One God, One
The Bible picture of God. The loving Father. The obedient Son. One in Spirit.
Complete text from page 3 in the very first issue of Signs of the Times, June 4, 1874
__In presenting to the public this synopsis
of our faith, we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no
articles of faith, creed, or discipline, aside from the Bible. We do not
put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed
to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief
statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them.
We often find it necessary to meet inquiries on this subject, and sometimes
to correct false statements circulated against us, and to remove erroneous
impressions which have obtained with those who have not had an opportunity
to become acquainted with our faith and practice. Our only object is to
meet this necessity.
|commandments spoken by Jehovah from Sinai, engraven on the
tables of stone, and deposited in the ark, which was in conse-quence called
the "ark of the covenant, or testament;Num 10:33; Heb. 9:4, &c.; that this
law is immutable and perpetual, being a transcript of the tables deposited
in the ark in the true sanctuary on high, which is also, for the same reason,
called the ark of God's testament; for under the sounding of the seventh
trumpet we are told that "the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there
was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." Rev. 11:19.
__ 12. That the fourth commandment of this law requires that we devote the seventh day of each week, commonly called Saturday, to abstinence from our own labor, and to the performance of sacred and religious duties; that this is the only weekly Sabbath known to the Bible, being the day that was set apart before para-dise was lost, Gen. 2:2,3, and which will be observed in paradise restored; Isa. 66:22, 23; that the facts upon which the Sabbath institution is based confine it to the seventh day, as they are not true of any other day; and that the terms, Jewish Sabbath and Christian Sabbath, as applied to the weekly rest-day, are names of human invention, unscriptural in fact, and false in meaning.
__ 13. That, as the man of sin, the papacy, has thought to change times and laws (the laws of God), Dan. 7:25, and has misled almost all Christendom in regard to the fourth commandment, we find a prophecy of a reform in this respect to be wrought among, believers just before the coming of Christ. Isa. 56:1,2; 1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 14:12, &c.
__ 14. That, as the natural or carnal heart is at enmity with God and his law, this enmity can be subdued only by a radical trans-formation of the affections, the exchange of unholy for holy prin-ciples; that this transformation follows repentance and faith, is the special work of the Holy Spirit, and constitutes regeneration or conversion.
__ 15. That, as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to his just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first for justification from our past offenses, and secondly, for grace whereby to render acceptable obedience to his holy law in time to come.
__ 16. That the Spirit of God was promised to manifest itself in the church through certain gifts, enumerated especialy in 1 Cor. 12, and Eph. 4; that these gifts are not designed to supercede, or take the place of, the Bible, which is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, any more than the Bible can take the place of the Holy Spirit; that in specifying the various channels of its opera-tion, that Spirit has simply made provision for its own existence and presence with the people of God to the end of time, to lead to an understanding of that word which it had inspired, to convince of since, and work a transformation in the heart and life; and that those who deny to the Spirit its place and operation do plainly deny that part of the Bible which assigns to it this work and position.
__ 17. That God, in accordance with his uniform dealings with the race, sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; that this work is symbolized by the three messages of Rev. 14, the last one bringing to view the work of reform on the law of God, that his people may acquire a com-plete readiness for that event.
__ 18. That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary (see propo-sition X), synchronizing with the time of the proclamation of the third message, is a time of investigative judgment, first, with reference to the dead, and, at the close of probation, with refer-ence to the living, to determine who of the myriads now sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resur-rection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of transla-tion-points which must be determined before the Lord appears.
__ 19. That the grave, whither we all tend, expressed by the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hades, is a place of darkness in which there is no work, device, wisdom, or knowledge. Ecc. 9:10.
__ 20. That the state to which we are reduced by death is one of silence, inactivity, and entire unconsciousness. Ps. 146:4; Ecc. 9:5,6; Dan. 12:2, &c.
__ 21. That out of this prison house of the grave, mankind are to be brought by a bodily resurrection; the righteous having part in the first resurrection, which takes place at the second advent of Christ; the sicked, in the second resurrection, which takes place a thousand years thereafter. Rev 20:4-6.
__ 22. That at the last trump, the living righteous are to be chang-ed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with the resur-rected righteous are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, so forever to be with the Lord.
__ 23. That these immortalized ones are then taken to Heaven, to the New Jerusalem, the Father's house in which there are many mansions, John 14:1-3, where they reign with Christ a thousand years, judging the world and fallen angels, that is apportioning the punishment to be executed upon them at the close of the one thousand years; Rev. 20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2,3; that during this time the earth lies in a desolate and chaotic condition, Jer. 4:20-27, des-cribed, as in the beginning by the Green term abussos bottomless pit (Septuagint of Gen. 1:2); and that here Satan is confined during the thousand years, Rev. 20:1,2, and here finally destroy-ed; Rev. 20:10; Mal. 4:1; the theater of the ruin he has wrought in the universe, being appropriately made for a time his gloomy prison house, and then the place of his final execution.
__ 24. That at the end of the thousand years, the Lord descends with his people and the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:2, the wicked dead are raised and come up upon the surface of the yet unre-newed earth, and gather about the city, the camp of the saints, Rev. 20:9 and fire comes down from God out of heaven, and devours them. They are then consumed root and branch, Mal. 4:1, becoming as though they had not been. Obad. 15, 16. In this everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, 2 Thess. 1:9, the wicked meet the everlasting punishment threatened against them. Matt. 25:46. This is the perdition of ungodly men, the fire which consumes them being the fire for which "the heavens and the earth which are now" are kept in store, which shall melt even the elements with its intensity, and purge the earth from the deepest stains of the curse of sin. 2 Pet. 3:7-12.
__ 25. That a new heavens and earth shall spring by the power of God from the ashes of the old, to be, with the New Jerusalem for its metropolis and capital, the eternal inheritance of the saints, the place where the righteous shall evermore dwell. 2 Pet. 3:13; Ps. 47:11, 29; Matt. 5:5.
