Oneness-unitarian advocate, Roger Perkins, has again attempted to deny the person of the Lord Jesus in his recent so-called refutation of my very brief article on the “Son of God”-– Read it Here.

Not at all surprising, in his struggle against biblical Trinitarianism, Perkins voluminously responds to my brief article instead of dealing with a fuller presentation of passages such as John 10:30 contained in my book, *A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism* (Get it here), or the countless other exegetical and scholarly works by other authors, which is also contained in the book. If I were Perkins, I too would rather deal with a short (about two pages) article than be forced to interact with an expanded exegetical treatment made be myself, and so many others throughout history. – – To read Perkins’ article go here.

In fact, not one, not even one, noted scholar, grammarian, or standard lexicographer in Christian history has ever agreed with the customary Oneness interpretation of Isa. 9:6; Mal. 2:10; Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9; 17:5; Col. 2:9 et al. In point of fact, early church Fathers collectively, important Ecumenical Councils and resulting creeds, all recognized biblical scholarship has always been against the theological assertions made by modalistic/Oneness advocates.

Disregarding Context: First, as clearly seen, Perkins (as well as Oneness advocates across the board) has an annoying routine of basing the entirety of his arguments on a single word possible meaning, hence engaging in word fallacies over and over—while the entire contexts are dismissed and/or ignored. This is esp. seen in his unitarian view of John 10:30, as we will see.       

A glaring example of this is in Perkins’ assessment John 10:30, Perkins in his article, he spends most of his time trying to tell us (Christians) what a text “cannot” mean, rather than what it does mean. In other words, Perkins, does not provide a positive affirmation as to the actual meaning of v. 30; nor does he explain how it relates to the context of chapter 10; or explain WHY Jesus, as recorded, uses a plural verb and not a singular verb denoting Him and His Father; or WHY is the neuter “one” used to denote the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Perkins, for reasons know to himself, decided not to properly address these important issues. Instead, Perkins merely makes comments based on his personal view and complains about the historic Trinitarian view.  Since Perkins seems bothered most by the historical and enduring scholarly interpretation of John 10:30, I will respond primarily to Perkins’ assertion regarding that passage:  

Oneness people are utterly controlled by their unitarian presupposition. Thus. every passage, which says or teaches “one God” (e.g., Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29), Perkins (as with all Oneness advocates), must salvage his personal views by forcing unitarianism into every passage—without, of course,  proving it from the text. All unitarians, whether Muslims, JWs, or Oneness Pentecostals employ this kind of circular eisegesis. Thus, Perkins automatically (not exegetically) interprets John 10:30 through the lens of unitarianism—viz., one God = one person, the Father.           

As we will see all over, Perkins not once deals with the context of the chapter itself. Anyone who as ever heard Perkins in debate or read any of his tutelages, he or she would see that Perkins lives up to his solid reputation of removing passages and words out of their inclusive context in which he posits his personal theology into such passages throwing around Greek terms and misreading and misquoting lexicons. Hence, many see Perkins as practicing dishonest scholarship especially in his debate with James White. Namely, Perkins stated that Thayer applied a meaning of “in the mind” for preposition para with dative, appearing twice in John 17:5: (“Father glorify Me para seautw [“together with Yourself”] . . . with the glory I had para soi [“with You”] before the world was”). However, Thayer said no such thing. He does indicate para with the dative could have a possible meaning of “in the mind” at John 17:5. To say that he did as Perkins did is simply flat-out lexical abuse. In fact, when Thayer actually comments on para with the dative to John 17:5 he states:

With, i.e., in one’s house. . . . Dwelling WITH God, John 8:38 [“I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”]; i.q. [‘the same as’] in heaven, John 17:5 (emphasis added).

No “in the mind” meaning (as with standard lexicons and grammars indicate). As with John 10:30, Perkins is quite alone on his personal views of regarding a Oneness unitarian interpretation of 17:5. In point of fact, anyone engaging in real scholarly research on John 17:5 (or 10:30) would see scholarly opinion rejects Oneness theological assertions across the board.           

REGARDING JOHN 10:30-

Context. After reading Perkins’ so-called refutation, a glaring fact jumps out (esp. with John 10:30): Perkins never actually interacts at all with the content and actual context of the surrounding the passages, he merely asserts his theology into text. He does use the word “context when he says:

“And the context actually defines this distinction for us:  “You, being a man, make yourself God.”  The problem the Jews had with Christ’s assertion was that He was a visible “man” claiming to be the invisible “God.”  In John 10.30 both the 1st person pronoun translated “I” (ἐγὼ) and the noun translated “Father” (Πατὴρ) appear in the nominative case, singular number.  The speaker was a visible man (subject) claiming to be the one invisible God (object)—hence the contextual subject-object distinction.”

So Perkins’ idea of “context” is to cite a lone passage (i.e., v. 30) and then his own assumed context into that passage. As any first year seminary student knows, that he would receive failing grade on in a basic hermeneutic class, which he was required to exegete a passage and he merely did what Perkins did—viz., assert a pre-text without a context. As he consistently does with other passages Perkins attempts to modalize (esp. John 1:1; 10:30; 17:5 et al). Perkins here is utterly discounted from the context of chapter 10—where Jesus and the Father are plainly repeatedly differentiated.

Note the consistency of the passages leading up to v. 30 the following:   

  • Verse 15: “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
  • Verses 17-18: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” 
  • Verse 29: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
  • Verse 36: “If He [i.e., the Father] called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him [Jesus], whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
  • Verse 38: “so that you may know and understand that the Father is in [en, thus, not “am”] Me, and I in the Father.”

Clearly, no one who reads this chapter for the first time would never get the idea that Jesus was the same person as the Father. One would have to be taught the Oneness notion trading the natural reading for a stroppy modified one.

