« Prev Against the Heresy of One Noetus. Next »

Against the Heresy of One Noetus.16031603    Gallandi, p. 454.

1. Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine, who have become disciples of one Noetus, who was a native of Smyrna,16041604    That Noetus was a native of Smyrna is mentioned also by Theodoret, book iii. Hæret Fab., c. iii., and Damascenus, sec. lvii. (who is accustomed to follow Epiphanius); and yet in Epiphanius, Hæres., 57, we read that Noetus was an Asian of the city of Ephesus (᾽Ασιανον τῆς ᾽Εφέσου πόλεως). (Fabricius.) (and) lived not very long ago.16051605    Epiphanius says that Noetus made his heresy public about 130 years before his time (οὐ πρὸ ἐτῶν πλειόνων ἀλλ᾽ ὡς πρὸ χρόνου τῶν τουτων ἑκατὸν τριάκοντα, πλείω ἢ ἐλάσσω); and as Epiphanius wrote in the year 375, that would make the date of Noetus about 245. He says also that Noetus died soon after (ἔναγχος), along with his brother. (Fabricius.) This person was greatly puffed up and inflated with pride, being inspired by the conceit of a strange spirit. He alleged that Christ was the Father Himself, and that the Father Himself was born, and suffered, and died. Ye see what pride of heart and what a strange inflated spirit had insinuated themselves into him. From his other actions, then, the proof is already given us that he spoke not with a pure spirit; for he who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost is cast out from the holy inheritance. He alleged that he was himself Moses, and that Aaron was his brother.16061606    So also Epiphanius and Damascenus. But Philastrius, Heresy, 53, puts Elijah for Aaron: hic etiam dicebat se Moysem esse, et fratrem suum Eliam prophetam. When the blessed presbyters heard this, they summoned him before the Church, and examined him. But he denied at first that he held such opinions. Afterwards, however, taking shelter among some, and having gathered round him some others16071607    Epiphanius remarks that they were but ten in number. who had embraced the same error, he wished thereafter to uphold his dogma openly as correct. And the blessed presbyters called him again before them, and examined him. But he stood out against them, saying, “What evil, then, am I doing in glorifying Christ?”  And the presbyters replied to him, “We too know in truth one God;16081608    The following words are the words of the Symbolum, as it is extant in Irenæus, i. 10, etc., and iii. 4; and in Tertullian, Contra Praxeam, ch. ii., and De Præscript., ch. xiii., and De virginibus velandis, ch. i. [See vol. iii., this series.] we know Christ; we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And these things which we have learned we allege.” Then, after examining him, they expelled him from the Church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a school.

2. Now they seek to exhibit the foundation for their dogma by citing the word in the law, “I am the God of your fathers: ye shall have no other gods beside me;”16091609    Ex. iii. 6 and xx. 3. and again in another passage, “I am the first,” He saith, “and the 224last; and beside me there is none other.”16101610    Isa. xliv. 6. Thus they say they prove that God is one. And then they answer in this manner: “If therefore I acknowledge Christ to be God, He is the Father Himself, if He is indeed God; and Christ suffered, being Himself God; and consequently the Father suffered, for He was the Father Himself.” But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner. But they make use also of other testimonies, and say, Thus it is written:  “This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant (son), and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.”16111611    Baruch iii. 35–38. [Based on Prov. viii., but so remarkable that Grotius presumptuously declared it an interpolation. It reflects canonical Scripture, but has no canonical value otherwise.] You see, then, he says, that this is God, who is the only One, and who afterwards did show Himself, and conversed with men.” And in another place he says, “Egypt hath laboured; and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, (and they shall be slaves to thee); and they shall come after thee bound with manacles, and they shall fall down unto thee, because God is in thee; and they shall make supplication unto thee: and there is no God beside thee. For Thou art God, and we knew not; God of Israel, the Saviour.”16121612    Isa. xlv. 14. Do you see, he says, how the Scriptures proclaim one God? And as this is clearly exhibited, and these passages are testimonies to it, I am under necessity, he says, since one is acknowledged, to make this One the subject of suffering. For Christ was God, and suffered on account of us, being Himself the Father, that He might be able also to save us.  And we cannot express ourselves otherwise, he says; for the apostle also acknowledges one God, when he says, “Whose are the fathers, (and) of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”16131613    Rom. ix. 5.

