I recently saw a blog containing some citations from our Ante-Nicene Fathers indicating their alleged belief in Full Preterism. However, upon unbiased full examination into their writings from various books, essays, articles, and other resources at my disposal; thus far this is far from the truth. I am not here to discourage anybody, but to simply say, “please don’t assume so much as to a particular paragraph as cited by such post Apostolic Church fathers.” When an assumption is made, we can be sure that they are made based upon an individuals conviction.
As a Believer, I must be honest in all things. As one who holds a favored view toward Full Preterism from an ontological position only, I must also maintain that same integrity of honesty. I find it rather odd that many within the camps of Full Preterism find it quite amusing when they cite only one or two paragraphs from early church fathers as a rebuttal against those who are sincere enough to read all of the treaties, works, and apologies by such notable adherents such as: Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, etc. These notable one’s, according to what I have read and have concluded within the whole of their works; seem to indicate a form of Preterism, but upon further review of their works, I maintain that they were Partial Preterists, or as many would call it today Historical Preterists…For they all concluded that many eschatological events were of a future time frame or age.
Let us take a small look at their writings:
JUSTIN MARTYR – AD 110-165: WELL AFTER 70 AD
FROM JUSTIN MARTYRS’ FIRST APOLOGY
Chapter XI.-What Kingdom Christians Look for.
And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid.
One can easily assume Full Preterism in this particular citation…but with further review, it will be noted that this is simply not the case. Moreover, no where does the citation indicate the time of such aspirations as being fixed to a time past; namely in the full preterist view of AD70.
Chapter XIV.-The Demons Misrepresent Christian Doctrine:
This and other such citations indicate that Justin Martyr believed that demons are to be reckoned with in this age.
For we forewarn you to be on your guard, lest those demons whom we have been accusing should deceive you, and quite divert you from reading and understanding what we say. For they strive to hold you their slaves and servants; and sometimes by appearances in dreams, and sometimes by magical impositions, they subdue all who make no strong opposing effort for their own salvation. And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son-we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavor to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live comfortably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all. But lest we should seem to be reasoning sophistically, we consider it right, before giving you the promised explanation, to cite a few precepts given by Christ Himself. And be it yours, as powerful rulers, to inquire whether we have been taught and do teach these things truly. Brief and concise utterances fell from Him, for He was no sophist, but His word was the power of God.
Chapter XVIII.-Proof of Demons – aka – spirits, Immortality and the Resurrection.
For reflect upon the end of each of the preceding kings, how they died the death common to all, which, if it issued in insensibility, would be a godsend to all the wicked. But since sensation remains to all who have ever lived, and eternal punishment is laid up (i.e., for the wicked), see that ye neglect not to be convinced, and to hold as your belief, that these things are true. For let even necromancy, and the divinations you practice by immaculate children and the evoking of departed human souls, and those who are called among the magi, Dream-senders and Assistant-spirits (Familiars and all that is done by those who are skilled in such matters-let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation; and those who are seized and cast about by the spirits of the dead, whom all call demoniacs’ or madmen; and what you repute as oracles, both of Amphilochus, Dodana, Pytho, and as many other such as exist; and the opinions of your authors, Empedocles and Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates, and the pit of Homer and the descent of Ulysses to inspect these things, and all that has been uttered of a like kind. Such favor as you grant to these, grant also to us, who not less but more firmly than they believe in God; since we expect to receive again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth, for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible.
Chapter XIX.-The Resurrection Possible.
This citation speaks of a future resurrection.