More grammatical errors. Perkins then ties a loose around the neck of his argument when he makes the assertion regarding nominatives and “subject object distinctions,” which Perkins calls, “the contextual subject-object distinction.” Because of Perkins’ lack of understanding in area of Greek grammar, he assumes his pretext (what he feels v. 30 means) based on his misunderstanding of 1) what a nominative and a predicate are and 2) subject object distinctions between Jesus and the Father.

First, it is clear from the Perkins statement, “In John 10.30 both the 1st person pronoun translated “I” and the noun translated “Father” (Πατὴρ) appear in the nominative case, singular number,” which he then sneaks in his conclusion, that Perkins just doesn’t know what two nominatives in a sentence indicates in light of the PLURAL verb.

Most Oneness people in an embarrassing way, error on this grammatical point at John 1:1, wherein we find two nominatives (theos and logos). They typically argue that the two must carry the meaning of the mathematical equal sign (A=B, B=A). But as NT Greek scholars/grammarians (e.g., Robertson, Reymond, Harris, Wallace, Greenly et al), point out the theos and logos in 1:1c are NOT a convertible proposition, rather a subset proposition (cf. Wallace, BBGG). As a qualitative noun, the Word in John 1:1c is in the class or category of the anarthrous pre-Verbal PN theon, but the Word is not the person of ton theon (1:1b, viz., the Father). Again, Perkins stands alone, he has no recognized scholar to which he can appeal—because they reject the Oneness interpretation both historically and present day. No Greek grammarian has ever concluded, by the grammar of the passage, a Oneness interpretation of John 1:1.    

Perkins seems in a dense fog here, for first he merely throws out there that v. 30 contains two singular nominatives, but never explains what the significance of it is. And since he never mentions nor explains the function of the predicate (the other nominative), it indicates to me that he does not understand neither what a nominative nor predicate are or what they do.

The large issue here is this: that there are two nominatives in the passage is meaningless WITHOUT a context. This has been the chief flaw in his hermeneutic throughout his writings and presentations. So when he offers his so-called reply to my tersely article, he stays consistent in his lack of contextual interaction. The construction simply and typically marks out distinction from the subject and predicate (complement).

And again demonstrating Perkins lack of familiarity of Greek grammar, the linking PLURAL verb unities the subject and the predicate together in which grammatically the subject and the subject complement are “essentially” one—not one person—rather PLURAL verb is used, esmen, not a singular one (estin, eimi, “is, am”); and both nominative are associated as the main topic of the sentence.

Unbeknownst to Perkins (or he a point he chooses to overlook), Subject–Object and Subject-Hearer distinctions between Jesus and the Father interspersed throughout the NT radically disproves the Oneness position.  

In fact, this feature alone is one of the most controverting arguments against the Oneness unitarian notion of Jesus being the Father. For example, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water … behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My [speaker] beloved Son, [hearer] in whom I [speaker] am well-pleased’” (Matt. 3:16-17; also Matt. 17:5); “I [speaker] glorified You [hearer] on earth, having accomplished the work which You [hearer] have given Me [speaker] to do” (John 17:4; cf. also Luke 23:34, 46). Jesus personally and distinctly relates to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the reverse is altogether true of the Father and the Holy Spirit relating to each other. That is why I find it very odd that Perkins argue this, when it actually refutes his position.

Heis (“one”)

Now onto Perkins attempt to go against all mainline scholarship regarding the neuter adjective heis (“one”):

“Though this has been pointed out to Trinitarians ad-nauseum, the masculine singular (3-3) adjective heis, translated “one” (εἷς), is indeed applied to God from the very lips of Jesus in Mark 12.29 as “the most important commandment.”  If, as Dalcour asserts here, the masculine singular heis demands a single person (and it certainly does) the entire Trinitarian position is collapsed according to Christ Himself!  That is, Jesus’ view of the Godhead was most definitely not that of a “Triune divinity”—and His view of both God and Scripture should equally be our view.”

First, he again, as with all unitarians, assumes unitarianism into Mark 12:29 (one God = one person). As much as Oneness advocates would like this point to be true, nowhere does Scripture indicate one God = one person. A redundant vibrato of citing passages that indicate “one God” is meaningless when “one” is left undefined as Perkins does—he merely assumes “one” means one numerically and one in solitary.

Although in both the OT and NT “one” can mean composite/compound unity, one group, people, one union between husband and wife, one section or many, etc. Further, at least nine words in Hebrew can mean “one” (Morey)—and Perkins knows this. An undefined “one” rather proves the Trinitarian positon, since the foundation of the Trinity is monotheism (one God), and the foundation of Oneness is one person. So in spite of Perkins’ overly complaining, Mark 12:29 does not show what Perkins wants it to show—Jesus was not a unitarian.  

Second, Perkins goes on to say,   

“Although lexical quotes abound to this end, ironically, Dalcour’s quotation from Robertson above is one of the most conclusive citations from Greek linguists (cf. Zodhiates, Vincent, Thayer, BDAG, Wuest, et al.).”

Please note: Not ONE of these sources applies a unipersonal (viz. that God is one person) meaning to eiJV at Mark. 12:29 (Deut. 6:4, LXX), not one. Hence, Perkins references (“Zodhiates, Vincent, Thayer, BDAG, Wuest, et al.”) is his rickety attempt to sustain a unipersonal meaning of eiJV at Mark 12:29—but again, scholarship (esp. the ones he references) is decidedly against a unipersonal meaning of Mark 12:29 (or any other passage). 

Perkins says, “when heis is used “one person” is in view . . . lexical quotes abound to this end.” And then Perkins tell us: “Indeed, heis is used c. 100x in the NT alone and in no instance does it denote more than one-single-person. . . . the masculine singular heis demands one-single-person.”  

