The word corruption has two meanings. For it signifies all the human sufferings, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, the piercing with nails, death, that is, the separation of soul and body, and so forth. In this sense we say that our Lord’s body was subject to corruption.
For He voluntarily accepted all these things. But corruption means also the complete resolution of the body into its constituent elements, and its utter disappearance, which is spoken of by many preferably as destruction. The body of our Lord did not experience this form of corruption, as the prophet David says, For Thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption.
Wherefore to say, with that foolish Julianus and Gaianus, that our Lord’s body was incorruptible, in the first sense of the word, before His resurrection is impious. For if it were incorruptible it was not really, but only apparently, of the same essence as ours, and what the Gospel tells us happened, viz. the hunger, the thirst, the nails, the wound in His side, the death, did not actually occur. But if they only apparently happened, then the mystery of the dispensation is an imposture and a sham, and He became man only in appearance, and not in actual fact, and we are saved only in appearance, and not in actual fact. But God forbid, and may those who so say have no part in the salvation. But we have obtained and shall obtain the true salvation. But in the second meaning of the word “corruption,” we confess that our Lord’s body is incorruptible, that is, indestructible, for such is the tradition of the inspired Fathers. Indeed, after the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, we say that our Lord’s body is incorruptible even in the first sense of the word. For our Lord by His own body bestowed the gifts both of resurrection and of subsequent incorruption even on our own body, He Himself having become to us the firstfruits both of resurrection and incorruption, and of passionlessness. For as the divine Apostle says, This corruptible must put an incorruption.
CHAPTER XXVIII. Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Books III-IV by Saint John of Damascus
Taken from “The Early Church Fathers and Other Works” originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/IX, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.