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On the Incarnation of the Word 9 – The Word Ends Death

Posted: September 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Incarnation of the Word | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

For the Word, perceiving that no otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition, while it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father; to this end He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent.

This section of Athanasius’ treatise is compelling. Our corruption could only be undone by defeating death through death, but the Word could not die. So the Son joined himself to man through a human mother. He was fully human, thus he inherited all of our nature, including death. And since he was also fully divine, that death could encompass all humanity.

However, Jesus was divine and incorruptible as well. Here we see a reference to a different interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that we call the Old Testament that must have been taught by Jesus and which we see repeatedly in the New Testament. The first time is in Acts 2 when Peter quotes this from the Psalms to refer to Jesus.

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Death could not corrupt the body of Jesus, which was held to begin on the fourth day. And just as his death was in the stead of all humanity, so his incorruption stayed corruption from us all. By him we are freed from death.

For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death. And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption, by the promise of the resurrection. For the actual corruption in death has no longer holding-ground against men, by reason of the Word, which by His one body has come to dwell among them.

It is no longer our nature to die.

One Comment on “On the Incarnation of the Word 9 – The Word Ends Death”

  1. 1 mike said at 7:19 pm on September 1st, 2009: