Are the same bodies numerically which have died to be raised again? We affirm against the Socinians
I. The question is moved by the Socinians, who maintain that the bodies of the raised will be without flesh and blood and that the identical flesh which we now have (with regard to its essence) will not rise again. “This present body must die, that another new one may spring from it,” says Socinus (“De statu primi hominis … Responsio ad … Francisci Puccii,” Opera Omnia , 2:263). Smalcius: “These bodies, which we now bear about with us, we believe will not rise again, but we are taught by the apostle that others will be given to us” (de Divinit. Chr. cap. 13+). Hence he wishes the words of the Creed to be thus understood: “I believe that will exist again which was flesh before.” And against Frantzius: “This being established, that our bodies will be glorious, it is impossible that such bodies shall hereafter exist as have flesh and blood; for flesh and blood and spirit differ in their entire kind” (Refutatio Thesium D. Wolfgangi Frantzii, “De Extremo Iudicio,” Disp. VII , p. 415).
Statement of the question.
II. It is not inquired whether they will be the same bodies as to qualities and conditions. For we confess that they will undergo a great change so as to be no longer animal, corruptible, weak, miserable and mortal, but spiritual, incorruptible, strong, glorious and immortal (as the apostle fully teaches, 1 Cor. 15). Rather it is inquired as to substance—whether they will always remain numerically the same. The Socinians deny; we affirm this.
Proof that they will be the same bodies.
(1) From the nature of the resurrection.
III. The reasons are, first, from the nature of the resurrection. The numerical identity of bodies in the resurrection being denied, the resurrection itself is denied. For only that which has fallen, it is said, rises again: “A standing up is a second standing of him who has fallen” (anastasis esti deutera tou peptōkotos stasis). “The very word resurrection signifies, that not a different thing is raised from what fell,” says Jerome (To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem [NPNF2, 6:441; PL 23.402]). As therefore the body alone falls when death comes (hence ptōma, “a corpse,” from piptein, “to fall”), so it alone ought to rise again. Now if those bodies are given to us (either brought down from heaven or created out of nothing), they cannot be said to rise again, because they had never fallen. Nor can it be said that the same man remains, although it is not the same body. For that cannot be called the same entire, incommunicable subsistence except what is composed of the same essential parts.
2. From the justice of God.
IV. Second, from the justice of God, which demands that not a different thing should be punished from what sins; that one thing should fight and another be crowned; but that the very same body which sinned, be punished; that the very same body, which is here a temple of grace, be a temple of glory in heaven (which however would not be the case, if other bodies should be given to us). For thus they would be gifted with glory, concerning which no promise had been made to them, no hope inspired, no firstfruits granted. And the bodies of the wicked would be devoted to those torments for ever, which they deserved for no sins of theirs; than which nothing can be said more absurdly, nothing more abhorrent to the genius of the divine attributes, as if God either could not restore the same numerical body to each one or could justly reward or punish in a new and foreign body.
3. From the Scriptures.
V. Third, from the Scriptures, which speak in such a way concerning the resurrection as to suppose necessarily the numerical identity of the body. Thus Paul says, “We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10). Therefore the same body ought to remain in each. Thus in 1 Cor. 15:53 he says, “This corruptible” (to phtharton) must put on “incorruption” (aphtharsian); he does not say only “this corruption” (tēn phthoran) in the abstract, but “this corruptible” (to phtharton touto) in the concrete, as if with the finger pointing to his own body. But how could it be said to put on immortality unless that very body remained as to substance which is sown in corruption and weakness and will rise again in incorruption and glory (vv. 43, 44)? Thus Paul says, “Our vile body shall be changed, that it may be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body” (Phil. 3:21*). But how, if it perishes for ever? Ought not a change to suppose the same subject, which passes from a weak and vile state to a glorious and sublime one that glory (doxa) may succeed to humiliation (tapeinōsei)?
