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Home > Summa Theologiae > Supplement > Question 86

Question 86. The conditions under which the bodies of the damned will rise again

  1. Will the bodies of the damned rise again with their deformities?
  2. Will their bodies be corruptible?
  3. Will they be impassible?

Article 1. Whether the bodies of the damned will rise again with their deformities?

Objection 1. It would seem that the bodies of the damned will rise again with their deformities. For that which was appointed as a punishment for sin should not cease except the sin be forgiven. Now the lack of limbs that results from mutilation, as well as all other bodily deformities, are appointed as punishments for sin. Therefore these deformities will not be taken away from the damned, seeing that they will not have received the forgiveness of their sins.

Objection 2. Further, just as the saints will rise again to final happiness, so the wicked will rise again to final unhappiness. Now when the saints rise again nothing will be taken from them that can pertain to their perfection, therefore nothing pertaining to the defect or unhappiness of the wicked will be taken from them at the resurrection. But such are their deformities. Therefore, etc.

Objection 3. Further, just as deformity is a defect of the passible body, so is slowness of movement. Now slowness of movement will not be taken from the bodies of the damned at the resurrection, since their bodies will not be agile. Therefore for the same reason neither will their deformity be taken away.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Corinthians 15:52): "The dead shall rise again incorruptible"; where a gloss says: "The dead, i.e. sinners, or all the dead in general shall rise again incorruptible, i.e. without the loss of any limbs." Therefore the wicked will rise again without their deformities.

Further, there will be nothing in the damned to lessen the sense of pain. But sickness hinders the sense of pain by weakening the organ of sense, and in like manner the lack of a limb would prevent pain from affecting the whole body. Therefore the damned will rise again without these defects.

I answer that, Deformity in the human body is of two kinds. One arises from the lack of a limb: thus we say that a mutilated person is deformed, because he lacks due proportion of the parts to the whole. Deformities of this kind, without any doubt, will not be in the bodies of the damned, since all bodies of both wicked and good will rise again whole. Another deformity arises from the undue disposition of the parts, by reason of undue quantity, quality, or place—which deformity is, moreover, incompatible with due proportion of parts to whole. Concerning these deformities and like defects such as fevers and similar ailments which sometimes result in deformity, Augustine remained undecided and doubtful (Enchiridion xcii) as the Master remarks (Sent. iv, D, 44). Among modern masters, however, there are two opinions on this point. For some say that such like deformities and defects will remain in the bodies of the damned, because they consider that those who are damned are sentenced to utmost unhappiness wherefrom no affliction should be rebated. But this would seem unreasonable. For in the restoration of the rising body we look to its natural perfection rather than to its previous condition: wherefore those who die under perfect age will rise again in the stature of youth, as stated above (Supplement:81:1). Consequently those who had natural defects in the body, or deformities resulting therefrom, will be restored without those defects or deformities at the resurrection, unless the demerit of sin prevent; and so if a person rise again with such defects and deformities, this will be for his punishment. Now the mode of punishment is according to the measure of guilt. And a sinner who is about to be damned may be burdened with less grievous sins and yet have deformities and defects which one who is about to be damned has not, while burdened with more grievous sins. Wherefore if he who had deformities in this life rise again with them, while the other who had them not in this life, and therefore, as is clear, will rise again without them, though deserving of greater punishment, the mode of the punishment would not correspond to the amount of guilt; in fact it would seem that a man is more punished on account of the pains which he suffered in this world; which is absurd.

Hence others say with more reason, that He Who fashioned nature will wholly restore the body's nature at the resurrection. Wherefore whatever defect or deformity was in the body through corruption, or weakness of nature or of natural principles (for instance fever, purblindness, and so forth) will be entirely done away at the resurrection: whereas those defects in the human body which are the natural result of its natural principles, such as heaviness, passibility, and the like, will be in the bodies of the damned, while they will be removed from the bodies of the elect by the glory of the resurrection.

Reply to Objection 1. Since in every tribunal punishment is inflicted according to the jurisdiction of the tribunal, the punishments which in this temporal life are inflicted for some particular sin are themselves temporal, and extend not beyond the term of this life. Hence although the damned are not pardoned their sins, it does not follow that there they will undergo the same punishments as they have in this world: but the Divine justice demands that there they shall suffer more severe punishment for eternity.

Reply to Objection 2. There is no parity between the good and the wicked, because a thing can be altogether good, but not altogether evil. Hence the final happiness of the saints requires that they should be altogether exempt from all evil; whereas the final unhappiness of the wicked will not exclude all good, because "if a thing be wholly evil it destroys itself," as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 5). Hence it is necessary for the good of their nature to underlie the unhappiness of the damned, which good is the work of their perfect Creator, Who will restore that same nature to the perfection of its species.

Reply to Objection 3. Slowness of movement is one of those defects which are the natural result of the principles of the human body; but deformity is not, and consequently the comparison fails.

Article 2. Whether the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible?

