The Martyrdom of Valentine Gentile

Classical trinitarian views can be found throughout church history, sometimes in positions of prominence, and sometimes persecuted falsely as heresy. Biblical trinitarianism was the orthodoxy of the ante-nicene era, the ecumenical dogma of Christianity for some 20 years from 360 to 381, and the conviction of the Homoians for centuries following that, among the Gothic, Gepid, Vandal, Bergundian, and other barbarian nations of Europe and North Africa as the established doctrine of their churches, and within the bounds of the shrinking Roman Empire, as a persecuted minority. When the Germanic nations, over the course of centuries, one by one either fell to conquest, or their kings, for political and worldly gain, converted to the Roman religion and began persecuting those who held to the faith once delivered to the saints, those who remained committed to a biblical view of the Trinity were forced into secrecy by the harsh persecution of the Roman church.

When the Protestant Reformation came, however, with it, in some places, came a greater degree of liberty; and among Protestants a professed interest in believing what scripture teaches. Therefore it should not be any surprise that we once again see classical trinitarianism re-emerge in this era. It was, for example, one view among several to be found within the Polish Ecclesia Minor, an offshoot of Polish Calvinist churches. However, the magisterial reformers showed themselves to have less interest in what the Bible teaches than in appearing orthodox on the Trinity to the Roman Catholics, and to one another, and they, not without great hypocrisy, put to death, when they could, those who applied sola scriptura not only where is was convenient for them to do so to break with Rome, but to all areas of Christian doctrine, including the Trinity. Such was the case for Valentine Gentile, a former participant in the Polish Ecclesia Minor, who had been forced, with the rest, into exile by government persecution. Upon coming to the Protestant city of Berne, he was put to death for supposedly espousing heresy.

Its noteworthy that Gentile’s doctrine was far from radical from a historical perspective; there was a wide range of views among dissenters within this era, including true Arians, and Socinians, who had revived the heresy of Ebion; and these were quite common. But Valentine Gentile was no such heretic, as he affirmed both the eternal pre-existence of the Son from before the ages, and even went as far as to join in that speculation that the Son was begotten from the substance of the Father, and was of the same substance as Him. But since he affirmed, with so many fathers, only a generic unity of substance, and not a numerical or individual (Sabellian) unity of substance, he, a man seemingly holding no view except that of the ante-nicene and even pro-nicene fathers, was put to death on the false pretense of being an Arian:

“Valentine Gentile, an Italian exile who had to flee Geneva in 1558 to escape suffering the same fate that had befallen Servetus there, only to be executed for his beliefs at Berne in 1567, was present at a synod in Pinczow in 1562, where he affirmed the belief that ‘God in the breadth of eternity had created a certain most excellent spirit, which afterwards in the fulness of time became incarnate’. The language is once again not entirely explicit, but from our knowledge of Gentile’s earlier teaching it seems likely that he is envisaging, as Gonesius had not done in 1556, the existence of a second, distinct but subordinate, pre-existent divine being. Moreover, he himself sees his position on that issue as in agreement with the ante-Nicene writers, particularly Justin Martyr and Lactantius. They, he recognized, had been a source of the teaching of Arius. But the fault with Arius lay not with his kinship with them but in his construction of a dogmatic superstructure on that basis which went far beyond anything that could be justified by Scripture. Despite Gentile’s explicit differentiation of his own position from that of Arius, Aretius, one of those involved in his execution, argues for a significant similarity between the two. He acknowledges that Gentile asserts that ‘the Word was begotten of the substance of the Father, and is consubstantial with him’, whereas Arius describes the Son as ‘made out of nothing’. But both, he argues, are agreed that ‘as to his substance the Son is numerically distinct from the Father’. In this respect, and also in their understanding of the Son’s generation as belonging to the temporal order, the two can, he claims, be said to share the same, wholly unacceptable view. Protestant orthodoxy shared with its Catholic counterpart a strong urge to associate any heretic in the area of Trinitarian doctrine with the name Arius.” (Wiles, Achetypal Heresy: Arianism through the Centuries, pgs 58-59.)

And so we have an example before our eyes of a man martyred for holding no other view than that of the ante-nicene fathers, and expressing it, from what we know, in no other terms than they did. We see something here of the hypocrisy of the early magisterial protestants, who wished to change some things, as they liked and chose, to be more in accordance with the scriptures, while leaving other things unaltered from what they had received from the pope himself, the very man they claimed was the antichrist. If ever one may wonder what the ante-nicenes would have said about the Protestant Reformation, or on which side of things they might have fallen, could they have seen it, let us keep in mind the martyrdom of Valentine Gentile, as an example of how both sides would have dealt with those holy men of the first three centuries.

Against Generic Co-essentiality

Having dealt a lot with the heretical doctrine of numerical or individual coessentiality in past articles, I want to address in this post the doctrine of generic or natural co-essentiality. This doctrine differs enormously from the former; while the former teaches that the Father and Son are the same individual substance, that is, the same individual being or person, the latter which we shall address here pertains to the notion that the Father and Son, as two genuinely distinct individual beings, or persons, share one and the same generic nature.

This idea was the view which prevailed, thanks to Emperor Theodosius, within the Roman Empire at the close of the fourth century, becoming the official dogma of the Eastern churches under Byzantine rule (the Western churches only very briefly, if at all, held to this view, instead embracing the Sabellian doctrine of numerical coessentiality). Such notable Homoousians as Athanasius and Basil the Great held and promoted this doctrine of generic coessentiality, which to this day, despite modalistic influence, has a continued following in Eastern Christianity and among some Protestants.

The idea of generic co-essentiality is that of a shared nature, genus, or species; Basil summed it up as “The distinction between οὐσία [essence] and ὑπόστασις [person] is the same as that between the general and the particular ; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man.” (Letter 236); Athanasius said “Even this is sufficient to dissuade you from blaming those who have said that the Son was coessential with the Father, and yet let us examine the very term ‘Coessential,’ in itself, by way of seeing whether we ought to use it at all, and whether it be a proper term, and is suitable to apply to the Son. For you know yourselves, and no one can dispute it, that Like is not predicated of essence, but of habits, and qualities; for in the case of essences we speak, not of likeness, but of identity. Man, for instance, is said to be like man, not in essence, but according to habit and character; for in essence men are of one nature. And again, man is not said to be unlike dog, but to be of different nature. Accordingly while the former [men] are of one nature and coessential, the latter are different in both.”

The idea, then, is of a nature shared among multiple distinct persons or individual beings (hypostases); just as three men share a common human nature, a set of communicable ontological properties possessed by all men, which define a given being as “human”, so the persons of the Trinity, these fathers taught, share a common nature which makes them ontologically identical. The Son in comparison to the Father is often summed up, in this view, to be ‘everything that the Father is, except that He is begotten, not unbegotten’. He is then equal to and identical to the Father in all attributes, except the causal relation of having been begotten by the Father, rather than being unbegotten, as the Father is.

This doctrine simply does not work; it contradicts the holy scriptures, our divine, inspired source of knowledge in such matters.

The holy scriptures teach us that God (the one God, the Father) is omniscient; He knows all things perfectly and unchangingly. “God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” 1 John 3:20 NASB. “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5 NASB. The Son, on the other hand, evidently did not know all things when He said “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36 NASB. Someone might object that the Son only said this in reference to His human nature, and that while His human nature did not know, His divine nature did; to this I respond that natures do not know anything, nor do they possess any consciousness or mind of their own, but rather, persons do. So long then, as it is acknowledged that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is one person, not two, it must be admitted that He, that is, the person Himself, did not know all things, while the Father in His own person always does know all things.

The holy scriptures also teach us to believe that God is immutable; He does not change. “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6 NASB. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB. The Son, however, has often changed since the foundation of the world, although He has now come to change no more, as having been perfected. For the Son changed to take on various forms to appear to men in the Old Testament, as the Angel (that is, Messenger) of the Lord. He appeared as a man to Abraham; He appeared in fire to Moses at the burning bush; in the form of man He again wrestled with Jacob; and in the form of God He was seen by Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel on Sinai, and again, in that same glory, by Isaiah. But more on these appearances later. And at last, He took on human flesh from the virgin Mary, and in that flesh grew, and matured, and died, and rose from the dead.

Surely no thinking man can regard such actions as not involving change in the Son’s own person; who will be so insane as to say that He is the same, and unchanged, after He has taken a human body into the unity of His person, as He was before, when he had no flesh? One might respond that the Logos Himself, considered in His capacity as Logos specifically, did not suffer change in taking on flesh. To which I say, such may well be the case; yet when we consider not merely the part of Him that was the Logos, but His person on the whole, it cannot be avoided that, as a person, to go from having no body, to having a body, is a change. The Son then, was capable of changing, and did so, only upon His perfection coming finally to the state of immutability of which it is said that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrew 13:8 NASB.

The Father then, is entirely unchanging and immutable, always and eternally being the same without any change or alteration; while the Son indeed, having first been begotten by the Father before the world was, changed into various forms to appear to men, and then for our salvation even took human flesh into the unity of His person, finally coming to change no more once He had risen from the dead. The Father, as being unchanging, would never have appeared to men under various forms, nor would He have taken on flesh; and so there is manifestly a great difference in the attributes of God and His Son shown here by the holy scriptures.

We may also note that the scriptures reveal that the Father is invisible; “Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” 1 Tim 6:16 NASB. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” 1 John 1:18 NASB. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17 NASB. The Son, the only-begotten God, on the other hand, as we have already mentioned above, was often seen by men; He is the visible Image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). As the Angel of the Lord He was the one by Whom God spoke with Abraham (Gen 18), Who rained fire from His Father on Sodom and the surrounding cities (Gen 19:24), Who wrestled with Jacob (Gen 32:22-40), Who spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Ex 3:2), and from the pillar of cloud and of fire (Num 14:14), Who appeared to Joshua as the Captain of the Lord’s hosts (Josh 5:13-15), Who spoke to Hagar (Gen 16:7-14), Gideon (Jud 6:22), Manoah (Jud 13:9-23), and other saints of old (Jud 2:1-6), the Word of the Lord Who came to the prophets and spoke with them (1 Kings 9:9, Isa 38:4, Jer 1:1-2, Ezek 1:3), Whose glory was seen by Isaiah (Isa 6, John 12:41). He was seen then, not only in His incarnation, and after His resurrection, but also beforehand. There is a clear difference then between the Father and the Son, that the one, no one can see or has seen, and the other was seen at many times under different forms, and finally, when He took on flesh for our salvation.

The Father, we read in the scriptures, is absolutely Almighty; the term ‘Almighty’ only ever being used for Him in the whole New Testament, and meaning, literally ‘Ruler over all’ (Gr. ‘Pantokrator’). He is “the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come” (Rev 4:8). He, the living God, the Father of His people, is alone Almighty; “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 NASB. And it is clear from the very nature of things, that only one person, one individual being, can be Ruler over all, Almighty, absolutely. For if that one had an equal, neither one having higher authority than the other, and so, neither one ruling over the other, neither would be found Almighty, since neither would truly rule over all, and there would be no supreme Ruler over all at all. If then it is acknowledged that the Father alone is Almighty absolutely, as having dominion not only over the whole universe, but even over the Son (1 Cor 11:3, 1 Cor 15:28), then the Son is not equal to Him in this respect, but subject to Him as to His own God and Father (Rom 15:6). And while the Son, as sharing in the Father’s dominion over the universe, may even be said to be ‘almighty’ in that lesser respect, as He, subordinate to the Father, rules over the universe according to the Father’s will and on His behalf, yet only one of Them is Almighty absolutely, as ruling over all things without exception, namely, the Father, and so, this is shown to be a difference between the Father and the Son also.

We may also note that the scriptures declare that the Father is the one from Whom are all things, as He is the supreme uncaused Cause of all things. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 NASB. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 NASB. Yet all things are not from the Son in this same way, but are through Him. For the Father is the supreme Cause of all things, having made all things through the Son. Their functions, then, are clearly distinct; the Father acts towards the universe through the mediation of the Son, and not the other way around.

