Four discourses against the arians

Chapters I-V
By Athanasius

Written BETWEEN 356 AND 360.



Reason for writing; certain persons indifferent about Arianism; Arians not
Christians, because sectaries always take the name of their founder.

1. OF all other heresies which have departed from the truth it is
acknowledged that they have but devised(1) a madness, and their
irreligiousness has long since become notorious to all men. For that(2) their
authors went out from us, it plainly follows, as the blessed John has written,
that they never thought nor now think with us. Wherefore, as saith the
Saviour, in that they gather not with us, they scatter with the devil, and
keep an eye on those who slumber, that, by this second sowing of their own
mortal poison, they may have companions in death. But, whereas one heresy, and
that the last, which has now risen as harbinger(3) of Antichrist, the Arian,
as it is called, considering that other heresies, her eider sisters, have been
openly proscribed, in her craft and cunning, affects to array herself in
Scripture language(4), like her father the devil, and is forcing her way back
into the Church's paradise,--that with the pretence of Christianity, her
smooth sophistry(for reason she has none) may deceive men into wrong thoughts
of Christ,--nay, since she has already seduced certain of the foolish, not
only to corrupt their ears, but even to take and eat with Eve, till in their
ignorance which ensues they think bitter sweet, and admire this loathsome
heresy, on this account I have thought it necessary, at your request, to unrip
'the folds of its breast-plate(5),' and to shew the ill savour of its folly.
So while those who are far from it may continue to shun it, those whom it has
deceived may repent; and, opening the eyes of their heart, may understand that
darkness is not light, nor falsehood truth, nor Arianism good; nay, that
those(6) who call these men Christians are in great and grievous error, as
neither having studied Scripture, nor understanding Christianity at all, and
the faith which it contains.

2. For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious
Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth
is to call even Caiaphas(7) a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still


among the Apostles, and to say that they who asked Barabbas instead of the
Saviour did no evil, and to recommend Hymenaeus and Alexander as right-minded
men, and as if the Apostle slandered them. But neither can a Christian bear to
hear this, nor can he consider the man who dared to say it sane in his
understanding. For with them for Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees
Manichaeus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of
one Sotades(8), a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of
Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone,
in writing Thaliae on his model; and the other he has rivalled in her dance,
reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the
victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of
the Lord of glory into the likeness of the 'image of corruptible man(9),' and
for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their
irreligion. For let them not excuse themselves; nor retort their disgrace on
those who are not as they, calling Christians after the names of their
teachers(10), that they themselves may appear to have that Name in the same
way. Nor let them make a jest of it, when they feel shame at their disgraceful
appellation; rather, if they be ashamed, let them hide their faces, or let
them recoil from their own irreligion. For never at any time did Christian
people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on
whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our
teachers, and have ministered the Saviour's Gospel, yet not from them have we
our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who
derive the faith which they profess from others, good reason is it they should
bear their name, whose property they hare become(1).

3. Yes surely; while all of us are and are called Christians after Christ,
Marcion broached a heresy a long time since and was cast out; and those who
continued with him who ejected him remained Christians; but those who followed
Marcion were called Christians no more, but henceforth Marcionites. Thus
Valentinus also, and Basilides, and Manichaeus, and Simon Magus, have imparted
their own name to their followers; and some are accosted as Valentinians, or
as Basilidians, or as Manichees, or as Simonians; and other, Cataphrygians
from Phrygia, and from Novatus Novatians. So too Meletius, when ejected by
Peter the Bishop and Martyr, called his party no longer Christians, but
Meletians(2), and so in consequence when Alexander of blessed memory had cast
out Arius, those who remained with Alexander, remained Christians; but those
who went out with Arius, left the Saviour's Name to us who were with
Alexander, and as to them they were hence-forward denominated Arians. Behold
then, after Alexander's death too, those who communicate with his successor
Athanasius, and those with whom the said Athanasius communicates, are
instances of the same rule; none of them bear his name, nor is he named from
them, but all in like manner, and as is usual, are called Christians. For
though we have a succession of teachers and become their disciples, yet,
because we are taught by them the things of Christ, we both are, and are
called, Christians all the same. But those who follow the heretics, though
they have innumerable successors in their heresy, yet anyhow bear the name of
him who devised it. Thus, though Arius be dead, and many of his party have
succeeded him, yet those who think with him, as being known from Arius, are
called Arians. And, what is a remarkable


