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Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Orthodox dogmatic theology

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The resurrection of the dead

In the great day of the Coming of the Son of Man there will be accomplished the universal resurrection

of the dead in a transfigured appearance. Concerning the resurrection of the dead the Lord

says: “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son

of God, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they

that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation(John 5:28-29). When the Sadducees

expressed unbelief in the possibility of the resurrection, the Lord reproached them: “Ye do err,

not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power (that is, the Almightiness) of God(Matt. 22:29).

The certainty of the truth of the resurrection and the importance of the belief in the resurrection

were expressed by the Apostle Paul in the following words: “If there be no resurrection of

the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your

faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God

that He raised up Christ, Whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not... But now is

Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept... For as in Adam all

die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive(1 Cor. 15:13-15, 20, 22).

The resurrection of the dead will be universal and simultaneous, both of the righteous and of

sinners. All the dead “shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life;

and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation(John 5:29). “There shall be a

resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust(Acts 24:15; these are the words of the

Apostle Paul before the governor Felix). If the same Apostle in another place (1 Cor. ch. 15,

likewise 1 Thes. ch. 4), speaking of the resurrection of the dead in Christ, does not mention the

resurrection of sinners, this is evidently because his direct purpose is to strengthen faith of the

Christians themselves in their future resurrection in Christ. However, there is no doubt that the

appearance or form of the resurrected righteous will be different from that of resurrected sinners:

“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father— are words

spoken by the Lord only of the righteous (Matt. 13:43). “Some will resemble light, and others

darkness,” reflects St. Ephraim the Syrian on this passage (Homily “On the Fear of God and the

Last Judgment”).

From the word of God one must conclude that the resurrected bodies will be essentially the

same ones that belonged to their souls in this earthly life: “THIS corruptible must put on incorruption,

and THIS mortal must put on immortality(1 Cor. 15:5 3). But at the same time, they

will be transfigured, and first of all, the bodies of the righteous will be incorrupt and immortal, as

is evident from the same words of the Apostle. They will be completely free from weakness and

from the infirmities of the present life. They will be spiritual, heavenly, not having earthly, bodily

needs. Life after the resurrection will be like the life of the fleshless spirits, the angels, according

to the word of the Lord (Luke 20:36). As for sinners, their bodies also without any doubt will rise

in a new form, but while receiving an incorrupt and spiritual nature, at the same time they will

express in themselves the condition of their souls.With the aim of making faith in the future transfiguration of bodies easier, the Apostle compares

the future resurrection with sowing, a symbol of resurrection given by nature: “Some man

will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which

thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body

that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a

body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body(1 Cor. 15:35-38).

With the same aim the Fathers of the Church have indicated that in the world in general

nothing is annihilated and disappears, and that God is powerful to restore that which He Himself

has created. Turning to nature, they found in it similarities to the resurrection, such as: the sprouting

of plants from a seed which is thrown in the earth and rots away; the yearly renewal of nature

in springtime; the renewal of the day; the awakening from sleep; the original formation of man

from the dust of the earth; and other manifestations.

The universal resurrection and the events that follow after it are realities which we are incapable

of representing fully with our imagination, since we have never experienced them in

their authentic future form; nor can we fully understand them with our rational thought, nor resolve

those numerous questions which arise before the curious mind in connection with them.

Therefore, both these questions themselves and those personal conceptions which have been expressed

in answer to them — often in various forms — in the writings of the Fathers and teachers

of the Church, do not enter immediately into the subject of dogmatic theology, the duty of which

is to sketch the precise truths of faith founded upon Sacred Scripture.

The error of chiliasm.

