26. After accomplishing the “salvation of the world” through his death on the cross, He did not allow his body to “linger” in the grave but raised it up on the third day, “impassible and incorruptible, the pledge and token of His victory.” He could have risen sooner, but this might have cast doubt on the reality of his death. He could have waited longer, but some might have forgotten, and so doubted that it was the same body as died on the cross. Rather, with news of his death “still ringing in [people’s] ears” he arose in the same body, showing his power over death.
27. Prior to Christ’s resurrection, “even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all who believe on Christ tread it underfoot as nothing.” “Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Saviour on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, “O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?”
28. As additional proof of Christ’s victory over death, Athanasius points to martyrs, even boys and girls, who did not fear the approach of death because of faith in the cross of Christ. Athanasius challenges the unbeliever “to embrace the faith of Christ” and “come to His teaching.” When he does this, “he will see how impotent death is and how completely conquered.”
29. Because of “the soujourn of the Saviour and the death and resurrection of His body,” Christ has become the “Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power.” His disciples’ lack of fear of death stands as a daily “monument” attesting to his resurrection. “Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ death was destroyed, and the corruption that goes with it resolved and brought to end.”
30. As additional proof of the resurrection, Athanasius points to those “all over the world” who are accepting the Faith and becoming obedient to Christ’s teaching. Athanasius’s logic runs as follows, “Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living.” Repentant sinners, the advance of the Gospel– “This is the work of One Who lives, not of one dead; and, more than that, it is the work of God.”
31. Athanasius then challenges that, “those who disbelieve in the resurrection have no support in facts, if their gods and evil spirits do not drive away the supposedly dead Christ.” Rather than drive Him away, they “become dead at Christ’s presence.” This is to say that multitudes are turning from pagan religions to Christ when he is preached to them. “Shall we call Christ dead, Who effects all this?” “No room for doubt remains, therefore, concerning the resurrection of His body.”
32. While this argument may not convince some, it is consistent with the fact that the invisible God is known by his works. To reject necessarily this kind of argument, Athanasius argues, would require one also to reject the laws of nature [which are also invisible, but have a clearly visible ‘effect’ in the world]. “[I]t is manifest, then, and let none presume to doubt it, that the Saviour has raised His own body, and that He is very Son of God, having His being from God as from a Father, Whose Word and Wisdom and Whose Power He is.”