Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

§14. He proceeds to discuss the views held by Eunomius, and by the Church, touching the Holy Spirit; and to show that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not three Gods, but one God. He also discusses different senses of “Subjection,” and therein shows that the subjection of all things to the Son is the same as the subjection of the Son to the Father.

Thus much with regard to his profanity towards the Son. Now let us see what he says about the Holy Spirit. “After Him, we believe,” he says, “on the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth.” I think it will be plain to all who come across this passage what object he has in view in thus perverting the declaration of the faith delivered to us by the Lord, in his statements concerning the Son and the Father. Though this absurdity has already been exposed, I will nevertheless endeavour, in few words, to make plain the aim of his knavery. As in the former case, he avoided using the name “Father,” that so he might not include the Son in the eternity of the Father, so he avoided employing the title Son, that he might not by it suggest His natural affinity to the Father; so here, too, he refrains from saying “Holy Spirit,” that he may not by this name acknowledge the majesty of His glory, and His complete union with the Father and the Son. For since the appellation of “Spirit,” and that of “Holy,” are by the Scriptures equally applied to the Father and the Son (for “God is a Spirit 451 ,” and “the anointed Lord is the Spirit before our face 452 ,” and “the Lord our God is Holy 453 ,” and there is “one Holy, one Lord Jesus Christ 454 ”) lest there should, by the use of these terms, be bred in the minds of his readers some orthodox conception of the Holy Spirit, such as would naturally arise in them from His sharing His glorious appellation with the Father and the Son, for this reason, deluding the ears of the foolish, he changes the words of the Faith as set forth by God in the delivery of this mystery, making a way, so to speak, by this sequence, for the entrance of his impiety against the Holy Spirit. For if he had said, “We believe in the Holy Spirit,” and “God is a Spirit,” any one instructed in things divine would have interposed the remark, that if we are to believe in the Holy Spirit, while God is called a Spirit, He is assuredly not distinct in nature from that which receives the same titles in a proper sense. For of all those things which are indicated not unreally, nor metaphorically, but properly and absolutely, by the same names, we are necessarily compelled to acknowledge that the nature also, which is signified by this identity of names, is one and the same. For this reason it is that, suppressing the name appointed by the Lord in the formula of the faith, he says, “We believe in the Comforter.” But I have been taught that this very name is also applied by the inspired Scripture to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost alike. For the Son gives the name of “Comforter” equally to Himself and to the Holy Spirit 455 ; and the Father, where He is said to work comfort, surely claims as His own the name of “Comforter.” For assuredly he Who does the work of a Comforter does not disdain the name belonging to the work: for David says to the Father, “Thou, Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me 456 ,” and the great Apostle applies to the Father the same language, when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation 457 ”; and John, in one of his Catholic Epistles, expressly gives to the Son the name of Comforter 458 . Nay, more, the Lord Himself, in saying that another Comforter would be sent us, when speaking of the Spirit, clearly asserted this title of Himself in the first place. But as there are two senses of the word παρακαλεῖν 459 ,—one to beseech, by words and gestures of respect, to induce him to whom we apply for anything, to feel with us in respect of those things for which we apply,—the other to comfort, to take remedial thought for affections of body and soul,—the Holy Scripture affirms the conception of the Paraclete, in either sense alike, to belong to the Divine nature. For at one time Paul sets before us by the word παρακαλεῖν the healing power of God, as when he says, “God, Who comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus 460 ”; and at another time he uses this word in its other meaning, when he says, writing to the Corinthians, “Now we are amp. CXXIX bassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God 461 .” Now since these things are so, in whatever way you understand the title “Paraclete,” when used of the Spirit, you will not in either of its significations detach Him from His community in it with the Father and the Son. Accordingly, he has not been able, even though he wished it, to belittle the glory of the Spirit by ascribing to Him the very attribute which Holy Scripture refers also to the Father and to the Son. But in styling Him “the Spirit of Truth,” Eunomius’ own wish, I suppose, was to suggest by this phrase subjection, since Christ is the Truth, and he called Him the Spirit of Truth, as if one should say that He is a possession and chattel of the Truth, without being aware that God is called a God of righteousness 462 ; and we certainly do not understand thereby that God is a possession of righteousness. Wherefore also, when we hear of the “Spirit of Truth,” we acquire by that phrase such a conception as befits the Deity, being guided to the loftier interpretation by the words which follow it. For when the Lord said “The Spirit of Truth,” He immediately added “Which proceedeth from the Father 463 ,” a fact which the voice of the Lord never asserted of any conceivable thing in creation, not of aught visible or invisible, not of thrones, principalities, powers, or dominions, nor of any other name that is named either in this world or in that which is to come. It is plain then that that, from share in which all creation is excluded, is something special and peculiar to uncreated being. But this man bids us believe in “the Guide of godliness.” Let a man then believe in Paul, and Barnabas, and Titus, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, and all those by whom we have been led into the way of the faith. For if we are to believe in “that which guides us to godliness,” along with the Father and the Son, all the prophets and lawgivers and patriarchs, heralds, evangelists, apostles, pastors, and teachers, have equal honour with the Holy Spirit, as they have been “guides to godliness” to those who came after them. “Who came into being,” he goes on, “by the only God through the Only-begotten.” In these words he gathers up in one head all his blasphemy. Once more he calls the Father “only God,” who employs the Only-begotten as an instrument for the production of the Spirit. What shadow of such a notion did he find in Scripture, that he ventures upon this assertion? by deduction from what premises did he bring his profanity to such a conclusion as this? Which of the Evangelists says it? what apostle? what prophet? Nay, on the contrary every scripture divinely inspired, written by the afflatus of the Spirit, attests the Divinity of the Spirit. For example (for it is better to prove my position from the actual testimonies), those who receive power to become children of God bear witness to the Divinity of the Spirit. Who knows not that utterance of the Lord which tells us that they who are born of the Spirit are the children of God? For thus He expressly ascribes the birth of the children of God to the Spirit, saying, that as that which is born of the flesh is flesh, so that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. But as many as are born of the Spirit are called the children of God 464 . So also when the Lord by breathing upon His disciples had imparted to them the Holy Spirit, John says, “Of His fulness have all we received 465 .” And that “in Him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead 466 ,” the mighty Paul attests: yea, moreover, through the prophet Isaiah it is attested, as to the manifestation of the Divine appearance vouchsafed to him, when he saw Him that sat “on the throne high and lifted up 467 ;” the older tradition, it is true, says that it was the Father Who appeared to him, but the evangelist John refers the prophecy to our Lord, saying, touching those of the Jews who did not believe the words uttered by the prophet concerning the Lord, “These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory and spoke of Him 468 .” But the mighty Paul attributes the same passage to the Holy Spirit in his speech made to the Jews at Rome, when he says, “Well spoke the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet concerning you, saying, Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand 469 ,” showing, in my opinion, by Holy Scripture itself, that every specially divine vision, every theophany, every word uttered in the Person of God, is to be understood to refer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hence when David says, “they provoked God in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert 470 ,” the apostle refers to the Holy Spirit the despite done by the Israelites to God, in these terms: “Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me 471 ,” and goes on to refer all that the prophecy refers to God, to the Person of the Holy Ghost. Those who keep repeating against us the phrase “three Gods,” because we hold these views, have perp. CXXX haps not yet learnt how to count. For if the Father and the Son are not divided into duality, (for they are, according to the Lord’s words, One, and not Two 472 ) and if the Holy Ghost is also one, how can one added to one be divided into the number of three Gods? Is it not rather plain that no one can charge us with believing in the number of three Gods, without himself first maintaining in his own doctrine a pair of Gods? For it is by being added to two that the one completes the triad of Gods. But what room is there for the charge of tritheism against those by whom one God is worshipped, the God expressed by the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost?

