II. God is One in Three Divine Persons
Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove." Justin Martyr, First Apology, 13 (A.D. 155).
"[T]he ever-truthful God, hast fore-ordained, hast revealed beforehand to me, and now hast fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen." Martyrdom of Polycarp 14 (A.D. 157).
"For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, 'Let Us make man after Our image and likeness;' He taking from Himself the substance of the creatures [formed], and the pattern of things made, and the type of all the adornments in the world." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4,20:1 (A.D. 180).
"And first, they taught us with one consent that God made all things out of nothing; for nothing was coequal with God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing, and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known; for him, therefore, He prepared the world. For he that is created is also needy; but he that is uncreated stands in need of nothing. God, then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had this Word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by Him He made all things. He is called governing principle' (arche), because He rules, and is Lord of all things fashioned by Him. He, then, being Spirit of God, and governing principle, and wisdom, and power of the highest, came down upon the prophets, and through them spoke of the creation of the world and of all other things. For the prophets were not when the world came into existence, but the wisdom of God which was in Him, and His holy Word which was always present with Him. Wherefore He speaks thus by the prophet Solomon: When He prepared the heavens I was there, and when He appointed the foundations of the earth I was by Him as one brought up with Him.' And Moses, who lived many years before Solomon, or, rather, the Word of God by him as by an instrument, says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.'" Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, II:10 (c. A.D. 181).
"In the course of time, then, the Father forsooth was born, and the Father suffered, God Himself, the Lord Almighty, whom in their preaching they declare to be Jesus Christ. We, however, as we indeed always have done and more especially since we have been better instructed by the Paraclete, who leads men indeed into all truth), believe that there is one only God, but under the following dispensation, or oikonomia, as it is called, that this one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. Him we believe to have been sent by the Father into the Virgin, and to have been born of her--being both Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and to have been called by the name of Jesus Christ; we believe Him to have suffered, died, and been buried, according to the Scriptures, and, after He had been raised again by the Father and taken back to heaven, to be sitting at the right hand of the Father, and that He will come to judge the quick and the dead; who sent also from heaven from the Father, according to His own promise, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost. That this rule of faith has come down to us from the beginning of the gospel, even before any of the older heretics, much more before Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday, will be apparent both from the lateness of date which marks all heresies, and also from the absolutely novel character of our new-fangled Praxeas." Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 2 (post A.D. 213).
"Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other. This statement is taken in a wrong sense by every uneducated as well as every perversely disposed person, as if it predicated a diversity, in such a sense as to imply a separation among the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit. I am, moreover, obliged to say this, when (extolling the Monarchy at the expense of the Economy) they contend for the identity of the Father and Son and Spirit, that it is not by way of diversity that the Son differs from the Father, but by distribution: it is not by division that He is different, but by distinction; because the Father is not the same as the Son, since they differ one from the other in the mode of their being. For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: My Father is greater than I.' In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being a little lower than the angels.' Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another.” Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 9 (post A.D. 213).
“Happily the Lord Himself employs this expression of the person of the Paraclete, so as to signify not a division or severance, but a disposition (of mutual relations in the Godhead); for He says, I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter. ...even the Spirit of truth,' thus making the Paraclete distinct from Himself, even as we say that the Son is also distinct from the Father; so that He showed a third degree in the Paraclete, as we believe the second degree is in the Son, by reason of the order observed in the Economy. Besides, does not the very fact that they have the distinct names of Father and San amount to a declaration that they are distinct in personality? For, of course, all things will be what their names represent them to be; and what they are and ever will be, that will they be called; and the distinction indicated by the names does not at all admit of any confusion, because there is none in the things which they designate. "Yes is yes, and no is no; for what is more than these, cometh of evil." Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 9 (post A.D. 213).
"[T]he statements made regarding Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be understood as transcending all time, all ages, and all eternity. For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds the comprehension not only of temporal but even of eternal intelligence; while other things which are not included in it are to be measured by times and ages." Origen, First Principles, 4:28 (A.D. 230).
