Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 28

Chapter XXVIII.  Argument.—He Proves Also that the Words Spoken to Philip Make Nothing for the Sabellians.

Hereto also I will add that view wherein the heretic, while he rejoices as if at the loss of some power of seeing special truth and light, acknowledges the total blindness of his error. For again and again, and frequently, he objects that it was said, “Have I been so long time with you, and do ye not know me, Philip? He who hath seen me, hath seen the Father also.”[1] But let him learn what he does not understand. Philip is reproved, and rightly, and deservedly indeed, because he has said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.”[2] For when had he either heard from Christ, or learnt that Christ was the Father? although, on the other hand, he had frequently heard, and had often learned, rather that He was the Son, not that He was the Father. For what the Lord said, “If ye have known me, ye have known my Father also:  and henceforth ye have known Him, and have seen Him,”[3] He said not as wishing to be understood Himself to be the Father, but implying that he who thoroughly, and fully, and with all faith and all religiousness, drew near to the Son of God, by all means shall attain, through the Son Himself, in whom he thus believes, to the Father, and shall see Him. “For no one,” says He, “can come to the Father, but by me.”[4] And therefore he shall not only come to God the Father, and shall know the Father Himself; but, moreover, he ought thus to hold, and so to presume in mind and heart, that he has henceforth not only known, but seen the Father. For often the divine Scripture announces things that are not yet done as being done, because thus they shall be; and things which by all means have to happen, it does not predict as if they were future, but narrates as if they were done. And thus, although Christ had not been born as yet in the times of Isaiah the prophet, he said, “For unto us a child is born;”[5] and although Mary had not yet been approached, he said, “And I approached unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.”[6] And when Christ had not yet made known the mind of the Father, it is said, “And His name shall be called the Angel of Great Counsel.”[7] And when He had not yet suffered, he declared, “He is as a sheep led to the slaughter.”[8] And although the cross had never yet existed, He said, “All day long have I stretched out my hands to an unbelieving people.”[9] And although not yet had He been scornfully given to drink, the Scripture says, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”[10] And although He had not yet been stripped, He said, “Upon my vesture they did cast lots, and they numbered my bones: they pierced my hands and my feet.”[11] For the divine Scripture, foreseeing, speaks of things which it knows shall be as being already done, and speaks of things as perfected which it regards as future, but which shall come to pass without any doubt. And thus the Lord in the present passage said, “Henceforth ye have known and have seen Him.” Now He said that the Father should be seen by whomsoever had followed the Son, not as if the Son Himself should be the Father seen, but that whosoever was willing to follow Him, and be His disciple, should obtain the reward of being able to see the Father. For He also is the image of God the Father; so that it is added, moreover, to these things, that “as the Father worketh, so also the Son worketh.”[12] And the Son is an imitator[13] of all the Father’s works, so that every one may regard it just as if he saw the Father, when he sees Him who always imitates the invisible Father in all His works.  But if Christ is the Father Himself, in what manner does He immediately add, and say, “Whosoever believeth in me, the works that I do he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father?”[14] And He further subjoins, “If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter.”[15] After which also He adds this: “If any one loveth me, he shall keep my word:  and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and will make our abode with him.”[16] Moreover, also, He added this too: “But the Advocate, that Holy Spirit whom the Father will send, He will teach you, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”[17] He utters, further, that passage when He shows Himself to be the Son, and reasonably subjoins, and says, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I.”[18] But what shall we say when He also continues in these words:  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit?”[19] Still He persists, and adds: “As the Father hath loved me, so also have I loved you: remain in my love. If ye have kept my commandments, ye shall remain in my love; even as I have kept the Father’s commandments, and remain in His love.”[20]  Further, He says in addition: “But I have called you friends; for all things which I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”[21] Moreover, He adds to all this: “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent me.”[22] These things then, after the former, evidently attesting Him to be not the Father but the Son, the Lord would never have added, if He had had it in mind, either that He was the Father, or wished Himself to be understood as the Father, except that He might declare this, that every man ought henceforth to consider, in seeing the image of God the Father through the Son, that it was as if he saw the Father; since every one believing on the Son may be exercised in the contemplation of the likeness, so that, being accustomed to seeing the divinity in likeness, he may go forward, and grow even to the perfect contemplation of God the Father Almighty. And since he who has imbibed this truth into his mind and soul, and has believed of all things that thus it shall be, he shall even now see, as it were, in some measure the Father whom he will see hereafter; and he may so regard it, as if he actually held, what he knows for certain that he shall one day hold. But if Christ Himself had been the Father, why did He promise as future, a reward which He had already granted and given? For that He says, “Blessed are they of a pure heart, for they shall see God,”[23] it is understood to promise the contemplation and vision of the Father; therefore He had not given this; for why should He promise if He had already given? For He had given if He was the Father: for He was seen, and He was touched. But since, when Christ Himself is seen and touched, He still promises, and says that he who is of a pure heart shall see God, He proves by this very saying that He who was then present was not the Father, seeing that He was seen, and yet promised that whoever should be of a pure heart should see the Father. It was therefore not the Father, but the Son, who promised this, because He who was the Son promised that which had yet to be seen; and His promise would have been superfluous unless He had been the Son. For why did He promise to the pure in heart that they should see the Father, if already they who were then present saw Christ as the Father? But because He was the Son, not the Father, rightly also He was then seen as the Son, because He was the image of God; and the Father, because He is invisible, is promised and pointed out as to be seen by the pure in heart. Let it then be enough to have suggested even these points against that heretic; a few words about many things. For a field which is indeed both wide and expansive would be laid open if we should desire to discuss that heretic more fully; seeing that bereaved, in these two particulars, as it were of his eyes plucked out, he is altogether overcome in the blindness of his doctrine.


  1. John xiv. 9.
  2. John xiv. 8.
  3. John xiv. 7.
  4. John xiv. 6.
  5. Isa. ix. 6.
  6. Isa. viii. 3.
  7. Isa. ix. 6, LXX. [See pp. 628, 632, supra.]
  8. Isa. liii. 7.
  9. Isa. lxv. 2.
  10. Ps. lxix. 21.
  11. Ps. xxii. 18, 17.
  12. John v. 17.
  13. [Cap. xxi. note 5, 632, supra.]
  14. John xiv. 12.
  15. John xiv. 15, 16.
  16. John xiv. 23.
  17. John xiv. 26.
  18. John xiv. 28.
  19. John xv. 1.
  20. John xv. 9, 10.
  21. John xv. 15.
  22. John xv. 21.
  23. Matt. v. 8.