3. In this way, then, they choose to set forth these things, and they make use only of one class of passages;16141614    καὶ αὐτοις μονοκῶλα χρώμενοι, etc.  The word μονοκῶλα appears to be used adverbially, instead of μονοκώλως and μονοτύπως, which are the terms employed by Epiphanius (p. 481). The meaning is, that the Noetians, in explaining the words of Scripture concerning Christ, looked only to one side of the question—namely, to the divine nature; just as Theodotus, on his part going to the opposite extreme, kept by the human nature exclusively, and held that Christ was a mere man. Besides others, the presbyter Timotheus, in Cotelerii Monument., vol. iii. p. 389, mentions Theodotus in these terms: “They say that this Theodotus was the leader and father of the heresy of the Samosatan, having first alleged that Christ was a mere man.” [See vol. iii, p. 654, this series.] just in the same one-sided manner that Theodotus employed when he sought to prove that Christ was a mere man. But neither has the one party nor the other understood the matter rightly, as the Scriptures themselves confute their senselessness, and attest the truth. See, brethren, what a rash and audacious dogma they have introduced, when they say without shame, the Father is Himself Christ, Himself the Son, Himself was born, Himself suffered, Himself raised Himself. But it is not so. The Scriptures speak what is right; but Noetus is of a different mind from them. Yet, though Noetus does not understand the truth, the Scriptures are not at once to be repudiated. For who will not say that there is one God? Yet he will not on that account deny the economy (i.e., the number and disposition of persons in the Trinity). The proper way, therefore, to deal with the question is first of all to refute the interpretation put upon these passages by these men, and then to explain their real meaning.  For it is right, in the first place, to expound the truth that the Father is one God, “of whom is every family,”16151615    Eph. iii. 15. “by whom are all things, of whom are all things, and we in Him.”16161616    1 Cor. viii. 6.

4. Let us, as I said, see how he is confuted, and then let us set forth the truth. Now he quotes the words, “Egypt has laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans,” and so forth on to the words, “For Thou art the God of Israel, the Saviour.” And these words he cites without understanding what precedes them. For whenever they wish to attempt anything underhand, they mutilate the Scriptures. But let him quote the passage as a whole, and he will discover the reason kept in view in writing it. For we have the beginning of the section a little above; and we ought, of course, to commence there in showing to whom and about whom the passage speaks. For above, the beginning of the section stands thus: “Ask me concerning my sons and my daughters, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and man upon it: I with my hand have stablished the heaven; I have commanded all the stars. I have raised him up, and all his ways are straight. He shall build my city, and he shall turn back the captivity; not for price nor reward, said the Lord of hosts. Thus said the Lord of hosts, Egypt hath laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be slaves to thee: and they shall come after thee bound with manacles, and they shall fall down unto thee; and they shall make supplication unto thee, because God is in thee; and there is no God beside thee.  For Thou art God, and we knew not; the God of Israel, the Saviour.”16171617    Isa. xlv. 11–15.  “In thee, therefore,” says he, “God is.”  But in whom is God except 225in Christ Jesus, the Father’s Word, and the mystery of the economy?16181618    [Bull, Opp., v. pp. 367, 734, 740–743, 753–756.] And again, exhibiting the truth regarding Him, he points to the fact of His being in the flesh when He says, “I have raised Him up in righteousness, and all His ways are straight.” For what is this? Of whom does the Father thus testify? It is of the Son that the Father says, “I have raised Him up in righteousness.” And that the Father did raise up His Son in righteousness, the Apostle Paul bears witness, saying, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”16191619    Rom. viii. 11. Behold, the word spoken by the prophet is thus made good, “I have raised Him up in righteousness.” And in saying, “God is in thee,” he referred to the mystery of the economy, because when the Word was made incarnate and became man, the Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father, while the Son was living among men.  This, therefore, was signified, brethren, that in reality the mystery of the economy by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin was this Word, constituting yet one Son to God.16201620    Turrian has the following note: “The Word of God constituted (operatum est) one Son to God; i.e., the Word of God effected, that He who was the one Son of God was also one Son of man, because as His hypostasis He assumed the flesh. For thus was the Word made flesh.” And it is not simply that I say this, but He Himself attests it who came down from heaven; for He speaketh thus: “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”16211621    John iii. 13. What then can he seek beside what is thus written? Will he say, forsooth, that flesh was in heaven? Yet there is the flesh which was presented by the Father’s Word as an offering,—the flesh that came by the Spirit and the Virgin, (and was) demonstrated to be the perfect Son of God. It is evident, therefore, that He offered Himself to the Father. And before this there was no flesh in heaven. Who, then, was in heaven16221622    [John iii. 13.] but the Word unincarnate, who was despatched to show that He was upon earth and was also in heaven?  For He was Word, He was Spirit, He was Power. The same took to Himself the name common and current among men, and was called from the beginning the Son of man on account of what He was to be, although He was not yet man, as Daniel testifies when he says, “I saw, and behold one like the Son of man came on the clouds of heaven.”16231623    Dan. vii. 13.  Rightly, then, did he say that He who was in heaven was called from the beginning by this name, the Word of God, as being that from the beginning.

