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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

20.  The Temple Which Christ Says He Will Raise Up is the Church.  How the Dry Bones Will Be Made to Live Again.

“The Jews then answered and said unto Him, What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things? 5085   Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  Those of the body, and those who incline to material things, seem to me to be meant by the Jews, who, after Jesus has driven out those who make God’s house a house of merchandise, are angry at Him for treating these matters in such a way, and demand a sign, a sign which will show that the Word, whom they do not receive, has a right to do such things.  The Saviour joins on to His statement about the temple a statement which is really one with the former, about His own body, and to the question, What sign doest Thou, seeing that Thou doest such things? answers, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  He could have exhibited a thousand other signs, but to the question, “Seeing that Thou doest such things,” He could not answer anything else; He fittingly gave the answer about the sign connected with the temple, and not about signs unconnected with the temple.  Now, both of these two things, the temple and the body of Jesus, appear to me, in one interpretation at least, to be types of the Church, and to signify that it is built of living stones, 5086 a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, built 5087 on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the head corner-stone; and it is, therefore, called a temple.  Now, from the text, 5088 “Ye are the body of Christ, and members each in his part,” we see that even though the harmonious fitting of the stones of the temple appear to be dissolved and scattered, as it is written in the twenty-second Psalm 5089 that all the bones of Christ are, by the plots made against it in persecutions and afflictions, on the part of those who war against the unity of the temple in persecutions, yet the temple will be raised again, and the body will rise again on the third day after the day of evil which threatens it, 5090 and the day of consummation which follows.  For the third day will rise on the new heaven and the new earth, when these bones, the whole house of Israel, 5091 will rise in the great Lord’s day, death having been overcome.  And thus the resurrection of p. 401 the Saviour from the passion of the cross contains the mystery of the resurrection of the whole body of Christ.  But as that material body of Jesus was sacrificed for Christ, and was buried, and was afterwards raised, so the whole body of Christ’s saints is crucified along with Him, and now lives no longer; for each of them, like Paul, glories 5092 in nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which He is crucified to the world, and the world to Him.  Not only, therefore, is it crucified with Christ, and crucified to the world; it is also buried with Christ, for we were buried with Christ, Paul says. 5093   And then he says, as if enjoying some earnest of the resurrection, “We rose with Him,” 5094 because He walks in a certain newness of life, though not yet risen in that blessed and perfect resurrection which is hoped for.  Either, then, he is now crucified, and afterwards is buried, or he is now buried and taken down from the cross, and, being now buried, is to rise at some future time.  But to most of us the mystery of the resurrection is a great one, and difficult of contemplation; it is spoken of in many other passages of Scripture, and is specially announced in the following passage of Ezekiel: 5095   “And the hand of the Lord was upon me, and He led me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me in the midst of the plain, and it was full of human bones.  And He led me round about them in a circle, and behold there were very many on the face of the plain, and behold they were very dry.  And He said to me, Son of man, shall these bones live?  And I said, Lord, Lord, Thou knowest.  And He said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and thou shalt say to them, Hear the word of the Lord, ye dry bones;” and a little further on, “And the Lord spake to me, saying, Son of man, these bones are the house of Israel.  And they say, Our bones are become dry, our hope is lost, we have breathed our last.”  For what bones are these which are addressed, “Hear ye the word of the Lord,” as if they heard the word of the Lord?  They belong to the house of Israel, or to the body of Christ, of which the Lord says, 5096 “All My bones are scattered,” although the bones of His body were not scattered, and not even one of them was broken.  But when the resurrection itself takes place of the true and more perfect body of Christ, then those who are now the members of Christ, for they will then be dry bones, will be brought together, bone to bone, and fitting to fitting (for none of those who are destitute of fitting (ἁρμονία) will come to the perfect man), to the measure 5097 of the stature of the fulness of the body of Christ.  And then the many members 5098 will be the one body, all of them, though many, becoming members of one body.  But it belongs to God alone to make the distinction of foot and hand and eye and hearing and smelling, which in one sense fill up the head, but in another the feet and the rest of the members, and the weaker and humbler ones, the more and the less honourable.  God will temper the body together, and then, rather than now, He will give to that which lacks the more abundant honour, that there may be, by no means, any schism in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another, and, if any member be well off, all the members may share in its good things, or if any member be glorified, all the members may rejoice with it.



John 2:18, 19.


1 Pet. ii. 5.


Ephes. ii. 20.


1 Cor. xii. 27.


Psa. 22.14.


2 Pet. 3:3, 10, 13.


Ezek. xxxvii. 11.


Gal. vi. 14.


Rom. vi. 4.


These words do not occur in Rom. vi. 4.


Ezek. 37.1-4.


Ps. xxii. 13.


Ephes. iv. 13.


1 Cor. xii. 12 sq.

Next: Chapter XXI

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