This assertion again reveals the stock of knowledge Perkins has in Greek. Although he has been consistently refuted on this point, Perkins still presses it. One wonders if he does this purposefully hoping no one will verify this.

The masculine eiJV is similar to the English “one.” Here we have again, Perkins assume unitarianism into the term. “One” what? Yes, most of the time, “one person,”—when man is in view. However, not “every time” as Perkins would like it to mean. The fact is, if there is even one place where eiJV is used to signify more than one person, Perkins entire premise implodes. This is true with the multitude of plural verbs, nouns, adjectives, and prepositions applied to the “one” God, which is a thorn in the flesh to Oneness advocates—showing again that Oneness unitarianism is not consistent with biblical view of God. For example, note Gal. 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [heis] in Christ Jesus.”

Of course, Christians naturally and rightfully cite this passage to show the unity of believers in Christ—because it plainly states this, as with biblical scholarship. The fact is, Perkins will put a doctrinal spin on any verse if it disagrees with what he believes. Note Perkins comments: 

“Galatians 3.28 will not do at this point (as Trinitarians typically use to evade the force of heis) since the entire point of Paul’s discourse in these texts is that biblical Christians are “one person in Christ Jesus” (cf. NEB, ASV, ERV).”  

“The force of heis”? What does that mean? First, Perkins misleads he readers here. For both the ASV (“for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus”) and the ERV (“You are all the same in Christ Jesus”), none say “one person.” As said, Perkins has a reputation for misquoting and botching sources. He selects translations that he can put a spin on, as he did with the older ed. of the AMP of Gal. 3:20. The fact is, the translators of the ASV (note, Philip Schaff had chosen the scholars for the project) and the ERV (produced by the WBTC), NEB, and the AMP were translated by Trinitarian scholars, who naturally saw the Oneness view as a perversion of Scripture.      

That Perkins will rest his interpretation of Gal. 3:28 on a few obscure translations in the face of virtually every other biblical translation is a flimsy argument esp. in the context of Christians being “one in unity” in Cristw. Again, the translators to which Perkins appeals were Trinitarian. Also, contrasting the masculine eiJV and the neuter eJn in John 10:30, noted Greek grammarian A. T. Robertson points out: Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or nature” (Word Pictures).

Perkins’ strange interpretation that “biblical Christians are one person” is, of course, restless eisegesis. Perkins main howlers here is that critical biblical exegesis is NOT derived from looking at translations trying to find which one matches a view, but rather proper exegesis.  

The Greek phrase, panten gar humeis heis este en Cristw Iesou, literally, “All indeed you one are in Christ Jesus.” The Greek completely erases Perkins odd interpretation and affirms clearly, “one in unity,” not in one man. As mention, this one passage, which denotes a clear one in unity meaning, turns Perkins heis view upside down.          

Note that Paul’s salutations grammatically denote two distinct persons (cf. Sharp Rule 5). Grammatically (as circumstantiated by grammarians [Sharp, Greenly, Wallace et al] when there are multiple personal nouns in a clause that are connected by kai and the first noun lacks the article, each noun must denote a distinct person, as shown in all of the Pauline salutations: charis humin kai eirene apo theou patros hemwn kai kuriou Iesou Christou, literally, “Grace to you and peace from God Father of us and Lord Jesus Christ” – no articles preceding both personal nouns (patron and Christou)—thus, this indicates distinct persons.

Along with Gal. 3:28, Perkins Oneness unitarian view of heis is esp. refuted by 1 Cor. 8:6:

“yet for us there is but one [heis] God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

Remember, Perkins argument is “when heis is used “one person” is in view.” But wait. Perkins trips here (as with Gal. 3:28) on his own so-called linguistic rule. If heis means, in every case, one sole person, as Perkins asserts, it would follow then that the Father is one sole person and the Lord is one (another) sole person since the double usage of heis precedes both nouns, that is, both sole persons, which is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness.

Two distinct persons, the sole person of the Father (who is heis) and the sole person of Lord Jesus (who is also heis). To argue that the double usage of heis represents both the Father and Lord Jesus defies the plain and natural reading here, Compare Eph. 4:4-5 and 1 Tim. 2:5, where, as with 1 Cor. 8:6, the multiple use heis preceding both the Father and Jesus heavily challenges and clearly refutes the Oneness perspective of heis and a unitarian Jesus.  

Perkins simply dismisses all of this when he says:

“This is the adjective [heis] carefully and intentionally employed by Jesus when specifically describing God’s numerical identity.”

Again, this only shows how controlled Perkins and Oneness believers are to a unitarian a priori assumption. Perkins as shown is dead wrong in his assessment of what Christ meant. Jesus and the NT never once saw or called Jesus the Father. Rather He is the monogenes theos (John 1:18);  He was the Son who was worship as God, (God commanding the all the angels to worship God, the Son; Heb. 1:6); the Son is the YHWH of Isa. 45:23 (Phil. 2:9-10); and the YHWH of John 2:32 (Rom. 10:13); and the YHWH of Ps. 102:25-27, the unchangeable Creator (Heb. 1:10-12); and the YHWH that Isiah saw in Isa. 6 (John 12:39-41)—note, all these are references specifically to the Son.           

The, Perkins amazingly cites Trinitarian A. T. Roberson in response to my original citation. I say “amazingly” because as, Perkins certainly knows, Robertson saw all forms of Oneness unitarian theology as heretical. When Perkins (and other Oneness defenders) appeals to numerous Trinitarian grammarians and scholars, I suppose he sees them as “hostile witnesses.”