Objection 1. It would seem that the bodies of the damned will be corruptible. For everything composed of contraries must necessarily be corruptible. Now the bodies of the damned will be composed of the contraries whereof they are composed even now, else they would not be the same, neither specifically nor, in consequence, numerically. Therefore they will be corruptible.

Objection 2. Further, if the bodies of the damned will not be corruptible, this will be due either to nature, or to grace, or to glory. But it will not be by nature, since they will be of the same nature as now; nor will it be by grace or glory, since they will lack these things altogether. Therefore they will be corruptible.

Objection 3. Further, it would seem inconsistent to withdraw the greatest of punishments from those who are in the highest degree of unhappiness. Now death is the greatest of punishments, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. iii, 6). Therefore death should not be withdrawn from the damned, since they are in the highest degree of unhappiness. Therefore their bodies will be corruptible.

On the contrary, It is written (Apocalypse 9:6): "In those days men shall seek death, and shall not find it, and they shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them."

Further, the damned will be punished with an everlasting punishment both in soul and body (Matthew 25:46): "These shall go into everlasting punishment." But this would not be possible if their bodies were corruptible. Therefore their bodies will be incorruptible.

I answer that, Since in every movement there must needs be a principle of movement, movement or change may be withdrawn from a movable in two ways: first through absence of a principle of movement, secondly through an obstacle to the principle of movement. Now corruption is a kind of change: and consequently a body which is corruptible on account of the nature of its principles may be rendered incorruptible in two ways. First by the total removal of the principle which leads to corruption, and in this way the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible. For since the heaven is the first principle of alteration in virtue of its local movement, and all other secondary agents act in virtue thereof and as though moved thereby, it follows that at the cessation of the heavenly movement there is no longer any agent that can change the body by altering it from its natural property. Wherefore after the resurrection, and the cessation of the heavenly movement, there will be no quality capable of altering the human body from its natural quality. Now corruption, like generation, is the term of alteration. Hence the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible, and this will serve the purpose of Divine justice, since living for ever they will be punished for ever. This is in keeping with the demands of Divine justice, as we shall state further on (Article 3), even as now the corruptibility of bodies serves the purpose of Divine providence, by which through the corruption of one thing another is generated.

Secondly, this happens through the principle of corruption being hindered, and in this way the body of Adam was incorruptible, because the conflicting qualities that exist in man's body were withheld by the grace of innocence from conducing to the body's dissolution: and much more will they be withheld in the glorified bodies, which will be wholly subject to the spirit. Thus after the general resurrection the two aforesaid modes of incorruptibility will be united together in the bodies of the blessed.

Reply to Objection 1. The contraries of which bodies are composed are conducive to corruption as secondary principles. For the first active principle thereof is the heavenly movement: wherefore given the movement of the heaven, it is necessary for a body composed of contraries to be corrupted unless some more powerful cause prevent it: whereas if the heavenly movement be withdrawn, the contraries of which a body is composed do not suffice to cause corruption, even in accordance with nature, as explained above. But the philosophers were ignorant of a cessation in the heavenly movement; and consequently they held that a body composed of contraries is without fail corrupted in accordance with nature.

Reply to Objection 2. This incorruptibility will result from nature, not as though there were some principle of incorruption in the bodies of the damned, but on account of the cessation of the active principle of corruption, as shown above.

Reply to Objection 3. Although death is simply the greatest of punishments, yet nothing prevents death conducing, in a certain respect, to a cessation of punishments; and consequently the removal of death may contribute to the increase of punishment. For as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 9), "Life is pleasant to all, for all desire to be . . . But we must not apply this to a wicked or corrupt life, nor one passed in sorrow." Accordingly just as life is simply pleasant, but not the life that is passed in sorrows, so too death, which is the privation of life, is painful simply, and the greatest of punishments, inasmuch as it deprives one of the primary good, namely being, with which other things are withdrawn. But in so far as it deprives one of a wicked life, and of such as is passed in sorrow, it is a remedy for pains, since it puts an end to them. and consequently the withdrawal of death leads to the increase of punishments by making them everlasting. If however we say that death is penal by reason of the bodily pain which the dying feel, without doubt the damned will continue to feel a far greater pain: wherefore they are said to be in "everlasting death," according to the Psalm (48:15): "Death shall feed upon them."

Article 3. Whether the bodies of the damned will be impassible?

Objection 1. It would seem that the bodies of the damned will be impassible. For, according to the Philosopher (Topic. vi), "increase of passion results in loss of substance." Now "if a finite thing be continually lessened, it must needs at length be done away" (Phys. i, 4). Therefore if the bodies of the damned will be passible, and will be ever suffering, they will at length be done away and corrupted: and this has been shown to be false (Article 2). Therefore they will be impassible.

Objection 2. Further, every agent likens the patient to itself. If then the bodies of the damned are passive to the fire the fire will liken them to itself. Now fire does not consume bodies except in so far as in likening them to itself it disintegrates them. Therefore if the bodies of the damned will be passible they will at length be consumed by the fire, and thus the same conclusion follows as before.

