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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XIV. The Son is of one substance with the Father.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIV.

The Son is of one substance with the Father.

108. And now, your Majesty, with regard to the question of the substance, why need I tell you that the Son is of one substance p. 258 with the Father, when we have read that the Son is the image of the Father’s substance, that you may understand that there is nothing wherein, so far as Godhead is regarded, the Son differs from the Father.

109. In virtue of this likeness Christ said: “All things that the Father hath are Mine.” 2286 We cannot, then, deny substance to God, for indeed He is not unsubstantial, Who hath given to others the ground of their being, though this be different in God from what it is in the creature. The Son of God, by Whose agency all things endure, 2287 could not be unsubstantial.

110. And therefore, the Psalmist saith: “My bones are not hidden, which Thou didst make in secret, and my substance in the underworld.” 2288 For to His power and Godhead, the things that before the foundation of the world were done, though their magnificence was [as yet] invisible, could not be hidden. Here, then, we find mention of “substance.”

111. But it may be objected that the mention of His substance is the consequence of His Incarnation. I have shown that the word “substance” is used more than once, and that not in the sense of inherited possessions, as you would construe it. Now, if it please you, let us grant that, in accordance with the mystic prophecy, the substance of Christ was present in the underworld—for truly He did exert His power in the lower world to set free, in the soul which animated His own body, the souls of the dead, to loose the bands of death, to remit sins. 2289

112. And, indeed, what hinders you from understanding, by that substance, His divine substance, seeing that God is everywhere, so that it hath been said to Him: “If I go up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hell, Thou art present.” 2290

113. Furthermore, the Psalmist hath in the words following made it plain that we must understand the divine substance to be mentioned when he saith: “Thine eyes did see My being, [as] not the effect of working;” 2291 inasmuch as the Son is not made, nor one of God’s works, but the begotten Word of eternal power. He called Him “ἀχατέργαστον,” meaning that the Word neither made nor created, is begotten of the Father without the witnessing presence of any created being. Howbeit, we have abundance of testimony besides this. Let us grant that the substance here spoken of is the bodily substance, provided you also yourself say not that the Son of God is something effected by working, but confess His uncreated Godhead.

114. Now I know that some assert that the mystic incarnate form was uncreated, forasmuch as nothing was done therein through intercourse with a man, because our Lord was the offspring of a virgin. If, then, many have, on the strength of this passage, asserted that neither that which was brought forth of Mary was produced by creative operation, dare you, disciple of Arius, think that the Word of God is something so produced?

115. But is this the only place where we read of “substance”? Hath it not also been said in another passage: “The gates of the cities are broken down, the mountains are fallen, and His substance is revealed”? 2292 What, does the word mean something created here also? Some, I know, are accustomed to say that the substance is substance in money. Then, if you give this meaning to the word, the mountains fell, in order that some one’s possessions of money might be seen.

116. But let us remember what mountains fell, those, namely, of which it hath been said: “If ye shall have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye shall say to this mountain: Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea!” 2293 By mountains, then, are meant high things that exalt themselves. 2294

117. Moreover, in the Greek, the rendering is this: “The palaces are fallen.” What palaces, save the palace of Satan, of whom the Lord said: “How shall His kingdom stand?” 2295 We are reading, therefore, of the things which are the devil’s palaces as being very mountains, and therefore in the fall of those palaces from the hearts of the faithful, the truth stands revealed, that Christ, the p. 259 Son of God, is of the Father’s eternal substance. What, again, are those mountains of bronze, from the midst of which four chariots come forth? 2296

118. We behold that height, lifting up itself against the knowledge of God, cast down by the word of the Lord, when the Son of God said: “Hold thy peace, and come forth, thou foul spirit.” 2297 Concerning whom the prophet also said: “Behold, I am come to thee, thou mount of corruption!” 2298

119. Those mountains, then, are fallen, 2299 and it is revealed that in Christ was the substance of God, in the words of those who had seen Him: “Truly Thou art the Son of God,” 2300 for it was in virtue of divine, not human power, that He commanded devils. Jeremiah also saith: “Make mourning upon the mountains, and beat your breasts upon the desert tracks, for they have failed; forasmuch as there are no men, they have not heard the word of substance: from flying fowl to beasts of burden, they trembled, they have failed.” 2301

