The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 11, 2019

Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

1 Cor 15:45. The first man Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit.

The first part, viz., that there is such a thing as an animal body is proved from the words in Genesis, wherein it is said of Adam, that after “the Lord God hath breathed into his face the breath of life, he was made unto a living soul.”—(Gen. 2:7). From the fact of the Scripture saying that man, or the first Adam, to whom reference is here made, was made into, that is to say, was made, having a living soul, is inferred the existence of an animal body. The last Adam, viz., our Lord Jesus Christ (last, because he is to be succeeded by no other new principle of life), was made “into, or having a vivifying spirit,” that is, a spirit which is the source of spiritual life in our bodies, without requiring the aid of earthly aliments to uphold or prolong it.

“If there be a natural body.” “If” is wanting in the common Greek text, but it is found in the chief MSS. “There is also a spiritual,” to which the common Greek text adds, “body,” but it is wanting in the chief MSS. The Vulgate has only, “est et spirituate.” “As it is written,” (Gen. 2:7). This Scriptural quotation, or, rather, accommodation of the text of Genesis, which runs thus: “and man became a living soul” (the words “first” and “Adam,” are inserted here), regards only the first parts of this verse, the first Adam … “a living soul.” The second part, viz., “the last Adam,” &c., is added by the Apostle, or, it may be said, that the words, “it is written,” may be understood of the entire verse, as if the Apostle meant to say, that in the words of Scripture “man, or the first Adam, was made into a living soul,” it is implied and tacitly insinuated, that the second, or “last Adam,” would be made “into a quickening spirit.”—A’Lapide. By “living soul” is meant, the principle of animal life, such as we have in common with the beasts, requiring meat, drink, &c., for its continuance. By “quickening spirit” is meant, a spirit, which is the source of spiritual life, requiring not the aid of earthly aliments for its support. This is said of our Blessed Lord after his Resurrection, which might be called his glorious Nativity, and of it the Apostle understands the word, “filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.”—(Acts 13:33). It is true, that from his Incarnation our Lord possessed the life of a spirit, wholly exempt, if he pleased, from the necessaries of animal life; still, it was only after his Resurrection, that he actually began to lead such a life. It was then, by communicating such a life to his own body, that he gave us a sure, and actual earnest of communicating it to us also at a future day. The word “quickening,” or vivifying others, not only means, that he himself was vivified into this spiritual life, but also that he shall communicate this spiritual life to us, at the proper time. From the fact of Adam being made “into.” (or having) “a living soul.” (animam viventem), which, according to our interpretation, designates the principle of animal life, common to us with the brute creation, we are by no means to infer that he had not a spiritual soul also, different in its principle and nature from that of beasts. Moses himself guards against such an erroneous construction in his minute description of the origin and the formation of man and beasts; for, speaking of these, he says (Gen. 1:20): Producant aquæ reptile animæ viventis; verse 24, producat terra, &c.; whereas, when describing the origin of man, he says, formavit Deus hominem de limo terræ et inspiravit in faciem ejus spiraculum vitæ. We are not warranted in taking the words, “living soul,” in an exclusive sense with regard to Adam, so as to exclude “a spirit,” any more than we would be in inferring from Christ’s having “a vivifying spirit,” that he had not “a living, soul,” also, which we know he had. Hence, the Apostle views the soul under different respects, or in regard to the different functions which it discharges. As the principle of animal life, discharging the functions common to man with all animals, it is termed, “a living soul:” in this sense, it is said in Genesis 1:24: Producat terra animam viventem. But, as the principle of operations, peculiar to a rational spiritual being, (v.g.) volition, &c., it is termed, a spirit. Christ is said after his Resurrection to be made into, or to have “a vivifying spirit,” because he is to vivify our bodies, and communicate to them the spiritual life, independent of material agencies, upon which he himself then entered so as to vivify not only himself, but us.

1 Cor 15:46. Yet that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural: afterwards that which is spiritual. 

But the spiritual body is not the first which we have in the order of time, the animal precedes the spiritual state—the perfect succeeds the imperfect—we have, first, the animal communicated to us by Adam, and afterwards, the spiritual, the principle of which is Christ.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 15:47. The first man was of the earth, earthly: the second man, from heaven, heavenly.

The first man (Adam) being from the slime of the earth, had an earthly body, subject to the agencies of material causes; the second man (Christ) being from heaven—eternally begotten of the Father—became celestial in body after his Resurrection. It was only then he received the spiritual properties, even as to body, suited to his dignity, viz., impassibility, clarity, &c.

The Apostle here contrasts the two principles of our animal and spiritual bodies. “The second man, from heaven,” &c. In the common Greek, ὁ κυριος ἐξ ουρανοῦ, is the Lord from heaven, &c., having been begotten of the Father, by an eternal generation. The word “Lord” is wanting in the chief MSS. This is said of the man, Christ, by what is termed, the communication of idioms; for, it was not, strictly speaking, the man, Christ, but the Second Person of the Adorable Trinity, that was “from heaven,” in other words, that was “begotten eternally of the Father;” it is by what is theologically termed, the communication of idioms, we predicate the properties of one nature in Christ of the other. “Heavenly” is not in the Greek.

1 Cor 15:48. Such as is the earthly, such also are the earthly: and such as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly.

As from our earthly Father (Adam) we received an earthly animal body, such as he himself had; so, owing to our spiritual birth from Christ, our heavenly principle, we shall receive such a body as he had, viz., a heavenly and spiritual one.

No commentary is offered on this verse beyond the paraphrase

1 Cor 15:49. Therefore, as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly. 

As, then, before our baptism, we were assimilated by our corrupt morals to the earthly and sinful Adam, let us, in order to become celestial and spiritualized in body hereafter, bear the image of the heavenly Adam, Christ, by the conformity of a holy life.

The Apostle now inculcates a moral lesson; he exhorts us, as we had before our baptism and spiritual regeneration from Christ, been assimilated in our sins to the corrupt Adam, to become now conformable by sanctity of life to the model of our heavenly principle. According to the Greek reading, the words of this verse are not hortatory, as in our Vulgate, but merely confirmatory of the preceding. They run thus, “as we have borne … we will also bear,” &c., φορέσομεν.

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