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Particulars of Christianity:
401 First Eight Writers' Consensus


Addendum 1: Eternal Begetting -
Irenaeus and Ignatius


Early Church Confirmation Rubric
Early Church Consensus: Introduction
1: Nature of the Godhead
2: Covenants & O.T. Saints Relationship to the Church
3: Kingdom (Hell), Timing of 2nd Advent and Kingdom
4-5: Age of the World (6000 Years); Communion Meal
6: Baptisms
7-8: Law of Christ; Repentance
9-12: Excommunication; Divorce; Sabbath; Tithing
13: Freewill (A) Against Original Sin and Total Depravity
13: Freewill (B) Against Unconditional Election
13: Freewill (C-D) Against Ltd. Atmt.; Ir. Grace, OSAS
14-15: Church Authority; Roles of Men and Women
16-18: Charismatic Gifts; Civil Gov't., War; Men & Angels
Addendum 1: Eternal Begetting - Irenaeus and Ignatius
Addendum 2: Eternal Begetting - Justin Martyr



Addendum 1: Eternal Begetting - Irenaeus and Ignatius (Mathetes and Clement)

 

In considering the view held by Irenaeus, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr regarding the nature of the Word, the Word’s existence, and His relationship to the Father, the analysis of their comments and arguments can be outlined as follows. It should be noted that the entire nature of the discussion centers on how and when the term “begotten” is applied to the Word. Ultimately, it must be concluded that Irenaeus, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr held to the idea that the Word was “eternally-begotten” prior to creation, and therefore, always existed since the begetting or generation was an eternally occurring phenomenon. Consequently, they did not hold to the idea that the Word came into being or was created or was even the first creation. However, even though this eternally-begotten concept is compatible with the Trinitarian view (and these three authors wrote as Trinitarians), the eternally-begotten concept is not scripturally accurate, and must be rejected. The scriptural analysis of the eternally-begotten doctrine will follow below after the outline of the views of Irenaeus, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr.

 

 

 

Matthetes and Clement

 

Concerning the other “Apostolic Fathers,” Polycarp, Papias, and Barnabas do not make any comments on this particular topic. Matthetes and Clement do, but only briefly. In summary, Matthetes and Clement plainly define the “Son-ship” of the Word to a particular day in human history, called “today.” Matthetes seems to comment on the dramatic contrast between the fact that the Word always existed eternally and the amazing fact that now, on a particular day, the Word became a Son. Clement’s only comment is to relate the Son-ship of the Word in terms of this prophecy that describes that the Word existed before He was a particular day on which He became a Son.

 

Mathetes

THE EPISTLE OF MATHETES TO DIOGNETUS

 

CHAP. XI. 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[7] the Son; through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints.

 

 

Clement –

THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS

 

CHAP. XXXVI. But concerning His Son(4) the Lord spoke thus: "Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."(5) And again He saith to Him, "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."(6) But who are His enemies? All the wicked, and those who set themselves to oppose the will of God.(7)

 

 

 

Irenaeus

 

Concerning Irenaeus, it is first important to note that Irenaues is refuting the Gnostic system. There are three points about the Gnostic system that must be understood in order to properly understand Irenaeus’ own view about the Godhead.

 

1. First, the Gnostic system began with an unknown, un-begotten Being who then produced a series of divine emanations called Aeons (in masculine-feminine pairs), each producing another set.

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK I

 

CHAP. I. 1. They maintain, then, that in the invisible and ineffable heights above there exists a certain perfect, pre-existent Aeon,(4) whom they call Proarche, Propator, and Bythus, and describe as being invisible and incomprehensible. Eternal and unbegotten, he remained throughout innumerable cycles of ages in profound serenity and quiescence. There existed along with him Ennoea, whom they also call Charis and Sige.(5) At last this Bythus determined to send forth from himself the beginning of all things, and deposited this production (which he had resolved to bring forth) in his contemporary Sige, even as seed is deposited in the womb. She then, having received this seed, and becoming pregnant, gave birth to Nous, who was both similar and equal to him who had produced him, and was alone capable of comprehending his father's greatness. This Nous they call also Monogenes, and Father, and the Beginning of all Things. Along with him was also produced Aletheia; and these four constituted the first and first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, which they also denominate the root of all things. For there are first Bythus and Sige, and then Nous and Aletheia. And Monogenes, perceiving for what purpose he had been produced, also himself sent forth Logos and Zoe, being the father of all those who were to come after him, and the beginning and fashioning of the entire Pleroma. By the conjunction of Logos and Zoo were brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia; and thus was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, viz., Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine, as follows: Propator was united by a conjunction with his Ennoea; then Monogenes, that is Nous, with Aletheia; Logos with Zoe, and Anthropos with Ecclesia. 2. These Aeons having been produced for the glory of the Father, and wishing, by their own efforts, to effect this object, sent forth emanations by means of conjunction.