Since Perkins does have a reputation of misquoting sources, before citing Perkins’ analysis of what he feels Robertson meant, let us read in full (since I only cited partial) the grammatical comments of Robertson said pertaining to the neuter adjective eJn in John 10:30:

“One (en). Neuter, not masculine (ei). Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or natureBy the plural sumu (separate persons) Sabellius is refuted, by unum Arius. So Bengel rightly argues, though Jesus is not referring, of course, to either Sabellius or Arius. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of making himself equal with God as his own special Father (John 5:18). Jesus then admitted and proved this claim (John 5:19-30). Now he states it tersely in this great saying repeated later (John 17:11, 21 John 21). Note en used in 1 Corinthians 3:3 of the oneness in work of the planter and the waterer and in Jo 17:11 Jo 17:23 of the hoped for unity of Christ’s disciples. This crisp statement is the climax of Christ’s claims concerning the relation between the Father and himself (the Son). They stir the Pharisees to uncontrollable anger (Word Pictures, emphasis added).”

Incongruent to what Robertson actually said, Perkins comments:  

“Robertson’s point is that if Christ would have employed the masculine singular (3-3) adjective heis (translated “one”) in John 10.30 then this would have demanded “one person”—since this is the natural force of the masculine singular tag. However, as mentioned both above and elsewhere, Jesus does indeed use the masculine singular heis in delineating the “most important commandment” of the emphatic-monadic identity of God (Mark 12.29).view.”   

Perkins is unequivocally wrong. Robertson made no such point. Again, “Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or natureBy the plural sumu (separate persons)Sabellius is refuted.” Oh my, it seems as though Perkins may assume that no will fact-check his sources—in context. The point of fact, Robertson bluntly refutes Perkins position—“Neuter, not masculine (ei). Not one person.”       

I understand that Perkin (and many Oneness believers) is very passionate (and always seems very angry) in promoting what he believes to be true. Although, Oneness theology is clearly not according to the teachings of the biblical authors—it does matter. Perkins refuses to properly consult lexical sources and grammars; many have brought this point to attention who have read and heard Perkins. As seen, Perkins’ malfunctioning hermeneutic is most shown when he repeatedly insists on a meaning of the neuter eJn and masculine eJiV, which disconnected from the context. It should not be surprising, then, why recognized biblical scholars presently and historically reject the Oneness interpretation of John 10:30 seeing it patently false. One must interpret in light of, not in spite of, the context in which words appear.

On this point, again citing Trinitarians, Perkins refers to footnote in the NET translation, which was edited by Daniel Wallace, Greek grammar and textual authority, and Yes, solidly Trinitarian:  

“See here also the NET translator notes:  The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one ‘thing’”

Note that Wallace has written countless works on the Trinity and has definitely commented on the many passages that exegetically prove it. Perkins shoots himself in the foot here; he seems to be uninformed. We as with Wallace, see John 10:30 as totally opposing the Oneness-unitarian view that Jesus and the Father are the same person, rather they are one in essence and unity (one thing, not one person).   

 

Then Perkins goes on to complain about the contextual understanding of heis:

“(Dalcour):  In John 17:21, for example, Jesus prays that His disciples may “be one [hen] even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us.”  The same neuter adjective is used. . . . *Note here that in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer He is praying that His disciples—who were separate human beings and not merely “distinct persons”—would share in the same oneness as the Father and Him shared.  Since Dalcour is appealing to this passage in connection with the neuter sing. hen (translated “one”), will he now inform us that God the Father and “God the Son” are equally as radically separated as human beings, and each are fully God?  Or will he now modify this assertion to conform to his predisposed religious tradition?”

Perkins again ignores the context of the entire chapter. Unity Mr. Perkins—that is the idea being expressed here, as the statements directed to Jesus disciples clearly indicate. Thus, the context governs the meaning of the neuter.        

PLURAL VERB—esmen (“we are”)

John 10:30 (as well as the entire chap.) at face value, in the most plainness way, indicates that Jesus is not the Father— egw kai o Pathr eJn esmen (“I and the Father one We Are”). After one reads John 10, he would never never get the idea that Jesus is the Father; only if he were superficially “taught” Oneness unitarianism would he come up with that. To say again, no one in church history (viz. Christian fathers, ecumenical councils, or resulting creeds) or present-day recognized scholarship embraced Oneness doctrine—they have always rejected it as non-Christian, a departure from the Christ of biblical revelation.        

When ones reads plainly the entire content set forth in the literature of John, he sees clearly that Jesus and the Father were distinct not the same person. This is seen esp. in places such as John 10:15-18, where Jesus had clearly differentiated Himself from the Father. As well as the passages leading up to v. 30. The same Father of whom Jesus says, “For this Father loves Me” and in v. 18, Jesus says that He lays down His life ap’ emautou, “from Myself, My own [not ‘our’] initiative.” Jesus tells His readers as in John 6:38, before the incarnation He makes and possesses His Own determination/will (note the reflexive emautou) “of, from My own [not, “our own”], thus, distinct from the Father (cf. John 6:38). 

Perkins is simply in error. Yes, essential Unity, not identification—coupled with the plural verb esmen- not eimi, (“am”) or estin (“is”). In point of fact, the Apostle John envisages the Son as the monogenhV qeoV (“unique God,” John 1:18), who was WITH the Father as a distinct person before time (cf. John 1:1, 18, 6:38; 8:58; 17:5; Rev. 5:13). Further, John sees the Son as God as the eternal God deserving of religious worship (cf. John 5:23; 9:38; Rev. 5:13-14). John sees the liar as any denying this Son of divine revelation (cf. 1 John 2:22-23).

REVELATION 21:22: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (NASB)

Perkins states that

“The Greek verb translated “are” (ἐστιν) in this text is the “singular verb estin” that Dalcour requests above explicating both God and His Son.  If a plural verb describing the Father and the Son quantifies as two divine persons—why does not a singular verb modifying the same subject equal a single divine person (esp. when this passage contextually describes the singular “temple” of Heaven)?”

