Eschatology

 

 

ESCHATOLOGICAL ATTITUDE

As the return of the soul to God is the main line in Origen’s thought, therefore his writings almost have an eschatological attitude.

Origen looks to the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures as a participation in heaven itself. St. Gregory expresses the attitude of his teacher by saying, "To our mind, it was really... an image of Paradise." It is the first resurrection which we enjoy here, till we attain the second or last one (Rev. 20).

With joy we celebrate the eighth day (Sunday), the day of the resurrection, as a pledge of the world to come

The number eight, which contains the virtue of the Resurrection, is the figure of the future world.

When Christ "shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father," then those living beings, because they have before this been made part of Christ’s kingdom, shall also be delivered up along with the whole of that kingdom to the rule of the Father; so that, when "God shall be in all," they also, since they are a part of all, may have God even in themselves, as he is in all things.

Origen assures that we here attain by divine grace a kind of perfection, but we have to grow in this perfection all our lives in this world till we meet our Lord face to face on the Last Day.

"As long as we are in this world, the words "I shall be safe" cannot be completely fulfilled - only when we live with the angels of God, when "God’s statutes" will be practiced face to face with Him, in true reality, not a shadow thereof.

Jean Daniélou states that Origen in his teachings of eschatology has almost his own personal system, saying,

When we come to the Last Things, we find ourselves in the same sort of country as we did when we studied the beginnings of things, eschatology corresponds to "archaeology." Scripture has little information to give about it. We shall thus be faced once more with Origen’s personal system in its most characteristic forms.

I have mentioned his eschatological attitude in our speech on apokatastasis, that is the return of all rational creatures to their original nature; also on the destiny of man’s body. Here I will try to explain Origen’s view on:

1. The resurrection of Christ as the source of our resurrection.

2. Death.

3. Transformation and final unity of the universe.

4. The kingdom of God.

5. Outer darkness and eternal fire.

6. Knowledge after death.

7. Man’s rank in heaven.

In all these elements we have to know that two main axes that rule Origen’s system: Divine Providence and man’s free-will.

 


 

1. The resurrection Of Christ

 

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AND THE RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

1. As Origen’s theology is soteriological, he states that the holy Scripture emphasizes Christ’s resurrection for the resurrection of believers, that is the practice of the risen life, which is the pledge of the future resurrection, or attaining the present first resurrection as a way to attain the second one.

"We have a "pledge of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 1;22), whom we shall receive in His fullness "when that is perfect is come" (1 Cor. 13:10): and likewise we have a "pledge of the resurrection," the fact being that none of us has yet risen in the perfection of resurrection.

If you believe that Christ has risen from the dead, you must believe also that you yourselves have likewise risen with him; and if you believe that he is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, you must also believe that you yourselves are situated no longer in the earthly but the heavenly scene; and if you believe yourselves dead with Christ, you must believe that you will also live with him; and if you believe that Christ is dead to sin and lives to God, you too must be dead to sin and alive to God... This is because the man who (sets his mind on things above) shows his belief in him who raised up Jesus... from the dead, and for this man faith is truly counted for righteousness... And if we have risen with Christ who is righteousness, and walk in newness of life, and live according to righteousness, Christ has risen for us, that we might be justified... who have undertaken a new life on the model of his resurrection...

Evoking the Genesis account of Jacob’s blessing on Judah, Origen pictures the buried Lord as a sleeping lion. Aroused by the Father in the resurrection, the Lord Jesus is instrumental in making those who (in this life) "have been made conformable to His resurrection" fully authentic persons. It appears that for Origen conformity to Christ’s resurrection makes people "like gold" in the present existence, and that their quality as "true gold" awaits a further "spiritualization" and fuller identification with the Lord.

So have the things delivered through our Lord Jesus Christ himself been set in true gold and in solid silver.... For when he has laid him down and slept "as a lion and as a loin’s whelp" (cf. Gen 49: 9), and afterward the Father has aroused him, and he has risen from the dead, if then there be such as have been made conformable to his resurrection, they will continue no longer in the likeness of gold, that is, in the pursuit of bodily things, but will receive the true gold from him.