Theological Systems Before the Council of Nicaea
|The Father||The Son||The Spirit|
Reject esternal damnation
|Prophet of God (deny virgin birth)
No pre-existence (Arius)
Adopted by God as His Son
One divine family: two members
Distinct from the Son
|Son of God, begotten in eternity
Worshiped as God in the flesh
Distinct from the Father
|Spirit of Christ|
|Only one God
Same as the Son
|God's Spirit incarnate
Worshiped as God in the flesh
Each person a phase
|One divine family: all one God
Eternal, Father by title only
Distinct from the Son & Spirit
Distinct from the Father & Son
The Unitarian position on the Son is quickly dismissed by Scripture. It denies the divinity of Christ. Binitarians divided over the issue of the begotten Son. Some maintained that He was begotten, not as an event, but as an eternal relationship. Trinitarians required both a co-eternal Son and a separate Holy Spirit person. The gospels present a position that is at least Binitarian, most strongly expressed in John's gospel. But even the synoptics repeatedly identify Jesus as the "Son of God."
|Matt 4:5||Satan challenges Christ's claim "if thou be the Son of God" (Luke 4:3,9)|
|Matt 8:29||Satan's devils testified that Jesus was "thou Son of God" (Luke 4:41)|
|Mark 3:11||Again, the unclean spirits fell down before Jesus saying, "Thou art the Son of God"|
|Matt 14:33||The disciples confessed "of a truth thou art the Son of God"|
|Matt 26:62||The central issue at his trial before the Sanhedrin was whether He was "the Son of God"|
|Luke 22:70||When asked Jesus didn't deny it|
|Matt 27:39||The crowd about the cross mocked, "If thou be the Son of God, come down"|
|Matt 27:40||They confirmed that He had said, "I am the Son of God"|
|Matt 27:54||At His death the centurion confessed, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39)|
|Mark 1:1||Mark entitles his gospel as "Jesus, the Son of God"|
|Mark 5:6||"Son of the most high God"|
|Luke 1:34||Gabriel told Mary that her child of the Holy Spirit "shall be called the Son of God"|
|Luke 1:32||"the Son of the Highest"|
John, however, goes beyond
the title and equates Jesus with the self-existent I AM.and the Comforter.
|John 1:1||Jesus, the Word, "was God"|
|John 1:18||"The only begotten Son" "is in the "bosom of the Father"|
|John 1:34||John the Baptist "bare record that [Jesus] is the Son of God"|
|John 3:17||Jesus told Nicodemus that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son"|
|John 3:18||We must believe in the name of "the only begotten Son of God"|
|John 5:18||The Jews
sought to kill Him…because He said that God was his Father, making himself
equal with God
Not that He was God the Father, but that He was divine
|John 5:25||Jesus foretold the time with "the voice of the Son of God" would raise the dead|
|John 5:26||because the Father "has given to the Son to have life in Himself"|
|John 8:42||He "proceeded forth" from His Father|
|John 9:35||Jesus told the man born blind that He was the Son of God|
|John 10:32||The Jews attempted to stone Jesus for saying, "I and my Father are one…makest thyself God"|
|John 10:36||Jesus equated this with saying, "I am the Son of God" Not that He was the God|
|John 11:4||Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was to die "that the Son of God might be glorified"|
|John 11:27||Martha confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of God"|
|John 16:27||He "came out from God"|
|John 19:7||Jesus was condemned to die "because he made himself the Son of God"|
|1John 1:3||"Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ"|
|1John 1:7||"the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin"|
|1John 3:8||"The Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil"|
|1John 3:23||"We should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ"|
|1John 4:10||"God…loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins"|
|1John 4:15||"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him"|
|1John 5:5||"He that overcomes the world" is "he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God"|
|1John 5:9||"This is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son"|
|1John 5:10||"He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself"|
|1John 5:10||"God gave the record of his Son"|
|1John 5:11||"that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son"|
|1John 5:13||"These things [were] written…that you might believe on the name of the Son of God"|
|1John 5:20||"The Son of God is come and has given us understanding that we might know…the true God"|
|2John 1:3||"Peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father"|
|Acts 3:19||Peter said "the God of Abraham…the God of our fathers has glorified his Son Jesus"|
|Acts 3:26||"God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you"|
|Acts 9:20||Saul (Paul) began preaching "Christ in the synagogues that he is the Son of God"|
|Paul became the strongest proponent of the divine Son of God.|
|Rom 1:3||Jesus Christ our Lord is God's Son|
|Rom 1:4||Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power"|
|Rom 1:9||"God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son"|
|Rom 5:10||"We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son"|
|Rom 8:29||God has predestined us "to be conformed to the image of his Son"|
|2Cor 1:19||"the Son of God, Jesus Christ" was preached by Paul among the Corinthians|
|Gal 1:15,16||"It pleased God…to reveal his Son in me"|
|Gal 2:20||Paul confesses that he lives "by the faith of the Son of God"|
|Gal 4:4||"God sent forth his Son, made of a woman"|
|Gal 4:6||"God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts"|
|Eph 4:13||Pauls goal was that "we all come in the unity…of the knowledge of the Son of God"|
|Col 2:9||"in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"|
|1Thes 1:9,10||"You turned…to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from the heavens"|
|Heb 1:1||"God…has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son"|
|Heb 4:14||Our "great high priest that is passed into the heavens" is "Jesus the Son of God"|
|Heb 7:3||Melchizadek was made "like unto the Son of God"|
The New Testament leaves us with little doubt that God has a Son, Jesus Christ. The Father-Son relationship implied a hierarchy within the Godhead. It was consistent with a "one God" monotheism that is also clearly taught in Scripture. But, it encouraged a subordinate position for the Son, which some feared, diminished his divinity. Yet this is the clear position of early Christian apologists during the first two centuries AD.
Summary of Ante-Nicene Statements on the Nature of God
Most High Father
Christ our Saviour
Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son
by the Holy Spirit
His Holy Spirit
the inseparable Spirit
who is Jesus Christ
Lord Jesus Christ our
the true God
Lord of the universe
came forth from Him
in the second place
our Saviour Jesus Christ
the Son of God
His Apostle, the Word
sometimes in the form of fire
sometimes in the likeness of angels
the first-begotten Word of God
is even God, Logos, Lord
in the third
the Holy Spirit
the Spirit and power of God
the Word, the first-born of God
before all creatures
by an act of will
fire is not lessened
the Glory of the Lord, Wisdom
ministers to the Father's will
when it has kindled another
it appears to exist by itself
not diminishing from which kindled
the Word of Wisdom
this God begotten of the Father
the beginning of His ways
from everlasting, before all creatures
established in the beginning
numerically distinct from God
|from the Father||this Offspring
truly brought forth
proceeded from the Father
the God of all things
the Stone cut our without hands
His descent cannot be declared
sees all things
God and the Angel
was fire when conversing with Moses
His Son, the Word
the Son ministers & dispenses
the Holy Spirit
the Spirit of God
Ruler of all spirits
Lord of all flesh
chose our Lord Jesus Christ
our High Priest and Protector
died c. 180 AD
|His Father||a body
after our fashion
yet not renouncing the Sonship
the eternity of His nature
He is God, Lord of all things
|God is a Spirit||Spirit
of Spirit, God of God
came forth out of God
proceeds forth from God
is generated (begotten)
the Son of God, called God
at once God and the Son of God
Spirit of God
the Power of God
the Word, the Reason
the Son of God
the sun sends a ray
is still in the ray
as light of light is kindled
unity of substance with God
no division of substance
merely an extension
the two are one (both divine)
made a second in position
not a second in nature
in His birth He is God and man united
Similar to the salutations and benedictions of the New Testament writers, the ante-Nicean fathers also emphasized the Father and Son in their letters.