Very widespread at the present time is the teaching about a thousand-year kingdom of Christ

on earth before the universal or last judgment; this teaching is known by the name of “chiliasm

(from the Greek chiliasmos, a thousand years). The essence of this teaching is as follows: Long

before the end of the world, Christ will come again to earth to overcome Antichrist and resurrect

only the righteous, to establish a new kingdom on earth in which the righteous, as a reward for

their struggles and sufferings, will reign together with Him for the course of one thousand years,

taking enjoyment of all the good things of temporal life. After this there will follow a second,

universal resurrection of the dead, the universal judgment, and the universal and eternal giving of

rewards. Such are the ideas of the chiliasts. The defenders of this teaching found themselves on

the visions of the seer of mysteries (John the Theologian) in the 20th Chapter of the Apocalypse.

There it is said that an angel descended from heaven and bound satan for a thousand years, and

that the souls of those beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God came to life and

reigned with Christ for a thousand years. “This is the first resurrection(Apoc. 20:5). “And

when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to

deceive the nations(Apoc. 20:7-8). Soon there follows the judgment of the devil and of those

who were deceived by him. The dead will be raised up and judged according to their deeds. “And

whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire . . . This is the

second death(Apoc. 20:15, 14). Upon those who have been resurrected in the first resurrection,

however, the second death will have no power.

Chiliastic views were spread in antiquity chiefly among heretics. However, they are also to

be encountered in certain ancient Christian writers of the universal Church (for example Papias

of Hierapolis, Justin the Matryr, Irenaeus of Lyons). In more recent times these views were resur-rected in the Protestant sects; and finally, we see attempts in certain modernist theologians of our

times to introduce chiliastic ideas also into Orthodox theological thought.

As has been indicated, in this teaching there are supposed to be two future judgments, one

for the resurrected righteous ones, and then a second, universal one; there are two future resurrections,

first one of the righteous, and then another of sinners; there are two future comings of the

Saviour in glory; there is a future, purely earthly — even though blessedreign of Christ with

the righteous ones as a definite historical epoch Formally, this teaching is based on an incorrect

understanding of the expression “the first resurrection;” while inwardly, its cause is rooted in the

loss, among the masses of contemporary sectarianism, of faith in life after death, in the blessedness

of the righteous in heaven (with whom they have no communion in prayer); and another

cause, in certain sects, is to be found in utopian dreams for society hidden behind religious ideas

and inserted into the mysterious images of the Apocalyse.

It is not difficult to see the error of the chiliastic interpretation of the 20th chapter of the

Apocalypse. Parallel passages in Sacred Scripture clearly indicate that the “first resurrection

signifies spiritual rebirth into eternal life in Christ through baptism, a resurrection through faith

in Christ, according to the words: Awake thou that deepest and arise from the dead, and Christ

shall give thee light(Eph. 5:14). Ye are risen with Christ, we read many times in the Apostles

(Col. 3:1 and 2:12; Eph. 2:5-6). Proceeding from this by the thousand year reign one must understand

the period of time from the very beginning of the kingdom of grace of the Church of Christ,

and in particular of the triumphant Church of heaven, until the end of the world. The Church

which is militant upon earth in essence also is triumphant in the victory performed by the Saviour,

but it is still undergoing battle with the “prince of this world,” a battle which will end with

the defeat of satan and the final casting of him into the lake of fire.

The “second death” is the judgment of sinners at the Last Judgment. It will not touch those

who “have part in the first resurrection(Apoc. 20:6); this means that those who are spiritually

reborn in Christ and purified by the grace of God in the Church will not be subjected to judgment,

but will enter into the blessed life of the Kingdom of Christ.

If it was at one time possible to express chiliastic ideas as private opinions, this was only

until the Ecumenical Church expressed its judgment about this. But when the Second Ecumenical

Council (381), in condemning all the errors of the heretic Apollinarius, condemned also his

teaching of the thousand year reign of Christ and introduced into the very Symbol of Faith the

words concerning Christ: “And His Kingdom will have no end” — it became no longer permissible

at all for an Orthodox Christian to hold these opinions (One of the leading Fathers of the early

Church who combated the heresy of chiliasm was Blessed Augustine; see his discussion of this in The City of God,

20, 7-9, pp. 718-728. He connects the “binding” of the devil for a thousand years (Apoc. 20:2) with the “binding” of

the “strong man” in Mark 3:27 (see also John 12:31, the words of Christ just before His Passion: “Now shall the

prince of this world be cast out”), and states that “the binding of the devil is his being prevented from the exercise of

his whole power to seduce men.” Orthodox Christians who have experienced the life of grace in the Church can well

understand what Protestants cannot: that the “thousand years” (the whole period) of Christ’s reign with His saints and

the limited power of the devil is now.

