JESUS CHRIST'S DIVINITY: Invented by Constantine?
Evidence for the Divinity of Jesus Christ
in the Early Church Fathers
complied by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
The DaVinci Code repeats the old claim, by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Others, that no one believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ in the early Church, but that this idea was invented and promulgated by the emperor Constantine who gained control of the Roman Empire in 312 AD. This historical claim in absolute nonsense. The following texts from Christian writers who lived between New Testament times and the reign of Constantine make abundantly clear that belief in Christ's divinity and equality with God the Father is an indisputable part of the Christian tradition from the beginning. These quotes demonstrating belief in Jesus' divine as well as human nature are by no means exhaustive – they are just a very limited selection. Most or all of the direct quotes below come from the collection edited by Cyril Richardson entitled Early Christian Fathers (NY: Macmillan, 1970), abbreviated here as ECF.
I. Selected Ante-Nicene Patristic witnesses to Christ's Divinity
A. Ignatius of Antioch, on the Divinity of Christ, calls Jesus God 16x in 7 letters (ca. 110 AD)
1. “Jesus Christ our God” Eph inscr, Eph 15:3, Eph 18:2, Tral 7, Ro inscr 2x, Ro 3:3, Smyr 10:1.
2. He speaks of Christ’s blood as “God's blood” Eph 1:1
3. He calls Jesus “God incarnate” Eph 7:2
4. In Jesus “God was revealing himself as a man” Eph 19:3
B. Epistle to Diognetus (ca. 125 AD) speaking of God the Father, he says:
1. Diognetus 7:2 "he sent the Designer and Maker of the universe himself, by whom he created the heavens and confined the sea within its own bounds" (ca. 125 AD)
2. Diognetus 7:4 “He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men."
C. Melito of Sardis on Christ's Divnity (d. ca. 190) On the Pasch (Peri Pascha).
1. Translation in Lucien Deiss, ed., Springtime of the Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1979), 97-110.
2. Peri Pascha was only discovered in 1940 and published in 1960.
3. he says Christ "rises from the dead as God, being by nature both God and man" (p. 100 in Deiss, physei Theos n kai anthropos).
4. he also has an anti-Gnostic insistence on Christ's true humanity.
D. Justin Martyr on the Divinity of Christ (c. 155 AD)
1. says that Christians adore and worship the Son as well as the Father. 1st Apology 6.
2. says Christ, the Word incarnate, is divine 1 Apol 10 & 63
E. Irenaeus on Christ's Divinity (ca. 185) in his work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies)
1. Of Jesus he says "He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men; --all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him." AH III.19.2 (Ante Nicene Fathers 1: 449).
2. "He, therefore who was known, was not a different being from Him who declared, 'No man knoweth the Father,' but one and the same, the Father making all things subject to Him; while He received testimony from all that He was very [true] man, and that He was very [true] God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons, from the enemy, and last of all, from death itself." AH, IV, 6,7 (ANF, 469).
F. Tertullian on the Divinity of Christ (ca. 200)
1. the first use of the Latin word trinitas with reference to God is in Adversus Praxean and De pudicitia. The first to use the term persona in a Trinitarian & christological context asserting in Adv. Praxean 12 that the Logos is distinct from the Father as person and that the HS is the "third person" in the Trinity."
2. Adv. Praxean 27 states that there are two natures, one human and one divine, which are joined in the one person Jesus Christ.
3. In his Apology 21, speaking of the Word, he says, “we have been taught that he proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. . . . Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. . . . That which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is make a second in manner of existence--in position, not in nature. . . .in His birth God and man united.”
4. In On the Flesh of Christ 5, he asks, “Was not God really crucified?”
G. Clement of Alexandria on Christ's Divinity (ca. 210 AD)
1. Exhortation to the Heathen, 1: “This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) ad of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man--that Author of all blessings to us. . . . This is the New Song, the manifestation of the Word that was in the beginning, and before the beginning.”
II. A few selected Trinitarian Texts from Ante-Nicene Fathers
A. Didache (ca. 125 AD) "then baptize in running water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Early Christian Fathers, p. 7)
B. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 115 AD) exhorts the Christians at Magnesia to stand firm "in faith and love, in Son, Father, and Spirit." (Mag 13)
C. Pope Dionysius to Dionysius of Alexandria, 262 AD. Uses the term Trinity and describes the unity of the three persons to prove that they are not three gods. Neunier-Dupuis, The Christian Faith, #301-303.
D. Origen (ca 230 AD), On First Principles 1.6.2 “For in the Trinity alone, which is the author of all things, does goodness exist in virtue of essential being; while others possess it as an accidental and perishable quality, and only then enjoy blessedness, when they participate in holiness and wisdom, and in divinity itself.”
Be a part of the “new springtime” of evangelization! Your tax-deductible gift helps us use TV, radio, and the web to proclaim the message without compromise but in language even the young can understand. Click here to donate now.
Follow Us -
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter
Click here to download, print and share Divinity of Jesus Christ!
For an overview of the Early Christian writers known as the Fathers of the Church, Click here.
To read Carl E. Olson's article on the debunking of The DaVinci Code, "The Cardinal and the Code" - Click here.
If you would like to sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, links to timely seasonal resources, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, be sure to CLICK HERE!
The Early Church Fathers
A society characterized by the loss of respect for life, violence, exotic religious cults, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. Sound familiar?
The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!
Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus
Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine
2 DVD Set—$44.00
2 CD Set—$18.00
The Fathers of the Church --Who they Are and Why they Matter
by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
In a single, upbeat talk on the Fathers of the Church, full of examples and quick snapshots of some of the Church's most intriguing personalities, Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers." Though the ranks of the Church Fathers represent a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most important questions of our day, such as the Divinity of Christ In this talk, Marcellino makes clear just how much these Early Church Fathers have to teach us today.
Retail Price - $8.00 - CD
Feast of Faith DVD & Workbook
In this enlightening, four-part adult faith formation series developed for the Eucharist, Dr. D’Ambrosio offers profound reflections and practical suggestions to make the Holy Eucharist more truly the “source and summit” of our Christian experience. DVD and Workbook - Great Value!
Holy Land Mother of Pearl Cross - 8.5" x 5.5"
This lovely hand made Mother of Pearl Crucifix with inlaid Mother of Pearl contains four compartments.
The Holy Land articles on this luxurious Catholic Crucifix are Olive leaves, Holy Land stones, Holy Land soil and incense. 8.5" x 5.5"
Be sure to check out the other incredible Holy Land Items we will be adding!