5. But what is meant, says he, in the other passage: “This is God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him?”16241624    Baruch iii. 36, etc. That said he rightly. For in comparison of the Father who shall be accounted of? But he says: “This is our God; there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved.” He saith well. For who is Jacob His servant, Israel His beloved, but He of whom He crieth, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him?”16251625    Matt. xvii. 5. Having received, then, all knowledge from the Father, the perfect Israel, the true Jacob, afterward did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. And who, again, is meant by Israel16261626    The word Israel is explained by Philo, De præmiis et pœnis, p. 710, and elsewhere, as = a man seeing God, ὁρῶν Θεόν, i.e., אִִיש ואה אל. So also in the Constitutiones Apostol., vii. 37, viii. 15; Eusebius, Præparat., xi. 6, p. 519, and in many others. To the same class may be referred those who make Israel = ὁρατικὸς ανὴρ καὶ θεωρητικὸς, a man apt to see and speculate, as Eusebius, Præparat., p. 310, or = νοῦς ὁρῶν Θεόν, as Optatus in the end of the second book; Didymus in Jerome, and Jerome himself in various passages; Maximus, i. p. 284; Olympiodorus on Ecclesiastes, ch. i.; Leontius, De Sectis, p. 392; Theophanes, Ceram. homil., iv. p. 22, etc. Justin Martyr, Dialog. cum Tryph. [see vol. i. pp. 226, 262], adduces another etymology, ἄνθρωπος νικῶν δύναμιν. but a man who sees God? and there is no one who sees God except the Son alone, the perfect man who alone declares the will of the Father. For John also says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared16271627    Hippolytus reads διηγήσατο for ἐξηγήσατο. Him.”16281628    John i. 18. And again: “He who came down from heaven testifieth what He hath heard and seen.”16291629    John iii. 11, 13. This, then, is He to whom the Father hath given all knowledge, who did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.

6. Let us look next at the apostle’s word: “Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”16301630    Rom. ix. 5. This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.”16311631    Matt. xi. 27. He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever. For to this effect John also has said, “Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”16321632    Apoc. i. 8. And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father;”16331633    Matt. xi. 27. [Compare John v. 22.] and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed16341634    [Strictly scriptural as to the humanity of Messiah, Heb. i. 9.] 226Almighty by the Father.  And in like manner Paul also, in setting forth the truth that all things are delivered unto Him, said, “Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For all things are put under Him. But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. Then shall He also Himself be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”16351635    1 Cor. xv. 23–28. If, therefore, all things are put under Him with the exception of Him who put them under Him, He is Lord of all, and the Father is Lord of Him, that in all there might be manifested one God, to whom all things are made subject together with Christ, to whom the Father hath made all things subject, with the exception of Himself. And this, indeed, is said by Christ Himself, as when in the Gospel He confessed Him to be His Father and His God. For He speaks thus: “I go to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”16361636    John xx. 17. If then, Noetus ventures to say that He is the Father Himself, to what father will he say Christ goes away according to the word of the Gospel?  But if he will have us abandon the Gospel and give credence to his senselessness, he expends his labour in vain; for “we ought to obey God rather than men.”16371637    Acts v. 29; iv. 19.