A related error, widespread among contemporary Protestants, is that of the “rapture.” Unheard of before the

19th century, this belief has it that during the “great tribulationnear the end of the world (either before or after the

millennium,” according to various versions), true Christians will be “raptured” into the air to escape the sufferings

of those who remain on earth. It is based on a misinterpretation of 1 Thes. 4:17, which teaches that at the very end of

the world believers will be “caught up in the clouds,” together with the resurrected dead, “to meet the Lord” Who is

coming for judgment and the opening of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. The Scripture is quite clear that even the

elect will suffer on earth during the “tribulationperiod, and that for their sake this period will be shortened (Matt.

24:21-22).).The end of the world.

As a result of the fall of man, the whole creation has been unwillingly subjected to “the

bondage of corruptionand “groaneth and travaileth in pain together with us” (Rom. 8:22). The

time will come when the whole material and human world must be purified from human sin and

renewed, just as the spiritual world must be purified from the sin in the angelic world. This renewal

of the material world must be accomplished on the “Last Day,” the day when the last

judgment of the world will be accomplished; and it will occur by means of fire. Mankind before

the Flood perished by being drowned in water, but the Apostle Peter instructs us that “The heavens

and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against

the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men(2 Peter 3:7). “The day of the Lord will come

as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements

shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned

up . . . Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth

wherein dwelleth righteousness(2 Peter 3:10, 13).

That the present world is not eternal was prophesied even by the Psalmist when he cried out

to God: “In the beginning, O Lord, Thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens

are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou abidest; and all like a garment shall

grow old, and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them, and they shall be changed(Psalm 101:25-27).

And the Lord Jesus Christ said: Heaven and earth shall pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

The end of the world will consist not in its total destruction and annihilation, but in a complete

change and renewal of it. The Fifth Ecumenical Council, in refuting various false teachings

of the Origenists, solemnly condemned also their false teaching that the material world would not

merely be transformed, but would be totally annihilated.

As for those men whom the coming of the Lord will find alive on earth, according to the

word of the Apostle they will be instantly changed, exactly in the same way that the resurrected

dead will be changed: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in a

twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised

incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this

mortal must put on immortality(1 Cor. 15:51-5 3).

The universal judgment.

There are numerous testimonies in Sacred Scripture of the actuality and indisputability of

the future Universal Judgment: John 5:22, 27-29; Matt. 16:27; 7:21-23; 11:22, 24; 12:36, 41-42;

13:37-43; 19:28-30; 24:30; 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; Jude 14-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:5-7; 14:10, 1

Cor. 4:5; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24-25; 2 Thes. 1:6-10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Apoc. 20:11-15. Of these testimonies

the most complete picture of this Last Judgment by the Saviour is given in Matthew

25:31-46 (“When the Son of Man shall come in His glory...”) In accordance with this picture we

may draw conclusions regarding the characteristics of the judgment. It will be:

universal, that is, extending to all men living and dead, good and evil, and according to

other indications given in the word of God, even to the fallen angels themselves (2 Peter

2:4; Jude 6);• solemn and open, for the Judge will appear in all His glory with all His holy angels before

the face of the whole world; strict and terrible, performed in all the justice of God

it will be “a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God(Rom. 2:5).

final and definitive, determining for all eternity the fate of each one who is judged. The

result of the judgment will be eternal rewardblessedness for the righteous and torment

for the evil who are condemned.