evidence of this, those of the Greeks who even at this time come into the
Church, on giving up the superstition of idols, take the name, not of their
catechists, but of the Saviour, and begin to be called Christians instead of
Greeks: while those of them who go off to the heretics, and again all who from
the Church change to this heresy, abandon Christ's name, and henceforth are
called Arians, as no longer holding Christ's faith, but having inherited
Arius's madness.

4. How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are
Ario-maniacs(3)? or how are they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off
the Apostolical faith, and become authors of fresh evils? who, after
abandoning the oracles of divine Scripture, call Arius's Thaliae a new wisdom?
and with reason too, for they are announcing a new heresy. And hence a man may
marvel, that, whereas many have written many treatises and abundant homilies
upon the Old Testament and the New, yet in none of them is a Thalia found nay
nor among the more respectable of the Gentiles, but among those only who sing
such strains over their cups, amid cheers and jokes, when men are merry, that
the rest may laugh; till this marvellous Arius, taking no grave pattern, and
ignorant even of what is respectable, while he stole largely from other
heresies, would be original in the ludicrous, with none but Sotades for his
rival. For what beseemed him more, when he would dance forth against the
Saviour, than to throw his wretched words of irreligion into dissolute and
loose metres? that, while 'a man,' as Wisdom says, 'is known from the
utterance of his word(4),' so from those numbers should be seen the writer's
effeminate soul and corruption of thought(5). In truth, that crafty one did
not escape detection; but, for all his many writhings to and fro, like the
serpent, he did but fall into the error of the Pharisees. They, that they
might transgress the Law, pretended to be anxious for the words of the Law,
and that they might deny the expected and then present Lord, were hypocritical
with God's name, and were convicted of blaspheming when they said, 'Why dost
Thou, being a man, make Thyself God,' and sayest, 'I and the Father are
one(6)?' And so too, this counterfeit and Sotadean Arius, feigns to speak of
God, introducing Scripture language(7), but is on all sides recognised as
godless(8) Arius, denying the Son, and reckoning Him among the creatures.



Arius maintains that God became a Father, and the Son was not always; the Son
out of nothing; once He was not; He was not before his generation; He was
created; named Wisdom and Word after God's attributes; made that He might make
us; one out of many powers of God; alterable; exalted on God's foreknowledge
of what He was to be; not very God; but called so as others by participation;
foreign in essence from the Father; does not know or see the Father; does not
know Himself.

5. Now the commencement of Arius's Thalia and flippancy, effeminate in
tune and nature, runs thus:-- 'According to faith of God's elect, God's
prudent ones, Holy children, rightly dividing, God's Holy Spirit


Have I learned this from the partakers of wisdom,

Accomplished, divinely taught, and wise in all


Along their track, have I been walking, with like


I the very famous, the much suffering for God's


And taught of God, I have acquired wisdom and


And the mockeries which he utters in it, repulsive and most irreligious,
are such as these(1):--'God was not always a Father;(1) but 'once God was
alone, and not yet a Father, but afterwards He became a Father.' 'The Son was
not always;' for, whereas all things were made out of nothing, and all
existing creatures and works were made, so the Word of God Himself was 'made
out of nothing,' and 'once He was not,' and 'He was not before His