And to any thoughtful person would anything appear more incredible, than, if we were not in the body, and some one were to say that it was possible that from a small drop of human seed bones and sinews and flesh be formed into a shape such as we see? For let this now be said hypothetically: if you yourselves were not such as you now are, and born of such parents [and causes], and one were to show you human seed and a picture of a man, and were to say with confidence that from such a substance such a being could be produced, would you believe before you saw the actual production? No one will dare to deny [that such a statement would surpass belief]. In the same way, then, you are now incredulous because you have never seen a dead man rise again. But as at first you would not have believed it possible that such persons could be produced from the small drop, and yet now you see them thus produced, so also judge ye that it is not impossible that the bodies of men, after they have been dissolved, and like seeds resolved into earth, should in God’s appointed time rise again and put on incorruption. For what power worthy of God those imagine who say, that each thing returns to that from which it was produced, and that beyond this not even God Himself can do anything, we are unable to conceive; but this we see clearly, that they would not have believed it possible that they could have become such and produced from such materials, as they now see both themselves and the whole world to be. And that it is better to believe even what is impossible to our own nature and to men, than to be unbelieving like the rest of the world, we have learned; for we know that our Master Jesus Christ said, that “what is impossible with men is possible with God, and, “Fear not them that kill you, and after that can do no more; but fear Him who after death is able to cast both soul and body into hell. And hell is a place where those are to be punished who have lived wickedly, and who do not believe that those things which God has taught us by Christ will come to pass.
Chapter XLII.-Prophecy Using the Past Tense.
But when the Spirit of prophecy speaks of things that are about to come to pass as if they had already taken place,-as may be observed even in the passages already cited by me,-that this circumstance may afford no excuse to readers [for misinterpreting them], we will make even this also quite plain. The things which He absolutely knows will take place, He predicts as if already they had taken place. And that the utterances must be thus received, you will perceive, if you give your attention to them. The words cited above, David uttered 1500(87) years before Christ became a man and was crucified; and no one of those who lived before Him, nor yet of His contemporaries, afforded joy to the Gentiles by being crucified. But our Jesus Christ, being crucified and dead, rose again, and having ascended to heaven, reigned; and by those things which were published in His name among all nations by the apostles, there is joy afforded to those who expect the immortality promised by Him.
Chapter LII.-Certain Fulfillment of Prophecy.
Since, then, we prove that all things which have already happened had been predicted by the prophets before they came to pass, we must necessarily believe also that those things which are in like manner predicted, but are yet to come to pass, shall certainly happen. For as the things which have already taken place came to pass when foretold, and even though unknown, so shall the things that remain, even though they be unknown and disbelieved, yet come to pass. For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one, that which is already past, when He came as a dishonored and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils. And that these things also have been foretold as yet to be, we will prove. By Ezekiel the prophet it was said: “Joint shall be joined to joint, and bone to bone, and flesh shall grow again; and every knee shall bow to the Lord, and every tongue shall confess Him.”(109) And in what kind of sensation and punishment the wicked are to be, hear from what was said in like manner with reference to this; it is as follows: “Their worm shall not rest, and their fire shall not be quenched; “(110) and then shall they repent, when it profits them not. And what the people of the Jews shall say and do, when they see Him coming in glory, has been thus predicted by Zechariah the prophet: “I will command the four winds to gather the scattered children; I will command the north wind to bring them, and the south wind, that it keep not back. And then in Jerusalem there shall be great lamentation, not the lamentation of mouths or of lips, but the lamentation of the heart; and they shall rend not their garments, but their hearts. Tribe by tribe they shall mourn, and then they shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and they shall say, Why, O Lord, hast Thou made us to err from Thy way? The glory which our fathers blessed, has for us been turned into shame.”(111)
Chapter CX.-A Portion of the Prophecy Already Fulfilled in the Christians: the Rest Shall Be Fulfilled at the Second Advent.
And when I had finished these words, I continued: “Now I am aware that your teachers, sirs, admit the whole of the words of this passage to refer to Christ; and I am likewise aware that they maintain He has not yet come; or if they say that He has come, they assert that it is not known who He is; but when He shall become manifest and glorious, then it shall be known who He is. And then, they say, the events mentioned in this passage shall happen, just as if there was no fruit as yet from the words of the prophecy. O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonored, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy,(420) who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,-our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,-and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, `And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.'(421) Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus. For Just as if one should cut away the fruit-bearing parts of a vine, it grows up again, and yields other branches flourishing and fruitful; even so the same thing happens with us. For the vine planted by God and Christ the Saviour is His people. But the rest of the prophecy shall be fulfilled at His second coming. For the expression, `He that is afflicted [and driven out], ‘i.e., from the world, [implies] that, so far as you and all other men have it in your power, each Christian has been driven out not only from his own property, but even from the whole world; for you permit no Christian to live. But you say that the same fate has befallen your own nation. Now, if you have been cast out after defeat in battle, you have suffered such treatment justly indeed, as all the Scriptures bear witness; but we, though we have done no such [evil acts] after we knew the truth of God, are testified to by God, that, together with the most righteous, and only spotless and sinless Christ, we are taken away out of the earth. For Isaiah cries,`Behold how the righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart; and righteous men are taken away, and no man considers it.'(422)
FROM THE DIALOGUE OF JUSTIN
Chapter CXI.-The Two Advents Were Signified by the Two Goats. Other Figures of the First Advent, in Which the Gentiles are Freed by the Blood of Christ.