Let us however resume Eunomius’ statement in its entirety. “Having come into being from the only God through the Only-begotten, this Spirit also—” What proof is there of the statement that “this Spirit also” is one of the things that were made by the Only-begotten? They will say of course that “all things were made by Him 473 ,” and that in the term “all things” “this Spirit also” is included. Our answer to them shall be this, All things were made by Him, that were made. Now the things that were made, as Paul tells us, were things visible and invisible, thrones, authorities, dominions, principalities, powers, and among those included under the head of thrones and powers are reckoned by Paul the Cherubim and Seraphim 474 : so far does the term “all things” extend. But of the Holy Spirit, as being above the nature of things that have come into being, Paul said not a word in his enumeration of existing things, not indicating to us by his words either His subordination or His coming into being; but just as the prophet calls the Holy Spirit “good,” and “right,” and “guiding 475 ” (indicating by the word “guiding” the power of control), even so the apostle ascribes independent authority to the dignity of the Spirit, when he affirms that He works all in all as He wills 476 . Again, the Lord makes manifest the Spirit’s independent power and operation in His discourse with Nicodemus, when He says, “The Spirit breatheth where He willeth 477 .” How is it then that Eunomius goes so far as to define that He also is one of the things that came into being by the Son, condemned to eternal subjection. For he describes Him as “once for all made subject,” enthralling the guiding and governing Spirit in I know not what form of subjection. For this expression of “subjection” has many significations in Holy Scripture, and is understood and used with many varieties of meaning. For the Psalmist says that even irrational nature is put in subjection 478 , and brings under the same term those who are overcome in war 479 , while the apostle bids servants to be in subjection to their own masters 480 , and that those who are placed over the priesthood should have their children in subjection 481 , as their disorderly conduct brings discredit upon their fathers, as in the case of the sons of Eli the priest. Again, he speaks of the subjection of all men to God, when we all, being united to one another by the faith, become one body of the Lord Who is in all, as the subjection of the Son to the Father, when the adoration paid to the Son by all things with one accord, by things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, redounds to the glory of the Father; as Paul says elsewhere, “To Him every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father 482 .” For when this takes place, the mighty wisdom of Paul affirms that the Son, Who is in all, is subject to the Father by virtue of the subjection of those in whom He is. What kind of “subjection once for all” Eunomius asserts of the Holy Spirit, it is thus impossible to learn from the phrase which he has thrown out,—whether he means the subjection of irrational creatures, or of captives, or of servants, or of children who are kept in order, or of those who are saved by subjection. For the subjection of men to God is salvation for those who are so made subject, according to the voice of the prophet, who says that his soul is subject to God, since of Him cometh salvation by subjection 483 , so that subjection is the means of averting perdition. As therefore the help of the healing art is sought eagerly by the sick, so is subjection by those who are in need of salvation. But of what life does the Holy Spirit, that quickeneth all things, stand in need, that by subjection He should obtain salvation for Himself? Since then it is not on the strength of any Divine utterance that he asserts such an attribute of the Spirit, nor yet is it as a consequence of probable arguments that he has launched this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it must be plain at all events to sensible men that he vents his impiety against Him without any warrant whatsoever, unsupported as it is by any authority from Scripture or by any logical consequence.