"Polycarp, and the presbyters with him, to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi: Mercy to you, and peace from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied." The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippains. Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 69-165)
"to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ" 1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, chapter 1. Clement of Alexandria (c. 160-215)
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the [Church] blessed in the grace of God the Father, in Jesus Christ our Saviour, in whom I salute the Church which is at Magnesia, near the Maeander, and wish it abundance of happiness in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ." Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians. Ignatius of Antioch, also called Theophorus (c. 35-110)
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus… elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God [another mss: Saviour]: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace." Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the holy Church which is at Tralles, in Asia, beloved of God, the Father of Jesus Christ, elect, and worthy of God, possessing peace through the flesh, and blood, and passion of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, through our rising again to Him." Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians short version.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son." Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans short version
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia… whom He has established in security, after His own will, and by His Holy Spirit." Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and of the beloved Jesus Christ,… wishes abundance of happiness, through the immaculate Spirit and word of God." Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to Hero, the deacon of Christ, and the servant of God, a man honoured by God, and most dearly loved as well as esteemed, who carries Christ and the Spirit within him." Epistle of Ignatius to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch
"God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world." Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, chapter 19.
"May God, who seeth all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh--who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar people--grant to every soul that calleth upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen." 1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, chapter 58.
"Fare ye well in God, and in Christ, being enlightened by the Holy Spirit." Epistle of Ignatius to the Antiochians, Chapter 14.
"Fare ye well in Christ Jesus, our common hope." Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians, Chapter 11 short version.
"Fare ye well in the harmony of God, ye who have obtained the inseparable Spirit, who is Jesus Christ." Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chapter 15 short version.
"Fare ye well in the grace of God." Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 13 short version.
Melito of Sardis (died c. 180) poetically described the paradox of Jesus both man and God:
Though He was incorporeal,
He formed for Himself a body after our fashion,
appearing as a sheep, yet still remaining the Shepherd;
being esteemed a servant, yet not renouncing the Sonship;
being carried in the womb of Mary, yet arrayed in the nature of His Father;
treading upon the earth, yet filling heaven;
appearing as an infant, yet not discarding the eternity of His nature;
being invested with a body, yet not circumscribing the unmixed simplicity of His Godhead;
being esteemed poor, yet not divested of His riches;
needing sustenance inasmuch as He was man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world inasmuch as He is God;
putting on the likeness of a servant, yet not impairing the likeness of His Father.
He sustained every character belonging to Him in an immutable nature:
He was standing before Pilate, and at the same time was sitting with His Father;
He was nailed upon the tree, and yet was the Lord of all things.
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) First Apology (c. 150)
Son, Angels and "the prophetic Spirit" are worshiped
Chapter 6: "the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore."
in second place; prophetic Spirit in third
Chapter 13 "He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third… we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all."
cites the Baptismal formula
Chapter 61 "in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water."
Spirit and Power of God as the Word, the first-born Son of God
Chapter 33 "…the power of God having come upon the virgin, overshadowed her, and caused her while yet a virgin to conceive. And the angel of God who was sent to the same virgin at that time brought her good news, saying, "Behold, thou shalt conceive of the Holy Ghost, and shalt bear a Son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins," --as they who have recorded all that concerns our Saviour Jesus Christ have taught, whom we believed, since by Isaiah also, whom we have now adduced, the Spirit of prophecy declared that He should be born." (Isa 7:14) "It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God as anything else than the Word, who is also the first-born of God."
firs-begotten Son of God is even God
Chapter 63 "Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race."
"…they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God."
Justin Martyr, The Dialog with Trypho (c. 145)
Son of God is begat, He is the Holy Spirit
Trypho Chapter 61 "God begat before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father's will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled."
Word is God begotten of the Father
Trypho Chapter 61 "The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter." "When He speaks by Solomon:" …"I shall call to mind events from everlasting, and review them. The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He had made the earth, and before He had made the deeps, before the springs of the waters had issued forth, before the mountains had been established. Before all the hills He begets me." "When He made ready the heavens, I was along with Him, and when He set up His throne on the winds: when He made the high clouds strong, and the springs of the deep safe, when He made the foundations of the earth, I was with Him arranging. I was that in which He rejoiced; daily and at all times I delighted in His countenance, because He delighted in the finishing of the habitable world, and delighted in the sons of men. Now, therefore, O son, hear me. Blessed is the man who shall listen to me, and the mortal who shall keep my ways…" (Justin refers to Joshua 1:13-15 & Prov 8)
Offspring of God is before all creatures: God is at least two
Trypho Chapter 62 Justin addresses the plurality of Elohim in the creation of man: "either that God said to Himself, `Let Us make,' just as we, when about to do something, oftentimes say to ourselves, `Let us make;' or that God spoke to the elements, to wit, the earth and other similar substances of which we believe man was formed, `Let Us make,'--I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with some one who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being. These are the words: `And God said, Behold, Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil.' In saying, therefore, `as one of us,' [Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two. For I would not say that the dogma of that heresy which is said to be among you is true, or that the teachers of it can prove that [God] spoke to angels, or that the human frame was the workmanship of angels. But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with Him; even as the Scripture by Solomon has made clear, that He whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten as a Beginning before all His creatures and as Offspring by God."
Son is brought forth from the Father, without generation, without descent
Trypho Chapter 76 "When Daniel speaks of 'one like unto the Son of man' who received the everlasting kingdom, does he not hint…He appeared, and was man, but not of human seed. And the same thing he proclaimed in mystery when he speaks of this stone which was cut out without hands (Dan 2)…signified that it is not a work of man, but of the will of the Father and God of all things, who brought Him forth." "And when Isaiah says, `Who shall declare His generation?' he meant that His descent could not be declared."
proceeded from the Father before all creatures
Trypho Chapter 100 "we have understood that He proceeded before all creatures from the Father by His power and will."