 

 

2. Second, finally, after many pairs of emanations arise after the original un-begotten Being, a pair is produced that ends up producing in error another, lower divine being who himself creates the material world in error and ignorance of the will of the original, supreme, unknown, and un-begotten Being. Specifically, the Gnostics viewed Christ (also called the Son) and the Holy Spirit to be a pair of Aeons produced near the end of the line of emanations, leading to the creation of the material world.

 

CHAP. II. 2. But there rushed forth in advance of the rest that Aeon who was much the latest of them, and was the youngest of the Duodecad which sprang from Anthropos and Ecclesia, namely Sophia, and suffered passion apart from the embrace of her consort Theletos…3. But others of them fabulously describe the passion and restoration of Sophia as follows: They say that she, having engaged in an impossible and impracticable attempt, brought forth an amorphous substance, such as her female nature enabled her to produce.(4) When she looked upon it, her first feeling was one of grief, on account of the imperfection of its generation, and then of fear lest this should end(5) her own existence… And hence they declare material substance(1) had its beginning from ignorance and grief, and fear and bewilderment… 4. …This enthymesis was, no doubt, a spiritual substance, possessing some of the natural tendencies of an AEon, but at the same time shapeless and without form, because it had received nothing.(5) And on this account they say that it was an imbecile and feminine production.(6) 5. After this substance had been placed outside of the Pleroma of the Aeons, and its mother restored to her proper conjunction, they tell us that Monogenes, acting in accordance with the prudent forethought of the Father, gave origin to another conjugal pair, namely Christ and the Holy Spirit (lest any of the Aeons should fall into a calamity similar to that of Sophia), for the purpose of fortifying and strengthening the Pleroma, and who at the same time completed the number of the Aeons…And the reason why the rest of the Aeons possess perpetual existence is found in that part of the Father's nature which is incomprehensible; but the reason of their origin and formation was situated in that which may be comprehended regarding him, that is, in the Son,(8) Christ, then, who had just been produced, effected these things among them. …CHAP. IV. 1. The following are the transactions which they narrate as having occurred outside of the Pleroma: The enthymesis of that Sophia who dwells above, which they also term Achamoth,(14) being removed from the Pleroma, together with her passion, they relate to have, as a matter of course, become violently excited in those places of darkness and vacuity [to which she had been banished]…2. This collection [of passions] they declare was the substance of the matter from which this world was formed. For from [her desire of] returning [to him who gave her life], every soul belonging to this world, and that of the Demiurge(3) himself, derived its origin. All other things owed their beginning to her terror and sorrow. For from her tears all that is of a liquid nature was formed; from her smile all that is lucent; and from her grief and perplexity all the corporeal elements of the world… CHAP. V. 1.And she, in the image(7) of the invisible Father, kept herself concealed from the Demiurge…3. They go on to say that the Demiurge imagined that he created all these things of himself, while he in reality made them in conjunction with the productive power of Achamoth. He formed the heavens, yet was ignorant of the heavens; he fashioned man, yet knew not man; he brought to light the earth, yet had no acquaintance with the earth; and, in like manner. they declare that he was ignorant of the forms of all that he made, and knew not even of the existence of his own mother, but imagined that he himself was all things… 4. And on this account, he (the Demiurge), being incapable of recognising any spiritual essences, imagined himself to be God alone, and declared through the prophets, "I am God, and besides me there is none else."(3)

 

 

3. Third, the Gnostics viewed these produced Aeons as a collective whole, which they called the Pleroma, meaning “Fullness.” This Pleroma consists of all the proper divine beings. And everything else outside of the Pleroma exists in error as part of the material, lower world.

 

CHAP. II. 6. Then, out of gratitude for the great benefit which had been conferred on them, the whole Pleroma of the AEons, with one design and desire, and with the concurrence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, their Father also setting the seal of His approval on their conduct, brought together whatever each one had in himself of the greatest beauty and preciousness; and uniting all these contributions so as skilfully to blend the whole, they produced, to the honour and glory of Bythus, a being of most perfect beauty, the very star of the Pleroma, and the perfect fruit [of it], namely Jesus…CHAP. III. 6. Such, then, is the account which they all give of their Pleroma, and of the formation(12) of the universe, striving, as they do, to adapt the good words of revelation to their own wicked inventions.

 

 

 

Consequently, Irenaeus argues against this system in three corresponding ways.

 

1. First, he argues that the idea of an order of production in which you first have one pair then another pair then another pair is utterly absurd. For example, Irenaeus points the Gnostics aeon called Nous, who they equate with “the principle and source of all understanding,” is produced later after other Aeon pairs, which implies that the earlier Aeons lacked all understanding. In this argument, Irenaeus is arguing that a chronological progression of additional beings who contribute in some way toward the creation of the world is absurd.

