On The Resurrection Of The Flesh by Tertullian
Chapter XLVII.--St. Paul, All Through, Promises Eternal Life to the Body.
For that must be living after the world, which, as the old man, he declares to be |crucified with Christ,| not as a bodily structure, but as moral behaviour. Besides, if we do not understand it in this sense, it is not our bodily frame which has been transfixed (at all events), nor has our flesh endured the cross of Christ; but the sense is that which he has subjoined, |that the body of sin might be made void,| by an amendment of life, not by a destruction of the substance, as he goes on to say, |that henceforth we should not serve sin;| and that we should believe ourselves to be |dead with Christ,| in such a manner as that |we shall also live with Him.| On the same principle he says: |Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed.| To what? To the flesh? No, but |unto sin.| Accordingly as to the flesh they will be saved -- |alive unto God in Christ Jesus,| through the flesh of course, to which they will not be dead; since it is |unto sin,| and not to the flesh, that they are dead. For he pursues the point still further: |Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it, and that ye should yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield ye yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead| -- not simply alive, but as alive from the dead -- |and your members as instruments of righteousness.| And again: |As ye have yielded your members servants of uncleanness, and of iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants of righteousness unto holiness; for whilst ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.| Thus throughout this series of passages, whilst withdrawing our members from unrighteousness and sin, and applying them to righteousness and holiness, and transferring the same from the wages of death to the donative of eternal life, he undoubtedly promises to the flesh the recompense of salvation. Now it would not at all have been consistent that any rule of holiness and righteousness should be especially enjoined for the flesh, if the reward of such a discipline were not also within its reach; nor could even baptism be properly ordered for the flesh, if by its regeneration a course were not inaugurated tending to its restitution; the apostle himself suggesting this idea: |Know ye not, that so many of us as are baptized into Jesus Christ, are baptized into His death? We are therefore buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead, even so we also should walk in newness of life.| And that you may not suppose that this is said merely of that life which we have to walk in the newness of, through baptism, by faith, the apostle with superlative forethought adds: |For if we have been planted together in the likeness of Christ's death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.| By a figure we die in our baptism, but in a reality we rise again in the flesh, even as Christ did, |that, as sin has reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord.| But how so, unless equally in the flesh? For where the death is, there too must be the life after the death, because also the life was first there, where the death subsequently was. Now, if the dominion of death operates only in the dissolution of the flesh, in like manner death's contrary, life, ought to produce the contrary effect, even the restoration of the flesh; so that, just as death had swallowed it up in its strength, it also, after this mortal was swallowed up of immortality, may hear the challenge pronounced against it: |O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?| For in this way |grace shall there much more abound, where sin once abounded.| In this way also |shall strength be made perfect in weakness,| -- saving what is lost, reviving what is dead, healing what is stricken, curing what is faint, redeeming what is lost, freeing what is enslaved, recalling what has strayed, raising what is fallen; and this from earth to heaven, where, as the apostle teaches the Philippians, |we have our citizenship, from whence also we look for our Saviour Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body| -- of course after the resurrection, because Christ Himself was not glorified before He suffered. These must be |the bodies| which he |beseeches| the Romans to |present| as |a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.| But how a living sacrifice, if these bodies are to perish? How a holy one, if they are profanely soiled? How acceptable to God, if they are condemned? Come, now, tell me how that passage (in the Epistle) to the Thessalonians -- which, because of its clearness, I should suppose to have been written with a sunbeam -- is understood by our heretics, who shun the light of Scripture: |And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.| And as if this were not plain enough, it goes on to say: |And may your whole body, and soul, and spirit be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord.| Here you have the entire substance of man destined to salvation, and that at no other time than at the coming of the Lord, which is the key of the resurrection.