Scripture further reveals to us that God (the Father) is infinite. To be infinite is to be without external bound or limitation; and as God is, as we have said above, the Supreme Ruler over all, and further, the Supreme Cause of all. If then, He is entirely uncaused, and simply eternally and unchangingly is, and is absolutely sovereign over all, it follows that God is subject to no external bound or limitation whatsoever, in either His ontological being, nor in His actions. That He is not bound by anything external to Him in His being and attributes necessarily follows from the fact that as the Cause of all else that exists, He Himself is uncaused; thus no one ever determined what God’s attributed and being would be. He was not made, caused, or begotten according to the will or design of another, but rather He simply is, and is as He is, eternally and unchangingly, without any cause, source, or origin. This is a respect in which God is totally unique compared to everything else in existence, for everything else, including His own Son, does owe its cause and origin, and thus, its being and attributes, to Him. All that God caused has its being and attributes according to His will. Likewise, since God is sovereign over all, there is nothing external to Him binding His actions; He is not subject to another, so as to have anything required of Him by another, but is totally free. “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” Psalm 135:6 NASB. There is none to place Him under obligation or law; His future is not predestined by another.

God’s absolute freedom and infinitude in these respects is unique to Him, as we have said, and so, is not shared by His Son. While of the Father is is written “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3 NASB, the Son declares “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19 NASB. He says, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30 NASB. The Son clearly teaches us to believe that He is limited by the Father’s will. In this the Son clearly stands in contrast to the Father then, that while the Father is absolutely free and infinite, not bound or subject to the will of another, the Son is indeed limited by the Father, as respects both His being and attributes, which He has from the Father, and as respects His actions.

What more shall we say? Scripture teaches that the Father is alone good (Mark 10:18), alone holy (Rev 15:4), “the only wise God” (Rom 16:27), “the blessed and only Sovereign” (1 Tim 6:15), “the only true God” (Jn 17:3). It says these things on account the the surpassing and incomparable greatness of God, for in contrast to all else which is good, and holy, and wise, and which possesses sovereignty, and divinity, it is as though He alone is such things, and that all else is as nothing in these things, in comparison to Him Who is incomparably greater than all. Not only does the Son declare that His Father is “greater than all” (Jn 10:29), and “greater than I” (Jn 14:28), but even declares Him to be incomparably greater than all; for He says to the Father in the Psalm “There is none to compare with You” Psalm 40:5 NASB. God then has no equal, and the Son is not equal to Him in these attributes, as He is greater than the Son in goodness, and holiness, and wisdom, and sovereignty, and divinity -not that the Son is not very great in all these things- but His Father is still greater, as being incomparably greater than all, even greater than His Son. For as the Son says “There is none to compare with You.” Psalm 40:5 NASB. And God testifies Himself, saying “To whom then will you liken Me, That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:25 NASB, and “To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike?” Isaiah 46:5 NASB.

Who then will make the Son equal with the Father, in contradiction to the words of both the Father and the Son, Who both testify to the truth that God has no equal, but is incomparably greater than all? Where is this teaching that there is another Who is identical to God and equal with Him in all respects and in all attributes, except that He is begotten while God the Father is unbegotten? Who can read these things and not recognize that rightly did Ulfilas characterize this a “devilish invention and doctrine of demons”, on account of how blasphemous these things are to God? For in supposing that they exalt the Son with this doctrine, really, they give the Son a false and empty honor (as no honor not founded in truth has any weight to it) and rather blaspheme the one the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to call “the only true God”, by making Him Who is incomparably greater than all out to merely be one of two or three of a kind.

The doctrine of generic co-essentiality, then, that ‘the Son is identical to the Father in all His attributes, except that He is begotten rather than unbegotten’, is shown to be quite unbiblical, and ultimately, quite blasphemous. I do not say that it is heresy, for it does not violate that ancient rule of faith; but it is a false and harmful doctrine, nonetheless, and one quite clearly opposed to the teaching of the scriptures themselves.

The Incomparable Greatness of God

“Thus God the Father, the Founder and Creator of all things, who only knows no beginning, invisible, infinite, immortal, eternal, is one God; to whose greatness, or majesty, or power, I would not say nothing can be preferred, but nothing can be compared;” (Novatian, On the Trinity, Ch 31).

“Concerning Him, therefore, and concerning those things which are of Himself, and are in Him, neither can the mind of man worthily conceive what they are, how great they are, and what they are like; nor does the eloquence of human discourse set forth a power that approaches the level of His majesty. For to conceive and to speak of His majesty, as well all eloquence is with reason mute, as all mind poor. For He is greater than mind itself; nor can it be conceived how great He is, seeing that, if He could be conceived, He would be smaller than the human mind wherein He could be conceived. He is greater, moreover, than all discourse, nor can He be declared; for if He could be declared, He would be less than human discourse, whereby being declared, He can both be encompassed and contained. For whatever could be thought concerning Him must be less than Himself; and whatever could be declared must be less than He, when compared in respect of Himself. Moreover, we can in some degree be conscious of Him in silence, but we cannot in discourse unfold Him as He is. For should you call Him Light, you would be speaking of His creature rather than of Himself — you would not declare Him; or should you call Him Strength, you would rather be speaking of and bringing out His power than speaking of Himself; or should you call Him Majesty, you would rather be describing His honour than Himself. And why should I make a long business of going through His attributes one by one? I will at once unfold the whole. Whatever in any respect you might declare of Him, you would rather be unfolding some condition and power of His than Himself. For what can you fittingly either say or think concerning Him who is greater than all discourses and thoughts? Except that in one manner — and how can we do this? How can we by possibility conceive how we may grasp these very things?— we shall mentally grasp what God is, if we shall consider that He is that which cannot be understood either in quality or quantity, nor, indeed, can come even into the thought itself. For if the keenness of our eyes grows dull on looking at the sun, so that the gaze, overcome by the brightness of the rays that meet it, cannot look upon the orb itself, the keenness of our mental perception suffers the same thing in all our thinking about God, and in proportion as we give our endeavours more directly to consider God, so much the more the mind itself is blinded by the light of its own thought. For — to repeat once more — what can you worthily say of Him, who is loftier than all sublimity, and higher than all height, and deeper than all depth, and clearer than all light, and brighter than all brightness, more brilliant than all splendour, stronger than all strength, more powerful than all power, and more mighty than all might, and greater than all majesty, and more potent than all potency, and richer than all riches, more wise than all wisdom, and more benignant than all kindness, better than all goodness, juster than all justice, more merciful than all clemency? For all kinds of virtues must needs be less than Himself, who is both God and Parent of all virtues, so that it may truly be said that God is that, which is such that nothing can be compared to Him. For He is above all that can be said. For He is a certain Mind generating and filling all things, which, without any beginning or end of time, controls, by the highest and most perfect reason, the naturally linked causes of things, so as to result in benefit to all.” (Novatian, On the Trinity, Ch 22)

The Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to believe that the one God, His Father, is “greater than all” (Jn 10:29); and this “all” did not exclude Himself, for He also said “the Father is greater than I.” (Jn 14:28). It is well established then that the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only one Christ teaches us to believe to be “the only true God” (Jn 17:3), is greater than all.

But if we may ask “how much greater than all is God?”, scripture answers us, “incomparably greater than all”:

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 40:5 NASB

Here the scripture, declaring God’s greatness, proclaims that He is so great that there is none to compare with Him. This incomparability to all is absolute; there is in some real sense, none Who compares with God- even His Son; for these words are spoken from the person of the Son Himself. We know this because in the New Testament, Hebrews quotes from this Psalm as Christ speaking to His Father:

“5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But a body You have prepared for Me;
6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
7 “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
(In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5-7 NASB)

These last lines are directly quoted from Psalm 40:6-8, and so, we can most appropriately see Psalm 40 as a prayer of the Son to the Father; a prayer in which, in proclaiming the glory and greatness of God, the Son declares that there is none who compares with Him.

This is not to say that there is literally no comparison to be made between God and His creatures; scripture is full of comparisons for our benefit, and even man is said to be made in the image and likeness of God, and we are commanded to imitate God -to be like Him- to His glory. Rather it is to say that if we compare God with all else, God is so much greater than all else, that it is as though, in comparison to Him, all else is nothing and less than nothing:

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
18 To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” Isaiah 40:12-18 NASB

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
24 Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
25 “To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:21-25 NASB

These are important truths scripture reveals about God. Scripture declares God’s glory- God proclaims His own glory- in terms of His being incomparably greater than all; so much greater is He than all else, that in comparison, even the greatest nations are as nothing and less than nothing in contrast to Him. This is something to be grasped and believed by faith as revealed by God; this is something to worship God for, as His own Son also did, Who has taught us to follow His example.

This truth about God is not one readily accepted by many professing Christians. In the name of the entirely unbiblical concept of a “co-equal” Trinity, it is professed that God is not truly incomparably greater than all; instead, it is taught, in contradiction to scripture, that there are two others Who may so closely be compared to God, that They may be proclaimed His equals. But God makes the point, especially in contrast to idols, the gods of the ancient world that men attempted to rival Him with, that He has no equal:

“To whom would you liken Me
And make Me equal and compare Me,
That we would be alike?
6 “Those who lavish gold from the purse
And weigh silver on the scale
Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
They bow down, indeed they worship it.
7 “They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it;
They set it in its place and it stands there.
It does not move from its place.
Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer;
It cannot deliver him from his distress.

8 “Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” Isaiah 46:5-10 NASB

God then has no equal, and the prevailing doctrine that God is merely one of three of a kind is shown a blasphemous lie; we are forced to choose if we will believe the very words of the Son to the Father, “There is none to compare with You” (Ps 40:5), or the extra-biblical traditions of men, of Whom God declared “But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matt 15:9 NASB).

We see this same truth of God’s incomparable greatness taught in the New Testament so many times as well; for so many of God’s glorious attributes, are attributed to Him exclusively:

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4 NASB)

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18 NASB)

“which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” (1 Timothy 6:15 NASB)

“who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:16 NASB)

“to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27 NASB)

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17 NASB)

We read that God (the one God, the Father) is alone holy, good, wise, immortal, sovereign, and God; these things are spoken of in this way, not to exclude these descriptors to all other beings, but to declare the incomparable greatness of God in these things. For God Himself declared all creation to be good; the Temple of Solomon was holy, as are the saints; Solomon was wise; men are blessed by God with immortality; and even the judges of Israel were called “gods”; it is absurd, then, to suppose that such qualities being ascribed to God alone, then, are meant to declare all other beings void of them. Rather, we must understand that God alone is holy, good, wise, immortal, sovereign, and God, inasmuch as in all these things, He is incomparably greater than all others; and so, when contrasted to all others, it is as though God alone is these things. For the goodness, the wisdom, the holiness, etc, of all else, however great it may be, in comparison with that of God Himself, is as nothing and less than nothing; and so, by way of this incomparable contrast, it is as though God alone is these things.

For God is what He is originally, absolutely, and supremely; while all else that exists is from God, participating in such qualities, which properly and originally belong to God, according to God’s grace and will. God simply is, and is as He is, eternally, and unchangingly, without cause, source, or origin; while all other beings which possess such qualities receive them from God Himself. God’s divinity, for instance, His dominion over all things, He possesses originally, as having it from Himself and no other; absolutely, as there is no exception or qualification to God’s divinity or dominion over all things; and supremely, as God alone is Most High over all, having supreme dominion over all. And so God is “the only God” in contrast to all others, even while others, and especially His only-begotten Son, are also properly called “God” on account of the divinity they have from Him.

Such exclusive language then, is indicative of the same thing taught elsewhere by scripture, that God is incomparably greater than all, such that all else in contrast to Him is as nothing; and so in contrast to all else that is good, and holy, and god, He alone is good, and holy, and God, as being incomparably greater than all else in such things, than whatever else may be described by such terms. For as the Son says of Him “There is none to compare with You.” (Ps 40:5).

