Creation Corruptible By Nature

I have written at some length on this subject elsewhere. The point of this essay is to be brief and to present two basic arguments to support my contention.


First, for those who are not overwhelmed by the teaching of Augustine who taught the Western world to think in terms of a “fallen creation”, the result of the “Fall of Adam” from original righteousness, proper exegesis of Romans 8:18-25 makes it clear that Paul saw creation as being naturally, that is, created, corruptible by God (cf. Mt. 6:19f.; 1 Pet. 1:3f., etc.). Not only does the apostle fail to mention sin but he also clearly contrasts the present temporal age of suffering, which has both a beginning and an end, with the glory of the eternal age to come (v.18). Having already contrasted the natural corruptibility of the creature whose origin is the earth with the Creator in Romans 1:23,25 he is clearly at one with the author of Hebrews who is quite unequivocal in contrasting the eternal God with his temporal creation (Heb. 1:10-12, cf. Gen.1:1; 8:22; Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:6-8; 51:6,8; 54:10; Mt. 24:35, etc.).


Second, the human body of flesh, which derives from the corruptible earth, is necessarily mortal and corruptible like the animal world in general (cf. Eccl. 3:19f.) quite apart from sin. This inference is proved beyond reasonable doubt by the sinless Jesus who was born of woman, clearly underwent normal human development (Luke 2:50ff.), daily grew older (Luke 2:52; John 8:57) and was headed for final physical dissolution (2 Cor. 4:16; Heb. 8:13). (See further note below.) The fact that he experienced death but not corruption does nothing to undermine this inference; it simply illustrates his victory over them. On the one hand, Jesus was raised from the dead because he alone had kept the law which promised life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.). He did not pay a penalty for his own sins, since he did not commit any (1 Pet. 2:22), but for those of his people. Having died for them and been raised he was no longer subject to death (Rom. 6:9). On the other hand, he did not undergo corruption even though he was still flesh (Luke 24:39, etc.). This being so, his ascension transformation (John 20:17) was a paramount necessity. Only in heaven could he reign forever on David’s throne (Luke 1:32f.) as the precursor of the saints still alive at the end of the world (John 20:17; 1 Cor. 15:50ff.; Phil. 3:21).


This highlights the basic biblical distinction between the old and new covenants. In essence, though they overlap, the old relates to this temporal world, the new to the eternal world to come (cf. Luke 20:34-36). The law, being provisional (2 Cor. 3), is effective only on this transient earth (Mt. 5:18; Rom. 7:1). It is in strong contrast with the word of the oath which stands forever (Mt. 24:35, cf. Isa. 51:6; 54:10, etc.).


God Incarnate Word (Jesus)
Eternal Temporal (a little while, Heb. 2:7)
No beginning or end (Isa. 57:15, etc.) Beginning and end (Luke 1:31, cf. Heb. 7:3)
Uncreated Created (Heb. 10:5-7)
Immortal (1 Tim. 6:16) Mortal (1 Pet. 3:18)
Incorruptible (Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17) Corruptible (John 8:57, cf. Heb. 1:11)
Unchangeable (immortal and incorruptible, cf. Heb. 1:12) Changeable (made perfect and underwent
transformation and glorification)
Invisible** Visible (1 John 1:1)
Intangible Tangible (John 20:24-29)
Not temptable (Jas. 1:13) Temptable (Mt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15)
Independent or complete (Acts 17:25) Dependent on Father (John 6:57; 14:28)
Perfect (Mt. 5:48) Perfectible (Luke 2:52; Heb. 2:10; 7:28, etc.)

** As C.J.H.Wright points out, while YHWH, the God of the chosen people, was invisible but audible, idols were visible but dumb (The Mission of God, Nottingham, 2006, p.381). Jesus in the flesh was both visible and audible. We must conclude from this that though his audible words were eternal (Mt. 24:35), his visible flesh was temporal and hence corruptible (2 Cor. 4:18, cf. 1 Cor. 15:50). He was incarnate only for a little while (Heb. 2:7,9).