Where the earliest writers with the best connections indicate which view they
believed in, they indicate the basic mainstream view.
Jehovah's Witnesses leaders versus early Christian history
(compare to p.1a)
Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material:
the issue of early Christian history and related research material
Hellenism and Middle Platonism
A few Christians whose writings appeared early other than the early church
fathers that are brought up in the Watchtower literature mentioned below
The early church fathers described by "Should You Believe in the Trinity?"
Jehovah's Witnesses leaders versus early Christian history
(compare to p.1a)
Various modern religions, like the JWs, Adventists, and Mormons, teach that
they restore the original church, and that there was a great apostasy early on,
which is why their version isn't attested to in early Christian history as be-
ing the original kind.
As shown on p.1a, Charles Taze Russell didn't want to discard traditions that
arose centuries after the apostles, or reject early minority view side concerns,
to go with what seems best indicated to have been the originally intended views,
although that was the pretension. He might discard or embrace any of them to
create a personally customized modern, for the late 1800's, view, with a narrow-
ly-enough defined recipe for salvation to let him claim that only he and a small
group then living who agreed with him would be among a literal 144,000 to go to
Rutherford and his successors among JWs presidents and Governing Body members
have kept some of his outlooks and changed and added some with an eye toward
preserving the pretension of exclusiveness. The JWs leaders still claim to come
from a literal 144,000 who've shared their views.
Predicting (correctly) that many wouldn't want to go with a new deal based on
the Bible unless it comes with a sign of God, these newer religions tend to
claim to be founded by prophets. Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Rutherford, and
their successors have tried to act like prophets with scriptural reasons for
calculations while not predicting anything tangible that's miraculous (p.1b),
but having an unscriptural way of lying about their bad record or forgiving the
small percentage of flops they admit. Utilizing relatively obscure, compared to
TV, literature, over which damage control is exercised, helps project a positive
spin on the results (p.1a).
As a fall-back plan, the JWs leaders have also predicted (correctly) that some
prospective customers would be concerned to double check distinctive things
taught by a new little group, especially if they require abidance to these ex-
clusive rules for salvation, and if they're the only ones teaching that these
exclusive new rules are based on the most solid reasoning about the best evi-
dence for such common old source material.
The JWs leaders' claim of exclusiveness seems suspect on the surface of it,
and public libraries, and now the Internet, are pretty common research sources.
The JWs leaders teach that persistent rejection of distinctive JWs leaders'
rules is apostasy, and their rules that followers should avoid apostates and
their literature (p.3) are strictly enforced to minimize the loss of followers
caused by those who get wise about the JWs leaders' methods of affecting exclu-
siveness and spread the word through the flock.
Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material:
the issue of early Christian history and related research material
I recommend you use this focus to look through the JWs leaders' presentation
of early Christian history verses actual history I'll present the evidence of
The JWs leaders, apparently pretty confident in the latitude afforded by the
plans described above, try to justify their 144,000 exclusiveness by creating
the impression (due to the fact that a lot of people aren't familiar with the
1st few centuries of Christian history) that the earliest Christians in the 1st
few centuries of Christianity had the JWs leaders' views.
The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates that by 100 AD there were 1 mil-
lion Christians in the Roman Empire out of a population of 181 million.
David B. Barrett estimates there were 800,000 Christians by that time. (David
B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, Pasadena,
CA: William Carey Library, 2001, 19)
(At the site at the link above, type "800,000" in the box and click "Go" be-
side it to be taken to the right page.)
In actual history, there couldn't have been many JWs leaders types among them
because 144,000 is a small minority among the million or so Christians who
existed by the end of the first century, and JWs leaders are still allowing JWs
to join the 144,000 (from which JWs leaders are picked) in 2007.
No Christian group with all their exclusive requirements is found in early
Christianity. The alleged early JWs leaders types would have been exclusively
righteous but strangely non-committal and quickly disappeared. They would have
left the same evidence as if they didn't exist, and that's not very persuasive
to the JWs leaders' case of having the originally intended views.
