St Athanasios – On the Incarnation

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The fifth chapter of St Athanasios’ On the Incarnation is titled ‘The Resurrection’. For St Athanasios, the Resurrection of Christ is the ultimate purpose of Christ’s incarnation (God becoming man). Without the Resurrection, Christ’s coming would have been meaningless. The plan of salvation could not have been realised if Christ had died without later raising Himself from that death. The Resurrection crucially puts an end to death. And we can all exclaim “O Death, where is your victory? O Grave, where is your sting? (1 Cor 15:55). It is because Christ made death ineffective that we no longer need to fear death. St Athanasios writes: “Shall we call death dead, which effects nothing whatever, but lies as lifeless and ineffective as the evil spirits and the idols? The Son of God, living and effective, is active every day and effects the salvation of all…”.

St Athanasios attempts in his chapter on the Resurrection to prove that death has been destroyed, and that it can no longer have any power over the person who lives in Christ. His proof is that people are willing to die for God. By overcoming our fear of death and understanding that physical death is an opportunity to come closer to God, we too can prove that death is powerless in our very own lives. On the other hand, we can continue to live in fear of death. The result could only be that we would attach ourselves more than ever to material goods and forget to nourish our souls. Christ’s Resurrection is for the Christian the death of death and the evidence of life.


Source: AprilMay 2014 Lychnos Edition