One may then reasonably ask, what of the Son of God? Is He not like the Father? Indeed, He is; He is the Son of this one Who is incomparably greater than all; He is the Image of that Invisible God, the exact representation of His person, the brightness of His glory, His Word, and Wisdom, and only-begotten Son; God over, and greater than, everything else in the universe, but Himself having the Father, the one God, as His God, and confessing Him as greater than Himself. He is not equal to the Father, but subordinate to the Father; He does not make the Father one of several equal beings, but as the beloved and obedient Son and Image of the one Supreme Being, the only true God, makes His Father’s glory known, Himself being properly like the Father, but not equal with Him.

Would you desire to know the wisdom of the only wise God? Look to His Son, Who is His Wisdom, created by Him as the beginning of His ways for His works (Prov 8:22). Would you desire to know His goodness? Behold the good Word He begat (Ps 45:1), the Good Shepherd of His sheep (Jn 10:11). Would you desire to see His character, His actions, His dominion, His will? Look to the Son and you will see them in Him Who is the Image of the Invisible God, through Whom God performs His great works of creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming, and judging the universe, for the Father and He are one in the unity of their actions toward the universe, the unity of Their will, and in the moral likeness to the Father which the Son shares (Jn 10:30).

And in this very expression “the Image of the Invisible God” (Col 1:15) we see at once the Son’s likeness to the Father, and subordination to the Father; for certainly to be the Image of Father, He must bear the Father’s likeness; and yet, there is an obvious inequality between a thing and its image, the image being derived from the original, and serving to reflect the original, not the other way around. And in the case of Christ we see this difference also, that obviously, as Image, He is visible; for nothing which cannot be seen is properly regarded as an Image, and we have testimony from the scriptures that not only was He seen by men when He took on flesh, but also prior to this, as the Messenger of the LORD. Yet the one God, Whose Image He is, the “the invisible God”, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16 NASB) is invisible, and mortal men are wholly incapable of viewing Him except through the mediation of this one Who is His visible Image, His Son. And so the Son declares “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9 NASB). For by seeing that glorious being Who is the Son of the one and only God, and His proper Image, we behold the incomprehensible glory of the invisible only true God, in and through His Son.

The Son then is truly like the Father; but not so as to deny the very thing which He praises the Father for, that He is “greater than all”, and “greater than I”, and “There is none to compare with You”; He shows Himself to be good, and wise, and holy, and far greater and better than the universe which He has made at the will and command of the Father, yet never to the denial that His Father is alone good, is alone holy, is the only wise God, is alone sovereign, and that the His Father is “the only true God”, but rather He declares the incomparable greatness of His Father.

John 10:30 Commentary

I and my Father are one – John 10:30

He intended to meet the jeers of the wicked; for they might allege that the power of God did not at all belong to him, so that he could promise to his disciples that it would assuredly protect them. He therefore testifies that his affairs are so closely united to those of the Father, that the Father’s assistance will never be withheld from himself and his sheep. The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is (ὁμοούσιος) of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.

Source: Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible


The great question here is, whether these words are to be understood of the unity of the Father and Son, as to their same monadical essence, or (as many of the Ante-Nicene Fathers did interpret them) of an unity in will, design, affection and concord? That they could not be intended to declare an unity of their individual essence, seems highly probable, both from the context; from the like expressions in the Scripture; and from the very nature of the thing. First, from the context; for there our Savior saith, “The works that I do in my Father’s name”–that is, by his authority and power imparted to me–”bear witness of me” (ver. 25); which words are evidently repugnant to a numerical unity of essence in them both; since where the essence is one, the actions must be one, and done by the same authority and power. To which add, that the words, “I and my Father,” are words plainly importing two persons; for the word Father is personal, and the word I is a pronoun personal; so that if these two are one and the same God by virtue of this text, they must be one in person as well as essence. Moreover (ver. 29), “My Father which gave them me” (saith Christ) “is greater than all;” which again destroys the numerical unity of essence betwixt both; since no one essence can give any thing to itself, and much less a divine and all-perfect essence. Nor can one essence be greater than itself; whereas our Lord expressly saith, “My Father is greater than I” (John xiv. 28). Secondly: This will be farther evident from the parallel expressions used by our Lord in the same Gospel, where he prays that his disciples “may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they might be made perfect in one:” and yet, doubtless, he could not pray that his disciples might be one in essence with the Father and Son, but only that they might be one by having the Spirit of the Father and Son dwelling in them. In which sense, Athenagoras says the Father and Son are one, viz. ἐνότητι τοũ πνεύματος, by unity of the Spirit. Thus Origin interprets this verse. For, having cited these words, “I and my Father are one,”– If any one, saith he, is disturbed at these expressions, as if we favoured the opinion of the Noetians, who deny the Father and the Son to be δύο ὑποστάσεις, two singular existences, let him consider this text (Acts iv. 34), “All that believed were of one heart and one soul,” and then he will understand this, “I and my Father are one thing:” we serve, therefore, ὡς ἀποδεδώκαμεν, as we formerly explained it, one God the Father, and the Son; we worship the Father of the truth, and also the Son, who is the truth, being indeed two things in subsistence, but in agreement and consent and sameness of will, they are one. Here, indeed, he only saith we worship the Father of the truth, and the Son, who is the truth and wisdom; but in his comment on John (p. 70), he adds, that the Father is πλείων, μείζων ἀλήθεια, a fuller and greater truth, and, being the Father of wisdom, is greater and more excellent, as he is Wisdom, than the Son. Then he proceeds (p. 387) to shew, that among the multitude of believers, some, differing from the rest, rashly affirmed, as the Noetians did, that our Saviour was the God over all; which, saith he, we Christians, or we of the church, do not believe, as giving credit to the same Saviour, who said, “My Father is greater than I.” And, lastly, he saith (p. 38), We Christians manifestly teach, that the Son is not stronger than the Father, who is the Creator of the world, ἀλλ’ ὑποδεέστερος, but inferior in power to him; which words afford the clearest demonstration, that the church of that age did not believe that our Saviour was ὁ ἐπὶ πᾶσι Θεὸς, the supreme God, or one of the same numerical essence with the Father; and therefore could not interpret those words of such an unity, but only of an unity of concord, mind and will. Hence, in his comment upon St. John (p. 227), he saith, that this unity of will is the cause of why Christ said, “I and my Father are one;” and in his next page adds, that the will which is in Christ is the image of the first will, and the divinity which is in Christ is the image of the true divinity. Novatian is, if possible, still more express in this interpretation: for, in answer to the objection of the Sabellians from this place, he saith, that unum, being here put in the neuter gender, denotes not an unity of person, but a concord of society between them; they being deservedly styled one, by reason of their concord and love, and because whatsoever the Son is, he is from the Father. The apostle, saith he, knew this unity of concord with the distinction of persons, by writing to the Corinthians thus: “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” For who understands not that Paul is one person and Apollos another? and that they had divers offices, one to plant and another to water? And yet the apostle Paul saith of these two, ἔν εἰσι, “they are one,” though, as to the distinction of persons, they are two; with other things of like nature. And here it is to be observed, that Pamelius’s note upon these words is this: Nempe in hoc loco, non satis accurate scribere Novatianum, quod nullam essentiœ Patris, et Filii communicationem adferat, sed exemplum ab apostolo unitati essentiœ veluti contrarium; in quo certe hallucinatum fuisse auctorem non vereor dicere, quum postea ecclesia in diversis conciliis, diversum definiverit. That is, Novatian did not write accurately in this place, as making no mention of the communion of the essence betwixt the Father and the Son, but introducing an example from the apostle, as it were, contrary to it; in which thing I doubt not to pronounce him erroneous, seeing the church afterwards in divers councils defined the contrary. And yet it is certain that many of the Ante-Nicene fathers in effect said the same thing: for Justin pronounces the Son to be ἕτερος ἀπὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἀριθμῷ οὐ γνώμῃ, another from the Father in number, but not in consent. And his reason follows thus, because he never would do any thing but what ὁ τὸν κόσμον ποιήσας, ὑπὲρ ὃν ἄλλος οὐκ ἔστι θεὸς, βεβόληται καὶ πρᾶξαι καὶ ὁμιλῆσαι, the Maker of the world would have him do and speak. Where, first, this God the Father is plainly styled another in number from him that made the world; and, secondly, the Son is represented as one not doing his own will, but being in all things subservient to, and delivering the words of that God, from whom he is thus distinguished. Lactantius saith, that the Father and Son are one, quia unanimes incolunt mundum, because they unanimously dwell in the world. Eusebius pronounces the Father and Son to be one, οὐ καθ’ ὑπότασιν ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν κοινωνίαν τῆς δόξης, not as to the essence, but as to communion of glory. And lastly, the council of Antioch pronounceth the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be τρία μὲν ὑποστάσει τῆ δὲ συμϕωνίᾳ ἓν, that is, three in subsistence, but one only in consent or concord. Terullian declares, in answer to this objection of the Sabellians, that these words, “I and the Father,” duorum esse significationem, signify two; and then adds, that unum neutrali verbo non pertinet ad singularitatem, sed ad unitatem, ad similitudinem, ad conjunctionem, ad delectionem Patris qui Filium diligit; et ad obsequium Filii qui voluntatis Patris obsequitur: which last words shew that it is impossible that this text should be interpreted of the numerical essence or unity of the Father and Son; seeing one and the same essence cannot be obsequious or obedient to itself. And yet there is nothing more common among the Ante-Nicene fathers, than to say with Novatian, who having affirmed that the Son, obedierit Patri, et obediat, always did and always doth obey the Father, thence make this inference–Quid tam evidens esse ptest hunc non Patrem esse, sed Filium, quam quod obediens Patri Deo proponitur? What more evidently shews that Christ is not the Father, but the Son, than this, that Christ is obedient to the Father? (Cap. xxiii.) And again (Cap. xxx.), Filius nihil ex arbitrio suo gerit, nec ex concilio suo fecit, nec a se venit; sed imperiis paternus omnibus, et preceptis obedit, ut quamvis probet illum nativitas Filium, tamen morigera obedientia asserat ipsum paternæ voluntatis, ex quo est, ministrum. Ita dum se Patri in omnibus obtemperantem reddit, quamvis fit et Deus, unum tamen Deum Patrem de obedientia sua ostendit, ex quo et traxit, originem; that is, in short, the Son of God,  by his dutiful obedience to all his Father’s commands, and to his will (he doing nothing by his own will and counsel), by this demonstrated, that though he was God, yet the Father, from whom he came forth, and whom he obeyed, was the one God, even that one God, of whom he saith, Nos scimus et legimus et credimus et tenemus, unum esse Deum, qui fecit eælum pariter ac terram, quoniam nec alterum novimus, aut noscere (cum multus sit) aliquando poterimus; that is, we Christians know, believe and hold, that there is one only God, the Creator of heaven and earth; nor know we, nor can we know any other, because there is no other. And again, God the Father is unus Deus, cujus neque magnitudini, neque majestati, neque virtuti quicquam non dixerim præfferri, sed nec cimparari potest; that is, that one god, to whose greatness, majesty and power, nothing can be compared (Cap. xxx.). And indeed all the Greek fathers, from Justin to Eusebius inclusive, do frequently inform us that the Son did ὑπηρετεῖν τῷ θελήματι τοῦ Πατρὸς, obey the will of the Father, that he did ὑπουργεῖν, διακονεῖν, ὑπηρετεῖν, minister, and was subservient to him. And all that writ in Latin, from Tertullian to Lactantius inclusively, that he did Patris voluntati administrare, administer to the will of the Father; that he did obedire in omnibus Patri, obey the Father in all things; that the Son voluntati Patris fidelitur paret nec unquam faciat aut fecerit, nisi quod Pater aut voluit aut jussit, faithfully obeyed the will of his Father, and never doth or would do any thing but what the Father willed or ordered him to do (Lb. iv. C. xxix.). It being therefore certain, that one and the same essence can have but one and the same will, and that one singular and numerical essence cannot administer to the will, obey, and be subservient to the will and commands of another; hence it is demonstratively evident that he who does so, cannot have the same numerical essence and will with the Father.