There is a little history for the JWs leaders to work with. Origen had a sim-
ilar recommendation to avoid birthday parties, if stipulating ones celebrated as
by honoring Pharaoh, in the 1st half of the 200's AD (p.1a). The Arian view of
a created Jesus, if not archangel Michael you aren't to worship and who was
called "Lord" too much, appears in the early 300's AD, and the Macedonian view
added an impersonal holy spirit to that for another dispute in the late 300's
The JWs leaders try to reverse this impression to their advantage with revi-
sionist history that injects the JWs leaders views into early Christian history,
with Ante-Nicene Fathers quotes out of original context and given new JWs lead-
ers' editorial context, to make it seem like the basic JWs views of created Je-
sus and impersonal holy spirit were the original views and mainstream until the
300's AD, when what we know as the mainstream view was allegedly created by
philosophy and non-Christian religious ideas, made creeds, got government sup-
port, and persecuted the JWs leaders types.
The JWs leaders' brochure "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" has been a
standard JWs leaders' teaching tool for nearly a generation and has a revision-
ist history section.
The Ante-Nicene fathers, whose writings of their beliefs, also prevalent be-
liefs of the followers of the 1st few centuries of Christianity, about Jesus and
the holy spirit are translated into English volumes that are staples of histori-
cal mainstream Christian seminary libraries.
According to the JWs leaders: "Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history
makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for sev-
eral centuries thereafter." ("Should You Believe in the Trinity?")
I'll cover the JWs leaders' misrepresentation of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and
the actual outlooks of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, below in more detail after the
segments on complaints about JWs leaders' misuse of research material.
One of the examples these web sites give is that the JWs leaders portray Jus-
tin Martyr as teaching that Jesus is "a created angel" and "inferior to God"--
the JWs leaders' Jesus. Notice that the JWs leaders don't put those phrases in
quotes--that's because Justin Martyr didn't write them.
He had the mainstream view, and saw the Son as appearing in the OT as an angel
of God who spoke as God (a theophany). (See his views at the next link.)
A similar JWs leaders' misrepresentation is that Hippolytus described Jesus as
"created prehuman Jesus." Again, it's not given in quotes because Hippolytus
didn't write it. (See his views at the next link.)
I'll add that a deceptive half-truth the JWs leaders use is that Clement of
Alexandria wrote that Wisdom was created. Clement wrote that while otherwise
showing he had the mainstream view, so he had an idea of the Father "creating"
the mainstream Logos. While that's not a standard aspect of the mainstream
view, it's not how you'd indicate Jesus as the created being archangel Michael,
the JWs leaders' Jesus. (See Clement's views at the next link.)
The JWs leaders' brochure intends to show that the consensus of non-JWs au-
thors, too, is that the basic Trinity views, and whatever that veers from the
JWs leaders' views, had to be corruptions that came from somewhere other than
the Bible. Thanks to Christina for providing the ability to see the non-JWs au-
thors' quotes in the original contexts--contexts the JWs writers had to see them
in to take them from. When seen that way, you don't get the idea of the JWs
leaders' brochure being able to use such quotes to show that a sincere balanced
representation of such research supports their case but rather of the JWs lead-
ers straining to select the facts to fit the theory.
Thanks to Steve Rudd for another presentation of the use of non-JWs author's
quotes in the JWs leaders' brochure, with each non-JWs quote seen in the JWs
leaders' brochure then in the original context. I think I have to get used to
the fact that some web sites that cover this use the phrase "satanic lie." I
would have phrased a few other things about some non-JWs differently, too. But
I need to provide evidence of the JWs leaders' use of quotes out of context, and
Steve doesn't disappoint--he provides a bushel of them.