 

CHAP. XIII. 1. I now proceed to show, as follows, that the first order of production, as conceived of by them, must be rejected. For they maintain that Nous and Aletheia were produced from Bythus and his Ennoea, which is proved to be a contradiction. For Nous is that which is itself chief, and highest, and, as it were, the principle and source of all understanding. Ennoea, again, which arises from him, is any sort of emotion concerning any subject. It cannot be, therefore, that Nous was produced by Bythus and Ennoea; it would be more like the truth for them to maintain that Ennoea was produced as the daughter of the Propator and this Nous.

 

 

 

2. Second, he argues that no other being or god created the world besides Supreme God, whether in God’s bosom or not and whether in ignorance of God’s will or not. For Irenaeus, God created the world and was unaided by any other god or angel or created entity and God himself neither needed nor made use of any assistance in this.

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. II. …4. But it will not be regarded as at all probable by those who know that God stands in need of nothing, and that He created and made all things by His Word, while He neither required angels to assist Him in the production of those things which are made, nor of any power greatly inferior to Himself, and ignorant of the Father, nor of any defect or ignorance, in order that he who should know Him might become man.(4) But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleasedHe formed all things that were made by His Word that never wearies. For this is a peculiarity of the pre-eminence of God, not to stand in need of other instruments for the creation of those things which are summoned into existence. His own Word is both suitable and sufficient for the formation of all things, even as John, the disciple of the Lord, declares regarding Him: "All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made."(1)…Whom, therefore, shall we believe as to the creation of the world--these heretics who have been mentioned that prate so foolishly and inconsistently on the subject, or the disciples of the Lord, and Moses, who was both a faithful servant of God and a prophet? He at first narrated the formation of the world in these words: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,"(3) and all other things in succession; but neither gods nor angels [had any share in the work].

 

CHAP. VIII. 3. Nor, again, is it allowable, for the reasons(1) already stated, to allege that some other being formed so vast a creation in the bosom of the Father, either with or without His consent.

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

CHAP. VII. 4. For the Son, who is the Word of God, arranged these things beforehand from the beginning, the Father being in no want of angels, in order that He might call the creation into being, and form man, for whom also the creation was made; nor, again, standing in need of any instrumentality for the framing of created things, or for the ordering of those things which had reference to man; while, [at the same time,] He has a vast and unspeakable number of servants. For His offspring and His similitude(12) do minister to Him in every respect; that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Word and Wisdom; whom all the angels serve, and to whom they are subject.

 

CHAP. XX. 1. As regards His greatness, therefore, it is not possible to know God, for it is impossible that the Father can be measured; but as regards His love (for this it is which leads us to God by His Word), when we obey Him, we do always learn that there is so great a God, and that it is He who by Himself has established, and selected, and adorned, and contains all things; and among the all things, both ourselves and this our world. We also then were made, along with those things which are contained by Him. And this is He of whom the Scripture says, "And God formed man, taking clay of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life."(5) It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. 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;"(1) He taking from Himself the substance of the creatures [formed], and the pattern of things made, and the type of all the adornments in the world. 2. Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, "First(2) of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence..."

 

CHAP. XLI. 1. For we do not find that the devil created anything whatsoever, since indeed he is himself a creature of God, like the other angels. For God made all things, as also David says with regard to all things of the kind: "For He spake the word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created."(11)

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V.

 

CHAP. VI. 1. Now God shall be glorified in His handiwork, fitting it so as to be conformable to, and modelled after, His own Son. For by the hands of the Father, that is, by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not [merely] a part of man, was made in the likeness of God.

 

CHAP. XVIII. 2. And again, showing the dispensation with regard to His human nature, John said: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."(8) And in continuation he says, "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten by the Father, full of grace and truth." He thus plainly points out to those willing to hear, that is, to those having ears, that there is one God, the Father over all, and one Word of God, who is through all, by whom all things have been made; and that this world belongs to Him, and was made by Him, according to the Father's will, and not by angels; nor by apostasy, defect, and ignorance; nor by any power of Prunicus, whom certain of them also call "the Mother;" nor by any other maker of the world ignorant of the Father. 3. For the Creator of the world is truly the Word of God: and this is our Lord, who in the last times was made man, existing in this world…

 

CHAP. XXVIII. 4. And therefore throughout all time, man, having been moulded at the beginning by the hands of God, that is, of the Son and of the Spirit, is made after the image and likeness of God: the chaff, indeed, which is the apostasy, being cast away; but the wheat, that is, those who bring forth fruit to God in faith, being gathered into the barn.

 

 

 

3. Third, he argues that God is not a compound “Fullness” derived from distinct beings, such as the “Pleroma” is a compound whole of all the produced Aeons. Specifically, he argues that it is not possible to distinguish the Nous, or Intelligence of God, from God Himself, or in any way to divide God’s intelligence into two beings.