“And that it was declared by symbol, even in the time of Moses, that there would be two advents of this Christ, as I have mentioned previously, [is manifest] from the symbol of the goats presented for sacrifice during the fast. And again, by what Moses and Joshua did, the same thing was symbolically announced and told beforehand. For the one of them, stretching out his hands, remained till evening on the hill, his hands being supported; and this reveals a type of no other thing than of the cross: and the other, whose name was altered to Jesus (Joshua), led the fight, and Israel conquered. Now this took place in the case of both those holy men and prophets of God, that you may perceive how one of them could not bear up both the mysteries: I mean, the type of the cross and the type of the name. For this is, was, and shall be the strength of Him alone, whose name every power dreads, being very much tormented because they shall be destroyed by Him. Therefore our suffering and crucified Christ was not cursed by the law, but made it manifest that He alone would save those who do not depart from His faith. And the blood of the Passover, sprinkled on each man’s door-posts and lintel, delivered those who were saved in Egypt, when the first-born of the Egyptians were destroyed. For the Passover was Christ, who was afterwards sacrificed, as also Isaiah said, `He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.'(423) And it is written, that on the day of the Passover you seized Him, and that also during the Passover you crucified Him. And as the blood of the Passover saved those who were in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have believed. Would God, then, have been deceived if this sign had not been above the doors? I do not say that; but I affirm that He announced beforehand the future salvation for the human race through the blood of Christ. For the sign of the scarlet thread, which the spies, sent to Jericho by Joshua, son of Nave (Nun), gave to Rahab the harlot, telling her to bind it to the window through which she let them down to escape from their enemies, also manifested the symbol of the blood of Christ, by which those who were at one time harlots and unrighteous persons out of all nations are saved, receiving remission of sins, and continuing no longer in sin.
TERTULLIAN – AD 145-220 WELL AFTER AD70
TERTULLIANS ON THE FLESH OF CHRIST
Chapter X.-Another Class of Heretics Refuted. They Alleged that Christ’s Flesh Was of a Finer Texture, Animalist, Composed of Soul.
I now turn to another class, who are equally wise in their own conceit. They affirm that the flesh of Christ is composed of soul,(142) that His soul became flesh, so that His flesh is soul; and as His flesh is of soul, so is His soul of flesh. But here, again, I must have some reasons. If, in order to save the soul, Christ took a soul within Himself, because it could not be saved except by Him having, it within Himself, I see no reason why, in clothing Himself with flesh, He should have made that flesh one of soul,(143) as if He could not have saved the soul in any other way than by making flesh of it. For while He saves our souls, which are not only not of flesh,(144) but are even distinct from flesh, how much more able was He to secure salvation to that soul which He took Himself, when it was also not of flesh? Again, since they assume it as a main tenet,(145) that Christ came forth not to deliver the flesh, but only our soul, how absurd it is, in the first place, that, meaning to save only the soul, He yet made it into just that sort of bodily substance which He had no intention of saving! And, secondly, if He had undertaken deliver our souls by means of that which He carried, He ought, in that soul which He carried to have carried our soul, one (that is) of the same condition as ours; and whatever is the condition of our soul in its secret nature, it is certainly not one of flesh. However, it was not our soul which He saved, if His own was of flesh; for ours is not of flesh. Now, if He did not save our soul on the ground, that it was a soul of flesh which He saved, He is nothing to us, because He has not saved our soul. Nor indeed did it need salvation, for it was not our soul really, since it was, on the supposition,(146) a soul of flesh. But yet it is evident that it has been saved. Of flesh, therefore, it was not composed, and it was ours; for it was our soul that was saved, since that was in peril of damnation. We therefore now conclude that as in Christ the soul was not of flesh, so neither could His flesh have possibly been composed of soul.Chapter XXIV.-Divine Strictures on Various Heretics Descried in Various Passages of Prophetical Scripture. Those Who Assail the True Doctrine of the One Lord Jesus Christ, Both God and Man, Thus Condemned.
