Today, there is a great silence on earth — a great silence and a great stillness. There is a great silence because the king is sleeping. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh, and he has raised up all who have fallen asleep ever since the beginning of the world. God has appeared in the flesh, and Hades has swallowed him. God will sleep for a short time, and then raise those who are in Hades. […] He has gone to search out Adam, our first father, as if he were a lost sheep. Earnestly longing to visit those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, he – who is both their God and the son of Eve – has gone to liberate Adam from his bonds, and Eve who is held captive along with him. […] “I am your God. For your sake I have become your son[; …] I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead! Arise, my seed! Arise, my form [morphe], who has been made in my image [eikon] !”
-unknown Author, quoted in The Christian Theology Reader (ed. Alister McGrath), 292.
“I have paid the debt, and it is right that those who were imprisoned on account of that debt should now be set free to enjoy their former liberty and return to their own homeland.”
Therefore the Lord takes upon himself the curse that lay on all humanity and removes it by a death which was not required by justice. He himself was not under the curse […] but he endured the death of sinners; and he contends in judgment with the vengeful foe of all our human nature, becoming the champion and advocate of our nature.
He says, with justice, to our harsh tyrant: “You are trapped, you villain, and ensnared in your own nets. […] Why have you nailed my body to the cross and handed me over to death? What kind of sin have you found in me? What breach of the law did you detect? […] If the smallest fault is found in me, you would have every right to hold me, in that death is the punishment of sinners. But if you find nothing in me which God’s law forbids, but rather everything which it demands, I will not allow you to hold me wrongfully.
What is more, I will open the prison of death for others also: and I will confine you there alone, for transgressing the law of God. […] And since you have taken one prisoner unjustly, you will be deprived of all those who are in fact justly subject to you. Since you have eaten what was not to be eaten, you will vomit all that you have swallowed. […] I have paid the debt, and it is right that those who were imprisoned on account of that debt should now be set free to enjoy their former liberty and return to their own homeland.”
With those words the Lord raised his own body, and sowed in human nature the hope of resurrection, giving the resurrection of his own body to humanity as a guarantee. Let no one suppose that this is an idle tale. We have been taught from the holy Gospels and the apostolic teachings that this is indeed a fact. We have heard the Lord himself say: “The ruler of this world is coming, and he finds nothing in me” (John 14: 30) […] and in another place: “Now is the judgment of this world: now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12: 31).
-Theodoret of Cyrrhus, quoted in The Christian Theology Reader (ed. Alister McGrath), 292-93.