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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Chapter XXIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Discourse III.


Chapter XXIII.—Texts Explained; Seventhly, John xiv. 10 Introduction. The doctrine of the coinherence. The Father and the Son Each whole and perfect God. They are in Each Other, because their Essence is One and the Same. They are Each Perfect and have One Essence, because the Second Person is the Son of the First. Asterius’s evasive explanation of the text under review; refuted. Since the Son has all that the Father has, He is His Image; and the Father is the One God, because the Son is in the Father.

1. The Ario-maniacs, as it appears, having once made up their minds to transgress and revolt from the Truth, are strenuous in appropriating the words of Scripture, ‘When the impious cometh into a depth of evils, he despiseth 2786 ;’ for refutation does not stop them, nor perplexity abash them; but, as having ‘a whore’s forehead,’ they ‘refuse to be ashamed 2787 ’ before all men in their irreligion. For whereas the passages which they alleged, ‘The Lord created me 2788 ,’ and ‘Made better than the Angels 2789 ,’ and ‘First-born 2790 ,’ and ‘Faithful to Him that made Him 2791 ’ have a right sense 2792 , and inculcate religiousness towards Christ, so it is that these men still, as if bedewed with the serpent’s poison, not seeing what they ought to see, nor understanding what they read, as if in vomit from the depth of their irreligious heart, have next proceeded to disparage our Lord’s words, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me 2793 ;’ saying, ‘How can the One be contained in the Other and the Other in the One?’ or ‘How at all can the Father who is the greater be contained in the Son who is the less?’ or ‘What wonder, if the Son is in the Father,’ considering it is written even of us, ‘In Him we live and move and have our being 2794 ?’ And this state of mind is consistent with their perverseness, who think God to be material, and understand not what p. 394 is ‘True Father’ and ‘True Son,’ nor ‘Light Invisible’ and ‘Eternal,’ and Its ‘Radiance Invisible,’ nor ‘Invisible Subsistence,’ and ‘Immaterial Expression’ and ‘Immaterial Image.’ For did they know, they would not dishonour and ridicule the Lord of glory, nor interpreting things immaterial after a material manner, pervert good words. It were sufficient indeed, on hearing only words which are the Lord’s, at once to believe, since the faith of simplicity is better than an elaborate process of persuasion; but since they have endeavoured to profane even this passage to their own heresy, it becomes necessary to expose their perverseness and to shew the mind of the truth, at least for the security of the faithful. For when it is said, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me,’ They are not therefore, as these suppose, discharged into Each Other, filling the One the Other, as in the case of empty vessels, so that the Son fills the emptiness of the Father and the Father that of the Son 2795 , and Each of Them by Himself is not complete and perfect (for this is proper to bodies, and therefore the mere assertion of it is full of irreligion), for the Father is full and perfect, and the Son is the Fulness of Godhead. Nor again, as God, by coming into the Saints, strengthens them, thus is He also in the Son. For He is Himself the Father’s Power and Wisdom, and by partaking of Him things originate are sanctified in the Spirit; but the Son Himself is not Son by participation, but is the Father’s own Offspring 2796 . Nor again is the Son in the Father, in the sense of the passage, ‘In Him we live and move and have our being;’ for, He as being from the Fount 2797 of the Father is the Life, in which all things are both quickened and consist; for the Life does not live in life 2798 , else it would not be Life, but rather He gives life to all things.