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. XIII. 3. For the Father of all is at a vast distance from those affections and passions which operate among men. He is a simple, uncompounded Being, without diverse members,(3) and altogether like, and equal to himself, since He is wholly understanding, and wholly spirit, and wholly thought, and wholly intelligence, and wholly reason, and wholly hearing, and wholly seeing, and wholly light, and the whole source of all that is good--even as the religious and pious are wont to speak concerning God…4. If then, even in the case of human beings, understanding itself does not arise from emission, nor is that intelligence which produces other things separated from the living man, while its motions and affections come into manifestation, much more will the mind of God, who is all understanding, never by any means be separated from Himself; nor can anything (4) [in His case] be produced as if by a different Being. 5. For if He produced intelligence, then He who did thus produce intelligence must be understood, in accordance with their views, as a compound and corporeal Being; so that God, who sent forth [the intelligence referred to], is separate from it, and the intelligence which was sent forth separate [from Him]. But if they affirm that intelligence was sent forth from intelligence, they then cut asunder the intelligence of God, and divide it into parts. And whither has it gone? Whence was it sent forth? For whatever is sent forth from any place, passes of necessity into some other. But what existence was there more ancient than the intelligence of God, into which they maintain it was sent forth?... 8. …But I have now plainly shown that the first production of Nous, that is, of the intelligence they speak of, is an untenable and impossible opinion. And let us see how the matter stands with respect to the rest [of the AEons]. For they maintain that Logos and Zoe were sent forth by him (i.e., Nous) as fashioners of this Pleroma; while they conceive of an emission of Logos, that is, the Word after the analogy of human feelings, and rashly form conjectures respecting God, as if they had discovered something wonderful in their assertion that Logos was I produced by Nous. All indeed have a clear perception that this may be logically affirmed with respect to men.(1) But in Him who is God over all, since He is all Nous, and all Logos, as I have said before, and has in Himself nothing more ancient or late than another, and nothing at variance with another, but continues altogether equal, and similar, and homogeneous, there is no longer ground for conceiving of such production in the order which has been mentioned.  Just as he does not err who declares that God is all vision, and all hearing (for in what manner He sees, in that also He hears; and in what manner He hears, in that also He sees), so also he who affirms that He is all intelligence, and all word, and that, in whatever respect He is intelligence, in that also He is Word, and that this Nous is His Logos, will still indeed have only an inadequate conception of the Father of all, but will entertain far more becoming [thoughts regarding Him] than do those who transfer the generation of the word to which men gave utterance to the eternal Word of God, assigning a beginning and course of production [to Him], even as they do to their own word. And in what respect will the Word of God--yea, rather God Himself, since He is the Word--differ from the word of men, if He follows the same order and process of generation?

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

CHAP. XI. 2. God also is truly perfect in all things, Himself equal and similar to Himself, as He is all light, and all mind, and all substance, and the fount of all good; but man receives advancement and increase towards God.

 

 

 

Conclusions on Irenaeus: From these arguments, Irenaeus’ own view emerges, even as he articulates plainly. Since he rejects the idea of a sequential production of divine beings who contribute to creation, in his own view there is no sequential production of divine beings who contribute to creation. Consequently, the Word must not be the result of sequential production in Irenaeus’ view.

 

Since he rejects the idea that any other being, whether termed god or otherwise, aided the Supreme God in creation, the Word must not be a secondary being in Irenaeus’ view. Since he rejects the idea of God as a collective produced by diverse created beings in combination with the original, un-begotten Being, in Irenaeus’ view the Word and the Father must not be a collective whole comprised of two distinct beings, such as the Pleroma of the Gnostics. More specifically, as indicated by the last quote above, Irenaeus states that it is impossible to even suggest a “first” production of the Nous, or Logos, or Word, because God “is Word, and that this Nous is His Logos” because in Irenaues’ view God “has in Himself nothing more ancient or late than another, and nothing at variance with another, but continues altogether equal, and similar, and homogeneous, there is no longer ground for conceiving of such production in the order which has been mentioned.” Similarly, he states that “the Word of God” is “God Himself, since He is the Word.” Consequently, he goes on to say call the Word, “the eternal Word of God” and to say that it is wrong to “assign a beginning and course of production to Him.”

 

In summary, Irenaeus does believe the “Son-ship” of the Word describes his eternal relationship with the Father, instead of the scriptural view that “Son-ship” strictly refers to the incarnation of the Word. With regard to this eternal relationship, Irenaeus does at times refer to the Word as the “first-born” of all creation. However, for Irenaeus, the “begetting” involved in that pre-creation Son-ship is decisively not the same as the Gnostic view in which the Nous, or Word, or Logos, were produced as separate beings, each one having their own beginning. Instead, he believes the “begetting” behind this “eternal Son-ship” is a timeless begetting, one without beginning or process, and one that does not in any way separate the Word as a different Being from God. Consequently, Irenaues’ always refers to the Word and the Holy Spirit as aspects of the single Being of God, (such as God’s “hands”) rather than as separate beings forming a compound whole as is the case with the Gnostic Pleroma.