The mmoutreachinc.com site gives some examples of the misuse of quotes in the
JWs leaders' brochure as well:
Basically, the JWs leaders' tract uses these quotes by non-JWs authors in sev-
eral ways to make it seem like the consensus of non-JWs authorities is that the
basic Trinity idea wasn't the originally intended idea for a mainstream view
of the Bible scriptures. The JWs tract uses quotes out of context to make ear-
ly historical sources seem supportive for the JWs leaders' stance that aren't
supportive of it. A few examples are:
- Some of the non-JWs authors are against a conservative belief in the Bible,
and would ascribe pagan origins to scriptural ideas, etc. They'd criticize the
JWs leaders' doctrines about Jesus and the holy spirit, etc., on such terms,
too, but their quotes are used as if they'd just criticize the historical Jesus
and holy spirit views.
- Some of the non-JWs authors' quotes are used out of context to make the
Trinitarian author seem to have an anti-Trinitarian view, which is weird. (The
brochure quotes an author who writes that a specific explanatory creed of the
Trinity showed up centuries after the apostolic age, and the quote is edited for
the JWs leaders' brochure to leave the impression that the author wrote that the
basic idea of the Trinity didn't appear till centuries after the apostolic age,
(Compare Robert M. Bowman's Trinitarian book, "Why You Should Believe in the
Trinity," 1989. Some articles by Mr. Bowman are at the next links.)
"A Short History of Christian Doctrine," pp.37-39, by Bernard Lohse is quoted:
"As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual
doctrine of the Trinity."
What's misleading about the use of this quote out of context is that it can
leave the impression that Lohse doesn't think the Bible indicates the Trinity at
all, whereas what follows the phrase shows he thinks it does but just not with
all the later descriptions added:
"But this does not mean very much, however, for generally speaking the New
Testament is less intent upon setting forth certain doctrines than it is upon
proclaiming the kingdom of God, a kingdom that dawns in and with the person of
Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, there are in the New Testament the
rudiments of a concept of God that was susceptible of further development and
clarification, along doctrinal lines." "Speaking first of the person of Jesus
Christ...In other passages of the New Testament the predicate 'God' is without a
doubt applied to Christ."
A similar example: "A Protestant publication states: 'The word Trinity is not
found in the Bible...It did not find a place formally in the theology of the
church till the 4th century.' (The Illustrated Bible Dictionary)"
The full quote from "The Illustrated Bible Dictionary," p.1597, is: "TRINITY.
The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, and though used by Tertullian in the
last decade of the 2nd century, it did not find a place formally in the theology
of the church till the fourth century." "Though it is not a Biblical doctrine
in the sense that any formulation of it can be found in the Bible, it can be
seen to underlie the revelation of God, implicit in the OT and explicit in the
NT. By this we mean that though we cannot speak confidently of the revelation
of the Trinity in the OT, yet once the substance of the doctrine has been re-
vealed in the NT, we can read back many implications of it in the OT."
These research books, with quotes the JWs leaders extracted seen in context,
say that the basics of the mainstream view, not the JWs leaders' view, are in
the Bible. The basics would lead to later descriptions, predictably given the
debates that ensued (the mainstream view isn't polytheism, different substance,
but is monotheism, same substance, co-equal and co-eternal, etc.).
Neither research book sounds like any support for the idea of Jesus as archan-
gel Michael with an impersonal holy spirit.
- Some of the non-JWs authors' quotes are secular and used in a variation of
the method described above. (The brochure uses reports on the Trinitarian view
written by authors who don't express whether they belief in it or not but just
report that it took a while for the basic ideas being mainstream to lead to
agreement over more detailed definitions, and their quotes are used out of con-
text to make it seem like they support the JWs leaders' contention that the ba-
sis of the idea didn't appear till much later than it did, etc.)
For example, the JWs leaders' brochure says : "This confusion is widespread.
The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered
to be 'beyond the grasp of human reason.'"