S. John iv. 24


Cf. Lam. iv. 20 in LXX.


Ps. xcix. 9.


Cf. the response to the words of the Priest at the elevation the Gifts in the Greek Liturgies.


S. John xiv. 16


Ps. lxxvi. 17.


2 Cor. i. 3-4.


1 John 2.1John ii. 1. (The word is in the A.V. rendered “advocate.”)


From which is derived the name Paraclete, i.e. Comforter or Advocate.


2 Cor. vii. 6.


2 Cor. v. 20.


The text reads, “that God is called righteousness,” but the argument seems to require the genitive case. The reference may be to Ps. iv. 1.


S. John xv. 26


With this passage cf. S. John 1:12, John 3:6, Rom. 8:14, 1 John 3:3John i. 12, iii. 6; Rom. viii. 14; 1 S. John iii. 3.


S. John 20:21, John 1:16John xx. 21, and i. 16.


Col. ii. 9.


Is. vi. 1.


S. John xii. 41. The “older tradition” means presumably the ancient interpretation of the Jews.


Cf. Acts 28:25, 26. The quotation is not verbal.


Cf. Ps. lxxviii. 40.


Heb. iii. 7.


S. John x. 30


Cf. S. John i. 3


Cf. Col. i. 16; but the enumeration varies considerably.


The last of these epithets is from Ps. li. 14 (πνεῦμα ἡγεμονικὸν, the “Spiritus principalis” of the Vulgate, the “free spirit” of the English version); the “right spirit” of Psa. 51.12 being also applied by S. Gregory to the Holy Spirit, while the epithet “good” is from Ps. cxlii. 10.


Cf. 1 Cor. xii. 11.


S. John iii. 8


Ps. 8:7, 8.


Ps. xlvii. 3.


Tit. ii. 9.


1 Tim. iii. 4.


Cf. Phil. 2:10, 11, a passage which is apparently considered as explanatory of 1 Cor. xv. 28.


Cf. Ps. lxii. 1 (LXX.).

Next: Lastly he displays at length the folly of Eunomius, who at times speaks of the Holy Spirit as created, and as the fairest work of the Son, and at other times confesses, by the operations attributed to Him, that He is God, and thus ends the book.