No One Good But the Father?

God the Father only is good, wise, holy, invisible, sovereign, and immortal, and is greater than the Son.

Most Christians today would probably call someone saying what I just said above an Arian, and consider those words blasphemous. Yet, these words are found throughout scripture:

“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:17-18 KNJV)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27 KJV)

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17 KJV)

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4 KJV)

“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13-16 KJV)

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” (Revelation 15:3-4 KJV)

Are the scriptures Arian? Do the Son and Holy Spirit lack true goodness, wisdom, holiness, invisibility, and immortality?

The scriptural answer to these questions is an emphatic “no”. The Son and Holy Spirit share all these attributes with the Father, having the very same goodness, wisdom, holiness, invisibility, and immortality as the Father, as They have the very same divine nature as He.

We see this in many ways in scripture. One easy example is that the Son Himself is called the “Wisdom of God”. How can the Wisdom of God lack wisdom? Such an idea is absurd. And what of Solomon, who is called wise, and many other men also? Clearly then, when scripture refers to the Father alone as being wise then, it does not do this to indicate that others to do not possess wisdom. So the same is true with all these other attributes ascribed to the Father in an exclusive manner- they do not exclude others in creation from participating in those qualities, and do not exclude the Son and Holy Spirit from possessing those attributes in Themselves as Their divine nature.

How then, can these things be so? Is scripture self-contradictory in speaking of the Father in such an exclusive way in regards to these various attributes, when it teaches at the same time that they belong equally to the persons of the Son and Holy Spirit?

The answer is emphatically “no”. There are no contradictions in scripture, and what appears to men to reveal contradictions in scripture really reveals to us that we do not understand scripture fully. When understood according to its right meaning, no part of scripture contradicts another, on account of its divine origin as the very words of God.

Why then, does scripture speak this way of the Father? The answer, we may deduce from scripture, is because the Father alone has all these attributes in Himself without cause, source, or origin. He is the origin and very definition of divinity, and all the attributes of it. The Father alone is goodness, and wisdom, and love, and holiness uncausedly, having these attributes from no source, but being rather the fountain of them. And from this Fountain, the Son and Spirit draw Their being, having the paternal divinity in Themselves, of the Father.

Thus the Son is Wisdom from the only Wise, Goodness from He Who alone is Good. The Son having all that He is and has from the Father, and the Father alone being the Supreme Cause of all, Who Himself has no cause.

Thus the Son is called the Wisdom of God, and the Logos of God; not simply ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Word’. For He is not simply an attribute of the Father, nor do the Father and the Son draw Their being equally from some anterior divinity so as to account for Their having an identical nature; but since the Son draws His existence from the Father, and has His essence from the Father, He has the very same nature, from the Father. The Father then, in His nature is the very definition of wisdom and rationality; He is these things in what he is. The Son then, having His origin from the Father, has this same wisdom and rationality; like the Father He is wisdom and rationality in what He is. But He is this because the Father begat Him, and gave Him His divinity; therefore, the wisdom He has is not original to Himself, nor is the rationality He is original to Himself, but is from the Father: and for this reason, He is the ‘Wisdom of God’, and ‘Word of God’, for His essence is the Father’s, given to Him in eternal generation.

Since then, the Father is all that He is without cause, unoriginate, and is therefore the original of all that He is, for this reason the divine attributes are ascribed to Him by scripture in an exclusive manner. This is not because He alone possesses the attributes of divinity, but because He alone possesses them without cause, source, or origin.

In a similar manner, the scriptures speak of the Father alone as Lord over all and the only sovereign, not to deny what is taught elsewhere that Jesus His Son is Lord over all creation, but because the Father alone is the supreme authority and head of all, and all authority other persons possess is subordinate to His, and from Him. The Son then is truly head over all creation, yet “God is the head of Christ”, the Lord and God of the Son. And although He has supreme authority over heaven and earth, the Son does not have it of Himself, but from the Father, Who tells the Son to sit at His right hand. Thus scripture says “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18 KJV), since the Father gave Him to have authority over all creation.

And the Lord openly confessed that the Father was greater than He, not in respect to His humanity alone, but eternally, not in respect to any difference in nature, as the Son is equal in divinity to the Father, but because the Son is subordinate to the Father as His cause and His head. In these respects, that is, in the Father being the cause of the Son and Head of the Son, the Father is greater than He.

So then, we see that scripture is in no way contradictory, nor does it in any way give any credence to the blasphemy of Arius. But the high and exclusive titles applied to the person of the Father, “the only true God”, are applied to Him in such a way in reference to His alone being the Supreme Cause of all, and Supreme Head of all, even of the persons of the Son and Holy Spirit.

