CHRISTIAN BELIEF IN RESURRECTION
base their belief in resurrection on the resurrection of Jesus
which is the first fruit which is to be followed by the
redemption of Man and the whole creation.
8: 22 -23 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers
the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but
also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption
as sons, the redemption of our body.
is essentially based on the concept that Man is created with the
body. Without the
body Man cannot be Man. In
the creation of Man, God breathed into material form of body and
Man became a living soul.
Thus in all declaration of faith we have the clear
assertion of resurrection of the body.
The last clause of the “Apostles’ Creed”, clearly states the
"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the
communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection
of the body and life everlasting.
is considered to be the earliest seed of all later creeds.
By tradition it is attributed to the twelve Apostles.
The earliest written version of the creed is perhaps the Interrogatory
Creed of Hippolytus (ca.
A.D. 215). The current form is first found in the writings ofCaesarius
of Arles (A.D542).
When the Apostles’ Creed was formulated, no explicit
mention was made of the soul. But this omission was intended
to guard against any idea that the soul dies and is raised up
again with the body. One other reason for speaking only of the
resurrection of the body was to refute the first-century heresy
of Hymeneus and Philetus. They claimed that biblical
references to the resurrection are not concerned with the body,
but only with the soul’s rising from the death of sin to the
life of grace.
we have in the Creed, therefore, is a profession of belief in the
real resurrection of the body.
The Nicene Creed
"We confess one baptism for the
forgiveness of sins; we look for a resurrection of the dead and
life in the age to come. Amen" (Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed simply states that all men
will come back to life and will have a life in the coming age.
The Athanasian Creed
"[Jesus Christ] sits at the right
hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge
the living and the dead; at his coming all men have to rise
again with their bodies and will render an account of their
own deeds; and those who have done good will go into life
everlasting, but those who have done evil, into eternal fire [Rom.
2:6–11]. This is the Catholic faith, unless everyone believes
this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved"
(Athanasian Creed [A.D.
In the Old
Testament, the clearest revelation about the immortality of the
soul is found in the Book of Wisdom. We are told:
souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall
ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to
die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us like
annihilation; but they are in peace. If they experienced
punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessing be."
Matthew (27:52-53) clearly states that ‘tombs broke open and the
bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
They came our of the tombs, and after Jesus’
resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many
Evidently all the Gospels proclaims the resurrection as recombining of
body and soul under the power of the Spirit of God which continue
to sustain Man as a trinity - Body, Soul and Spirit.
The faith is asserted through the ages by the Church fathers.
Catholic Teaching on Bodily Resurrection
from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
988 The Christian Creed -
the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action
- culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead
on the last day and in life everlasting.
989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly
risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the
righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will
raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own,
will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity.
997 What is
"rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the
body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while
awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty
power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by
reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus'
998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, "those who have done
good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil,
to the resurrection of judgment."
999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my
feet, that it is I myself"; but he did not return to an
earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with
their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will
change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a
But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of
body do they come?" You foolish man! What you sow does not
come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body
which is to be, but a bare kernel. . . . What is sown is
perishable, what is raised is imperishable. . . . The dead will be
raised imperishable. . . . For this perishable nature must put on
the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
(1 Cor. 15)
1001 When? Definitively "at the last day," "at the end of
the world." Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely
associated with Christ's Parousia:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command,
with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of
God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thess. 4:16)
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2004/07/Official-Catholic-Teaching-On-Bodily-Resurrection.aspx#AigxHMEeOVtgZZiv.99
Early Church Fathers
Pope Clement I (c AD 100)
Pope Clement I, also known as Saint Clement of
Rome, is listed as Bishop of Rome from an early date, holding
office from 92 to his death in 99. He is considered to be the
first Apostolic Father of the Church
us consider, beloved, how the Master is continually proving to us
that there will be a future resurrection, of which he has made the
Lord Jesus Christ the firstling, by raising him from the dead. Let
us look, beloved, at the resurrection which is taking place
seasonally. Day and night make known the resurrection to us. The
night sleeps, the day arises. Consider the plants that grow. How
and in what manner does the sowing take place? The sower went
forth and cast each of the seeds onto the ground; and they fall to
the ground, parched and bare, where they decay. Then from their
decay the greatness of the master’s providence raises them
up" (Letter to the Corinthians 24:1–6 [A.D.
Polycarp of Smyrna (AD
It is recorded by Irenaeus, who
heard him speak in his youth, and by Tertullian,
that he had been a disciple of John the Apostle
perverts the sayings of the Lord for his own desires, and says
that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, such a one is the
firstborn of Satan. Let us, therefore, leave the foolishness and
the false-teaching of the crowd and turn back to the word which
was delivered to us in the beginning" (Letter to the
Philippians 7:1–2 [A.D. 135]).
have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ himself impressed
upon their hearts, and they observe them, awaiting the
resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come" (Apology 15
none of you say that this flesh is not judged and does not rise
again. Just think: In what state were you saved, and in what state
did you recover your [spiritual] sight, if not in the flesh? In
the same manner, as you were called in the flesh, so you shall
come in the flesh. If Christ, the Lord who saved us, though he was
originally spirit, became flesh and in this state called us, so
also shall we receive our reward in the flesh. " (Second
Clement 9:1–6 [A.D. 150]).
