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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 17

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 17.—Whether the Bodies of Women Shall Retain Their Own Sex in the Resurrection.

From the words, “Till we all come to a perfect man, to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ,” 1634 and from the words, “Conformed to the image of the Son of God,” 1635 some conclude that women shall not rise women, but that all shall be men, because p. 496 God made man only of earth, and woman of the man.  For my part, they seem to be wiser who make no doubt that both sexes shall rise.  For there shall be no lust, which is now the cause of confusion.  For before they sinned, the man and the woman were naked, and were not ashamed.  From those bodies, then, vice shall be withdrawn, while nature shall be preserved.  And the sex of woman is not a vice, but nature.  It shall then indeed be superior to carnal intercourse and child-bearing; nevertheless the female members shall remain adapted not to the old uses, but to a new beauty, which, so far from provoking lust, now extinct, shall excite praise to the wisdom and clemency of God, who both made what was not and delivered from corruption what He made.  For at the beginning of the human race the woman was made of a rib taken from the side of the man while he slept; for it seemed fit that even then Christ and His Church should be foreshadowed in this event.  For that sleep of the man was the death of Christ, whose side, as He hung lifeless upon the cross, was pierced with a spear, and there flowed from it blood and water, and these we know to be the sacraments by which the Church is “built up.”  For Scripture used this very word, not saying “He formed” or “framed,” but “built her up into a woman;” 1636 whence also the apostle speaks of the edification of the body of Christ, 1637 which is the Church.  The woman, therefore, is a creature of God even as the man; but by her creation from man unity is commended; and the manner of her creation prefigured, as has been said, Christ and the Church.  He, then, who created both sexes will restore both.  Jesus Himself also, when asked by the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, which of the seven brothers should have to wife the woman whom all in succession had taken to raise up seed to their brother, as the law enjoined, says, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” 1638   And though it was a fit opportunity for His saying, She about whom you make inquiries shall herself be a man, and not a woman, He said nothing of the kind; but “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” 1639   They shall be equal to the angels in immortality and happiness, not in flesh, nor in resurrection, which the angels did not need, because they could not die.  The Lord then denied that there would be in the resurrection, not women, but marriages; and He uttered this denial in circumstances in which the question mooted would have been more easily and speedily solved by denying that the female sex would exist, if this had in truth been foreknown by Him.  But, indeed, He even affirmed that the sex should exist by saying, “They shall not be given in marriage,” which can only apply to females; “Neither shall they marry,” which applies to males.  There shall therefore be those who are in this world accustomed to marry and be given in marriage, only they shall there make no such marriages.


Footnotes

495:1634

Eph. 4.13.

495:1635

Rom. 8.29.

496:1636

Gen. 2.22.

496:1637

Eph. 4.12.

496:1638

Matt. 22.29.

496:1639

Matt. 22.30.


Next: Chapter 18

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