120. Nor has it escaped us, that in another place also, setting forth the frailties of man’s estate, in order to show that He had taken upon Himself the infirmity of the flesh, and the affections of our minds, the Lord said, by the mouth of His prophet: “Remember, O Lord, what My substance is,” 2302 because it was the Son of God speaking in the nature of human frailty. 2303

121. Of Him the Scripture saith, in the passage cited, 2304 in order to discover the mysteries of the Incarnation: “But Thou hast rejected, O Lord, and counted for nought—Thou hast cast out Thy Christ. 2305 Thou hast overthrown the covenant made with Thy Servant, and trampled His holiness in the earth.” 2306 What was it, in regard whereof the Scripture called Him “Servant,” but His flesh?—seeing that “He did not hold equality with God as a prey, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made into the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man.” 2307 So, then, in that He took upon Himself My nature, He was a servant, but by virtue of His own power He is the Lord.

122. Furthermore, what meaneth it that thou readest: “Who hath stood in the truth (substantia) of the Lord?” and again: “Now if they had stood in My truth, and had given ear to My words, and had taught My people, I would have turned them from their follies and transgressions”? 2308



S. John xvi. 15.


Latin, “subsistunt” subsist, persist, last through changes. Even the ephemeris thus persists, subsists, or endures, for its few hours of life.


Non est occultatum os meum quod fecisti in abscondito, et substantia mea in inferioribus terræ.” The Prayer-book version runs: “My bones are not hid from Thee, though I be made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.”—Ps. cxxxix. 14. “My bones were not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, [when] I was curiously wrought [as] in the lower parts of the earth.”—Perowne.


1 Pet. iii. 19.


Ps. cxxxix. 7. See R.V. “Hell” is “Sheol,” a word also rendered “grave.” It means the “place of darkness,” the gloomy underworld, where the spirits of the departed were believed to abide. It is the place from which Samuel’s spirit was called up by the witch of Endor.—1 Sam. xxviii.


Ps. cxxxix. 15.


Nahum ii. 6.—The LXX. shows—“πύλαι τῶν πόλεων διηνοίχθησαν, καὶ τὰ βασίλεια διέπεσε. καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασις ἀπεκαλύφθη.” The Vulg.—“Portæ fluviorum apertæ sunt, et templum ad solum dirutum. Et miles captivus adductus est.” R.V.—“The gates of the rivers are opened and the palace is dissolved, and Huzzab is uncovered, and it is decreed; she is uncovered, she is carried away,” etc.


S. Matt. xvii. 19.


2 Cor. x. 5.


Regnumis used in Latin to denote a domain as well as in the general sense of “kingdom.” Virg., Ecl. I. 70; S. Matt. xii. 26.


Zech. vi. 1.


S. Mark i. 25.


Jer. li. 25. The “mount of corruption” is Babylon.


i.e. those cities and nations and persons who have exalted themselves, lifted themselves up as high mountains, challenging, as it were, the majesty of heaven. Cf. Ps. lxviii. 16, R.V.


S. Luke iv. 41.


Jer. ix. 10. St. Ambrose follows the text of the LXX. with one or two variations in the punctuation. What St. Ambrose renders as “vox substantiæ” (“word of substance” or “voice of substance”) appears in the LXX. as “φωνὴ ὑπάρξεως” (which vox substantiæ represents verbatim), and in Vulg. as “vox possidentis” (“the voice of the possessor”—i.e. landowner); in the A.V. and R.V. as “the voice of the cattle.”—παρξις and substantia should be taken in the concrete sense (as they clearly represent a concrete term), like our “substance,” or “possessions.” Now in primitive society—like, e.g., that of the nomad Tartars—possessions consist mainly in horses and cattle. Cf. the evolution of the term pecunia=money.


Ps. lxxxix. 46.


The text will then be prophetic of the Agony in the Garden and upon the Cross.


Ps. 89:37, 38.


Or, “thine Anointed.” Cf. Ps. 22:1, Matt. 27:46.


“Holiness.” E.V.—“crown.”


Phil. 2:6, 7.


St. Ambrose’s “substantia” is, in the LXX., ὑπόστημα—“standing-ground.” R.V. “council.”—Jer. xxiii. 18-22.

Next: Chapter XV. The Arians, inasmuch as they assert the Son to be “of another substance,” plainly acknowledge substance in God. The only reason why they avoid the use of this term is that they will not, as Eusebius of Nicomedia has made it evident, confess Christ to be the true Son of God.

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