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Home > Summa Theologiae > Supplement > Question 76

Question 76. The cause of the resurrection

  1. Is Christ's resurrection the cause of our resurrection?
  2. Is the sound of the trumpet?
  3. Are the angels?

Article 1. Whether the resurrection of Christ is the cause of our resurrection?

Objection 1. It would seem that the resurrection of Christ is not the cause of our resurrection. For, given the cause, the effect follows. Yet given the resurrection of Christ the resurrection of the other dead did not follow at once. Therefore His resurrection is not the cause of ours.

Objection 2. Further, an effect cannot be unless the cause precede. But the resurrection of the dead would be even if Christ had not risen again: for God could have delivered man in some other way. Therefore Christ's resurrection is not the cause of ours.

Objection 3. Further, the same thing produces the one effect throughout the one same species. Now the resurrection will be common to all men. Since then Christ's resurrection is not its own cause, it is not the cause of the resurrection of others.

Objection 4. Further, an effect retains some likeness to its cause. But the resurrection, at least of some, namely the wicked, bears no likeness to the resurrection of Christ. Therefore Christ's resurrection will not be the cause of theirs.

On the contrary, "In every genus that which is first is the cause of those that come after it" (Metaph. ii, 1). Now Christ, by reason of His bodily resurrection, is called "the first-fruits of them that sleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20), and "the first-begotten of the dead" (Apocalypse 1:5). Therefore His resurrection is the cause of the resurrection of others.

Further, Christ's resurrection has more in common with our bodily resurrection than with our spiritual resurrection which is by justification. But Christ's resurrection is the cause of our justification, as appears from Romans 4:25, where it is said that He "rose again for our justification." Therefore Christ's resurrection is the cause of our bodily resurrection.

I answer that, Christ by reason of His nature is called the mediator of God and men: wherefore the Divine gifts are bestowed on men by means of Christ's humanity. Now just as we cannot be delivered from spiritual death save by the gift of grace bestowed by God, so neither can we be delivered from bodily death except by resurrection wrought by the Divine power. And therefore as Christ, in respect of His human nature, received the firstfruits of grace from above, and His grace is the cause of our grace, because "of His fulness we all have received . . . grace for grace" (John 1:16), so in Christ has our resurrection begun, and His resurrection is the cause of ours. Thus Christ as God is, as it were, the equivocal cause of our resurrection, but as God and man rising again, He is the proximate and, so to say, the univocal cause of our resurrection. Now a univocal efficient cause produces its effect in likeness to its own form, so that not only is it an efficient, but also an exemplar cause in relation to that effect. This happens in two ways. For sometimes this very form, whereby the agent is likened to its effect, is the direct principle of the action by which the effect is produced, as heat in the fire that heats: and sometimes it is not the form in respect of which this likeness is observed, that is primarily and directly the principle of that action, but the principles of that form. For instance, if a white man beget a white man, the whiteness of the begetter is not the principle of active generation, and yet the whiteness of the begetter is said to be the cause of the whiteness of the begotten, because the principles of whiteness in the begetter are the generative principles causing whiteness in the begotten. In this way the resurrection of Christ is the cause of our resurrection, because the same thing that wrought the resurrection of Christ, which is the univocal efficient cause of our resurrection, is the active cause of our resurrection, namely the power of Christ's Godhead which is common to Him and the Father. Hence it is written (Romans 8:11): "He that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies." And this very resurrection of Christ by virtue of His indwelling Godhead is the quasi-instrumental cause of our resurrection: since the Divine operations were wrought by means of Christ's flesh, as though it were a kind of organ; thus the Damascene instances as an example (De Fide Orth. iii, 15) the touch of His body whereby He healed the leper (Matthew 8:3).