origination,' but He as others 'had an origin of creation.' 'For God,' he
says, was alone, and the Word as yet was not, nor the Wisdom. Then, wishing to
form us, thereupon He made a certain one, and named Him Word and Wisdom and
Son, that He might form us by means of Him.' Accordingly, he says that there
are two wisdoms, first, the attribute co-existent with God, and next, that in
this wisdom the Son was originated, and was only named Wisdom and Word as
partaking of it. 'For Wisdom,' saith he, 'by the will of the wise God, had its
existence in Wisdom.' In like manner, he says, that there is another Word in
God besides the Son, and that the Son again, as partaking of it, is named Word
and Son according to grace. And this too is an idea proper to their heresy, as
shewn in other works of theirs, that there are many powers; one of which is
God's own by nature and eternal; but that Christ, on the other hand, is not
the true power of God; but, as others, one of the so-called powers, one of
which, namely, the locust and the caterpillar(2), is called in Scripture, not
merely the power, but the 'great power.' The others are many and are like the
Son, and of them David speaks in the Psalms, when he says, 'The Lord of hosts'
or 'powers(3).' And by nature, as all others, so the Word Himself is
alterable, and remains good by His own free will, while He chooseth; when,
however, He wills, He can alter as we can, as being of an alterable nature.
For 'therefore,' saith he, 'as foreknowing that He would be good, did God by
anticipation bestow on Him this glory, which afterwards, as man, He attained
from virtue. Thus in consequence of His works fore-known(4), did God bring it
to pass that He being such, should come to be.'

6. Moreover he has dared to say, that 'the Word is not the very God;'
'though He is called God, yet He is not very God,' but 'by participation of
grace, He, as others, is God only in name.' And, whereas all beings are
foreign and different from God in essence, so too is 'the Word alien and
unlike in all things to the Father's essence and propriety,' but belongs to
things originated and created, and is one of these. Afterwards, as though he
had succeeded to the devil's recklessness, he has stated in his Thalia, that
'even to the Son the Father is invisible,' and 'the Word cannot perfectly and
exactly either see or know His own Father;' but even what He knows and what He
sees, He knows and sees 'in proportion to His own measure,' as we also know
according to our own power. For the Son, too, he says, not only knows not the
Father exactly, for He fails in comprehension(5), but 'He knows not even His
own essence;'--and that 'the essences of the Father and the Son and the Holy
Ghost, are separate in nature, and estranged, and disconnected, and alien(6),
and without participation of each other(7);' and, in his own words, 'utterly
unlike from each other in essence and glory, unto infinity.' Thus as to
'likeness of glory and essence,' he says that the Word is entirely diverse
from both the Father and the Holy Ghost. With such words hath the irreligious
spoken; maintaining that the Son is distinct by Himself, and in no respect
partaker of the Father. These are portions of Arius's fables as they occur in
that jocose composition.

7. Who is there that hears all this, nay, the of the Thalia, but must
hate, and justly hate, this Arius jesting on such matters as on a stage(8)?
who but must regard him, when he pretends to name God and speak of God, but as
the serpent counselling the woman? who, on reading what follows in his work,
but must discern in his irreligious doctrine that error, into which by his
sophistries the serpent in the sequel seduced the woman? who at such
blasphemies is not transported? 'The heaven,' as the Prophet says, 'was
astonished, and the earth shuddered(9)' at the transgression of the Law. But
the sun, with greater horror, impatient of the bodily contumelies, which the
common Lord of all voluntarily endured for us, turned away, and recalling his
rays made that day sunless. And shall not all human kind at Arius's
blasphemies be struck speechless, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, to
escape hearing them or seeing their author? Rather, will not the Lord Himself
have reason to denounce men so irreligious, nay, so unthankful, in the words
which He has already uttered by the prophet Hosea, 'Woe unto them, for they
have fled from Me; destruction upon


them, for they have transgressed against Me; though I have redeemed them, yet
they have spoken lies against Me(10).' And soon after, 'They imagine mischief
against Me; they turn away to nothing(11).' For to turn away from the Word of
God, which is, and to fashion to themselves one that is not, is to fall to
what is nothing. For this was why the Ecumenical(1) Council, when Arius thus
spoke, cast him from the Church, and anathematized him, as impatient of such
irreligion. And ever since has Arius's error been reckoned for a heresy more
than ordinary, being known as Christ's foe, and harbinger(2) of Antichrist.
Though then so great a condemnation be itself of special weight to make men
flee from that irreligious heresy(3), as I said above, yet since certain
persons called Christian, either in ignorance or pretence, think it, as I then
said, little different from the Truth, and call its professors Christians;
proceed we to put some questions to them, according to our powers, thereby to
expose the unscrupulousness of the heresy. Perhaps, when thus caught, they
will be silenced, and flee from it, as from the sight of a serpent.