Depicting in the brightest and most joyful features the eternal life of the righteous after the Universal

Judgment, the word of God speaks with the same positiveness and certainty concerning the

eternal torments of evil men. Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” the Son of Man

will say on the day of judgment; “and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the

righteous into life eternal(Matt 25:41, 46). This condition of torment is presented in Sacred

Scripture depicted as a place of torment, and it is called gehenna. (The image of the fiery gehenna

is taken from the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem, where at one time executions were performed,

and likewise every kind of unclean thing was dumped, as a result of which a fire was

constantly burning there to guard against infection). The Lord said: “If thy hand offend thee, cut

it off it is better for thee to enter in to life maimed than having two hands to go into hell” (gehenna),

into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not

quenched(Mark 9:4 3-44, likewise 45-48). “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” the

Saviour repeated many times concerning gehenna (Matt. 8:12 and other places). In the Apocalypse

of St. John the Theologian this place or condition is called a lake of fire(Apoc. 19:20).

And in the Apostle Paul we read: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,

and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ(2 Thes. 1:8). The images of the “worm

that dieth not” and the “fire that is not quenched” are evidently symbolical and indicate the severity

of the torments (By “symbolical” our contemporary, rationalistic language usually understands “not real, no

more than an image” — a definition which would give a very misleading idea of the life of the future age. With regard

to the images in which future blessedness and future torment are described, one might repeat the words of the

angel to St. Macarius of Alexandria on the toll-houses (quoted in the text above): “Accept earthly things here as the

weakest kind of depiction of heavenly things”; but such images as the “worm” and the “firecertainly correspond to

a reality that is frightful beyond imagination — and a reality which, while not “material” according to our experience

of earthly matter, is still somehow “bodily,” corresponding to the resurrected spiritual body that will experience

them. One may read of the frightfullyrealexperience of the “worm that dieth not” by a spiritual son of St. Seraphim

of Sarov (“Are There Tortures in Hell?” in Orthodox Life, 1970, no. 5) in order to gain an insight into the nature

of the future torments of gehenna.). St. John Damascene remarks: “Sinners will be given over to

everlasting fire, which will not be a material fire such as we are accustomed to, but a fire such as

God might know” (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 4; 27; Engl. tr., p. 406).

“I know,” writes St. John Chrysostom, “that many are terrified only of gehenna; but I think

that the deprivation of that glory (of the Kingdom of God) is a torment more cruel than gehenna

(Homily 23 on Matthew). “This deprivation of good things,” he reflects in a different place, “will

cause such torment, such sorrow and oppression, that even if no punishment awaited those who

sin here, it in itself (this deprivation) can torment and disturb our souls more powerfully than the

torments of gehenna . . . Many foolish people desire only to be delivered from gehenna; but I

consider much more tormenting than gehenna the punishment of not being in that glory. And I

think that he who is deprived of it should weep not so much over the torments of gehenna as over

being deprived of the good things of heaven, for this alone is the cruelest of all punishments”(Homily 1, to Theodore). We may read a similar explanation in St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Against

Heresies, Book 5, Ch 27).

St. Gregory the Theologian teaches: “Acknowledge the resurrection, the judgment, and the

awarding of the righteous by the judgment of God. And this awarding for those who have been

purified in heart will be light, that is, God visible and known according to the degree of one’s

purity, which we also call the Kingdom of Heaven. But for those who are blinded in mind, that

is, for those who have become estranged from God, according to the degree of their present nearsightedness,

there will be darkness” (Homily 40, On Holy Baptism).

The Church, basing itself on the word of God, acknowledges the torments of gehenna to be

eternal and unending, and therefore it condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council the false

teaching of the Origenists that the demons and impious people would suffer in hell only for a certain

definite time, and then would be restored to their original condition of innocence (apokatastasis

in Greek). The condemnation at the Universal Judgment is called in the Apocalypse of

St. John the Theologian the “second death” (Apoc. 20:14).

