Early Christians’ Confessions

“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 (A.D. 30–107)

Pietro da Cortona’s The Stoning of St. Stephen ca. 1660


Ignatius of Antioch. (1885). The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (52). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company. [Shorter Version of Epistle To The Ephesians]

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Tertullian: Trinity + The Rule of Faith

Writing against Praxeas, who taught Monarchians viz., the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one and the same person, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus’(c. 160 – c. 225 AD) gave one of the earliest and robust defense of one and only God in three distinct persons. Tertullian contended:

Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other. […] Father and the Son are demonstrated to be distinct; I say distinct, but not separate.[He explained further that its “on the ground of Personality, not of Substance—in the way of distinction, not of division”]

Quoting Isaiah 42:1, 45:1 61:1(Luke 4:18) 53:1-2, Psalms 71:18, 3:1, 110:1, Tertullian argued:

Still, in these few quotations the distinction of Persons in the Trinity is clearly set forth. For there is the Spirit Himself who speaks, and the Father to whom He speaks, and the Son of whom He speaks.

He went further to contend:

If the number of the Trinity also offends you, as if it were not connected in the simple Unity, I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in plural phrase, saying, “Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness;” whereas He ought to have said, “Let me make man in my own image, and after my own likeness,” as being a unique and singular Being?

In the following passage, however, “Behold the man is become as one of us,” He is either deceiving or amusing us in speaking plurally, if He is One only and singular. Or was it to the angels that He spoke, as the Jews interpret the passage, because these also acknowledge not the Son? Or was it because He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word, that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, “Let us make;” and, “in our image;” and, “become as one of us.” For with whom did He make man? and to whom did He make him like? (The answer must be), the Son on the one hand, who was one day to put on human nature; and the Spirit on the other, who was to sanctify man.

With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity, as with His ministers and witnesses In the following text also He distinguishes among the Persons: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him.” Why say “image of God?” Why not “His own image” merely, if He was only one who was the Maker, and if there was not also One in whose image He made man? But there was One in whose image God was making man, that is to say, Christ’s image, who, being one day about to become Man (more surely and more truly so), had already caused the man to be called His image, who was then going to be formed of clay—the image and similitude of the true and perfect Man.

Tertullian assembled John 1:1-3, Psalms 45:6-7, 110:1, and Isaiah 53:1 to argue that “the Father is Lord, and the Son also is Lord”(Lord = Yahweh). He went on to expound:

A much more ancient testimony we have also in Genesis: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” Now, either deny that this is Scripture; or else (let me ask) what sort of man you are, that you do not think words ought to be taken and understood in the sense in which they are written, especially when they are not expressed in allegories and parables, but in determinate and simple declarations?

Tertullian believed that He was following the apostle Paul teaching of Romans 9:5.

I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father “God,” and invoke Jesus Christ as “Lord.” But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him “God,” as the same apostle says: “Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”

Oneness Apostolic, also known as “Jesus Only”, do uphold Praxeas teachings today. A teaching which, I believe, Tertullian strongly and successively refuted. The doctrine of Trinity is the rule of faith that early Christians taught and believed.

Question: Did you know that the doctrine of Trinity was taught by Ante-Nicene Church fathers?

Bibliography:

Tertullian. (1885). Against Praxeas P. Holmes, Trans.). In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume III: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (603-8). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.(paragraphs added)

Image Credit: Ressonância Trinity Symbol

Is Christ Jesus God? Answers From Ignatius(ca.30-107 A.D)

Ignatius (ca. 30-107 A.D), a bishop of Antioch, Syria, a friend of Polycarp, familiar with the Apostles and Paul, and a martyr(Rome c. 107 A.D.), is one of my favorite apostolic fathers (I would encourage Christians to read his letters). In this post, I shared Ignatius understanding of who Christ Jesus is. I went through all his known letters collecting the explicit affirmation of Christ Jesus’ identity to helps us answer the question posed on the title: Is Christ Jesus God?