Reply to Objection 1. A sufficient cause produces at once its effect to which it is immediately directed, but not the effect to which it is directed by means of something else, no matter how sufficient it may be: thus heat, however intense it be, does not cause heat at once in the first instant, but it begins at once to set up a movement towards heat, because heat is its effect by means of movement. Now Christ's resurrection is said to be the cause of ours, in that it works our resurrection, not immediately, but by means of its principle, namely the Divine power which will work our resurrection in likeness to the resurrection of Christ. Now God's power works by means of His will which is nearest to the effect; hence it is not necessary that our resurrection should follow straightway after He has wrought the resurrection of Christ, but that it should happen at the time which God's will has decreed.

Reply to Objection 2. God's power is not tied to any particular second causes, but that He can produce their effects either immediately or by means of other causes: thus He might work the generation of lower bodies even though there were no movement of the heaven: and yet according to the order which He has established in things, the movement of the heaven is the cause of the generation of the lower bodies. In like manner according to the order appointed to human things by Divine providence, Christ's resurrection is the cause of ours: and yet He could have appointed another order, and then our resurrection would have had another cause ordained by God.

Reply to Objection 3. This argument holds when all the things of one species have the same order to the first cause of the effect to be produced in the whole of that species. But it is not so in the case in point, because Christ's humanity is nearer to His Godhead, Whose power is the first cause of the resurrection, than is the humanity of others. Hence Christ's Godhead caused His resurrection immediately, but it causes the resurrection of others by means of Christ-man rising again.

Reply to Objection 4. The resurrection of all men will bear some resemblance to Christ's resurrection, as regards that which pertains to the life of nature, in respect of which all were conformed to Christ. Hence all will rise again to immortal life; but in the saints who were conformed to Christ by grace, there will be conformity as to things pertaining to glory.

Article 2. Whether the sound of the trumpet will be the cause of our resurrection?

Objection 1. It would seem that the sound of the trumpet will not be the cause of our resurrection. For the Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv): "Thou must believe that the resurrection will take place by God's will, power, and nod." Therefore since these are a sufficient cause of our resurrection, we ought not to assign the sound of the trumpet as a cause thereof.

Objection 2. Further, it is useless to make sounds to one who cannot hear. But the dead will not have hearing. Therefore it is unfitting to make a sound to arouse them.

Objection 3. Further, if any sound is the cause of the resurrection, this will only be by a power given by God to the sound: wherefore a gloss on Psalm 67:34, "He will give to His voice the voice of power," says: "to arouse our bodies." Now from the moment that a power is given to a thing, though it be given miraculously, the act that ensues is natural, as instanced in the man born blind who, after being restored to sight, saw naturally. Therefore if a sound be the cause of resurrection, the resurrection would be natural: which is false.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Thessalonians 4:15): "The Lord Himself will come down from heaven . . . with the trumpet of God; and the dead who are in Christ shall rise."

Further, it is written (John 5:28) that they "who are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God . . . and (John 5:25) they that hear shall live." Now this voice is called the trumpet, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 43). Therefore, etc.

I answer that, Cause and effect must needs in some way be united together, since mover and moved, maker and made, are simultaneous (Phys. vii, 2). Now Christ rising again is the univocal cause of our resurrection: wherefore at the resurrection of bodies, it behooves Christ to work the resurrection at the giving of some common bodily sign. According to some this sign will be literally Christ's voice commanding the resurrection, even as He commanded the sea and the storm ceased (Matthew 8:26). Others say that this sign will be nothing else than the manifest appearance of the Son of God in the world, according to the words of Matthew 24:27: "As lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." These rely on the authority of Gregory [Moral. xxxi, as quoted by St. Albert the Great, Sentent. iv, D, 42, 4] who says that "the sound of the trumpet is nothing else but the Son appearing to the world as judge." According to this, the visible presence of the Son of God is called His voice, because as soon as He appears all nature will obey His command in restoring human bodies: hence He is described as coming "with commandment" (1 Thessalonians 4:15). In this way His appearing, in so far as it has the force of a command, is called His voice: which voice, whatever it be, is sometimes called a cry [Matthew 25:6, as of a crier summoning to judgment; sometimes the sound of a trumpet [1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, either on account of its distinctness, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 43), or as being in keeping with the use of the trumpet in the Old Testament: for by the trumpet they were summoned to the council, stirred to the battle, and called to the feast; and those who rise again will be summoned to the council of judgment, to the battle in which "the world shall fight . . . against the unwise" (Wisdom 5:21), and to the feast of everlasting solemnity.

