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Will our Bodies Ascend?

Since, again, some who are reckoned among the orthodox go beyond ‎the pre-arranged plan for the exaltation of the just, and are ignorant of the ‎methods by which they are disciplined beforehand for incorruption, they thus ‎entertain heretical opinions. For the heretics, despising the handiwork of God, ‎and not admitting the salvation of their flesh, while they also treat the promise ‎of God contemptuously, and pass beyond God altogether in the sentiments they ‎form, affirm that immediately upon their death they shall pass above the ‎heavens and the Demiurge, and go to the Mother (Achamoth) or to that Fr. ‎whom they have feigned. Those persons, therefore, who disallow a resurrection ‎affecting the whole man (universam reprobant resurrectionem), and as far as ‎in them lies remove it from the midst [of the Christian scheme], how can they ‎be wondered at, if again they know nothing as to the plan of the resurrection? ‎For they do not choose to understand, that if these things are as they say, the ‎Lord Himself, in whom they profess to believe, did not rise again upon the ‎third day; but immediately upon His expiring on the cross, undoubtedly ‎departed on high, leaving His body to the earth. But the case was that for three ‎days He dwelt in the place where the dead were, as the prophet says ‎concerning Him: “And the Lord remembered His dead saints who slept ‎formerly in the land of sepulture; and He descended to them, to rescue and ‎save them.” And the Lord Himself says, “As Jonah remained three days and ‎three nights in the belly of the fish, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of ‎the earth.” [Matt. 11:40] ‎

Then also the apostle says, “But when He ascended, what is it but that ‎He also descended into the lower parts of the earth?” [Eph. 4:9] This, too, ‎David says when prophesying of Him, “You have delivered my soul from the ‎depths of Sheol” [Ps 86:13] and on His rising again the third day, He said to ‎Mary, who was the first to see and to worship Him, “Touch Me not, for I have ‎not yet ascended to the Fr.; but go to the disciples, and say unto them, I ‎ascend unto My Fr., and unto your Fr..” [John 20:17]‎

If, then, the Lord observed the law of the dead, that He might become ‎the first-begotten from the dead, and tarried until the third day “in the lower ‎parts of the earth;” [Eph. 4:9] then afterwards rising in the flesh, so that He ‎even showed the print of the nails to His disciples, [John 20:20,27] He thus ‎ascended to the Fr.;–[if all these things occurred, I say], how must these ‎men not be put to confusion, who allege that “the lower parts” refer to this ‎world of ours, but that their tuner man, leaving the body here, ascends into the ‎super-celestial place? For as the Lord “went away in the midst of the shadow of ‎death,” [Ps. 23:4] where the souls of the dead were, yet afterwards arose in the ‎body, and after the resurrection was taken up [into heaven], it is manifest that ‎the souls of His disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these ‎things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there ‎remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, ‎and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose, they shall ‎come thus into the presence of God. “For no disciple is above the Master, but ‎every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.” [Luke 6:40] As our Master, ‎therefore, did not at once depart, taking flight [to heaven], but awaited the time ‎of His resurrection prescribed by the Fr., which had been also shown forth ‎through Jonah, and rising again after three days was taken up [to heaven]; so ‎ought we also to await the time of our resurrection prescribed by God and ‎foretold by the prophets, and so, rising, be taken up, as many as the Lord shall ‎account worthy of this [privilege].

A selection from his book, Against the Heresies, Ch. 31, Ante-Nicene Fathers v. 1.‎

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

April 9, 2009