Then Perkins provides a lengthy explanation, which only proves my point: Perkins is not a fan of context. Perkins simply attempts to isolate this passage from John’s own theology in both Revelation and in John’s entire literature. Simply, Perkins makes two slippery mistakes (perhaps hoping no one will fact check). Briefly,

1) John has already differentiated Jesus from the Father throughout the book. For example,

Revelation 3:21 presents the “Son” as sitting on His own throne (distinct from the Father’s throne). And Revelation 5:13-14 presents two distinct divine objects of religious worship: “To Him [the Father] who sits on the throne and to the Lamb [the Son]: be praise, honor, glory and dominion forever and ever!”

Passages such as Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; 2:22; and here Revelation 5:13 confirm a grammatical differentiation between two or all three persons of the Trinity.

Grammatically, along with Matthew 28:19, note 2 Cor. 13:14 and 1 John 1:3:   

  • 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ and [kai] the love of the [tou] God and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit with all of you.”
  • 1 John 1:3: “Indeed our fellowship is with the [tou] Father and [kai] with the [tou] Son of Him Jesus Christ.”

And Revelation 5:13: “The [tw] One sitting upon the throne and [kai] to the [tw] Lamb, the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion into the ages of the ages.”

According to the “normal” rules of Greek grammar (cf. Granville, Reymond, Beisner, Wallace, Greenly), Jesus (the Lamb) is distinct in person from the Father throughout Scripture. To make Rev. 21:22 militate against John’s own words in other places is blatant eisegesis—viz. again, a painful and flawed hermeneutic. But again, Perkins enjoys using and abusing naked words in spite of context to arrive at unorthodox interpretations. 

2) Since the Greek is clear, Perkins either has no concern about reading the text carefully in its original significance (Greek) whereby Perkins merely assumes all Oneness believers will blindly accept his assertions here or he just cannot read Greek. Simply, as Perkins knows it (it was brought to his attention over and over), Rev. 21:22 has NO syntactical parallel to John 10:30.

> John 10:30 reads: egw kai ho Pater hen esmen (lit., “I and the Father one we are”).

 

  •    > Rev. 21:22 reads: Kai naon ouk eidon en aute ho gar kurios ho theon ho pantokratwr naos autes estinkai to arnion (lit., “And temple not I saw in it, indeed [the] Lord the God almighty, temple of it is, and the Lamb”).        

 

Note that first in John 10:30, the verb (esmen, “are”) appears at the end of the sentence, after the phrase, “I and the Father,” thus, Jesus and the Father—“we are” one, not “we “is” (estin) or “am” one. Whereas in Rev. 21:22, the verb (estin, “is”) is before the phrase, “and the Lamb.” Thus, kai to arnion (“and the Lamb”) is an additional clause. No connection whatsoever—and Perkins knows this.               

Perkins lack of awareness in Greek (or purposeful fraudulence) causes him to assume that that lone context-less singular verbs constitute doctrine. However, the entire context and syntax must be considered—something Perkins does not do, as seen.  

CONCLUSION

In the end, the only ones who will accept the assertions of Roger Perkins in his article are uncritical and disinserted Oneness believers.

Again, biblical scholarship is on the Trinitarian side, and thus in John 10:30—Jesus and the Father are distinct persons who are one in unity an essence. Oneness advocates like Perkins stand alone, for obvious reasons. Note the some robust (a few of countless) scholarly opinions regarding John 10:30 militating again the Oneness position: 

New Testament scholar Murray Harris: “This dual conception of “distinction of person-community of essence” also comes to expression in John 10:30, egw kai ho pater hen esmen, which refers to neither personal identity (which would require heis esmen) nor simply to agreement of will and purpose (since John 10:28b, 29b implies at least an equality of power).” (Harris, Jesus as God, 285, n. 38).

Marvin Vincent: “The neuter, not the masculine heis, one person. It implies unity of essence, not merely of will or of power” (Vincent, Word Studies in the NT, vol. 2)

Robertson (as cited): “By the plural sumus [“are”] (separate persons) Sabellius [Oneness] is refuted, by unum [‘one in essence’] Arius” (Word Pictures, 5:186).

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: “‘Are’ is in the masculine gender—‘we (two persons) are’; while ‘one’ is neuter—‘one thing.’ Perhaps ‘one interest’ expresses, as nearly as may be, the purport of the saying. . . . Thus it will be seen, that, though oneness of essence is not the precise thing here affirmed, that truth is the basis of what is affirmed, without which it would not be true. And Augustine was right in saying the ‘We are’ condemns the Sabellians (who denied the distinction of Persons in the Godhead), while the ‘one’ (as explained) condemns the Arians (who denied the unity of their essence)’” (JFB, Commentary, Volume 3: Matthew to Ephesians).

David J. Ellis: “The neuter gender rules out any thought of meaning ‘one Person.’ This is not a comment on the nature of the Godhead. Rather, having spoken of the sheep’s security in both Himself and the Father, Jesus underlines what He has said by indicating that in action the Father and He can be regarded as a single entity, because their wills are one” (Ellis, “John,” in The International Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, ed. F. F. Bruce, 1249).

It is not surprising that Oneness-unitarians like Roger Perkins who after reading the plainness of so many biblical texts and examining scholarly and lexical sources makes so many errors in hermeneutics (as shown above and shown in debate) and his misuse of scholarly sources esp. lexical abuse.

So, what we have here is yet another Oneness advocate who is so controlled by unitarianism that he will sacrifice simply and verifiable truth for the sake of his tradition. Yes, it is a spiritual issue; Christians must keep praying that God will deliver Oneness Pentecostals from the bondage of the Oneness theology, which denies both the Father and the Son.

