Tyrannius Rufinus- On the Resurrection of the Body

(from Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, c. 309 A.D.)

“That He shall come to judge the quick and the dead we are taught by many testimonies of the divine Scriptures. […] When, however, He is said to judge the quick and the dead, this does not mean that some will come to judgment who are still living, others who are already dead; but that He will judge both souls and bodies, where, by souls are meant “the quick,” and the bodies, “the dead;” as also the Lord Himself saith in the Gospel, “Fear not them who are able to kill the body, but are not able to hurt the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matt. x. 28).”

“This last article, which affirms the THE RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH, concludes the sum of all perfection with succinct brevity. Although on this point also the faith of the church is impugned, not only by Gentiles, but by heretics likewise. For Valentinus altogether denies the resurrection of the flesh, so do the Manicheans, as we showed above. But they refuse to listen to the prophet Isaiah when he says, “The dead shall rise, and they who are in their graves shall be raised” (Isa. xxvi. 19), or to most wise Daniel, when he declares, “Then they who are in the dust of the earth shall arise, these to eternal life, but those to shame and confusion” (Dan. xii. 2).”

But in the resurrection of the dead they will neither marry or be given in marriage, but are as the angels of God” (Matt. xxii. 30). But the virtue of the resurrection confers on men an angelic state, so that they who have risen from the earth shall not live again on the earth with the brute animals, but with the angels in heaven– yet those only whose purer life has fitted them for this– those, namely, who even now preserving the flesh of their soul in chastity, have brought it into subjection to the Holy Spirit, and thus with every stain of sins done away and changed into spiritual glory by the virtue of sanctification, have been counted worthy to have it admitted into the society of angels.”

“Let me recall further how Job, who abounds in mystical language, plainly predicted the resurrection of the dead. “There is hope for a tree; for if it be cut down it will sprout again, and its shoot never fail. But if its root have waxed old in the earth, and the stock thereof be dead in the dust, yet through the scent of water it will will flourish again, and put forth shoots as a young plant. But man, if he be dead, is he departed and gone? And mortal man, if he be fallen, shall he be no more? (Job xiv. 7-10).

Do you not see, that in these words he is appealing to man’s sense of shame, as it were, and saying, “Is mankind so foolish, that when they see the stock of a tree which has been cut down shooting forth again from the ground, and dead wood again restored to life, they imagine their own case to have no likeness to that of wood or trees?” But to convince you that Job’s words are to be read as a question, when he says, “But mortal man, when he is fallen, shall he not rise again?” Take this proof from what follows; for he adds immediately, “But if a man be dead, shall he live?” (Job xiv. 14). And presently afterwards he says, “I will wait till I be made again.” And afterwards he repeats the same: “Who shall raise again upon the earth my skin, which is now draining this cup of suffering” (Job xix. 26, 27).

“Thus much in proof of the profession which we make in the Creed when we say “The resurrection of this flesh.” As to the addition “this,” see how consonant it is from all we have cited from the divine books. […] Moreover, when the Apostle says, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality” (1 Cor. xv. 53), are not his words those of one who in a manner touches his body and places his finger upon it? This body, then, which is now corruptible, will by the grace of the resurrection be incorruptible, and this which is now mortal will be clothed with virtues of immortality, that, as “Christ rising from the dead dies no more, death has no more dominion over Him” (Romans vi. 9), so those who shall rise in Christ shall never again feel corruption or death, not because the nature of flesh will have been cast off, but because its condition and quality will have been changed. There will be a body, therefore, which will rise from the dead incorruptible and immortal, not only of the righteous, but also of sinners; of the righteous that they may be able ever to abide with Christ, of sinners that they may undergo without end the punishment due to them.”


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