The full quote is: "It is held that although the doctrine is beyond the grasp
of human reason, it is, like many of the formulations of physical science, not
contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended)
by the human mind." ("The Encyclopedia Americana," page 116)
It's just another way of saying some things I go over on p.7. You can tell
the Bible intends that God knows everyone's thoughts and hearts) mental complex-
ity needed for the mainstream idea of Jesus) and that God can speak things into
being (needed for the JWs leaders' version of Jesus), but it doesn't give you an
explanation of how he does either one. You can tell that it intends the main-
stream view, though.
- Some of the non-JWs authors' quotes are by believers in other recent reli-
gions which, like JWs leaders, teach a version of the created Jesus idea (Uni-
tarian, possibly Christadelphian, etc.). The examples given give the Trinity as
originating with pagan sources instead of scripture--like the JWs leaders, some
claim to re-establish the original church and there was a great apostasy early
on, etc. While it shows that a recent minority uses the ways of the JWs lead-
ers' to argue against the mainstream historical views of Jesus and holy spirit,
it doesn't add anything to help the JWs leaders' views seem any better indicated
as appearing in history as the Christians views any earlier than they did.
It also shows that some non-JWs of modern religions would force the point the
JWs leaders force as described on the bottom of p.7, which doesn't work as ra-
tionalism or help indicate the JWs leaders' stance to be the original, or even
early, Christian stance, either. That some Jewish people argued against the
Trinity ideas as not used in their Jewish belief in God could be demonstrated as
appearing earlier, although it still wouldn't work as rationalism and, ironical-
ly, would attest to the Trinity ideas as being the early Christian views.
This segues into:
- two are Rabbis. One, Dr. Hertz, says the Trinity violates the Unity of God
indicated by the Shema: "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!"
(Deut,6:4-9 with "Lord" for "YHWH"). The Trinitarian disagreement with Dr.
Hertz' interpretation is to say he's trying to get too much mileage out of the
word "one"--that "one"'s not making it to the filling station--and call it the
forced point described at the bottom of p.7.
Dr. Hertz also gives a couple of phrases of commentary on the meaning of Ex.
3:14. (In the Greek Septuagint, the version of the OT Jesus and his followers
usually quoted from, it's "ego eimi ho on." "I am the being" or such.) The
rabbi would share the JWs leaders' concern to deny that Jesus is God, not that
I've heard of a lot of conservative rabbis with a conservative Christian inter-
pretation of the New Testament. It's probably used by the JWs writers to muddy
the "ego eimi"/"I am" connection Trinitarians point out between the Greek ver-
sion of it and a number of the "I am" verses of Isaiah, Zephaniah, and John:
Is.41:4; 43:10-13,25; 46:4; Zeph.2:13-15
John 4:26; 8:24,28,58; 9:5,9; 13:19; 18:5,6
The JWs leaders' NWT gives the "ego eimi" of John 8:58, where Jesus says that
before Abraham was, "ego eimi," usually translated "I am," as "I have been."
This is to not have the reader see it as another of the same "ego eimi" batch
that John clearly meant to emphasize, especially as this use of it is taken in
the historical view, but see Jesus as saying he's really old (God's first
created being). In v.59 of the NWT, the Jews still go to throw stones at him in
rejection of someone taking on God's "ego eimi" identification, though, not be-
cause an angel in human form was an affront to their monotheism as would be a
claim to be God in human form (if imagined to be a second God), and not that
"ego eimi" would be a way for Jesus to indicate his identification as an angel
in human form instead--"I'm archangel Michael" would be called for, if it were
the case. And again, Jesus doesn't explain that he didn't mean to identify him-
self the way his use of "ego eimi" basically indicated to his listeners.
Rabbi Jacob Jocz' writings are quoted by the JW leaders' brochure--there's a
notable division between Judaism and Christianity due to the Christian claim of
the divinity of Christ.