Martyr ( c. 100 – 165 AD) puts it directly and simply as follows:
God calls even the body to resurrection and promises it
everlasting life. When he promises to save the man, he thereby
makes his promise to the flesh. What is man but a rational living
being composed of soul and body? Is the soul by itself a man? No,
it is but the soul of a man. Can the body be called a man? No, it
can but be called the body of a man. If, then, neither of these is
by itself a man, but that which is composed of the two together is
called a man, and if God has called man to life and resurrection,
he has called not a part, but the whole, which is the soul and the
body" (The Resurrection 8 [A.D. 153]).
prophets have proclaimed his two comings. One, indeed, which has
already taken place, was that of a dishonored and suffering man.
The second will take place when, in accord with prophecy, he shall
come from the heavens in glory with his angelic host, when he
shall raise the bodies of all the men who ever lived. Then he
will clothe the worthy in immortality, but the wicked, clothed in
eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire along with
the evil demons" (First Apology 52 [A.D. 151]).
In the Dialogue
with Trypho (AD 155), part one, chapter 4 Justin Martyr clearly
disputes the theory of reincarnation as transmigration of souls.
It is a discussion with Trypho the Jew:
The old man: "What, then, is the advantage to those who have seen
[God]? Or what has he who has seen more than he who has not seen,
unless he remember this fact, that he has seen?"
Justin: "I cannot tell," I answered.
The old man: "And what do those suffer who are judged to be
unworthy of this spectacle?"
Justin: "[According to Plato] They are imprisoned in the bodies of
certain wild beasts, and this is their punishment."
The old man: "Do they know, then, that it is for this reason
they are in such forms, and that they have committed some
Justin: "I do not think so."
The old man: "Then these reap no advantage from their
punishment, as it seems: moreover, I would say that they are not
punished unless they are conscious of the punishment."
Justin: "No indeed."
The old man: "Therefore souls neither see God nor
transmigrate into other bodies; for they would know that so they
are punished, and they would be afraid to commit even the most
trivial sin afterwards. But that they can perceive that God
exists, and that righteousness and piety are honourable, I also
quite agree with you,"
Justin: "You are right,"
Tatian the Syrian
believe that there will be a resurrection of bodies after the
consummation of all things" (Address to the Greeks 155
Theophilus of Antioch
will raise up your flesh immortal with your soul; and then,
having become immortal, you shall see the immortal, if you will
believe in him now; and then you will realize that you have spoken
against him unjustly. But you do not believe that the dead will be
raised. When it happens, then you will believe, whether you want
to or not " (To Autolycus 1:7–8 [A.D. 181]).
the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to
the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from
their disciples the faith in . . . the raising up again of all
flesh of all humanity, in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord
and God and Savior and King, in accord with the approval of the
invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on
earth and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess
him, and that he may make just judgment of them all" (Against
Heresies 1:10:1–4 [A.D. 189]).
Irenaeus, referred to
by some as Saint Irenaeus, was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a
part of the Roman Empire. He was an early Church Father and
apologist, and his writings were formative in the early
development of Christian theology
treatise Against Heresies (Book II), in the 33rd chapter
Iraneus refutes the concept of reincarnation as follows:
of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.
1. We may subvert their
doctrine as to transmigration from body to body by this fact, that
souls remember nothing whatever of the events which took place in
their previous states of existence. For if they were sent forth
with this object, that they should have experience of every kind
of action, they must of necessity retain a remembrance of those
things which have been previously accomplished, that they might
fill up those in which they were still deficient, and not by
always hovering, without intermission, round the same pursuits,
spend their labour wretchedly in vain (for the mere union of a
body [with a soul] could not altogether extinguish the memory and
contemplation of those things which had formerly been
experienced3281), and especially as they came [into the world] for
this very purpose. For as, when the body is asleep and at rest,
whatever things the soul sees by herself, and does in a vision,
recollecting many of these, she also communicates them to the body; and as
it happens that, when one awakes, perhaps after a long time, he
relates what he saw in a dream, so also would he undoubtedly
remember those things which he did before he came into this
particular body. For if that which is seen only for a very brief
space of time, or has been conceived of simply in a phantasm, and
by the soul alone, through means of a dream, is remembered after
she has mingled again with the body, and been dispersed through
all the members, much more would she remember those things in
connection with which she stayed during so long a time, even
throughout the whole period of a bypast life.
2. With reference to these
objections, Plato, that ancient Athenian, who also was the first
to introduce this opinion, when he could not set them aside,
invented the [notion of] a cup of oblivion, imagining that in this
way he would escape this sort of difficulty. He attempted no kind
of proof [of his supposition], but simply replied dogmatically [to
the objection in question], that when souls enter into this life,
they are caused to drink of oblivion by that demon who watches
their entrance [into the world], before they effect an entrance
into the bodies [assigned them]. It escaped him, that [by speaking
thus] he fell into another greater perplexity. For if the cup of
oblivion, after it has been drunk, can obliterate the memory of
all the deeds that have been done, how, O Plato, dost thou obtain
the knowledge of this fact (since thy soul is now in the body),
that, before it entered into the body, it was made to drink by the
demon a drug which caused oblivion? For if thou hast a remembrance
of the demon, and the cup, and the entrance [into life], thou
oughtest also to be acquainted with other things; but if, on the
other hand, thou art ignorant of them, then there is no truth in
the story of the demon, nor in the cup of oblivion prepared with
3. In opposition, again, to
those who affirm that the body itself is the drug of oblivion,
this observation may be made: How, then, does it come to pass,
that whatsoever the soul sees by her own instrumentality, both in
dreams and by reflection or earnest mental exertion, while the
body is passive, she remembers, and reports to her neighbours?