Why There is Only One God: Headship

In this series we have been examining the reasons why there is only one God, in light of the fact that the persons of the Son and Holy Spirit share the Father’s divine nature. Since there are three persons Who all have the same divine nature, how are there not three Gods?

We begin answering this by noting that scripture is clear on the point that there is only one God, and that it is equally clear that this one God is the person of the Father in particular. This is seen explicitly from scripture:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-5 NAS)

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NAS)

“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 NAS)

But even once it is understood that the Father is the one God of the Christian faith, the question still remains, why do the persons of the Son and Holy Spirit, since They share the same divine nature as the Father, not constitute second and third Gods?

In our last installment of this series, we examined the first part of the answer to this question, namely, that the Father is the one and only God because the Father alone is the uncaused Cause of all. The Father through the Son and Spirit created all things; but even the Son and Holy Spirit, we observed, have the Father as their atemporal origin and source, the Son being of the Father by eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit being of the Father by eternal procession. This means that the Father alone is entirely uncaused and unoriginate; no greater source or reason for His being can be pointed to than Himself. He simply is always all that He is, uncaused, unbegotten.

Since then, there is only one uncaused Cause, and this is the Father, we see why scripture styles God the Father in particular the one God, and why, since the Son and Holy Spirit are not also uncaused, they do not constitute second and third Gods.

Today we examine a second part of the answer to our question, related to the last, that just as the Father alone is the “one God” because He alone is the uncaused Cause of all, so also the Father alone is the Supreme Authority, the Head without a head, meaning, that He is the authoritative head over all, even over His own Son and Spirit, and there is none who has headship over Him; there is no higher authority than the one God, the Father.

We see God’s headship over His Son and Spirit in the following passages:

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV)

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. – 2Samuel 24:15-16 (NASB)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” (John 14:10 NKJV)

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NKJV)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26 NKJV)

In these passages we see that there is no higher authority over God the Father, and that He is Supreme:

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.” (Hebrews 6:13-18 NKJV)

“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28 NKJV)

From these passages we see that the Son and Spirit are subordinate to the Father as Their Head, and that the Father has headship over not only all creation, but also over His Son and Spirit. We also see that the Father Himself is the greatest authority, having no higher authority above Him; the Father alone is the Supreme Authority. On this account then, as well as the fact that the Father alone is the uncaused Cause of all, scripture styles the person of the Father the “one God”. And since the Son and Holy Spirit do not also have absolute supreme authority equal with the Father, They do not constitute second and third Gods, but the Father alone being the Supreme Authority over all is the one God.

Having seen this shown from scripture, let us now examine the testimonies of some of the ancient fathers of the church on this same point:

Novation of Rome

“Moreover, the Son does nothing of His own will, nor does anything of His own determination; nor does He come from Himself, but obeys all His Father’s commands and precepts; so that, although birth proves Him to be a Son, yet obedience even to death declares Him the minister of the will of His Father, of whom He is. Thus making Himself obedient to His Father in all things, although He also is God, yet He shows the one God the Father by His obedience, from whom also He drew His beginning.” (On the Trinity, Chapter 31)

“For all things being subjected to Him as the Son by the Father, while He Himself, with those things which are subjected to Him, is subjected to His Father, He is indeed proved to be Son of His Father; but He is found to be both Lord and God of all else. Whence, while all things put under Him are delivered to Him who is God, and all things are subjected to Him, the Son refers all that He has received to the Father, remits again to the Father the whole authority of His divinity. The true and eternal Father is manifested as the one God, from whom alone this power of divinity is sent forth, and also given and directed upon the Son, and is again returned by the communion of substance to the Father. God indeed is shown as the Son, to whom the divinity is beheld to be given and extended. And still, nevertheless, the Father is proved to be one God; while by degrees in reciprocal transfer that majesty and divinity are again returned and reflected as sent by the Son Himself to the Father, who had given them; so that reasonably God the Father is God of all, and the source also of His Son Himself whom He begot as Lord. Moreover, the Son is God of all else, because God the Father put before all Him whom He begot. Thus the Mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus, having the power of every creature subjected to Him by His own Father, inasmuch as He is God; with every creature subdued to Him, found at one with His Father God, has, by abiding in that condition that He moreover was heard, briefly proved God His Father to be one and only and true God.” (On the Trinity, Chapter 31)