What the brochure leaves out are statements of Jocz indicating that asking a
Jewish person to accept the the Lordship of Christ, something both mainstream
Christians and JWs affirm, is the main barrier between Judaism and Christian-
ity--not metaphysical differences. There's no evidence that first century Jew-
ish monotheism (p.6b), before Christianity appeared, had a rule against God being
capable of a human appearance as a person of God and the mainstream historical
view concerns explained at the bottom of p.7 before it became a debated concern.
If someone of the Jewish view might be persuaded to accept the idea of the JWs
leaders' interpretation of the Bible as teaching Jesus as "a god" in a figura-
tive sense, they could have the problem anyone else could have of trying to
imagine it as the originally intended view of a conservative interpretation of
the NT (p.8), or as indicated by early Christian history (p.9), as the JWs lead-
ers claim to use. A few examples would be verses that indicate Jesus was to be
prayed to and worshipped, and various verses that rework the Shema for Chris-
tian verses, such as 1 Cor.8:6: "yet for us there is one God, the Father, from
whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through
whom are all things and through whom we exist." (Also see 1 Tim.1:2)
The Jewish view doesn't accept Jesus as the Lord as in "Messiah" or a fulfill-
ment of prophesy in a conservative interpretation of the NT whether the histori-
cal Christian, JWs leaders, or Jewish (Jesus was nothing more than an ordinary
man) view of Jesus is considered. Some Jewish people wouldn't agree with the
literal interpretation of Genesis which is important to the JWs leaders' view of
the ransom paid with Jesus' death, and would probably have a different opinion
about the meaning of the crucifixion, which is a central Christian concern,
whether you said Jesus was the mainstream or JWs leaders' one.
Rabbi Jocz' statement isn't a defense of the JWs leaders' view of Jesus as
archangel Michael the "god" and Messiah who was called "Lord" too much and
shouldn't be worshipped as the more likely intention of the NT or better indi-
cated by early Christian history. It's an explanation of how the Jewish view
differs from the historical mainstream Christian view, and the Jewish view
shares some of the JWs leaders' (unspoken in the JWs leaders' case) disregard of
a conservative view of the NT and what's better indicated by early Christian
history to have been the intended interpretation of it.
- one is a Hindu, A. Parthasarathy, who likens the Trinity to the Trimurti.
The Trimurti, accepted by some sects and rejected by others of Hinduism, isn't
like the Christian Trinity, it's like Sabellianism, also called Modalism, a
Christian sect that believed God acts in one mode--Father, Son, or holy spirit--
at any one time. Sabellianism was debated against by the Ante-Nicene fathers
If you had such a good case, enough to brand persistent disagreement as coming
from people who "hate God" (p.3), that just telling the truth made it, you
wouldn't make it like the JWs leaders' brochure does. The JWs leaders' brochure
takes courses distinctive from other non-JWs non-Trinitarians or anyone else
with some of the false tactics it uses to affect a 144,000 exclusive righteous-
ness claim that ironically leaves no credibility for the claim.
"Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material: the issue of in-
telligent design" on p.1a cont.
"Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material under the heading
'We must preserve the sanctity of our stance on blood--truth and other's lives,
we're not crazy about'" on p.1a cont.
"Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material: the issue of de-
termining when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem" on p.1c.
"Complaints about the JWs leaders' use of reference material: the issue of the
medical use of blood and major blood fractions" on p.14.
Hellenism and Middle Platonism
The JWs leaders' stance includes that the mainstream view came from a Hellen-
ized corruption, notably philosophies of Plato, of the original scriptural
The Hellenization, presence of Greek culture, around Jewish culture began cen-
turies before Christ, which is why the Greek Septuagint was the main OT source
for the Christian writers. The NT is based on the OT and 1st century Judaism.
Some mainstream historical Christian ideas of Jesus and the holy spirit as God
were new for Judaism, but come from the better indication made by the scriptures
covered on pp.8-10, not Plato.