But, again, if the body itself were [the cause of] oblivion, then
the soul, as existing in the body, could not remember even those
things which were perceived long ago either by means of the eyes
or the ears; but, as soon as the eye was turned from the things
looked at, the memory of them also would undoubtedly be destroyed.
For the soul, as existing in the very [cause of] oblivion, could
have no knowledge of anything else than that only which it saw at
the present moment. How, too, could it become acquainted with
divine things, and retain a remembrance of them while existing in
the body, since, as they maintain, the body itself is [the cause
of] oblivion? But the prophets also, when they were upon the
earth, remembered likewise, on their returning to their ordinary
state of mind,3283 whatever things they spiritually saw or heard
in visions of heavenly objects, and related them to others. The
body, therefore, does not cause the soul to forget those things
which have been spiritually witnessed; but the soul teaches the
body, and shares with it the spiritual vision which it has
4. For the body is not
possessed of greater power than the soul, since indeed the former
is inspired, and vivified, and increased, and held together by the
latter; but the soul possesses3284 and rules over the body. It is
doubtless retarded in its velocity, just in the exact proportion
in which the body shares in its motion; but it never loses the
knowledge which properly belongs to it. For the body may be
compared to an instrument; but the soul is possessed of the reason
of an artist. As, therefore, the artist finds the idea of a work
to spring up rapidly in his mind, but can only carry it out slowly
by means of an instrument, owing to the want of perfect pliability
in the matter acted upon, and thus the rapidity of his mental
operation, being blended with the slow action of the instrument,
gives rise to a moderate kind of movement [towards the end
contemplated]; so also the soul, by being mixed up with the body
belonging to it, is in a certain measure impeded, its rapidity
being blended with the body’s slowness. Yet it does not lose
altogether its own peculiar powers; but while, as it were, sharing
life with the body, it does not itself cease to live. Thus, too,
while communicating other things to the body, it neither loses the
knowledge of them, nor the memory of those things which have been
5. If, therefore, the soul
remembers nothing of what took place in a former state of
existence, but has a perception of those things which are here, it
follows that she never existed in other bodies, nor did things of
which she has no knowledge, nor [once] knew things which she
cannot [now mentally] contemplate. But, as each one of us receives
his body through the skilful working of God, so does he also
possess his soul. For God is not so poor or destitute in
resources, that He cannot confer its own proper soul on each
individual body, even as He gives it also its special character.
And therefore, when the number [fixed upon] is completed, [that
number] which He had predetermined in His own counsel, all those
who have been enrolled for life [eternal] shall rise again, having
their own bodies, and having also their own souls, and their own
spirits, in which they had pleased God. Those, on the other hand,
who are worthy of punishment, shall go away into it, they too
having their own souls and their own bodies, in which they stood
apart from the grace of God. Both classes shall then cease from
any longer begetting and being begotten, from marrying and being
given in marriage; so that the number of mankind, corresponding to
the fore-ordination of God, being completed, may fully realize the
scheme formed by the Father.
(the souls) must of necessity retain a remembrance of those things
which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up
those in which they were still deficient, and not by always
hovering, without intermission, round the same pursuits, spend
their labour wretchedly in vain."
Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian, was a prolific
early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of
Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive
corpus of Latin Christian literature.
the present age is ended he will judge his worshipers. . . . All
who have died since the beginning of time will be raised up again
and shaped again and remanded to whichever destiny they
deserve" (Apology 18:3 [A.D. 197]).
the flesh shall rise again: certainly of every man, certainly the
same flesh, and certainly in its entirety. Wherever it is, in
the safekeeping with God through that most faithful agent between
God and man, Jesus Christ, who shall reconcile both God to man and
man to God, [and] the spirit to the flesh and the flesh to the
spirit" (The Resurrection of the Dead 63:1
regard to that which is called the resurrection of the dead, it is
necessary to defend the proper meaning of the terms ‘of the
dead’ and ‘resurrection.’ The word ‘dead’ signifies
merely that something has lost the soul, by the faculty of which
it formerly lived. The term ‘dead’ then applies to a body.
Moreover, if resurrection is of the dead, and ‘dead’
applies only to a body, the resurrection will be of a body. .
. . ‘To rise’ may be said of that which never in any way fell,
but which was always lying down. But ‘to rise again’ can only
be said of that which has fallen; for by ‘rising again’ that
which fell is said to ‘re-surrect.’ The syllable ‘re-’
always implies iteration [happening again]. We say, therefore, that
a body falls to the ground in death . . . and that which falls,
rises again" (Against Marcion 5:9:3–4
now, if some philosopher affirms, as Laberius holds, following an
opinion of Pythagoras, that a man may have his origin from a mule,
a serpent from a woman, and with skill of speech twists every
argument to prove his view, will he not gain an acceptance for it
[among the pagans], and work in some conviction that on account of
this, they should abstain from eating animal food? May anyone have
the persuasion that he should abstain, lest, by chance, in his
beef he eats some ancestor of his? But if a Christian promises the
return of a man from a man, and the very actual Gaius
[resurrected] from Gaius . . . they will not . . . grant him a
hearing. If there is any ground for the moving to and fro of human
souls into different bodies, why may they not return to the very
matter they have left . . . ?" (Apology 48
too, how for our consolation all nature suggests the future
resurrection. The sun sinks down, but is reborn. The stars go out,
but return again. Flowers die, but come to life again. After their
decay shrubs put forth leaves again; not unless seeds decay does
their strength return. A body in the grave is like the trees in
winter: They hide their sap under a deceptive dryness. Why are
you in haste for it to revive and return, while yet the winter is
raw? We must await even the spring of the body. I am not ignorant
of the fact that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve,
would rather hope than actually believe that there is nothing for
them after death. They would prefer to be annihilated rather than
be restored for punishment" (Octavius 34:11–12
Aphraahat the Persian Sage
Aphrahat (c. 270–c. 345) was a Syriac-Christian
author of the 3rd century from the Adiabene region of Northern
Mesopotamia, which was within the Persian Empire, who composed a
series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of
Christian doctrine and practice.
be instructed by this, you fool, that each and every one of the
seeds is clothed in its own body. Never do you sow wheat and reap
barley, and never did you plant a vine and have it produce figs.