For when Isaiah hurls denunciation against our very heretics, especially in his “Woe to them that call evil good, and put darkness for light,”(331) he of course sets his mark upon those amongst you(332) who preserve not in the words they employ the light of their true significance, (by taking care) that the soul should mean only that which is so called, and the flesh simply that which is confess to our view and God none other than the One who is preached.(333) Having thus Marcion in his prophetic view, he says, “I am God, and there is none else; there is no God beside me.”(334) And when in another passage he says, in like manner, “Before me there was no God,”(335) he strikes at those inexplicable genealogies of the Valentinian ones. Again, there is an answer to Ebion in the Scripture: “Born,(336) not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In like manner, in the passage, “If even an angel of heaven preach unto you any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema,”(337) he calls attention to the artful influence of Philumene,(338) the virgin friend of Apelles. Surely he is antichrist who denies that Christ has come in the flesh.(339) By declaring that His flesh is simply and absolutely true, and taken in the plain sense of its own nature, the Scripture aims a blow at all who make distinctions in it.(340) In the same way, also, when it defines the very Christ to be but one, it shakes the fancies of those who exhibit a multiform Christ, who make Christ to be one being and Jesus another,-representing one as escaping out of the midst of the crowds, and the other as detained by them; one as appearing on a solitary mountain to three companions, clothed with glory in a cloud, the other as an ordinary man holding intercourse with all,(341) one as magnanimous, but the other as timid; lastly, one as suffering death, the other as risen again, by means of which event they maintain a resurrection of their own also, only in another flesh. Happily, however, He who suffered “will come again from heaven,”(342) and by all shall He be seen, who rose again from the dead. They too who crucified Him shall see and acknowledge Him; that is to say, His very flesh, against which they spent their fury, and without which it would be impossible for Himself either to exist or to be seen; so that they must blush with shame who affirm that His flesh sits in heaven void of sensation, like a sheath only, Christ being withdrawn from it; as well as those who (maintain) that His flesh and soul are just the same thing,(343) or else that His soul is all that exists,(344) but that His flesh no longer lives.
TERTULLIANS ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH.
Chapter XVII.-The Flesh Will Be Associated with the Soul in Enduring the Penal Sentences of the Final Judgment.
“Every uneducated(96) person who agrees with our opinion will be apt to suppose that the flesh will have to be present at the final judgment even on this account, because otherwise the soul would be incapable of suffering pain or pleasure, as being incorporeal; for this is the common opinion. We on our part, however, do here maintain, and in a special treatise on the subject prove, that the soul is corporeal, possessing a peculiar kind of solidity in its nature, such as enables it both to perceive and suffer. That souls are even now susceptible of torment and of blessing in Hades, though they are disembodied, and notwithstanding their banishment from the flesh, is proved by the case of Lazarus. I have no doubt given to my opponent room to say: Since, then, the soul has a bodily substance of its own, it will be sufficiently endowed with the faculty of suffering and sense, so as not to require the presence of the flesh. No, no, (is my reply): it will still need the flesh; not as being unable to feel anything without the help of the flesh, but because it is necessary that it should possess such a faculty along with the flesh. For in as far as it has a sufficiency of its own for action, in so far has it likewise a capacity for suffering. But the truth is, in respect of action, it labors under some amount of incapacity; for in its own nature it has simply the ability to think, to will, to desire, to dispose: for fully, carrying out the purpose, it looks for the assistance of the flesh. In like manner, it also requires the conjunction of the flesh to endure suffering, in order that by its aid it may be as fully able to suffer, as without its assistance it was not fully able to act. In respect, indeed, of those sins, such as concupiscence, and thought, and wish, which it has a competency of its own to commit, it at once(97) pays the penalty of them. Now, no doubt, if these were alone sufficient to constitute absolute desert without requiring the addition of acts, the soul would suffice in itself to encounter the full responsibility of the judgment, being to be judged for those things in the doing of which it alone had possessed a sufficiency. Since, however, acts too are indissolubly attached to deserts; since also acts are minister ally effected by the flesh, it is no longer enough that the soul apart from the flesh be requited with pleasure or pain for what are actually works of the flesh, although it has a body (of its own), although it has members (of its own), which in like manner are insufficient for its full perception, just as they are also for its perfect action. Therefore as it has acted in each several instance, so proportion ably does it suffer in Hades, being the first to taste of judgment as it was the first to induce to the commission of sin; but still it is waiting for the flesh in order that it may through the flesh also compensate for its deeds, inasmuch as it laid upon the flesh the execution of its own thoughts. This, in short, will be the process of that judgment which is postponed to the last great day, in order that by the exhibition of the flesh the entire course of the divine vengeance may be accomplished. Besides, (it is obvious to remark) there would be no delaying to the end of that doom which souls are already tasting in Hades, if it was destined for souls alone.
