Theophilus of Antioch to Autolycus - Doctrine of the Trinity

The word Trinity was first used by Theophilus of Antioch to Autolycus. Trinity meant: God, His Word and His Wisdom (Spirit). It did not mean the doctrine of the Trinity in the modern sense of the word. [Tertullian also used the word

It seems to have been a man named Theophilus of Antioch who first applied the term trinity to this Biblical concept as early as 181 A.D. But it was the Anathasian Creed, completed some time in the fifth century, which stated it most clearly: "We worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor separating the substance."

Book I Full Text

Chapter I.-Autolycus an Idolater and Scorner of Christians. Theophilos

A Fluent tongue and an elegant style afford pleasure and such praise as vainglory delights in, to wretched men who have been corrupted in mind;

the lover of truth does not give heed to ornamented speeches, but examines the real matter of the speech, what it is, and what kind it is.

Since, then, my friend, you have assailed me with empty words, boasting of your gods of wood and stone, hammered and cast, carved and graven, which neither see nor hear, for they are idols, and the works of men's hands; and since, besides, you call me a Christian, as if this were a damning name to bear, I, for my part, avow that I am a Christian, [Acts xi. 26. Note this as from an Antiochian, glorying in the name of Christian.] and bear this name beloved of God, hoping to be serviceable to God. For it is not the case, as you suppose, that the name of God is hard to bear; but possibly you entertain this opinion of God, because you are yourself yet unserviceable to Him.

Chapter II.-That the Eyes of the Soul Must Be Purged Ere God Can Be Seen.

But if you say, "Show me thy God," I would reply, "Show me yourself, [Literally, "your man;" the invisible soul, as the noblest part of man, being probably intended.] and I will show you my God." Show, then, that the eyes of your soul are capable of seeing, and the ears of your heart able to hear;

for as those who look with the eyes of the body perceive earthly objects and what concerns this life, and discriminate at the same time between things that differ, whether light or darkness, white or black, deformed or beautiful, well-proportioned and symmetrical or disproportioned and awkward, or monstrous or mutilated; and as in like manner also, by the sense of hearing, we discriminate either sharp, or deep, or sweet sounds;

so the same holds good regarding the eyes of the soul and the ears of the heart, that it is by them we are able to behold God.

For God is seen by those who are enabled to see Him when they have the eyes of their soul opened: for all have eyes; but in some they are overspread, [The techincal word for a disease of the eye, like cataract.] and do not see the light of the sun.

Yet it does not follow, because the blind do not see, that the light of the sun does not shine;

but let the blind blame themselves and their own eyes.
So also thou, O man, hast the
eyes of thy soul overspread by thy sins and evil deeds. As a burnished mirror, so ought man to have his soul pure.

When there is rust on the mirror, it is not possible that a man's face be seen in the mirror; so also when there is sin in a man, such a man cannot behold God. Do you, therefore, show me yourself, whether you are not an adulterer, or a fornicator, or a thief, or a robber, or a purloiner; whether you do not corrupt boys; whether you are not insolent, or a slanderer, or passionate, or envious, or proud, or supercilious; whether you are not a brawler, or covetous, or disobedient to parents; and whether you do not sell your children;

for to those who do these things God is not manifest, unless they have first cleansed themselves from all impurity. All these things, then, involve you in darkness, as when a filmy defluxion on the eyes prevents one from beholding the light of the sun: thus also do iniquities, 0 man, involve you in darkness, so that you cannot see God.

Chapter III.-Nature of God.

You will say, then, to me, "Do you, who see God, explain to me the appearance of God." Hear, O man. The appearance of God is ineffable and indescribable, and cannot be seen by eyes of flesh.