In the opening of his letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius wrote:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fulness 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.

Ignatius helps us affirms that ‘his own blood’(Acts 20:28) refer back to ‘God’, thus a powerful evidence of Christ Jesus’ Deity: “the church of God which he purchased with his own blood” in Letter To Ephesians chapter 1.

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.

In chapter 7:

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.

Chapter 18:

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 letter to the Trallians:

Chapter 9:

Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.

Letter to The Romans (My favorite)

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, [I wish] abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God.

Chapter 3:

Only request in my behalf both inward and outward strength, that I may not only speak, but [truly] will; and that I may not merely be called a Christian, but really be found to be one. For if I be truly found [a Christian], I may also be called one, and be then deemed faithful, when I shall no longer appear to the world. 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.

Chapter 6:

Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God.

Letter to the Symrnæans:

Chapter 1:

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; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh. Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful [followers], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church.

Chapter 3:

For I know that after His resurrection also He was still possessed of flesh, and I believe that He is so now. When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, “Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.” And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit. For this cause also they despised death, and were found its conquerors. And after his resurrection He did eat and drink with them, as being possessed of flesh, although spiritually He was united to the Father.

Letter to Polycarp:

Chapter 3

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.

Chapter 8

I pray for your happiness for ever in our God, Jesus Christ, by whom continue ye in the unity and under the protection of God

Is Christ Jesus God? Ignatius of Antioch answers Yes.

With assurance, joy and delight, we join doubting Thomas’ affirmation(John 2028), Christ Jesus is our Lord and our God.

N.B: When we affirm that Jesus is Yahweh, we do not claim him to be the Father. We affirm that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons in one and only Yahweh.

Source:

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. 1885 (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (p. 49, 52, 57, 69-70, 73,74–75, 76, 86,87, 94 and 96). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company. (The quotes are from the shorted version of Ignatius Letters, emphasis added)

12 Questions I Found Useful Asking Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. Why did Jehovah’s Witnesses properly worshiped Christ Jesus until 1954?
  2. If all that was made was made through Logos(John 1:3) and for him( Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36), why add word “other/s” in Col 1:15-17?
  3. Was Jehovah God without wisdom before creating him(Proverbs 8:22-31) ?
  4. If firstborn means first created, then what does firstborn of the dead mean?( or what does Israel(Exo. 4:22) and Ephraim(Jer. 31:9) being firstborn mean?) Could not Paul use firstborn in Messianic sense? (Ps 89:27 “I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκον), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,”
  5. Why is Christ Jesus calling himself the first and the last?(Revelation 1:17-18)
  6. Was early Christians’  understanding of Jesus as God, from A. D. 30-250, wrong?
  7. If Jesus is a lesser god because he is only Might God(Isaiah 9:6), would that not make Jehovah God also lesser god since his  is also called Might God(Isaiah 10:20-21)?
  8. If Only-begotten(John 3:16) means Jesus was Jehovah’s first creation, how then do we explain Isaac(Hebrews 11:17) being the only-begotten of Abraham and not Ishmael?
  9. Why did God, in Genesis 1:26, said let us make man in our image(God’s image, not angel + God)?
  10. Could you explain how “Jehovah made it rain sulphur from Jehovah” Genesis 19:24 NWT?
  11. Why did Thomas say to Christ Jesus “the Lord of me, and the God of me”(John 20:28 cf. Psalm 35:23)?
  12. Why does historical documents show that the first Christians and Apostolic Fathers prayed and worshiped Christ Jesus as God?

Jehovah Witnesses And John 20:28


A passion to make people glad in God, led me to reach out Jehovah’s Witnesses(JWs) in the area my wife and I live. God sends JW to our home that we may proclaim his glory through correcting them with gentleness and great love their belief in who Christ Jesus is . As Paul argued, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”(2 Timothy 2: 25 ESV).