 

(The conclusions summarized above are articulated by Irenaeus in the quotes below.)

 

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. XXVII. 6. But, beyond reason inflated [with your own wisdom], ye presumptuously maintain that ye are acquainted with the unspeakable mysteries of God; while even the Lord, the very Son of God, allowed that the Father alone knows the very day and hour of judgment, when He plainly declares, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father only."(1) If, then, the Son was not ashamed to ascribe the knowledge of that day to the Father only, but declared what was true regarding the matter, neither let us be ashamed to reserve for God those greater questions which may occur to us. For no man is superior to his master.(2) If any one, therefore, says to us, "How then was the Son produced by the Father?" we reply to him, that no man understands that production, or generation, or calling, or revelation, or by whatever name one may describe His generation, which is in fact altogether indescribable. Neither Valentinus, nor Marcion, nor Saturninus, nor Basilides, nor angels, nor archangels, nor principalities, nor powers [possess this knowledge], but the Father only who begat, and the Son who was begotten. Since therefore His generation is unspeakable, those who strive to set forth generations and productions cannot be in their right mind, inasmuch as they undertake to describe things which are indescribable. For that a word is uttered at the bidding of thought and mind, all men indeed well understand. Those, therefore, who have excogitated [the theory of] emissions have not discovered anything great, or revealed any abstruse mystery, when they have simply transferred what all understand to the only-begotten Word of God; and while they style Him unspeakable and unnameable, they nevertheless set forth the production and formation of His first generation, as if they themselves had assisted at His birth, thus assimilating Him to the word of mankind formed by emissions.

 

CHAP. XXX. 9. But there is one only God, the Creator--He who is above every Principality, and Power, and Dominion, and Virtue: He is Father, He is God, He the Founder, He the Maker, He the Creator, who made those things by Himself, that is, through His Word and His Wisdom--heaven and earth, and the seas, and all things that are in them: He is just; He is good; He it is who formed man, who planted paradise, who made the world, who gave rise to the flood, who saved Noah; He is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of the living: He it is whom the law proclaims, whom the prophets preach, whom Christ reveals, whom the apostles make known s to us, and in whom the Church believes. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: through His Word, who is His Son, through Him He is revealed and manifested to all to whom He is revealed; for those [only] know Him to whom the Son has revealed Him. But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father, from of old, yea, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to Angels, Archangels, Powers, Virtues, and all to whom He wills that God should be revealed.

 

CHAP. XXVII. 4. Now this blindness and foolish talking flow to you from the fact that ye reserve nothing for God, but ye wish to proclaim the nativity and production both of God Himself, of His Ennoea, of His Logos, and Life, and Christ; and ye form the idea of these from no other than a mere human experience; not understanding, as I said before, that it is possible, in the case of man, who is a compound being, to speak in this way of the mind of man and the thought of man; and to say that thought (ennoea) springs from mind (sensus), intention (enthymesis) again from thought, and word (logos) from intention (but which logos?(4) for there is among the Greeks one logos which is the principle that thinks, and another which is the instrument by means of which thought is expressed); and [to say] that a man sometimes is at rest and silent, while at other times he speaks and is active. But since God is(5) all mind, all reason, all active spirit, all light, and always exists one and the same, as it is both beneficial for us to think of God, and as we learn regarding Him from the Scriptures, such feelings and divisions [of operation] cannot fittingly be ascribed to Him. …CHAP. XXV. 5. But God being all Mind, and all Logos, both speaks exactly what He thinks, and thinks exactly what He speaks. For His thought is Logos, and Logos is Mind, and Mind comprehending all things is the Father Himself. He, therefore, who speaks of the mind of God, and ascribes to it a special origin of its own, declares Him a compound Being, as if God were one thing, and the original Mind another. So, again, with respect to Logos, when one attributes to him the third(7) place of production from the Father; on which supposition he is ignorant of His greatness; and thus Logos has been far separated from God. As for the prophet, he declares respecting Him, "Who shall describe His generation?"(8) But ye pretend to set forth His generation from the Father, and ye transfer the production of the word of men which takes place by means of a tongue to the Word of God, and thus are righteously exposed by your own selves as knowing neither things human nor divine.

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK III

 

CHAP. XXXIV. 2. ...let them learn that God alone, who is Lord of all, is without beginning and without end, being truly and for ever the same, and always remaining the same unchangeable Being. But all things which proceed from Him, whatsoever have been made, and are made, do indeed receive their own beginning of generation, and on this account are inferior to Him who formed them, inasmuch as they are not unbegotten. ...CHAP. XXXV. 4. Now, that the preaching of the apostles, the authoritative teaching of the Lord, the announcements of the prophets, the dictated utterances of the apostles,(3) and the ministration of the law--all of which praise one and the same Being, the God and Father of all, and not many diverse beings, nor one deriving his substance from different gods or powers, but [declare] that all things [were formed] by one and the same Father (who nevertheless adapts this works] to the natures and tendencies of the materials dealt with), things visible and invisible, and, in short, all things that have been made [were created] neither by angels, nor by any other power, but by God alone, the Father--are all in harmony with our statements, has, I think, been sufficiently proved, while by these weighty arguments it has been shown that there is but one God, the Maker of all things.