The case of an influence from philosophy for Justyn Martyr I know is that he
had an idea of God creating the world from existent matter, but then again he
had a bad translation of the OT for that. Tertullian didn't like anyone using
the philosophy of the day to explain the scriptures. (Both are covered lower on
The main case I know of such criticism, that a mainstream idea about Jesus was
drawn from philosophy, is meant as alleging that apostle John was influenced by
philosophy in his use of the word Logos at John 1:1. But neither the JWs lead-
ers or mainstream historical view needs to see John as doing any more than in-
tending to draw in those with the common understanding of Logos to whatever it
had in common with his definition of a wisdom literature idea.
The Wisdom literature popular in Jewish culture in the inter-testament period
is enough to indicate that people could imagine God's own wisdom, used in crea-
tion, being represented symbolically as a person. And with nothing created
without the Logos (John 1:3), it was nobody's idea of how to indicate archangel
One irony, given that the subject is corruption of the intent of original
authors, is that the JWs leaders' brochure intends to find support for the JWs
leaders' views with criticism of the mainstream historical view from authors who
were critical of the NT itself, so who would also criticize a JWs leaders' var-
iation of a conservative belief in it.
Another irony, given that the subject is also corruption coming from older
religions and later influences, is that the JWs leaders' view of Jesus relies
partly on an acceptance of secondary gods shown in pre-Exile Canaanite-related
verses, gods ultimately condemned by God (p.6b), and a view by Arius that ap-
peared centuries after the apostolic age and which may have been influenced by
neo-Platonism, that God couldn't appear on our level of existence, in taking an
idea of Origen's about Jesus' submissiveness to the Father farther than Origen
intended (covered lower on this page). Arius' view was founded by Lucien of An-
tioch, was condemned by the mainstream types of the time, and would have been
equally disagreed with much earlier by Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and others
whose outlooks are shown lower on this page.
Another irony is that the JWs leaders fault religious leaders otherwise for
allegedly requiring adherence to extra-scriptural ideas in teaching the main-
stream views of Jesus and the holy spirit. But that's what the JWs leaders re-
quire their followers to agree with their latest spin on their bad prophesy-
playing attempts, whether of the prediction failure types (whatever they're say-
ing these days about their invisible Jesus of 1914) or various other rules meant
to affect elitism (that the leaders come from a literal 144,000, that birthday
parties and Mother's Day celebrations and Civil Service jobs are Satanic, etc.--
p.1a, expanded ideas about worldliness, p.6, that Jesus is archangel Michael and
not to be worshipped and the holy spirit is impersonal, pp.7-10, and the ban on
transfusions of blood and major blood products, pp.12-42) for salvation.
Whether you want to believe in Jesus this or that way or neither, it helps to
know a little of the actual related history to see just what to make of the
methods used about it by the JWs leaders for their brochure.
In the Ante-Nicene fathers volumes, as shown in Michael J. Partyka's essay at
Brian O'Connell's web site (mentioned above and at the next link)...
...the most important basic aspects of the monotheistic (belief in one God)
Trinity view are shown. Some of those disputed other ways are:
- Adoptionism: Jesus was just a man God's spirit got into and worked with
from baptism on.
- Gnosticism: a variety of differences--see the Wikipedia article at the next
Valentinus was a very popular Gnostic in the early church days:
This view of Jesus by Valentinus is a little different:
- Sabellianism: God was only either the Father or Son or the holy spirit at
any one time.
- Docetism: Jesus' physical body was an illusion.
Adoptionism, Gnosticism, Sabellianism and Docetism would be disagreed with by
the historical mainstream Christians since those early times, and they would be
disagreed with by JWs leaders of recent times. The mainstream historical Chris-
tians are the ones seen as disagreeing with the terms of the others at the time.
A few Christians whose writings appeared early other than the early church
fathers that are brought up in the Watchtower literature mentioned below
The Early Christian Writings web site at the next link is a good source of
I'm just looking for an indication of created or eternal Jesus, and personal
or impersonal holy spirit here. I'll leave direct expressions of the fineries
of further explanations (the JWs leaders' view that there's just one archangel,
Michael, and he's a higher quality being than a regular angel, or a mainstream
view about the Father, Son, and holy spirit being co-eternal) to someone else.