Source: The Last Thoughts of Dr. Whitby

A Homoian Sermon

The following sermon or discourse dates from the late fourth or early fifth century, and was preserved among the writings of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote a work against the sermon. This may have served as a tract or catechism of sorts used by Homoians, and provides a fairly detailed account of their very scriptural understanding of the Trinity. This post is not an endorsement of everything the sermon says, however; read with discernment, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21 NKJV).

 

  1. “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten God, the firstborn of all creation,
  2. was established before all ages by the will of his God and Father.
  3. At the Father’s will and command, but by his own power, he made heavenly and earthly things, visible and invisible things, bodies and spirits, to exist out of non-existing things.
  4. Before he made all things, he was established as God and Lord, King and Creator of all things that were going to be. In his nature, he had foreknowledge of all things that were going to be, and awaited the order of the Father for every detail in making them. At the will and command of the Father, he came down from heaven and came into this world. As he said, “I have not come on my own, but he has sent me (Jn 8:42).
  5. Among all the spiritual and rational grades of being, human beings were obviously inferior, on account of the fragile condition of their body, for they were made a little less than the angels. So that they would not regard themselves as without value and despair of their salvation, the Lord Jesus honored what he had made and deigned to assume human flesh, and show that human beings are not without value, but precious. As scripture says, “A human being is great, and a man is precious (Prov 20:6 LXX). And therefore, he deigned to make human beings alone heirs to his Father and his coheirs so that they might have more in honor, though they had received less in their nature.
  6. “When the fulness of time came”, it says, “God sent his Son born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). He, who at the will of the Father assumed flesh, lived in the body at the will and command of the Father. As he said, “I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). At the will of the Father he was baptized at thirty years of age, and he was revealed by the voice and testimony of the Father. At the will and command of the Father, he preached the good news of the kingdom of heaven. As he said, “I must preach the good news to other cities, since I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4:43), and “he gave me a command as to what I should say or what I should speak”(Jn 12:49). Thus, at the will and command of the Father, he hurried toward his suffering and death. As he said, “Father, let this chalice pass from me, but not what I want, but what you want” (Mt 26:39). And as the apostle states, “He became obedient to the Father even to death, death upon the cross” (Phil 2:8).
  7. While hanging upon the cross, at the will and command of the Father, he also abandoned into the hands of men the human flesh which he assumed from the holy virgin, Mary, and commended his divinity into the hands of his Father, saying “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). For Mary gave birth to the body which was destined to die, but the immortal God begot the immortal Son. Hence, the death of Christ is not a lessening of his divinity, but the laying aside of the body. For, just as his generation from the virgin did not mean the corruption of his divinity, but the assumption of a body, so in his death his divinity did not suffer and fail, but only was separated from his flesh. For, just as one who tears a garment injures its wearer, so those who crucified his flesh offended his divinity.
  8. He, who at the will and command of the Father fulfilled the whole plan of salvation, raised his own body from the dead at the will and command of the Father, as he was taken up by the Father into glory with his body, as a shepherd with his sheep, as a priest with his sacrifice, as a king with his purple, as God with his temple.
  9. He, who at the will and command of the Father came down and ascended, at the will and command of the Father is seated at his right hand. He hears the Father saying to him, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet” (Ps 109:1). He, who at the will and command of the Father is seated at his right hand, will come at the end of the world at the will and command of the Father. As the apostle cries out and says, “At the word of command, at the word of an archangel, and at the trumpet of God, the Lord will come down from heaven” (1 Thes 4:15). He, who will come at the will and command of the Father, will judge the whole world with justice at the will and command of the Father. And he will repay individuals in accord with their faith and works. As he says, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son” (Jn 5:22). So too, he says, “As I hear, so I judge, and my judgement is true, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 5:30). Hence, in judging he gives first place to the Father and ranks his own divine honor and power second, when he says, “Come, blessed ones of my Father” (Mt 25:34). Hence, the Son is the just judge. Honor and authority belong to the one who judges; the imperial laws belong to the Father. Just as solicitous intercession and consolation belong to the Holy Spirit, so the dignity of the just judge belongs to the only-begotten God.
  10. Hence, the Son was born of the Father; the Holy Spirit was made through the Son.
  11. The Son proclaims the Father; the Holy Spirit makes known the Son.
  12. The first and principle work of the Son is to reveal the glory of the Father; and the first and principle work of the Holy Spirit is to disclose the dignity of Christ to the souls of human beings.
  13. The Son is witness to the Father; the Spirit is witness to the Son.
  14. The Son is sent by the Father; the Spirit is sent by the Son.
  15. The Son is the minister of the Father; the Holy Spirit is the minister of the Son.
  16. The Son receives orders from the Father; the Holy Spirit receives orders from the Son.
  17. The Son is subject to the Father; the Holy Spirit is subject to the Son.
  18. The Son does what the Father orders; the Holy Spirit speaks what the Son commands.
  19. The Son adores and honors the Father; the Holy Spirit adores and honors the Son. The Son himself says, “Father, I have honored you on earth; I have completed the task you gave me” (Jn 17:4). Of the Holy Spirit he says, “He will honor me, because he will receive from what is mine and announce it to you” (Jn 16:14).
  20. The Son can do nothing by himself, but awaits a sign from the Father fro every detail. The Spirit does not speak on his own, but awaits the Son’s command for everything. “He will not speak on his own”, he says, “But will speak whatever he will hear, and he will announce to you what is to come” (Jn 16:13).
  21. The Son pleads for us with the Father; the Spirit petitions the Son on our behalf.
  22. The Son is the living and true, proper and worthy image of the whole goodness and wisdom and power of God; the Spirit is the manifestation of the whole wisdom and power of the Son.
  23. The Son is not a part or a portion of the Father, but the proper and beloved, perfect and full, only-begotten Son. Nor is the Spirit a part or portion of the Son, but the first and principal work of the Son before all the others.
  24. The Father is greater than his Son; the Son is incomparably greater and better than the Spirit.
  25. The Father is God and Lord for his Son; the Son is God and Lord for the Spirit.
  26. The Father by his will begot the Son without changing or being changed; the Son made the Spirit by his power alone without toil or weariness.
  27. As priest, the Son adores his God, and he is adored by all as God and Creator of all. The Father alone adores no one, because he has no one greater or equal to adore; he thanks no one, because he has received a benefit from no one. Out of his goodness he has given being to all things; he has received his being from no one. There is, then, a distinction of the three substances, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and there is a difference of three realities, the unbegotten God, the only-begotten God, and the advocate Spirit. The Father is God and Lord for his Son and over all the things which by his will have been made through the power of the Son. The Son is the minister and high priest of his Father, but he is Lord and God of all his works, because that is what the Father wills.
  28. As no one can pass to the Father without the Son, so no one can adore the Son in truth without the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Son is adored in the Holy Spirit.
  29. The Father is glorified through the Son.
  30. The work and concern of the Holy Spirit is to make holy and protect the holy –to make holy, not merely rational beings, as some suppose, but also man beings lacking reason. It is to recall those who have fallen through their own negligence to their former state, to teach the ignorant, to admonish the forgetful, to rebuke sinners, to rouse the lazy to think of and to have concern for their salvation, to bring back the straying to the path of truth, to cure the sick, to check bodily weakness with strength of soul, to strengthen all in the love of piety and chastity, and to enlighten all. It is, above all, to bestow faith and charity on individuals in accord with their desire and concern, in accord with their simplicity and sincerity of mind, in accord with the measure of faith and the merit of their way of life; it is to distribute grace as it is needed and to place each individual in the work and vocation for which he is suited.
  31. He is different from the Son in nature and condition, rank and will, dignity and power, virtue and activity, just as the Son, the only-begotten God, is different from the Unbegotten in nature and condition, rank and will, divine dignity and power.
  32. Hence, the same one cannot be both Father and the Son, the one who generates and the one who is born, the one to whom witness is given and the one who gives witness, the greater and the one who confesses that he is greater. The same one cannot be the one who sits or stands at the right and the one who bestows the honor of that place, the one who was sent and the one who sent. The same one cannot be disciple and teacher, as he himself taught when he said, “As the Father has taught me, so I speak” (Jn 8:28). The same one cannot be both like and the one to whom he is like, the imitator and the one whom he imitates, the one who prays and the one who hears prayers, the one who gives thanks and the one who blesses, the one who receives the command and the one who gave the command, the minister and the commander, the supplicant and the sovereign, the subject and the superior, the only-begotten and the unbegotten, the priest and God.
  33. But God without beginning had foreknowledge that he was going to be the Father of the only-begotten God, his Son. He never had foreknowledge that he himself was going to be God, because he is unbegotten and never began to have foreknowledge or knowledge. What is foreknowledge but knowledge of what is going to be? Because he generated the Son, he was called Father by the Son, and because the Son has revealed him, he is known by all Christians as the God and Father of the only-begotten God, and he had been revealed as greater than the great and better than the good God.
  34. The Homoousians say that it was out of humility that our Savior said all these things concerning the foreknowledge of the Father and concerning his own subjection. We Christians believe that he said all these things because the Father commanded him and the Son obeyed. We state and prove that the heretics are refuted and trapped by their own statements. For if he humbled himself, this humility of his proves his obedience, while the obedience shows that the one tower above and that the other stands beneath and in subjection. As the apostle says, “He humbled himself, having become obedient even to death” (Phil 2:8). His humility is the truth, not a pretense. Is any wise man ever content to humble himself, unless he has someone greater and better whom he is anxious to please by his humility? He says, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn 8:29). He was born once before all ages by the will of the Father and does all things at his will. Heaven forbid that he humbled himself and lied! If the Truth lied -which is impossible- where may one look for the truth? But the Truth neither lied, nor does he change who came for the purpose of teaching the truth. He is not an instructor in ignorance, but the teacher of truth, as he said, “Do not allow yourselves to be called teachers on earth; you have one teacher, Christ” (Mt 23:10). But if they say that, in humbling himself on earth on account of his incarnation, he spoke these things on account of human beings, we shall show them that there are testimonies found in the scriptures concerning the subjection of the Son that are greater and stronger than those found in the gospel. After all, if he humbled himself on earth on account of human beings and did not, as the obedient and submissive Son, obey his Father with incomparable love and thanksgiving, why did he obey when commanded before he assumed flesh? After all, he is as humble in obedience as he is lofty in power. Why, now that he is sitting at the right hand of God, does he make intercession on our behalf? And why, when he was in the body on earth did he promise that he would in heaven ask the Father, saying “I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate” (Jn 14:16)? And if on all these points, on account of the hardness and blindness of their heart, they are still unwilling to believe, but dare to say that all these things were done out of humility, why would he humble himself after the end of the world when humility is not necessary on account of human beings, unless he knew that he was subject and obedient by nature and will? After the end of the world, all things will be subject to him, since even now all things are subject to him by nature, as creation is subject to the Creator, but we see that all things are not subject to him on account of free choice. Then, however, on the day of judgement, when at the name of Jesus every knee will bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father, all things will without end be subject to him both by will and by nature. And after all things are subject to him, he himself will remain in that subjection and love in which he always is, and as the Son he will be subject to him who has made all things subject to him [1 Cor 15:28]. No Christian who hears this can fail to know it, because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Thus God will be all things in all things, ever having monarchy and power over all. To him be glory and honor, praise and thanksgiving through his only-begotten Son, our Lord and Savior, in the Holy Spirit, now and for age upon age. Amen.”

 

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Maximinus’s Final Discourse (From His Debate With Augustine)

The debate between Augustine and Maximinus is well worth reading in full (see here). That will provide the reader with the larger context of this discourse, which is useful for understanding it. But even without the context, this discourse, in response to many points made by Augustine in the foregoing debate, is an excellent window into Homoian beliefs on the Trinity.

Maximinus’s theology is clearly founded upon the belief that scripture is a sufficient and trustworthy source of knowledge concerning Christian doctrine; a doctrine that cannot be proved from the scriptures, is not known to be true, while whatever is proved from the scriptures, is certain. That said, Maximinus, like all men, is fallible; while most of what he says is golden, this does not make him infallible. This post is therefore not meant as a wholesale endorsement of all that he says here. We must (following his own example) accept only that we can see to be demonstrated from the holy scriptures to be true, not merely assenting to anything he says simply because he said it. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21 NKJV).