Reply to Objection 1. In those words the Damascene touches on three things respecting the material cause of the resurrection: to wit, the Divine will which commands, the power which executes, and the ease of execution, when he adds "bidding," in resemblance to our own affairs: since it is very easy for us to do what is done at once at our word. But the ease is much more evident, if before we say a word, our servants execute our will at once at the first sign of our will, which sign is called a nod: and this nod is a kind of cause of that execution, in so far as others are led thereby to accomplish our will. And the Divine nod, at which the resurrection will take place, is nothing but the sign given by God, which all nature will obey by concurring in the resurrection of the dead. This sign is the same as the sound of the trumpet, as explained above.

Reply to Objection 2. As the forms of the Sacrament have the power to sanctify, not through being heard, but through being spoken: so this sound, whatever it be, will have an instrumental efficacy of resuscitation, not through being perceived, but through being uttered. Even so a sound by the pulsation of the air arouses the sleeper, by loosing the organ of perception, and not because it is known: since judgment about the sound that reaches the ears is subsequent to the awakening and is not its cause.

Reply to Objection 3. This argument would avail, if the power given to that sound were a complete being in nature: because then that which would proceed therefrom would have for principle a power already rendered natural. But this power is not of that kind but such as we have ascribed above to the forms of the Sacraments (Sent. iv, D, 1; I, 62, 1,4).

Article 3. Whether the angels will do anything towards the resurrection?

Objection 1. It would seem that the angels will do nothing at all towards the resurrection. For raising the dead shows a greater power than does begetting men. Now when men are begotten, the soul is not infused into the body by means of the angels. Therefore neither will the resurrection, which is reunion of soul and body, be wrought by the ministry of the angels.

Objection 2. Further, if this is to be ascribed to the instrumentality of any angels at all, it would seem especially referable to the virtues, to whom it belongs to work miracles. Yet it is referred, not to them, but to the archangels, according to the text (Sent. iv, D, 43). Therefore the resurrection will not be wrought by the ministry of the angels.

On the contrary, It is stated (1 Thessalonians 4:15) that "the Lord . . . shall come down from heaven . . . with the voice of an archangel . . . and the dead shall rise again." Therefore the resurrection of the dead will be accomplished by the angelic ministry.

I answer that, According to Augustine (De Trin. iii, 4) "just as the grosser and inferior bodies are ruled in a certain order by the more subtle and more powerful bodies, so are all bodies ruled by God by the rational spirit of life": and Gregory speaks in the same sense (Dial. iv, 6). Consequently in all God's bodily works, He employs the ministry of the angels. Now in the resurrection there is something pertaining to the transmutation of the bodies, to wit the gathering together of the mortal remains and the disposal thereof for the restoration of the human body; wherefore in this respect God will employ the ministry of the angels in the resurrection. But the soul, even as it is immediately created by God, so will it be reunited to the body immediately by God without any operation of the angels: and in like manner He Himself will glorify the body without the ministry of the angels, just as He immediately glorifies man's soul. This ministry of the angels is called their voice, according to one explanation given in the text (Sent. iv, D, 43).

Hence the Reply to the First Objection is evident from what has been said.

Reply to Objection 2. This ministry will be exercised chiefly by one Archangel, namely Michael, who is the prince of the Church as he was of the Synagogue (Daniel 10:13-21). Yet he will act under the influence of the Virtues and the other higher orders: so that what he shall do, the higher orders will, in a way, do also. In like manner the lower angels will co-operate with him as to the resurrection of each individual to whose guardianship they were appointed: so that this voice can be ascribed either to one or to many angels.

The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ


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