4. From the resurrection of Christ.
VI. Fourth, from the resurrection of Christ. When he rose, Christ received the same body he had before and the same flesh which he had assumed and in which he died, for what he once took he never laid aside (Ps. 16:10; Jn. 2:19; Acts 2:31). Hence he significantly says, “It is I myself” (Lk. 24:39). Such ought to be our resurrection. Our bodies ought to be no other than those which were deposited in the earth, as no other body was given to Christ than that which he had before.
5. From the condition of the pious.
VII. Fifth, from the condition of the pious. The bodies of believers are by faith made members of Christ’s mystical body. They are fed with his body and blood unto eternal life. They are sanctified and made temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:15). Therefore, the same bodies ought to be recalled to life. Otherwise it would follow that the members of Christ’s body partly perish and temples of the Holy Spirit are destroyed and never restored. Now is it consistent with reason that a building sacred to God, in which he condescended to dwell and which he made a partaker of his own holiness, should be entirely demolished so as never to rise from its ruins? Again, the condition of believers in particular ought to be the same as that of the whole church universally. And yet the church cannot perish, nor can the gates of hell prevail against it; therefore neither against believers (which nevertheless would be the case if their bodies wholly perished and would never rise again).
Sources of explanation.
VIII. When the blessed are said to be equal unto the angels (isangeloi, Lk. 20:36), a certain similitude is meant and not an equality in all things; not by identity of nature, but by agreement in qualities and glory and especially as to immunity from marriage (which was the object of Christ).
IX. It is said that our bodies will be heavenly (1 Cor. 15:48), not in origin and essence, but in abode and seat; spiritual, not in substance and nature (because it implies a contradiction for a body to be made a spirit, and for a body to be granted which is not material), but in qualities and gifts. The flesh will perish as to its moral and qualitative being, but will remain as to its physical being essentially. All defects will be removed from the bodies to which they had been exposed in this mortality, but their essence will not be destroyed; while they will be blessed with immortality, glory, splendor, activity and similar gifts, which will be to them for an ornament and garments, they will always remain as to substance, material, quantity, visible, extended, standing together with its own dimensions, commensurate with place, as he who will give it glory will not take away its nature. Augustine says, “The bodies of the just will be spiritual after the resurrection, not because they will cease to be bodies but because they will subsist by the vivifying Spirit” (CG 13.22 [FC 14:333; PL 41.395]).
X. When the apostle says, “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” (1 Cor. 15:36*, 37), he does not mean to intimate that the bodies will be numerically diverse, as the spike of grain which springs up differs numerically from the bare grain which is sown. Otherwise it would thence follow that the body which Christ received after his resurrection differed numerically from that which he had before. For the same similitude of grain is used by Christ in a similar case: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Jn. 12:24). From the similitude of the seed, therefore, not a diversity of substance, but only a diverse quality of the bodies can be inferred. And thus what is said, “Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain,” is not to be understood in this sense—that no such body will rise as is sown. For touto (“that”) can be taken in two ways: either with regard to essence or with regard to qualities. Thus the object of the apostle is to show the necessity of death and of putrefaction before vivification and a change of bodies from mortality and corruption into immortality and incorruption; as a grain cast into the earth from dry and dead becomes green and alive. Therefore, the simile of the apostle ought not to be extended beyond his scope. He wishes only to prove that the body committed to the earth does not so putrefy and become corrupted as to prevent its rising thence furnished with new conditions. Otherwise, if it were too closely pressed, more would also have to rise again from one body (as from one grain many grains spring).
XI. The operation of an infinite and omnipotent agent is falsely measured by the rule of natural operations and of finite agents. Therefore, although of diverse operations (such as generation and reparation) there are different terms according to the substance in finite agents; there are not at the same time with respect to God. Again, although the being (to einai) of a compound may be interrupted with respect to a change, yet it is not interrupted as to itself or with respect to the essential principles (which remain all the while the same).
XII. Although the organic parts ought not any longer to survive for use and operation (in which sense God, it is said, will abolish meats and the belly, 1 Cor. 6:13), still they will survive for integrity and ornament.