St. Methodius on the Coats of Skins

St. Methodius of Olympus died ca. 311

Now the question has already been raised, and answered, that the coats of skins Genesis 3:21 are not bodies. (Note: Gnostics and Origen taught this doctrine) Nevertheless, let us speak of it again, for it is not enough to have mentioned it once. Before the preparation of these coats of skins, the first man himself acknowledges that he has both bones and flesh; for when he saw the woman brought to him: This is now, he cried, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. And again: She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. For this cause shall unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Gen. 2:23-24)<!—->

In order, then, that man might not be an undying or ever-living evil, as would have been the case if sin were dominant within him, as it had sprung up in an immortal body, and was provided with immortal sustenance, God for this cause pronounced him mortal, and clothed him with mortality. For this is what was meant by the coats of skins, in order that, by the dissolution of the body, sin might be altogether destroyed from the very roots, that there might not be left even the smallest particle of root from which new shoots of sin might again burst forth.

For as a fig-tree, which has grown in the splendid buildings of a temple, and has reached a great size, and is spread over all the joints of the stones with thickly-branching roots, ceases not to grow, till, by the loosening of the stones from the place in which it sprung up, it is altogether torn away; for it is possible for the stones to be fitted into their own places, when the fig tree is taken away, so that the temple may be preserved, having no longer to support what was the cause of its own destruction; while the fig-tree, torn away by the roots, dies; in the same way also, God, the builder, checked by the seasonable application of death, His own temple, man, when he had fostered sin, like a wild fig-tree, killing, Deuteronomy 32:39 in the words of Scripture, and making alive, in order that the flesh, after sin is withered and dead, may, like a restored temple. be raised up again with the same parts, uninjured and immortal, while sin is utterly and entirely destroyed. For while the body still lives, before it has passed through death, sin must also live with it, as it has its roots concealed within us even though it be externally checked by the wounds inflicted by corrections and warnings; since, otherwise, it would not happen that we do wrong after baptism, as we should be entirely and absolutely free from sin. But now, even after believing, and after the time of being touched by the water of sanctification, we are oftentimes found in sin. For no one can boast of being so free from sin as not even to have an evil thought. So that it has come to pass that sin is now restrained and lulled to sleep by faith, so that it does not produce injurious fruits, but yet is not torn up by the roots. For the present we restrain its sprouts, such as evil imaginations, test any root of bitterness springing up trouble Hebrews 12:15 us, not suffering its leaves to unclose and open into shoots; while the Word, like an axe, cuts at its roots which grow below. But hereafter the very thought of evil will disappear. (From the Discourse on the Resurrection, Part 1)

Comments

  1. Origen taught that the “coats of skin” were our physical bodies which we received due to sinning as pre-existent souls. His doctrine was that the Fall made us physical. St. Methodius teaches that Man had a physical body but that the”coats” are mortality ingrafted to the flesh as mercy and a pledge for a later deliverance. A way to kill sin/death by dying. When the body dies in Christ the sin and death dies with it and then the Lord reforms it anew clothed in Christ/glory/immortality with not even a trace of sin. St. Gregory of Nyssa taught the same. Here is a link to a blog entry on his doctrine:

    http://frted.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/garments-of-skin-in-st-gregory-of-nyssa/

  2. With that said, then the spirit itself is truly judged by what it did in the great gift of the body. So is it then incumbent upon the soul/spirit to immedeitly recognize it’s bodily importance and not err in it?

  3. Yes, I would definitely say that.

    Mat. 10:28 But rather fear Him being able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.

    1Co 6:19-20 …You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

    2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

    St. Methodius: That man, with respect to his nature, is most truly said to be neither soul without body, nor, on the other hand, body without soul; but a being composed out of the union of soul and body into one form of the beautiful. But Origen said that the soul alone is man, as did Plato.

    We will be judged according to our nature as men. Thus complete man = soul + body. We must be judged by this standard thus all judgment is handed over to the Christ who judges all men as a man. That is also why we seek to attain to the “resurrection of life” (Jn. 5:29) and not some “salvation of the soul” concept which people literally take to mean the salvation of my incorporeal part in some spiritual (i.e. not physical) utopia. With this view some could care less about being resurrected but the Church teaches that salvation and deification can only fully occur then.

    Thank you for your response!!

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