Chapter L.-In What Sense Flesh and Blood are Excluded from the Kingdom of God.
Putting aside, however, all interpretations of this sort, which criminate the works of the flesh and blood, it may be permitted me to claim for the resurrection these very substances, understood in none other than their natural sense. For it is not the resurrection that is directly denied to flesh and blood, but the kingdom of God, which is incidental to(368) the resurrection (for there is a resurrection of judgment(369) also); and there is even a confirmation of the general resurrection of the flesh, whenever a special one is excepted. Now, when it is clearly stated what the condition is to which the resurrection does not lead, it is understood what that is to which it does lead; and, therefore, whilst it is in consideration of men’s merits that a difference is made in their resurrection by their conduct in the flesh, and not by the substance thereof, it is evident even from this, that flesh and blood are excluded from the kingdom of God in respect of their sin, not of their substance; and although in respect of their natural condition(370) they will rise again for the judgment, because they rise not for the kingdom. Again, I will say, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; “(371) and justly (does the apostle declare this of them, considered) alone and in themselves, in order to show that the Spirit is still needed (to qualify them) for the kingdom.(372) For it is “the Spirit that quickeneth” us for the kingdom of God; “the flesh profiteth nothing.”(373) There is, however, something else which can be profitable thereunto, that is, the Spirit; and through the Spirit, the works also of the Spirit. Flesh and blood, therefore, must in every case rise again, equally, in their proper quality. But they to whom it is granted to enter the kingdom of God, will have to put on the power of an incorruptible and immortal life; for without this, or before they are able to obtain it, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God. With good reason, then, flesh and blood, as we have already said, by themselves fail to obtain the kingdom of God. But inasmuch as “this corruptible (that is, the flesh) must put on incorruption, and this mortal (that is, the blood) must put on immortality,”(374) by the change which is to follow the resurrection, it will, for the best of reasons, happen that flesh and blood, after that change and investiture,(375) will become able to inherit the kingdom of God-but not without the resurrection. Some will have it, that by the phrase “flesh and blood,” because of its rite of circumcision, Judaism is meant, which is itself too alienated from the kingdom of God, as being accounted “the old or former conversation,” and as being designated by this title in another passage of the apostle also, who, “when it pleased God to reveal to him His Son, to preach Him amongst the heathen, immediately conferred not with flesh and blood,” as he writes to the Galatians,(376) (meaning by the phrase) the circumcision, that is to say, Judaism.
Chapter LII.-From St. Paul’s Analogy of the Seed We Learn that the Body Which Died Will Rise Again, Garnished with the Appliances of Eternal Life.