 

CHAP. VIII. 2. …not one of created and subject things, shall ever be compared to the Word of God, by whom all things were made, who is our Lord Jesus Christ. 3. For that all things, whether Angels, or Archangels, or Thrones, or Dominions, were both established and created by Him who is God over all, through His Word, John has thus pointed out. For when he had spoken of the Word of God as having been in the Father, he added, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made."(7) …But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who has made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him have received a beginning. But whatever things had a beginning, and are liable to dissolution, and are subject to and stand in need of Him who made them, must necessarily in all respects have a different term [applied to them], even by those who have but a moderate capacity for discerning such things; so that He indeed who made all things can alone, together with His Word, properly be termed God and Lord: but the things which have been made cannot have this term applied to them, neither should they justly assume that appellation which belongs to the Creator… CHAP. IX. 2. But Matthew says that the Magi, coming from the east, exclaimed "For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him;"(2) and that, having been led by the star into the house of Jacob to Emmanuel, they showed, by these gifts which they offered, who it was that was worshipped; myrrh, because it was He who should die and be buried for the mortal human met; gold, because He was a King, "of whose kingdom is no end;"(3) and frankincense, because He was God, who also "was made known in Judea,"(4) and was "declared to those who sought Him not."(5) … CHAP. X. 2.men were taught to worship God after a new fashion, but not another god, because in truth there is but "one God, who justifieth the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith."(7)

 

CHAP. XI. 1. The disciple of the Lord therefore desiring to put an end to all such doctrines, and to establish the rule of truth in the Church, that there is one Almighty God, who made all things by His Word, both visible and invisible; showing at the same time, that by the Word, through whom God made the creation, He also bestowed salvation on the men included in the creation; thus commenced His teaching in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.(5) …5. showing that the God who made the earth, and commanded it to bring forth fruit, who established the waters, and brought forth the fountains, was He who in these last times bestowed upon mankind, by His Son, the blessing of food and the favour of drink: the Incomprehensible [acting thus] by means of the comprehensible, and the Invisible by the visible; since there is none beyond Him, but He exists in the bosom of the Father. 6. For "no man," he says, "hath seen God at any time," unless "the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him]."(11) …7. Such, then, are the first principles of the Gospel: that there is one God, the Maker of this universe; He who was also announced by the prophets, and who by Moses set forth the dispensation of the law,--[principles] which proclaim the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ignore any other God or Father except Him… 8. For that according to John relates His original, effectual, and glorious generation from the Father, thus declaring, "In the  beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."(8) Also, "all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." …And the Word of God Himself used to converse with the ante-Mosaic patriarchs, in accordance with His divinity and glory; but for those under the law he instituted a sacerdotal and liturgical service.(1) Afterwards, being made man for us… CHAP. XXI. 3. …Then, when a multitude had gathered around them from all quarters because of this unexpected deed, Peter addressed them: "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this; or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son, whom ye delivered up for judgment,(10) and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he wished to let Him go. But ye were bitterly set against(10) the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;  but ye killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses… 4. Thus the apostles did not change God, but preached to the people that Christ was Jesus the crucified One, whom the same God that had sent the prophets, being God Himself, raised up, and gave in Him salvation to men. …CHAP. XII. 7. But it is evident from Peter's words that he did indeed still retain the God who was already known to them; but he also bare witness to them that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the Judge of quick and dead, into whom he did also command them to be baptized for the remission of sins; and not this alone, but he witnessed that Jesus was Himself the Son of God, who also, having been anointed with the Holy Spirit, is called Jesus Christ… CHAP. XIII. 1. ...And again, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, when he had recounted all those who had seen God (9) after the resurrection, he says in continuation, "But whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed, "(1) acknowledging as one and the same, the preaching of all those who saw God (2) after the resurrection from the dead. 2. And again, the Lord replied to Philip, who wished to behold the Father, "Have I been so long a time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? He that sees Me, sees also the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? For I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; and henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him." (3) To these men, therefore, did the Lord bear witness, that in Himself they had both known and seen the Father (and the Father is truth)… CHAP. XV. 3. But let us revert to the same line of argument [hitherto pursued]. For when it has been manifestly declared, that they who were the preachers of the truth and the apostles of liberty termed no one else God, or named him Lord, except the only true God the Father, and His Word, who has the pre-eminence in all things; it shall then be clearly proved, that they (the apostles) confessed as the Lord God Him who was the Creator of heaven and earth, who also spoke with Moses, gave to him the dispensation of the law, and who called the fathers; and that they knew no other. The opinion of the apostles, therefore, and of those (Marks and Luke) who learned from their words, concerning God, has been made manifest. …CHAP. XVIII. 1.(12) As it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also always present with mankind, was in these last days, according to the time appointed by the Father, united to His own workmanship, inasmuch as He became a man liable to suffering, [it follows] that every objection is set aside of those who say, "If our Lord was born at that time, Christ had therefore no previous existence." For I have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to exist, being with the Father from the beginning; but when He became incarnate, and was made man, He commenced afresh(1) the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam--namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God--that we might recover in Christ Jesus.