The Discourse, in response to Augustine:

Maximinus said, “As a man protected by the power of princes, you speak not a word with the fear of God. I have waited many hours; you have explained your point of view. With God as our help, we will answer each point. After all, we are protected not by mere talk, but by the testimonies of the divine scriptures. But just as we were patient while Your Holiness gave your explanation, now be as patient as you were wordy, and we will give our answer to each of your claims, just as you answered what you wanted to ours.

“We worship Christ as the God of every creature. For he is adored and worshipped, not only by human nature, but also by all the heavenly powers. Listen to blessed Paul as he cries out, Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Since he was in the form of God, he did not think it robbery to be equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of the servant, having come to be in the likeness of men and found in appearance as a man. He humbled himself, having become obedient even to death, death upon the cross. For this reason God has exalted him and has given him the name that is above every name. You thought, in any case, that you should slip that passage into your discourse, though you knew that it was opposed to what you profess, though you knew the passage would refute you.†89 Paul goes on to say that every knee is bent to Christ. After he had said, He gave him the name that is above every name, he adds, so that at the name of Jesus every knee is bent, of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord in the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:5-11). In saying, so that at the name of Jesus every knee is bent, of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, he includes everything. There is nothing in heaven that does not bend the knee to Christ; there is nothing remaining on earth that does not bend the knee to Christ; there is nothing under the earth that does not bend the knee to Christ. And the Father gave him this. Those who read can test whether I made this point on my own authority and with many words, as you charge, or whether I have answered with the authority of the divine scriptures.†90

15, 3. “You say that the Holy Spirit is equal to the Son.†91 Provide the scripture passages in which the Holy Spirit is adored, in which those beings in heaven and on earth and under the earth bend their knee to him. We have learned that God the Father is to be adored from the exclamation of blessed Paul, Therefore, I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in the heavens and on earth has its name (Eph 3:14-15). By the authority of the holy scriptures we adore the Father; likewise, taught by these divine scriptures we worship and adore Christ as God. Do the scriptures anywhere say that the Holy Spirit should be adored? If the Father bore witness to him to that effect, if the Son did so, if he himself has made such claims concerning himself, read it from the scriptures against what we have said.†92

15, 4. “Paul also goes on to say in another passage that Christ is at the right hand of God and that he makes intercession on our behalf.†93 He says, Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). He writes to the Hebrews as follows, After he accomplished the purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the greatness on high (Heb 1:3). In any case, the Holy Spirit had also foretold this through the prophet, when he said, The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand” (Ps 109:1). The Son himself claimed this in the gospel.†94 Moreover, to that official who questioned him, saying, Tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of the blessed God, he said, I am, or at least, You say it, and Soon you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power of God (Mk 14:61-62 and Mt 26:63-64).

15, 5. “We properly honor the Holy Spirit as teacher, as guide, as enlightener, as sanctifier. We worship Christ as creator; we adore the Father with sincere devotion as author, and we proclaim everywhere to all that he is the one author. Your false accusations stem from instruction in the art of philosophy. I do not believe that you have failed to read†97 what the apostle says, though Christ was certainly not a sinner, he committed sin for us,†98 that we might be made the justice of God in him (2 Cor 5:21). Perhaps these words of scripture have not come to your attention, Cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree (Dt 21:23). When he interpreted this, the blessed apostle Paul said, He became a curse for us so that the blessing upon the nations might be brought to fulfillment (Gal 3:13). And, of course, these words escaped your attention, where Paul himself says, The first man, Adam, was earthly from the earth; the second man, the Lord, as heavenly, came from heaven (1 Cor 15:47). And so, Christ has assumed a man, as you yourself have explained.†99 For that reason, we said that he came down to earthly contacts.†100 We are not unaware of the passage where we read, He committed no sin, nor was guile found on his lips. When he was cursed, he did not curse in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Pt 2:22-23).†101 Nor are we unaware of what John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). We agree with what you go on to say. After all, we should not oppose everything and fail to praise what you say well. What you go on to say is quite correct. Christ came rather to cleanse us from sins and iniquities and not to be soiled, as you went on to say.†102 It is certain that, in accord with that blessed substance of his divinity which he had before creation of the world, before the ages, before time, before days, before months, before years, before anything existed,†103 before any thought, he was born from the Father†104 as God in that blessed nature.†105

15, 6. “In the case of God you should use a worthy comparison. I am, of course, displeased and pained at heart over what you go on to say, namely, that a human being generates a human being, a dog a dog. You should not use so foul a comparison for such greatness.†106

15, 7. “Who does not know that God begot God, that the Lord begot the Lord, that the King begot the King, that the Creator begot the Creator, that the Good begot the Good, that the Wise begot the Wise, that the Merciful begot the Merciful, and that the Powerful begot the Powerful? In generating the Son, the Father took nothing away from the Son. He is not envious, but as the source of goodness he begot this great good.†107 All of creation bears witness to his goodness, in accord with your statement, which I highly praise.†108 You drew from the divine scriptures the words, From the creation of the world his invisible reality, having been understood, is seen through those things that have been made, even his everlasting power and divinity (Rom 1:20).†109

15, 8. “I say nothing in opposition to what has been well said, but simply add my agreement. I say that from the greatness of their beauty their Creator is known and worshipped. In my opinion, we have given a response to these points, for blessed Paul again continues as follows, Since Christ removed from our midst the charge which was against us, nailing it to the cross, and stripping himself of the flesh, he boldly made an example of the powers and principalities, triumphing over them in himself (Col 2:14-15). If, as a man not trained in the liberal arts and rhetoric, I have committed any fault in speaking, you ought to have looked to the meaning and, without focusing on the fault in our speech, refrained from leveling an accusation against us.†110 Heaven forbid, heaven forbid! The only-begotten God is God of all creation, clean, unstained, holy, secure, without any impurity. After all, one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (Jn 5:23).

“The evangelist bears witness that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. He says, And we have seen his glory, the glory as if of the Only-Begotten by the Father, full of grace and of truth (Jn 1:14). The Old Testament had sung†111 of him even before, saying, He will wash his mantle in wine and his cloak in the blood of the grape (Gn 49:11). I believe what I read, for the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. Again, I read that blessed Paul said, He who transformed our lowly body to become conformed to the image of his glorious body (Phil 3:21). I believe that Christ, God born of the Father before all ages, built for himself, according to Solomon, a perfect†112 home. We read, Wisdom has built a home for itself (Prv 9:1), and he took this home in place of a temple.

15, 9. “You yourself have explained the sense in which he is visible and the sense in which he is invisible.†113 In my opinion, Your Holiness has not just recently heard this objection. After all, in the rest of your argument that followed, you used the comparison with the soul. You showed that there is a pious and just reason for us to believe and know that, if the human soul located in a body cannot be seen by bodily eyes, the Creator of the soul is far less able to be seen by bodily eyes. If the angels are invisible in accord with the substance of their nature, how much more invisible is the creator of the angels who made them so great and so good: Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim? As we read in the gospel, he said that in comparison to their multitude the whole human race was one sheep, when he said, Having left the ninety-nine in the mountains, he came to seek the one that was lost. Later he added, Thus there will be more joy in heaven over the one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just ones who have no need of penance (Lk 15:4.7). Who are those who have no need of penance but those heavenly powers who have nothing in common with human nature? We should consider the power of the only-begotten God, and in him we should marvel at the greatness of the omnipotence of God the Father.†114 He has begotten a Son so great and so good, so powerful, so wise, so full, who has made such good and such great heavenly powers.

“I do not want to be found guilty of the wordiness of which you have already accused us. And yet I wish that would happen so that we could†116 say, We have become fools for the sake of Christ, and We have become like the refuse of this world (1 Cor 4:10.13) and whatever else Your Holiness might want to judge us to be. We know him who said, Because of you I have borne insults all the day (Ps 68:8). Paul stirs us by his example, when he says, Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ (1 Cor 4:16). And Peter said, Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that we might follow his footsteps (1 Pt 2:21).

“According to the substance of his divinity, the Son is seen neither by the angels nor by the heavenly powers. For an archangel can see an angel,†117 and an angel can see and penetrate our spiritual souls. That means, of course, that the greater can see and penetrate the inferior. The Savior said to the man who boasted that he was rich, Fool, this night your soul will be demanded of you†118 (Lk 12:20). In accord with this statement of the Savior, it is the function of an angel to present the soul before the sight of the Lord. But a soul cannot see or reveal an angel. In this order ascend higher, and you will find that God the Father alone is invisible, because he does not have a superior who can see him. He is so great that he is infinite; he can be neither limited by words nor grasped by the mind. Not only the human tongue, but also all the heavenly powers joined together speak as they can of his greatness; still they do not explain it as it is. He is the fullness of everything that can be said.

“The Son alone worthily honors and praises him to the extent that he has obtained incomparably more from his Father. The four gospels bear witness that he honors and praises and glorifies his Father. Nonetheless, I will save time by leaving aside all those passages which you usually attribute to the flesh,†119 and I will now produce testimonies where he adores his Father in heaven. Does not Paul speak as follows to the Hebrews, For Christ, the representation of the truth, has entered, not into temples made by hand; rather, he now appears in heaven before the face of God on our behalf? (Heb 9:24).†120 He says this after Christ’s return to heaven. Afterwards he spoke from heaven, saying, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4). Later the Holy Spirit said, Set aside for me Barnabas and Paul for the work of ministry to which I have called them (Acts 13:2). Once he had been called, Paul said, Jesus, the representation of the truth, has entered, not into temples made by hand; rather, he now appears in heaven before the face of God on our behalf.

“Your Holiness suggested that we answer whether the Son sees the Father. We read in the gospel, Not that anyone has seen the Father, but he who has come from God has seen the Father (Jn 6:46). Hence, he saw the Father, but he saw the incomprehensible. But the Father, who holds and keeps the Son in his embrace, sees him according to the testimony I previously produced, that No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the embrace of the Father has revealed him (Jn 1:18). The Father sees the Son as the Son; the Son sees the Father as the immense Father.

“Your Holiness has declared that human wisdom is invisible. In my opinion, the words of Isaiah suffice, when he says, Is it a slight thing for you to do battle with men? How then will you do battle with God? (Is 7:13). It is certainly not a slight thing to do battle with men, since however wise anyone is, he has someone wiser who sees him. Is his wisdom, then, not seen in his action? Is it not tested in his disciples? Hence, human wisdom is not invisible; it can be comprehended, seen and grasped.†121

“Moreover, it is proper and a mark of order that you employ worthy comparisons. After all, you are speaking of God, of that immensity, to which, even if one draws a comparison as great as possible in terms of human thought or even in accord with the authority of the divine scriptures, one finds that the comparison is inadequate in every respect to him who is incomparable.

15, 10. “In accord with the testimonies that I have produced, I say that the Father alone is the one God, not one along with a second and a third, but that he alone is the one God. If he alone is not the one God, he is a part.†122 I deny, after all, that the one God is composed of parts; rather, his nature is unbegotten, simple power. The Son before all ages is himself begotten†123 as power. The apostle spoke of this power of the Son, When you and my spirit are gathered together with the power of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 5:4). I state and profess what the holy gospels teach us. I state and profess that the Holy Spirit is also power in his proper character. The Lord bore witness concerning him, when he said to his disciples, Remain in the city of Jerusalem, until you are clothed from on high with power (Lk 24:49).

15, 11. “If you claim that the Son is invisible, because he cannot be looked upon by human eyes, why do you not claim that the heavenly powers are also equally invisible, since they too cannot be seen by human sight? I have offered a testimony without any interpretation of my words, when I said, The blessed and alone powerful, the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tm 6:15).†124 If I have cited the scripture, I should not to be blamed. But if you are looking for the meaning of the scripture, I will add an explanation.