7. If, again, he allege His own word when He said, “I and the Father are one,”16381638    John x. 30. let him attend to the fact, and understand that He did not say, “I and the Father am one, but are one.”16391639    ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρἕν ἐσμεν, not ἕν εἰμι. For the word are16401640    ἐσμὲν.is not said of one person, but it refers to two persons, and one power.16411641    δύναμιν. He has Himself made this clear, when He spake to His Father concerning the disciples, “The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that Thou hast sent me.”16421642    John xvii. 22, 23. What have the Noetians to say to these things? Are all one body in respect of substance, or is it that we become one in the power and disposition of unity of mind?16431643    ἢτῇ δυνάμει καὶ τῇ διαθέσει τῆς ὁμοφρονίας ἓν γινόμεθα. In the same manner the Son, who was sent and was not known of those who are in the world, confessed that He was in the Father in power and disposition. For the Son is the one mind of the Father. We who have the Father’s mind believe so (in Him); but they who have it not have denied the Son. And if, again, they choose to allege the fact that Philip inquired about the Father, saying, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” to whom the Lord made answer in these terms: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”16441644    John xiv. 8, 9. and if they choose to maintain that their dogma is ratified by this passage, as if He owned Himself to be the Father, let them know that it is decidedly against them, and that they are confuted by this very word. For though Christ had spoken of Himself, and showed Himself among all as the Son, they had not yet recognised Him to be such, neither had they been able to apprehend or contemplate His real power. And Philip, not having been able to receive this, as far as it was possible to see it, requested to behold the Father. To whom then the Lord said, “Philip, have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” By which He means, If thou hast seen me, thou mayest know the Father through me. For through the image, which is like (the original), the Father is made readily known.  But if thou hast not known the image, which is the Son, how dost thou seek to see the Father? And that this is the case is made clear by the rest of the chapter, which signifies that the Son who “has been set forth16451645    Rom. iii. 25. was sent from the Father,16461646    John v. 30; vi. 29; viii. 16, 18, etc. and goeth to the Father.”16471647    John xiii. 1; xiv. 12.

8. Many other passages, or rather all of them, attest the truth. A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power16481648    δύναμις. is one.  As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the economy there is a threefold manifestation, as shall be proved afterwards when we give account of the true doctrine. In these things, however, which are thus set forth by us, we are at one. For there is one God in whom we must believe, but unoriginated, impassible, immortal, doing all things as He wills, in the way He wills, and when He wills. What, 227then, will this Noetus, who knows16491649    There is perhaps a play on the words here—Νόητος μὴ νοῶν. nothing of the truth, dare to say to these things? And now, as Noetus has been confuted, let us turn to the exhibition of the truth itself, that we may establish the truth, against which all these mighty heresies16501650    i.e., the other thirty-one heresies, which Hippolytus had already attacked. From these words it is apparent also that this treatise was the closing portion of a book against the heresies (Fabricius). have arisen without being able to state anything to the purpose.

9. There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practise piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God.16511651    [This emphatic testimony of our author to the sufficiency of the Scriptures is entirely in keeping with the entire system of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Note our teeming indexes of Scripture texts.] Whatever things, then, the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us look; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.

10. God, subsisting alone, and having nothing contemporaneous with Himself, determined to create the world. And conceiving the world in mind, and willing and uttering the word, He made it; and straightway it appeared, formed as it had pleased Him. For us, then, it is sufficient simply to know that there was nothing contemporaneous with God. Beside Him there was nothing; but16521652    See, on this passage, Bull’s Defens. Fid. Nic., sec. iii. cap. viii. § 2, p. 219. He, while existing alone, yet existed in plurality.16531653    πολὺς ἦν. For He was neither without reason, nor wisdom, nor power, nor counsel.16541654    ἄλογος, ἄσοφος, ἀδύνατος, ἀβούλευτος. And all things were in Him, and He was the All. When He willed, and as He willed,16551655    On these words see Bossuet’s explanation and defence, Avertiss., vi. § 68, sur les lettres de M. Jurieu. He manifested His word in the times determined by Him, and by Him He made all things. When He wills, He does; and when He thinks, He executes; and when He speaks, He manifests; when He fashions, He contrives in wisdom. For all things that are made He forms by reason and wisdom—creating them in reason, and arranging them in wisdom. He made them, then, as He pleased, for He was God. And as the Author, and fellow-Counsellor, and Framer16561656    ἀρχηγόν, καὶ σύμβουλον, καὶ ἐργάτην. of the things that are in formation, He begat16571657    The “begetting” of which Hippolytus speaks here is not the generation, properly so called, but that manifestation and bringing forth of the Word co-existing from eternity with the Father, which referred to the creation of the world. So at least Bull and Bossuet, as cited above; also Maranus, De Divinit. J. C., lib. iv. cap. xiii. § 3, p. 458. the Word; and as He bears this Word in Himself, and that, too, as (yet) invisible to the world which is created, He makes Him visible; (and) uttering the voice first, and begetting Him as Light of Light,16581658    φως ἐκ φωτός. This phrase, adopted by the Nicene Fathers, occurs before their time not only here, but also in Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Athenagoras, as is noticed by Grabe, ad Irenæum, lib. ii. c. xxiii. Methodius also, in his Homily on Simeon and Anna, p. 152, has the expression, σὺ εἶ φῶς ἀληθινὸν ἐκ φωτὸς ἀληθινοῦ Θεὸς ἀληθινὸς ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ.  Athanasius himself also uses the phrase λύχνον ἐκ λύχνου, vol. i. p. 881, ed. Lips. [Illustrating my remarks (p. v. of this volume), in the preface, as to the study of Nicene theology in Ante-Nicene authors.] He set Him forth to the world as its Lord, (and) His own mind;16591659    νοῦν. and whereas He was visible formerly to Himself alone, and invisible to the world which is made, He makes Him visible in order that the world might see Him in His manifestation, and be capable of being saved.

