August 11, 2023

Homilies on the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed) - The Resurrection of the Dead (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed)
The Resurrection of the Dead
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The eleventh article of the Symbol of Faith refers to the great subject of the resurrection of the dead. We confess: "I expect the resurrection of the dead," that is, we expect the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Christ.

When we speak of the resurrection of the dead, we mean the resurrection of bodies, after death preceded it, which is the result of Adam's sin. In the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, the events related to the fall of the Protoplasts are described. After the sin they committed, spiritual death occurred, the loss of God's Grace, and years later physical death followed. In reality, immediately with sin, death entered man, that is, corruptibility, sufferability and mortality, which are the so-called "garments of skin", with which God clothed them. These "garments of skin" are, according to the Fathers of the Church, the commingling, the conception, the birth, the impurity, the increase in growth, the prime, the old age, the disease, and death.

Thus, immediately upon conception, man has within him the genes of aging, i.e. the genes of death. Therefore, when the time has come for each person, the soul is separated from the body to which it was connected and the body is deprived of the vital energy of the soul, and therefore dies.

In the Old and New Testaments there is constant talk about the resurrection of the dead, that is, the souls will enter the dead bodies again and will be resurrected. This is written by the Prophets, such as the Prophet Isaiah and the Prophet Ezekiel. The Prophet Isaiah writes: "The dead are raised, and those in the graves are awakened" (Isaiah 26:19), while the Prophet Ezekiel records a vision of how the dead bones acquired nerves and flesh and spirit entered them and this was done by the power of God (Ezek. 37:1-14).

The three resurrection miracles performed by Christ, namely the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain and the resurrection of Lazarus, were preludes to the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Christ. Above that, the Resurrection of Christ, which took place with His divinity, is of great importance.

The resurrection of bodies is the new thing that Christ brought to the world, which is clearly opposed to all philosophy, which spoke of a naturally immortal soul and a naturally mortal body. That is why, when the Apostle Paul spoke on Mars Hill about the resurrection of Christ, they interrupted him, mocked him and told him that they would listen to him some other time (Acts 17:31-33). The doctrine of the resurrection of dead bodies is the new teaching that Christ brought to the world, and it is the opposite of Greek philosophy.

The saints from this life foretaste the mystery of the resurrection with the spiritual resurrection within the life of the Church, the so-called "first resurrection." Since spiritual death preceded and physical death followed, this means that the spiritual resurrection precedes, with the activation of noetic energy in man, and the resurrection of the bodies will also follow, during the Second Coming of Christ. After all, the relics of the saints prove that the death of people is a sleep, that is why the funeral service is characterized as a service for those who are reposed. Especially the fact that many relics of the saints are incorruptible, fragrant and miraculous, and this is a foretaste of the coming resurrection.

While we have absolute certainty that the resurrection of the dead will take place and we confess: "I expect a resurrection of the dead," nevertheless we do not know the time when this resurrection will take place with the coming of Christ, which is unknown even to the angels.

What is interesting to emphasize is that, according to the Apostle Paul, the bodies of people who will be resurrected will have four characteristics, that is, they will be incorruptible, glorified, strong and spiritual (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

The Resurrection of Christ is solemnly celebrated in the Church once a year, at Easter. The theology of the Resurrection can be seen in the troparia that are chanted. However, it is also celebrated every Sunday, as well as at every Divine Liturgy held in the churches, and with the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ by Christians who are properly prepared.

And after the Resurrection of Christ and the Baptism of Christians, there is still corruptibility, sufferability and mortality, so that with the power of Christ spiritual death can be defeated in every person and noetic energy can be activated, which is a foretaste of eternal life, to transform blameworthy passions into natural and blameless passions.

The confession of faith by those who are preparing for Baptism, but also by those baptized who await the resurrection of the dead, shows the absolute certainty that those connected to Christ await His Second Coming, so that the resurrection of their own bodies may take place, so that the whole person, which consists of soul and body, can meet Christ.

From this it appears that the soul is not the whole man, but the soul of the man, and the body is not the whole man, but the body of the man. Man is that which consists of soul and body, and the whole man will be presented at the Second Coming of Christ before Him, to be judged.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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