""Next, I may reasonably turn to those who divide and cut to pieces and destroy that most sacred doctrine of the Church of God, the Divine Monarchy, making it as it were three powers and partitive subsistences and god-heads three. I am told that some among you who are catechists and teachers of the Divine Word, take the lead in this tenet, who are diametrically opposed, so to speak, to Sabellius's opinions; for he blasphemously says that the Son is the Father, and the Father the Son, but they in some sort preach three Gods, as dividing the sacred Monad into three subsistences foreign to each other and utterly separate. For it must needs be that with the God of the Universe, the Divine Word is united, and the Holy Ghost must repose and habitate in God; thus in one as in a summit, I mean the God of the Universe, must the Divine Triad be gathered up and brought together. For it is the doctrine of the presumptuous Marcion, to sever and divide the Divine Monarchy into three origins,--a devil's teaching, not that of Christ's true disciples and lovers of the Saviour's lessons, For they know well that a Triad is preached by divine Scripture, but that neither Old Testament nor New preaches three Gods.” Pope Dionysius [regn. 260-268], to Dionysius of Alexandria, fragment in Athanasius' Nicene Definition 26 (A.D. 262).
“Equally must one censure those who hold the: Son to be a work, and consider
that the Lord has come into being, as one of things which really came to be;
whereas the divine oracles witness to a generation suitable to Him and
becoming, but not to any fashioning or making. A blasphemy then is it, not
ordinary, but even the highest, to say that the Lord is in any sort a
handiwork. For if He came to be Son, once He was not; but He was always, if
(that is) He be in the Father, as He says Himself, and if the Christ be Word
and Wisdom and Power (which, as ye know, divine Scripture says), and these
attributes be powers of God. If then the Son came into being, once these
attributes were not; consequently there was a time, when God was without them;
which is most absurd…
"Now the person in each declares the independent being and subsistence. But divinity is the property of the Father; and whenever the divinity of these three is spoken of as one, testimony is borne that the property of the Father belongs also to the Son and the Spirit: wherefore, if the divinity may be spoken of as one in three persons, the trinity is established, and the unity is not dissevered; and the oneness Which is naturally the Father's is also acknowledged to be the Son's and the Spirit's." Gregory the Wonderworker (Thaumaturgus), Sectional Confession of Faith, 8 (A.D. 270).
"For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreate, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is." Methodius, Oration on the Palms, 4 (A.D. 305).
"We believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of all things, visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,begotten from the Father,only-begotten,that is,from the substance of the Father,God from God,light from light,true God from true God,begotten,not made,of one substance with the Father...And in the Holy Spirit." Creed of Nicea (A.D. 325).
"Let no one therefore separate the Old from the New Testament; let no one say that the Spirit in the former is one, and in the latter another; since thus he offends against the Holy Ghost Himself, who with the Father and the Son together is honoured, and at the time of Holy Baptism is included with them in the Holy Trinity. For the Only-begotten Son of God said plainly to the Apostles, Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Our hope is in Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost. We preach not three God; let the Marcionites be silenced; but with the Holy Ghost through One Son, we preach One God. The Faith is indivisible; the worship inseparable. We neither separate the Holy Trinity, like some; nor do we as Sabellius work confusion. But we know according to godliness One Father, who sent His Son to be our Saviour we know One Son, who promised that He would send the Comforter from the Father; we know the Holy Ghost, who spake in the Prophets, and who on the day of Pentecost descended on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues, here, in Jerusalem, in the Upper Church of the Apostles..." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 16:4 (c. A.D. 350).