11. And thus there appeared another beside Himself. But when I say another,16601660    Justin Martyr also says that the Son is ἕτερόν τι, something other, from the Father; and Tertullian affirms, Filium et Patrem esse aluid ab alio, with the same intent as Hippolytus here, viz., to express the distinction of persons.  [See vol. i. pp. 170, 216, 263, and vol. iii. p. 604.] I do not mean that there are two Gods, but that it is only as light of light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the sun. For there is but one power, which is from the All;16611661    ἐκ τοῦ παντός. and the Father is the All, from whom cometh this Power, the Word. And this is the mind16621662    Or reason. which came forth into the world, and was manifested as the Son16631663    παῖς. of God. All things, then, are by Him, and He alone is of the Father. Who then adduces a multitude of gods brought in, time after time? For all are shut up, however unwillingly, to admit this fact, that the All runs up into one.  If, then, all things run up into one, even according to Valentinus, and Marcion, and Cerinthus, and all their fooleries, they are also reduced, however unwillingly, to this position, that they must acknowledge that the One is the cause of all things. Thus, then, these too, though they wish it not, fall in with the truth, and admit that one God made all things according to His good pleasure. And He gave the law and the prophets; and in giving them, He made them speak by the Holy Ghost, in order that, being gifted with the inspiration of the Father’s power, they might declare the Father’s counsel and will.

12. Acting then in these (prophets), the Word spoke of Himself. For already He became His own herald, and showed that the Word would 228be manifested among men. And for this reason He cried thus:  “I am made manifest to them that sought me not; I am found of them that asked not for me.”16641664    Isa. lxv. 1. And who is He that is made manifest but the Word of the Father?—whom the Father sent, and in whom He showed to men the power proceeding from Him. Thus, then, was the Word made manifest, even as the blessed John says. For he sums up the things that were said by the prophets, and shows that this is the Word, by whom all things were made. For he speaks to this effect: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.”16651665    John i. 1–3. Hippolytus evidently puts the full stop at the οὐδὲ εν, attaching the ο γέγονεν to the following. So also Irenæus, Clemens Alex., Origen, Theophilus of Antioch, and Eusebius, in several places; so, too, of the Latin Fathers—Tertullian, Lactantius, Victorinus, Augustine; and long after these, Honorius Augustodunensis, in his De imagine Mundi. This punctuation was also adopted by the heretics Valentinus, Heracleon, Theodotus, and the Macedonians and Eunomians; and hence it is rejected by Epiphanius, ii. p. 80, and Chrysostom. (Fabricius.) And beneath He says, “The world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”16661666    John i. 10, 11. If, then, said he, the world was made by Him, according to the word of the prophet, “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made,”16671667    Ps. xxxiii. 6. then this is the Word that was also made manifest. We accordingly see the Word incarnate, and we know the Father by Him, and we believe in the Son, (and) we worship the Holy Spirit. Let us then look at the testimony of Scripture, with respect to the announcement of the future manifestation of the Word.

13. Now Jeremiah says, “Who hath stood in the counsel16681668    ὑποστήματι, foundation. Victor reads ἐν τῇ ὑποστάσει, in the substance, nature; Symmachus has ἐν τῇ ὁμιλίᾳ, in the fellowship. of the Lord, and hath perceived His Word?”16691669    Jer. xxiii. 18. But the Word of God alone is visible, while the word of man is audible. When he speaks of seeing the Word, I must believe that this visible (Word) has been sent. And there was none other (sent) but the Word. And that He was sent Peter testifies, when he says to the centurion Cornelius: “God sent His Word unto the children of Israel by the preaching of Jesus Christ. This is the God who is Lord of all.”16701670    Acts x. 36. If, then, the Word is sent by Jesus Christ, the will16711671    τὸ θέλημα. Many of the patristic theologians called the Son the Father’s βούλησις or θέλημα. See the passages in Petavius, De S. S. Trinitate, lib. vi. c. 8, § 21, and vii. 12, § 12. [Dubious.] of the Father is Jesus Christ.

