Verses on Eternal Generation in the Old Testament

Verses on Eternal Generation in the Old Testament

Eternal generation is the belief that the Father eternally generates or produces the person of the Son, and in doing so, eternally communicates the divine nature to him so that the Father is the fountain of divinity or fontal source from whom the Son derives his existence and divine nature. This understanding of the personal relations in the Trinity seeks to explain the differences between the three persons on the basis of eternal relations of origin. The Son’s origin is from the Father and the Spirit’s origin is from the Father and the Son in the Western Church and the Father alone in the Eastern Church. The Eastern Church argues that the Father alone is the Spirit’s origin since the fountain of divinity is located in Father’s person and not his nature. Because the Son does not share the Father’s person, he cannot act as a fountain of divinity for the Spirit. I believe that this understanding of generation misunderstands the passages in the Bible which speak about the begetting of the Son and the procession of the Spirit. To justify my departure from Origen’s concept of eternal generation, I will be giving a full exegesis of the relevant texts in this article and in another on the New Testament.

1. Psalm 2:7

“Today I have begotten you” is interpreted by the authors of the New Testament as being fulfilled in the resurrection, ascension, and exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father (Acts 13:33; Heb 1:4-5; 5:4-5). Peter in Acts 13:33 interprets this verse as being fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead: “this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” Hebrews 1:5 interprets Psalm 2:7 as being fulfilled in the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God at his ascension as indicated by the immediate context: “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” His language is a direct allusion to the early Christian hymn of Philippians 2:9 which describes the exaltation of the Messiah after his rejection by man: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Hebrews 5:5 likewise associates this begetting with the exaltation of the Messiah to be our high priest. Our interpretation of Psalm 2:7 should be the same as that of the authors of the New Testament because the Holy Spirit is his own best interpreter.

At his exaltation, the Father bestowed on him the name Yahweh which the Son has always had to vindicate who he is in contrast to his rejection by man (Phil 2:9). The begetting of this verse takes place after the Messiah’s rejection by man in verses 1-3 and not before. “Today” is the day of the Son’s vindication from the Father, not a day in eternity past. “Begotten you” in the context of Psalm 2 is the enthronement of the king of Israel to be God’s representative on earth. Over time, this hymn took on messianic overtones and was seen as a prophecy about the future Messiah. “I have set my King on Zion” in verse six is parallel to “I have begotten you” in verse seven as an expression of God’s exaltation of the Messiah. The king is begotten because he is firstborn or supreme over all things (Ps 89:27). But whereas Israel’s kings were made God’s sons by adoption in this enthronement, the Son has existed as God’s Son from eternity. Hence, using it as a proof text for eternal generation ignores how the New Testament interprets the verse, does not take into account that the begetting takes place after the Messiah’s rejection by man and not before, and ignores the parallelism between begetting and being enthroned as king in the previous verse.

2. Proverbs 8:22-25

Proverbs 8 is by far the most historically important passage in the development of Logos Christology, eternal generation, and Arianism. It did not help matters that very few church fathers knew how to read Hebrew so they relied on the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This was extremely unfortunate because the Greek translation of verse 22 used the verb ktizō which means “to create.” However, the Hebrew verb is better translated as “to acquire” since this is how it is always used in Proverbs: 1:5; 4:5, 7; 15:32; 16:16; 17:16; 18:15; 19:8; 20:14; 23:23. Wisdom is so valuable that God himself is described as acquiring her. It is not that God needed wisdom, but that Solomon is metaphorically painting a picture for us of the value of wisdom to entice us to acquire it. If God “needed” Wisdom, how much more do we need it? It is in attempting to literalize language that is meant to be taken metaphorically where interpreters get into trouble. But because it was translated as “to create,” the Arians argued that the Son was created because Lady Wisdom is described as being created by God and Paul calls Christ the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24. The orthodox responded by arguing that this verse was describing the incarnation of the Son, but then they inconsistently argued that the bringing forth of Wisdom in verses 24-25 was the eternal generation of the Son and something distinct from the acquiring of Wisdom in verse 22. The orthodox interpretation of verse 22 also does not fit the context of the verse. This is describing an action of God before the foundation of the world, not the incarnation of the Son which was not “the first of his acts of old.”

