ.| Nay, more: |Brethren,| (he adds), |I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing (I do), forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of blamelessness, whereby I may attain it;| meaning the resurrection from the dead in its proper time. Even as he says to the Galatians: |Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap.| Similarly, concerning Onesiphorus, does he also write to Timothy: |The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy in that day;| unto which day and time he charges Timothy himself |to keep what had been committed to his care, without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,| speaking of (Him as) God. It is to these same times that Peter in the Acts refers, when he says: |Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets.|