14. These things then, brethren, are declared by the Scriptures. And the blessed John, in the testimony of his Gospel, gives us an account of this economy (disposition) and acknowledges this Word as God, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If, then, the Word was with God, and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods?16721672    From this passage it is clear that Hippolytus taught the doctrine of one God alone and three Persons. A little before, in the eighth chapter, he said that there is one God, according to substance or divine essence, which one substance is in three Persons; and that, according to disposition or economy, there are three Persons manifested. By the term economy, therefore, he understands, with Tertullian, adversus Praxeam. ch. iii., the number and disposition of the Trinity (numerum et dispositionem Trinitatis). Here he also calls the grace of the Holy Spirit the third economy, but in the same way as Tertullian, who calls the Holy Spirit the third grade (tertium gradum). For the terms gradus, forma, species, dispositio, andœconimia mean the same in Tertullian. (Maranus.) [Another proof that the Nicene Creed was a compilation from Ante-Nicene theologians.] I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy16731673    οἰκονομία συμφωνίας συνάγεται εἰς ἕνα Θεόν, perhaps = "the" economy as being one of harmony, leads to one God. of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands,16741674    This mode of speaking of the Father’s commanding, and the Son’s obeying, was used without any offence, not only by Irenæus, Hippolytus, Origen, and others before the Council of Nicæa, but also after that council by the keenest opponents of the Arian heresy—Athanasius, Basil, Marius Victorinus, Hilary, Prosper, and others. See Petavius, De Trin., i. 7, § 7; and Bull, Defens Fid. Nic., pp. 138, 164, 167, 170.  (Fabricius.) and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding:16751675    συνέτιζον. the Father who is above all,16761676    Referring probably to Eph. iv. 6. and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all.  And we cannot otherwise think of one God,16771677    The Christian doctrine, Maranus remarks, could not be set forth more accurately; for he contends not only that the number of Persons in no manner detracts from the unity of God, but that the unity of God itself can neither consist nor be adored without this number of Persons. but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For the Jews glorified (or gloried in) the Father, but gave Him not thanks, for they did not recognise the Son. The disciples recognised the Son, but not in the Holy Ghost; wherefore they also denied Him.16781678    This is said probably with reference to Peter’s denial. The Father’s Word, therefore, knowing the economy (disposition) and the will of the Father, to wit, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in none other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead: “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”16791679    Matt. xxviii. 19. And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity16801680    Τριαδος. [See Theophilus, vol. ii. p. 101, note.] that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth.

22915. But some one will say to me, You adduce a thing strange to me, when you call the Son the Word. For John indeed speaks of the Word, but it is by a figure of speech. Nay, it is by no figure of speech.16811681    ἀλλ᾽ ἄλλως ἀλληγορεῖ.  The words in Italics are given only in the Latin. They may have dropped from the Greek text. At any rate, some such addition seems necessary for the sense. For while thus presenting this Word that was from the beginning, and has now been sent forth, he said below in the Apocalypse, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him (was) Faithful and True; and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.  And His eyes (were) as flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself. And He (was) clothed in a vesture dipped in blood:  and His name is called the Word of God.”16821682    Apoc. xix. 11–13. See then, brethren, how the vesture sprinkled with blood denoted in symbol the flesh, through which the impassible Word of God came under suffering, as also the prophets testify to me. For thus speaks the blessed Micah:  “The house of Jacob provoked the Spirit of the Lord to anger.  These are their pursuits. Are not His words good with them, and do they walk rightly? And they have risen up in enmity against His countenance of peace, and they have stripped off His glory.”16831683    Mic. ii. 7, 8.  δόξαν: In the present text of the Septuagint it is δοράν, skin. That means His suffering in the flesh. And in like manner also the blessed Paul says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be shown in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”16841684    Hippolytus omits the words διὰ τῆς σαρκός and καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας, and reads φανερωθῇ for πληρωθῇ. What Son of His own, then, did God send through the flesh but the Word,16851685    ὅν Υἱὸν προσηγόρευε διὰ τὸ μέλλειν αὐτὸν γενέσθαι. whom He addressed as Son because He was to become such (or be begotten) in the future? And He takes the common name for tender affection among men in being called the Son. For neither was the Word, prior to incarnation and when by Himself,16861686    Hippolytus thus gives more definite expression to this temporality of the Sonship, as Dorner remarks, than even Tertullian. See Dorner’s Doctrine of the Person of Christ (T. & T. Clark), div. i. vol. ii. p. 88, etc.  [Pearson On the Creed, art. ii. p. 199 et seqq. The patristic citations are sufficient, and Hippolytus may be harmonized with them.] yet perfect Son, although He was perfect Word, only-begotten. Nor could the flesh subsist by itself apart from the Word, because it has its subsistence16871687    τὴν σύστασιν. in the Word.16881688    “Σύστασις,” says Dorner, “be it observed, is not yet equivalent to personality. The sense is, it had its subsistence in the Logos; He was the connective and vehicular force. This is thoroughly unobjectionable. He does not thus necessarily pronounce the humanity of Christ impersonal; although in view of what has preceded, and what remains to be adduced, there can be no doubt [?] that Hippolytus would have defended the impersonality, had the question been agitated at the period at which he lived.” See Dorner, as above, i. 95. [But compare Burton, Testimonies of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, etc., pp. 60–87, where Tertullian and Hippolytus speak for themselves. Note also what he says of the latter, and his variations of expression, p. 87.] Thus, then, one perfect Son of God was manifested.

