Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book I/Chapter 17
Chapter 17 [X.]—“The Law is Spiritual, But I Am Carnal,” To Be Understood of Paul.
But it is not so clear how what follows can be understood concerning Paul. “For we know,” says he, “that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal.” He does not say, “I was,” but, “I am.” Was, then, the apostle, when he wrote this, carnal? or does he say this with respect to his body? For he was still in the body of this death, not yet made what he speaks of elsewhere: “It is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body.” For then, of the whole of himself, that is, of both parts of which he consists, he shall be a spiritual man, when even the body shall be spiritual. For it is not absurd that in that life even the flesh should be spiritual, if in this life in those who still mind earthly things even the spirit itself may be carnal. Thus, then, he said, “But I am carnal,” because the apostle had not yet a spiritual body, as he might say, “But I am mortal,” which assuredly he could not be understood to have said except in respect of his body, which had not yet been clothed with immortality. Moreover, in reference to what he added, “sold under sin,” lest any one think that he was not yet redeemed by the blood of Christ, this also may be understood in respect of that which he says: “And we ourselves, having the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” For if in this respect he says that he was sold under sin, that as yet his body has not been redeemed from corruption; or that he was sold once in the first transgression of the commandment so as to have a corruptible body which drags down the soul; what hinders the apostle here from being understood to say about himself that which he says in such wise that it may be understood also of himself, even if in his person he wishes not himself alone, but all, to be received who had known themselves as struggling, without consent, in spiritual delight with the affection of the flesh?
- Rom. vii. 14.
- 1 Cor. xv. 44. [The Latin word for “natural” is animale, i.e., “animated,” “living,” derived from the word anima, “soul,” or “animated and animating principle.” Compare the note on ch. 36 of On the Soul and its Origin, above.—W.]
- Rom. vii. 14.
- Rom. viii. 23.
- Wisd. ix. 15.