"I can see no limit to my venture of speaking concerning God in terms more precise than He Himself has used. He has assigned the Names--Father, Son and Holy Ghost,--which are our information of the Divine nature. Words cannot express or feeling embrace or reason apprehend the re suits of enquiry carried further; all is ineffable, unattainable, incomprehensible. Language is exhausted by the magnitude of the theme, the splendour of its effulgence blinds the gazing eye, the intellect cannot compass its boundless extent...When Israel hears that its God is one, and that no second god is likened, that men may deem him God, to God Who is God's Son, the revelation means that God the Father and God the Son are One altogether, not by confusion of Person but by unity of substance. For the prophet forbids us, because God the Son is God, to liken Him to some second deity....But I cannot describe Him, Whose pleas for me I cannot describe. As in the revelation that Thy Only-begotten was born of Thee before times eternal, when we cease to struggle with ambiguities of language and difficulties of thought, the one certainty of His birth remains; so I hold fast in my consciousness the truth that Thy Holy Spirit is from Thee and through Him, although I cannot by my intellect comprehend it." Hilary of Poiters, On the Trinity, 2:5,4:42,12:56 (A.D. 359).
"[T]hey ought to confess that the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, as they have been taught by the divine words, and by those who have understood them in their highest sense. Against those who cast it in our teeth that we are Tritheists, let it be answered that we confess one God not in number but in nature. For everything which is called one in number is not one absolutely, nor yet simple in nature; but God is universally confessed to be simple and not composite." Basil, To the Caesareans, Epistle 8 (A.D. 360).
"For this Synod of Nicea is in truth a proscription of every heresy. It also upsets those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and call Him a Creature. For the Fathers, after speaking of the faith in the Son, straightway added, 'And we believe in the Holy Ghost,' in order that by confessing perfectly and fully the faith in the Holy Trinity they might make known the exact form of the Faith of Christ, and the teaching of the Catholic Church. For it is made clear both among you and among all, and no Christian can have a doubtful mind on the point, that our faith is not in the Creature, but in one God, Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible: and in one Lord Jesus Christ His Only-begotten Son, and in one Holy Ghost; one God known in the holy and perfect Trinity, baptized into which, and in it united to the Deity, we believe that we have also inherited the kingdom of the heavens, in Christ Jesus our Lord, hrough whom to the Father be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." Athanasius, To the Bishops in Africa, 11 (A.D. 372).
"And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified." Epiphanius, Creed (A.D. 374).
"The Substance of the Trinity is, so to say, a common Essence in that which is distinct, an incomprehensible, ineffable Substance. We hold the distinction, not the confusion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a distinction without separation; a distinction without plurality; and thus we believe in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as each existing from and to eternity in this divine and wonderful Mystery: not in two Fathers, nor in two Sons, nor in two Spirits. For there is one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him.' There is One born of the Father, the Lord Jesus, and therefore He is the Only-begotten. There is also One Holy Spirit,' as the same Apostle hath said. So we believe, so we read, so we hold. We know the fact of distinction, we know nothing of the hidden mysteries; we pry not into the causes, but keep the outward signs vouchsafed unto us." Ambrose, On the Christian Faith, 8:92 (A.D. 380).
"I have very carefully considered this matter in my own mind...but I have been unable to discover any thing on earth with which to compare the nature of the Godhead...I picture to myself an eye, a fountain, a river, as others have done before, to see if the first might be analogous to the Father, the second to the Son, and the third to the Holy Ghost...Again I thought of the sun and a ray and light. But here again there was a fear lest people should get an idea of composition in the Uncompounded Nature, such as there is in the Sun and the things that are in the Sun. And in the second place lest we should give Essence to the Father but deny Personality to the Others, and make Them only Powers of God, existing in Him and not Personal." Gregory of Nazianen, 5th Oration (31), 31, 32 (A.D. 380).
"We believe in one God, the Father, almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into existence...And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified..." Creed of Constantinople (A.D. 381).
"For neither the centurion nor that poor woman who for twelve years was wasting away with a bloody flux, had believed in the mysteries of the Trinity, for these were revealed to the Apostles after the resurrection of Christ; so that the faith of such as believe in the mystery of the Trinity might have its due preeminence: but it was her singleness of mind and her devotion to her God that met with our Lord's approval: 'For she said within herself, If I do but touch his garment, I shall be made whole.' This is the faith which our Lord said was seldom found. This is the faith which even in the case of those who believe aright is hard to find in perfection. 'According to your faith, be it done unto you,' says God. I do not, indeed, like the sound of those words. For if it be done unto me according to my faith, I shall perish. And yet I certainly believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son, and I believe in God the Holy Ghost. I believe in one God; nevertheless, I would not have it done unto me according to my faith." Jerome, Against Luciferians, 15 (A.D. 382).
