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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 9

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 9.—The Beginning of Renewal; Resurrection Called Regeneration; They are the Sons of God Who Lead Lives Suitable to Newness of Life.

And hence in the passage, “Whosoever is born of God doth not sin, and he cannot sin, for His seed remaineth in him,” 489 and in every other passage of like import, they much deceive themselves by an inadequate consideration of the Scriptures. For they fail to observe that men severally become sons of God when they begin to live in newness of spirit, and to be renewed as to the inner man after the image of Him that created them. 490 For it is not from the moment of a man’s baptism that all his old infirmity is destroyed, but renovation begins with the remission of all his sins, and so far as he who is now wise is spiritually wise. All things else, however, are accomplished in hope, looking forward to their being also realized in fact, 491 even to the renewal of the body itself in that better state of immortality and incorruption with which we shall be clothed at the resurrection of the dead. For this too the Lord calls a regeneration,—though, of course, not such as occurs through baptism, but still a regeneration wherein that which is now begun in the spirit shall be brought to perfection also in the body. “In the regeneration,” says He, “when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 492 For however entire and full be the remission of sins in baptism, nevertheless, if there was wrought by it at once, an entire and full change of the man into his everlasting newness,—I do not mean change in his body, which is now most clearly tending evermore to the old corruption and to death, after which it is to be renewed into p. 48 a total and true newness,—but, the body being excepted, if in the soul itself, which is the inner man, a perfect renewal was wrought in baptism, the apostle would not say: “Even though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 493 Now, undoubtedly, he who is still renewed day by day is not as yet wholly renewed; and in so far as he is not yet wholly renewed, he is still in his old state. Since, then, men, even after they are baptized, are still in some degree in their old condition, they are on that account also still children of the world; but inasmuch as they are also admitted into a new state, that is to say, by the full and perfect remission of their sins, and in so far as they are spiritually-minded, and behave correspondingly, they are the children of God. Internally we put off the old man and put on the new; for we then and there lay aside lying, and speak truth, and do those other things wherein the apostle makes to consist the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 494 Now it is men who are already baptized and faithful whom he exhorts to do this,—an exhortation which would be unsuitable to them, if the absolute and perfect change had been already made in their baptism. And yet made it was, since we were then actually saved; for “He saved us by the laver of regeneration.” 495 In another passage, however, he tells us how this took place. “Not they only,” says he, “but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” 496



1 John iii. 9.


See Col. iii. 10.


Donec etiam in re fiant.


Matt. xix. 28.


2 Cor. iv. 16.


Eph. iv. 24.


Tit. iii. 5.


Rom. viii. 23-25.

Next: Chapter 10

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