But when the resurrection itself takes place of the true and more perfect body of Christ, then those who are now the members of Christ, for they will then be dry bones, will be brought together, bone to bone, and fitting to fitting (for none of those who are destitute of fitting approval) will come to the perfect man), to the measure (Ephes. 4:13) of the stature of the fullness of the body of Christ. And then the many members (1 Cor. 12:12 sq.) will be the one body, all of them, though many, becoming members of one body. But it belongs to God alone to make the distinction of foot and hand and eye and hearing and smelling, which in one sense fill up the head, but in another the feet and the rest of the members and the weaker and humbler ones, the more and the less honorable. God will temper the body together, and then, rather than now, He will give to that which lacks the more abundant honor, that there may be, by no means, any schism in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another, and, if any member be well off, all the members may share in its good things, or if any member be glorified, all the members may rejoice with it.

Origen believes that there are two kinds of regeneration, one is called washing of generation, realized in this world through baptism, as a pledge of the other regeneration which will be realized in the world to come, and is called regeneration by the Holy Spirit and Fire.

This is the Regeneration of that new coming-into being when a new heaven and earth is created for those who have renewed themselves, and a new covenant and its "cup" is given. Of that Regeneration what Paul calls the "washing of Regeneration" (Titus 3:5) is the prelude, and that which is brought to this "washing of regeneration" in the "renewing of the Spirit" is a symbol of that newness. It might also be said that whereas at our natural birth "none is pure from defilement, even if he only lives one day" (Job 14:4, LXX)... in the "washing of regeneration" everyone who is "born again" "of water and the Spirit" (John 3:3,5) is pure from defilement, but (if I may venture to put it so) only "in a glass darkly" ý(1 Cor. 13:12). But at that other Regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, everyone who achieves that Regeneration in Christ is totally pure from defilement, sees Him face to face, having passed through the washing of regeneration to that other one, the latter can be understood by reflection on the words of John, who baptized "with water unto repentance," concerning the Savior: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

Further, in the washing of regeneration we were buried with Christ [quotes Rom 6 4]; but in the Regeneration of the washing through fire and the Spirit we become conformed to the "body of the glory" (Phil. 3:21) of the Christ who sits on the throne of His glory.

2. Resurrection as a transfiguration of the Crucified Christ. The resurrection eliminates and transfigures the Christ of the passion. He appears as the mighty Lord, loaded with victory and trophies; He comes in splendor as the King of glory.

Then those who escort him say to those that are upon the heavenly gates, "Lift up your gates, you rulers, and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in." But they ask again, seeing as it were, his right hand red with blood and his whole person covered with the marks of his valor, "Why are your garments red, and your clothes like the treading of the full wine vat when it is trodden?" (cf. Is 63:2). And to this he answers, "I have crushed them" (Is 63:3).

Origen seems to see the conviction of the resurrection of Christ as influencing Christians to look beyond their sufferings to "life everlasting and the resurrection."

He rose from the dead and so utterly convinced his disciples of the truth of his resurrection so that they show to all men through their sufferings that their attention is focused on life everlasting and on the resurrection which has been exemplified to them in word and deed. And so they can mock at all the hardships of this life.

3. Through the passion and the resurrection of our Lord He became the New Adam, the Head of the sanctified mankind.

Just as through having Adam as the first example, the head, of our natural mode of birth, we are all said to have in this respect one body, even so do we register Christ as our head through the divine regeneration of his death and resurrection which has become a pattern for us.

4. The resurrection of Christ glorifies God the Father. Origen is commenting on Romans 4:23-25. The question he is asking is why Paul gives the Christian as the object of his faith the God who raised Christ from the dead rather than, for example, the God who created heaven and earth. Origin’s answer is that the former designation glorifies God the Father more than the latter one.