An attempt to understand the torments of gehenna in a relative sense, to understand eternity

as some kind of age or period — perhaps a long one, but one still having an end — was made in

antiquity, just as it is made today; this view in general denies the reality of these torments. In this

attempt there are brought forward conceptions of a logical kind: the disharmony between such

torments and the goodness of God is pointed out, as is the seeming disproportion between crimes

that are temporal and the eternity of the punishments for sin, as well as the disharmony between

these eternal punishments and the final aim of the creation of man, which is blessedness in God.

But it is not for us to define the boundaries between the unutterable mercy of God and His

justice or righteousness. We know that the Lord “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto

the knowledge of the truth(1 Tim. 2:4); but man is capable, through his own evil will, of rejecting

the mercy of God and the means of salvation. Chrysostom, in interpreting the depiction of the

Last Judgment, remarks: “When He (the Lord) spoke about the Kingdom, after saying, Come, ye

blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom,’ He added, which is prepared for you from the foundation

of the world(Matt. 25:34), but when speaking about the fire, He did not speak thus, but

He added: which is prepared for the devil and his angels(Matt. 25:41). For I have prepared for

you a Kingdom, but the fire I have prepared not for you but for the devil and his angels. But since

you have cast your own selves into the fire, therefore accuse yourself for this” (Homily 70 on

Matthew).

We have no right to understand the words of the Lord only conditionally, as a threat or as a

certain pedagogical means applied by the Saviour. If we understand it this way we err, since the

Saviour does not instill in us any such understanding, and we subject ourselves to God’s wrath

according to the word of the Psalmist: “Why hath the ungodly one provoked God? For he hath

said in his heart: He will not make enquiry(Ps. 9:34).

Moreover, the very concept of “anger” in relation to God is conditional and anthropomorphic,

as we learn from the teaching of St. Anthony the Great, who says: “God is good, dispassionate

and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does

not change, may well ask how in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those

who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, while turning away from the wicked

and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows

angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who

honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure . . . He is good, and He only bestowsblessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we

remain good through resembling God, are united to Him; but if we become evil through not resembling

God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness, we cleave to God; but by becoming

wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary

way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to the demons

who punish us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this

does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but that through our actions

and our turning to God we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of

God’s goodness. Thus to say that God turns away, from the wicked is like saying that the sun

hides itself from the blind” (Philokalia, Vol. 1, Text 150; Engl. tr. by Palmer-Sherrard-Ware, p.

352).

Worthy of attention likewise is the simple comment in this regard of Bishop Theophan the

Recluse: “The righteous will go into eternal life, but the satanized sinners into eternal torments,

in communion with demons. Will these torments end? If satanism and becoming like satan

should end, then the torments also can end. But is there an end to satanism and becoming like

satan? We will behold and see this then. But until then we shall believe that just as eternal life

will have no end, so also the eternal torment that threatens sinners will have no end. No conjectures

can show the possibility of the end of satanism. What did satan not see after his fall! How

much of the powers of God was revealed! How he himself was struck by the power of the Lord’s

Cross! How up to now all his cunningness and malice are defeated by this power! But still he is

incorrigible, he constantly opposes; and the farther he goes, the more stubborn he becomes. No,

there is no hope at all for him to be corrected! And if there is no hope for him, then there is no

hope either for men who become satanized by his influence. This means that there must be hell

with eternal torments.”

The writings of the holy Christian ascetics indicate that the higher one’s moral awareness is

raised, the more acute become the feeling of moral responsibility, the fear of offending God, and

the awareness of the unavoidability of punishment for deviating from the commandment of God.

But to just the same degree does hope in God’s mercy grow. To hope in it and ask for it from the

Lord is for each of us a duty and a consolation.

The Kingdom of Glory.

With the end of this age and the transformation of the world into a new and better world,

there is revealed the eternal Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Glory.

Then will come to an end the Kingdom of Grace, the existence of the Church on earth, the

militant Church; it will enter into this Kingdom of glory and will merge with the heavenly

Church “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the

Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For He must reign,

till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death... And

when all things shall be subdued unto Him (the Father) then shall the Son also Himself be subject

unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-26, 28).