Eusebius Pamphili

“But are you afraid, man, lest, having confessed that there are two hypostases, you introduce two sources and cast aside the monarchical divinity? Well then, learn that because there is one God who is without source and unbegotten, but the Son has been begotten from him, there will be one source and a single monarchy and kingship, since even the Son himself acknowledges his Father as source. “The head of Christ is God,” according to the Apostle. But are you anxious that one might have to accept that there are two gods if you confess that there are two hypostases of Father and Son? But know this too: that the man who grants that there are two hypostases of Father and Son is not compelled to say there are two Fathers, nor that there are two Sons, but will grant that one is the Father and the other is the Son. Thus, in the same way, it is not necessary for the man who posits two hypostases to grant that there are two gods. For we neither deem them equally worthy of honor, nor both without source and unbegotten, but deem the one [hypostasis] as unbegotten  and without source, while [we deem] the other as begotten and having the Father as his source. For this reason, even the Son himself teaches that his Father is also his God, when he says, “I go to my Father and to your Father and to my God and to your God.” Thus God is shown to be both Father and God of the Son himself. For this reason then, the God of the Son is proclaimed by the Church to be one. And the Son, when he is compared to the Father, will not also be God of the Father himself, but only-begotten Son, his “beloved,” “image of the invisible God,” and “radiance” of the paternal glory; and he reveres, worships, and glorifies his own Father, acknowledging him as God even of himself, to whom he has been reported also to pray, to whom he gives thanks, and to whom he also became “obedient unto death.” And he confesses that he lives “because of the Father” and is able to do nothing without the Father and that he does not do his own will but the will of the Father. Indeed, he explicitly says, “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”” (On Ecclesiastical Theology, Book 2, Ch 7)

The Macrostich

“Believing then in the All-perfect Triad, the most Holy, that is, in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and calling the Father God, and the Son God, yet we confess in them, not two Gods, but one dignity of Godhead, and one exact harmony of dominion, the Father alone being Head over the whole universe wholly, and over the Son Himself, and the Son subordinated to the Father; but, excepting Him, ruling over all things after Him which through Himself have come to be, and granting the grace of the Holy Ghost unsparingly to the saints at the Father’s will. For that such is the account of the Divine Monarchy towards Christ, the sacred oracles have delivered to us.”

Hilary of Poitiers

“XVII. If any man says that the Lord and the Lord, the Father and the Son, are two Gods because of the aforesaid words: let him be anathema. For we do not make the Son the equal or peer of the Father, but understand the Son to be subject. For He did not come down to Sodom without the Father’s will, nor rain from Himself but from the Lord, to wit, by the Father’s authority; nor does He sit at the Father’s right hand by His own authority, but because He hears the Father saying, Sit on My right hand.

51. The foregoing and the following statements utterly remove any ground for suspecting that this definition asserts a diversity of different deities in the Lord and the Lord. No comparison is made because it was seen to be impious to say that there are two Gods: not that they refrain from making the Son equal and peer of the Father in order to deny that He is God. For, since he is anathema who denies that Christ is God, it is not on that score that it is profane to speak of two equal Gods. God is One on account of the true character of His natural essence and because from the Unborn God the Father, who is the one God, the Only-begotten God the Son is born, and draws His divine Being only from God; and since the essence of Him who is begotten is exactly similar to the essence of Him who begot Him, there must be one name for the exactly similar nature. That the Son is not on a level with the Father and is not equal to Him is chiefly shown in the fact that He was subjected to Him to render obedience, in that the Lord rained from the Lord and that the Father did not, as Photinus and Sabellius say, rain from Himself, as the Lord from the Lord; in that He then sat down at the right hand of God when it was told Him to seat Himself; in that He is sent, in that He receives, in that He submits in all things to the will of Him who sent Him. But the subordination of filial love is not a diminution of essence, nor does pious duty cause a degeneration of nature, since in spite of the fact that both the Unborn Father is God and the Only-begotten Son of God is God, God is nevertheless One, and the subjection and dignity of the Son are both taught in that by being called Son He is made subject to that name which because it implies that God is His Father is yet a name which denotes His nature. Having a name which belongs to Him whose Son He is, He is subject to the Father both in service and name; yet in such a way that the subordination of His name bears witness to the true character of His natural and exactly similar essence.” (De Synodis, Quoting and commenting on the decision of the Council of Sirmium against Photinius)

Justin Martyr

“And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord who received commission from the Lord who [remains] in the heavens, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrha the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: ‘The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrha sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 56)

“It is again written by Moses, my brethren, that He who is called God and appeared to the patriarchs is called both Angel and Lord, in order that from this you may understand Him to be minister to the Father of all things, as you have already admitted, and may remain firm, persuaded by additional arguments.” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 58)

“I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will…” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 61)

 

 

Quotes from Eusebius taken from: Eusebius Pamphilius, On Ecclesiastical Theology, trans. Kelly McCarthy Sproerl and Markus Vinzent (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017).