For the latter meant the making of what did not exist, the former the redeeming of what had perished.... The latter . . . was achieved by a mere fiat, the former by suffering. Now the pattern and image of this . . . mystery had come beforehand in the faith of Abraham. For he had believed, when he was ordered to sacrifice his only son, that God was able to raise him even from the dead; he had also believed that the transaction then set afoot did not only apply to Isaac, but that it was sacramental, and that its full meaning was reserved for that descendant of his who is Christ. It was then ... with joy that he offered his only son, because he saw therein not the death of his issue, but the restoration of the world, the renewal of the whole creation, reestablished through the resurrection of the Lord: And this was why the Lord said of him, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day..." [John 8:56].

 


 

2. DEATH

 

KINDS OF DEATH

Origen follows tradition in teaching the twofold death of the Christian - that of the body, the result of Adam’s sin and that of the soul, the result of personal sin.

In fact, Origen distinguishes three kinds of death:

1. A "death to sin" which is good.

2. A "death in sin," which is bad.

3. An indifferent death, neither good nor bad in itself, which he also calls "physical" or "common" death.

 

1. DEATH IN SIN

Those who refuse to live in Christ, live in sin; in other words, as they refuse to attain the Life, they taste death. Death in sin is the opposite of the divine life which shares in the divine Spirit and in the Christ who is Life.

But apart from the word of the promise of Jesus, we have conjectured not without reason that we would taste of death, so long as we were not yet held worthy to see "the kingdom of God come with power," and "the Son of man coming in His own glory and in His own kingdom."

But since here it is written in the three Evangelists, "They shall not taste of death (Matt. 16:28)," but in other writers different things are written concerning death, it may not be out of place to bring forward and examine these passages along with the "taste." In the Psalms, then, it is said, "What man is he that shall live and not see death (Ps. 89:48)?" And again, in another place, "Let death come upon them and let them go down into Hades alive (Ps. 55:18);" but in one of the prophets, "Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up (Isa. 25:8); and in the Apocalypse, "Death and Hades follow some (Rev. 6:10)."

Now in these passages it appears to me that it is one thing to taste of death,

but another thing to see death,

and another thing for it to come upon some,

and that a fourth thing,

different from the aforesaid, is signified by the words, "Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up," and a fifth thing,

different from these, by the words, "Death and Hades follow them.

The death of the soul

And for this reason, the prophet says, "the soul which sins will die" (Ezek. 18:4), although we do not think that its death is to the destruction of the substance, but from the fact that the soul is alien and remote from God who is true life, we must believe that it dies.

However, Origen believes that God in His redeeming providence never leaves souls to die in sin, truly they are free to choose their ways, but in the long run, even after death, God as the Divine Doctor heals these wounds, and grants these souls eternal life. "His patience is to their advantage, because the soul is immortal and therefore, even if it is not cured at once, it is not debarred from salvation for ever; salvation is only put off to a more suitable time.

 

2. DEATH TO SIN

Death to sin consists essentially in conformity to the death of Christ which is accompanied by conformity to His resurrection (Rom. 6).

 

3. INDIFFERENT DEATH

As for indifferent death, the opposite of that is indifferent life, the life we share with the animals. There is a link between death in sin and physical death, for he regards death of sinners as temporal divine punishment, for their purification.

. The relation between sin and physical death is affirmed in many tests: the latter is the result of the fall, the wages of sin. In some instances it is not clear whether physical death or death in sin is meant, but this very uncertainty reveals the link. The death to which our earthly body is condemned clouds all our earthly life. "Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?," cries Paul; and Origen comments, "That is why the saints do not celebrate their birthdays. Only those who live the life of the body consider themselves happy to be living in this body of death. Even if we know that the future glory will be beyond compare with the present life and its woes, we see with fear the day of death approaching and we should like to escape it.

In our treatment of "God’s Anger," we noticed that divine punishment, even death, is regarded by Origen as something educational;. Jean Daniélou says, "Even Death will give in at the end; even Death will be converted.