The Arian argument errs by confusing analogical language with univocal language. When Paul says Christ is the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24, he is drawing an analogy between Lady Wisdom and Christ, not a one-to-one correspondence. Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is the personification of God’s attribute of wisdom, not a distinct hypostasis from God. She is an extended metaphor for the purpose of giving Solomon a mouthpiece through which to speak to his sons in contrast to Lady Folly (Prov 9:13). If Wisdom is a distinct hypostasis from God, is Folly a hypostasis as well? Paul calls Christ the wisdom of God because there are parallels between him and Lady Wisdom. Both are described as creating the world and being at God’s side (John 1:18). But the Son is not a feminine figure. He is the eternal Son of God, not the daughter of God. Interpreting Lady Wisdom as an exact correspondence to Christ misunderstands how Paul is applying Wisdom to Christ analogically and contradicts all the verses which teach that Christ is eternal and not created (John 1:3). We have to look at the rest of Scripture to determine where the analogy does not correspond to reality. If Paul’s use of Wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:24 is a one-to-one correspondence between her and Christ, it would not prove eternal generation, but either Logos Christology or Arianism since the begetting of Wisdom is described as a completed action before the foundation of the world and not something that is eternally ongoing. The concept of eternality must be read into the text.

3. Isaiah 53:8

The interpretation of Isaiah 53:8 as describing an ineffable action of the Father in generating the Son might seem bizarre to us today, but it was one of the most cited texts used by both the orthodox and the Arians to silence debate over the meaning of the generation of the Son. The orthodox used it to argue that we must simply accept the generation of the Son without questioning and the Arians used it to deflect criticism for their understanding of generation as an act of creation since we should not be talking about such things. But the generation of the Son in this verse is not describing an action of God, but the generation of people living during the time of Christ who did not understand the significance of his death and rejected him which is what Isaiah is describing in the immediate context. They paid no attention to his death and treated him as a common criminal rather than the Messiah. They never gave his death a second thought. Much like Psalm 2, the rejection of the Messiah is followed by his vindication from the Father.

4. Micah 5:2

Because the Messiah is said to be “from of old, from ancient days,” it was argued by both the orthodox and the Arians that the Father was the origin of the Messiah’s existence. Whereas the Arians argued that the generation of the Son was an act of creation, the orthodox argued that it was an eternally ongoing action in the being of God. But both of these interpretations badly misread the text. The text does not say that the Messiah’s origin is “from the Father” or “from God,” but that he is “from of old.” And even if it did, it would be describing the sending of the Son of God into the world at the incarnation. To say that the Messiah is “from of old” is to say that he is eternal, not that he was produced by the Father. His origin is from eternity, not an act of God.

The same terms used to describe the Messiah in this verse are also used in reference to God. If the Messiah was created or generated because he is “from of old” and “from ancient days,” then God the Father would also be a created being or a product of generation. The Hebrew words kedem “old” and olam “ancient days” are often used in reference to God’s eternality. Habakkuk 1:12 uses the same word kedem with the preposition min “from” as Micah 5:2 does to express that God is eternal: “Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One?” The word olam is used multiple times to portray God as eternal (Ps 90:2). A close parallel to Micah 5:2 is Deuteronomy 33:27 where both kedem and olam are used respectively to depict God as eternal: “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The “origin” of the Messiah describes where he came from: eternity past. The word “hometown” in English is a close parallel to the Hebrew expression. It is where he “went out” or “came from” to literalize the Hebrew idiom. He is from eternity, not from any of the cities of the world. But nevertheless, the one who is from eternity will be born in Bethlehem.

5. Wisdom 7:24-27

This text does not come from Scripture, but from the Apocrypha which Protestants do not accept. It was one of the favorite passages of Origen and reads: “For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets.” Since Wisdom is called a “pure emanation” of God and Christ is called the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24, it was concluded that the Son was an emanation of God. The Trinity was then explained in terms of emanationism where the Son and Spirit are eternally emanated from the Father. It was argued that the Father is the fountain of divinity who pours forth the divine nature into the Son and Spirit. The Father as the fountain of divinity became the way to distinguish the Father from the Son and the Holy Spirit in eternity past.