But everything grows in accord with its own nature. So also the
body which has been laid in the ground is the same which will rise
again" (Treatises 8:3 [A.D. 340]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
body shall be raised, not remaining weak as it is now, but this
same body shall be raised. By putting on incorruption, it shall be
altered, as iron blending with fire becomes fire—or rather, in a
manner the Lord who raises us knows. However it will be, this body
shall be raised, but it shall not remain such as it is. Rather, it
shall abide as an eternal body. It shall no longer require for its
life such nourishment as now, nor shall it require a ladder for
its ascent; for it shall be made a spiritual body, a marvelous
thing, such as we have not the ability to describe" (Catechetical
Lectures 18:18 [A.D. 350]).
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis (between 310–320 – 403) was bishop
of Salamis, Cyprus at the end of the 4th century. He is considered
a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and
Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of
orthodoxy. He is best known for composing the Panarion, a very
large compendium of the heresies up to his own time,
for those who profess to be Christians . . . and who confess the
resurrection of the dead, of our body and of the body of the Lord
. . . but who at the same time say that the same flesh does not
rise, but other flesh is given in its place by God, are we not to
say that this opinion exceeds all others in impiety" (The
Man Well-Anchored 87[A.D. 374]).
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was
an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first
Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious
policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.
of Pythagoras, who was first called a philosopher, who judged that
souls were indeed immortal, but that they passed into other
bodies, either of cattle or of birds or of beasts? Would it not
have been better that they should be destroyed, together with
their bodies, than thus to be condemned to pass into the bodies of
other animals? Would it not be better not to exist at all than,
after having had the form of a man, to live as a swine or a dog?
And the foolish man, to gain credit for his saying, said that he
himself had been Euphorbus in the Trojan war, and that when he had
been slain he passed into other figures of animals, and at last
became Pythagoras. O happy man!—to whom alone so great a memory
was given! Or rather unhappy, who when changed into a sheep was
not permitted to be ignorant of what he was! And [I] would to
heaven that he [Pythagoras] alone had been thus senseless!" (Epitome
of the Divine Institutes 36 [A.D. 317]).
of Nyssa (335-395)
Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory
Nyssen, was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his
death. He is venerated as a saint in Roman Catholicism, Eastern
Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism.
one should search carefully, he will find that their doctrine is
of necessity brought down to this. They tell us that one of their
sages said that he, being one and the same person, was born a man,
and afterward assumed the form of a woman, and flew about with the
birds, and grew as a bush, and obtained the life of an aquatic
creature—and he who said these things of himself did not, so far
as I can judge, go far from the truth, for such doctrines as
this—of saying that one should pass through many changes—are
really fitting for the chatter of frogs or jackdaws or the
stupidity of fishes or the insensibility of trees" (The
Making of Man [A.D. 379]
chapter of his treatise On the Making of Man: is entitled
XXVIII. To those who say that souls existed before bodies, or that
bodies were formed before souls; wherein there is also a
refutation of the fables concerning transmigration of souls.).
Ambrose of Milan
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose (c.
340 – 4 April 397), was an archbishop of Milan who became one of
the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He
was consular prefect of Liguria andEmilia, headquartered in Milan,
before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374.
Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism.
is a cause for wonder that though they [the heathen] . . . say
that souls pass and migrate into other bodies. . . . But let those
who have not been taught doubt [the resurrection]. For us who have
read the law, the prophets, the apostles, and the gospel, it is
not lawful to doubt" (Belief in the Resurrection 65–66
is their opinion preferable who say that our souls, when they have
passed out of these bodies, migrate into the bodies of beasts or
of various other living creatures? . . . For what is so like a
marvel as to believe that men could have been changed into the
forms of beasts? How much greater a marvel, however, would it be
that the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of
a beast so opposed to that of man, and being capable of reason
should be able to pass over to an irrational animal, than that the
form of the body should have been changed?" (ibid., 127).
John Chrysostom, Archbishop of
for doctrines on the soul, there is nothing excessively shameful
that they [the disciples of Plato and Pythagoras] have left
unsaid, asserting that the souls of men become flies and gnats and
bushes and that God himself is a [similar] soul, with some other
the like indecencies. . . . At one time he says that the soul is
of the substance of God; at another, after having exalted it thus
immoderately and impiously, he exceeds again in a different way,
and treats it with insult, making it pass into swine and asses and
other animals of yet less esteem than these" (Homilies on
John 2:3, 6 [A.D. 391]).
