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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Sundry Other Passages of St. Paul Explained in a Sentence Confirmatory of Our Doctrine.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XLIV.—Sundry Other Passages of St. Paul Explained in a Sentence Confirmatory of Our Doctrine.

Now, if you will examine the words which precede the passage where mention is made of the outward and the inward man, will you not discover the whole truth, both of the dignity and the hope of the flesh? For, when he speaks of the “light which God hath commanded to shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord in the person of Jesus Christ,” 7572 and says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels,” 7573 meaning of course the flesh, which is meant—that the flesh shall be destroyed, because it is “an earthen vessel,” deriving its origin from clay; or that it is to be glorified, as being the receptacle of a divine treasure? Now if that true light, which is in the person of Christ, contains in itself life, and that life with its light is committed to the flesh, is that destined to perish which has life entrusted to it? Then, of course, the treasure will perish also; for perishable things are entrusted to things which are themselves perishable, which is like putting new wine into old bottles. When also he adds, “Always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus Christ,” 7574 what sort of substance is that which, after (being called) the temple of God, can now be also designated the tomb of Christ?  But why do we bear about in the body the dying of the Lord? In order, as he says, “that His life also may be manifested.” 7575 Where?  “In the body.” In what body? “In our mortal body.” 7576 Therefore in the flesh, which is mortal indeed through sin, but living through grace—how great a grace you may see when the purpose is, “that the life of Christ may be manifested in it.” Is it then in a thing which is a stranger to salvation, in a substance which is perpetually dissolved, that the life of Christ will be manifested, which is eternal, continuous, incorruptible, and already the life of God? Else to what epoch belongs that life of the Lord which is to be manifested in our body? It surely is the life which He lived up to His passion, which was not only openly shown among the Jews, but has now been displayed even to all nations. Therefore that life is meant which “has broken the adamantine gates of death and the brazen bars of the lower world,” 7577 —a life which thenceforth has been and will be ours. Lastly, it is to be manifested in the body. When? After death.  How? By rising in our body, as Christ also rose in His. But lest any one should here object, that the life of Jesus has even now to be manifested in our body by the discipline of holiness, and patience, and righteousness, and wisdom, in which the Lord’s life abounded, the most provident wisdom of the apostle inserts this purpose: “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that His life may be manifested in our mortal body.” 7578 In us, therefore, even when dead, does he say that this is to take place in us. And if so, how is this possible except in our body after its resurrection? Therefore he adds in the concluding sentence: “Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also with Him,” 7579 risen as He is already from the dead.  But perhaps “with Him” means “like Him:” well then, if it be like Him, it is not of course without the flesh.


Footnotes

577:7572

2 Cor. iv. 6.

577:7573

2 Cor. 4.7.

577:7574

2 Cor. iv. 10.

577:7575

2 Cor. 4.10.

577:7576

2 Cor. 4.10.

577:7577

Ps. cvii. 16.

577:7578

2 Cor. iv. 11.

577:7579

2 Cor. 4.14.


Next: The Old Man and the New Man of St. Paul Explained.

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