Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume I/IRENAEUS/Against Heresies: Book V/Chapter VII.
Chapter VII.—Inasmuch as Christ did rise in our flesh, it follows that we shall be also raised in the same; since the resurrection promised to us should not be referred to spirits naturally immortal, but to bodies in themselves mortal.
1. In the same manner, therefore, as Christ did rise in the substance of flesh, and pointed out to His disciples the mark of the nails and the opening in His side (now these are the tokens of that flesh which rose from the dead), so “shall He also,” it is said, “raise us up by His own power.” And again to the Romans he says, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.” What, then, are mortal bodies? Can they be souls? Nay, for souls are incorporeal when put in comparison with mortal bodies; for God “breathed into the face of man the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Now the breath of life is an incorporeal
thing. And certainly they cannot maintain that the very breath of life is mortal. Therefore David says, “My soul also shall live to Him,” just as if its substance were immortal. Neither, on the other hand, can they say that the spirit is the mortal body. What therefore is there left to which we may apply the term “mortal body,” unless it be the thing that was moulded, that is, the flesh, of which it is also said that God will vivify it? For this it is which dies and is decomposed, but not the soul or the spirit. For to die is to lose vital power, and to become henceforth breathless, inanimate, and devoid of motion, and to melt away into those [component parts] from which also it derived the commencement of [its] substance. But this event happens neither to the soul, for it is the breath of life; nor to the spirit, for the spirit is simple and not composite, so that it cannot be decomposed, and is itself the life of those who receive it. We must therefore conclude that it is in reference to the flesh that death is mentioned; which [flesh], after the soul’s departure, becomes breathless and inanimate, and is decomposed gradually into the earth from which it was taken. This, then, is what is mortal. And it is this of which he also says, “He shall also quicken your mortal bodies.” And therefore in reference to it he says, in the first [Epistle] to the Corinthians: “So also is the resurrection of the dead: it is sown in corruption, it rises in incorruption.” For he declares, “That which thou sowest cannot be quickened, unless first it die.”
2. But what is that which, like a grain of wheat, is sown in the earth and decays, unless it be the bodies which are laid in the earth, into which seeds are also cast? And for this reason he said, “It is sown in dishonour, it rises in glory.” For what is more ignoble than dead flesh? Or, on the other hand, what is more glorious than the same when it arises and partakes of incorruption? “It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power:” in its own weakness certainly, because since it is earth it goes to earth; but [it is quickened] by the power of God, who raises it from the dead. “It is sown an animal body, it rises a spiritual body.” He has taught, beyond all doubt, that such language was not used by him, either with reference to the soul or to the spirit, but to bodies that have become corpses. For these are animal bodies, that is, [bodies] which partake of life, which when they have lost, they succumb to death; then, rising through the Spirit’s instrumentality, they become spiritual bodies, so that by the Spirit they possess a perpetual life. “For now,” he says, “we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but then face to face.” And this it is which has been said also by Peter: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom now also, not seeing, ye believe; and believing, ye shall rejoice with joy unspeakable.” For our face shall see the face of the Lord and shall rejoice with joy unspeakable,—that is to say, when it shall behold its own Delight.
- John xx. 20, 25–27.
- 1 Cor. vi. 14.
- Rom. viii. 11.
- Ps. xxii. 31, LXX.
- 1 Cor. xv. 42.
- 1 Cor. xv. 36.
- 1 Cor. xv. 43.
- 1 Cor. xv. 43.
- 1 Cor. xv. 44.
- 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12.
- 1 Pet. i. 8.
- Grabe, Massuet, and Stieren prefer to read, “the face of the living God;” while Harvey adopts the above, reading merely “Domini,” and not “Dei vivi.”