The Arians affect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as
unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to
the Father's substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianism in contrast, that
He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue,
whether one whom we are to believe in as God, can be so in name only, and is
merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the
controversy? The Arians rely on state patronage, and dare not avow their

8. If then the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes, in
their opinion, the blasphemy of the Thalia into reverent language, of course
they ought also to deny Christ with the present Jews, when they see how they
study the Law and the Prophets; perhaps too they will deny the Law(1) and the
Prophets like Manichees(2), because. the latter read some portions of the
Gospels. If such bewilderment and empty speaking be from ignorance, Scripture
will teach them, that the devil, the author of heresies, because of the ill
savour which attaches to evil, borrows Scripture language, as a cloak
wherewith to sow the ground with his own poison also, and to seduce the
simple. Thus he deceived Eve; thus he framed former heresies; thus he
persuaded Arius at this time to make a show of speaking against those former
ones, that he might introduce his own without observation. And yet, after all,
the man of craft did not escape. For being irreligious towards the Word of
God, he lost his all at once(2a), and betrayed to all men his ignorance of
other heresies too(3); and having not a particle of truth in his belief, does
but pretend to it. For how can he speak truth concerning the Father, who
denies the Son, that reveals concerning Him? or how can he be orthodox
concerning the Spirit, while he speaks profanely of the Word that supplies the
Spirit? anti who will trust him concerning the Resurrection, denying, as he
does, Christ for us the first-begotten from the dead? and how shall he not err
in respect to His incarnate presence, who is simply ignorant of the Son's
genuine and true generation from the Father? For thus, the former Jews also,
denying the Word, and saying, 'We have no king but Caesar(4),' were forthwith
stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the odour of
ointment, knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they
understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness. For who was ever yet a
hearer of such a doctrines(5)? or whence or from whom did the abettors and
hirelings(6) of the heresy gain it? who thus expounded to them when they were
at school(7)? who told them, 'Abandon the worship of the creation, and then
draw near and worship a creature and a works(8)?' But if they themselves own
that they have heard it now for the first time, how can they deny that this
heresy is foreign, and not from our fathers(9)? But wha is not from our
fathers, but has come to light in this day, how can it be but that of which
the blessed Paul(10) has foretold, that 'in the latter times some shall depart
from the sound faith,


giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of
liars; cauterized in their own conscience, and turning from the truth"?'

9. For, behold, we take divine Scripture, and thence discourse with
freedom of the religious Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick,
saying:--Very Son of the Father, natural and genuine, proper to His essence,
Wisdom Only-begotten, and Very and Only Word of God is He; not a creature or
work, but an offspring proper to the Father's essence. Wherefore He is very
God, existing one[12] in essence with the very Father; while other beings, to
whom He said, 'I said ye are Gods[1],' had this grace from the Father, only by
participation[2] of the Word, through the Spirit. For He is the expression of
the Father's Person and Light from Light, and Power, and very Image of the
Father's essence. For this too the Lord has said, 'He that hath seen Me, hath
seen the Father[3].' And He ever was and is and never was not. For the Father
being everlasting, His Word and His Wisdom must be everlasting[4]. On the
other hand, what have these persons to shew us from the infamous Thalia? Or,
first of all, let them read it themselves, and copy the tone of the writer; at
least the mockery which they will encounter from others may instruct them how
low they have fallen; and then let them proceed to explain themselves. For
what can they say from it, but that 'God was not always a Father, but became
so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation;
He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of
nothing; He is not proper to the Father's essence, for He is a creature and
work?' And 'Christ is not very God, but He, as others, was made God by
participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the
Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the
Father. He is not the very and only Word of the Father, but is in name only
called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not
unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and
He comes short of apprehending the perfect knowledge of the Father.' Wonderful
this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is,
that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for reverent
language! Were any one, after requiring into both sides, to be asked, whether
of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of
God,--or rather let them say themselves, these abettors of irreligion, what,
if a man be asked concerning God (for 'the Word was God'), it were fit to
answer[5]. For from this one question the whole case on both sides may be
determined, what is fitting to say,--He was, or He was not; always, or before
His birth; eternal, or from this and from then; true, or by adoption, and from
participation and in idea[6]; to call Him one of things originated, or to
unite Him to the Father; to consider Him unlike the Father in essence, or like
and proper to Him; a creature, or Him through whom the creatures were
originated; that He is the Father's Word, or that there is another word beside
Him, and that by this other He was originated, and by another wisdom; and that
He is only named Wisdom and Word, and is become a partaker of this wisdom, and
second to it?

10. Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God
and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have
spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word,
nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles,
and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God
from God, and 'over all blessed for ever[7],' is it not becoming to obliterate
and blot out those other phrases and that Arian Thalia, as but a pattern of
evil, a store of all irreligion, into which, whoso falls, 'knoweth not that
giants perish with her, and reacheth the depths of Hades[8]?' This they know
themselves, and in their craft they conceal it, not having the courage to
speak out, but uttering something else[9]. For if they speak, a condemnation
will follow; and if they be suspected, proofs from Scripture will be cast[10]
at them from every side. Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world,
after feeding their


so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest it should soon be
quenched (for it is said, 'the light of the wicked shall be put out[1],') they
hide it under the bushel[2] of their hypocrisy, and make a different
profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius,
that what with their hypocrisy and their professions, those who come to them
may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is. Is it not detestable even in
this, that it dares not speak out, but is kept hid by its own friends, and
fostered as serpents are? for from what sources have they got together these
words? or from whom have they received what they venture to say[3]? Not any
one man can they specify who has supplied it. For who is there in all mankind,
Greek or Barbarian, who ventures to rank among creatures One whom he confesses
the while to be God and says, that He was not till He was made? or who is
there, who to the God in whom he has put faith, refuses to give credit, when
He says, 'This is My beloved Son[4],' on the pretence that He is not a Son,
but a creature? rather, such madness would rouse an universal indignation. Nor
does Scripture afford them any pretext; for it has been often shewn, and it
shah be shewn now, that their doctrine is alien to the divine oracles.
Therefore, since all that remains is to say that from the devil came their
mania (for of such opinions he alone is sower[5]), proceed we to resist
him;for with him is our real conflict, and they are but instruments;--that,
the Lord aiding us, and the enemy, as he is wont, being overcome with
arguments, they may be put to shame, when they see him without resource who
sowed this heresy in them, and may learn, though late, that, as being Arians,
they are not Christians.



These attributes, being the points in dispute, are first proved by direct
texts of Scripture. Concerning the 'eternal power' of God in Rom. i. 20, which
is shewn to mean the Son. Remarks on the Arian formula, 'Once the Son was
not,' its supporters not daring to speak of 'a time when the Son was not.'

11. AT his suggestion then ye have maintained and ye think, that 'there
was once when the Son was not; 'this is the first cloke of your views of
doctrine which has to be stripped off Say then what was once when the Son was
not, O slanderous and irreligious men[1]? If ye say the Father, your blasphemy
is but greater; for it is impious to say that He was 'once,' or to signify Him
by the word 'once.' For He is ever, and is now, and as the Son is, so is He,
and is Himself He that is, and Father of the Son. But if ye say that the Son
was once, when He Himself was not, the answer is foolish and unmeaning. For
how could He both be and not be? In this difficulty, you can but answer, that
there was a time when the Word was not; for your very adverb 'once' naturally
signifies this. And your other, 'The Son was not before His generation,' is
equivalent to saying, 'There was once when He was not,' for both the one and
the other signify that there is a time before the Word. Whence then this your
discovery? Why do ye, as 'the heathen, rage, and imagine vain phrases against
the Lord[2] and against His Christ?' for no holy Scripture has used such
language of the Saviour, but rather 'always' and 'eternal' and 'coexistent
always with the Father.' For, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God[3].' And in the Apocalypse be thus speaks[4];
'Who is and who was and who is to come.' Now who can rob 'who is' and 'who
was' of eternity? This too in confutation of the Jews hath Paul written in his
Epistle to the Romans, 'Of whom as concerning the flesh is Christ, who is over
all, God blessed for ever;' while silencing the Greeks, he has said, 'The
visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and
Godhead[6];' and what the Power of God is, he teaches us elsewhere himself,
'Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God[7].' Surely in these words he
does not designate the Father, as ye often whisper one to another, affirming
that the Father is 'His eternal power.' This is not so; for he says not, 'God
Himself is the power,' but 'His is the power.' Very plain is it to all that
'His' is not 'He;' yet not something alien but rather proper to Him. Study too
the context and 'turn to the Lord;' now 'the Lord is that Spirit[8];' and you
will see that it is the Son who is signified.


