Marcellus was probably born around 280 A.D. He was one of the bishops at the Council of Nicea. Marcellus appears to have been a friend, or at least an acquaintance, of Athanasius. He was also vehemently opposed to Arianism. However, because his views were not Athanasian he was also accused of Sabellianism. Today Sabellianism is often equated with Modalism. However, in those days it seemed to be a catch all word for any kind of Monarchianism. Marcellus' beliefs were clearly not modalist and in many ways it is similar to what later came to be branded as Socinianism many centuries later.
Marcellus is often overlooked today because he did not tote the Athanasian party line but his voice is extremely important. Even Athanasius was reluctant to depose Marcellus from his bishopric and resisted it. He was condemned by a council of his enemies and expelled from his see, though he was able to return there to live quietly with a small congregation in the last years of his life, probably due to the influence of Athanasius.
Not long after the Council of Nicea, Marcellus wrote a document against Asterius the Sophist, a prominent Arian. Only fragments of this writing survive. Because of this writing, Marcellus was accused of maintaining that the Trinity of persons in the Godhead was but a transitory dispensation. He seems to describe God as one hypostasis (not three) but at the creation of the universe the Word or Logos went out from the Father and was God's activity in the world. This is very similar to the Jewish concept of the Memra. This Word, the Logos, later did become incarnate in Jesus. And at the consummation of the ages the Logos will fully return into God (1 Corinthians 15:28). This writer finds no problem with this essential concept.
At the First Synod of Tyre, Athanasius was deposed and it appears that Marcellus was also targeted at the same council.
Althought it is somewhat difficult to pin down his beliefs due to the fragmentary nature of his writings which we have in our possession, this writer believes Marcellus was on the right track having insights not understood by the Arians and the Athanasians who were so busy scrapping with each other that they missed the truth altogether. Marcellus seems to have been much wiser choosing neither side but desiring rather to simply behold the truth of the the matter quite apart from the politicking and positional maneuvering implemented by Arians and Athanasians.
Last Updated: March 5, 2011