2. But now let us see what Asterius the Sophist says, the retained pleader 2799 for the heresy. In imitation then of the Jews so far, he writes as follows; ‘It is very plain that He has said, that He is in the Father and the Father again in Him, for this reason, that neither the word on which He was discoursing is, as He says, His own, but the Father’s, nor the works belong to Him, but to the Father who gave Him the power.’ Now this, if uttered at random by a little child, had been excused from his age; but when one who bears the title of Sophist, and professes universal knowledge 2800 , is the writer, what a serious condemnation does he deserve! And does he not shew himself a stranger to the Apostle 2801 , as being puffed up with persuasive words of wisdom, and thinking thereby to succeed in deceiving, not understanding himself what he says nor whereof he affirms 2802 ? For what the Son has said as proper and suitable to a Son only, who is Word and Wisdom and Image of the Father’s Essence, that he levels to all the creatures, and makes common to the Son and to them; and he says, lawless 2803 man, that the Power of the Father receives power, that from this his irreligion it may follow to say that in a son 2804 the Son was made a son, and the Word received a word’s authority; and, far from granting that He spoke this as a Son, He ranks Him with all things made as having learned it as they have. For if the Son said, ‘I am in the Father and the Father in Me,’ because His discourses were not His own words but the Father’s, and so of His works, then,—since David says, ‘I will hear what the Lord God shall say in me 2805 ,’ and again Solomon 2806 , ‘My words are spoken by God,’ and since Moses was minister of words which were from God, and each of the Prophets spoke not what was his own but what was from God, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and since the works of the Saints, as they professed, were not their own but God’s who gave the power, Elijah for instance and Elisha invoking God that He Himself would raise the dead, and Elisha saying to Naaman, on cleansing him from the p. 395 leprosy, ‘that thou mayest know that there is a God in Israel 2807 ,’ and Samuel too in the days of the harvest praying to God to grant rain, and the Apostles saying that not in their own power they did miracles but in the Lord’s grace—it is plain that, according to Asterius such a statement must be common to all, so that each of them is able to say, ‘I in the Father and the Father in me;’ and as a consequence that He is no longer one Son of God and Word and Wisdom, but, as others, is only one out of many.

3. But if the Lord said this, His words would not rightly have been, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me,’ but rather, ‘I too am in the Father, and the Father is in Me too,’ that He may have nothing of His own and by prerogative 2808 , relatively to the Father, as a Son, but the same grace in common with all. But it is not so, as they think; for not understanding that He is genuine Son from the Father, they belie Him who is such, whom alone it befits to say, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me.’ For the Son is in the Father, as it is allowed us to know, because the whole Being of the Son is proper to the Father’s essence 2809 , as radiance from light, and stream from fountain; so that whoso sees the Son, sees what is proper to the Father, and knows that the Son’s Being, because from the Father, is therefore in the Father. For the Father is in the Son, since the Son is what is from the Father and proper to Him, as in the radiance the sun, and in the word the thought, and in the stream the fountain: for whoso thus contemplates the Son, contemplates what is proper to the Father’s Essence, and knows that the Father is in the Son. For whereas the Form 2810 and Godhead of the Father is the Being of the Son, it follows that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son 2811 .

4. On this account and reasonably, having said before, ‘I and the Father are One,’ He added, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me, 2812 ’ by way of shewing the identity 2813 of Godhead and the unity of Essence. For they are one, not 2814 as one thing divided into two parts, and these nothing but one, nor as one thing twice named, so that the Same becomes at one time Father, at another His own Son, for this Sabellius holding was judged an heretic. But They are two, because the Father is Father and is not also Son, and the Son is Son and not also Father 2815 ; but the nature is one; (for the offspring is not unlike 2816 its parent, for it is his image), and all that is the Father’s, is the Son’s 2817 . Wherefore neither is the Son another God, for He was not procured from without, else were there many, if a godhead be procured foreign from the Father’s 2818 ; for if the Son be other, as an Offspring, still He is the Same as God; and He and the Father are one in propriety and peculiarity of nature, and in the identity of the one Godhead, as has been said. For the radiance also is light, not second to the sun, nor a different light, nor from participation of it, but a whole and proper offspring of it. And such an offspring is necessarily one light; and no one would say that they are two lights 2819 , but sun and radiance two, yet one the light from the sun enlightening in its radiance all things. So also the Godhead of the Son is the Father’s; whence also it is indivisible; and thus there is one God and none other but He. And so, since they are one, and the Godhead itself one, the same things are said of the Son, which are said of the Father, except His being said to be Father 2820 :—for instance 2821 , that He is God, ‘And the Word was God 2822 ;’ Almighty, ‘Thus saith He which was and is and is to come, the Almighty 2823 ;’ Lord, ‘One Lord Jesus Christ 2824 ;’ that He is Light, ‘I am the Light 2825 ;’ that He wipes out sins, ‘that ye may know,’ He says, ‘that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins 2826 ;’ and so with other attributes. For ‘all things,’ says the Son Himself, ‘whatsoever the Father hath, are Mine 2827 ;’ and again, ‘And Mine are Thine.’