For in glory He is incomprehensible, in greatness unfathomable, in height inconceivable, in power incomparable, in wisdom unrivalled, in goodness inimitable, in kindness unutterable.
For if I say He is... Light, ......... ... I name but ........,,. ........,,....,../. .. His own work;
if I call Him ........... Word, ...... ..... I name but His ... ......,,... ......,,... sovereignty;
if I call Him ........... Mind, ....... ..... I speak but of His ...... .......... ,... wisdom;
if I say He is ..........Spirit, ........ ... I speak of His ....... ........,,..// .,,... breath;
if I call Him ........... Wisdom, .. .... I speak of His ........ ........,.... ,,.... offspring;
if I call Him ........... Strength, ...... I speak of His ....... ........,,...... ,,.. sway;
if I call Him ........... Power, ....... ... I am mentioning His .............,,... activity;
if ........... ........./........Providence,.. I but mention His ....... ........,,.,,... goodness;
if I call Him ........... Kingdom, ...... I but mention His ... ........,,... .,,... glory;
if I call Him ........... Lord, .............. I mention His being ... ...... .....,... judge;
if I call Him ..... ..... Judge, ........ .. I speak of Him as .. ........,,... ...,... being just;
if I call Him ........... Father, ........... I speak of all things as being ,. . from Him;
........... ...............Father, ........... I say everything."
if I call Him ........... Fire, ................ I but mention His ...... ........,,...,,... anger.

You will say, then, to me, "Is God angry? "Yes; He is angry with those who act wickedly, but He is good, and kind, and merciful, to those who love and fear Him; for He is a chastener [not punisher] of the godly, and father of the righteous; but he is a judge and punisher of the impious.

Chapter IV.-Attributes of God. Theophilus of Antioch, Theophilus of Antioch,

And He is without beginning, because He is unbegotten; and He is unchangeable, because He is immortal.

And he is called God on account of His having placed all things on security afforded by Himself; and on account of any of any foreign means (of) running, and moving, and being active, and nourishing, and foreseeing, and governing, and making all things alive.

But he is Lord, because He rules over the universe;
Father, because he is before all things;
Fashioner and Maker, because He is creator and maker of the universe;
Highest, because of His being above all;
Almighty, because He Himself rules and embraces all.

For the heights of heaven, and the depths of the abysses, and the ends of the earth, are in His hand, and there is no place of His rest. For the heavens are His work, the earth is His creation, the sea is His handiwork; man is His formation and His image; sun, moon, and stars are His elements, made for signs, and seasons, and days, and years, that they may serve and be slaves to man; and all things

God has made out of things that were not into things that are,
in order that through His works
His greatness may be known and understood.

Chapter V.-The Invisible God Perceived Through His Works.

For as the soul in man is not seen, being invisible to men, but is perceived through the motion of the body,
........... so God cannot indeed be seen by human eyes,
........... but is beheld and perceived through His providence and works.

For, in like manner, as any person, when he sees a ship on the sea rigged and in sail, and making for the harbour,

will no doubt infer that there is a pilot in her who is steering her; so we must perceive that God is the governor [pilot] of the whole universe, though He be not visible to the eyes of the flesh, since He is incomprehensible.

For if a man cannot look upon the sun, though it be a very small heavenly body, on account of its exceeding heat and power, how shall not a mortal man be much more unable to face the glory of God, which is unutterable?

For as the pomegranate, with the rind containing it, has within it many cells and compartments which are separated by tissues, and has also many seeds dwelling in it, so the whole creation is contained by the spirit

[Translators note: The reference here is not to the Holy Spirit, but to that vital power which is supposed to be diffused thorughout the universe. Comp. book ii. 4.]

of God, and the containing spirit is along with the creation contained by the hand of God. As, therefore, the seed of the pomegranate, dwelling inside, cannot see what is outside the rind, itself being within; so neither can man, who along with the whole creation is enclosed by the hand of God, behold God. Then again, an earthly king is believed to exist, even though he be not seen by all; for he is recognised by his laws and ordinances, and authorities, and forces, and statues; and are you unwilling that God should be recognised by His works and mighty deeds?

Chapter VI.-God is Known by His Works.

Consider, O man, His works,-the timely rotation of the seasons, and the changes of temperature; the regular march of the stars; the well-ordered course of days and nights, and months, and years; the various beauty of seeds, and plants, and fruits; and the divers species [Literally, "propagation."] of quadrupeds, and birds, and reptiles, and fishes, both of the rivers and of the sea; or consider the instinct implanted in these animals to beget and rear offspring, not for their own profit, but for the use of man; and the providence with which God provides nourishment for all flesh, or the subjection in which He has ordained that all things subserve mankind.