Let us now see in what body he asserts that the dead will come. And with a felicitous sally he proceeds at once to illustrate the point, as if an objector had plied him with some such question. “Thou fool,” says he, “that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.”(391) From this example of the seed it is then evident that no other flesh is quickened than that which shall have undergone death, and therefore all the rest of the question will become clear enough. For nothing which is incompatible with the idea suggested by the example can possibly be understood; nor from the clause which follows, “That which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body which shall be,”(392) are you permitted to suppose that in the resurrection a different body is to arise from that which is sown in death. Otherwise you have run away from the example. For if wheat be sown and dissolved in the ground, barley does not spring up. Still it is not(393) the very same grain in kind; nor is its nature the same, or its quality and form. Then whence comes it, if it is not the very same? For even the decay is a proof of the thing itself, since it is the decay of the actual grain. Well, but does not the apostle himself suggest in what sense it is that “the body which shall be” is not the body which is sown, even when he says, “But bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it pleases Him? “(394) Gives it of course to the grain which he says is sown bare. No doubt, you say. Then the grain is safe enough, to which God has to assign a body. But how safe, if it is nowhere in existence, if it does not rise again if it rises not again its actual self? If it rises not again, it is not safe; and if it is not even safe, it cannot receive a body from God. But there is every possible proof that it is safe. For what purpose, therefore, will God give it “a body, as it pleases Him,” even when it already has its own “bare” body, unless it be that in its resurrection it may be no longer bare? That therefore will be additional matter which is placed over the bare body; nor is that at all destroyed on which the superimposed matter is put,-nay, it is increased. That, however, is safe which receives augmentation. The truth is, it is sown the barest grain, without a husk to cover it, without a spike even in germ, without the protection of a bearded top, without the glory of a stalk. It rises, however, out of the furrow enriched with a copious crop, built up in a compact fabric, constructed in a beautiful order, fortified by cultivation, and clothed around on every side. These are the circumstances which make it another body from God, to which it is changed not by abolition, but by amplification. And to every seed God has assigned its own body(395) -not, indeed, its own in the sense of its primitive body-in order that what it acquires from God extrinsically may also at last be accounted its own. Cleave firmly then to the example, and keep it well in view, as a mirror of what happens to the flesh: believe that the very same flesh which was once sown in death will bear fruit in resurrection-life-the same in essence, only more full and perfect; not another, although reappearing in another form. For it shall receive in itself the grace and ornament which God shall please to spread over it, according to its merits. Unquestionably it is in this sense that he says, “All flesh is not the same flesh; “(396) meaning not to deny a community of substance, but a parity of prerogative,-reducing the body to a difference of honor, not of nature. With this view he adds, in a figurative sense, certain examples of animals and heavenly bodies: “There is one flesh of man” (that is, servants of God, but really human), “another flesh of beasts” (that is, the heathen, of whom the prophet actually says, “Man is like the senseless cattle”(397) ), “another flesh of birds” (that is, the martyrs which essay to mount up to heaven), “another of fishes” (that is, those whom the water of baptism has submerged).(398) In like manner does he take examples from the heavenly bodies: “There is one glory of the sun” (that is, of Christ), “and another glory of the moon” (that is, of the Church), “and another glory of the stars” (in other words, of the seed of Abraham). “For one star differeth from another star in glory: so there are bodies terrestrial as well as celestial” (Jews, that is, as well as Christians).(399) Now, if this language is not to be construed figuratively, it was absurd enough for him to make a contrast between the flesh of mules and kites, as well as the heavenly bodies and human bodies; for they admit of no comparison as to their condition, nor in respect of their attainment of a resurrection. Then at last, having conclusively shown by his examples that the difference was one of glory, not of substance, he adds: “So also is the resurrection of the dead.”(400) How so? In no other way than as differing in glory only. For again, predicating the resurrection of the same substance and returning once more to (his comparison of) the grain, he says: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”(401) Now, certainly nothing else is raised than that which is sown; and nothing else is sown than that which decays in the ground; and it is nothing else than the flesh which is decayed in the ground. For this was the substance which God’s decree demolished, “Earth thou art, and to earth shalt thou return; “(402) because it was taken out of the earth. And it was from this circumstance that the apostle borrowed his phrase of the flesh being “sown,” since it returns to the ground, and the ground is the grand depository for seeds which are meant to be deposited in it, and again sought out of it. And therefore he confirms the passage afresh, by putting on it the impress (of his own inspired authority), saying, “For so it is written; “(403) that you may not suppose that the “being sown” means anything else than “thou shalt return to the ground, out of which thou was taken; “nor that the phrase “for so it is written” refers to any other thing that the flesh.
