The Resurrection of Christ

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Lord, God, Redeemer and Our Only True Savior,

Priest: Christ is Risen! (3)

Faithful: Truly He is Risen! (3)

Priest: Glory to His Third Day Resurrection!

Faithful: (reply) We bow down to His Third-Day Resurrection!

Priest: Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling upon Death, and has bestowed Life to those in the tombs.

Faithful: (repeat it)


By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The Resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in history. It is what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. The other religions have mortal leaders, while the Head of the Church is the Risen Christ. The Resurrection of Christ is the renewal of human nature, the recreation of the human race, the living eschatological reality. When we speak of the Resurrection, we do not separate it from the Cross, for the Cross and the Resurrection are the two poles of the redemptive experience, just as we pray in the Church, "through the Cross is joy come into all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us sing His Resurrection", or just as we sing "We venerate Thy Cross, O Master: and we glorify Thy Holy Resurrection".

In the Church we constantly speak of Christ's Resurrection, which has great significance for the life of the believer. We do not believe in social revolutions, because the greatest good in the world came from the Resurrection and not from any human social revolution. Even if we correlate the Resurrection with true revolution, we find ourselves in the truth, from the point of view that through Christ's Resurrection man returned to his original position and rose still higher. The word for revolution is derived from a verb which means to come back to the former position. The rectification, the restoration of man took place through the Resurrection of Christ.

The Apostle Paul clearly proclaimed:"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile" (1 Corinthians 15:17). The truth and power of the faith is due to the shining fact of the Resurrection of Christ. Without this the Christians are "of all men the most pitiable" (1 Cor. 15:19).

The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated by the Church from the moment of His descent into Hades, where He freed the souls of the righteous of the Old Testament from the power of death and the devil. It is in this way that our Church celebrates it. In the liturgical texts it is seen clearly that the celebration of the Resurrection begins from Holy and Great Friday, as we see in the Holy and Great Saturday service of matins, in which the funeral procession takes place. And the homilies of the Fathers on Holy and Great Friday are actually homilies of Resurrection and victory.

The word 'Hades' in the New Testament corresponds to the Hebrew word 'Scheol', which is interpreted as a cave, a chasm, an abyss, and points to the dark and boundless kingdom of the dead, that is to say, the place of the spirits of the dead...In the Old Testament it is considered as a place in the lowest part of earth, but his must be understood symbolically, in accordance with the concepts of that time, that the earth is in the middle, heaven above the earth and Hades in the subterranean regions or under the earth. Given that the souls are not material, but immaterial, we cannot regard Hades as a particular place.

So the image of Hades is used symbolically by Holy Scripture to point to the power of death and the devil. The Apostle Paul's words are characteristic: "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise share in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Therefore in the Orthodox Tradition Hades is not simply a particular place, but the dominion of death and the devil. We say that the souls of those people who are in the power of the devil and death are in Hades. It is in this sense that we must regard the Church's teaching about the descent of Christ into Hell, that is, that Christ entered into the realm of death, accepted to die, whereupon by the power of His death he conquered death, made it completely powerless and weak, and gave every person the possibility, by His power and authority, to escape the dominion, the authority and power of death and the devil.

We have a witness of the descent of Christ into Hades from the General Epistle of the Apostle Peter, in which it says: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:18-19). Here it can be seen clearly that Christ, with His Divinity, descended into the prison of the spirits, of their souls, that is, and preached repentance. Another place in the same letter says the same: "For this reason the gospel was preached also t those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6).

In the Holy Tradition of the Church much is said about the descent of Christ into Hades in the sense that He came down into the realm and kingdom of death. The troparia sung at Pascha vespers which begin with the phrase "today Hades groans and cries aloud" are shocking. They present Hades calling out with groaning. Among other things it is said that his authority was destroyed, for Christ released all those whom he had held for centuries. These words are characteristic: "my dominion has been swallowed up; the Shepherd has been crucified and Him has raised Adam. I am deprived of those whom once I ruled; in my strength I devoured them, but now I have cast them forth. He who was crucified has emptied the tombs; the power of death has no more strength".

Christ descended into Hades in order to fill all things with the light of His Divinity. The Apostle Paul presents such a teaching when he says: Now this, 'He ascended' what does it mean but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is also the one who ascended far above the heavens, that he might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:9-10). Thus Christ's descent even into the lowest parts of the earth took place in order that all things should be filled with His Light, and essentially also to destroy the power of death.

Christ rose in the morning hours of Sunday. We don't not know the actual time of His Resurrection, since no one saw him at that time, but it was certified when the Myrrh-bearing women came to the tomb to anoint Christ's body with perfumes. Thus Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day of Christ's resurrection. If Christ conquered the power of death on Saturday, on Sunday His Resurrection was certified to all, that He was the conqueror of death and the devil.

The day of Sunday in the so-called seven-day cycle is the first day from which the week is counted, but also the eighth, that is to say after the Sabbath. In the Old Testament it is regarded as an important day, on the one hand because it is the first day of the creation of the world, on which light came into being, and on the other hand because it is also considered holy, according to the Commandment: "For seven days you shall offer a whole burnt offering to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer a whole burnt offering to the Lord (Lev. 23:36).

Moses does not call the first day first, he calls it one. And, interpreting it, Saint Basil the Great says that the holy Sunday on which Christ rose He calls one day in order to direct our understanding towards the eternal life to come. Sunday is now a type of the coming eighth age, then it will itself be the eighth age. If one thinks that the weekly cycle symbolizes the whole time of the life of mankind and Sunday is a type of the coming eighth are, then it is the one and only day. Saint Basil the Great calls the Sunday "beginning of the days", "coeval with light."

According to Saint Gregory Palamas, Sunday is called eighth day because on that day Christ's Resurrection took place, which is the eighth raising in history. Three raising of the dead took place in the Old Testament (one through the Prophet Elijah and two through Prophet Elisha), and four raisings of the dead took place in the New Testament through Christ (the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, Lazarus, and the dead on Great Friday). The greatest, the eighth resurrection, is the Resurrection of Christ, but also the first with regard to the awaited resurrection of all the dead.

Light came into being on Sunday, the first day of creation. It was on Sunday, the first day of the re-creation, that the Light of the Resurrection appeared, which is the very Light of the Transfiguration and Pentecost. Christ's human nature cast off mortality and corruptibility.

Moreover, Sunday is called a holy day because all the great events of the Lord happened on it. The Holy Fathers say that the Annunciation of the Theotokos, the Nativity of Christ and the Resurrection, the great, basic happenings of the Lord, took place on Sunday. But also the Second Coming of Christ and of course the Resurrection of the dead will happen on this day. (St. Peter of Damascus). This is why the Christians attach great importance and weight to it and try to sanctify it, because Christ's sudden coming will take place then.

For all these reason Saint John of Damascos celebrates on the feast of Pascha: "This is the chosen and holy Day, the one King and Lord of Sabbaths, the Feast of Feasts, and the Triumph of Triumphs: Wherein let us bless Christ forevermore!"

It is moving to think that every Sunday the Church celebrates Christ's Resurrection with its wonderful troparia. Thus in the annual Pascha there is also the weekly Pascha, the so called little Pascha, the Light-bringing day of Sunday.



With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George