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Tertullian: Part II: The Same Subject Continued. What Does the Apostle Exclude from the Dead? Certainly Not the Substance of the Flesh.
Chapter XLIX.—The Same Subject Continued. What Does the Apostle Exclude from the Dead? Certainly Not the Substance of the Flesh.
We come now to the very gist 7638 of the whole question: What are the substances, and of what nature are they, which the apostle has disinherited of the kingdom of God? The preceding statements give us a clue to this point also. He says: “The first man is of the earth, earthy”—that is, made of dust, that is, Adam; “the second man is from heaven” 7639 —that is, the Word of God, which is Christ, in no other way, however, man (although “from heaven”), than as being Himself flesh and soul, just as a human being is, just as Adam was. Indeed, in a previous passage He is called “the second Adam,” 7640 deriving the identity of His name from His participation in the substance, because not even Adam was flesh of human seed, in which Christ is also like Him. 7641 “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” 7642 Such (does he mean), in substance; or first of all in training, and afterwards in the dignity and worth which that training aimed at acquiring? Not in substance, however, by any means will the earthy and the heavenly be separated, designated as they have been by the apostle once for all, as men. For even if Christ were the only true “heavenly,” nay, super-celestial Being, He is still man, as composed of body and soul; and in no respect is He separated from the quality of “earthiness,” owing to that condition of His which makes Him a partaker of both substances. In like manner, those also who after Him are heavenly, are understood to have this celestial quality predicated of them not from their present nature, but from their future glory; because in a preceding sentence, which originated this distinction respecting difference of dignity, there was shown to be “one glory in celestial bodies, and another in terrestrial ones,” 7643 —“one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for even one star differeth from another star in glory,” 7644 although not in substance. Then, after having thus premised the difference in that worth or dignity which is even now to be aimed at, and then at last to be enjoyed, the apostle adds an exhortation, that we should both here in our training follow the example of Christ, and there attain His eminence in glory: “As we have borne the image of the earthy, let us also bear the image of the heavenly.” 7645 We have indeed borne the image of the earthy, by our sharing in his transgression, by our participation in his death, by our banishment from Paradise. Now, although the image of Adam is here borne by is in the flesh, yet we are not exhorted to put off the flesh; but if not the flesh, it is the conversation, in order that we may then bear the image of the heavenly in ourselves,—no longer indeed the image of God, and no longer the image of a Being whose state is in heaven; but after the lineaments of Christ, by our walking here in holiness, righteousness, and p. 583 truth. And so wholly intent on the inculcation of moral conduct is he throughout this passage, that he tells us we ought to bear the image of Christ in this flesh of ours, and in this period of instruction and discipline. For when he says “let us bear” in the imperative mood, he suits his words to the present life, in which man exists in no other substance than as flesh and soul; or if it is another, even the heavenly, substance to which this faith (of ours) looks forward, yet the promise is made to that substance to which the injunction is given to labour earnestly to merit its reward. Since, therefore, he makes the image both of the earthy and the heavenly consist of moral conduct—the one to be abjured, and the other to be pursued—and then consistently adds, “For this I say” (on account, that is, of what I have already said, because the conjunction “for” connects what follows with the preceding words) “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” 7646 —he means the flesh and blood to be understood in no other sense than the before-mentioned “image of the earthy;” and since this is reckoned to consist in “the old conversation,” 7647 which old conversation receives not the kingdom of God, therefore flesh and blood, by not receiving the kingdom of God, are reduced to the life of the old conversation. Of course, as the apostle has never put the substance for the works of man, he cannot use such a construction here. Since, however he has declared of men which are yet alive in the flesh, that they “are not in the flesh,” 7648 meaning that they are not living in the works of the flesh, you ought not to subvert its form nor its substance, but only the works done in the substance (of the flesh), alienating us from the kingdom of God. It is after displaying to the Galatians these pernicious works that he professes to warn them beforehand, even as he had “told them in time past, that they which do such things should not inherit the kingdom of God,” 7649 even because they bore not the image of the heavenly, as they had borne the image of the earthy; and so, in consequence of their old conversation, they were to be regarded as nothing else than flesh and blood. But even if the apostle had abruptly thrown out the sentence that flesh and blood must be excluded from the kingdom of God, without any previous intimation of his meaning, would it not have been equally our duty to interpret these two substances as the old man abandoned to mere flesh and blood—in other words, to eating and drinking, one feature of which would be to speak against the faith of the resurrection: “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” 7650 Now, when the apostle parenthetically inserted this, he censured flesh and blood because of their enjoyment in eating and drinking.
Ad carnem et sanguinem revera.582:7639
1 Cor. xv. 47.582:7640
1 Cor. 15.45.582:7641
See De Carne Christi. ch. xvi.582:7642
1 Cor. xv. 48.582:7643
1 Cor. xv. 40.582:7644
1 Cor. 15.41.582:7645
1 Cor. xv. 50.583:7647
See Eph. iv. 22.583:7648
Rom. viii. 9.583:7649
Gal. v. 21.583:7650
1 Cor. xv. 32.
Next: In What Sense Flesh and Blood are Excluded from the Kingdom of God.
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