"For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God."
is a priest forever, begotten before the morning star
Trypho Chapter 83 The Jews believe that Ps 110 refers to Hezekiah, but Justin quotes:
"`The Lord says to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. He shall send forth a rod of power over Jerusalem, and it shall rule in the midst of Thine enemies. In the splendour of the saints before the morning star have I begotten Thee…from the womb… The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.'" "…is made to Christ."
begotten Son deals with humanity
Justin identified the pre-incarnation existence of the Son in the Old Testament.
Trypho Chapter 127 "wherever God says, `God went up from Abraham,' [Gen 18:22] or, `The Lord spake to Moses,' [Ex 6:29] and `The Lord came down to behold the tower which the sons of men had built,' [Gen 11:5] or when `God shut Noah into the ark,' [Gen 7:16] you must not imagine that the unbegotten God Himself came down or went up from any place. For the ineffable Father and Lord of all neither has come to any place, nor walks, nor sleeps, nor rises up, but remains in His own place, wherever that is, quick to behold and quick to hear, having neither eyes nor ears, but being of indescribable might; and He sees all things, and knows all things, and none of us escapes His observation; and He is not moved or confined to a spot in the whole world, for He existed before the world was made. How, then, could He talk with any one, or be seen by any one, or appear on the smallest portion of the earth, when the people at Sinai were not able to look even on the glory of Him who was sent from Him" Bu it was "Him who was according to His will His Son, being God, and the Angel because He ministered to His will; whom also it pleased Him to be born man by the Virgin; who also was fire when He conversed with Moses from the bush."
Irenaeus of Smyrna (c. 120-202)
Irenaeus believed that the Father and the Son both dispenses the Spirit in commenting on Matt 28:19,20
"And for this reason the baptism of our regeneration proceeds through these three points: God the Father bestowing on us regeneration through His Son by the Holy Spirit. For as many as carry (in them) the Spirit of God are led to the Word, that is to the Son; and the Son brings them to the Father; and the Father causes them to possess incorruption. Without the Spirit it is not possible to behold the Word of God, nor without the Son can any draw near to the Father: for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God is through the Holy Spirit; and, according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills and as He wills." (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Chapter 7. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920)
Tertullian (c. 165-222)
Even though Tertullian is credited with being the first to introduce the word "trinity" into Christianity, his brand was quite different from the modern concept:
"Listen therefore to Wisdom, expressed in the character of the Second Person: 'At the first, the Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works, before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled. Moreover, before all the hills did He beget me.' That is to say, 'He created and generated me in His own intelligence.'" Tertullian AD 213
He equates "generated" with "created" but translates the Hebrew "brought forth" into the Latin "begat." Both Tertullian and Origen (c. 185-254) applied Proverbs 8 to the Son of God being begotten in heaven before creation.
"What need is there to speak of Wisdom, which 'the Lord created in the beginning of His ways, for His works'? This is the One in whom His Father rejoiced. The Father delighted in His manifold intellectual beauty, seen by the eyes of the mind alone. Whoever discerns His divine and heavenly charm is incited to love." Origen AD 228
Tertullian, in his Apoligies, continues to express the generation/begetting of the Son of God: Chapter 21 discusses the begotten Son:
"We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated [begotten]; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun--there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled."
Tertullian, like Justin, uses the analogy of a ray of sunlight. The ray is light, the sun is light; both share the same substance. The ray is merely an extension of the sun. Thus, God is Spirit, Christ is Spirit and God because He is an extension of God, "kindled" from the same Divine Fire.
"..that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence--in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united."
Tertullian makes a distinction
between "withdraw" and "went forth".
What's the difference? Withdraw is what a separate person does when leaving the immediate presence of another.
But the "Ray of God" "went forth" "out of God" an "extension" of the same "substance".
Thus the Son has the same nature but a different position (status) than His Father.
Tertullian finally equates the Word with the Spirit as "one and the same": Spirit of Spirit, God of God, Light of Light, a formula that is later incorporated into the Nicene Creed. He is even more explicit in Chapter 23:
"Who is this Chirst… is he not rather up in the heavens, thence about to come again, making the whole world shake, filling the earth with dread alarms, making all but Christians wail--as the Power of God, and the Spirit of God, as the Word, the Reason, the Wisdom, and the Son of God?
This is clearly a Binitarian theology and subordinate Christology well into the third century AD.
By this time growing support for a formal trinity saw the practice of revising early documents for added support. For example, a later copiest, Pionius, added his own salutation to Polycarps Epistles:
"And I again, Pionius, wrote them from the previously written copy, having carefully searched into them, and the blessed Polycarp having manifested them to me through a revelation …that the Lord Jesus Christ may also gather me along with His elect into His heavenly kingdom, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
"We wish you, brethren, all happiness, while you walk according to the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; with whom be glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit." Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, chapter 22.
A second collection of longer works by Ignatius were recently discovered in the 15th century. These tend to supply many more references to the Holy Spirit than the shorter, original manuscripts:
"…possessing peace through the flesh and Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in His passion by the cross and death, and in His resurrection." Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians Long Version.
"named from Christ, and from the Father, and is possessed of the Spirit, which I also salute in the name of Almighty God, and of Jesus Christ His Son." Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans Long Version
"…our common hope, in the Holy Ghost." Epistle of Ignatius to the Philidelphians Long Version
"…the inseparable Spirit, in Christ Jesus, by the will of God." Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians Long Version
"and of our Lord Jesus Christ, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and divine and sacred wisdom." Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans Long Version.
Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 205-265) Student of Origen about AD 235 for five years.
Part I A Declaration of Faith
"There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal." "And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever."
The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople (553 AD)
The Second Council of Constantinople was called to resolve certain questions that were raised but the most important of which had to do with the unity of the two natures, God and man, is Jesus Christ. The Second Council of Constantinople confirmed the Definition of Chalcedon, while emphasizing that Jesus Christ does not just embody God the Son, He is God the Son.
I. If anyone does not confess that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one nature or essence, one power or authority, worshipped as a trinity of the same essence, one deity in three hypostases or persons, let him be anathema. For there is one God and Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit, in whom are all things.
