On The Resurrection Of The Flesh by Tertullian
Chapter XLVIII.--Sundry Passages in the Great Chapter of the Resurrection of the Dead Explained in Defence of Our Doctrine.
But |flesh and blood,| you say, |cannot inherit the kingdom of God.| We are quite aware that this too is written; but although our opponents place it in the front of the battle, we have intentionally reserved the objection until now, in order that we may in our last assault overthrow it, after we have removed out of the way all the questions which are auxiliary to it. However, they must contrive to recall to their mind even now our preceding arguments, in order that the occasion which originally suggested this passage may assist our judgment in arriving at its meaning. The apostle, as I take it, having set forth for the Corinthians the details of their church discipline, had summed up the substance of his own gospel, and of their belief in an exposition of the Lord's death and resurrection, for the purpose of deducing therefrom the rule of our hope, and the groundwork thereof. Accordingly he subjoins this statement: |Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, because ye are yet in your sins, and they which have fallen asleep in Christ are perished.| Now, what is the point which he evidently labours hard to make us believe throughout this passage? The resurrection of the dead, you say, which was denied: he certainly wished it to be believed on the strength of the example which he adduced -- the Lord's resurrection. Certainly, you say. Well now, is an example borrowed from different circumstances, or from like ones? From like ones, by all means, is your answer. How then did Christ rise again? In the flesh, or not? No doubt, since you are told that He |died according to the Scriptures,| and |that He was buried according to the Scriptures,| no otherwise than in the flesh, you will also allow that it was in the flesh that He was raised from the dead. For the very same body which fell in death, and which lay in the sepulchre, did also rise again; (and it was) not so much Christ in the flesh, as the flesh in Christ. If, therefore, we are to rise again after the example of Christ, who rose in the flesh, we shall certainly not rise according to that example, unless we also shall ourselves rise again in the flesh. |For,| he says, |since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.| (This he says) in order, on the one hand, to distinguish the two authors -- Adam of death, Christ of resurrection; and, on the other hand, to make the resurrection operate on the same substance as the death, by comparing the authors themselves under the designation man. For if |as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,| their vivification in Christ must be in the flesh, since it is in the flesh that arises their death in Adam. |But every man in his own order,| because of course it will be also every man in his own body. For the order will be arranged severally, on account of the individual merits. Now, as the merits must be ascribed to the body, it must needs follow that the order also should be arranged in respect of the bodies, that it may be in relation to their merits. But inasmuch as |some are also baptized for the dead,| we will see whether there be a good reason for this. Now it is certain that they adopted this (practice) with such a presumption as made them suppose that the vicarious baptism (in question) would be beneficial to the flesh of another in anticipation of the resurrection; for unless it were a bodily resurrection, there would be no pledge secured by this process of a corporeal baptism. |Why are they then baptized for the dead,| he asks, unless the bodies rise again which are thus baptized? For it is not the soul which is sanctified by the baptismal bath: its sanctification comes from the |answer.| |And why,| he inquires, |stand we in jeopardy every hour?| -- meaning, of course, through the flesh. |I die daily,| (says he); that is, undoubtedly, in the perils of the body, in which |he even fought with beasts at Ephesus,| -- even with those beasts which caused him such peril and trouble in Asia, to which he alludes in his second epistle to the same church of Corinth: |For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed above measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.| Now, if I mistake not, he enumerates all these particulars in order that in his unwillingness to have his conflicts in the flesh supposed to be useless, he may induce an unfaltering belief in the resurrection of the flesh. For useless must that conflict be deemed (which is sustained in a body) for which no resurrection is in prospect. |But some man will say, How are the dead to be raised? And with what body will they come?| Now here he discusses the qualities of bodies, whether it be the very same, or different ones, which men are to resume. Since, however, such a question as this must be regarded as a subsequent one, it will in passing be enough for us that the resurrection is determined to be a bodily one even from this, that it is about the quality of bodies that the inquiry arises.