16. And these indeed are testimonies bearing on the incarnation of the Word; and there are also very many others. But let us also look at the subject in hand,—namely, the question, brethren, that in reality the Father’s power, which is the Word, came down from heaven, and not the Father Himself. For thus He speaks: “I came forth from the Father, and am come.”16891689    John xvi. 28. Now what subject is meant in this sentence, “I came forth from the Father,”16901690    Reading ἐξῆλθον. The Latin interpreter seems to read ἐξελθόν = what is this that came forth. but just the Word? And what is it that is begotten of Him, but just the Spirit,16911691    πνεῦμα. The divine in Christ is thus designated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers generally. See Grotius on Mark ii. 8; and for a full history of the term in this use, Dorner’s Person of Christ, i. p. 390, etc. (Clark). that is to say, the Word? But you will say to me, How is He begotten? In your own case you can give no explanation of the way in which you were begotten, although you see every day the cause according to man; neither can you tell with accuracy the economy in His case.16921692    την περὶ τοῦτον οἰκονομιαν. For you have it not in your power to acquaint yourself with the practised and indescribable art16931693    τὴν τοῦ δημιουργήσαντος ἔμπειρον καὶ ἀνεκδιήγητου τέχνην. (method) of the Maker, but only to see, and understand, and believe that man is God’s work. Moreover, you are asking an account of the generation of the Word, whom God the Father in His good pleasure begat as He willed. Is it not enough for you to learn that God made the world, but do you also venture to ask whence He made it? Is it not enough for you to learn that the Son of God has been manifested to you for salvation if you believe, but do you also inquire curiously how He was begotten after the Spirit? No more than two,16941694    i.e., Matthew and Luke in their Gospels. in sooth, have been put in trust to give the account of His generation after the flesh; and are you then so bold as to seek the account (of His generation) after the Spirit, which the Father keeps with Himself, intending to reveal it then to the holy ones and those worthy of seeing His face? Rest satisfied with the word spoken by Christ, viz., “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,”16951695    John iii. 6. just as, speaking by the prophet of the generation of the Word, He shows the fact that He is begotten, but reserves the question of the manner and means, to reveal it only in the time determined by Himself. For He speaks thus: “From the womb, before the morning star, I have begotten Thee.”16961696    Ps. cx. 3.

23017.  These testimonies are sufficient for the believing who study truth, and the unbelieving credit no testimony.16971697    [A noble aphorism. See Shedd, Hist. of Theol., i. pp. 300, 301, and tribute to Pearson, p. 319, note. The loving spirit of Auberlen, on the defeat of rationalism, may be noted with profit in his Divine Revelations, translation, Clark’s ed., 1867.] For the Holy Spirit, indeed, in the person of the apostles, has testified to this, saying, “And who has believed our report?”16981698    Isa. liii. 1. Therefore let us not prove ourselves unbelieving, lest the word spoken be fulfilled in us.  Let us believe then, dear16991699    μακάριοι. brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven, (and entered) into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking the flesh from her, and assuming also a human, by which I mean a rational soul, and becoming thus all that man is with the exception of sin, He might save fallen man, and confer immortality on men who believe on His name. In all, therefore, the word of truth is demonstrated to us, to wit, that the Father is One, whose word is present (with Him), by whom He made all things; whom also, as we have said above, the Father sent forth in later times for the salvation of men. This (Word) was preached by the law and the prophets as destined to come into the world. And even as He was preached then, in the same manner also did He come and manifest Himself, being by the Virgin and the Holy Spirit made a new man; for in that He had the heavenly (nature) of the Father, as the Word and the earthly (nature), as taking to Himself the flesh from the old Adam by the medium of the Virgin, He now, coming forth into the world, was manifested as God in a body, coming forth too as a perfect man.  For it was not in mere appearance or by conversion,17001700    κατὰ φαντασίαν ἢ τροπήν. but in truth, that He became man.