These words concerning the end of the Kingdom of Christ must be understood as the fulfillment

of the Son’s mission, which He accepted from the Father, and which consist of the conducting of

mankind to God through the Church. Then the Son will reign in the Kingdom of Glory together

with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and “of His Kingdom there shall be no end,” as the Archangel

announced to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:33), and as we read in the Symbol of Faith: “And HisKingdom will have no end” St. Cyril of Jerusalem says of this: “For will not He who reigned before

overthrowing his enemies, reign all the more after He has conquered them?” (Catechetical

Lectures).

Death will have no power in the Kingdom of Glory. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed

is death... Then shall be brought to pass the saving that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory

(1 Cor. 15:26, 54). “There shall be time no longer(Apoc. 10:6).

The eternal blessed life is presented vividly in the 21st chapter of the Apocalypse: “And I

saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and

there was no more sea(Apoc. 21:1). In the future kingdom everything will be spiritualized,

immortal, and holy.

But the chief thing is that those who attain the future blessed life and become partakers of

the Divine Nature(2 Peter 1:4), will be participants in that most perfect life, whose source is in

God alone. In particular, the future members of the Kingdom of God will be vouchsafed like the

angels, to see God(Matt. 5:8), to behold His glory not as through a dark glass, not by means

of conjectures, but face to face. And not only will they behold this glory, but they themselves will

be partakers of it, shining like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43), beingfellow

heirs” with Christ, sitting with Christ on a throne and sharing with Him the royal grandeur

(Apoc. 3:21, Rom, 8:17, 2 Tim. 2:11-12).

As is symbolically depicted in the Apocalypse, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst

any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst

of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall

wipe away all tears from their eyes(Apoc. 7:16-17). As the Prophet Isaiah says: Eye hath not

seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared

for them that love Him” (Is. 64:4, 1 Cor. 2:9).

Blessedness in God will be all the more desirable in that it will be eternal, without end:

“The righteous shall go into life eternal(Matt. 25:46).

However, this glory in God, in the thought of the Holy Fathers of the Church, will have its

degrees, corresponding to the moral dignity of each one. One may conclude this also from the

words of Sacred Scripture: “In My Father’s house are many mansions(John 14:2); “He shall

reward every man according to his works(Matt. 16:27); “Every man shall receive his own reward

according to his own labor(1 Cor. 3:8); “One star differeth from another star in glory

(1 Cor. 15:41).

St. Ephraim the Syrian says: “Just as everyone takes enjoyment of the rays of the sensual

sun according to the purity of his power of seeing and of the impressions that are given, and just

as in a single lamp which illumines a house each ray has its place, while the light is not divided

into many lamps; so also in the future age all the righteous will dwell inseparably in a single joy,

but each in his own degree will be illuminated by the single mental sun, and to the degree of his

worth he will draw in joy and rejoicing as if in a single atmosphere and place, and no one will see

the degrees that are higher and lower, lest looking on the surpassing grace of another and upon

his own deprivation, he will thereby have some cause in himself for sorrow and disturbance. May

this not be there, where there is neither sorrow nor sighing; but everyone according to the grace

proper to him in his measure will rejoice inwardly, while outwardly all will have a single contemplation

and a single joy” (St. Ephraim the Syrian, On the Heavenly Mansions).

Let us conclude this exposition of the truths of the Orthodox Christian Faith with the words

of Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow at the end of his long course in dogmatic theology: “Grantto us, O Lord, to all of us always, the living and undying memory of Thy future glorious Coming,

Thy final terrible judgment upon us, Thy most righteous and eternal giving of rewards to the

righteous and to sinners — that in its light and with the help of Thy gracewe should live soberly

and righteously and godly in this present world(Titus 2:12), and thus we might attain finally to

the eternal blessed life in heaven, so that with all our being we might glorify Thee, together with

Thine Unoriginate Father, and Thy Most Holy and Good and Life-giving Spirit, unto the ages of

ages” (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, vol. 2, p. 674).




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