The Trinity Delusion An examination of the doctrine of the Trinity

Theophilus of Antioch


To Autolycus
(ca.180 A.D.)


Theophilus was Bishop of Antioch.

And He is without beginning, since He is unbegotten; and He is unchangeable, because He is immortal. And he is called God... He is Lord, because He rules over the universe, Father, because He is before all things, Fashioner and Maker, because He is Creator and Maker of the cosmos, the Highest, because of His being above all, and Almighty, because He Himself rules and embraces all. For the heights of heaven, and the depths of the abysses, and the ends of the earth, are in His hand, and there is no place of His rest. For the heavens are His work, the earth is His creation, the sea is His handiwork, man is His formation and His image; sun, moon, and stars are His elements, made for signs, and seasons, and days, and years, that they may serve and be servants to humanity, and all things God has made out of things that were not into things that are, in order that through His works His greatness may be known and understood. (To Autolycus, I, 4).

God made all things out of nothing, for nothing was coexisting with God, but He being His own place, and wanting nothing, and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known, for him, therefore, He prepared the world. For he that is created is also needy, but He that is uncreated stands in need of nothing. God, then, having His own word internal within His own bosom, begat him, emitting him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had this word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by him He made all things. He [the Word] is called "the Beginning" [arche],1 because he rules, and is Lord of all things fashioned by him. He, then, being Spirit of God, and arche, and wisdom, and Power of The Highest, came down upon the prophets, and through them spoke of the creation of the world and of all other things. For the prophets were not when the world came into existence, but the wisdom of God which was in him, and His holy word which was always present with him. Wherein he speaks thus by the prophet Solomon: "When He prepared the heavens I was there, and when He appointed the foundations of the earth I was by Him as one brought up with Him." And Moses, who lived many years before Solomon, or, rather, the Word of God by Him as by an instrument, says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." First he named the "Beginning," and "creation," then he brought in God, for not lightly and on slight occasion is it right to name God. For the divine wisdom foreknew that some would trifle and name a multitude of gods that do not exist. In order, therefore, that the Living God might be known by His works, and so that by His Word, God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, he [Moses] said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Then having spoken of their creation, he [Moses] explains to us: "And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the water." This, Holy Scripture teaches at the outset, to show that matter, from which God made and fashioned the world, was in some manner created, being produced by God. (To Autolycus, II, 10).

Trias

Theophilus is often cited among Trinitarians as the first to use the word "Trinity."

In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the trinity (Greek trias) of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. (II,15).

However, it is also clear that Theophilus was most definitely not advocating the theological idea of a three in one God but using the term trias in the common way to indicate threeness. He is simply using the word trias to refer to threefold economic relationship of God, His word and His wisdom. He is not using the term to refer to three persons in one being as it was used in later Trinitarian theology. We will also note that "God" is here identified as distinct from Wisdom and the Word. Why then should we replace the word "God" with "Father" in our minds and suppose Theophilus would apply the word "God" to all three together? Furthermore, it is presumptuous to say Theophilus is equating the Holy Spirit with Wisdom. For Theophilus, God's Word is that which is born out of His Wisdom and was in His bosom until he uttered that Word and creation came to be.

For if I say He [God] is Light, I name but His own work; if I call Him Word, I name but His sovereignty; if I call Him Mind, I speak but of His wisdom; if I say He is Spirit, I speak of His breath; if I call Him Wisdom, I speak of His offspring. (I, 3).

Who is the Physician? God, who heals and makes alive through wis word and wisdom. God by His own word and wisdom made all things; for "by His word were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." Most excellent is His wisdom. By His wisdom God founded the earth; and by knowledge He prepared the heavens; and by understanding were the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the clouds poured out their dews. (I, 7).

Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. (II, 9).

God, then, having His own word internal within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had this word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by Him He made all things... He, then, being Spirit of God, and governing principle, and wisdom, and power of the highest, came down upon the prophets, and through them spoke of the creation of the world and of all other things. For the prophets were not when the world came into existence, but the wisdom of God which was in Him, and His holy Word which was always present with Him. Wherefore He speaks thus by the prophet Solomon: "When He prepared the heavens I was there, and when He appointed the foundations of the earth I was by Him as one brought up with Him."... (II, 10).

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. Wherefore also on the fourth day the lights were made. (II,15).

But as to what relates to the creation of man, his own creation cannot be explained by man, though it is a succinct account of it which Holy Scripture gives. For when God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," He first intimates the dignity of man. For God having made all things by His word, and having reckoned them all mere bye-works, reckons the creation of man to be the only work worthy of His own hands. Moreover, God is found, as if needing help, to say, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." But to no one else than to His own word and wisdom did He say, "Let us make." (II, 18).

You will say, then, to me: "You said that God ought not to be contained in a place, and how do you now say that He walked in Paradise?" Hear what I say. The God and Father, indeed, of all cannot be contained, and is not found in a place, for there is no place of His rest. But His word, through whom He made all things, being His power and His wisdom, assuming the person of the Father and Lord of all, went to the garden in the person of God, and conversed with Adam. For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the word of God, who is also His son? Not as the poets and writers of myths talk of the sons of gods begotten from intercourse, but as truth expounds, the word, that always exists, residing within the heart of God. For before anything came into being He had Him as a counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He determined on, He begat this word, uttered, the firstborn of all creation, not Himself being emptied of the word [Reason], but having begotten Reason, and always conversing with His Reason. And hence the holy writings teach us, and all the Spirit-borne men, one of whom, John, says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God," showing that at first God was alone, and the word in Him. Then he says, "The word was theos. All things came into existence through this and apart from this not one thing came into existence." The word, then, being theos, and being naturally produced from God, whenever the Father of the universe wills, He sends Him to any place; and He, coming, is both heard and seen, being sent by Him, and is found in a place. (II. 22).

Last Update: January 23, 2011
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