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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 2

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 2 [II.]—If Adam Had Not Sinned, He Would Never Have Died.

They who say that Adam was so formed that he would even without any demerit of sin have died, not as the penalty of sin, but from the necessity of his being, endeavour indeed to refer that passage in the law, which says: “On the day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die,” 211 not to the death of p. 16 the body, but to that death of the soul which takes place in sin. It is the unbelievers who have died this death, to whom the Lord pointed when He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” 212 Now what will be their answer, when we read that God, when reproving and sentencing the first man after his sin, said to him, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return?” 213 For it was not in respect of his soul that he was “dust,” but clearly by reason of his body, and it was by the death of the self-same body that he was destined to “return to dust.” Still, although it was by reason of his body that he was dust, and although he bare about the natural body in which he was created, he would, if he had not sinned, have been changed into a spiritual body, and would have passed into the incorruptible state, which is promised to the faithful and the saints, without the peril of death. 214 And for this issue we not only are conscious in ourselves of having an earnest desire, but we learn it from the apostle’s intimation, when he says: “For in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven; if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life.”  215 Therefore, if Adam had not sinned, he would not have been divested of his body, but would have been clothed upon with immortality and incorruption, that “mortality might have been swallowed up of life;” that is, that he might have passed from the natural body into the spiritual body.



Gen. ii. 17.


Matt. 8:22, Luke 9:60.


Gen. iii. 19.


1 Cor. 15:52, 53.


2 Cor. v. 2-4.

Next: Chapter 3

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