18. 17011701    [The sublimity of this concluding chapter marks our author’s place among the most eloquent of Ante-Nicene Fathers.]Thus then, too, though demonstrated as God, He does not refuse the conditions proper to Him as man,17021702    The following passage agrees almost word for word with what is cited as from the Memoria hæresium of Hippolytus by Gelasius, in the De duabus naturis Christi, vol. viii. Bibl. Patr., edit. Lugd. p. 704. [Compare St. Ignatius, vol. i. cap. vii. p. 52, this series; and for the crucial point (γεννητὸς καὶ ἀγέννητος) see Jacobson, ii. p. 278.] since He hungers and toils and thirsts in weariness, and flees in fear, and prays in trouble. And He who as God has a sleepless nature, slumbers on a pillow. And He who for this end came into the world, begs off from the cup of suffering. And in an agony He sweats blood, and is strengthened by an angel, who Himself strengthens those who believe on Him, and taught men to despise death by His work.17031703    Or, by deed, ἔργῳ. And He who knew what manner of man Judas was, is betrayed by Judas. And He, who formerly was honoured by him as God, is contemned by Caiaphas.17041704    ἱερατευόμενος, referring to John xi. 51, 52. And He is set at nought by Herod, who is Himself to judge the whole earth. And He is scourged by Pilate, who took upon Himself our infirmities. And by the soldiers He is mocked, at whose behest stand thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads of angels and archangels. And He who fixed the heavens like a vault is fastened to the cross by the Jews. And He who is inseparable from the Father cries to the Father, and commends to Him His spirit; and bowing His head, He gives up the ghost, who said, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again;”17051705    John x. 18. and because He was not overmastered by death, as being Himself Life, He said this:  “I lay it down of myself.”17061706    John x. 18. And He who gives life bountifully to all, has His side pierced with a spear. And He who raises the dead is wrapped in linen and laid in a sepulchre, and on the third day He is raised again by the Father, though Himself the Resurrection and the Life. For all these things has He finished for us, who for our sakes was made as we are. For “Himself hath borne our infirmities, and carried our diseases; and for our sakes He was afflicted,”17071707    Isa. liii. 4. as Isaiah the prophet has said. This is He who was hymned by the angels, and seen by the shepherds, and waited for by Simeon, and witnessed to by Anna. This is He who was inquired after by the wise men, and indicated by the star; He who was engaged in His Father’s house, and pointed to by John, and witnessed to by the Father from above in the voice, “This is my beloved Son; hear ye Him.”17081708    Matt. xvii. 5. [It may be convenient for some to turn to the Oxford translation of Bishop Bull’s Defensio, part i. pp. 193–216, where Tertullian and Hippolytus are nobly vindicated on Nicene grounds. The notes are also valuable.] He is crowned victor against the devil.17091709    Matt. xxvii. 29. στεφανοῦται κατὰ διαβόλου, [i.e., with thorns]. This is Jesus of Nazareth, who was invited to the marriage-feast in Cana, and turned the water into wine, and rebuked the sea when agitated by the violence of the winds, and walked on the deep as on dry land, and caused the blind man from birth to see, and raised Lazarus to life after he had been dead four days, and did many mighty works, and forgave sins, and conferred power on the disciples, and had blood and water flowing from His sacred side when pierced with the spear. For His sake the sun is darkened, the day has no light, the rocks are shattered, the veil is rent, the foundations of the earth are shaken, the graves are opened, and the dead are raised, and the rulers are ashamed when they see the Director of the universe upon the cross closing His eye and giving up the ghost. Creation saw, and was troubled; and, unable to bear the sight of His exceeding glory, shrouded itself in dark231ness.17101710    [Hippolytus confirms Tertullian’s testimony. Compare vol. iii. pp. 35 and 58.]  This (is He who) breathes upon the disciples, and gives them the Spirit, and comes in among them when the doors are shut, and is taken up by a cloud into the heavens while the disciples gaze at Him, and is set down on the right hand of the Father, and comes again as the Judge of the living and the dead. This is the God who for our sakes became man, to whom also the Father hath put all things in subjection. To Him be the glory and the power, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church both now and ever, and even for evermore.  Amen.


« Prev Against the Heresy of One Noetus. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection