25.I am the resurrection and the life. Christ first declares that he is the resurrection and the life, and then he explains, separately and distinctly, each clause of this sentence. His first statement is, that he is the resurrection, because the restoration from death to life naturally comes before the state of life. Now the whole human race is plunged in death; and, therefore, no man will be a partaker of life until he is risen from the dead. Thus Christ shows that he is the commencement of life, and he afterwards adds, that the continuance of life is also a work of his grace. That he is speaking about spiritual life, is plainly shown by the exposition which immediately follows,
He who believeth in me, though, he were dead, shall live. Why then is Christ the resurrection ? Because by his Spirit he regenerates the children of Adam, who had been alienated from God by sin, so that they begin to live a new life. On this subject, I have spoken more fully under Joh_5:21 and 24; (318) and Paul is an excellent interpreter of this passage, (Eph_2:5, and Eph_5:8.) Away now with those who idly talk that men are prepared for receiving the grace of God by the movement of nature. They might as well say that the dead walk. For that men live and breathe, and are endued with sense, understanding, and will, all this tends to their destruction, because there is no part or faculty of the soul that is not corrupted and turned aside from what is right. Thus it is that death everywhere holds dominion, for the death of the soul is nothing else than its being estranged and turned aside from God. (319) Accordingly, they who believe in Christ, though they were formerly dead, begin to live, because faith is a spiritual resurrection of the soul, and — so to speak — animates the soul itself that it may live to God; according to that passage,
The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who hear shall live
This is truly a remarkable commendation of faith, that it conveys to us the life of Christ, and thus frees us from death.
(318) See pp. 200 and 204 of this volume.
(319) “N’ autre chose qu’ estrange et detourne de Dieu.”