An anonymous Letter to Diognetus, named The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, which is probably written ca. 80-130 A.D by unknown author who called himself “a disciple of the Apostles”, captures the early Church understanding of God the Father and Son relationship. In Chapter 7: The manifestation of Christ in Philip Schaff’s (1819-1893) Ante-Nicene Fathers, which can be found in public domain at Christian Classics Ethereal Library, of this epistle to Diognetus, we encounter this wonderful descriptions:
For, as I said, this was no mere earthly invention which was delivered to them, nor is it a mere human system of opinion, which they judge it right to preserve so carefully, nor has a dispensation of mere human mysteries been committed to them, 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—from whom the sun has received the measure of his daily course to be observed—whom the moon obeys, being commanded to shine in the night, and whom the stars also obey, following the moon in her course; by whom all things have been arranged, and placed within their proper limits, and to whom all are subject—the heavens and the things that are therein, the earth and the things that are therein, the sea and the things that are therein—fire, air, and the abyss—the things which are in the heights, the things which are in the depths, and the things which lie between.
“[A] disciple of the Apostles” explained that Almighty Creator of visible and invisible, the true God sent not an angel or a ruler but the very Creator and Fashioner of all thing. This is the doctrine that was delivered to them, probably from the 12 Apostles themselves. The disciple of the Apostle continued to explain:
This [messenger] He sent to them. Was it then, as one might conceive, for the purpose of exercising tyranny, or of inspiring fear and terror? By no means, but under the influence of clemency and meekness. As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us; as loving us He sent Him, not as judging us. For He will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing?
This messenger, the very Creator and Fashioner of all thing, is a Son of God and very God. He explained that as a king sends his son, who is also a king, God send his Son who is also God. “[A] disciple of the Apostles” gives us an early understanding of the relationship the Father who is God sending his Son who is also God.
How could early monotheist Christians claim that the Son is God and the Father is God yet there is one True God? It is from this doctrine,(and the deity of Holy Spirit), that led the early Christians to progressively formulate the doctrine of a Tri-une God viz., One and Only true God in three distinct Persons.
Question: Do you agree with “a disciple of the Apostles” that Jesus is God? Give reasons.
Source: Christian Classics Ethereal Library public domain documents
The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. 1885 (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (27–28). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.
Early Church’s Understanding of the Holy Spirit: Irenaeus( c. 120- 28th of June 202 A.D) and Clement of Alexandria(c.150 – c. 215)