Consider, too, the flowing of sweet fountains and never-failing rivers, and the seasonable supply of dews, and showers, and rains; the manifold movement of the heavenly bodies, the morning star rising and heralding the approach of the perfect luminary; and the constellation of Pleiades, and Orion, and Arcturus, and the orbit of the other stars that circle through the heavens, all of which the manifold wisdom of God has called by names of their own.

He is God alone who made light out of darkness, and brought forth light from His treasures, and formed the chambers of the south wind, [Job ix 9] and the treasure-houses of the deep, and the bounds of the seas, and the treasuries of snows and hail-storms, collecting the waters in the storehouses of the deep, and the darkness in His treasures, and bringing forth the sweet, and desirable, and pleasant light out of His treasures; "who causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: He maketh lightnings for the rain; " [Ps. cxxxv. 7.] who sends forth His thunder to terrify, and foretells by the lightning the peal of the thunder, that no soul may faint with the sudden shock; and who so moderates the violence of the lightning as it flashes out of heaven, that it does not consume the earth; for, if the lightning were allowed all its power, it would burn up the earth; and were the thunder allowed all its power, it would overthrow all the works that are therein.

Chapter VII.-We Shall See God When We Put on Immortality.

This is my God, the Lord of all, who alone stretched out the heaven, and established the breadth of the earth under it; who stirs the deep recesses of the sea, and makes its waves roar; who rules its power, and stills the tumult of its waves; who founded the earth upon the waters,
........... and gave A spirit to nourish it; whose breath giveth light to the whole,
........... who, if He withdraw His breath, the whole will utterly fail.

By Him you speak, O man; His breath you breathe yet Him you know not. And this is your condition, because of the blindness of your soul, and the hardness of your heart. But, if you will, you may be healed. Entrust yourself to the Physician, and He will couch the eyes of your soul and of your heart.

Who is the Physician? God, who heals and makes alive through His word and wisdom.
..........God by His own word and wisdom made all things; for

"by His word were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." [Ps xxxiii. 6.] [Same word as holy Spirit]

Most excellent is His wisdom.

By His wisdom God founded the earth;
and by
knowledge He prepared the heavens;
and by
understanding were the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the clouds poured out their dews.

If thou perceivest these things, O man, living chastely, and holily, and righteously,
........... thou canst see God.

But before all let faith and the fear of God have rule in thy heart, and then shalt thou understand these things. When thou shalt have put off the mortal, and put on incorruption,
........... then shall thou see God worthily.

For God will raise thy flesh immortal with thy soul; and then, having become immortal, thou shalt see the Immortal, if now you believe on Him; and then you shall know that you have. spoken unjustly against Him.

BOOK II Full Text

Chapter IX.-The Prophet's Inspired by the Holy Ghost.

But men of God

carrying in them A holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous.

Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become
........... instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him,
........... ........... through which wisdom they uttered both
........... ........... what regarded the creation of the world and all other things.

For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl; and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished.

Chapter X.-The World Created by God Through the Word.

And first, they taught us with one consent that God made all things out of nothing; for nothing was coeval with God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing,
........... and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known;
........... for him, therefore, He prepared the world.
........... For he that is created is also needy; but he that is uncreated stands in need of nothing.

God, then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels,
........... begat Him, emitting Him
........... along with His own wisdom before all things.

He had this Word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by Him He made all things.

He is called "governing principle", because He rules, and is Lord of all things fashioned by Him.
He, then, being
Spirit of God, and governing principle, and wisdom, and power of the highest,
came down upon the prophets
, and through them spoke of the creation of the world and of all other things. 
(This was the Spirit of Christ, 1 Peter 1:11; Revelation 19:10)

For the prophets were not when the world came into existence,

but the wisdom [Spirit in this instance is Sophia] of God which was in Him, and
........... His holy Word which was always present with Him.