I seriously hope that Oneness believers reading this will visit our website (www.christiandefense.org) or email me personally (edward@christiandefense.org) regarding questions, concerns, or prayer.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).[1]

 

Virtually all non-Christian cults (esp. Muslims, Oneness believers, and  Jehovah’s Witnesses) reject the doctrine of the Trinity and teach that the early church had no such concept of a triune God, but rather they held to a unitarian concept of God (i.e., God existing as one person). Because of a great lack of study in the area of Patristics (i.e., church Fathers), these groups normally assert that the origins of the doctrine of the Trinity first emerged at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

So vast is the evidence that the early church envisaged a tri-personal God and not a unitarian.

 

Patristic authority,  J. D. Kelly observes: 

“The reader should notice how deeply the conception of a plurality of divine Persons was imprinted in the apostolic tradition and the popular faith. Though as yet uncanonized, the New Testament was already exerting a powerful influence; it is a commonplace that the outlines of a dyadic and a triadic pattern are clearly visible in its pages” (J. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 88; emphasis added).   

 

QUESTION: What do these pre-Nicaea (A.D. 325) patristic sources: the Didachē (c. A.D. 70); Clement of Rome (96); Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (107); Mathetes (130); Aristides of Athens (140); Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (150); Justin Martyr (151); Athenagoras of Athens (175); Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (180); Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon; 180); Clement of Alexandria (190); Hippolytus (205); Tertullian (213);  Origen (225); Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (253); Novatian (256) Dionysius, bishop of Rome (262); Gregory Thaumaturgus, the Wonder-worker (260); Methodius, bishop of Olympus (305); and Lactantius (307) have in common?- ANSWER: They all clearly affirm the biblical doctrine/concept of the Trinity and/or the coequality and coeternally of the divine person of the Son “with” the Father.         

 

Partial list (emphasis added on most citations): 

 

Didachē (viz. “The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles”; c. A.D. 70):

 

After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. . . . If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (7.1).

 

 Clement bishop of Rome (c. A.D. 96). 

Clement of Rome wrote an epistle to the original Corinthian church. He was perhaps the same Clement who was Paul’s close companion mentioned in Philippians 4:3. Schaff comments of Clement of Rome: “Clement, a name of great celebrity in antiquity was a disciple of Paul and Peter, to whom he refers as the chief examples for imitation. He may have been the same person who is mentioned by Paul as one of his faithful fellow-workers in Philippi [Phil. 4:3] (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, op. cit., chap. 13, Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers, sec. 152).

Eusebius in his History of the Church (III:4) says that “Clement too, who became the third bishop of Rome, was Paul’s co-worker and co-combatant, as the apostle himself testifies.”

 

Clement’s salutation (To the Corinthians), he clearly differentiates God the Father from the Lord Jesus Christ:

The Church of God which sojourns in Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to those who are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, from almighty God through Jesus Christ, be yours in abundance.

 

Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 107):

 

Ignatius bishop of Antioch was another apostolic church Father. What he says should be considered; after all, he was leader of the original church at Antioch:

 

There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made [agennētos]; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord (Letter to the Ephesians, 7).

 

Clearly, Ignatius does not see the Father and the Son as the same Person. In the same letter, he distinguishes the Father from the Son and the Holy Spirit:

Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed on from this to you, having false doctrine, whom you did not suffer to sow among you, but stopped your ears, that ye might not receive those things which were sown by them, as being stones of the temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God the Father, and drawn up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, making use of the Holy Spirit as a rope, while your faith was the means by which you ascended, and your love the way which led up to God (ibid., 9).

 

Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, [cf. John 17:5] and in the end was revealed. . . . He, being begotten by the Father before the beginning of time, was God the Word, the only-begotten Son, and remains the same for ever. . . . . (Letter to the Magnesians, 6).

 

What is also noteworthy is the striking parallel in this portion of Ignatius’ letter and John 17:5. Ignatius states: “Jesus Christ, who ‘before the ages’ [pro aiōnōn] was ‘with the Father’ [para patri] and appeared at the end of time.” Specifically, both John and Ignatius use para with the dative denoting a marked distinction between Jesus and the Father and both use the preposition pro (“before”) to indicate that their distinction existed from eternity—“before time.”

Thus, Ignatius following the apostolic tradition envisages Jesus Christ as being para (“with/in the presence of”) the Father— pro aiōnōn (“before time”)—, which again is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness unitarianism. As John does, Ignatius grammatically affirms the preexistence of the person of the Son who shared glory “with the Father” before time.     

 

For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is with the Father, is all the more revealed [in His glory]. Christianity is not a thing of silence only, but also of [manifest] greatness (Letter to the Romans, 3).

 

Hermas (c. A.D. 120)

Hermas was perhaps the same Hermas whom Paul sends greetings to in Romans 16:14, around the year A.D. 57. Eusebius says of Hermas: “But as the same apostle, in the salutations at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, has made mention among others of Hermas, to whom the book called The Shepherd is ascribed” (History of the Church, 3.3).

In The Shepherd, Hermas writes in clear contradiction to the Oneness unitarian doctrine of the non-eternal Son: “The Son of God is older than all his creation, so that he became the Father’s adviser in his creation. Therefore, also he is ancient” (Ninth Similitude, 12).

Aristides of Athens (c. A.D. 140): “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the Earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” (Apology, 16).

 

Polycarp bishop of Smyrna (c. A.D. 130-150)

The beloved Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, who claimed he had been a Christian for eighty-six years, was also, according to Irenaeus and Eusebius, a disciple of the Apostle John. In his last prayer before he was martyred, Polycarp glorifies not a unipersonal God, but rather a tri-personal God: the Father and His beloved Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit:

O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before thee, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Thy martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14).

 

 

Mathetes (c. A.D. 130)

In his Letter to Diognetus, Mathetes, who claimed himself “having been a disciple of the Apostles,” speaks clearly of the eternality of the Word, not as the Father but as being sent from the Father:

I do not speak of things strange to me, nor do I aim at anything inconsistent with right reason; but having been a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a teacher of the Gentiles. For which s reason He sent the Word, that He might be manifested to the world…This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints. This is He who, being from everlasting, is today called the Son. . . . (Letter to Diognetus, 11).