Basil the Great
Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia,
the nonsense of those arrogant philosophers who do not blush to
liken their soul to that of a dog, who say that they have
themselves formerly been women, shrubs, or fish. Have they ever
been fish? I do not know, but I do not fear to affirm that in
their writings they show less sense than fish" (The Six
Days’ Work 8:2 [A.D. 393]).
theologian and philosopher whose writings were very influential in
the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.
the thought that the omnipotence of the Creator is unable, for the
raising of our bodies and for the restoring of them to life, to
recall all [their] parts, which were consumed by beasts or by
fire, or which disintegrated into dust or ashes, or were melted
away into a fluid, or were evaporated away in vapors" (The
City of God 22:20:1 [A.D. 419]).
the wonderful and inexpressible Artisan, will, with a wonderful
and inexpressible speed, restore our flesh from the whole of the
material of which it was constituted, and it will make no
difference to its reconstruction whether hairs go back to hairs
and nails go back to nails, or whatever of these had perished be
changed to flesh and be assigned to other parts of the body, while
the providence of the Artisan will take care that nothing unseemly
result" (Handbook of Faith, Hope, and Charity 23:89
Origen Adamantius of Alexandria (185—254 C.E.)
origen was an early church father
who is mostle misunderstood and misinterpreted when it comes to
the reincarnation and resurrection.
"Origen is considered one of the greatest Christian
theologians, he is
famous for composing a seminal work of Christian theology, his
treatise, On First Principles. Origen lived through a turbulent
period of the Christian Church. Persecution was wide-spread and
little or no doctrinal consensus existed among the various
regional churches. In this environment, Gnosticism flourished, and
Origen was the first truly philosophical thinker to turn his hand
not only to a refutation of Gnosticism, but to offer an
alternative Christian system that was more rigorous and
philosophically respectable than the mythological speculations of
the various Gnostic sects."
advocated two basic doctrines of Christianity which he believed
was fundamental to the definition of God and the creation of Man.
"the original and indestructible unity of God and all
spiritual essences." This
would imply the pre-existence
of all souls or its creative component spirit in God.
This was what Adam was breathed into existence.
Free will of Man. God
created man as Son above all the other creations as an image of
God. This includes
total freedom of choice at any given context.
This freedom God will never take away.
He wants his sons to make the right choices and return home
be in the household as responsible children of God in the likeness
of Jesus in all activities
God is love. The
whole creation is Holy and part of God.
The fall was introduced because of the wrong choice of man.
However love will
finally triumph and will restore everything in its proper status.
This leads to the Doctrine of the Total Restoration (apokatastasis).
Origen did not believe in the eternal suffering of sinners in
hell. For him, all souls, including the devil himself, will
eventually achieve salvation, even if it takes innumerable ages to
do so; for Origen believed that God’s love is so powerful
Rev.21:5"Behold I make all things new"
1 Cor 15:22 "For
as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to
futility, not willingly, but because of Him
who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself
also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the
freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Yet at the end of this age
Jesus separates the righteous who is taken into the heavens and
the unrighteous who is subjected to second death.
Since at the end of this age ALL are not made alive Origen
proposed the doctrine of the multiplie ages.
People have interpreted
this to mean that he supported the theory of reincarnation.
However this is just a misrepresentation. All are resurrected at the end of this age.
John 5:28-29, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, when ALL that
are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they
that have done good, unto the RESURRECTION OF LIFE; and they that
have done evil, unto the RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION.
Both are resurrection in their bodies.
Ages, Metempsychosis, and the Restoration of All
order to explain the total restoration of all souls Origen
advocated the pre-existence and fall of souls; multiple ages and
transmigration of souls at the beginning of each age; and the
eventual restoration of all souls in the course of ages after
ages. "The soul has neither beginning nor end… They come
into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the
defeats of their previous lives" (de Principiis)
was unable to conceive of a God who would create souls that were
capable of dissolving into the oblivion of evil (non-being) for
all eternity. He reasoned that if a single lifetime is not enough
for a soul to achieve salvation, a new age is the provision to
achieve that. So
he developed his doctrine of multiple ages, in which souls would
be re-born, to experience the educative powers of God once again,
with a view to ultimate salvation. This doctrine, of course,
implies some form of transmigration of souls or metempsychosis.
Yet Origen’s version of metempsychosis was not the same as that
of the reincarnation of the Pythagoreans and the Gnostics and the
Hindus. There is no return of the souls into this world in this
age. There has to be death and at the end of the age a
resurrection followed by judgment and seperation.
Finally total restoration will come and all mankind will
return home with the Father and there will be a great banquet.
Corinthians 15:25-28, “when all things shall be subdued unto him
[Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that
put all things under him, that God may be all in all (panta en
choice of Jacob over Easu indicates
the preexistence age where the Karma was gathered. God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were even
born. (Mal. 1:2-3) (Rom. 9:11-24). "… certain causes of
more ancient date," caused Jacob to be a "vessel created
for honour" and Esau a "vessel created for dishonour."
see that not then for the first time did Divinity begin its work
when it made this visible world: but just as after the destruction
of this visible world there will be another world, its product, so
also we believe that other worlds existed before the present came
into being." (de Principiis, Bk.3, ch. 3, sec.3)
one, therefore, of the souls descending to the Earth, is strictly
following his merits, or according to the position which he
formerly occupied, is destined to be returned to this world in a
different country or among a different nation, or in a different
sphere of existence on Earth, or afflicted with infirmities of
another kind, or mayhap to be the children of religious parents or
of parents who are not religious: so that of course it may
sometimes happen that a Hebrew will be born among the Syrians, or
an unfortunate Egyptian may be born in Judea." (de Principiis,
Bk. 4, ch. 1, sec. 23).
the Commentary on John 6:7 [A.D. 229].
‘And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" and
he said, "I am not"’ [John 1:21].
one can fail to remember in this connection what Jesus says of
John: ‘If you will receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come’
then does John come to say to those who ask him, ‘Are you
Elijah?’—‘I am not’? . . .
might say that John did not know that he was Elijah. This will be
the explanation of those who find in our passage a support for
their doctrine of reincarnation, as if the soul clothed itself in
a fresh body and did not quite remember its former lives. . . .