Does Rejecting Semi-Modalism Lead to Tritheism?

Since the beginning of modalism in the late second and early third century, modalists have been accusing those holding to an orthodox articulation of the doctrine of the Trinity of tritheism, the heresy that there are three gods. To this day, semi-modalists continue this classical modalistic apologetic, accusing those who hold to a classical trinitarianism, such as defined by the Nicene Creed, of being guilty of tritheism.

This of course stems somewhat naturally from the mindset of modalism. The classical modalist believes there is one God because there is only one divine person, who takes turns manifesting himself as Father, then Son, and then Spirit.

Not far different from him is the semi-modalist, who thinks that there is one God because all three real persons of the Trinity, while having some concrete distinction, are one person. Therefore when this unity of person is denied, and it is insisted that the Father, Son, and Spirit are truly distinct persons without somehow being a single person in some way as well, the semi-modalist naturally views this as leading to having three gods, since in their mind the unity of all three persons into a single person was the very reason they could confess one God at all.

Such a modalistic misunderstanding of God’s unity naturally leads a person to reject trinitarian orthodoxy as tritheism. But if the reason there is only one God, and not three, is not because the three real persons of the Trinity are in some way a single person, then what is the reason there can only be said to be one God? And if the one God of the Christian faith is the person of the Father in particular, yet the persons of His Son and Holy Spirit share His divine nature, how do they not constitute second and third Gods?

To understand the answers to these questions, it is necessary to consider what we mean when we say that there is only one God? Do we mean that there is only one divine person? The answer to this cannot be ‘yes’, since scripture clearly teaches that there are three divine persons, and yet equally teaches that there is only one God, and that this one God is the person of the Father. Because God says so in His word, we know that both of these things are true. Thus, we know that there are multiple divine persons, and that this does not constitute three Gods. Even if we do not go any further in our understanding than this, we are still required to accept these things as true, because God, Who is ultimately trustworthy, has revealed them to us. Yet even after we have accepted these things on faith, we are still left with the question of why these things are so.

When we say that there is only one God, then, we do not mean that there is only one divine person, or else we are disagreeing with the scriptures. Rather when we say there is only one God we refer to the fact that there is only one ‘head without a head’ (head=authority; head without a head= authority without a higher authority above it) and ‘uncaused Cause’. The Father alone is both of these things. The fact that the Son and Holy Spirit constitute second and third divine persons does not mean that They are second and third Gods.

The Son and Holy Spirit would constitute a plurality of gods if any of these things were true: 1) They possessed a different divine nature than the one God, or 2) They constituted Authorities equal with the Father, or 3) They were unoriginate. None of these things are in fact the case, however.

The Son and Spirit have exactly the same divine nature as the Father, as They are both from Him, the Son by eternal generation and the Spirit by eternal procession. Both of them have the Father’s divine nature communicated to Them in generation and procession respectively. There is then only one divine nature; thus no one may say that there are multiple Gods because there are multiple kinds of divinity. There is only one divine nature, that proper to the one true God, the Father, which His Son and Holy Spirit eternally participate in. Therefore, there is not a plurality of gods because of a plurality of divine natures.

The Son and Spirit also do not constitute authorities equal to the Father since He is head over them. The Father alone is the “Head without a Head”, Who Himself has supreme authority over all, with no higher authority above Him. The Son and Holy Spirit however, are under the headship of the Father. While They too possess headship over the creation, which was created through Them by the Father, They do not possess headship over the Father. So all authority ultimately runs up to one only supreme head which has no higher authority: the one God, the Father. He rules all things as a monarchy, His Son and Spirit participating in that monarchy over creation, as Those through Whom He administrates His kingdom. Therefore, there is not a plurality of gods because there is a plurality of supreme authorities.

The Son and Holy Spirit, unlike the Father, are of another, namely, the Father. The Son is of the Father by eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit by eternal procession. The Son and Spirit then are both caused by another, whereas the Father alone, the one God, is the uncaused Cause of all; not only of all creation, together with the Son and Spirit through Whom He created all things, but is even Himself the Cause of the Son and Spirit. Thus there is not a plurality of gods because of a plurality of Uncaused Causes.

So then we see that the Father being the one God is actually the foundation of biblical monotheism. It is because the Father alone is the supreme head and cause of all, and there is no other divine nature than His own, that there is only one God. There is one God because there is one Father. The divinity of the Son and Holy Spirit in no way take from the Father the quality that He is the one God; but as it is His divinity that They participate in, His monarchy They participate in, and Him from Whom They have their being, They in no way constitute a second and third God, although They are second and third divine persons, possessing the very same divinity as the Father Himself.