II. If anyone does not confess that God the Word was twice begotten, the first before all time from the Father, non-temporal and bodiless, the other in the last days when he came down from the heavens and was incarnate by the holy, glorious, God-bearer, ever-virgin Mary [Note: The claim that Mary is "ever-virgin" is Roman Catholic folklore.], and born of her, let him be anathema.
XI. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, together with their impious, godless writings, and all the other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the holy catholic and apostolic Church, and by the aforementioned four Holy Synods and all those who have held and hold or who in their godlessness persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned; let him be anathema.
Roman Catholics recognize that the trinity does not have its source in Scripture, but Revelation:
"In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together....The Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains 'hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness'" Const., "De fide. cath.", iv. (Joyce G.H. The Blessed Trinity. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight).
By the time of Thomas Aquinas the Trinity was truly mysterious
"It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity... Wherefore just as, before Christ, the mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was it with the mystery of the Trinity. And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity." The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M.
Exerpts from the Living Temple
p. 64 "The light which comes from the sun is energy-not simply sun energy, but divine energy. The great apostle enunciated this basic, physiological, and theological fact when he wrote, 'God is light.'"
p. 66 "Light is the vehicle of energy to all living things; it is the means by which God eneters into animate nature."
p. 87-88 "'God is light,' says John the apostle; so if in the glorious rays of the sun we recognize the presence of God, we must see the same in the fruits, the grains, the nuts, the bread-all foods. When the divine teacher said, 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51), his declaration was not merely a mystical figure of speech, but the expression of a fact, a reality, a scientific truth…he called out attention to the fact that God himself enters into our bodies in the taking of food; that he is the very substance of food-the living bread from which all bodily energy is derived…The apostle Paul recognized the same great truth: 'In whome we live, and move, and have our being.' Acts 17:28. We thus owe all to God. We not only owe to him the beginning of our life, but we constantly derive from him our nourishment, our support. We feed upon him, absorbing in our food the very substance of his body, a thought which renders sacred and glorious everything connected with the act of eating."
p. 109-110 "Heave you ever considered, when sitting down to eat, and asking the divine blessing upon the meal prepared, the question, 'Can the divine forces at work within me, the Spirit of God which constitutes my life, weave out of the materials here spread out, a fine, beautiful, enduring fabric of brain and muslce and nerve and bone, capable of high thinking, fine feeling, strong and noble acting, a consistent conduct, and a faithful witnessing for God as a worthy specimen of his handiwork?...Is it not the duty of every human being to take care that he shall eat to the glory of God, and not to the pollution and desturciton of His temple?"
p. 252 "'The life of the flesh is in the blood.' Lev 17:11. Recalling the declaration of Moses, who, in exhorting the children of Israel, declared of God, 'He is thy life,' we are brought squarely face to face with the fact that the Author of all life, the Creator of the blood, is himself present in this marvelous fluid."
p. 261 [White blood cells are] "a marvelous manifestation of the divine Intelligence which thinks and wills within the body, quite independent of the human will and outside the human consciousness, an Intelligence which, in its infinite solicitude for the welfare of the human body, supervises the movements and activities of every individual cell."
p. 437 "God is ever present in man, showing him through his instincts, both physically and morally the way in which he should go, so that he need never be in doubt as to what course of action he should pursue."
p. 441 "The idea that God inflicts pain…is a notion altogether foreign to a proper conception of God. The Creator, the Lawgive, dwells in the temple; whatever the temple suffers, he must share. In this way the indwelling presence bears all our pains and sorrow, and takes upon himself all our punishments."
p. 442 Commenting on Galatians 6:8: "Sowing to the Spirit is the implicit following of the guidance of that inner voice, the Spirit of truth which created man, which dwells in him, and which is ever pleading with him, 'This is the way, walk ye in it.'"
p. 451 "All about us in the world and in the universe there are overwhelming evidences of a greater, all-pervading, all-controlling personality…a great Designer, a personal being, working, not above nature, but in nature, of whom nature is the expression.
p. 457 "'The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.' Job 33:4. Moses, in his wonderful song complained of Israel that they had "forgotten God that formed them' Deut 32:18. Job tells us that 'there is a spirit in man' (Job 32:8), and Paul declares that this spirit is the Lord, the Christ, the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:17), and 'the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.' 1 Cor. 3:16."
p. 459 "The highest of all human attainments is to reach a state of absolute harmony with the Infinite, to bring the truant human will into perfect accord with all the principles which govern mental, moral, and physical action, including eating, drinking, exercise, and every other physical relation of life, as well as those obligations which are commonly denominated "Christian duties," but which include but a very small part of our moral obligations." "Every intelligent human being who recognizes this great truth, the universal unity of being, the absolute and incessant dependece upon the infinite indwelling presence, will no longer be able to call some things sacred, other things common…Every eating and drinking is a sacrament, a partaking of God's substance sacrificed for our sustenance. Every action will be an act of worship." "Man has no power of himself. Every particle of energy which he exhibits in his actions, good or bad, comes to him direct from the source of all energy, is loaned to him by God."
p. 485 "If we believe in God, in this ever-present intelligence and ever-present will that is seeking to guide us right, that is always striking harmonious chords, that is always drawing us upward to that which is for our good, that is always leading us onward toward that which is truest, most beautiful, sweetest, and best, and to that which will bring into our lives the greatest joy, peace, and satisfaction-if we really believe in this power within us, we shall be led by that belief to put our wills into harmony with that will, to co-operate with this divine will in doing those things that make for our own happiness and peace. A religious life is simply a state of harmony with God."
p. 486 "When a man believes that God is ever present within him…when he feels that there is a mighy power working within him…when he feels that the same power cares for him which maintains the sunshine, that keeps the earth turning regularly on its axis and the planets circling in their orbits-then he knows that he has his feet upon a firm foundation…and with Job can declare 'I know that my Redeemer liveth' and with Daniel, can say, 'He is the strength of my life;' 'who forgiveth all mine iniquities, who healeth all my diseases.'"
Athanasius in Defence of the Nicene Definition
Athanasius took Alexander's position as bishop of Alexandria and continued his defense against the teachings of Arius until the Council of Nicea. He makes an interest observation to introduce the subject of Christ's nature:
"…the Pharisees, who, though the signs shone brighter than the sun, yet complained still, as ignorant men, 'Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God?' Insensate, and verily blind in understanding! they ought contrariwise to have said, "Why hast Thou, being God, become man?"
The Jews asked Christ the wrong question because they rejected His divinity. He then applies this so the Arians in their treatment of Christ. Demoting Him to a created being was no different than how the Jews treated Jesus.