Objection 3. Further, those animals, for instance the salamander, which are said to remain living in fire without being destroyed, are not distressed by the fire: because an animal is not distressed by bodily pain, unless the body in some way is hurt thereby. If therefore the bodies of the damned can, like the aforesaid animals, remain in the fire without being corrupted, as Augustine asserts (De Civ. Dei xxi, 2,4), it would seem that they will suffer no distress there: which would not be the case unless their bodies were impassible. Therefore, etc.

Objection 4. Further, if the bodies of the damned be passible, the pain resulting from their suffering, seemingly, will surpass all present bodily pain, even as the joy of the saints will surpass all present joy. Now in this life it sometimes happens that the soul is severed from the body through excess of pain. Much more therefore if those bodies will be passible, the souls will be separate from the bodies through excess of pain, and thus those bodies will be corrupted: which is false. Therefore those bodies will be impassible.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Corinthians 15:52): "And we shall be changed": and a gloss says: "We—the good alone—will be changed with the unchangeableness and impassibility of glory."

Further, even as the body co-operates with the soul in merit, so does it co-operate in sin. Now on account of the former co-operation not only the soul but also the body will be rewarded after the resurrection. Therefore in like manner the bodies of the damned will be punished; which would not be the case were they impassible. Therefore they will be passible.

I answer that, The principal cause of the bodies of the damned not being consumed by fire will be the Divine justice by which their bodies will be consigned to everlasting punishment. Now the Divine justice is served also by the natural disposition, whether on the part of the passive body or on the part of the active causes; for since passiveness is a kind of receptiveness, there are two kinds of passion, corresponding to two ways in which one thing is receptive of another. For a form may be received into a subject materially according to its natural being, just as the air receives heat from fire materially; and corresponding to this manner of reception there is a kind of passion which we call "passion of nature." In another way one thing is received into another spiritually by way of an "intention," just as the likeness of whiteness is received into the air and in the pupil: this reception is like that whereby the soul receives the likeness of things: wherefore corresponding to this mode of reception is another mode of passion which we call "passion of the soul." Since therefore after the resurrection and the cessation of the heavenly movement it will be impossible for a body to be altered by its natural quality, as stated above (Article 2), it will not be possible for any body to be passive with a passion of nature. Consequently as regards this mode of passion the bodies of the damned will be impassible even as they will be incorruptible. Yet after the heaven has ceased to move, there will still remain the passion which is after the manner of the soul, since the air will both receive light from the sun, and will convey the variety of colors to the sight. Wherefore in respect of this mode of passion the bodies of the damned will be passible. But the glorified bodies, albeit they receive something, and are in a manner patient to sensation, will nevertheless not be passive, since they will receive nothing to distress or hurt them, as will the bodies of the damned, which for this reason are said to be passible.

Reply to Objection 1. The Philosopher is speaking of the passion whereby the patient is changed from its natural disposition. But this kind of passion will not be in the bodies of the damned, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 2. The likeness of the agent is in the patient in two ways. First, in the same way as in the agent, and thus it is in all univocal agents, for instance a thing that is hot makes another thing hot, and fire generates fire. Secondly, otherwise than in the agent, and thus it is in all equivocal agents. In these it happens sometimes that a form which is in the agent spiritually is received into the patient materially: thus the form of the house built by the craftsman is materially in itself, but spiritually in the mind of the craftsman. On the other hand, sometimes it is in the agent materially, but is received into the patient spiritually: thus whiteness is materially on the wall wherein it is received, whereas it is spiritually in the pupil and in the transferring medium. And so it is in the case at issue, because the species which is in the fire materially is received spiritually into the bodies of the damned; thus it is that the fire will assimilate the bodies of the damned to itself, without consuming them withal.

Reply to Objection 3. According to the Philosopher (De Prop. Element.), "no animal can live in fire." Galen also (De simp. medic.) says "that there is no body which at length is not consumed by fire"; although sometimes certain bodies may remain in fire without hurt, such as ebony. The instance of the salamander is not altogether apposite, since it cannot remain in the fire without being at last consumed, as do the bodies of the damned in hell. Nor does it follow that because the bodies of the damned suffer no corruption from the fire, they therefore are not tormented by the fire, because the sensible object has a natural aptitude to please or displease the senses, not only as regards its natural action of stimulating or injuring the organ, but also as regards its spiritual action: since when the sensible object is duly proportionate to the sense, it pleases, whereas the contrary is the result when it is in excess or defect. Hence subdued colors and harmonious sounds are pleasing, whereas discordant sounds displease the hearing.

Reply to Objection 4. Pain does not sever the soul from the body, in so far as it is confined to a power of the soul which feels the pain, but in so far as the passion of the soul leads to the body being changed from its natural disposition. Thus it is that we see that through anger the body becomes heated, and through fear, chilled: whereas after the resurrection it will be impossible for the body to be changed from its natural disposition, as stated above (Article 2). Consequently, however great the pain will be, it will not sever the body from the soul.

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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