At my home, on my ground, in my comfort zone, God brings people who ought to call on Christ Jesus as their Lord(Yahweh) over all to be saved(Joel 2:32, Roman 10:9-13). Evangelism at your own home.

In this article I would share how I reason John 20:28 with a door-to-door JWs that Christ Jesus is the Adonai Jehovah.

Doubting Thomas’ Lord and God
1.  I read John 20:27-29 with JWs:

“Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:27-29 ESV).

2. I ask them what does it means? Why is Thomas saying to Jesus “ the Lord of me and the God of me”?

Responses I Got So Far:
Objection I: Thomas was in shock and said my Lord to Jesus and look to the heavens and said my God to Jehovah, the Father.

Reply: But the text say “Thomas said to him[Jesus]”. Moreover I believe Thomas is echoing Psalm 34:23 of his Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint.

Psalm 34:23 calls Yahweh “ ho theos mou kai ho kurios mou”– the God of me and the Lord of me.
Thomas in John 20:28 calls Jesus Christ “ ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou” – the Lord of me and the God of me.

Read Psalm 35:22-24 in New World Translation version and in your own translation(N.B: Its 34:22-24 in The Septuagint)

You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, O LORD, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me!(ESV)

You have seen, O Jehovah. Do not keep silent. O Jehovah, do not keep yourself far from me. Do arouse yourself and awake to my judgment, O my God, even Jehovah, to my case at law. Judge me according to your righteousness, O Jehovah my God, And may they not rejoice over me.(NTW)

Objection II: It was an exclamation of shock.

Reply: There are no evidences of such exclamations used among Jews. Swearing by Jehovah’s name could not used by Thomas because Jews were not allowed to use God’s name in vain. Moreover such an exclamation would be rebuked by Jesus or commented by the evangelist John, if indeed Jesus was not truly the God and Lord of Thomas.(cf. Paul and Barnabas Acts 14:12-15)

Objection III: Jesus is a might god, not Almighty God. A god and the God.

Reply: Not to Thomas. Thomas believed that Jesus was the Psalmist’s Jehovah God. He believe that Jesus was indeed The God of him and The Lord of him.

3. Before JW walk out, I often ask if I could pray with them. If granted I pray that Christ Jesus would become the Lord of JWs[Names] and the God of JWs[names] as it was for doubting Thomas and is to me.
4. I ask them to think over it and invite them for coffee or lunch and if possible I arrange another meeting.

Ignatius’ Understand Of Christ Jesus

Ignatius of Antioch writing between c. 105-115 A.D

St Ignatius of Antioch

Letter to the Smyrnaeans:

 I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who bestowed such wisdom upon you; for I have perceived that ye are established in faith immovable, being as it were nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in flesh and in spirit, and firmly grounded in love in the blood of Christ, fully persuaded as touching our Lord that He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John that  “all righteousness might be fulfilled” by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch (of which fruit are we — that is, of His most blessed passion); that “He might set up an ensign” unto all the ages through His resurrection, for His saints and faithful people, whether among Jews or among Gentiles, in one body of His Church.(1:1-2)

Letter To Rome:

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father Most High and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things that are, by faith and love towards Jesus Christ our God; even unto her that hath the presidency in the country of the region of the Romans, being worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy in purity, and having the presidency of love, walking in the law of Christ and bearing the Father’s name; which church also I salute in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of the Father; unto them that in flesh and spirit are united unto His every commandment, being filled with the grace of God without wavering, and filtered clear from every foreign stain; abundant greeting in Jesus Christ our God in blamelessness.(0:0)

Nothing visible is good. For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly visible. The Work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whensoever it is hated by the world.(3:3 )

Conclusion: Ignatius of Antioch viewed Jesus Christ as his Lord and his God.

Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation(Note: I added emphases and replace “” in place of _)

For Full Letters  to the Smyrnaeans and to Rome