Father Matta al-Miskīn on Christ’s Death and Resurrection (and Our Own)

For Father Matta, salvation is not “an idea or a principle that we cling to or hold on to.” Instead, it is “a power that Christ established through his death and resurrection.” Dying for us, Christ procured our complete redemption from sin and death, while by his resurrection he bestowed upon us eternal life, elevating us to what is above nature. It is Christ, who died and resurrected with us recapitulated in him, that made us partakers of this power. Through his death, “we descended to the abyss and fulfilled (through him and in him) the severe punishment and sentence imposed on us as sinners and transgressors.” By the power of his resurrection, “we arose (in him) from hades and the abyss.” 

This temporal event, Christ’s death, became eternal for us. We die and rise in Christ daily (Romans 8:36). “This is the mystery of Christ’s incarnation—that he might fulfil in the flesh the necessary temporal work, death, for our salvation.” Nothing in this world (Romans 8:38,39) can “snatch (this power) from our hearts and from within our souls because we are still living with Christ in his death and resurrection.”

Father Matta asserts that “the power of our death has become spiritually active in us, permanently and eternally, so that through it we have been freed from all the evil forces of the world.” Although the body may be harmed, the spirit and the soul are not touched. While “we might be defeated through and in the body, because the body is under the forces of the world and time, in the spirit we are more than conquerors” (1 John 3:8,9; 5:1,4,5, 18-20). He adds that “they who died have been absolved from sins. Why? Because they have fulfilled God’s judgement of eternal death on the sinner. And we have died, not by ordinary physical death, but by eternal death, which is impossible for a person to attain except through the death of Christ.” 

Christ’s death ended with his resurrection, which added to our absolution from sin the righteousness of Christ and the righteousness of God in the sense of holiness and purity. “Christ, by his death, saved us from sin and death, and by his resurrection God transferred us from the realm of darkness to the kingdom of the Son of his love.”

However, all this does not prevent Satan from “slapping the body and harming it.” This should not be understood as God’s wrath. Instead, such attacks are allowed so that we persevere through Christ’s patience, granted to us for our purification. Thus, “our sufferings of every kind, even to the bruising of death, are counted as fellowship with the sufferings of Christ and a testament to a resurrection we live and accomplish every day with Christ.” It is for this reason that the Apostle states that we should rejoice in tribulations, knowing that as our pain increases, consolation also abounds (2 Corinthians 1:5).

The work of salvation is complete in us through constantly and daily moving from the cycle of death and suffering to the cycle of life, consolation, joy, and glory in Christ.

Source: Matta al-Miskīn, Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: An Epistle in Defence of the Truth of the Gospel (Sharḥ Risālah al-Qiddīs Būlus al-Rasūl ila Ahl Ghalatiyah: Risālah Defaa ’An ḥaq al-Injīl) (Cairo: Monastery of St Macarius, 1996) 59-61. (Wagdy Samir’s translation of quoted passages)

17 September 2022 © AIOCS

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