12. For after making mention of the creation, he naturally speaks of the
Framer's Power as seen in it, which Power, I say, is the Word of God, by whom
all things have been made. If indeed the creation is sufficient of itself
alone, without the Son, to make God known, see that you fill not, from
thinking that without the Son it has come to be. But if through the Son it has
come to be, and 'in Him all things consist[9],' it must follow that he who
contemplates the creation rightly, is contemplating also the Word who framed
it, and through Him begins to apprehend the Father[10]. And if, as the Saviour
also says, 'No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son
shall reveal Him[11],' and if on Philip's asking, 'Shew us the Father,' He
said not, 'Behold the creation,' but, 'He that hath seen Me, hath seen the
Father[12],' reasonably doth Paul,--while accusing the Greeks of contemplating
the harmony and order of the creation without reflecting on the Framing Word
within it (for the creatures witness to their own Framer) so as through the
creation to apprehend the true God, and abandon their worship of
it,--reasonably hath he said, 'His Eternal Power and Godhead[13],' thereby
signifying the Son. And where the sacred writers say, Who exists before the
ages,' and 'By whom He made the ages[1],' they thereby as clearly preach the
eternal and everlasting being of the Son, even while they are designating God
Himself. Thus, if Isaiah says, 'The Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends
of the earth[2];' and Susanna said, 'O Everlasting God[3];' and Baruch wrote,
'I will cry unto the Everlasting in my days,' and shortly after, 'My hope is
in the Everlasting, that He will save you, and joy is come unto me from the
Holy One[4];' yet forasmuch as the Apostle, writing to the Hebrews, says, 'Who
being the radiance of His glory and the Expression of His Person[5];' and
David too in the eighty-ninth Psalm, 'And the brightness of the Lord be upon
us,' and, 'In Thy Light shall we see Light[6],' who has so little sense as to
doubt of the eternity of the Son[7]? for when did man see light without the
brightness of its radiance, that he may say of the Son, 'There was once, when
He was not,' or 'Before His generation He was not.' And the words addressed to
the Son in the hundred and forty-fourth Psalm, 'Thy kingdom is a kingdom of
all ages[8],' forbid any one to imagine any interval at all in which the Word
did not exist For if every interval in the ages is measured, and of all the
ages the Word is King and Maker, therefore, whereas no interval at all exists
prior to Him[9], it were madness to say, 'There was once when the Everlasting
was not,' and 'From nothing is the Son.' And whereas the Lord Himself says, 'I
am the Truth[10],' not 'I became the Truth;' but always, 'I am,--I am the
Shepherd,--I am the Light,'--and again, 'Call ye Me not, Lord and Master? and
ye call Me well, for so I am,' who, hearing such language from God, and the
Wisdom, and Word of the Father, speaking of Himself, will any longer hesitate
about the truth, and not forthwith believe that in the phrase 'I am,' is
signified that the Son is eternal and without beginning?