 

Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 160)

Throughout the content of his literature, Justin Martyr, consistently distinguishes the persons of the Trinity. Justin here naturally quotes the Trinitarian baptismal formula:

Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (The First Apology, 61.1).

 

Consistent with Trinitarian theology, Justin points out that the Lord’s usage of first person plural pronouns (*which are actual plural verbs in the Hebrew) in the OT was God the Father conversing with someone, “numerically distinct from Himself,” that is, another person:

“Let Us make,” –I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with someone who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being. . . . (Dialogue with Trypho, 62).    

 

Justin Martyr refers to Jesus’ eternality (as Son) and as being “even numerically distinct [kai arithmō heteron]” from the Father:

 

And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom. . . . And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same. . . . (ibid., 128).

 

Athenagoras of Athens (c. A.D. 175)

I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [nous], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos; but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes. . . . The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun (A Plea for Christians, 10).

Athenagoras wonders how any man could declare someone as an atheist, if they speak of “God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit”:

Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? (ibid.).

For, as we acknowledge a God, and a Son his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence, – the Father, the Son, the Spirit, because the Son is intelligence, reason, wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from fire; so also do we apprehend the existence of other powers, which exercise dominion about matter, and by means of it (ibid., 24).

 

Theophilus bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 180)

 Theophilus seems to be the first person to mention the term “Trinity” (triados) when describing God:

 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 God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man (To Autolycus, 2.15).

 

Irenaeus bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon; c. A.D. 180)

It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, even the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness;” He taking from Himself the substance of the creatures [formed], and the pattern of things made, and the type of all the adornments in the world book (Against Heresies, 4.20.1).

 

Irenaeus rightly refers to the Word as the “Son” who he says, “was always with the Father,” which sharply opposes the unitarian view of God:

I have also largely demonstrated, that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with Him, anterior to all creation, He declares by Solomon: “God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding hath He established the heaven” (ibid., 4.20.3).

As it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also always present with mankind, was in these last days, according to the time appointed by the Father. . . . For I have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to exist, being with the Father from the beginning; but when He became incarnate, and was made man (ibid., 3.18.1).

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God. . . . (ibid., 1.10.1).

Following, Irenaeus speaks of God the Son as distinguished from the invisible Father:

and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him [Jesus], and that He should execute just judgment towards all. . . . (ibid.).

 

When one examines the entirety of Irenaeus writings, the great truth of the Trinity shines forth.

 

Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 190):

I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father” (Stromata, Book V, Ch. 14)

 

Hippolytus (c. A.D. 205)

For us, then, it is sufficient simply to know that there was nothing contemporaneous with God. Beside Him there was nothing; but He, while existing alone, yet existed in plurality (Against Noetus, 10). Note the Greek: monos ōn polus ēn (lit., “alone existing [yet] plurality/many was”).

 

Tertullian (c. A.D. 213)

He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names (Against Praxeas, 26).

 

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (253): “One who denies that Christ is God cannot become his temple [of the Holy Spirit].” (Letters 73:12).

 

Novatian the Roman Presbyter (c. A.D. 256)

The Roman Presbyter Novatian wrote extensively on the doctrinal basis of the essential Trinity. He argued, from the Scriptures, that Jesus was God, but not as the Father. He clearly shows that the eternal Son interacted with the Father as he draws from Genesis 19:24, where we read that YHWH sent fire from YHWH:

Whence also, that there might be no doubt but that it was He who was the guest of Abraham on the destruction of the people of Sodom, it is declared: “Then the Lord [YHWH] rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord [YHWH] out of heaven.” But although the Father, being invisible, was assuredly not at that time seen, He who was accustomed to be touched and seen was seen and received to hospitality. But this the Son of God, “The Lord rained from the Lord upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire.” And this is the Word of God. And the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and this is Christ. It was not the Father, then, who was a guest with Abraham, but Christ. Nor was it the Father who was seen then, but the Son; and Christ was seen. Rightly, therefore, Christ is both Lord and God, who was not otherwise seen by Abraham, except that as God the Word He was begotten of God the Father before Abraham himself (“De Trinitate,” in Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, 18).

 

Novatian appeals to Philippians 2:6-11 to show again that the Son, the eternal Word, was not the Father:

“Who, although He was in the form of God,” he says. If Christ had been only man, He would have been spoken of as in “the image” of God, not “in the form” of God. . . . The Son of God, the Word of God, the imitator of all His Father’s works, in that He Himself works even as His Father. He is—as we have declared—in the form of God the Father. And He is reasonably affirmed to be in the form of God, in that He Himself, being above all things, and having the divine power over every creature, is also God after the example of the Father. . . . Yet He obtained, this from His own Father, that He [the Son] should be both God of all and should be Lord, and be begotten and made known from Himself as God in the form of God the Father. He then, all though He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery that He should be equal with God. For although He remembered that He was God from God the Father, He never either compared or associated Himself with God the Father, mindful that He was from His Father, and that He possessed that very thing that He is, because the Father had given it Him (ibid., 22).

 

Against the modalism of Sabellius, (Oneness doctrine)  Novatian writes:

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. 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. . . . 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. (ibid., 23).