5. And on hearing the attributes of the Father spoken of a Son, we shall thereby see the Father in the Son; and we shall contemplate the Son in the Father, when what is said of the Son is said of the Father also. p. 396 And why are the attributes of the Father ascribed to the Son, except that the Son is an Offspring from Him? and why are the Son’s attributes proper to the Father, except again because the Son is the proper Offspring of His Essence? And the Son, being the proper Offspring of the Father’s Essence, reasonably says that the Father’s attributes are His own also; whence suitably and consistently with saying, ‘I and the Father are One,’ He adds, ‘that ye may know that I am in the Father and the Father in Me 2828 .’ Moreover, He has added this again, ‘He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father 2829 ;’ and there is one and the same sense in these three 2830 passages. For he who in this sense understands that the Son and the Father are one, knows that He is in the Father and the Father in the Son; for the Godhead of the Son is the Father’s, and it is in the Son; and whoso enters into this, is convinced that ‘He that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father;’ for in the Son is contemplated the Father’s Godhead. And we may perceive this at once from the illustration of the Emperor’s image. For in the image is the shape and form of the Emperor, and in the Emperor is that shape which is in the image. For the likeness of the Emperor in the image is exact 2831 ; so that a person who looks at the image, sees in it the Emperor; and he again who sees the Emperor, recognises that it is he who is in the image 2832 . And from the likeness not differing, to one who after the image wished to view the Emperor, the image might say, ‘I and the Emperor are one; for I am in him, and he in me; and what thou seest in me, that thou beholdest in him, and what thou hast seen in him, that thou holdest in me 2833 .’ Accordingly he who worships the image, in it worships the Emperor also; for the image is his form and appearance. Since then the Son too is the Father’s Image, it must necessarily be understood that the Godhead and propriety of the Father is the Being of the Son.

6. And this is what is said, ‘Who being in the form of God 2834 ,’ and ‘the Father in Me.’ Nor is this Form 2835 of the Godhead partial merely, but the fulness of the Father’s Godhead is the Being of the Son, and the Son is whole God. Therefore also, being equal to God, He ‘thought it not a prize to be equal to God;’ and again since the Godhead and the Form of the Son is none other’s than the Father’s 2836 , this is what He says, ‘I in the Father.’ Thus ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself 2837 ;’ for the propriety of the Father’s Essence is that Son, in whom the creation was then reconciled with God. Thus what things the Son then wrought are the Father’s works, for the Son is the Form of that Godhead of the Father, which wrought the works. And thus he who looks at the Son, sees the Father; for in the Father’s Godhead is and is contemplated the Son; and the Father’s Form which is in Him shews in Him the Father; and thus the Father is in the Son. And that propriety and Godhead which is from the Father in the Son, shews the Son in the Father, and His inseparability from Him; and whoso hears and beholds that what is said of the Father is also said of the Son, not as accruing to His Essence by grace or participation, but because the very Being of the Son is the proper Offspring of the Father’s Essence, will fitly understand the words, as I said before, ‘I in the Father, and the Father in Me;’ and ‘I and the Father are One 2838 .’ For the Son is such as the Father is, because He has all that is the Father’s. Wherefore also is He implied together with the Father. For, a son not being, one cannot say father; whereas when we call God a Maker, we do not of necessity intimate the things which have come to be; for a maker is before his works 2839 . p. 397 But when we call God Father, at once with the Father we signify the Son’s existence. Therefore also he who believes in the Son, believes also in the Father: for he believes in what is proper to the Father’s Essence; and thus the faith is one in one God. And he who worships and honours the Son, in the Son worships and honours the Father; for one is the Godhead; and therefore one 2840 the honour and one the worship which is paid to the Father in and through the Son. And he who thus worships, worships one God; for there is one God and none other than He. Accordingly when the Father is called the only God, and we read that there is one God 2841 , and ‘I am,’ and ‘beside Me there is no God,’ and ‘I the first and I the last 2842 ,’ this has a fit meaning. For God is One and Only and First; but this is not said to the denial of the Son 2843 , perish the thought; for He is in that One, and First and Only, as being of that One and Only and First the Only Word and Wisdom and Radiance. And He too is the First, as the Fulness of the Godhead of the First and Only, being whole and full God 2844 . This then is not said on His account, but to deny that there is other such as the Father and His Word.