"But they[ie. Catholics] worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, One Godhead; God the Father, God the Son and (do not be angry) God the Holy Ghost, One Nature in Three Personalities, intellectual, perfect, Self-existent, numerically separate, but not separate in Godhead." Gregory of Nazianzen, Against the Arians and concerning himself, Oration 33:16 (ante A.D. 389).
"Seest thou that he implies that there is no difference in the gifts of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost? Not confounding the Persons, God forbid! But declaring the equal honor of the Essence. For that which the Spirit bestows, this he saith that God also works; this, that the Son likewise ordains and grants. Yet surely if the one were inferior to the other, or the other to it, he would not have thus set it down nor would this have been his way of consoling the person who was vexed." John Chrysostom, Homily on 1st Corinthians, 29:4 (c. A.D. 392).
"Since, then, in the case of those who are regenerate from death to eternal life, it is through the Holy Trinity that the life-giving power is bestowed on those who with faith are deemed worthy of the grace, and in like manner the grace is imperfect, if any one, whichever it be, of the names of the Holy Trinity be omitted in the saving baptism--for the sacrament of regeneration is not completed in the Son and the Father alone without the Spirit: nor is the perfect boon of life imparted to Baptism in the Father and the Spirit, if the name of the Son be suppressed: nor is the grace of that Resurrection accomplished in the Father and the Son, if the Spirit be left out :--for this reason we rest all our hope, and the persuasion of the salvation of our souls, upon the three Persons, recognized by these names; and we believe in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Fountain of life, and in the Only-begotten Son of the Father, Who is the Author of life, as saith the Apostle, and in the Holy Spirit of God, concerning Whom the Lord hath spoken, 'It is the Spirit that quickeneth". And since on us who have been redeemed from death the grace of immortality is bestowed, as we have said, through faith in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, guided by these we believe that nothing servile, nothing created, nothing unworthy of the majesty of the Father is to be associated in thought with the Holy Trinity; since, I say, our life is one which comes to us by faith in the Holy Trinity, taking its rise from the God of all, flowing through the Son, and working in us by the Holy Spirit.” Gregory of Nyssa, To the City of Sebasteia, Epistle 2 (ante A.D. 394).
“Having, then, this full assurance, we are baptized as we were commanded, and we believe as we are baptized, and we hold as we believe; so that with one accord our baptism, our faith, and our ascription of praise are to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. But if any one makes mention of two or three Gods, or of three God-heads, let him be accursed. And if any, following the perversion of Arius, says that the Son or the Holy Spirit were produced from things that are not, let him be accursed. But as many as walk by the rule of truth and acknowledge the three Persons, devoutly recognized in Their several properties, and believe that there is one Godhead, one goodness, one rule, one authority and power, and neither make void the supremacy of the Sole-sovereignty, nor fall away into polytheism, nor confound the Persons, nor make up the Holy Trinity of heterogeneous and unlike elements, but in simplicity receive the doctrine of the faith, grounding all their hope of salvation upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,--these according to our judgment are of the same mind as we, and with them we also trust to have part in the Lord." Gregory of Nyssa, To the City of Sebasteia, Epistle 2 (ante A.D. 394).