But because this text is not from Scripture, I do not need to give an exegesis of it. It is simply enough to point out that the Book of Wisdom teaches false doctrines like the pre-existence of the soul (8:19-20) and the denial of creation ex nihilo (11:17) based on the influence of Greek philosophy which is where emanationism comes from. I have written more on why the Apocrypha is not canonical here.

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Sunday Meditation – Taught By God

Sunday Meditation – Taught By God

“If we are taught by God in affliction we are blessed. When God teaches, he applies his instruction to the heart. He commands light to shine out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6). The Holy Spirit brings divine truths in such a clear and convincing light that the soul sits down fully satisfied. The soul both sweetly and freely acquiesces in the revealed truths. When God teaches, the soul experiences truth as David (Psalm 119:71). Some only know notionally, but David knew by experience; he became more acquainted with the Word. He knew it more, loved it better, and was more transformed in the nature of it. Thus, Paul, ‘I know whom I have believed’ (2 Timothy 1:12) – ‘I have experienced his faithfulness and his all-sufficiency; I can trust my all with him. I am sure he will keep it safe to that day.’ Those taught of God in affliction can speak experimentally, in one degree or another. They can speak of their communion with God (Psalm 23:4). The sweet singer of Israel had a comfortable presence. Those taught of God can say: ‘As we have heard, so we have seen. I have experienced this word upon mine heart, and can set my seal that God is true.’ God’s teaching is a powerful teaching. It conveys strength as well as light. Truth only understood needs to be put into action and practice. God’s teachings are sweet to the taste. David rolled them as sugar under his tongue, and received more sweetness than Samson from his honeycomb. Luther said he would not live in paradise without the Word, but with the Word he could live in hell itself. Teaching is sweet because it is suitable to the renewed man (Jeremiah 15:16).”

Thomas Case

The Trinity in the Early Church

The Trinity in the Early Church

Contrary to popular belief, the doctrine of the Trinity was not invented by Constantine or anyone at the Council of Nicaea in 325. The first person to use the term “Trinity” was Theophilus of Antioch in 181 who wrote in Greek and Tertullian used it later in Latin. Even though the term was first used then, the concept was not new. The doctrine of the Trinity comes from combining three other beliefs found in Scripture: monotheism, the equality between the three persons, and the distinctions between the three persons. I have already demonstrated the belief in the deity of Christ in the church fathers of the second century. Now, I will demonstrate their belief in the distinctions which exist between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in contrast to modalism:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Scepter of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition, as the Holy Spirit had declared regarding Him” (1 Clement 16:2).

“Have we not all one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ?” (1 Clement 46:6).

“Receive our counsel, and ye shall be without repentance. For, as God liveth, and as the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost live” (1 Clement 58:2).

“May God, who seeth all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh— who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar people— grant to every soul that calleth upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honor, both now and for evermore. Amen” (1 Clement 64:1).

“Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed on from this to you, having false doctrine, whom ye did not suffer to sow among you, but stopped your ears, that ye might not receive those things which were sown by them, as being stones of the temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God the Father, and drawn up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, making use of the Holy Spirit as a rope, while your faith was the means by which you ascended, and your love the way which led up to God” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 9:1).

“And are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed” (Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1).

“Do ye therefore all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one” (Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:2).

“Study, therefore, to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, that so all things, whatsoever ye do, may prosper both in the flesh and spirit; in faith and love; in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning and in the end; with your most admirable bishop, and the well-compacted spiritual crown of your presbytery, and the deacons who are according to God. Be ye subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Jesus Christ to the Father, according to the flesh, and the apostles to Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit; that so there may be a union both fleshly and spiritual” (Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:1-2).

“Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:3).

“We wish you, brethren, all happiness, while you walk according to the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; with whom be glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of His holy elect, after whose example the blessed Polycarp suffered, following in whose steps may we too be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ!” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 22:1).

“That the Lord Jesus Christ may also gather me along with His elect into His heavenly kingdom, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 22:3).

“And concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water” (Didache 7:1).