 

CHAP. XIX. 2. For I have shown from the Scriptures,(5) that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth… But that He had, beyond all others, in Himself that pre-eminent birth which is from the Most High Father, and also experienced that pre-eminent generation which is from the Virgin,(6) the divine Scriptures do in both respects testify of Him…

 

CHAP.XXI. 10. And as the protoplast himself Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil ("for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground"(4)), and was formed by the hand of God, that is, by the Word of God, for "all things were made by Him,"(5)...

 

CHAP. XXV. 5. And God indeed, as He is also the ancient Word, possessing the beginning, the end, and the mean of all existing things, does everything rightly, moving round about them according to their nature; but retributive justice always follows Him against those who depart from the divine law."(5) Then, again, he points out that the Maker and Framer of the universe is good.

 

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

PREFACE. Now man is a mixed organization of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God, and moulded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit, to whom also He said, "Let Us make man."(1)

 

CHAP.II. 2. …or shall it be (what is really the case) the Maker of heaven and earth, whom also the prophets proclaimed,--whom Christ, too, confesses as His Father,--whom also the law announces, saying: "Hear, O Israel; The Lord thy God is one God?"(2)

 

CHAP.II. 5. For they do not receive from the Father the knowledge of the Son; neither do they learn who the Father is from the Son, who teaches clearly and without parables Him who truly is God. He says: "Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King."(7) For these words are evidently spoken with reference to the Creator, as also Esaias says: "Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool."(8) And besides this Being there is no other God; otherwise He would not be termed by the Lord either" God" or" the great King;" for a Being who can be so described admits neither of any other being compared with nor set above Him.

 

CHAP. VI. 5. …The Father therefore has revealed Himself to all, by making His Word visible to all; and, conversely, the Word has declared to all the Father and the Son, since He has become visible to all. And therefore the righteous judgment of God [shall fall] upon all who, like others, have seen, but have not, like others, believed. 6. For by means of the creation itself, the Word reveals God the Creator; and by means of the world [does He declare] the Lord the Maker of the world; and by means of the formation [of man] the Artificer who formed him; and by the Son that Father who begat the Son: and these things do indeed address all men in the same manner, but all do not in the same way believe them. But by the law and the prophets did the Word preach both Himself and the Father alike [to all]; and all the people heard Him alike, but all did not alike believe. And through the Word Himself who had been made visible and palpable, was the Father shown forth, although all did not equally believe in Him; but all saw the Father in the Son... For the Son is the knowledge of the Father; but the knowledge of the Son is in the Father, and has been revealed through the Son; and this was the reason why the Lord declared: "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; nor the Father, save the Son, and those to whomsoever the Son shall reveal [Him]."(5) For "shall reveal" was said not with reference to the future alone, as if then [only] the Word had begun to manifest the Father when He was born of Mary, but it applies indifferently throughout all time. For the Son, being present with His own handiwork from the beginning, reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills.

 

CHAP. VI. And through the Word Himself who had been made visible and palpable, was the Father shown forth, although all did not equally believe in Him; but all saw the Father in the Son: for the Father is the invisible of the Son, but the Son the visible of the Father. And for this reason all spake with Christ when He was present [upon earth], and they named Him God. Yea, even the demons exclaimed, on beholding the Son: "We know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God."' And the devil looking at Him, and tempting Him, said: "If Thou art the Son of God;"(2)--all thus indeed seeing and speaking of the Son and the Father, but all not believing [in them].

 

CHAP. XXXIII. 11. Again, there are those who say, "He is a man, and who shall know him?"(14) and, "I came unto the prophetess, and she bare a son, and His name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God;"(15) and those [of them] who proclaimed Him as Immanuel, [born] of the Virgin, exhibited the union of the Word of God with His own workmanship, [declaring] that the Word should become flesh, and the Son of God the Son of man (the pure One opening purely that pure womb which regenerates men unto God, and which He Himself made pure); and having become this which we also are, He [nevertheless] is the Mighty God, and possesses a generation which cannot be declared.

 

CHAP. XXXVI. 1. Which [God] the Lord does not reject, nor does He say that the prophets [spake] from another god than His Father; nor from any other essence, but from one and the same Father; nor that any other being made the things in the world, except His own Father

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V.