Chapter LVII.-Our Bodies, However Mutilated Before or After Death, Shall Recover Their Perfect Integrity in the Resurrection. Illustration of the Enfranchised Slave.
We now come to the most usual cavil of unbelief. If, they say, it be actually the selfsame substance which is recalled to life with all its form, and lineaments, and quality, then why not with all its other characteristics? Then the blind, and the lame, and the palsied, and whoever else may have passed away with any conspicuous mark, will return again with the same. What now is the fact, although you in the greatness of your conceit(437) thus disdain to accept from God so vast a grace? Does it not happen that, when you now admit the salvation of only the soul, you ascribe it to men at the cost of half their nature? What is the good of believing in the resurrection, unless your faith embraces the whole of it? If the flesh is to be repaired after its dissolution, much more will it be restored after some violent injury. Greater cases prescribe rules for lesser ones. Is not the amputation or the crushing of a limb the death of that limb? Now, if the death of the whole person is rescinded by its resurrection, what must we say of the death of a part of him? If we are changed for glory, how much more for integrity!(438) Any loss sustained by our bodies is an accident to them, but their entirety is their natural property. In this condition we are born. Even if we become injured in the womb, this is loss suffered by what is already a human being. Natural condition”(439) is prior to injury. As life is bestowed by God, so is it restored by Him. As we are when we receive it, so are we when we recover it. To nature, not to injury, are we restored; to our state by birth, not to our condition by accident, do we rise again. If God raises not men entire, He raises not the dead. For what dead man is entire, although he dies entire? Who is without hurt, that is without life? What body is uninjured, when it is dead, when it is cold, when it is ghastly, when it is stiff, when it is a corpse? When is a man more infirm, than when he is entirely infirm? When more palsied, than when quite motionless? Thus, for a dead man to be raised again, amounts to nothing short of his being restored to his entire condition,-lest he, forsooth, be still dead in that part in which he has not risen again. God is quite able to re-make what He once made. This power and this unstinted grace of His He has already sufficiently guaranteed in Christ; and has displayed Himself to us (in Him) not only as the restorer of the flesh, but as the repairer of its breaches. And so the apostle says: “The dead shall be raised incorruptible” (or unimpaired).(440) But how so, unless they become entire, who have wasted away either in the loss of their health, or in the long decrepitude of the grave? For when he propounds the two clauses, that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, “(441) he does not repeat the same statement, but sets forth a distinction. For, by assigning immortality to the repeating of death, and incorruption to the repairing of the wasted body, he has fitted one to the raising and the other to the retrieval of the body. I suppose, moreover, that he promises to the Thessalonians the integrity of the whole substance of man.(442) So that for the great future there need be no fear of blemished or defective bodies. Integrity, whether the result of preservation or restoration, will be able to lose nothing more, after the time that it has given back to it whatever it had lost. Now, when you contend that the flesh will still have to undergo the same sufferings, if the same flesh be said to have to rise again, you rashly set up nature against her Lord, and impiously contrast her law against His grace; as if it were not permitted the Lord God both to change nature, and to preserve her, without subjection to a law. How is it, then, that we read, “With men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible; “(443) and again, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise? “(444) Let me ask you, if you were to manumit your slave (seeing that the same flesh and soul will remain to him, which once were exposed to the whip, and the fetter, and the stripes), will it therefore be fit for him to undergo the same old sufferings? I know not. He is instead thereof honored with the grace of the white robe, and the favor of the gold ring, and the name and tribe as well as table of his patron. Give, then, the same prerogative to God, by virtue of such a change, of reforming our condition, not our nature, by taking away from it all sufferings, and surrounding it with safeguards of protection. Thus our flesh shall remain even after the resurrection-so far indeed susceptible of suffering, as it is the flesh, and the same flesh too; but at the same time impassible, inasmuch as it has been liberated by the Lord for the very end and purpose of being no longer capable of enduring suffering.
There are many more such citations, but I’ am sure that you understand the point I’m trying to convey. The point of…Do not put words or conceptualized ideas into the thoughts, words, or patterns of another individual. Preterism (both full & partial) can harmonize.