Our astonishment at their foolishness is justified. For they fail to realise that when they say that the Son is from nothing, not only do they claim that he is posterior to the Father, but also that he is posterior to that by which they separate the Only-Begotten from the Father. If there is anything between the Father and the Son, this must be prior to the existence of the Son. So, then, what could this be? If someone thinks that the life of the Father surpasses that of the Only-Begotten, by what interval would he claim to have discovered the superiority other than that of an age of a time? But if this is true, scripture is clearly lying when it says that, through him the ages came into existence (Heb. 1.2) and teaches that all things came into existence through him (John 1.3). For it is clear that the ages are included among the all things. If they claim that they do not deny that the Son came to be before the ages, they should not forget that in reality they are denying that to which they are verbally agreeing.
In fact, let us pose a question to those who make the substance of the Only-Begotten come from nothing. What was the interval “when he was not,” as you say? What designation will you dream up for it? Common usage classifies every interval under either time or age, for that which is time among the sensory realities corresponds to the nature of age among the super-cosmic realities. So let these people tell me if they can imagine a third kind of interval based on the resources of their own wisdom. As long as they keep silent, they should not forget that they have placed the substance of the Only-Begotten, posterior to the ages. For if there were any interval prior to the Son that is coextensive with the life of the Father, it would clearly have to be one of these two. But there isn’t. Nor can there ever be a notion prior to the subsistence of the Only-Begotten. For one will find that the existence of God the Word who was in the beginning with God (John 1.2) is beyond everything that could conceivably be called primordial. Even if the mind, by deceiving itself through the innumerable fantasies and devoting itself to non existent fabrications, has contrived things that do not exist, it will not discover any means at all by which it could extend itself beyond the beginning of the Only-Begotten, leave behind the life of Life itself as lower than its own movement, transcend the beginning of God the Word by its own rational word, and contemplate ages that are deprived of the God of the ages.