Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
City of God: Chapter 23
Chapter 23.—What We are to Understand by the Animal and Spiritual Body; Or of Those Who Die in Adam, And of Those Who are Made Alive in Christ.
For as those bodies of ours, that have a living soul, though not as yet a quickening spirit, are called soul-informed bodies, and yet are not souls but bodies, so also those bodies are called spiritual,—yet God forbid we should therefore suppose them to be spirits and not bodies,—which, being quickened by the Spirit, have the substance, but not the unwieldiness and corruption of flesh. Man will then be not earthly but heavenly,—not because the body will not be that very body which was made of earth, but because by its heavenly endowment it will be a fit inhabitant of heaven, and this not by losing its nature, but by changing its quality. The first man, of the earth earthy, was made a living soul, not a quickening spirit,—which rank was reserved for him as the reward of obedience. And therefore his body, which required meat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst, and which had no absolute and indestructible immortality, but by means of the tree of life warded off the necessity of dying, and was thus maintained in the flower of youth,—this body, I say, was doubtless not spiritual, but animal; and yet it would not have died but that it provoked Gods threatened vengeance by offending. And though sustenance was not denied him even outside Paradise, yet, being forbidden the tree of life, he was delivered over to the wasting of time, at least in respect of that life which, had he not sinned, he might have retained perpetually in Paradise, though only in an animal body, till such time as it became spiritual in acknowledgment of his obedience.
Wherefore, although we understand that this manifest death, which consists in the separation of soul and body, was also signified by God when He said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” 613 it ought not on that account to seem absurd that they were not dismissed from the body on that very day on which they took the forbidden and death-bringing fruit. For certainly on that very day their nature was altered for the worse and vitiated, and by their most just banishment from the tree of life they were involved in the necessity even of bodily death, in which necessity we are born. And therefore the apostle does not say, “The body indeed is doomed to die on account of sin,” but he says, “The body indeed is dead because of sin.” Then he adds, “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 by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” 614 Then accordingly shall the body become a quickening spirit which is now a living soul; and yet the apostle calls it “dead,” because already it lies under the necessity of dying. But in Paradise it was so made a living soul, though not a quickening spirit, that it could not properly be called dead, for, save through the commission of sin, it could not come under the power of death. Now, since God by the words, “Adam, where art thou?” pointed to the death of the soul, which results when He abandons it, and since in the words, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return,” 615 He signified the death of the body, which results when the soul departs from it, we are led, therefore, to believe that He said nothing of the second death, wishing it to be kept hidden, and reserving it for the New Testament dispensation, in which it is most plainly revealed. And this He did in order that, first of all, it might be evident that this first death, which is common to all, was the result of that sin which in one man became common to all. 616 But the second death is not common to all, those being excepted who were “called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did pre p. 258 destinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” 617 Those the grace of God has, by a Mediator, delivered from the second death.
Thus the apostle states that the first man was made in an animal body. For, wishing to distinguish the animal body which now is from the spiritual, which is to be in the resurrection, he says, “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Then, to prove this, he goes on, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” And to show what the animated body is, he says, “Thus it was written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” 618 He wished thus to show what the animated body is, though Scripture did not say of the first man Adam, when his soul was created by the breath of God, “Man was made in an animated body,” but “Man was made a living soul.” 619 By these words, therefore, “The first man was made a living soul,” the apostle wishes mans animated body to be understood. But how he wishes the spiritual body to be understood he shows when he adds, “But the last Adam was made a quickening spirit,” plainly referring to Christ, who has so risen from the dead that He cannot die any more. He then goes on to say, “But that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” And here he much more clearly asserts that he referred to the animal body when he said that the first man was made a living soul, and to the spiritual when he said that the last man was made a quickening spirit. The animal body is the first, being such as the first Adam had, and which would not have died had he not sinned, being such also as we now have, its nature being changed and vitiated by sin to the extent of bringing us under the necessity of death, and being such as even Christ condescended first of all to assume, not indeed of necessity, but of choice; but afterwards comes the spiritual body, which already is worn by anticipation by Christ as our head, and will be worn by His members in the resurrection of the dead.
Then the apostle subjoins a notable difference between these two men, saying, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 620 So he elsewhere says, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ;” 621 but in very deed this shall be accomplished when that which is animal in us by our birth shall have become spiritual in our resurrection. For, to use his words again,” We are saved by hope.” 622 Now we bear the image of the earthly man by the propagation of sin and death, which pass on us by ordinary generation; but we bear the image of the heavenly by the grace of pardon and life eternal, which regeneration confers upon us through the Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. And He is the heavenly Man of Pauls passage, because He came from heaven to be clothed with a body of earthly mortality, that He might clothe it with heavenly immortality. And he calls others heavenly, because by grace they become His members, that, together with them, He may become one Christ, as head and body. In the same epistle he puts this yet more clearly: “Since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 623 —that is to say, in a spiritual body which shall be made a quickening spirit. Not that all who die in Adam shall be members of Christ,—for the great majority shall be punished in eternal death,—but he uses the word “all” in both clauses, because, as no one dies in an animal body except in Adam, so no one is quickened a spiritual body save in Christ. We are not, then, by any means to suppose that we shall in the resurrection have such a body as the first man had before he sinned, nor that the words, “As is the earthy such are they also that are earthy,” are to be understood of that which was brought about by sin; for we are not to think that Adam had a spiritual body before he fell, and that, in punishment of his sin, it was changed into an animal body. If this be thought, small heed has been given to the words of so great a teacher, who says, “There is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; as it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul.” Was it after sin he was made so? or was not this the primal condition of man from which the blessed apostle selects his testimony to show what the animal body is?
Rom. 8:10, 11.257:615
In uno commune factum est omnibus.258:617
Rom. 8:28, 29.258:618
1 Cor. 15.42-45.258:619
1 Cor. 15.47-49.258:621
1 Cor. 15:21, 22.
Next: Chapter 24
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