Prov. xviii. 3, LXX.


Jer. iii. 3.


Supr. ch. xix.


Ch. xiii.


Ch. xxi.


Ch. xiv.


ii. 44, n. 1.


John xiv. 10.


Acts xvii. 28. Vid. supr. ii. 41, note 11. The doctrine of the περιχώρησις, which this objection introduces, is the test of orthodoxy opposed to Arianism. Cf. de Syn. 15, n. 4. This is seen clearly in the case of Eusebius, whose language approaches to Catholic more nearly than Arians in general. After all his strong assertions, the question recurs, is our Lord a distinct being from God, as we are, or not? he answers in the affirmative, vid. supr. p. 75, n. 7, whereas we believe that He is literally and numerically one with the Father, and therefore His Person dwells in the Father’s Person by an ineffable union. And hence the language of Dionysius [of Rome] supr. de Decr. 26. ‘the Holy Ghost must repose and habitate in God,’ μφιλοχωρεῖν τῷ θεῷ καὶ ἐνδιαιτᾶσθαι. And hence the strong figure of S. Jerome (in which he is followed by S. Cyril, Thesaur. p. 51), ‘Filius locus est Patris, sicut et Pater locus est Filii.’ in Ezek. iii. 12. So Athan. contrasts the creatures who are ν μεμερισμένοις τόποις and the Son. Serap. iii. 4. Cf. even in the Macrostich Creed, language of this character, viz. ‘All the Father embosoming the Son, and all the Son hanging and adhering to the Father, and alone resting on the Father’s breast continually.’ De Syn. 26 (7), where vid. note 3.


This is not inconsistent with S. Jerome as quoted in the foregoing note. Athan. merely means that such illustrations cannot be taken literally, as if spoken of natural subjects. The Father is the τόπος or locus of the Son, because when we contemplate the Son in His fulness as λος θεός, we merely view the Father as that Person in whom God the Son is; our mind abstracts His Essence which is the Son for the moment from Him, and regards Him merely as Father. Thus in Illud. Omn. 4, supr. p. 89. It is, however, but an operation of the mind, and not a real emptying of Godhead from the Father, if such words may be used. Father and Son are both the same God, though really and eternally distinct from each other; and Each is full of the Other, that is, their Essence is one and the same. This is insisted on by S. Cyril, in Joan. p. 28. And by S. Hilary, Trin. vii. fin. vid. also iii. 23. Cf. the quotation from S. Anselm made by Petavius, de Trin. iv. 16 fin. [Cf. D.C.B. s.v. Metangismonitae.]


Vid. de Decr. 10, n. 4, 19, n. 3; Or. i. 15, n. 6. On the other hand Eusebius considers the Son, like a creature, ξ αὐτῆς τῆς πατρικῆς [not οὐσίας, but] μετουσίας, ὥσπερ ἀπὸ πηγῆς, ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν προχεομένης πληρούμενον. Eccl. Theol. i. 2. words which are the more observable, the nearer they approach to the language of Athan. in the text and elsewhere. Vid. infr. by way of contrast, οὐδὲ κατὰ μετουσίαν αὐτοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ ὅλον ἴδιον αὐτοῦ γέννημα. 4.


De Decr. 15, n. 9.


i.e. Son does not live by the gift of life, for He is life, and does but give it, not receive. S. Hilary uses different language with the same meaning, de Trin. ii. 11. Other modes of expression for the same mystery are found infr. 3. also 6 fin. Vid. de Syn. 45, n. 1. and Didymus πατρικὴ θεότης. p. 82. and S. Basil, ξ οὗ ἔχει τὸ εἶναι. contr. Eunom. ii. 12 fin. Just above Athan. says that ‘the Son is the fulness of the Godhead.’ Thus the Father is the Son’s life because the Son is from Him, and the Son the Father’s because the Son is in Him. All these are but different ways of signifying the περιχώρησις


συνηγόρου, infr. §60.