Already in the Old Testament the death penalty imposed for a grave crime expunged the pain of sin, for "God does not punish twice the same offense": so it was already a redemptive punishment. It is above all the death of Christ which is the source of the death to sin of all those who are baptized into his death and consequently mortify their earthly members. In Christ Himself death does not touch the Word but the human nature that is joined to Him: and his death was like all human deaths except that He freely and voluntarily took it upon Himself for the sake of his friends: He went down into Hades, "free among the dead," stronger than death, dominating it instead of being dominated by it, in order to deliver those who had been conquered by it. By the death of Christ is destroyed the death that is Christ’s enemy, death in sin.

We have seen that martyrdom is the most perfect imitation of Christ in his death, and hence in his resurrection. It shares in Christ’s work of redemption. It obtains the remission of sins, not only for the martyr but for others, and it puts to flight the powers of the devil.

 


 

3. TRANSFORMATION

AND

FINAL UNITY OF THE UNIVERSE

 

St. Paul says that there are some things that are "seen" and "temporal" while others are "not seen" and "eternal." He says, "the form of this world shall pass away" (1 Cor. 7:31). David also says: "The heavens shall perish, but you shall remain; and they all shall grow old as a garment, and as a cloak you shall change them, as a garment they shall be changed." For if the heavens shall be "changed," certainly that which is "changed" does not perish; and if "the form of this world passes away," it is not by any means an annihilation or destruction of the material substance that is indicated, but the occurrence of a certain change of quality and an alteration of the outward form.

Isaiah too, when he says that "there shall be a new heaven and a new earth" (Isa. 65:17), undoubtedly suggests a similar thought. For the renewal of "heaven and earth" and the transmutation of the "form of this world" and the alteration of the "heavens" will undoubtedly be accomplished in readiness for those who are journeying along the way which we have indicated above, making for that end, namely, blessedness, to which we are told that even God’s enemies themselves are to be subjected, the end in which God is said to be "all" and "in all" (1 Cor. 15:24, 25, 28)l."

For the end is always like the beginning; as therefore there is one end of all things, so we must understand that there is one beginning of all things, and as there is one end of many things, so from one beginning arise many differences and varieties, which in their turn are restored, through God’s goodness, through their subjection to Christ and their unity with the Holy Spirit, to one end, which is like the beginning.

 


4. THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Eschatology and The Kingdom of God

Our eternal life in fact is an extension to the kingdom of God that we attain here. In his Commentary on John 21, Origen states that the resurrection is something both accomplished in believers in the past - something already realized - and something to be accomplished in the future. The realized resurrection of man is epitomized in the par-scriptural statement, "We rose with him" (1 Cor. 15:22-25). The future resurrection - the "not yet" (John 20:17) of contemporary theological usage - is epitomized in the scriptural statement, "In Christ shall all be made alive."

Our life here is considered as a continuos festival day, because we attain the pledge of the eternal life, specially through contemplation. Jean Daniélou says,

Eusebius conceives this, in the manner of Origen and of the monks of Egypt who were his contemporaries, as a continual meditation on Scripture. Their life is thus a perpetual feast-day. And this contemplative life, at once that of the patriarchs and that of Christians, is the image, the eikon of the "blessed rest," that of heaven, where, freed from all servitude one can contemplate intelligible realities. The Sabbath itself was introduced by the law of Moses because of the people (plethos), as an educational means to lead them to the more perfect practice of the perpetual and spiritual Sabbath. This is the very thesis of Origen on the origin of feast-days.

Kelly says,

In the third century Origen developed these and kindred ideas, interpreting the kingdom of God either as the apprehension of divine truth and spiritual reality, or (this in explanation of Luke 17:21) as the indwelling of the Logos or the seeds of truth implanted in the soul, or as "the spiritual doctrine of the ensouled Logos imparted through Jesus Christ." "The intelligence (n o u V ) which is purified," he wrote, "and rises above all material things to have a precise vision of God is deified in its vision;" and since true knowledge, in his view, presupposes the union of knower and object, the divine gnosis of the saints culminates in their union with God.

