Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of...: Extract 4
Contra Maximinum. lib. ii. c. 14, § 2, 3.
1 John 5.20. “Ut simus in vero Filio ejus Jesu Christo; ipse est verus Deus et vita æterna.” 2562
When ye read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ,” think of the “true Son” of God. But this Son ye in no wise think to be the true Son of God, if ye deny Him to be begotten of the substance of the Father. For was He already Son of Man and by gift of God became Son of God, begotten indeed of God, but by grace, not by nature? Or, though not Son of Man, yet was He some sort of creature which, by Gods changing it, was converted into Son of God? If you mean nothing of this sort, then was He either begotten of nothing, or of some substance. But thou hast relieved us from all fear of having to suppose that you affirm the Son of God to be of nothing, for thou hast declared that this is not your meaning. Therefore, He is of some substance. If not of the substance of the Father, then of what? Tell me. But ye cannot find any other . . . Consequently, the Father and the Son are of one and the same substance. This is the Homöusion . . . . In the Scriptures both you and p. 529 we read, “That we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ; He is the true God and Eternal Life.” Let both parties yield to such weighty evidence. Tell us then, whether this “true Son” of God, discriminated as He is by the property of this name from those who are sons by grace, 2563 be of no substance or of some substance. Thou sayest, “I do not say that He is of no substance, lest I should say that He is of nothing.” He is therefore of some substance: I ask, of what? If not of the substance of the Father, seek another. If thou findest not another, as indeed thou canst find none at all, then acknowledge it to be the Fathers, and confess the Son Homöusios, “of one substance with the Father.” Flesh is begotten of flesh, the Son of flesh is begotten of the substance of the flesh. Set aside corruption, reject from the eye of the mind all carnal passions, and behold “the invisible things of God understood by the means of the things that are made.” 2564 Believe that the Creator who hath given flesh power to beget flesh, who hath given parents power of the substance of the flesh to generate “true sons” of flesh, much more had power to beget a “true Son” of His own substance, and to have one substance with the true Son, the spiritual incorruption remaining and carnal corruption being altogether alien therefrom. 2565
St. Hilary de Trin. vi. 43, cites the passage with additions, of which there are no traces in the mss. and other authorities; Quia scimus quod Filius Dei venit et concarnatus est propter nos, et, passus est, et resurgens de mortuis assumpsit nos, et dedit nobis intellectum optimum, ut intelligamus verum, et simus in vero filio ejus Jesu Christo: hic est verus [Deus om.], et vita æterna, et resurrectio nostra: and it is remarkable that his contemporary Faustinus (the Luciferian) in his work de Trinitate, gives the passage totidem verbis, except that it is doubtful whether he read verus Deus, and that after resurrectio nostra he adds in ipso.—Vulg. et simus in vero Filio ejus. Hic est verus Deus, et vita æterna. In the Greek the second ἐν τῷ is omitted by St Cyril, Alex. St. Basil, adv. Eunom. and others; and this is the received reading of the Latins.—There is no certain evidence to show how the text was interpreted by the ante-Nicene Fathers. St. Athanasius Orat. c. Arian. iii. 24, sec. 4; 25, sec. 16; iv. 9, init. and St. Basil adv. Eunom. iv. p. 294, unhesitatingly refer the οὗτος to the nearest antecedent: “And we are in Him the True,” (even) “in His Son Jesus Christ: this” (Jesus Christ) “is the True God and eternal Life:” and the Latin Fathers from St. Hilary and St. Ambrose downward allege the text as an explicit declaration of the true Godhead of the Son.—St. Epiphanius Ancorat c. 4, seems to have read in his copy, οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιός, omitting Θεὸς (as Hilary): for he says: “And though the epithet Very God (θεὸς ἀληθινὸς) is not added,” i.e. though this οὗτος, meaning Jesus Christ, is not expressly called the true God (as in v. 20, where he seems to have had in his copy the reading ἀληθινὸν Θεόν), “we do but accumulate madness if we dare to blaspheme and to say that the Son is not Very God. For it is enough that in the One [who is so called] we take in the whole Trinity, and from the Father [as Very God] understand the Son also to be Very God.”529:2563
Serm. cxl. 3 “Seek in the Epistle of this same John what he hath said of Christ. Believe (credamus) saith he, on His true Son Jesus Christ, He is the True God and Eternal Life! What meaneth, True God and Eternal Life? The True Son of God is the True God and Eternal Life. Why has he said, On His True Son? Because God hath many sons, therefore He was to be distinguished by adding that He was the True Son. Not just by saying that He is the Son, but by adding, as I said, that He is the True Son: He was to be distinguished because of the many sons whom God hath. For we are sons by grace, He by Nature. We, made such by the Father through Him; He, what the Father is, Himself is also: what God is, are we also?”529:2564
Rom i. 20.529:2565
Serm. cxxxix. 3, 4.
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