“But truly God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, Him who is the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts. He did not, as one might have imagined, send to men any servant, or angel, or ruler, or any one of those who bear sway over earthly things, or one of those to whom the government of things in the heavens has been entrusted, but the very Creator and Fashioner of all things. . . . This messenger He sent to them” (Epistle to Diognetus 7:2).

“They ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father; and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father” (Fragments of Papias 5).

“Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? . . . They know God and His Logos, what is the oneness of the Son with the Father, what the communion of the Father with the Son, what is the Spirit, what is the unity of these three, the Spirit, the Son, the Father, and their distinction in unity; and who know that the life for which we look is far better than can be described in words. . . . For, as we acknowledge a God, and a Son his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence, the Father, the Son, the Spirit” (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 10, 12, 24).

“For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, ‘Let Us make man after Our image and likeness’” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.20.1).

Here are some references to the foundational truths of the doctrine of the Trinity in the apostolic church fathers who wrote before Theophilus of Antioch:

Monotheism: 1 Clement 43:6; 46:6; 59:4; 2 Clement 20:5; Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:2; Epistle to Diognetus 3:2; Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 1.1.

Deity of Christ: 2 Clement 1:1; 13:4; Ignatius to the Ephesians 1:1; 7:2; 18:2; 19:3; Ignatius to the Romans 1:1; 3:3; 6:3; Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 1:1; Ignatius to Polycarp 8:3; Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:3; 17:2-3; Epistle to Diognetus 7:2; 11:4-5; Aristides, Apology 2.4; Justin Martyr, First Apology 63; Dialogue with Trypho 34, 127-128; Melito of Sardis, On Passover 8, 96; Tatian, Address to the Greeks 21; Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 24.

Deity of the Holy Spirit: Justin Martyr, First Apology 6, 32; Dialogue with Trypho 7; Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 9, 24; Shepherd of Hermas, Similitude 5.6.5.

Distinction: 1 Clement 16:2; 46:6; 58:2; 64:1; Ignatius to the Ephesians 9:1; Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1; 7:2; 13:1-2; Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:3; 22:1, 3; Didache 7:1; Epistle to Diognetus 7:2; 11:4-5; Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 24, Fragments of Papias 5.

Sunday Meditation – Watch Against the Beginnings of Sin

Sunday Meditation – Watch Against the Beginnings of Sin

“Watch against the beginnings of sin. Remember, Satan never begins where he leaves off; he begins with a little sin, and he goes on to a greater one. When he first tempts men, he does not aim at all he hopes to accomplish; but he tries to draw them aside by little and little, and he works up by degrees to the greater sin he wants them to commit. I do not believe that, at the present time, a Christian man can be too precise. We serve a very precise God: ‘the Lord thy God is a jealous God.’ Keep out of many things in which professing Christians now indulge themselves. The question is, whether they are Christians at all. If we must not judge them, at any rate, let us judge for ourselves, and settle it, once for all, that we dare not go where they go; indeed, we have no wish to do so.”

Charles Spurgeon

The Deity of Christ in the Early Church

The Deity of Christ in the Early Church

Contrary to The Da Vinci Code and other novel speculations, the belief that Jesus is God was not invented by the Council of Nicaea. It is rooted in the text of Scripture and was believed on in the church from the very beginning. Here are some quotations from the early church fathers living in the second century which affirm the deity of Christ:

“Brethren, it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God, as the Judge of the living and the dead. And it does not become us to think lightly of our salvation” (2 Clement 1:1).

“For when they hear from us that God saith, ‘There is no thank unto you, if ye love them that love you; but there is thank unto you, if ye love your enemies and them that hate you’” (2 Clement 13:4).

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace. I have become acquainted with your name, much-beloved in God, which ye have acquired by the habit of righteousness, according to the faith and love in Jesus Christ our Savior. Being the followers of God, and stirring up yourselves by the blood of God, ye have perfectly accomplished the work which was beseeming to you” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 1:1).

“There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 7:2).

“For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 18:2).

“Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death” (Ignatius to the Ephesians 19:3).

“I wish abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God. Through prayer to God I have obtained the privilege of seeing your most worthy faces, and have even been granted more than I requested; for I hope as a prisoner in Christ Jesus to salute you, if indeed it be the will of God that I be thought worthy of attaining unto the end” (Ignatius to the Romans 1:1).