πάντα γινώσκειν ἐπαγγελλόμενος. Gorgias, according to Cicero de fin. ii. init. was the first who ventured in public to say προβάλλετε, ‘give me a question.’ This was the πάγγελμα of the Sophists; of which Aristotle speaks. Rhet. ii. 24 fin. Vid. Cressol. Theatr. Rhet. iii. 11.


1 Cor. ii. 4.


1 Tim. i. 7.


παράνομος. infr. 47, c. Hist. Ar. 71, 75, 79. Ep. Æg. 16, d. Vid. νομος. 2 Thess. ii. 8.


ν υἱ& 254·, but ν τῷ υἱ& 254·. Ep. Æg. 14 fin. vid. Or. ii. 22, note 2.


Ps. lxxxv. 8, LXX.


1 Kings 8:59, 1 Kings 10:241 Kings viii. 59, or x. 24?


2 Kings 5:8, 15.


Or. ii. 19, n. 6.


Since the Father and the Son are the numerically One God, it is but expressing this in other words to say that the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, for all They have and all They are is common to Each, excepting Their being Father and Son. A περιχώρησις of Persons is implied in the Unity of Essence. This is the connexion of the two texts so often quoted; ‘the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son,’ because ‘the Son and the Father are one.’ And the cause of this unity and περιχώρησις is the Divine γέννησις. Thus S. Hilary, Trin. ii. 4. vid. Or. ii. 33, n. 1.


εἴδους. Petavius here prefers the reading δίου; θεότης and τὸ ἱδιον occur together infr. 6. and 56. εἶδος occurs Orat. i. 20, a. de Syn. 52. vid. de Syn. 52, n. 6. infr. 6, 16, Ep. Æg. 17, contr. Sabell. Greg. 8, c. 12, vid. infr. §§6, 16, notes.


In accordance with §1, note 10, Thomassin observes that by the mutual coinherence or indwelling of the Three Blessed Persons is meant ‘not a commingling as of material liquids, nor as of soul with body, nor as the union of our Lord’s Godhead and humanity, but it is such that the whole power, life, substance, wisdom, essence, of the Father, should be the very essence, substance, wisdom, life, and power of the Son.’ de Trin. xxviii. 1. S. Cyril adopts Athan.’s language to express this doctrine in Joan. p. 105. de Trin. vi. p. 621, in Joan. p. 168. Vid. infr. ταὐτότης οὐσίας, 21. πατρικὴ θεότης τοῦ υἱοῦ, 26. and 41. and de Syn. 45, n. 1. vid. also Damasc. F. O. i. 8. pp. 139, 140.


John x. 30.


De Syn. 45, n. 1.


Infr. Orat. iv. 9.


Infr. 11.


νόμοιον; and so νόμοιος κατὰ πάντα. Orat. i. 6. κατ᾽ οὐσίαν. 17. Orat. ii. 43. τῆς οὐσίας. infr. 14. vid. νομοιότης. infr. 8, c.


Cf. in illud. Omn. 4. ‘As the Father is I am ( ὤν) so His Word is I Am and God over all.’ Serap. i. 28, a; ib. ii. 2.


Cf. i. 6.


Doctrine of the Una Res, de Syn. 45, n. 1.


Ib. 49, n. 4.


Parallel to de Syn. 49.


John i. 1.


Rev. i. 8.


1 Cor. viii. 6.


John viii. 12.


Luke v. 24.


John xvi. 15; xvii. 10.


John 10:30, 38; xiv. 10.


John 14.9.


Here these three texts, which so often occur together, are recognized as ‘three;’ so are they by Eusebius Eccl. Theol. iii. 19; and he says that Marcellus and ‘those who Sabellianize with him,’ among whom he included Catholics, were in the practice of adducing them, θρυλλοῦντες; which bears incidental testimony to the fact that the doctrine of the περιχώρησις was the great criterion between orthodox and Arian. Many instances of the joint use of the three are given supr. i. 34, n. 7. to which may be added Orat. ii. 54 init. iii. 16 fin. 67 fin. iv. 17, a. Serap. ii. 9, c. Serm. Maj. de fid. 29. Cyril. de Trin. p. 554. in Joann. p. 168. Origen Periarch. p. 56. Hil. Trin. ix. 1. Ambros. Hexaem. 6. August. de Cons. Ev. i. 7.