However, a churchman, who repudiates the doctrine of reincarnation
as a false one and does not admit that the soul of John was ever
Elijah, may appeal to the above-quoted words of the angel, and
point out that it is not the soul of Elijah that is spoken of at
John’s birth, but the spirit and power of Elijah"
for the spirits of the prophets, these are given to them by God
and are spoken of as being in a manner their property [slaves], as
‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets’ [1
Cor. 14:32] and ‘The spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha’ [2
Kgs. 2:15]. Thus, it is said, there is nothing absurd in supposing
that John, ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah,’ turned the
hearts of the fathers to the children and that it was on account
of this spirit that he was called ‘Elijah who is to
the doctrine [of reincarnation] was widely current, ought not John
to have hesitated to pronounce upon it, lest his soul had actually
been in Elijah? And here our churchman will appeal to history, and
will bid his antagonists [to] ask experts of the secret doctrines
of the Hebrews if they do really entertain such a belief. For if
it should appear that they do not, then the argument based on that
supposition is shown to be quite baseless"
might say, however, that Herod and some of those of the people
held the false dogma of the transmigration of souls into bodies,
in consequence of which they thought that the former John had
appeared again by a fresh birth, and had come from the dead into
life as Jesus. But the time between the birth of John and the
birth of Jesus, which was not more than six months, does not
permit this false opinion to be considered credible. And perhaps
rather some such idea as this was in the mind of Herod, that the
powers which worked in John had passed over to Jesus, in
consequence of which he was thought by the people to be John the
Baptist. And one might use the following line of argument: Just as
because the spirit and the power of Elijah, and not because of his
soul, it is said about John, ‘This is Elijah who is to come’
[Matt. 11:14] . . . so Herod thought that the powers in John’s
case worked in him works of baptism and teaching—for John did
not do one miracle [John 10:41]—but in Jesus [they worked]
miraculous portents" (Commentary on Matthew 10:20
the Canaanite woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying,
‘Lord, help me,’ but he answered and said, ‘It is not
possible to take the children’s bread and cast it to the little
dogs.’ . . . Others, then, who are strangers to the doctrine of
the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the
bodies of dogs, according to their varying degree of wickedness;
but we . . . do not find this at all in the divine Scripture"
this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John
the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is
spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which
is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the
apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures" (ibid.,
if . . . the Greeks, who introduce the doctrine of transmigration,
laying down things in harmony with it, do not acknowledge that the
world is coming to corruption, it is fitting that when they have
looked the scriptures straight in the face which plainly declare
that the world will perish, they should either disbelieve them or
invent a series of arguments in regard to the interpretation of
things concerning the consummation; which even if they wish they
will not be able to do" (ibid.).
Characteristics of the risen body
With what body do they come?
Death--The Sleep of the Body
bible death is compared to sleep:
saying to His disciples: “Our
friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of
sleep. Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do
well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death” (John
martyrdom and death of Stephen, we read: “He
fell asleep” (Acts
Paul says there were five
hundred brethren who had seen Christ alive after His Resurrection,
then he goes on to
say but, “some are fallen asleep”
(1 Corinthians 15:6).
“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning
them which are asleep”
(1 Thessalonians 4:13).
If death is a sleep, sleeping people get up in their own
physical body, except for the natural changes that take place in
time within the body.
“That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; And that
which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but
bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But
God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his
(1 Corinthians 15:36-38).
A changed body: Our bodies
will be raised to be like the body of Jesus after his
look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our
vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body . . .”
(Philippians 3:20, 21).
that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see
Him as He is” (1
shall “change our
vile body” (Philippians
ultimate form of Jesus in heaven was foreshadowed in the Mount of
Mat 17:2 he
was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun,
and his garments became white as the light.
Corruption to Incorruption -- From Mortality to Immortality
is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption (1
this corruptible must put on incorruption (1
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no
more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any
more pain: for the former things are passed away”
Dishonour to Glory
is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory (1
From Weakness to Power
It is sown in weakness; it is raised in
From the Natural to the
is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (1
must be clearly understood that the phrase “a
spiritual body” does
not so much as infer that the resurrection body will be a body
without substance. The word “natural”
is from a word used by the Greeks when they spoke of the soul of
the resurrection body is called “a
spiritual body,” it is
not meant that it will be composed of intangible substance. Robert
S. Candlish has said: “The words natural and spiritual, as applied to the body, have
respect not so much to the nature of the substance of which the
body is composed, as to the uses or purposes which it is intended
“We know that when He appears we shall be like Him“ (1
Christ’s resurrection body was the same body as
before, not a whole new one.
After He arose, the tomb was empty. The body
itself was resurrected—the very same body, but in a glorified
The wounds from His crucifixion were still
visible (John 20:27). He could be touched and handled—He was not
merely an apparition or a phantom (Luke 24:39). He looked human in
every regard. He conversed a long time with the disciples on the
road to Emmaus, and they never once questioned His humanity (Luke
24:13–18). He ate real, earthly food with His friends on another
occasion (Luke 24:42–43).
Yet His body also had otherworldly properties.
could pass through solid walls (John 20:19).
He could appear in different forms so His
identity was not immediately obvious (Mark 16:12).
could suddenly appear out of nowhere (Luke 24:36).
And He could ascend directly into heaven in
bodily form, with no adverse effect as He went through the
atmosphere (Luke 24:51; Acts
the risen body
With what body do they come?
Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas.
is a sure guide.
is a large work written in the 12th century.
75. The Resurrection of the Body
1. The body will
rise again. Says scripture (Job 19:25,26): "I know that
my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the
earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh
I shall see my God." Since man is one substance composed of
soul and body, the ultimate state of man must involve the body as
well as the soul. Hence, the body will rise again.
This, therefore, is true of all men without exception; for
all are of the same species, that
is, the same complete essential kind. No human soul will remain
forever separated from its own body.
The resurrection of the body is natural in
the sense that it is natural for the soul to have its body. But
there is no power resident in soul or body to bring them together
once they have been separated by death. Hence, the agency, which
actually joins souls with their respective bodies, is wholly
76. The Cause of the Resurrection of the Body
Christ from the dead
shall quicken also your mortal bodies." We are to rise in the
likeness of the Resurrection of our Lord, and indeed in virtue of
that Resurrection. God is the cause of the resurrection of bodies;
the Resurrection of Christ can be called the quasi-instrumental
cause through which God will raise us up.
1. It was the divinity
or Godhead of Christ (which is one in the three divine Persons of
the Blessed Trinity), which raised him from the dead. And
scripture says (Rom. 8:11): "He that raised up Jesus
2. On the last day, the
appearance of Christ in his glory will summon all men to
resurrection and judgment. His voice will be as the trumpet to
rouse and summon all.
3. The angels will come
with the Judge, ministering to him, and preparing for the bodily
resurrection of mankind. But the actual reuniting of souls and
bodies will not be done by angels, but will be the immediate work
of God himself.
77. Time and Manner of the Resurrection of the
1. The resurrection of
the body will take place at the end of the world, not previously.
2. The time of the end
of the world, and of the concomitant rising of men, is not humanly
known; nor will it be known. Scripture says (Matt. 24:36):
"Of that day and hour no man knoweth; no, not the angels of
heaven." When the apostles asked our Lord about the time of
the world's ending (Acts 1:7), he said to them: "It is not
for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in
his own power."
As to the hour of
the bodily resurrection, many think that because Christ rose from
the dead in the early part of the day while it was yet dark, the
resurrection of men's bodies will be in the nighttime.
4. The resurrection of
the body will take place in an instant, and not by degrees. St.
Paul, speaking of the bodily resurrection, says (I Cor. 15:51-52):
"We shall all indeed rise again ... in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye."
78. The Starting Point of the Bodily
1. Every movement has
its starting point and its goal, and the movement itself consists
in the transit or "going over" from the first of these
to the second. Now, the movement of the bodies of men to life in
the final resurrection, has its beginning or starting point in the
state of death. Therefore, all men must die. Those who are alive
on earth when the last day comes will die, and then rise in the
2. All human beings
shall rise from the dust and ashes to which death and decay (or
the final fire) reduces them. Scripture says (Gen. 3:19):
"Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return."
3. There is, in the
dust and ashes to which bodies are reduced, no tendency towards
reconstruction as human bodies. The divine plan and the divine
power bring about the resurrection, uniting each soul with the
dust and ashes, which, by reason of the union, is constituted as
the proper body of the vivifying soul.
79. The Risen Body
1. In the resurrection,
each soul will be united with its own body. For in a real
resurrection, that which falls is that which rises again. If the
soul be not joined substantially with its own body, then there is
not a resurrection, but an assuming of anew body.
2. The selfsame man who
dies will rise again. For, by the resurrection, a man is to live
again, not to be turned into someone else.
However, it is the
constitutes the material element of man as his living body and
gives it its personal identity in the body-soul compound that we
call a man. By uniting substantially with matter, the soul
constitutes that matter as its own body, holding it in continuous
identity, notwithstanding the flow and change of bodily particles
all through life. Perhaps, in the risen body will be present some
of the actual physical particles which the living body used at
some stage of earthly life.
80. The Integrity of the Risen Body
1. The human body will
rise complete and perfect with all its members. In the elect, the
perfected soul will animate its body and cause that body to be
2. Even in such things
as belong to the body more as ornaments than necessary members;
such as hair and nails, the risen body will be perfectly complete.
3. Man's risen body
will lack nothing that belongs to the integrity (that is, the
complete and rounded perfection) of human nature. The risen body
will need none of the processes that merely preserve it, or make
it grow, or propagate. But the body will have all that makes it
enduring, mature, and perfect.
4. The risen body will
have all that belongs to true human bodily nature; it will have
all this in the most perfect and suitable mode and degree.
5. As noted heretofore,
the actual material particles which flow through and in the human
body during its term of earthly existence will not all be found in
the risen body.
81. The Quality of Those Risen from the Dead
1. Those who rise will
not have the imperfections of immaturity or old age. All will rise
in the most perfect stage of human nature, which is the age of
youth; that is, of youth just arrived at maturity and full
2. However, all arisen
bodies will not be the same in size. Variety on this point is no
defect in nature. We know only that risen bodies will not be
deficient in any natural perfection. Each person's body will be of
the size most suitable to him.
3. Human beings, then,
will rise with perfect bodies, all in full maturity, none with
infantile or childish imperfection, none bent with age. They will
be perfect men and perfect women,with bodies of suitable size
4. Risen bodies will
not require the things they needed on earth to sustain them,
preserve them, and move them to development or further perfection.
Risen bodies will not eat, or drink, or sleep, or beget offspring,
or feel the pull of fleshly appetites or passions.
82. The Impassibility of Risen Bodies
To be impassible is
to be immune to suffering and change.