“Nothing visible is eternal. ‘For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ For our God, Jesus Christ, Now that He is with the Father, is all the more revealed in His glory. Christianity is not a thing of silence only, but also of manifest greatness” (Ignatius to the Romans 3:3).

“Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. If any one has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened” (Ignatius to the Romans 6:3).

“I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him” (Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 1:1).

“Be ever becoming more zealous than what thou art. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes” (Ignatius to Polycarp 3:2).

“Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:3).

“For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, “lest,” said he, “forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one.” This he said at the suggestion and urgent persuasion of the Jews, who also watched us, as we sought to take him out of the fire, being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners), nor to worship any other” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 17:2).

“But truly God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, Him who is the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts. He did not, as one might have imagined, send to men any servant, or angel, or ruler, or any one of those who bear sway over earthly things, or one of those to whom the government of things in the heavens has been entrusted, but the very Creator and Fashioner of all things— by whom He made the heavens— by whom he enclosed the sea within its proper bounds— whose ordinances all the stars faithfully observe” (Epistle to Diognetus 7:2).

“This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints. This is He who, being from everlasting, is to-day called the Son; through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints, furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful. giving to those that seek, by whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over” (Epistle to Diognetus 11:4-5).

“And further, my brethren: if the Lord endured to suffer for our soul, He being Lord of all the world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, ‘Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness,’ understand how it was that He endured to suffer at the hand of men” (Epistle of Barnabas 5:5).

“The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it” (Aristides, Apology 2.4).

“The Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God” (Justin Martyr, First Apology 63).

“For Christ is King, and Priest, and God, and Lord” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 34).

“And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 128).

“We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that God was born in the form of a man” (Tatian, Address to the Greeks 21).

“For, as we acknowledge a God, and a Son his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence, the Father, the Son, the Spirit” (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 24).

“The one who was born as Son, and led to slaughter as a lamb, and sacrificed as a sheep, and buried as a man, rose up from the dead as God, since he is by nature both God and man” (Melito of Sardis, On Passover 8).

“The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged; the one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled; the one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree. The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel” (Melito of Sardis, On Passover 96).

Sunday Meditation – The Machinery of Providence

Sunday Meditation – The Machinery of Providence

“The infinite Lord appoints the date of every event; all times are in his hand. There are no loose threads in the providence of God, no stitches are dropped, no events are left to chance. The great clock of the universe keeps good time, and the whole machinery of providence moves with unerring punctuality. It was to be expected that the greatest of all events should be most accurately and wisely timed, and so it was God willed it to be when and where it was, and that will is to us the ultimate reason.”

Charles Spurgeon

The Perspicuity of Scripture in the Early Church

The Perspicuity of Scripture in the Early Church

I have written before on sola Scriptura in the early church, but now I want to give you some quotations on the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture in the writings of the early church fathers in contrast to the Catholic belief that the Scriptures should not be read by all:

“And thus it is fully demonstrated that there is no obscurity or contradiction in the holy Gospels or between the evangelists, but that everything is plain” (Epiphanius, Panarion, Books II and III, Sections 47-80, 51).

“Everything in the sacred scripture is clear, to those who will approach God’s word with pious reason, and not harbor the devil’s work within them and turn their steps to the pits of death—as this unfortunate man and his converts have attacked the truth more vigorously than any who have become blasphemers of God and his faith before them” (Epiphanius, Panarion, Books II and III, Sections 47-80, 76).

“And everything in the sacred scripture and the holy faith is crystal clear to us, and nothing is tortuous, contradictory or knotty” (Epiphanius, Panarion, Books II and III, Sections 47-80, 76).

“Consider, I ask you, dearly beloved, the precision of Sacred Scripture in narrating everything clearly to us, instructing us in the customs of the ancients and the extent of the ardor that marked their hospitality” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 46-67, Homily 55.5).

“All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, Homily III).

“For this reason too, he did not hide his teaching in mist and darkness, as they did who threw obscurity of speech, like a kind of veil, around the mischiefs laid up within. But this man’s doctrines are clearer than the sunbeams, wherefore they have been unfolded to all men throughout the world” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, Homily 2.5).

“In the sacred writings, in His Scripture that is read to all peoples in order that all may know. Thus the apostles have written; thus the Lord Himself has spoken, not merely for a few, but that all might know and understand. Plato wrote books, but he did not write for all people but only for a few, for there are not many more than two or three men who know him. But the princes of the Church and the princes of Christ did not write only for the few, but for everyone without exception” (Jerome, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18).

“What is the function of commentators? They expound the statements of someone else; they express in simple language views that have been expressed in an obscure manner; they quote the opinions of many individuals and they say: ‘Some interpret this passage in this sense, others, in another sense’; they attempt to support their own understanding and interpretation with these testimonies in this fashion, so that the prudent reader, after reading the different interpretations and studying which of these many views are to be accepted and which rejected, will judge for himself which is the more correct; and, like the expert banker, will reject the falsely minted coin” (Jerome, St. Jerome – Dogmatic and Polemical Works, The Apology Against the Books of Rufinus, Book I, 16).

“Consider, moreover, the style in which Sacred Scripture is composed — how accessible it is to all men, though its deeper mysteries are penetrable to very few. The plain truths which it contains it declares in the artless language of familiar friendship to the hearts both of the unlearned and of the learned; but even the truths which it veils in symbols it does not set forth in stiff and stately sentences, which a mind somewhat sluggish and uneducated might shrink from approaching, as a poor man shrinks from the presence of the rich; but, by the condescension of its style, it invites all not only to be fed with the truth which is plain” (Augustine, Letters of St. Augustine, Letter 137, Chapter 5, 18).

“As I said a little ago, when these men are beset by clear testimonies of Scripture, and cannot escape from their grasp, they declare that the passage is spurious. The declaration only shows their aversion to the truth, and their obstinacy in error” (Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book XI, 2).

“You in fact try to obscure the lights of the holy scriptures which shine with certain truth by the complexity of your evil arguments. After all, what is clearer than what I just said: Human beings have become like vanity; their days pass like a shadow (Ps 144:4)? That surely would not have happened, if they had remained in the likeness of God in which they were created. What is clearer than the statement: As in Adam all die, so too in Christ all will be brought to life (1 Cor 15:22)? What is clearer than the words: Who, after all, is clean from filth? Not even an infant whose life has lasted a single day on earth (Jb 14:4-5 LXX)? And there are many other passages which you try to wrap in darkness and twist to your perverse meaning by your empty chatter” (Augustine, The Works of Saint Augustine, Answer to the Pelagians III, Unfinished Work in Answer to Julian, Book I:5, Part 1).

“Some people who have fallen foul of this complaint have endeavored to level charges at the divine Scripture, and especially the inspired oracles, of being shrouded in obscurity. To such people the divine-inspired Paul would retort, ‘Now, even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, but to the mature it is wisdom we are speaking.’ In keeping with this, too, is what is said by our Lord and savior to the holy apostles, ‘To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, whereas to those others it is not given;’ and to explain the reason he immediately adds, ‘Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not understand’ — that is, they willingly bring upon themselves the cloud of ignorance: if they turn to the Lord, as the apostle says, the veil will be lifted. Divine realities, therefore, are not obscure to everyone, only to those who are voluntarily blind; they ought to take note and realize that nothing worthwhile is readily accessible to human beings” (Theodoret of Cyrrhus, In Ezechielem – Præfatio, PG 81:808-809).

“In a word, holy deeds would be done by Christians if Christ has taught holy things. He who is worshiped can be judged by His worshippers. For how is a teacher good whose pupils we see are so evil? From this viewpoint, they are Christians; they listen to Him, they read Him. It is easy for all to understand the teaching of Christ” (Salvian the Presbyter, On the Government of God, Book I, Chapter 7).

“For as the word of God, by the mysteries which it contains, exercises the understanding of the wise, so usually by what presents itself on the outside, it nurses the simpleminded. It presenteth in open day that wherewith the little ones may be fed; it keepeth in secret that whereby men of a loftier range may be held in suspense of admiration. It is, as it were, a kind of river, if I may so liken it, which is both shallow and deep, wherein both the Lamb may find a footing, and the elephant float at large” (Pope Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, Preface).