Why Don’t the Son and Holy Spirit Constitute Second and Third Gods?

When we come to scripture, and examine God and the Trinity, we are faced with a few clear facts revealed in scripture:

1) There is only one God (1 Tim 2:5, James 2:19, Mark 12:32).

2) There are three divine persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 3:16, John 1:1, Acts 5:4, Rom 8:14, Matt 28:19, Matt 3:16-17).

3) The one God is one of these persons, the Father (1 Cor 8:6, John 17:3, Eph 4:4-5).

Examining these facts, we may be inclined to ask why, biblically, do the Son and Holy Spirit do not constitute a second and third God?

When we begin to answer this question, we can’t point to the Father’s divinity as the reason that He is the one God, or that the Son and Spirt aren’t second and third Gods, since the divinity of all three persons is exactly the same. The Father’s divine nature is identical to that of the Son and Spirit. Therefore, we can’t look to some difference in the divinity of the persons to explain this.

What we can do is ask, ‘what makes the Father unique, such that scripture would call Him in particular the one God?’, and extrapolate from that by good and necessary consequence what the factors are that make the Father alone the one God, which the Son and Spirit don’t have. And when we examine that we can come up with two things, namely, that the Father alone is uncaused, and that He has no higher authority than Himself. He alone is the uncaused cause and head without a head.

We can then look at these factors and see that there is really something distinct about the Father, besides simply that He is Father, for which reason He is regarded as the one God, qualities which the Son and Spirit don’t share with Him, and thus They don’t constitute another God or Gods.

How the Monarchy and Divinity are Special to the Father yet Shared by all Three Persons of the Trinity

Having recently examined the topic of equality and subordination in the Trinity, and discussed how in order to accurately speak of the equality and subordination of the Son to the Father we must not speak broadly of equality or subordination, but must rather distinguish between the categories of nature, headship, and causality. We examined how scripture teaches that the Son is equal with the Father in respect to His divine nature, since He eternally has the same divine nature as the Father, yet in respect to headship and causality the Son is subordinate to the Father as to His authoritative head and origin. This subordination to the Father as His head and origin stems from the fact that the Son has his ontological origin from the Father in being begotten of the Him before the ages, and therefore is truly Son of the Father, eternally under His headship, yet also eternally equal to Him in respect to the divine nature he possesses.

After seeing these points demonstrated from scripture, we also saw a sampling of the extensive testimony given by the orthodox church fathers of the ante-nicene and nicene eras in favor of these points of doctrine.

In this post I want to briefly treat the topic of how the monarchy and divinity both belong to the Father in a special way, yet are shared by all three persons of the Trinity.

By “monarchy” we refer to rulership and headship. The one God, the Father, has headship not only over all creation, but even over His own Son and Spirit. This headship is a monarchy, that is, a rule of one, because it belongs to the Father alone to be supreme head over all, not only over all creatures, but also over the Son and Spirit, as we have said. Yet the Son and Spirit share in the Father’s monarchy, inasmuch as God rules and administrates His kingdom through His Son and Spirit. So the Son and Spirit also enjoy headship over all creation together with the Father, while having the Father as their head, lest by having three equal heads there be no longer a monarchy but a polyarchy. In this way then we see that the monarchy is properly regarded as belong specially to the Father, yet this rule is not limited to the Father, but the headship over all creation is shared by His Son and Spirit as well.

In respect to “divinity” we speak of the divine nature, the single sort of divinity shared by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The one God, the Father, has His own divine nature as proper to Himself, from no source or origin whatsoever. The Father in respect to His person and His divine nature is unbegotten and unoriginate. The one divine nature then, is properly regarded as being in a special way the Father’s divine nature, as He possesses it as His own proper nature, of Himself, and not of another. The Son and Spirit however, as we have expressed before, share this same divine nature, this paternal divinity, as it is communicated to them from the Father in the eternal generation of the Son and eternal procession of the Spirit. The one God, the Father, is divine of Himself; the Son is divine because of His eternal generation from the Father, from which he possesses the paternal divinity. The Spirit, likewise, possesses the paternal divinity which is proper to the Father as He eternally proceeds from Him.

In light of what has been said above, we may properly regard the monarchy the three persons share as the ‘monarchy of the Father’, and likewise, the divinity They share as ‘the Father’s divinity’, while acknowledging that the Son and Spirit share in the Father’s monarchy and divinity.