In his treatment of the judgment we meet with the same characteristic tension between the desire to retain traditional dogma and the desire to reinterpret it in a manner palatable to intelligent believers.

The judgment itself will be enacted at the end of the world, and a definitive separation will then be made between good and bad.

The Savior will not appear in any given place, but will make Himself known everywhere; and men will present themselves before His throne in the sense that they will render homage to His authority. They will see themselves as they are, and in the light of that knowledge the good and the bad will be finally differentiated. Needless to say, there is no room here for millenarianism, and Origen castigates the follies of literalist believers who read the Scriptures like the Jews and cherish dreams of dwelling in an earthly Jerusalem after the resurrection, where they will eat, drink and enjoy sexual intercourse to their hearts" content.

"Each sinner," he states, "kindles his own fire... and our own vices form its fuel." In other words, the real punishment of the wicked consists in their own interior anguish, their sense of separation from the God Who should be their supreme good.

He is satisfied, however, that in fact they must one day come to an end, when all things are restored to their primeval order. This is his doctrine of the apokatastasis, in which his eschatology, as indeed his whole theological system, culminates, and which postulates that the conclusion of the vast cosmic evolution will be identical with its beginning.

Even the Devil, it appears, will participate in the final restoration. When Origen was taken to task on this point, he indignantly protested, according to his later champion Rufinus, that he had held no such theory.

When they reach heaven, he explains, the redeemed will apprehend the nature of the stars and the reasons for their respective positions. God will disclose the causes of phenomena to them; and at a later stage they will reach things which cannot be seen and which are ineffable.

 

ETERNAL GLORY

Although souls of men received bodies after their fall, Origen believes that in eternity not only the soul but also the body will be glorified. He argues strongly against the Gnostics as they believe that bodies will be entirely dissolved.

 

GLORIOUS BODIES

In chapter four, it was mentioned that for Origen, the body will share the soul in its eternal glory. H. Crouzel says,

If the body is normally called the clothing of the soul, Origen paradoxically calls the soul the clothing of the body, for at the resurrection the soul will clothe the body with the qualifies of immortality and incorruptibility which belong to the soul’s nature.

Bodies will be transformed from dishonor to glory, and from corruptibility to incorruptibility.

The matter of the body... which now is corruptible, shall put on incorruption when a perfect soul, instructed in the doctrines of incorruption, has begun to use it.

And of this honor some of those who stand by Jesus are deemed worthy if they be either a Peter against whom the gates of Hades do not prevail, or the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17), and are begotten of the mighty voice of God who thunders and cries aloud from heaven great things to those who have ears and are wise. Such at least do not taste death.

 

DEGREES OF GLORY

It seems that contrary to his idea of "apokatastsis," Origen in some texts refers to the degrees of eternal glory. Truly all risen bodies will be transformed into glorious and spiritual status, but every body is glorified according to a man’s merits in his life on earth. Men will be divided into different orders or classes.

It is better... to say that we shall all rise again even the wicked will come to that place where is weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the righteous shall each in his order receive reward according to the merit of his transformed body so as to become like the glory of the body of Christ.

....A body of glory and dignity will correspond to the dignity of each one’s life and soul.

As, then, without any doubt it will happen in the day of judgment that the good will be separated from the evil and the righteous from the unrighteous and every individual soul will by the judgment of God be allotted to that place of which his merits have rendered him worthy, if God will.

Some scholars see that these different orders or classes will appear in the beginnings of eternity, but as they will be perfectly purified they will be restored to their ancient ranks.

 

THE SHAPE OF THE GLORIOUS BODY

Origen believes that the body in eternity "will have the same form, though there will be the greatest possible change for the better." To be changed for the better means to be transformed from material to spiritual, to inhabit the realm of the Spiritual God. This is what happened "with the form of Jesus; for it did not become in the transfiguration wholly different from what it was."