13. It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son's
eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases 'He was
not,' and 'before' and 'when,' are in the same Scriptures predicated of
creatures. Moses, for instance, in his account of the generation of our
system, says, 'And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, and
every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to
rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground[1].' And in
Deuteronomy, 'When the Most High divided to the nations[2].' And the Lord said
in His own Person, 'If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice


because I said, I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I. And now
I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might
believe[3].' And concerning the creation He says by Solomon, 'Or ever the
earth was, when there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no
fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the
hills. was I brought forth[4].' And, 'Before Abraham was, I am[5].' And
concerning Jeremiah He says, 'Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew
thee[6]." And David in the Psalm says, 'Before the mountains were brought
forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art, God from
everlasting and world without end[7].' And in Daniel,' Susanna cried out with
a loud voice and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and
knowest all things before they be[8].' Thus it appears that the phrases 'once
was not,' and 'before it came to be,' and 'when,' and the like, belong to
things originate and creatures, which come out of nothing, but are alien to
the Word. But if such terms are used in Scripture of things originate, but
'ever' of the Word, it follows, O ye enemies of God, that the Son did not come
out of nothing, nor is in the number of originated things at all, but is the
Father's Image and Word eternal, never having not been, but being ever, as
the, eternal Radiance[9] of a Light which is eternal. Why imagine then times
before the Son? or wherefore blaspheme the Word as after times, by whom even
the ages were made? for how did time or age at all subsist when the Word, as
you say, had not appeared, 'through' whom 'all things have been made and
without' whom 'not one thing was made[10]?' Or why, when you mean time, do you
not plainly say, 'a time was when the Word was not?' But while you drop the
word 'time' to deceive the simple, you do not at all conceal your own feeling,
nor, even if you did, could you escape discovery. For you still simply mean
times, when you say, 'There was when He was not,' and 'He was not before His



Objection, that the Son's eternity makes Him coordinate with the Father,
introduces the subject of His Divine Sonship, as a second proof of His
eternity. The word Son is introduced in a secondary, but is to be understood
in real sense. Since all things partake of the Father in partaking of the Son,
He is the whole participation of the Father, that is, He is the Son by nature;
for to be wholly participated is to beget.

14. WHEN these points are thus proved, their profaneness goes further. 'If
there never was, when the Son was not,' say they, 'but He is eternal, and
coexists with the Father, you call Him no more the Father's Son, but
brother[1].' O insensate and contentious! For if we said only that He was
eternally with the Father, and not His Son, their pretended scruple would have
some plausibility; but if, while we say that He is eternal, we also confess
Him to be Son from the Father, how can He that is begotten be considered
brother of Him who begets? And if our faith is in Father and Son, what
brotherhood is there between them? and how can the Word be called brother of
Him whose Word He is? This is not an objection of men really ignorant, for
they comprehend how the truth lies; but it is a Jewish pretence, and that from
those who, in Solomon's words, through desire separate themselves[2]' from the
truth. For the Father and the Son were not generated front some pre-existing
origin[3], that we may account Them brothers, but the Father is the Origin of
the Son and begat Him; and the Father is Father, and not born the Son of any;
and the Son is Son, and not brother. Further, if He is called the eternal
offspring[4] of the Father, He is rightly so called. For never was the essence
of the Father imperfect, that what is proper to it should be added
afterwards[5]; nor, as man from man,


has the Son been begotten, so as to be later than His Father's existence, but
He is God's offspring, and as being proper Son of God, who is ever, He exists
eternally. For, whereas it is proper to men to beget in time, from the
imperfection of their nature[6], God's offspring is eternal, for His nature is
ever perfect[7]. If then He is not a Son, but a work made out of nothing, they
have but to prove it; and then they are at liberty, as if imagining about a
creature, to cry out, 'There was once when He was not;' for things which are
originated were not, and have come to be. But if He is Son, as the Father
says, and the Scriptures proclaim, and 'Son' is nothing else than what is
generated from the Father; and what is generated from the Father is His Word,
and Wisdom, and Radiance; what is to be said but that, in maintaining 'Once
the Son was not,' they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly
predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom, and that
the Light was once without radiance, and the Fountain was once barren and
dry[8]? For though they pretend alarm at the name of time, because of those
who reproach them with it, and say, that He was before times, yet whereas they
assign certain intervals, in which they imagine He was not, they are most
irreligious still, as equally suggesting times, and imputing to God an absence
of Reason[9].

