Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jesus Christ: First-Born and First-Fruits

But it was not only by word, but also by deed, that the Lord revealed the resurrection of the bodies.  First He raised up Lazarus, even after he had been dead four days, and was stinking.  For He did not raise the soul without the body, but the body along with the soul: and not another body but the very one that was corrupt.  For how could the resurrection of the dead man have been known or believed if it had not been established by his characteristic properties?  But it was in fact to make the divinity of His own nature manifest and to confirm the belief in His own and our resurrection, that He raised up Lazarus who was destined once more to die.  And the Lord became Himself the first-fruits of the perfect resurrection that is no longer subject to death.  Therefore also the divine Apostle Paul said: If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.  And if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain: we are yet in our sins. And, Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept, and the first-born from the dead; and again, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with HimEven so, he said, as Christ rose again.  Moreover, that the resurrection of the Lord was the union of uncorrupted body and soul (for it was these that had been divided) is manifest: for He said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  And the holy Gospel is a trustworthy witness that He spoke of His own body.  Handle Me and see, the Lord said to His own disciples when they were thinking that they saw a spirit, that it is I Myself, and that I am not changed: for a spirit hath not flesh or bones, as ye see Me have.  And when He had said this He shewed them His hands and His side, and stretched them forward for Thomas to touch.  Is not this sufficient to establish belief in the resurrection of bodies?

John Damascene, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.27

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