 

NOTION OF EIDOS

Whereas Origen uses "eidos" to express precisely the identity of the spiritual body with the earthly, although with qualitative differences, Methodus believes that Origen was teaching that the risen body would be other than the earthly, that is, there would be no continuity of what would today be called personality.

 

PARADISE

Origen discusses the placing of the Good Thief in Paradise. He says that saints of the old covenant will be led by Christ to Paradise at his own glorious Ascension: thus He has re-opened for them the way which the sin of Adam had closed . Henceforth the righteous of the new covenant will not go to Hades, but, allowing for what we shall say below about eschatological purification, will directly go to Paradise, before the resurrection.

 


 

5. OUTER DARKNESS AND ETERNAL FIRE

 

Origen believes that in the resurrection men will be divided into two portions, those who are saved, the righteous, and those who are to be punished, the wicked ones. The latter are full of sadness, appropriate to the deeds and life of men who in this present existence have despised God’s commandments, and putting aside all fear of judgment, practised uncleanness and covetousness; but this punishment will not be everlasting. For when the body will be punished, the soul will be purified , and so restored to its ancient rank.

 

MEANING OF LASTING DARKNESS

The "outer darkness" is in my opinion not to be understood as a place with a murky atmosphere and no light at all, but rather as a description of those who through their immersion in the darkness of deep ignorance have become separated from every gleam of reason and intelligence. We must also see whether possibly this expression does not mean that just as the saints will receive back the very bodies in which they have lived in holiness and purity during their stay in this life, but bright and glorious as a result of the resurrection, so, too, the wicked, who in this life have loved the darkness of error and the night of ignorance, will after the resurrection be clothed with murky bodies, in order that this very gloom of ignorance, which in the present world had taken possession of the inner parts of their mind, may in the world to come be revealed through the garment of their outward body. (Perhaps, however, the "gloom and darkness" should be taken to mean this coarse and earthly body, through which at the end of this world each man that must pass into another world will receive the beginnings of a fresh birth)... The expression "prison" must be thought of in a similar way.

 

 

PUNISHMENT OF ETERNAL FIRE

1. Origen, who confirms man’s free-will, believes that punishment of fire after death is inflamed by sinners’ deeds.

We find in the prophet Isaiah that the fire by which each man is punished is described as belonging to himself. For it says, "Walk in the light of your fire and in the flame which you have kindled for yourselves" (Isa. 50:11). These words seem to indicate that every sinner kindles for himself the flame of his own fire, and is not plunged into a fire which has been previously kindled by some one else or which existed before him. Of this fire the food and material are our sins, which are called by the apostle Paul wood and hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12). And I think that just as in the body an abundance of eatables or food that disagrees with us either by its quality gives rise to fevers differing in kind and duration according to the degree in which the combination of noxious elements supplies material and fuel for them - the quality of which material, made up of the diverse noxious elements, being the cause which renders the attack sharper or more protracted - so when the soul has gathered within itself a multitude of evil deeds and an abundance of sins, at the requisite time the whole mass of evil boils up into punishment and is kindled into penalties; at which time also the mind or conscience, bringing to memory through divine power all things the signs and forms of which it had impressed upon itself at the moment of sinning, will see exposed before its eyes a king of history of its evil deeds, of every foul and disgraceful act and all unholy conduct. Then the conscience is harassed and pricked by its own stings, and becomes an accuser and witness against itself.

Eternal fire is different from our material fire, for the latter goes out, the former does not. It is invisible and burns invisible realities. But there is analogy between the two: the sufferings of men who die by fire gives some idea of what that fire can make them suffer. The Treatise on First Principles attempts a psychological explanation of that fire: it is a fire which each sinner lights for himself and which is fed by his own sins. Origen often says that our deeds leave their marks on our souls and that at the Day of Judgment those marks will be revealed and all will be able to read them. The sinner seeing on himself the marks of all his wicked deeds will feel the pricks of conscience and this remorse will constitute the fire that punishes him. It is also possible to start from the passions with which a man burns here below. Sinners caught in the net of these passions at the moment when they are leaving the world, without having in any way amended their lives, feel them at their most acute.

