Epiphanius, Against Heresies, 69.6

Home / Epiphanius, Against Heresies, 69.6


(1) And so there are not two Gods, because there are not two Fathers. And the subsistence of the Word is not eliminated, since there is not one [mere] combination of the Son’s Godhead with the Father. For the Son is not of an essence different from the Father, but of the same essence as the Father. He cannot be of an essence different from his Begetter’s or of the identical essence; he is of the same essence as the Father.

8,2 Nor, again, do we say that he is not the same in essence as the Father; the Son is the same as the Father in Godhead and essence. And he is not of another sort than the Father, nor of a different subsistence; he is truly the Father’s Son in essence, subsistence and truth. (3) But the Father is not the Son; and the Son is not the Father, but truly a Son begot- ten of a Father. Thus there are not two Gods, two Sons, or two Holy Spirits; the Trinity is one Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and co-essential. (4) For when you say, “of the same essence,” < you > do not mean an identification. “Co-essential” does not indicate one [single] thing; neither does it differentiate the true Son’s essence from his lawful Father’s and, because of the co-essentiality, distinguish his nature [from the Father’s].

8,5 For sacred scripture does not proclaim two first principles, but one; it says, ‘The house of Judah shall join with the house of Israel, and they shall agree upon one first principle” (ἀρχήν) Therefore whoever preaches two first principles, preaches two Gods; and whoever denies the Word and his subsistence reveals his Judaism. (6) Marcion intimates that there are two first principles—or rather, three—in opposition to each other. But these neo-Jews, these Samosatians, do away with the subsistence of the Word, showing that they too are murderers of the Lord and deniers of our Lord’s salvation.

8,7 Thus there is one first principle and the Son [begotten] of it—its exact image, by nature the replica of his Father, and like him in every way. For he is God of God and the Son of the Father, very God of very God and light of light, one Godhead and one dignity. (8) Thus scripture says, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” So as not to divide it does not say, “in thine image”; so as not to imply unlikeness and inequality it does not say, “in my image”; it says, “in our image.” And “let us make” is said to show that the Father is not strange to his creatures, nor the Only-begotten strange to creation. (9) The Father creates with the Son, and the Son, through whom all things were made, is co-creator with the Father. And since the Son is begotten of the Father there is one Son, the perfect Son of a perfect Father; and there is a perfect Father of a perfect Son, who is in the image of his Father’s perfection. [He is] “the image of the invisible God”—not the model of an image, not the image of an image, not unlike the Father, but the Father’s image, showing the exact likeness [to the Father] of his true generation from him who has no beginning and is not in time.

8,10 Thus the Son is the image of the Father. It is the same with emperors. Because the emperor has an image there are not two emperors; there is one emperor, with his image. [And] there is one God. He is not one imperfect thing, made of two parts; the Father is perfect, the Son is perfect, the Holy Spirit is perfect. (11) For < the Son does > not < say >, “I am in the Father,” as a word is in a man’s heart; we know a knowing Father with a Son, and a Son begotten of a Father. (12) The divine message < does > not < declare > that a Word entered a man for a dwelling, appeared in him after his birth, and is on high in God once more, like a word in a human heart. This is the product of demon’s madness and bears the marks of all denial of God.


6,1 Greetings in the Lord from Arius, unjustly persecuted by Pope Alexander for the all-conquering truth of which you too are a defender, to the most beloved man of God, the faithful and orthodox Master Eusebius.

6,2 As my father Ammonius is arriving in Nicomedia it seems to me reasonable and proper to address you through him, at the same time recalling your characteristic love and [kindly] disposition toward the brethren for the sake of God and his Christ. For the bishop is harassing and persecuting us severely, and stirring up every sort of evil against us, (3) so that he has driven us from the city as godless men because we do not agree with his public declaration, “Always God, always a Son. Together with a Father, a Son. The Son co-exists with God without origination, ever begotten, begotten without origination. Not by a thought or a moment of time is God prior to the Son, [but] there is ever a God, ever a Son, the Son from God himself.” (4) And as your brother in Caesarea, Eusebius, and Theodotus, Paulinus, Athanasius, Gregory, Aetius and all the bishops in the east say that God is prior to the Son without beginning, they have become anathema—except for the ignorant sectarians Philogonius, Hellanicus and Macarius, some of whom say that the Son is an eructation and others, an uncreated emanation. (5) And to these impieties we cannot even listen, not if the sectarians threaten us with a thousand deaths.

6,6 But what is it that we say and believe, and that we have taught and teach ? That the Son is not uncreated or in any respect part of an uncreated being, or made of anything previously existent. He was brought into being by the will and counsel [of God], before all times and before all ages, as unbegotten God in the fullest sense, and unalterable; and before he was begotten, created, determined or established, he did not exist. (7) But we are persecuted because we have said, “The Son has a beginning but God is without beginning.” We are also persecuted because we have said, “He is made from nothing.” But we have so said in the sense that he is not a part of God or made from any thing previously existent. It is for this reason that we are persecuted; the rest you know.

I pray for your good health in the Lord, my true fellow Lucianist Eusebius; be mindful of my afflictions.


72,1 Since they want to reject this curative drug and health-giving antidote, the foundation of the faith of God’s holy church, they make one more pretense and say, “Why the term, ‘essence?’ Why is the Son called “co-essential” with the Father? Which scripture has spoken of co-essentiality? Which apostle said anything about an ‘essence’ of God?”