"As then the Jews of that day, for acting thus wickedly and denying the Lord, were with justice deprived of their laws and of the promise made to their fathers, so the Arians, Judaizing now, are, in my judgment, in circumstances like those of Caiaphas and the contemporary Pharisees."
The issue centered around
whether Jesus had the same or just similar "essence" as God the Father.
The Council maintained that the Son is the same "substance" as an offspring of the Father.
The Arians believed that the Son is only similar to the Father's substance.
"Eusebius and his fellows subscribed it also in those very words, of which they are now complaining, I mean, "of the essence" and "one in essence," and that "the Son of God is neither creature or work, nor in the number of things originated, but that the Word is an offspring from the substance of the Father." And what is strange indeed, Eusebius of Cæsarea in Palestine, who had denied the day before, but afterwards subscribed, sent to his Church a letter, saying that this was the Church's faith, and the tradition of the Fathers;"
They also believed that the Son's existence began with His human birth.
"The Arians, as stating that "the Son was not before His generation," and as thereby rejecting His existence before His birth in the flesh."
"we may not divide the creation, and says this is the Father's, and this the Son's, but they are of one God, who uses His proper Word as a Hand, and in Him does all things. This God Himself shews us, when He says, 'All these things hath My Hand made."
Athanasius presents the unreasonable position of a created being acting as Mediator between an uncreated God and other created beings when he is himself created!
"If a Mediator became necessary that things originate might come to be, and you hold the Son to be originated, then must there have been some medium before Him, for His creation; and that Mediator himself again being a creature, it follows that he too needed another Mediator for his own constitution."
"If He were called God's Son, and we the Son's sons, their fiction were plausible; but if we too are said to be sons of that God, of whom He is Son, then we too partake the Father, who says, 'I have begotten and exalted children (Isa 1:2).' For if we did not partake Him, He had not said, 'I have begotten;' but if He Himself begat us, no other than He is our Father. And, as before, it matters not, whether the Son has something more and was made first, but we something less, and were made afterwards, as long as we all partake, and are called sons, of the same Father."
Athanasius suggests that the Son was not begotten as human sons are begotten.
"For God is not as man, nor men as God. Men were created of matter, and that passible; but God is immaterial and incorporeal. And if so be the same terms are used of God and man in divine Scripture, yet the clear-sighted, as Paul enjoins, will study it, and thereby discriminate, and dispose of what is written according to the nature of each subject, and avoid any confusion of sense, so as neither to conceive of the things of God in a human way, nor to ascribe the things of man to God. For this were to mix wine with water (Isa. 1:22)., and to place upon the altar strange fire with that which is divine."
"since 'no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him Matt. 11:27,' therefore the sacred writers to whom the Son has revealed Him, have given us a certain image from things visible, saying, 'Who is the brightness of His glory, and the Expression of His Person Heb. 1:3.;' and again, 'For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see light Ps. 36:9.;' and when the Word chides Israel, He says, 'Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom Baruch 3:12 ;' and this Fountain it is which says, 'They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters Jer. 2:13. All these titles, 'Word, Wisdom, Light' &c., serve to guard the title 'Son' from any notions of parts or dimensions, e.g. 'He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and single, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son…for…the Word and Wisdom is neither creature, nor part of Him Whose Word He is, nor an offspring passibly begotten.' Orat. i. §28.. And mean indeed and very dim is the illustration compared with what we desiderate; but yet it is possible from it to understand something above man's nature, instead of thinking the Son's generation to be on a level with ours."
"that he should dare to say that the Son was not always, or that the Son was not before His generation? or who is capable of separating the radiance from the sun, or to conceive of the fountain as ever void of life, that he should madly say, 'The Son is from nothing,' who says, 'I am the life (John 14:6),' or 'alien to the Father's essence,' who, says, 'He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father (vs. 9)?'"
He chides anyone who dares
"to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have any religious bearing."
"they will say, "in the Proverbs, 'The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works (Prov. 8:22),;'" this Eusebius (of Nicomedia in Hist. 1:5 and of Caesarea in Demonstr. Evang. 5:1) and his fellows used to insist on, and you write me word, that the present men also, though overthrown and confuted by an abundance of arguments, still were putting about in every quarter this passage, and saying that the Son was one of the creatures, and reckoning Him with things originated. But they seem to me to have a wrong understanding of this passage also; for it has a religious and very orthodox sense, which had they understood, they would not have blasphemed the Lord of glory. For on comparing what has been above stated with this passage, they will find a great difference between them For what man of right understanding does not perceive, that what are created and made are external to the maker; but the Son, as the foregoing argument has shewn, exists not externally, but from the Father who begat Him? for man too both builds a house and begets a son, and no one would reverse things, and say that the house or the ship were begotten by the builder, but the son was created and made by him; nor again that the house was an image of the maker, but the son unlike him who begat him; but rather he will confess that the son is an image of the father, but the house a work of art, unless his mind be disordered, and he beside himself."
Athanasius does not eliminate Proverbs 8 as not applying to the Son, but argues that it plainly says the Son is begotten not made; the Son makes, the Father begets:
"but of the Son it introduces not another, but the Father Himself saying, 'I have begotten Thee from the womb before the morning star (Ps. 110:3);' and again, 'Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee (Ps. 2:7)..' And the Lord says of Himself in the Proverbs, 'Before all the hills He begets me (Prov. 8:25).;' and concerning things originated and created John speaks, 'All things were made by Him (John 1:3).;' but preaching of the Lord, he says, 'The Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared Him (vs 18).' If then son, therefore not creature; if creature, not son; for great is the difference between them, and son and creature cannot be the same, unless His essence be considered to be at once from God, and external to God."
He then concedes that, in a sense, the Son was created when He was "made in the likeness of men":
"it is true to say that the Son was created too, but this took place when He became man; for creation belongs to man….whereas the Lord always is, at length in fulness of the ages He became man; and whereas He is Son of God, He became Son of man also…. but is said of Him when He took a body and said, 'The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works (Prov. 8:22)..' For as it properly belongs to God's Son to be everlasting. and in the Father's bosom, so on His becoming man, the words befitted Him, 'The Lord created me.'" "so on hearing, 'The Lord created,' and 'Servant,' and 'He suffered,' we shall justly ascribe this, not to the Godhead, for it is irrelevant, but we must interpret it by that flesh which He bore for our sakes:"
"But as we, by receiving the Spirit, do not lose our own proper substance, so the Lord, when made man for us, and bearing a body, was no less God; for He was not lessened by the envelopment of the body, but rather deified it and rendered it immortal." (text to support this?)
