Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 27

Chapter XXVII.[1]  Argument.—He Skilfully Replies to a Passage Which the Heretics Employed in Defence of Their Own Opinion.

But since they frequently urge upon us the passage where it is said, “I and the Father are one,”[2] in this also we shall overcome them with equal facility. For if, as the heretics think, Christ were the Father, He ought to have said, “I and the Father are one.”[3] But when He says I, and afterwards introduces the Father by saying, “I and the Father,” He severs and distinguishes the peculiarity of His, that is, the Son’s person, from the paternal authority, not only in respect of the sound of the name, but moreover in respect of the order of the distribution of power, since He might have said, “I the Father,” if He had had it in mind that He Himself was the Father. And since He said “onething, let the heretics understand that He did not say “one” person. For one placed in the neuter, intimates the social concord, not the personal unity. He is said to be one neuter, not one masculine, because the expression is not referred to the number, but it is declared with reference to the association of another. Finally, He adds, and says, “We are,” not “I am,” so as to show, by the fact of His saying “I and the Father are,” that they are two persons. Moreover, that He says one,[4] has reference to the agreement, and to the identity of judgment, and to the loving association itself, as reasonably the Father and Son are one in agreement, in love, and in affection; and because He is of the Father, whatsoever He is, He is the Son; the distinction however remaining, that He is not the Father who is the Son, because He is not the Son who is the Father. For He would not have added “We are,” if He had had it in mind that He, the only and sole Father, had become the Son. In fine, the Apostle Paul also apprehended this agreement of unity, with the distinction of persons notwithstanding: for in writing to the Corinthians he said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God who gives the increase.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.”[5] And who does not perceive that Apollos is one person and Paul another, and that Apollos and Paul are not one and the same person? Moreover, also, the offices mentioned of each one of them are different; for one is he who plants, and another he who waters. The Apostle Paul, however, put forward these two not as being one person, but as being “one;” so that although Apollos indeed is one, and Paul another, so far as respects the distinction of persons, yet as far as respects their agreement both are “one.” For when two persons have one judgment, one truth, one faith, one and the same religion, one fear of God also, they are one even although they are two persons: they are the same, in that they have the same mind. Since those whom the consideration of person divides from one another, these same again are brought together as one by the consideration of religion. And although they are not actually the self-same people, yet in feeling the same, they are the same; and although they are two, are still one, as having an association in faith, even although they bear diversity in persons. Besides, when at these words of the Lord the Jewish ignorance had been aroused, so that hastily they ran to take up stones, and said, “For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God,”[6] the Lord established the distinction, in giving them the principle on which He had either said that He was God, or wished it to be understood, and says, “Say ye of Him, whom the Father sanctified, and sent into this world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”[7] Even here also He said that He had the Father. He is therefore the Son, not the Father:  for He would have confessed that He was the Father had He considered Himself to be the Father; and He declares that He was sanctified by His Father. In receiving, then, sanctification from the Father, He is inferior to the Father. Now, consequently, He who is inferior to the Father, is not the Father, but the Son; for had He been the Father, He would have given, and not received, sanctification.  Now, however, by declaring that He has received sanctification from the Father, by the very fact of proving Himself to be less than the Father, by receiving from Him sanctification, He has shown that He is the Son, and not the Father. Besides, He says that He is sent: so that by that obedience wherewith the Lord Christ came, being sent, He might be proved to be not the Father, but the Son, who assuredly would have sent had He been the Father; but being sent, He was not the Father, lest the Father should be proved, in being sent, to be subjected to another God. And still after this He added what might dissolve all ambiguity, and quench all the controversy of error: for He says, in the last portion of His discourse, “Ye say, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God.” Therefore if He plainly testifies that He is the Son of God, and not the Father, it is an instance of great temerity and excessive madness to stir up a controversy of divinity and religion, contrary to the testimony of the Lord Christ Himself, and to say that Christ Jesus is the Father, when it is observed that He has proved Himself to be, not the Father, but the Son.


  1. According to Pamelius, ch. xxii.
  2. John x. 30; scil. “unum,” Gr. ἕν.
  3. Original, “unas.” Scil. person.
  4. Neuter.
  5. 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, 8 ( scil. ἕν).
  6. John x. 33.
  7. John x. 36.