But they do not know that “being” (ὑπόστασις) and “essence” mean the same thing. (2) Christ is Lord in his “being,” and “the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of his being.” Thus he is [the Father’s] essence—not an extraneous addition (περιουσία) to it but this existent thing itself (αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὸ ὄν), as Moses said when he spoke to the children of Israel, “He Who Is hath sent me.” “He Who Is” is that which is, but that which is is the existent essence. (3) On the other hand, “co-essential” does not mean “one” but by the “co” indicates two perfect entities. Yet the two do not differ from each other, nor are they different from their oneness. But if we have employed an < unscriptural > expression from motives of piety, to pin the truth down—(there can be no refutation whatever of heresy without the confession of the homoousion. (4) As a snake hates the smell of pitch, the exhalation of hartshorn, the odor of lignite and the incense of storax, so do Arius and Sabellius hate the statement of the true confession of the homoousion.) [But even if we have employed such an expression] we shall tell them all the same, (5) “Even though the expression is not in the sacred scriptures—indeed, it is plainly implied in the Law and by the Apostles and the Prophets, for ‘By two or three witnesses shall every word be established’319—it is still permissible for us to employ a useful expression for piety’s sake, to safe- guard the holy faith.”

72,6 “But what do you mean, you people? Tell us, folks, what are you saying about the Father? Is the Father uncreated?” Of course they’ll say yes. Who is so < silly >as to doubt this? What sort of nut would suppose that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not uncreated? You yourselves must surely admit that he is unbegotten, uncreated, and unoriginate. For he has no Father before him nor any limit to his years, nor any “beginning of days,” as the scripture says.

72,7 “Thus, if he has no beginning of time or end of time, it is agreed and unquestionable that he is uncreated—but nowhere does scripture say this of him. But even if it is not scriptural we are obliged, for piety’s sake, reverently to think and say this of him. (8) In the same way, even if it were not scriptural we would be compelled to speak of “homoousion” in our own language as an abbreviation—even though this might seem beyond us, and the discussion of God might appear to be beyond our powers. (9) But may the Lord himself pardon–not wishing to defend the Godhead which has no need of our support, but we must speak with piety and think with piety, or we perish.


(1) But as I have already said, how can he not be the Father’s equal and like the Father, he who says, “I am in the Father and the Father in me?”25 (2) For not only does he say this himself in the Gospel. Isaiah, prophesy- ing in the Holy Spirit, knew that the Son is in the Father and is not other than, or different from the Father, (3) as the verse which implies this says in Hebrew: “phthoou saareim, ouiabo goi sadik, somer emmourteim, iesro samoch, thesaar salom salom, shi bak batoou betou baadonai ada oth, chi baia adonai sor olemeim.”26 (4) In Aquila’s version it says, “Open the gates, let the righteous nation enter that keepeth faith, the creation firmly established, the keeping of peace, for in him have they trusted. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord is the Lord who established the ages.” (5) In the Septuagint’s it says, “Open the gates, let < a righteous nation > enter that preserveth truth, and layeth claim to truth and keepeth peace. For in thee have they trusted forever, O Lord, God the great, the eter- nal.” (6) The reader should note that in the Septuagint “God” stands in the place of “the Lord,” and “the great” in place of “in the Lord.”

7,7 And how much is there to say about this? I am afraid of prolong- ing my treatment of these words to a burdensome length. 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.

7,8 < I have shown > that the Son cannot be unlike the Father, but have said that I do not rely on this either. The Son is not only “like,” but equal, the same in Godhead, the same in eternity and power. And yet we do not say, “autoousion,” or the expression that some use might be compared with Sabellius. (9) We say that he is the same in Godhead, essence and power, and in all ways the equal of the Father and his Holy Spirit And we say “homoousion” as the holy faith teaches, so that the perfections are clearly indicated by “homo;” for the Son is the perfect Son of a perfect father, and the Holy Spirit is perfect as well.


(1) And I have a great deal to say < about this >. He rose from the dead, what is more, forced the gates of hades, took the captives, brought them upward; and after rising the third day in his holy flesh itself, and in his holy soul, mind and entire human nature, he became perfect man united with Godhead, for he had joined his manhood to his Godhead, and death “hath no more dominion over him. (2) United with his God- head, however, he made his coarseness fine and “entered where doors were barred. And after his entrance he exhibited his “flesh and bones,” suggesting the readiness of his power to save, and affording us a glimpse of our hope, for the Word has perfected all things by his coming. And he sat in glory at the Father’s right hand after being taken up in his body itself, not burdened by its bulk [and yet] not without a body, for he had raised his body spiritual. (3) If our body is “sown in corruption, raised in incorruption, sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body,” how much more the body of God’s only-begotten Son? And thus the scripture, “Thou shalt not deliver thine holy one to see corruption, neither shalt thou leave my soul in hell,” has been fulfilled.

(4) But I have said all this about his perfect human nature so that no one will suppose that, because he took perfect flesh, he therefore did the unsuitable deeds of the flesh. No orthodox believer thinks or says this of him. But if no one thinks that he did the unsuitable deeds of the flesh, no one may suppose that he did the unsuitable deeds of the mind! (5) And it is plain that, when he came, the Word became man perfectly.

And if we say, “[became man] perfectly,” we do not have two Christs, or two kings and sons of God, but the same God and the same Man—not as though he had come to dwell in a man, but the same God himself wholly made man. And not a man who advanced to Godhead but God come from heaven, who modeled his own manhood on himself in keeping with his mighty Godhead, as scripture says, “The Word became flesh.”

(6) But as to “The Word became flesh,” to avoid giving the impression that he was man first, and Christ came to a man, the holy Gospel put “Word” first, and then confessed the flesh with, “The Word was made flesh.” (7) For it did not say, “The flesh was made Word.” This shows that the Word came from heaven first, formed his own flesh from the holy Virgin’s womb, and perfectly fashioned his entire human nature in his image. (8) For even if scripture says, “The Word was made flesh,” this is not because the Word was turned into flesh and the Word became flesh [in this way], or because the Godhead was transformed into flesh; at his coming, with his Godhead, the divine Word took his own humanity.