"We have learned from divine Scripture, that the Son of God, as was said above, is the very Word and Wisdom of the Father. For the Apostle says, 'Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24);' and John after saying, 'And the Word was made flesh,' at once adds, 'And we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14),' so that, the Word being the Only-begotten Son, in this Word and in Wisdom heaven and earth and all that is therein were made."
"If then they deny Scripture, they are at once aliens to their name, and may fitly be called of all men atheists, and Christ's enemies, for they have brought upon themselves these names. But if they agree with us that the sayings of Scripture are divinely inspired, let them dare to say openly what they think in secret that God was once wordless and wisdomless.and let them in their madness say, 'There was once when He was not,' and, 'before His generation, Christ was not."
His argument is simple: if there ever was a time when the Son, the Word and Wisdom of God did not exist, a time before He existed, then the Father would have been without Word or Wisdom. But if He was begotten and came forth from the bosom of the Father, then the Word and Wisdom would have simply resided in the Father prior to that event. In that sense, the Word and Wisdom of God is co-eternal, has always existed, etc.
Arius discredits the use of "Word and Wisdom" as only names, titles.
"But since they mutter something about Word and Wisdom being only names of the Son Arius said, as the Eunomians after him, that the Son was not really, but only called, Word and Wisdom, which were simply attributes of God, and the prototypes of the Son, we must ask then, If these are only names of the Son, He must be something else beside them. And if He is higher than the names, it is not lawful from the lesser to denote the higher; but if He be less than the names, yet He surely must have in Him the principle of this more honourable appellation; and this implies his advance, which is an irreligion equal to anything that has gone before. For He who is in the Father, and in whom also the Father is, who says, 'I and the Father are one (John 10:30),' whom he that hath seen, hath seen the Father, to say that He has been exalted by anything external, is the extreme of madness."
That is, the elevation
of a lesser god to God is reaching a new level of sacrilege.
But Athanasius argues that they are more than titles, but in reality the Son, the Word, Wisdom, the Hand…
"For if you say the Son, you have declared what is from the Father by nature; and if you think of the Word, you are thinking again of what is from Him, and what is inseparable; and, speaking of Wisdom, again you mean just as much, what is not from without, but from Him and in Him; and if you name the Power and the Hand, again you speak of what is proper to essence; and, speaking of the Image, you signify the Son; for what else is like God but the offspring from Him? Doubtless the things, which came to be through the Word, these are 'founded in Wisdom' and what are 'founded in Wisdom,' these are all made by the Hand, and came to be through the Son."
He then summons Scriptural proof that God's Hand and His Word created all things:
"And we have proof of this, not from external sources, but from the Scriptures; for God Himself says by Isaiah the Prophet; 'My hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens (Isa. 48:13).' And again, 'And I will cover thee in the shadow of My Hand, by which I planted the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth (Isa. 50:16).'…Solomon also received the same from God, and said, 'The Lord by wisdom founded the earth (Prov. 3:19),'… And the Apostle, seeing that the Hand and the Wisdom and the Word was nothing else than the Son, says, 'God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by whom also He made the ages (Heb. 1:1, 2).' And again, 'There is one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him (1 Cor. 8:6).'"
"For the blessed Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews says, 'By faith we understand that the ages were framed by the Word of God, so that that which is seen was not made of things which do appear (Heb. 11:3).' But nothing is common to the Word with the ages; for He it is who is in existence before the ages, by whom also the ages came to be."
Actually, Heb 11:3 uses pneumati not logos for what is translated "the Word of God" and should be "the breath of God" as used in Ps. 36. A literal rendering is "By-faith we-understand to-have-been-adjusted the ages by-a-breathed-word of-God." aion, age, seems to mean duration, independent of motion, which is a measure of time. As motion, and therefore time, are creatured, so are the ages and means the same as 'world,' or a system of things viewed apart from time and motion. In Heb. 1:2 then Our Lord then is the Maker of the ages as stated in Heb. 11:3.and God is the King of the ages, 1 Tim. i. 17. or is before all ages, as being eternal. Thus 'ages of ages' stands for eternity; other writers addresses the Almighty as aionotoke, parent of the ages. Hence sometimes God Himself is called the Age, or, the Age of ages, Here Athanasius declares that the Word is Maker of the ages, He is independent of duration; He does not come to be in time, but is above and beyond it, or eternal. The 144th Psalm addresses the Son, 'Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages,' thus no interval of time at all exists prior to Him, How can anyone say "There was once a time when the Everlasting was not?"
"but this again does not relate to the Son, for it speaks concerning all things which came to be through Him, from whom He is distinct; for it is not possible to reckon the Framer of all with the things made by Him, unless a man is so beside himself as to say that the architect also is the same as the buildings which he rears."
"Why then, when they have invented on their part unscriptural phrases, for the purposes of irreligion, do they accuse those who are religious in their use of them?"
Athanasius charges Arius
with inventing the unscriptural phrase "the Son was out of nothing"
But then the Arians complained that the Council was using the unscriptural phrase "one in essence"
Athanasius explains that this was necessary to contradict the Arian unscriptural innovations. So back to Scripture!
"The Council wishing to do away with the irreligious phrases of the Arians, and to use instead the acknowledged words of the Scriptures, that the Son is not from nothing but 'from God,' and is 'Word' and 'Wisdom,' and not creature or work, but a proper offspring from the Father, Eusebius and his fellows, led by their inveterate heterodoxy, understood the phrase 'from God' as belonging to us, as if in respect to it the Word of God differed nothing from us"
Accordingly, they wrote 'from the essence of God in order that 'from God' might not be considered common and equal in the Son and in things originate, but that all others might be acknowledged as creatures, and the Word alone as from the Father. For though all things be said to be from God, yet this is not in the sense in which the Son is from Him;
Hence the Creed states, 'from the Father, that is, from the essence of the Father.' Of course, all rational beings, and in one sense all beings whatever, are 'from God,' and of this truth the Arians made use of this to deny our Lord's proper divinity. Man is thus considered, in his first estate, a son of God and born of God (generate). This was the sense in which the Arians said that our Lord was Son of God; but Athanasius said the distinction of the Son's divine generation was over that of even holy men; because He was from the essence of God; not by participation of grace, not by resemblance, not in a limited sense, but really and simply, and therefore by an internal divine act.