15. But if on the other hand, while they acknowledge with us the name of
'Son,' from an unwillingness to be publicly and generally condemned, they deny
that the Son is the proper offspring of the Father's essence, on the ground
that this must imply parts and divisions[1]; what is this but to deny that He
is very Son, and only in name to call Him Son at all? And is it not a grievous
error, to have material thoughts about what is immaterial, and because of the
weakness of their proper nature to deny what is natural and proper to the
Father? It does but remain, that they should deny Him also, because they
understand not how God is[2], and what the Father is, now that, foolish men,
they measure by themselves the Offspring of the Father. And persons in such a
state of mind as to consider that there cannot be a Son of God, demand our
pity; but they must be interrogated and exposed for the chance of bringing
them to their senses. If then, as you say, 'the Son is from nothing,' and 'was
not before His generation,' He, of course, as well as others, must be called
Son and God and Wisdom only by participation; for thus all other creatures
consist, and by sanctification are glorified. You have to tell us then, of
what He is partaker[3]. All other things partake of the Spirit, but He,
according to you, of what is He partaker? of the Spirit? Nay, rather the
Spirit Himself takes from the Son, as He Himself says; and it is not
reasonable to say that the latter is sanctified by the former. Therefore it is
the Father that He partakes; for this only remains to say. But this, which is
participated, what is it or whence[4]? If it be something external provided by
the Father, He will not now be partaker of the Father, but of what is external
to Him; and no longer will He be even second after the Father, since He has
before Him this other; nor can He be called Son of the Father, but of that, as
partaking which He has been called Son and God. And if this be unseemly and
irreligious, when the Father says, 'This is My Beloved Sons[5],' and when the
Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not
external, but from the essence of the Father. And as to this again, if it be
other than the essence of the Son, an equal extravagance will meet us; there
being in that case something between this that is from the Father and the
essence of the Son, whatever that be[6].

16. Such thoughts then being evidently unseemly and untrue, we are driven
to say that what is from the essence of the Father, and proper to Him, is
entirely the Son; for it is all one to say that God is wholly participated,
and that He


begets; and what does begetting signify but a Son? And thus of the Son
Himself, all things partake according to the grace of the Spirit coming from
Him[7]; and this shews that the Son Himself partakes of nothing, but what is
partaken from the Father, is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we
are said to partake of God; and this is what Peter said that ye may be
partakers in a divine nature[8];' as says too the Apostle, 'Know ye not, that
ye are a temple of God?' and, 'We are the temple of a living God[9].' And
beholding the Son, we see the Father; for the thought[10] and comprehension of
the Son, is knowledge concerning the Father, because He is His proper
offspring from His essence. And since to be partaken no one of us would ever
call affection or division of God's essence (for it has been shewn and
acknowledged that God is participated, and to be participated is the same
thing as to beget); therefore that which is begotten is neither affection nor
division of that blessed essence. Hence it is not incredible that God should
have a Son, the Offspring of His own essence; nor do we imply affection or
division of God's essence, when we speak of 'Son' and 'Offspring;' but rather,
as acknowledging the genuine, and true, and Only-begotten of God, so we
believe. If then, as we have stated and are shewing, what is the Offspring of
the Father's essence be the Son, we cannot hesitate, rather we must be
certain, that the same[11] is the Wisdom and Word of the Father, in and
through whom He creates and makes all things; and His Brightness too, in whom
He enlightens all things, and is revealed to whom He will; and His Expression
and Image also, in whom He is contemplated and known, wherefore 'He and His
Father are one[1],' and whoso looketh on Him looketh on the Father; and the
Christ, in whom all things are redeemed, and the new creation wrought afresh.
And on the other hand, the Son being such Offspring, it is not fitting, rather
it is full of peril, to say, that He is a work out of nothing, or that He was
not before His generation. For he who thus speaks of that which is proper to
the Father's essence, already blasphemes the Father Himself[2]; since he
really thinks of Him what he falsely imagines of His offspring.