AthanasiusNow that the common Saviour of all has died on our behalf, we, the faithful in Christ, no longer die the death as before, agreeably to the warning of the law, for this condemnation has ceased.

With corruption ceasing and being put away by the grace of the Resurrection, henceforth we are only dissolved, agreeably to our bodies’ mortal nature, at the time God has fixed for each, that we may be able to gain a better resurrection.

Like the seeds which are cast into the earth, we do not perish by dissolution, but sown in the earth, shall rise again, death having been brought to nought by the grace of the Saviour.

Hence it is that blessed Paul, who was made a surety of the Resurrection to all, says (1 Cor. 15:53ff):

“This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality; but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory?”

[…] The death which befalls men comes to them agreeably to the weakness of their nature; for, unable to continue in one stay, they are dissolved with time. Hence, too, diseases befall them, and they fall sick and die. But the Lord is not weak, but is the Power of God and Word of God and Very Life.

[…] He was…the Life and the Word of God, and it was necessary…for the death on behalf of all to be accomplished. Because He was life and power, the body gained strength in Him, while, as death must needs come to pass, He did not Himself take, but received at others’ hands; the occasion of perfecting His sacrifice.

It was not fitting…that the Lord should fall sick, who healed the diseases of others; nor again was it right for that body to lose its strength, in which He gives strength to the weaknesses of others also.

Why, then, did He not prevent death, as He did sickness? Because it was for this that He had the body, and it was unfitting to prevent it, lest the Resurrection also should be hindered, while yet it was equally unfitting for sickness to precede His death, lest it should be thought weakness on the part of Him that was in the body….

He hungered, agreeably to the properties of His body. But He did not perish of hunger, because of the Lord that wore it. Hence, even if He died to ransom all, yet He saw not corruption. For His body rose again in perfect soundness, since the body belonged to none other, but to the very Life.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 21 [slightly adapted].

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