"We have said elsewhere that those things are predicated Specially in the Trinity as belonging severally to each person, which are predicated relatively the one to the other, as Father and Son, and the gift of both, the Holy Spirit; for the Father is not the Trinity, nor the Son the Trinity, nor the gift the Trinity: but what whenever each is singly spoken of in respect to themselves, then they are not spoken of as three in the plural number, but one, the Trinity itself, as the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; the Father good, the Son good, and the Holy Spirit good; and the Father omnipotent, the Son omnipotent, and the Holy Spirit omnipotent: yet neither three Gods, nor three goods, nor three omnipotents, but one God, good, omnipotent, the Trinity itself; and whatsoever else is said of them not relatively in respect to each other, but individually in respect to themselves. For they are thus spoken of according to l essence, since in them to be is the same as to be great, as to be good, as to be wise, and whatever else is said of each person individually therein, or of the Trinity itself, in respect to themselves. And that therefore they are called three persons, or three substances, not in order that any difference of essence may be understood, but that we may be able to answer by some one word, should any one ask what three, or what three things? And that there is so great an equality in that Trinity, that not only the Father is not greater than the Son, as regards divinity, but neither are the Father and Son together greater than the Holy Spirit; nor is each individual person, whichever it be of the three, less than the Trinity itself." Augustine, On the Trinity, 8 Pref (A.D. 416).
"All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, buried and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,' the same Trinity sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire,' but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, Thou art my Son,' whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again;' but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith." Augustine, On the Trinity, I:4,7 (A.D. 416).
"But after him the schism of Sabellius burst forth out of reaction against the above mentioned heresy, and as he declared that there was no distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, he impiously confounded, as far as was possible, the Persons, and failed to distinguish the holy and ineffable Trinity. Next after him whom we have mentioned there followed the blasphemy of Arian perversity, which, in order to avoid the appearance of confounding the Sacred Persons, declared that there were different and dissimilar substances in the Trinity." John Cassian, The Incarnation of Christ, 2 (A.D. 430).
"In God there is one substance, but three Persons; in Christ two substances, but one Person. In the Trinity, another and another Person, not another and another substance (distinct Persons, not distinct substances)...Because there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost; but yet there is not another and another nature (distinct natures) but one and the same nature." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 37 (A.D. 434).
"But although, dearly-beloved, the actual form of the thing done was exceeding wonderful, and undoubtedly in that exultant chorus of all human languages the Majesty of the Holy Spirit was present, yet no one must think that His Divine substance appeared in what was seen with bodily eyes. For His Nature, which is invisible and shared in common with the Father and the Son, showed the character of His gift and work by the outward sign that pleased Him, but kept His essential property within His own Godhead: because human sight can no more perceive the Holy Ghost than it can the Father or the Son. For in the Divine Trinity nothing is unlike or unequal, and all that can be thought concerning Its substance admits of no diversity either in power or glory or eternity. And while in the property of each Person the Father is one, the Son is another, and the Holy Ghost is another, yet the Godhead is not distinct and different; for whilst the Son is the Only begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, not in the way that every creature is the creature of the Father and the Son, but as living and having power with Both, and eternally subsisting of That Which is the Father and the Son." Pope Leo the Great (regn. 440-461), Sermon 77:2 (ante A.D. 461).
"Or, if any one should perhaps think that this is done out of veneration for the supreme Trinity, neither so is there any objection to immersing the person to be baptized in the water once, since, there being one substance in three subsistences, it cannot be in any way reprehensible to immerse the infant in baptism either thrice or once, seeing that by three immersions the Trinity of persons, and in one the singleness of the Divinity may be denoted." Pope Gregory the Great (regn. A.D. 590-604), To Leander Bishop of Hispalis, Letter 43 (A.D. 591).
"These hypostases are within each other, not so that they are confused, but so that they contain one another, in accordance with the word of the Lord: I am in the Father and the Father is in me ...We do not say three gods, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, we say only one God, the Holy Trinity, the Son, and the Spirit going back to only one Principle, without composition or confusion, quite unlike the heresy of Sabellius. These Persons are united, not so that they are confused with each other, but so that they are contained within each other. There is between them a circumincession without mixture or confusion, by virtue of which they are neither seperated nor divided in substance, unlike the heresy of Arius. In fact, in a word, the divinity is undivided in the individuals, just as there is only one light in three suns contained within each other, by means of an intimate interprenetration." John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith, I:8 (A.D. 712).