We see here that we can trace back to the Gnostics the Apollinarian error, closely aasociated to the Docetic, that the body of Christ was not derived from the flesh of the Virgin Mary, but that it was of heavenly origin, and was only brought forth into the world through her instrumentality, a teaching perpetuated today by some Protestants:
There are also some [Gnostics] who maintain that he [the Demiurge] also produced Christ as his own proper son, but of an animal nature, and that mention was made of him by the prophets. This Christ passed through Mary just as water flows through a tube. (I, 7).
The fallacy, then, of this exposition is manifest. For when John, proclaiming one God, the Almighty, and one Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten, by whom all things were made, declares that this was the Son of God, this the only-begotten, this the Former of all things, this the true Light who enlighteneth every man this the Creator of the world, this He that came to His own, this He that became flesh and dwelt among us.... according to their hypothesis, the Word did not become flesh at all.... Jesus who suffered for us, and who dwelt among us, is Himself the Word of God.... if the Word of the Father who descended is the same also that ascended, He, namely, the Only-begotten Son of the only God, who, according to the good pleasure of the Father, became flesh for the sake of men, the apostle certainly does not speak regarding any other... but respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. For, according to them, the Word did not originally become flesh. For they maintain that the Saviour assumed an animal body, formed in accordance with a special dispensation by an unspeakable providence, so as to become visible and palpable. But flesh is that which was of old formed for Adam by God out of the dust, and it is this that John has declared the Word of God became.
Learn then, you foolish men, that Jesus who suffered for us, and who dwelt among us, is Himself the Word of God. (I, 9).
1. Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.(I,26).