"In truth, when Paul says that 'all things are from God,' he immediately adds, 'and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things (1 Cor. 8:6),' in order to shew all men, that the Son is other than all these things which came to be from God (for the things which came to be from God, came to be through His Son); and that he had used his foregoing words with reference to the world as framed by God, and not as if all things were from the Father as the Son is….being alone truly from God;"
When characteristic attributes and prerogatives are ascribed to God, or to the Father, this is done only to the exclusion of creatures, or of false gods, not to the exclusion of His Son who is implied in the mention of Himself. Thus when God is called only wise, or the Father the only God, or God is said to be unoriginate, ogentos, this is not in contrast to the Son, but to all things which are distinct from God. vid. Orat. iii. 8. Naz. Orat. 30, 13. Cyril. Thesaur. p 142. 'The words "one" and "only" ascribed to God in Scripture,' says S. Basil, 'are not used in contrast to the Son or the Holy Spirit, but with reference to those who are not God, and falsely called so.' Ep. 8. n. 3. On the other hand, when the Father is mentioned, the other Divine Persons are implied in Him, 'The Blessed and Holy Trinity,' says S. Athan. 'is indivisible and one in itself; and when the Father is mentioned, His Word is added, and the Spirit in the Son; and if the Son is named, in the Son is the Father, and the Spirit is not external to the Word.' ad Serap. i. 14.
Now there is total confusion. No distinction between Persons. Who's on first? When the Father is described we cannot really know whether it means just the Father or the Son or even the Spirit. When the Son is mentioned it could just as well be the Father; you can never really tell. Relationship is destroyed, melted into a single unidentified mass.
"Eusebius and his fellows endured indeed, as not daring to contradict, being put to shame by the arguments which were urged against them; but withal they were caught whispering to each other and winking with their eyes, that 'like,' and 'always,' and 'power,' and 'in Him,' were, as before, common to us and the Son, and that it was no difficulty to agree to these."
Thus the bishops
"were again compelled on their part to collect the sense of the Scriptures, and to re-say and re-write what they had said before, more distinctly still, namely, that the Son is 'one in essence, and of shewing that the Son's likeness and unalterableness was different from such copy of the same as is ascribed to us, which we acquire from virtue on the ground of observance of the commandments."
Eusebius of Nicomedia,
disclaimed 'of the essence',
Arius, however, had disclaimed 'omoousion already.
It was a word of old usage in the Church, as Eusebius of Cæsarea confesses in his Letter, and Tertullian in Prax. and Origen perhaps used the word, and Theognostus and Clement had spoken of 'the union of the single essence,' and.Novatian too not merely like, but the same in likeness. The Arians allowed that our Lord was like the image of the Father, but in the sense in which a picture is like the original, differing from it in substance that 'like' applies to qualities rather than to essence, faint similitudes and falling very far short of the original.' Thus the Council insisted on "Same essence" not "Similar essence".
"but since the generation of the Son from the Father is not according to the nature of men, and not only like, but also inseparable from the essence of the Father, and He and the Father are one, as He has said Himself, and the Word is ever in the Father and the Father in the Word, as the radiance stands towards the light."
"the Word is from the Father, and the only Offspring proper to Him and natural. For whence may one conceive the Son to be, who is the Wisdom and the Word, in whom all things came to be, but from God Himself? However, the Scriptures also teach us this, since the Father says by David, 'My heart uttered a good Word (Ps. 45:1),' and, 'From the womb before the morning star I begat Thee (Ps. 110:3);' and the Son signifies to the Jews about Himself, 'If God were your Father, ye would love Me; for I proceeded forth from the Father (John 8:42).' And again; 'Not that anyone has seen the Father, save He which is from God, He hath seen the Father (John 6:46).' And moreover, 'I and My Father are one,' and, 'I in the Father and the Father in Me (John 10:30, and 14:10),' is equivalent to saying, 'I am from the Father, and inseparable from Him.' And John in saying, 'The Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him, (John 1:18)' spoke of what He had learned from the Saviour. Besides, what else does 'in the bosom' intimate, but the Son's genuine generation from the Father?"
gennhma, generated offspring, was very frequently used by Athanasius. Yet Basil, explicitly disavowed the word, as an unscriptural invention of Eunomius.
"'That the Father begat we are taught in many places: that the Son is an offspring we never heard up to this day, for Scripture says, "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."' 'it is fearful to give Him names of our own to whom God has given a name which is above every name;' that fruits of the earth are called offspring ('I will not drink of the offspring of this vine'), rarely animated things, except indeed in such instances as, 'O generation (offspring) of vipers.' In the Arian formula 'an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings,' it is synonymous with 'creature.' "
Origen, writing in the early 200s AD, addressed this very issue of the definite article in John's Gospel.
"We next notice John's use of the article ["the"] in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article, and in some he omits it. He adds the article to the Word, but to the name of theos he adds it sometimes only. He uses the article, when the name of theos refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Word is named theos. Does the same difference which we observe between theos with the article and theos without it prevail also between the Word with it and without it? We must enquire into this. As the theos who is over all is theos with the article not without it, so the Word is the source of that reason (Logos) which dwells in every reasonable creature; the reason which is in each creature is not, like the former called par excellence the Word. Now there are many who are sincerely concerned about religion, and who fall here into great perplexity. They are afraid that they may be proclaiming two theos [gods] and their fear drives them into doctrines which are false and wicked. Either they deny that the Son has a distinct nature of His own besides that of the Father, and make Him whom they call the Son to be theos all but the name, or they deny divinity of the Son, giving Him a separate existence of His own, and making His sphere of essence fall outside that of the Father, so that they are separable from each other. To such persons we have to say that "the theos" on the one hand is Autotheos [God of himself] and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know Thee the only true theos [God]; "but that all beyond the theos [God] is made theos by participation in His deity, and is not to be called simply "theos" but rather "the theos ". And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with the theos , and to attract to Himself deity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other theos [gods] beside Him, of which theos is the theos [God], as it is written, "The theos [God] of theos [gods], the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became theos [gods], for He drew from the theos [God] in generous measure that they should be made theos [gods], and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true theos [God], then, is "the theos ," ["the God" as opposed to "god"] and those who are formed after Him are theos, images, as it were, of Him the prototype. But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the word of the theos [God], who was in the beginning, and who by being with the theos [God] is at all times deity, not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be theos , if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father." (Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II, 2)