Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/On the Resurrection of the Flesh/XXXIX

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, On the Resurrection of the Flesh by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
XXXIX

Chapter XXXIX.—Additional Evidence Afforded to Us in the Acts of the Apostles.

The Acts of the Apostles, too, attest[1] the resurrection. Now the apostles had nothing else to do, at least among the Jews, than to explain[2] the Old Testament and confirm[3] the New, and above all, to preach God in Christ. Consequently they introduced nothing new concerning the resurrection, besides announcing it to the glory of Christ: in every other respect it had been already received in simple and intelligent faith, without any question as to what sort of resurrection it was to be, and without encountering any other opponents than the Sadducees. So much easier was it to deny the resurrection altogether, than to understand it in an alien sense. You find Paul confessing his faith before the chief priests, under the shelter of the chief captain,[4] among the Sadducees and the Pharisees:  “Men and brethren,” he says, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am now called in question by you,”[5]—referring, of course, to the nation’s hope; in order to avoid, in his present condition, as an apparent transgressor of the law, being thought to approach to the Sadducees in opinion on the most important article of the faith—even the resurrection. That belief, therefore, in the resurrection which he would not appear to impair, he really confirmed in the opinion of the Pharisees, since he rejected the views of the Sadducees, who denied it. In like manner, before Agrippa also, he says that he was advancing “none other things than those which the prophets had announced.”[6] He was therefore maintaining just such a resurrection as the prophets had foretold.  He mentions also what is written by “Moses,” touching the resurrection of the dead; (and in so doing) he must have known that it would be a rising in the body, since requisition will have to be made therein of the blood of man.[7] He declared it then to be of such a character as the Pharisees had admitted it, and such as the Lord had Himself maintained it, and such too as the Sadducees refused to believe it—such refusal leading them indeed to an absolute rejection of the whole verity. Nor had the Athenians previously understood Paul to announce any other resurrection.[8] They had, in fact, derided his announcement; but they would have indulged no such derision if they had heard from him nothing but the restoration of the soul, for they would have received that as the very common anticipation of their own native philosophy. But when the preaching of the resurrection, of which they had previously not heard, by its absolute novelty excited the heathen, and a not unnatural incredulity in so wonderful a matter began to harass the simple faith with many discussions, then the apostle took care in almost every one of his writings to strengthen men’s belief of this Christian hope, pointing out that there was such a hope, and that it had not as yet been realized, and that it would be in the body,—a point which was the especial object of inquiry, and, what was besides a doubtful question, not in a body of a different kind from ours.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Tertullian always refers to this book by a plural phrase.
  2. Resignandi.
  3. Consignandi.
  4. Sub tribuno.
  5. Acts xxiii. 6.
  6. Acts xxvi. 22.
  7. Gen. ix. 5, 6.
  8. Acts xvii. 32.