15, 12. “The apostle says, The blessed and alone powerful, the King of kings. He calls the Father alone powerful, not because the Son is not powerful. Listen to the Holy Spirit crying out and bearing testimony to the Son, Lift up the gates, you†125 princes; be raised up, eternal gates, and the king of glory will enter. He continues, Who is this king of glory? Listen to the answer, The Lord strong and powerful (Ps 23:7-8). How can he fail to be powerful, when every creature proclaims his power?

15, 13. “How can he fail to be wise, when the Holy Spirit cries out in praise of his wisdom and says, How magnificent are your works, O Lord! You have made all things in wisdom (Ps 103:24). Since all things were made through Christ, the Holy Spirit undoubtedly praises him when he says, You have made all things in wisdom. Since that is so, we must ask how blessed Paul can say, The blessed and alone powerful. In my opinion, he calls him alone powerful, because he is alone incomparable in power. In awe before his incomparability, the prophet said, O God, who is like you? (Ps 82:2). Do you want to know that he alone is powerful? Look at the Son and admire the power of the Son. Recognize in the Son that the Father is alone powerful, because he has begotten one so powerful. In his immense power the Father begot the powerful creator.†126 In his power that he received from the Father, the Son did not create the creator, but established creation. He says, All things have been handed over to me by my Father (Mt 11:27). In awe of this power of God the Father, Paul said, The blessed and alone powerful. Job was a powerful and true man. We read, That man was a true and just worshipper of God, and in further describing his region, it says that he was powerful and great among all those in the East (Jb 1:1.3). How then can the Father alone be powerful? It says alone, because no one is comparable to him, because he alone has such greatness, such might, such power.

“In the same way, the blessed apostle Paul proclaims that the Father alone is wise, when he says, God who alone is wise (Rom 16:27). But we must look for an explanation of why he alone is wise, since Christ is also wise. You have already cited Christ the power of God and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). We too have given testimonies that he created all things in wisdom. But the Father alone is truly wise. We believe the scriptures, and we venerate the divine scriptures. We do not want a single particle of a letter to perish, for we fear the threat that is stated in these divine scriptures, Woe to those who take away or add! (Dt 4:2). Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom.†127 We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.’†128 If you want, I will offer testimonies. For the blessed apostle John speaks as follows, One who loves the Father also loves him who was born from him (1 Jn 5:1).

15, 14. “I am amazed, my friend. You say that the Holy Spirit has the same substance as the Father.†129 If the Son has the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit also has the same substance as the Father, why is the one a son and the other not a son? What else can you say, since he has the same substance, since, as you say, he is equal to the Son? Why has he not been made the heir to all things? Why is he not a son as well? Why does he not have the same title as Christ, the firstborn of all creation? (Col 1:15). If he is equal, there is no longer just one only-begotten, since he has another besides himself who has been begotten—and begotten, moreover, from the same substance of the Father from which you say that the Son has come.

“This is painful to hear, for you do not compare that great magnificence to the nobility of the soul, but to the fragility of the body. Flesh is, of course, born from the body, a bodily offspring. But the soul is not born from a soul. If, then, our soul generates without corruption and passion, not experiencing any lessening or any defilement, but lawfully in accordance with God-given rights generates an offspring, in wisdom giving its consent to the body,†130 it itself remains whole. How much more will the omnipotent God do so?†131 I said just before that words fail us in every human comparison with God,†132 though we try to put it as best we can. How much more incorruptibly has the incorruptible God the Father begotten the Son? He has, however, begotten him. Note my carefulness, for I have the testimonies of the holy scriptures, Who will tell of his generation? (Is 53:8). He begot as he willed, as one with power,†133 taking nothing away; he begot one with power without any envy entering in.

“I have said: It is not proper for religious persons to make false accusations.†134 I profess the Word of God, the Word of God, not mortal, not corruptible. Scripture cries out concerning the body he assumed for our salvation, My flesh will rest in hope, that is, in the hope of resurrection, because you will not leave my soul in the underworld and you will not permit your holy one to see corruption (Ps 15:9-10). If he who is called the holy one is the Son of God, he has not seen corruption, because he rose from the dead on the third day. How much more does the divinity that assumed the body remain incorruptible! Why do you say what you do not understand? If I have not given you an answer on all these points, I shall rightly be judged to lack understanding; still, it is not the mark of religion to attack someone unjustly.

“I not merely claim that the wisdom of the Son of God is immortal, but I also will prove that the wisdom of the saints of God is immortal. If they, that is, their bodies, are called back to immortality, how much more will that living wisdom of theirs, which flourishes in all believers until the end of the world, remain immortal? Though I have in this long discourse passed over any discussion of the immortality of the omnipotent God, of whom the blessed apostle Paul spoke, Who alone has immortality (1 Tm 6:16), I will repeat the text and offer an interpretation with God’s help and grace. He is described as alone having immortality just as he is described as alone powerful and alone wise.†135 What spiritual person does not know that the human soul is immortal? After all, we have the statement of the Lord saying, Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul (Mt 10:28), for it is immortal. Since, then, the soul is immortal, we see that the heavenly powers are much more immortal. The Savior said, He who keeps my word will not see death forever (Jn 8:51). If one who keeps the word of Christ will not see death forever, how much more immortal is he according to the power of his divinity, whose word has such force? We have already given an explanation of the words, Who alone has immortality. The Son has immortality, but receives it from the Father. All the heavenly powers have immortality, but they receive it through the Son, because all things are through him. But the Father alone truly has immortality, since he has not obtained it from someone else, since he has no father, since he has no origin.

“The Son, however, as you went on to say, was begotten from the Father. You often claim that the Son is equal to the Father, although the only-begotten God always and everywhere proclaims the Father as his author, and from him, as I said just before, he professed that he obtained life. He said, Just as the Father has life in himself, so he gave it to the Son that he has life in himself (Jn 5:26). See, then, how he also received immortality and incorruptibility and inaccessibility along with life from the Father. The Father has life in himself and does not receive it from another. Thus he is truly the blessed and alone powerful. Who has emptied himself? (Phil 2:7). The Father or the Son? Who pleased whom? Who was more anxious to please than he who said, I always do those things which are pleasing to him? (Jn 8:29). Who is it who, when he came to the tomb of Lazarus, said, Father, I thank you, because you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this because of those who are present so that they may believe that you sent me (Jn 11:41-42). When his disciples asked him about the eyes of the man born blind, Who sinned? This man or his parents? who was it who answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Rather it was that the works of God might be made manifest in him. I must do the works of him who sent me? (Jn 9:2-4). This is, of course, the beloved Son of the Father who, when he took bread, did not first break it, but first looked up to heaven and thanked his Father. Then he broke it and distributed it. So too, in his passion, or rather just before his passion, as the evangelist reports,†136 The Lord Jesus, on the night on which he was betrayed, took bread and, giving thanks, broke it (1 Cor 11:23-24).

“In order not to overwhelm you with eloquent discourse and abundant testimonies, by producing very many,†137 I will finish up quickly. This is the Son who proclaimed that nothing happened without the permission of the Father, not even the death of a sparrow. He said, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?

Yet not one of them falls to the earth apart from the will of the Father (Mt 10:29). He, of course, spoke of the power he received from the Father, I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again. After all, I have this command from my Father (Jn 10:18). If this is what the gospels report, let us hold what we read. But if they say something else, or I have left something out in forgetfulness, I ask to be corrected. I am not the sort of person who will not accept correction, especially since blessed Paul commanded that a bishop be docile.†138 But one is docile who learns every day and makes progress by teaching what is better. We do not reject something better, if it is offered; we are ready for everything, even though we are treated unjustly. Nonetheless, in order not to be an obstacle to the truth, we do not complain of our injuries, but proclaim the glory of God.

15, 15. “The words of the apostle are certain: Since he was in the form of God. Who denies that the Son is in the form of God? We have already, I think, amply explained that he is God, that he is Lord, that he is King.†139 Because he did not think it robbery to be equal to God, the blessed apostle Paul has taught that he did not steal it, nor do we say that he stole it.†140 But we preach with all our might that he emptied himself, having become obedient to the Father even to death, death upon the cross (Phil 2:6-8). We are called sons by grace; we were not born such by nature. Hence, the Son is the only-begotten, because the Son was born what he is according to the nature of his divinity. You should apply the term ‘brother’ to the Holy Spirit, since you claim that he is on a par with and equal to the Son and profess that he is equally of the substance of the Father. And if that is the case, then the Son is not the only-begotten, since there is another of the same substance.†141

“We have not admitted a nature in God, the unborn Father.†142 We believe Christ’s words, God is spirit (Jn 4:24). The Son was born, as we said; we too profess the true Son and do not deny that he is like the Father, as we have also been taught by the scriptures.†143 Since we are accused of holding different natures, know what it is that we say, namely, that the Father who is spirit begot a spirit†144 before all ages, that God begot God, and everything else that was said above.†145 The true and unborn Father begot the true Son. But when the Lord says in the gospel, That they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (Jn 17:3), he says that the Father is alone true, as he is alone good, alone powerful, and alone wise.

“In my opinion, not even the devil has dared to say that the Father did not beget a perfect Son before all else.†146 For he did not beget one in the process of becoming perfect.†147 You have accepted the comparison with a human being. If human beings could generate an offspring that was perfect at the start, they would not generate a child that would eventually with the increase of years fulfill the parents’ desire. But the Father, who is truly blessed and alone powerful, begot the Son such as he is now and remains forever, not in the process of becoming perfect, but perfect.†148 He received his perfection, of course, from his Father from whom he also obtained life.

“The Savior made the statement, By the words of two or three witnesses every statement will be confirmed (Mt 18:16). You have produced the testimony of the apostle, Since he was in the form of God, he did not think it robbery, and you have interpreted it according to your judgment. We, in my opinion, have answered you squarely. It will be up to the judgment of our listeners which of the two they choose. Either let them approve, in accord with the rest of the passage, the Son who obeys the Father, who emptied himself, taking the form of the servant, to whom the Father gave, as we said, the name that is above every name, or let them approve your interpretation, if anyone understands it.

15, 16. “I ascend to my God and your God (Jn 20:17). You claim, as I think you say, that the Lord said this on account of the form of the servant which he assumed. If he humbled himself while he was in a human body, still, after he had conquered death and triumphed over the devil, he continued to use this sort of language.†149 It was after the resurrection when he said, I ascend to my Father and your Father. Then the humility of the flesh was no longer needed, as you say, on account of the Jews, but the entire rule of the faith was handed on. In the same way, in another passage after his resurrection, when his disciples were gathered on Mount Olivet, he said, All power in heaven and on earth has been given me. Go, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28:18-20).

“If the Son said this for the sake of humility and not of truth, why did the apostle dare to repeat the same thing and say, The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory? (Eph 1:17). Or why did he say, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knows, he who is blessed forever? (2 Cor 11:31). Why did he say, So that, united in one voice, you may honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (Rom 15:6). Why does he add to this and say, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (2 Cor 1:3). Why did even the Holy Spirit say to the Son before the Incarnation, Hence, God, your God, has anointed you? (Ps 44:8).

“Although you will want to argue the point, you will not be able to prove that it was his body that was anointed. We read that he was baptized,†150 but not that he was anointed in the body. From that passage where it says, Hence, God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness before your companions (Ps 44:8), we are shown that the oil of gladness refers by the word ‘oil’ to that joy of which Solomon spoke, I was the one with whom he was delighted every day. I rejoiced before his face always, when he rejoiced over the world he had made and rejoiced over the sons of men (Prv 8:30-31). We read in the Book of Genesis that God the Father, as it says, saw all the works of the Son, and behold, they were all very good (Gn 1:31). Praising the work of the Son, he was glad and rejoiced in the Son, and the Son rejoiced equally in the sight of his Father, when the will of the Father had been accomplished. All divinely inspired scripture is useful for teaching (2 Tm 3:16). For that reason, not one least letter or one particle of a letter will pass away (Mt 5:18). The Lord said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mt 24:35).

15, 17. “It is agreed that the Son was in the beginning and was with the Father and was God, and he was in the beginning with God as the firstborn of all creation, and all things were made through him, and without him nothing has been made.†151 That cannot be interpreted as referring to the Holy Spirit. You will not find words reported in the divine scriptures to support the claim that he is equal to the Son. If the Son was in the beginning, the Father was before the beginning and without beginning, insofar as he is unbegotten and unborn. The Son, however, was in the beginning as the firstborn of all creation.†152 He was before all creation, before anything was, and he was with God and he was God, and he was in the beginning with God.

15, 18. “What if you should hear the Father saying, The beginning with you, in the day of your power, in the splendors of the saints, from the womb I begot you before the morning star (Ps 109:3)? You profess that he was born from the womb of his mother according to the flesh—something even the Jews believe. Why do you not produce those testimonies that show his birth in the beginning, just as you instructed us by the previous testimony? He regarded himself as indebted to his Father on account of the body in which he emptied himself. He who, though he was rich, became poor for our sake (2 Cor 8:9), as the apostle says. It is much more necessary that, as the beloved Son, he always offers to his Father the reverence and service he owes to him who has begotten one so great and so good.

“You did very well, when you said that he was subject even to his parents on account of the form of the servant.†153 We find that he was subject to the parents he created, for all things were made through him, and we know that the Son was begotten by the Father, not after some time, but before all time. And if he was subject to his parents, as the authority of divine scripture proclaims more clearly than light, how much the more was he subject to his Father who begot him as one so great and so good! In accord with this the apostle Paul says, When all things have been subjected to the Son, then even the Son will be subject to him who has subjected all things to him (1 Cor 15:28). You want us to say that we profess that all things will be subject to the body, or rather to the saving history that he assumed on our behalf, that the body will be subject to the Father, not the Son the only-begotten God.†154 For we know and believe that the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son that all might honor the Son, just as they also honor the Father (Jn 5:22-23). We profess this, because in the resurrection when all things will be subject to the Son, when all will honor and venerate and adore him, then the Son will certainly not exalt himself. Rather, he will be found subject to the Father along with all the things that are subject to him so that he may say, Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world (Mt 25:34).

15, 19. “We have already mentioned the passage that you seem to have, in your judgment, taken as favoring your side. Still, the words of the apostle remain, that we do not know how to ask in a fitting manner, but the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with indescribable groans. You thought you prevailed against our argument, when you said, ‘Hence, the Holy Spirit is so unhappy that he groans?’†155 We do not say that the Holy Spirit is unhappy. Rather, the passage reveals the glory of the Holy Spirit. After all, he does not groan on his own behalf. Listen to the passage,†156 for he groans on behalf of the saints (Rom 8:26-27). Nor does the Son plead and make intercession on his own behalf, but on our behalf, as I have already shown in the foregoing.†157 He who is faithful in a small matter is found faithful also in the greater (Lk 16:10).

15, 20. “Nor can anyone claim that the Father and the Son are one except in the way in which you yourself and we can prove by the very examples you used. If, as you say, the apostle affirms, He who clings to the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor 6:17), there is, of course, one spirit in agreement, fulfilling the will of God, according to the teaching of the Savior. He also taught us to pray this way so that among the rest of our prayers we say, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven (Mt 6:10). We are, of course, earth. Just as, then, the will of God is done in the heavenly beings, may it be also accomplished in us who make this prayer, and may we fulfill it with our actions so that we become one spirit with God when we want what God wants.

“When the Son himself was near to his passion, he cried out this same prayer to his Father, saying, Abba, Father, let this cup pass from me, but not as I want, but as you want (Mk 14:36). By saying, Not as I want, but as you want, he showed that his will was truly subject to his Father. For the sake of doing his will, he came down from heaven, as he says, I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me (Jn 6:38). Hence, the will of the Son is in agreement and harmony with the will of the Father. To the extent that the Son as God is greater than every creature, to that extent he is found to be more in agreement with the will of the Father and clings the more to his Father. I mean that, as the beloved Son, he clings to his Father in love and affection and unity and agreement and harmony. We ought to accept all the things that are brought forth from the holy scriptures with full veneration. The divine scripture has not come as a source of our instruction so that we might correct it. How I wish that we may prove to be worthy disciples of the scriptures!

15, 21. “I accept the words you brought forth, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16). God does not dwell in a human being that the Holy Spirit has not first sanctified and cleansed. So too, it was said to Mary, the blessed virgin, The Holy Spirit will come over you, that is, to sanctify and cleanse. Then it continues, And the power of the most high will overshadow you (Lk 1:35). You yourself have already said that Christ is the power of the most high. The truth is not obtained by argumentation, but is proved by certain testimonies.†158 For this reason you ought to produce testimonies that the Holy Spirit is God, that he is Lord, that he is King, that he is the Creator, that he is the Maker, that he is seated with the Father and the Son, that he is adored, if not by heavenly beings, at least by earthly ones. Perhaps, if I may say so, you are going to show that he is adored at least by those beneath the earth.

“We say these things, not to take anything away from the Holy Spirit. After all, it is the Holy Spirit, as we have said above, without whom no one can say that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:3). It is in the Holy Spirit that we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom 8:15). It is the great and good Holy Spirit upon whom even the angels desire to gaze (1 Pt 1:12). He is so good and so powerful that everywhere in all creation, whether in the east or in the west, in the north or in the south, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. His nature is such that he is present everywhere to all who call upon God in the truth.†159 He is so good and so great that, wherever anyone is baptized, whether in the east or in the west or wherever, the Holy Spirit is present there at the same time. See how great is the power of the Holy Spirit. If anyone takes anything away from the Holy Spirit, he certainly takes it away from the only-begotten God, through whom all things were made, and without him nothing has been made (Jn 1:3), just as one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (Jn 5:23).

15, 22. “You claim that Christ, our Savior, did not say, ‘that we and they may be one,’ but ‘That they may be one in their nature and their substance, united and joined together in harmonious equality,†160 as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one on account of the same undivided nature.’†161 I quote the passage again, and the readers can see for themselves what Christ said. He says in the gospel, praying to his Father for his disciples, Father, make them one, as we also are one, as I in you and you in me, that they may also be one in us, that this world may know that you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me (Jn 17:21-23). I believe what I read; he speaks of love, not of substance. It is certain, however, that the Savior said, He who hears my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. But he who loves me is loved by my Father, and I will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him (Jn 14:21.23). If that great loftiness and majesty of the Father and of the Son is received within the one humble dwelling of our mind, how much more certain is it that the Son is and will undoubtedly be in the Father. He is there as the Son, as an other than the Father, though the Father and the Son are, as you have explained,†162 one in harmony (unum), not one in number (unus).†163 The first ‘one’ pertains to harmony; the second to the singular number.

“You also brought forth the testimony of blessed Paul which we gladly accepted, for it is a solid form of truth that is brought forth even by its opponents. You cited Paul’s words, I have planted, Apollo watered, but God has given the increase. Therefore, neither is he who plants something nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. He who plants and he who waters are one; each, however, will receive his reward according to his labor (1 Cor 3:6-8).†164 Notice, then, that, though they are one in harmony, nonetheless, each will receive his reward according to his labor. Look, then, at what the Lord says, The Father and I are one (Jn 10:30), which we believe and accept with certain faith. He who says, ‘I,’ is the Son; in saying, ‘the Father,’ he indicates that the Father is another. He says, ‘one in harmony (unum),’ not one in number (unus). I have often said that one (unum) pertains to harmony. How could the Father and the Son not be one, when the Son cries out, I always do those things which are pleasing to the Father (Jn 8:29)? He would not be one with the Father, if on occasion he acted in opposition to the Father. Even the apostles are one in this sense with the Father and the Son, insofar as in all things they aim at the will of God the Father and are themselves found to be subject to the one God the Father in imitation of the Son.†165 We do not read that the Savior prayed only for the apostles that they might be one, but also for those who would believe through their word. He said, I do not ask for these alone, but for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, just as you, Father, in me and I in you, that they may be one in us, that this world may know that you have sent me and have loved them just as you have loved me. He speaks of love, as we said, not of divinity. Who does not know that Paul is Paul and that Apollo is Apollo, though Paul himself says, I have labored more than all these; not I, but the grace of God with me (1 Cor 15:10)? He who labors the more, gains the more. But they are one in agreement, in harmony, in love, when they do what God wants.

15, 23. “You say that God is one. Show me whether the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God or whether we should call the Father alone God, whose Son, Christ, is our God. Are you urging us to profess one God the way the Jews do? From the subjection of the Son, are we not shown, as the Christian faith holds, that there is one God whose Son is our God, as we have said? Believe Paul that the Father and the Son are not a single one (unus), as he proclaims in nearly every letter. He says, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3 and Eph 1:2). He also says, One is God the Father, from whom are all things, and we are in him, and one is the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we are in him†166 (1 Cor 8:6). This is the one whom we Christians preach as the one God, and the Son proclaims that he is good, when he says, No one is good save the one God (Mk 10:18). It is not that Christ is not good, for he says, I am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11). It is not that the Holy Spirit is not good; hear the prophet as he cries out, Your good Spirit will lead me in the right path (Ps 142:10). Hear too the witness of the Savior who says, A good man brings forth good things from the treasure of his heart (Lk 6:45). Moreover, every creature of God is very good. If a creature is good, if man is good, if the Holy Spirit is good, if Christ is good, we must investigate how there is one who is good. The Savior, of course, said, No one is good save the one God, because he is the source of goodness and has received his goodness from no one. Christ has received his goodness from his Father so that he is good, and every good creature of God has received through Christ its goodness. But whether it is the Son or those who were made through him, each has drawn his goodness from that one source of goodness in accord with the measure of his faith. But the Father has received his goodness from no one. Thus Christ says, No one is good save the one. In that way, then, there is one God, because there is one who is incomparable, because there is one who is immense, as we have already stated.†167
15, 24. “We do not deny that the Son loves the Father, for we read the scripture, So that this world may know that I love the Father, and I do just as he has commanded me (Jn 14:31). It is clear that the Son is loved and loves and that he carries out the commandment of the Father, as he says. Thus they are one, in accord with his words, The Father and I are one (Jn 10:30). Insofar as he says, He who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9), we must believe with certain faith that he who sees the Son sees and understands the Father through the Son.

15, 25. “You professed that the Father is greater on account of the form of the servant.†168 That strikes me as quite foolish. We know that you also said that he was made less than the angels in the form of the servant.†169 You have not sufficiently proclaimed†170 the glory of God in professing that the Father is greater than the form of the servant. Even the angels are greater than the form of the servant. Christ did not come to teach us that the Father is greater than the form of the servant. Rather, the Truth came to us to teach and instruct us that the Father is greater than the Son and greater than this Son who is the great God. We glorify the Father and profess that he is greater than the great God; we proclaim that he is higher than the high God. Is this the honor we owe to God that the Father is greater than the servant form?

15, 26. “You say that the divinity showed itself to the Patriarchs, and just before that you said that the divinity was invisible.†171 The Father, who is invisible, surely did not show himself. Otherwise, if we say that the Father was seen, we make a liar of the apostle, who says, No human being has seen him or can see him (1 Tm 6:16). Moreover, we find ourselves not only in opposition to the New Testament, but we are equally in opposition to the Old Testament as well. After all, Moses speaks this way too, No one can see God and live (Ex 33:20).

“This same Moses wrote in the Book of Genesis that from that first man up to the incarnation it was always the Son who was seen. If you demand testimonies, you have, of course, the passage in which the Father speaks to the Son, Let us make man to our image and likeness. There follows, And God made man (Gn 1:26-27). Which God made him if not the Son? You yourself have explained this in your treatises.†172 This Son, then, who is the prophet of his Father, also said, It is not good that man be alone; let us make a helper for him like him (Gn 2:18). This Son appeared to Adam in accord with what we read that Adam said, I heard your voice as you walked in paradise, and I hid myself because I was naked. You certainly have what God said to him, And who told you that you were naked unless you have eaten from that tree about which I commanded you that you not eat? (Gn 3:10-11). This God was seen by Abraham;†173 if you are willing to believe, the only-begotten God himself declared in the gospel that the Son was seen by Abraham. He said, Abraham, your father, rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and he was glad (Jn 8:56). This Son was also seen by Jacob in the form in which he was to come, that is, in the form of a man; he is found to have wrestled with Jacob as a foreshadowing of what was to come. Jacob said, I have seen the Lord face to face, and my life has been preserved, and the name of this place was called The Vision of God. The God, who wrestled with Jacob, foreshadowing what we see fulfilled in the passion of Christ, attested to this. He said to Jacob, Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but your name will be Israel (Gn 32:28), that is, one who sees God. We prove that he was seen in the New Testament as well. The apostles said of him, And we have seen his glory, the glory as if of the Only-Begotten by the Father (Jn 1:14). But, if you claim, as you try to do, that the Father was seen, all the scriptures are for you†174 filled with lies. Paul proclaims that the Father is invisible,†175 and in the gospel the Lord affirms it.

