Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 23

Chapter XXIII.[1]  Argument.—And This is So Manifest, that Some Heretics Have Thought Him to Be God the Father, Others that He Was Only God Without the Flesh.

In this place I may be permitted also to collect arguments from the side of other heretics. It is a substantial kind of proof which is gathered even from an adversary, so as to prove the truth even from the very enemies of truth. For it is so far manifest that He is declared in the Scriptures to be God, that many heretics, moved by the magnitude and truth of this divinity, exaggerating His honours above measure, have dared to announce or to think Him not the Son, but God the Father Himself.[2] And this, although it is contrary to the truth of the Scriptures, is still a great and excellent argument for the divinity of Christ, who is so far God, except as Son of God, born of God, that very many heretics—as we have said—have so accepted Him as God, as to think that He must be pronounced not the Son, but the Father. Therefore let it be considered whether He is God or not, since His authority has so affected some, that, as we have already said above, they have thought Him God the Father Himself, and have confessed the divinity in Christ with such impetuosity and effusion—compelled to it by the manifest divinity in Christ—that they thought that He whom they read of as the Son, because they perceived Him to be God, must be the Father. Moreover, other heretics have so far embraced the manifest divinity of Christ, as to say that He was without flesh, and to withdraw from Him the whole humanity which He took upon Him, lest, by associating with Him a human nativity, as they conceived it, they should diminish in Him the power of the divine name.[3] This, however, we do not approve; but we quote it as an argument to prove that Christ is God, to this extent, that some, taking away the manhood, have thought Him God only, and some have thought Him God the Father Himself; when reason and the proportion of the heavenly Scriptures show Christ to be God, but as the Son of God; and the Son of man, having been taken up, moreover by God, that He must be believed to be man also. Because if He came to man, that He might be Mediator of God and men, it behoved Him to be with man, and the Word to be made flesh, that in His own self He might link together the agreement of earthly things with heavenly things, by associating in Himself pledges of both natures, and uniting God to man and man to God; so that reasonably the Son of God might be made by the assumption of flesh the Son of man, and the Son of man by the reception of the Word of God the Son of God. This most profound and recondite mystery, destined before the worlds for the salvation of the human race, is found to be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, both God and man, that the human race might be placed within the reach of the enjoyment of eternal salvation.


  1. According to Pamelius, ch. xviii.
  2. [The Noetians, Hippol., p. 148, supra.]
  3. [Irenæus, vol. i. p. 527.]