2. The bodies of the
just will not be capable of suffering any pain whatever, nor will
they ever undergo substantial change. The bodies of the damned
will endure pains in hell, and hence are not impassible; yet these
bodies will not undergo substantial change. St. Paul (I Cor.
15:42) says: "It [the body] is sown in corruption, it shall
rise in in-corruption."
3. Impassibility in the
risen bodies of the just does not mean numbness or insensibility.
It means immunity to what is contrary to human nature and painful
to it. The risen body will have sensation (that is, its senses
will operate and bring in sense-findings or sense-knowledge), and
it will have movement; these things belong to the perfection of
4. The senses of the
risen bodies of the just will find in the overflow of glory, which
comes upon them from the soul, their complete and enduring
perfection. The senses will be perfectly and satisfyingly in
operation, and they will possess their objects, and not merely
tend to these objects, or be in a state of readiness to perceive
83. The Subtlety of Risen Bodies
The risen body will be, in all organic action, perfectly subject
to the soul, and instantly responsive to the will, needing withal
no material sustenance. This spirit-like quality of the risen body
is called subtlety or
2. The subtlety of a
glorified body will not enable it to occupy the same place with
another body, unless this be done by a miracle.
3. Now, there is no
contradiction in the thought of two bodies being in the same place
simultaneously, even though there is nothing in the nature of a
body capable of producing this effect. What keeps bodies from
compenetration is their external extension, and this is not of the
essence or nature of bodies, but is an effect of quantity, which,
in turn, is only a proper accidental of bodies and not their
essence. Hence, there is no conflict or contradiction in the
notion of compenetration of bodies; therefore, since the thing is
conceivable, it might be done by a miracle.
4. However, the
subtlety of the glorified body does not make this compenetration
possible without a miracle. Besides, in heaven, distinctness of
bodily being will be a perfection; if several bodies were to
occupy the same place, this distinctness of being would be
5. The glorified body,
just as the natural body on earth, will occupy space, and will be
in a place according to its dimensions.
6. There will be
nothing ghostlike in the risen body. It will be a true body. But
it will have spiritual or spirit-like qualities. It will be
something that can be touched and felt. When our Lord in his risen
and glorified body came in, through closed doors, to his
disciples, he told them he was not a spirit or ghost, and said
(Luke 24:39): "Handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh
and bones, as you see me to have."
84. The Agility of Risen Bodies
The glorified body will be able to move with the quickness of
thought from place to place under the direction of the soul and
the command of the free will. This quality of the risen body is
2. The risen body in
heaven will move about. Scripture says (Isa. 40:31): "They
shall run and not be weary"; and (Wisd. 3:7), "[The
just] shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds." But
this swift and untiring movement will not deprive the just of the
beatific vision or diminish their happiness.
3. The movement of the
glorified body will not be strictly instantaneous; it will take a
moment of time, yet this moment will be so short as to be
85. The Clarity of Risen Bodies
The risen body in glory will have a measure of lightsomeness and
splendor, according to the soul's degree of glory. Says scripture
(Matt. 13:43): "The just shall shine as the sun in the
kingdom of their Father." This shining and splendid quality
of the risen body is called its clarity.
2. The clarity of the
blessed in heaven will be visible to the non-glorified eye of the
damned. For clarity is naturally visible, as it was to the eyes of
the three apostles who beheld it n our Lord's body at the time of
Yet the glorified body is not necessarily
visible; it will appear or disappear as the soul wills. It will
belike our Lord's glorified body at Emmaus, that is, capable of
being seen, but also capable of being withdrawn from the sight of
86. The Risen Bodies of the Damned
1. The bodies of all
men will rise in natural perfection without deficiency or defect.
But the bodies of the damned will lack the qualities of the
glorified bodies: agility, clarity, subtlety, impassibility.
2. The bodies of the
damned will not be corruptible. Scripture says (Apoc. 9:6):
"Men shall seek death and shall not find it, and they shall
desire to die and death shall fly from them."
3. As noted, the bodies
of the damned will be passible,that is, capable of enduring
suffering. Retribution must come to man, body and soul. And
punishment of body involves passibility.
bodies of the saints shall be distinguished by four transcendent
endowments, often called qualities.
The first is "impassibility", which shall place
them beyond the reach of pain and inconvenience. "It is
sown", says the Apostle, "in corruption, it shall rise
in incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:42). The Schoolmen call
this quality impassibility', not incorruption, so as to mark it as
a peculiarity of the glorified body; the bodies of the damned will
be incorruptible indeed, but not impassible; they shall be subject
to heat and cold, and all manner of pain.
The next quality is "brightness", or
"glory", by which the bodies of the saints shall shine
like the sun. "It is sown in dishonour," says the
Apostle, "it shall rise in glory" (1 Corinthians 15:43;
cf. Matthew 13:43; 17:2; Philippians 3:21). All the bodies of the
saints shall be equally impassible, but they shall be endowed with
different degrees of glory. According to St. Paul: "One is
the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, another the
glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory"'(1
The third quality is that of "agility", by which
the body shall be freed from its slowness of motion, and endowed
with the capability of moving with the utmost facility and
quickness wherever the soul pleases. The Apostle says: "It is
sown in weakness, it shall rise in power" (1 Corinthians
The fourth quality is "subtility", by which the
body becomes subject to the absolute dominion of the soul. This is
inferred from the words of the Apostle: "It is sown a natural
body, it shall rise a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:44).
The body participates in the soul's more perfect and spiritual
life to such an extent that it becomes itself like a spirit. We
see this quality exemplified in the fact that Christ passed
through material objects.