The Splendor of Everything

From Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, 29 (ca. 400)

On the third day he rose again from the dead. The glory of his resurrection brought out in Christ the splendor of everything that previously seemed feeble and weak. If a few moments ago you thought it impossible for one who was immortal to reach death, you can now perceive the impossibility of his being mortal who is declared to have vanquished death and to have risen again. Herein you should discern the creator’s goodness, in his readiness to follow you down to the depths to which your sins have plunged you.

You should not either suggest that anything is impossible for God, the creator of all things, imagining that his work could have been brought to an end by falling into an abyss to which he could not penetrate in order to accomplish salvation. “Underworld” and “upper world” are terms which we employ, limited as we are by the fixed circumference of our bodies and confined within the limits of the space assigned to us. But what is underworld or upper world to God, who is present everywhere and is nowhere absent?

Notwithstanding, when he assumed the body, those dimensions found their place the flesh which had been laid in the tomb was resuscitated in fulfillment of the prophets words: “because you will not give your holy one to see corruption.” So he returned victoriously from the dead, bringing with him spoils from hell. For he conducted forth those whom death held prisoners, as he himself and prophesied in the words: “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people unto myself.” The gospel bears witness to this when it states: “the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that slept arose, and they appeared to many, and entered into the holy city.” By this is meant, I am sure, the city intended by the apostle when he wrote: “but that Jerusalem which is above is free: which is the mother of us all.” He made the same point again to the Hebrews: “for it became him for whom are all things and by whom are all things, who had brought many children to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation by his passion.”

By his passion, therefore, he made perfect that human flesh which had been brought down to death by the first man’s sin, and restored it by the power of his resurrection: sitting on God’s right hand, he placed it in the highest heavens. In view of this the apostle says “hhas raised us up together and has made us sit together in the heavenly places.”

It was he you, you see, who was the potter mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah: “The vessel which had fallen from his hand and was broken, he again raised up with his hands and formed a new as it seemed good in his eyes.” So it seemed good to him to raise the mortal and corruptible body he had assumed from the rocky tomb, and rendering it immortal and incorruptible to place it, no longer in an earthly environment, but in heaven at his father’s right hand.

Rufinus of Aquileia (345-411) was an Italian monk who established a monastery on the Mount of Olives and engaged deeply with Eastern Christian theological and spiritual teaching. He translated many Greek theological works into Latin and engaged in exchanges with leading theologians of his time. His commentary on the Apostles’ Creed is the first of its kind.

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