“You often make the accusation against us that we boldly and presumptuously say things that we should not say. That will be up to the judgment of the reader to test. After all, we do not speak to obtain praise from someone,†177 but out of the desire to strengthen the brotherhood we have.†178 Perhaps you wanted to challenge us to make an answer so that those you have observed to belong to us might agree, as I said, with what you profess. For this reason, I had to answer you on account of the fear of God. It was not only by your words that you tried to take from me the discipleship of these men; you also gave me your treatise†179 to which I had to answer those things which you have professed concerning the invisibility of the omnipotent God. Though†180 with another intention, still in your own words, you stated that the Holy Spirit was seen in the form of a dove as well as in the form of fire and†181 that the Son was seen in the form of man, but that the Father was seen neither in the form of a dove nor in the form of a man. He never turned himself into any forms and is never changed. Scripture says of him, I am who I am, and I have not changed (Ex 3:14 and Mal 3:6). The Son who, of course, had already been established in the form of God has, as you have stated, taken the form of the servant, but the Father has not. Likewise, the Holy Spirit took the form of the dove, but the Father did not. Acknowledge, then, that there is one who is invisible; there is one who is incomprehensible and immense. I pray and desire to be a disciple of the divine scriptures; I believe that Your Holiness recalls that I earlier gave the response that, if you produced the evidence that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one power, one substance, one deity, one majesty, one glory, that, if you state this from the divine scriptures, if you produce any passage of scripture, we are eager to be found disciples of the divine scriptures.”
“I, Maximinus, bishop, have signed this.”

Letter of Auxentius On Bishop Ulfilas

This letter, preserved by Maximinus in the margin of a manuscript of Ambrose’s De Fide, provides a firsthand account of the life, ministry, and theology of Ulfilas, Homoian Bishop of the Goths, written by his own adopted Son, Auxentius of Durostorum.

Auxentius of Durostorum on Wulfila:

Now the letter declares that the aforementioned bishops, along with Bishop Wulfila had proceeded to the East to the court of Theodosius, the emperor …

… [Wulfila was] of great propriety, verily a confessor of Christ, a teacher of piety and a preacher of truth. He never hesitated to preach quite openly and very clearly to willing and unwilling alike the one true God, the Father of Christ, and the second rank of this same Christ, knowing this one true God to be alone unbegotten, without beginning, without end, eternal, exalted, sublime, excellent, most high creator, epitome of all excellence, better than all good, infinite, uncontainable, invisible, immense, immortal, incorruptible, incommunicable, an incorporeal being, uncomposite, simple, immutable, undivided, immovable, lacking in nothing, inaccessible, undivided, not subject to rule, uncreated, unmade, perfect in singular existence, incomparably greater and better than all. Who being alone, not to the division or diminution of His divinity, but to the display of His goodness and power, by His will and power alone, passionless Himself impassible, indestructibly Himself indestructible, and immovably Himself unmoved, did create and beget, make and establish the only-begotten God.

He never concealed that, according to the authority and tradition of the Holy scriptures, this second God and Author of all things existed from the Father, after the Father, for the Father, and for the glory of the Father; rather he always set forth according to the Blessed Gospels that He was both great God and great Lord and great King, and great Mystery, great Light and great Pontifex, the Lord who is Provider and Law-giver, Redeemer, Savior… born before all ages, Creator of all creation, just Judge of the quick and the dead, having a greater God, His Father, for he (Wulfila) despised and trampled on the odious and abominable, depraved and perverse confession of the Homoousians as a devilish invention and doctrine of demons. He himself knowing and handing down to us that, if the indefatigable power of the only-begotten God is reliably said to be capable of having made all things celestial and terrestrial, invisible and visible, and is believed rightly and faithfully by us Christians, why is it not believed that the passionless power of God the Father might create His only-begotten Son? But he also deplored and shunned the error and impiety of the Homoiousians, being himself most carefully instructed out of the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed earnestly therein in many councils of saintly bishops, as he spread abroad by his sermons and tracts, the difference of divinity between the Father and the Son, between the unbegotten and the only-begotten God, that the Father was Creator of the Creator, that the Son was truly Creator of all creation; and the Father was the God of the Lord, that the Son was then God of all creation.

Wherefore he scattered the sect of the Homoousians, because he believed not in confused and compounded persons, but in discrete and distinct ones. The Homoiousians, however, he put to flight, because he passionately defended the idea that They are not comparable things, but different from one another. The Son is like the Father, and not according to the fraudulent Macedonian depravities and perversities contrary to the Scriptures, but according to the Divine Scriptures and traditions.

In his preaching and exposition he asserted that all heretics were not Christians, but Antichrists; not pious, but impious; not religious, but irreligious; not timid but bold; not in hope but without hope; not worshipers of God, but without God, not teachers, but seducers; not preachers, but liars; be they Manichaeans, Marcinonists, Montanists, Paulinians, Sabellians, Antropians, Patripassians, Photinians, Novatians, Donatists, Homoousians, Homoiousians, and Macedonians. Verily, as an imitator of the apostles and an imitator of the Martyrs, his work repelled the false doctrine of the heretics and edified the people of God, put to flight the hungry wolves and evil dogs and preserved the flock of Christ by His grace as a good shepherd with all prudence and diligence.

He also subscribed to the concept that the Holy Ghost was neither Father nor Son, but created by the Father through the Son before all things, that he is not first nor second, but placed by the first through the second in third rank; that he is not unbegotten nor begotten, but created by the Unbegotten through the Begotten in the third rank, according to the evangelical preaching and apostolic tradition of St. John, who says: “All things were made by Him and without Him not any thing was made;” (John 1.1) and by blessed Paul who asserted: “[there is] but one God the Father, of whom are all things … and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are.” (1 Cor. 8.6)

For since there exists one unbegotten God, and there subsists one Lord the only-begotten God, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, can neither be said to be God nor Lord, but is fixed by God through the Lord to be: not the creator nor the author; but the illuminator and sanctifier, teacher and leader, helper and postulant, … and informer, minister of Christ and dispenser of grace, the pledge we have been sealed with for the day of redemption, without whom no one can say that Jesus is the Lord, as the apostle says: “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12.3) and as Christ says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6)

Therefore, they are Christians who worship Christ in the spirit and the truth … and through Christ with love offer thanks to God the Father.

Following this and similar doctrines for 40 years flourishing splendidly in the bishopric through apostolic grace, he preached in the Greek, Latin, and Gothic tongues without ceasing in the one and only Church of Christ; because the Church of the Living God is one, the pillar and column of Truth; and he affirmed and witnessed that the flock of Christ, our Lord and God, was one, one the worship and one the house; one the Virgin, one the Spouse, one the Queen; that there was only one vine, temple, congregation of the Christians; that all other places of congregation were not Churches of God, but Synagogues of Satan.

And whoever reads this, let him know that he taught and expounded to us all this concerning the Sacred Scriptures. He also left behind in those very three languages several treatises and many interpretations, for the use and edification of the willing, for his own eternal memory and grace.

Whom I am unable to praise sufficiently; yet I cannot be silent, who more than all others am in his debt, in that he worked more richly on me, taking me in early years from my parents as his student, he taught me the Holy Scriptures and made manifest to me the truth. And by the kindness of God and the grace of Christ he reared me bodily and spiritually as a son in the faith.

According to God’s providence and Christ’s kindness he was ordained — for the salvation of many — bishop among the people of the Goths at the age of 30 from the position of lector, so that he might not only be heir of God and co-heir of Christ, but through the grace of Christ also an imitator of Christ and His Saints, in that the holy David was set as King and Prophet at the age of thirty in order to both lead and teach the people of God and the children of Israel, so also this blessed man was revealed as it were as a prophet and set as a priest of Christ, in order to lead and better the people of the Goths, to teach them and edify them, and according to the will of God and with the help of Christ this was fulfilled through his activity (ministry) in a remarkable manner. And just as Joseph was made manifest (as God’s minister) in Egypt at the age of thirty … and as the Son of God, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, was constituted at the age of thirty according to the flesh and baptized and began to preach the Gospel and to feed the souls of men, so did this Saint upon the command of Christ himself and His direction better and teach the people of the Goths, who were living in hunger and deprivation of preaching indifferently; he made manifest to them and taught them to live in accord with the rule of the Gospel, the Apostles and the Prophets, and as Christians to be truly Christians, and thus increased the number of Christians.

At which point by the envy and the machinations of the Enemy (Satan) a persecution of the Christians in the countries of the barbarians (trans-Danubian Goths) was set in motion with tyrannic terror by the godless and blasphemous chief of the Goths, so that Satan, who wanted to do evil, did good against his will; he wanted to make sinners and apostates of them; but with Christ’s aid and help, they became martyrs and confessors, that the persecutor might be confounded and those who suffered persecution be crowned. He who sought to conquer, blushed as vanquished, and they who were tempted rejoiced as victors.

Then after the glorious martyrdom of many servants and handmaidens of Christ, the most holy man, the blessed Ulfilas, having completed seven years in the office of bishop, was driven out by the vehemently threatening persecution from the country of the barbarians with a great host of confessors onto Roman soil and here honorably received by the Prince Constantius, of blessed memory. Just as God freed His people through Moses from the power and might of Pharaoh and the Egyptians and caused them to walk through the sea, and provided for his Own service, just so did God free the Goths through the often named confessor of his Holy Only-begotten Son out of the lands of the barbarians and cause them to cross the Danube and to serve Him in the mountains according to the example of the saints.

Remaining with his people, not counting those 7 years, 33 years on Roman soil, he preached the truth — just as he was also an imitator of certain ancient Saints in this matter too — he completed a space of 40 years, so that he left this life at the age of 70 after the completion of many deeds.

After 40 years had been completed, he departed at the imperial behest to Constantinople to a disputation against the Pneumatachi, and he insisted on going, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that they might not teach and infest the churches of Christ dedicated by him to Christ. … Having entered into the above city, he immediately began to fall ill, since the impious ones had again reconsidered the situation of the council, so that the more to be pitied as miserable might not be shown to be condemned by their own judgement and be shown to be punishable by the eternal judgement. In which sickness he was taken away in the manner of the Prophet Elisha.

It is now fitting to consider the merit of the man, who went by the leadership of the Lord to Constantinople, nay Christianople, where the holy and unspotted priest of Christ might receive such wondrous and splendid honors from the saints and his fellow priests, the worthy one from worthy ones worthily in such a multitude of Christians. And he, moreover, at his leave-taking, at the very moment of his death, left through his testament a statement of his faith for the people committed to him, saying thus:

I, Wulfila, Bishop and Confessor, have always believed thus, and in this sole and true faith I make my journey to my Lord:

I believe that there is only one God, the Father, alone unbegotten and invisible, and in His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God, creator and maker of all things, not having any like unto Him. Therefore there is one God of all, who is also God of our God. And I believe in one Holy Spirit, an enlightening and sanctifying power. As Christ says after the resurrection to his Apostles: “Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49) And again: “And ye shall receive power coming upon you by the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1.8) Neither God nor Lord, but the faithful minister of Christ; not equal, but subject and obedient in all things to the Son. And I believe the Son to be subject and obedient in all things to God the Father.

Based on translations by Jim Marchand and R.P.C. Hanson, and the latin text available here.