Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Sundry Passages of St. Paul Which Attest Our Doctrine Rescued from the Perversions of Heresy.
Chapter XL.—Sundry Passages of St. Paul Which Attest Our Doctrine Rescued from the Perversions of Heresy.
Now it is no matter of surprise if arguments are captiously taken from the writings of (the apostle) himself, inasmuch as there “must needs be heresies;” 7543 but these could not be, if the Scriptures were not capable of a false interpretation. Well, then, heresies finding that the apostle had mentioned two “men”—“the inner man,” that is, the soul, and “the outward man,” that is, the flesh—awarded salvation to the soul or inward man, and destruction to the flesh or outward man, because it is written (in the Epistle) to the Corinthians: “Though our outward man decayeth, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 7544 Now, neither the soul by itself alone is “man” (it was subsequently implanted in the clayey mould to which the name man had been already given), nor is the flesh without the soul “man”: for after the exile of the soul from it, it has the title of corpse. Thus the designation man is, in a certain sense, the bond between the two closely united substances, under which designation they cannot but be coherent natures. As for the inward man, indeed, the apostle prefers its being regarded as the mind and heart 7545 rather than the soul; 7546 in other words, not so much the substance itself as the savour of the substance. Thus when, writing to the Ephesians, he spoke of “Christ dwelling in their inner man,” he meant, no doubt, that the Lord ought to be admitted into their senses. 7547 He then added, “in your hearts by faith, rooted and grounded in love,”—making “faith” and “love” not substantial parts, but only conceptions of the soul. But when he used the phrase “in your hearts,” seeing that these are substantial parts of the flesh, he at once assigned to the flesh the actual “inward man,” which he placed in the heart. Consider now in what sense he alleged that “the outward man decayeth, while the inward man is renewed day by day.” You certainly would not maintain that he could mean that corruption of the flesh which it undergoes from the moment of death, in its appointed state of perpetual decay; but the wear and tear which for the name of Christ it experiences during its course of life before and until death, in harassing cares and tribulations as well as in tortures and persecutions. Now the inward man will have, of course, to be renewed by the suggestion of the Spirit, advancing by faith and holiness day after day, here in this life, not there after the resurrection, were our renewal is not a gradual process from day to day, but a consummation once for all complete. You may learn this, too, from the following passage, where the apostle says: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen,” that is, our sufferings, “but at the things which are not seen,” that is, our rewards: “for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 7548 For the afflictions and injuries wherewith the outward man is worn away, he affirms to be only worthy of being despised by us, as being light and temporary; preferring those eternal recompenses which are also invisible, and that “weight of glory” which will be a counterpoise for the labours in the endurance of which the flesh here suffers decay. So that the subject in this passage is not that corruption which they ascribe to the outward man in the utter destruction of the flesh, with the view of nullifying the resurrection. So also he says elsewhere: “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together; for I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” 7549 Here again he shows us that our sufferings are less than their rewards. Now, since it is through the flesh that we suffer with Christ—for it is the property of the flesh to be worn by sufferings—to the same flesh belongs the recompense which is promised for suffering with Christ. Accordingly, when he is going to assign afflictions to the flesh as its especial liability—according to the statement he had already made—he says, “When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest;” 7550 then, in order to make the soul a fellow-sufferer with the body, he adds, “We were troubled on every side; without were fightings,” which of course warred down the flesh, “within were fears,” which afflicted the soul. 7551 Although, therefore, the outward man decays—not in the sense of missing the resurrection, but of enduring tribulation—it will be underp. 575 stood from this scripture that it is not exposed to its suffering without the inward man. Both therefore, will be glorified together, even as they have suffered together. Parallel with their participation in troubles, must necessarily run their association also in rewards.
1 Cor. xi. 19.574:7544
2 Cor. iv. 16.574:7545
Eph. iii. 17.574:7548
2 Cor. 4:17, 18.574:7549
Rom. 8:17, 18.574:7550
2 Cor. vii. 5.574:7551
2 Cor. 7.5.
Next: The Dissolution of Our Tabernacle Consistent with the Resurrection of Our Bodies.
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