2. Origen continually uses the expressions "eternal fire" (pyr aionion) and inextinguishable fire (pyr asbeston) and yet he ventures to suggest several times the idea that the punishment will be remedial, and therefore should have an end, as he believes in the apokatastsis.

H. Crouzel says,

In the Homilies on Jeremiah there are to be found preserved in Greek passages which point in both directions. Homily 20 (19), 4 would suggest that the truth about the punishments would lie in their remedial character: however, it is not impossible that there is a certain irony in this passage, as this expression seems to show: "How many of those whom one thinks wise..." According to Homily I15, God not only destroys the work of the devil, He annihilates it, sending the straw into an inextinguishable fire and the tares to the fire. But since the torment of eternal fire could not corrupt people, what God annihilates by the fire seems to be the devil’s work in man and went back to the remedial character...

According to the Commentary on Romans: eternity signifies in Scripture sometimes the fact that we do not know the end, sometimes the fact that there is no end in the present world, but the time will be one in the next. Sometimes eternity means a certain length of time even that of a human life...

But the main Scriptural passage is I Cor. 3, 11-I5: pointing to the foundation which is Jesus Christ and we can build with imperishable materials, gold, silver, precious stones, or with perishable, wood, hay, straw. When the Day comes the work of each will be put to the test: if it lasts the builder will receive his reward; if it is consumed he will be harmed, but he will be saved as through the fire. This text is explained thirty-eight times in what is extant of Origin’s work.

3. The fire which consumes is in most of the texts, God Himself, "a devouring fire," for God does not consume perceptible materials but spiritual realities, our sins. It is also Christ, according to an agraphon: "Those who approach Me approach the fire, those who depart from Me depart from the Kingdom." This identification of God with the purifying fire is all the more remarkable in that it would be found in the intuitions of certain later mystics relying on the experience of their inner purifications.

 

HADES AND GEHENNA

We must not confuse Hades, the place of the dead described in the parable of the Rich Man - who suffers there - and Lazarus - who is happy there- with Gehenna, the place of torment.

In Origin’s famous homily on Saul’s visit to the witch of Endor and the conjuring of Samuel, Hades is the place where the saints of the Old Testament went after death, for, on account of the sin committed when humanity began, they could not go to Paradise, where grew the tree of life, guarded by the Cherubim with the flaming sword. It is from Hades that Samuel comes up to show himself to Saul.

 


 

6. MAN’S RANK IN HEAVEN

 

Origen comments on Joshua’s promise to his soldiers; "every place that the sole of your feet will tread upon I have given you." ( Jos 1:3), saying :

As (the devil) became a fallen angel, I can tread upon him under my feet. By the Lord Jesus I have the ability to crush Satan under my feet (Rom 16:20), and have the right to replace him in Heaven. Thus we understand the promise of our Lord Jesus that He grants us every place the sole of our feet tread upon it. Don’t think that we can receive this inheritance while we are sleeping in negligence.

 


 

7. KNOWLEDGE AFTER DEATH

 

So then, if the air between heaven and earth is not devoid of living and even rational beings, as the apostle said, "Wherein in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2), and again, "We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17), we must suppose that the saints will remain there for some time, until they learn the reason of the ordering of all that goes on in the air, in its two-fold form. By two-fold form I mean, for example; when we were on earth we saw animals or trees and we perceived the differences among them and also the very great diversity among men. But when we saw these things we did not understand the reasons for them; but this alone was suggested to us by the very diversity of what we saw, that we should search out and inquire for what reason all these were created diverse and arranged in such variety; and if we have cherished on earth a zeal and love for this kind of knowledge, there will be given to us after death an acquaintance with and understanding of that reason, if indeed the matter turns out as we should wish. When therefore we have comprehended that in its fullness, we shall comprehend in two-fold form the things we saw on earth.