παράλλακτος, de Syn. 23, n. 1.


Vid. Basil. Hom. contr. Sab. p. 192. The honour paid to the Imperial Statues is well known. Ambros. in Psalm cxviii. x. 25. vid. also Chrysost. Hom. on Statues, passim, fragm. in Act. Conc. vii. (t. 4, p. 89. Hard.) Socr. vi. 18. The Seventh Council speaks of the images sent by the Emperors into provinces instead of their coming in person; Ducange in v. Lauratum. Vid. a description of the imperial statutes and their honours in Gothofred, Cod. Theod. t. 5, pp. 346, 7. and in Philostorg. xii. 12. vid. also Molanus de Imaginibus ed. Paquot, p. 197.


Athanasius guards against what is defective in this illustration in the next chapter, but independent of such explanation a mistake as to his meaning would be impossible; and the passage affords a good instance of the imperfect and partial character of all illustrations of the Divine Mystery. What it is taken to symbolize is the unity of the Father and Son, for the Image is not a Second Emperor but the same. vid. Sabell. Greg. 6. But no one, who bowed before the Emperor’s Statue can be supposed to have really worshipped it; whereas our Lord is the Object of supreme worship, which terminates in Him, as being really one with Him whose Image He is. From the custom of paying honour to the Imperial Statues, the Cultus Imaginum was introduced into the Eastern Church. The Western Church, not having had the civil custom, resisted. vid. Döllinger, Church History, vol. 3. p. 55. E. Tr. The Fathers, e.g. S. Jerome, set themselves against the civil custom, as idolatrous, comparing it to that paid to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. vid. Hieron. in Dan. iii. 18. Incense was burnt before those of the Emperors; as afterwards before the images of the Saints.


Phil. ii. 6.


εἶδος, vid. infr. 16, note.


Here first the Son’s εἶδος is the εἶδος of the Father, then the Son is the εἶδος of the Father’s Godhead, and then in the Son is the εἶδος of the Father. These expressions are equivalent, if Father and Son are, each separately, λος θεός. vid. infr. §16, note. S. Greg. Naz. uses the word πίσθια (Exod. xxxiii. 23), which forms a contrast to εἶδος, for the Divine Works. Orat. 28, 3.


2 Cor. v. 19.


John xiv. 10; x. 30.


Vid. supr. de Decr. 30; Or. i. 33. This is in opposition to the Arians, who said that the title Father implied priority of existence. Athan. says that the title ‘Maker’ does, but that the title ‘father’ does not. vid. supr. p. 76, n. 3; Or. i. 29, n. 10: ii. 41, n. 11.


Athan. de Incarn. c. Ar. 19, c. vid. Ambros. de fid. iii. cap. 12, 13. Naz. Orat. 23, 8. Basil. de Sp. S. n. 64.


Mark xii. 29.


Exod. 3:14, Deut. 32:39, Isa. 44:6Ex. iii. 14; Deut. xxxii. 39, LXX.; Is. xliv. 6


De Decr. 19, n. 6.


Vid. supr. 1, note 10; ii. 41 fin. also infr. iv. 1. Pseudo-Ath. c. Sab. Greg. 5–12. Naz. Orat. 40, 41. Synes. Hymn. iii. pp. 328, 9. Ambros. de Fid. i. n. 18. August. Ep. 170, 5. vid. Or. ii. 38, n. 6. and infr. note on 36 fin.

Next: Texts Explained; Eighthly, John xvii. 3. and the Like. Our Lord's divinity cannot interfere with His Father's prerogatives, as the One God, which were so earnestly upheld by the Son. 'One' is used in contrast to false gods and idols, not to the Son, through whom the Father spoke. Our Lord adds His Name to the Father's, as included in Him. The Father the First, not as if the Son were not First too, but as Origin.

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