Wherefore He speaks thus by the prophet Solomon:

"When He prepared the heavens I (Wisdom or Sophia) was there,
and when He appointed the foundations of the earth I was by Him as one brought up with Him." [ [Ps. cxix. 130. Note this tribute to the
inspired Scriptures and their converting power; I might almost say their sacramental energy, referring to John vi. 63.]

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: 
        the words that I speak unto you, 
        they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

And Moses, who lived many years before Solomon, or, rather, the Word of God by him as by an instrument, says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

First he named the "beginning," and "creation," then he thus introduced God;
........... Beginning: 21 That is, the first principle, whom he has just shown to be the Word.

for not lightly and on slight occasion is it right to name God.
........... For the divine wisdom foreknew that some would trifle
........... and name a multitude of gods that do not exist.

In order, therefore, that the living God might be known by His works
and that [it might be known that]
by His Word God created the heavens and the earth, 
        and all that is therein,
        he said, "In the beginning [Word] God created the heavens and the earth."

Then having spoken of their creation, he explains to us: "And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the water."

This, sacred Scripture teaches at the outset, to show that matter, from which God made and fashioned the world, was in some manner created, being produced by God. [1 Cor. ii. 9.]

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Cor 2:9

But God hath revealed them unto us BY HIS Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Cor 2:10

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [which is in Him symbolically] 1 Cor 2:11

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God;
        that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor 2:12

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. John 3:31

And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no [natural?] man receiveth his testimony. John 3:32
        He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. John 3:33

For he whom God hath sent
        speaketh the words of God: for God
        giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. John 3:34

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. John 3:35

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

Because: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Which things also we speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Cor 2:13

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:
        neither can he know them,
        because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor 2:14

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 1 Cor 2:15

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Cor 2:16

Chapter XV.-Of the Fourth Day.

On the fourth day the luminaries were made; because God, who possesses foreknowledge, 
        knew the
follies of the vain philosophers, that they were going to say,

that the things which grow on the earth are produced from the heavenly bodies,
........... so as to exclude God.
In order, therefore, that the truth might be obvious, the plants and seeds were produced prior to the heavenly bodies,
........... for what is posterior cannot produce that which is prior.

And these contain the pattern and type of a great mystery. For the sun is a type of God, and the moon of man. And as the sun far surpasses the moon in power and glory, so far does God surpass man. And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection.

In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries,
........... are types of the Trinity,
........... of [1] God, and His [2] Word, and His [3] wisdom.

trias or Latin trinitas . The earliest use of this word "Trinity." It seems to have been used by this writer in his lost works, also; and, as a learned friends suggests, the use he makes of it is familiar. He does not lug it in as something novel: "types of the Trinity," he says, illustrating an accepted word, not introducing a new one.]

[An eminent authority says, "It is certain, that, according to the notions of Theophilus,
........... God, His Word, and His wisdom constitute a Trinity;
........... and it should seem a Trinity of persons." [Or personae]

Psa. 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Psa. 33:6 By the [1] word of the [2] LORD were the heavens made; 
        and all the host of them by the [3] breath of his mouth.
Psa. 33:7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
Psa. 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Psa. 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; 
        he commanded, and it stood fast.
Psa. 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 

Paul saw a conflect between his flesh and his spirit and gave each a "personae" but Paul was not twins.

He notes that the title sofia, is here assigned to the Holy Spirit, although he himself elsewhere gives this title to the Son (book ii. cap. x., supra), as is more usual with the Fathers." Consult Kaye's Justin Martyr, p. 157. Ed. 1853.]

And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. Wherefore also on the fourth day the lights were made. The disposition of the stars, too, contains a type of the arrangement and order of the righteous and pious, and of those who keep the law and commandments of God. For the brilliant and bright stars are an imitation of the prophets, and therefore they remain fixed, not declining, nor passing from place to place. And those which hold the second place in brightness, are types of the people of the righteous. And those, again, which change their position, and flee from place to place, which also are cared planets, [wandering stars] they too are a type of the men who have wandered from God, abandoning His law and commandments.

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