 

Novatian lays out Scripture as his main point of argumentation against the modalists, again using Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 19:24, which opposes Oneness believers:

For thus say they [the modalists] If it is asserted that God is one, and Christ is God, then say they, If the Father and Christ be one God, Christ will be called the Father. Wherein they are proved to be in error, not knowing Christ, but following the sound of a name; for they are not willing that He should be the second person after the Father, but the Father Himself. And since these things are easily answered, few words shall be said. For who does not acknowledge that the person of the Son is second after the Father, when he reads that it was said by the Father, consequently to the Son, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness;” and that after this it was related, “And God made man, in the image of God made He him”? Or when he holds in his hands: “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord from heaven”? Or when he reads (as having been said) to Christ: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathens for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession”? Or when also that beloved writer says: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I shall make Thine enemies the stool of Thy feet”? Or when, unfolding the prophecies of Isaiah, he finds it written thus: “Thus saith the Lord to Christ my Lord”? Or when he reads: “I came not down from heaven to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me”? (ibid., 26).

 

Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (262):

The Son alone, always co-existing with the Father, and filled with Him who is, Himself also is, since He is of the Father . . . neither the Father, in that He is Father, can be separated from the Son, for that name is the evident ground of coherence and conjunction; nor can the Son be separated from the Father, for this word Father indicates association between them. And there is, moreover, evident a Spirit who can neither be disjoined from Him who sends, nor from Him who brings Him. . . . Thus, indeed, we expand the indivisible Unity into a Trinity; and again we contract the Trinity, which cannot be diminished, into a Unity . . . For on this account after the Unity there is also the most divine Trinity . . . And to God the Father, and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (“Epistle to Dionysius Bishop Rome,” 5-9 in Works of Dionysius, Extant Fragments [in Philip Schaff, The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325]).

In Defense of Dionysius 9, Athanasius says of Dionysius’ letter to the Roman bishop (with the same name): “[Dionysius rightly] acted as he learned from the Apostles.”

 

Gregory Thaumaturgus the Wonder-worker (c. A.D. 260)
 
As with Dionysius of Alexandria, he was a pupil of Origen, and his Declaration of Faith, which is accepted as genuine, is a stunningly positive and definite Trinitarian treatise. Again, years prior to Nicaea:

There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word,) Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal. And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus, neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abides ever (A Declaration of Faith).

 

Methodius of Olympus (c. A.D. 305)

Writing in the very early fourth century, Methodius’s work was widely read and highly valued. Jerome refers to him several times as does Epiphanius, Gregory Nyssen, Andrew of Caesarea, Eustathius of Antioch, and Theodoret. He is definitive as to his doctrine and, of course, extraordinarily Trinitarian in his view of God:

For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. From wich huch Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreated, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty (Oration on the Psalms, 5).

 

The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, explains Methodius, were in divine accordance in purpose and will, being inseparable:

Whence also in this place they are not only said to hymn with their praises the divine substance of the divine unity, but also the glory to be adored by all of that one of the sacred Trinity, which now, by the appearance of God in the flesh, hath even lighted upon earth. They say: “The whole earth is full of His glory.” For we believe that, together with the Son, who was made man for our sake, according to the good pleasure of His will, was also present the Father, who is inseparable from Him as to His divine nature, and also the Spirit, who is of one and the same essence with Him (Oration concerning Simon and Anna on the Day that they met in the Temple, 2).

 

Lactantius (307)

When we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate them, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father, since the name of ‘Father’ cannot be given without the Son, nor can the Son be begotten without the Father … [T]hey both have one mind, one spirit, one substance; but the former [the Father] is as it were an overflowing fountain, the latter [the Son] as a stream flowing forth from it. The former as the sun, the latter as it were a ray [of light] extended from the sun” … “We, on the other hand, are [truly] religious, who make our supplications to the one true God. Some one may perhaps ask how, when we say that we worship one God only, we nevertheless assert that there are two, God the Father and God the Son–which assertion has driven many into the greatest error … [thinking] that we confess that there is another God, and that He is mortal … [But w]hen we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate each, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father” (Divine Institutes, 4:28-29).

 

Many more could be presented that undeniably show, within the proper context of the writers cited, that the early church prior to Nicaea collectedly embraced the concept of the Trinity and rejected both polytheism and Oneness unitarianism in all forms. They saw and taught that the one true God was triune—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—three distinct coequal, coeternal, and coexistent persons. This is the Faith of the OT believers and the NT church.

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Athanasius, in his Statement of Faith, put into plain words the doctrine of the indivisible and inseparable tri-unity of God:

 

“We believe in one Unbegotten God, Father Almighty, maker of all things both visible and invisible, that hath His being from Himself. And in one Only-begotten Word, Wisdom, Son, begotten of the Father without beginning and eternally; word not pronounced nor mental, nor an effluence of the Perfect, nor a dividing of the impassible Essence, nor an issue; but absolutely perfect Son. . . . We believe, likewise, also in the Holy Spirit that searcheth all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. ii. 10), and we anathe-matise doctrines contrary to this. . . .For neither do we hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son. Neither do we ascribe the passible body which He bore for the salvation of the whole world to the Father. Neither can we imagine three Subsistences separated from each other, as results from their bodily nature in the case of men, lest we hold a plurality of gods like the heathen. For neither is the Father the Son, nor the Son the Father. For the Father is Father of the Son, and the Son, Son of the Father. The Father, possessing His existence from Himself, begat the Son, as we said, and did not create Him, as a river from a well and as a branch from a root, and as brightness from a light, things which nature knows to be indivisible; through whom to the Father be glory and power and greatness before all ages, and unto all the ages of the ages. Amen.”

 

 

 

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NOTES

[1] Note that the repetition of the Greek article (tou, “the”) and the conjunction (kai, “and”) in this passage: lit., “of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ . . . and [kai] . . . of the [tou] God and [kai] . . . of the [tou] Holy Spirit. . . .” Grammatically, this construction (viz. Granville Sharp’s Greek rule #6) indicates a distinction of persons. Same with Matt. 28:19: lit., “in the name of the [tou] Father and of the [kai tou] Son and of the [kai tou] Holy Spirit.”