 

CHAP. XVII. 2. And when He had said this, He commanded the paralytic man to take up the pallet upon which he was lying, and go into his house. By this work of His He confounded the unbelievers, and showed that He is Himself the voice of God, by which man received commandments, which he broke, and became a sinner; for the paralysis followed as a consequence of sins…3. For if no one can forgive sins but God alone, while the Lord remitted them and healed men, it is plain that He was Himself the Word of God made the Son of man, receiving from the Father the power of remission of sins; since He was man, and since He was God, in order that since as man He suffered for us, so as God He might have compassion on us, and forgive us our debts, in which we were made debtors to God our Creator.

 

 

 

Endnote: In addition, it should also be noted that on other occasions, Irenaeus asserts the contrary interpretation of the phrase “first-begotten.” In the quotes below, he applies the term “first-begotten,” not to a pre-creation begetting of the Word, but to a post-resurrection elevation to pre-eminent heir of the things of God. 

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK III

 

CHAP. XVI. 3. And again, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he says: "But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption; "(4) plainly indicating one God, who did by the prophets make promise of the Son, and one Jesus Christ our Lord, who was of the seed of David according to His birth from Mary; and that Jesus Christ was appointed the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, as being the first begotten in all the creation;(5) the Son of God being made the Son Of man, that through Him we may receive the adoption,--humanity(6) sustaining, and receiving, and embracing the Son of God. …And again, the angel said, when bringing good tidings to Mary: "He shall he great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David;"(11) acknowledging that He who is the Son of the Highest, the same is Himself also the Son of David. 

 

CHAP. XXII. And the prophet, too, indicates the same, saying, "instead of fathers, children have been born unto thee."(8) For the Lord, having been born "the First-begotten of the dead,"(9) and receiving into His bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, He having been made Himself the beginning of those that live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die.(10)

 

 

Irenaeus

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

CHAP.II. 4. But those who scoff [at the truth] assert that these men were from another essence, and they do not know the first-begotten from the dead; understanding Christ as a distinct being, who continued as if He were impassible, and Jesus, who suffered, as being altogether separate [from Him].

 

CHAP. XX. 2.…"the Word was made flesh;" that even as the Word of God had the sovereignty in the heavens, so also might He have the sovereignty in earth, inasmuch as [He was] a righteous man, "who did no sin, neither was there found guile in His mouth;"(7) and that He might have the pre-eminence over those things which are under the earth, He Himself being made "the first-begotten of the dead;"(8) and that all things, as I have already said, might behold their King; and that the paternal light might meet with and rest upon the flesh of our Lord, and come to us from His resplendent flesh, and that thus man might attain to immortality, having been invested with the paternal light.

 

CHAP. XXI. 3. In the next place, [Jacob] received the rights of the first-born, when his brother looked on them with contempt; even as also the younger nation received Him, Christ, the first-begotten, when the elder nation rejected Him, saying, "We have no king but Caesar."(6)

 

CHAP. XXIV. For the instruction of the former, [viz., the Jews,] was an easy task, because they could allege proofs from the Scriptures, and because they, who were in the habit of hearing Moses and the prophets, did also readily receive the First-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the life of God…

 

CHAP. XXXI. 2. If, then, the Lord observed the law of the dead, that He might become the first-begotten from the dead, and tarried until the third day "in the lower parts of the earth;"(8) then afterwards rising in the flesh, so that He even showed the print of the nails to His disciples,(9) He thus ascended to the Father;--[if all these things occurred, I say], how must these men not be put to confusion, who allege that "the lower parts" refer to this world of ours, but that their inner man, leaving the body here, ascends into the super-celestial place?

 

 

 

Ignatius

 

Ignatius makes comments similar to some of the comments made by Irenaeus and it is easy to see how Ignatius has the same view as Irenaeus. Ignatius’ statement that the Word was “begotten before time began” not only denotes the same pre-creation begetting of the Word, but the phrase “before time began” also necessarily denotes that this “begetting” was timeless and eternal. In choosing these words, Ignatius signifies that the Word could not have a beginning, coming into existence at one point in time without previously existing, because such a sequence is simply not possible when there is no time in the first place.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS

 

CHAP. XVIII.  Let my spirit be courted as nothing(10) for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block" to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and the cross of Christ is indeed a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to the believing it is salvation and life eternal. "Where is the wise man? where the disputer?"(13) Where is the boasting of those who are called mighty? For the Son of God, who was begotten before time began(2), and established all things according to the will of the Father, He was conceived in the womb of Mary, according to the appointment of God, of the seed of David, and by the Holy Ghost. For says [the Scripture], "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and He shall be called Immanuel."(4) He was born and was baptized by John, that He might ratify the institution committed to that prophet.

 

However, it should also be noted that Ignatius only makes two comments on this topic and in his second comment, he mentions the Son-ship of the Word immediately between two phrases that pertain explicitly to the incarnation.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE SMYRNAEANS

 

CHAP. I. I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. …being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh,(3) and the Son of God according to the will and power(4) of God; that He was truly born of a virgin.