The dates I give at the start of the listings are the dates of the authorship of
For the earliest writing that indicates the mainstream view of Jesus, see the
section on "Prayer to Jesus" on p.8.
70-131 AD The Epistle of Barnabas
"There is yet this also, my brethren; if the Lord endured to suffer for our
souls, though He was Lord of the whole world, unto whom God said from the foun-
dation of the world, Let us make man after our image and likeness, how then did
He endure to suffer at the hand of men?"
Barnabas 5:9 and 10
"And when He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel, who that
He might show that He came not to call the righteous but sinners were sinners
above every sin, then He manifested Himself to be the Son of God."
"For if He had not come in the flesh neither would men have looked upon Him
and been saved, forasmuch as when they look upon the sun that shall cease to be,
which is the work of His own hands, they cannot face its rays."
"For the scripture saith concerning us, how He saith to the Son; Let us make
man after our image and after our likeness, and let them rule over the beasts of
the earth and the fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea. And the Lord
said when He saw the fair creation of us men; Increase and multiply and fill the
earth. These words refer to the Son."
Barnabas had a mainstream belief in one God and Jesus as the Lord shown in his
interpretation of the sun being said to be the work of Jesus' own hands (Gen.1:
1-18), God being the sole creator who refers to the Son with "us" in saying,
"Let us make...." at Gen.1:26, and Jesus, the Lord of the whole world, being God
at Gen.1:28 saying to people to be fruitful and multiply. He also had a main-
stream use of the Shema words "God" and "Lord" and made no mention of a belief
in the Canaanite belief in gods or in Jesus being archangel Michael.
References to the cross:
"For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen
males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Under-
stand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hun-
dred In the eighteen 'I' stands for ten, 'H' for eight. Here thou hast JESUS
(IHSOYS). And because the cross in the 'T' was to have grace, He saith also
three hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining
one the cross.
"And He saith again in Moses, when war was waged against Israel by men of an-
other nation, and that He might remind them when the war was waged against them
that for their sins they were delivered unto death; the Spirit saith to the
heart of Moses, that he should make a type of the cross and of Him that was to
suffer, that unless, saith He, they shall set their hope on Him, war shall be
waged against them for ever. Moses therefore pileth arms one upon another in
the midst of the encounter, and standing on higher ground than any he stretched
out his hands, and so Israel was again victorious. Then, whenever he lowered
them, they were slain with the sword."
70-95 AD First Epistle to Clement
1 Clem 42:3
"Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full
assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the
kingdom of God should come.
1 Clem 46:6
"Have we not one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace that was shed upon
us? And is there not one calling in Christ?
1 Clem 50:6
"This declaration of blessedness was pronounced upon them that have been
elected by God through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be the glory for ever and
1 Clement 58:2
"Receive our counsel, and ye shall have no occasion of regret. For as God
liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit, who are the faith
and the hope of the elect, so surely shall he, who with lowliness of mind and
instant in gentleness hath without regretfulness performed the ordinances and
commandments that are given by God, be enrolled and have a name among the number
of them that are saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is the glory unto Him
for ever and ever. Amen."
We don't have much writing by him. We know he had the mainstream historical
view of Jesus as our Lord and God (John 20:28). He was a student of apostle
John, Irenaeus (see below) was a student of Polycarp, and Ignatius wrote to
110-140 AD The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 12:2
"Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-
priest Himself the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and
in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suf-
fering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot
and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under
heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father
that raised him from the dead."
150-150 AD Martyrdom of Polycarp (this is about his martyrdom, not by him; the
quote attributed to him is the first paragraph given below)
(Polycarp): "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son
Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of
angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous,
who live in Thy presence; I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day
and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the
cup of [Thy] Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body,
in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in
Thy presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare
and reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art the faithful
and true God. For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless
Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus
Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him and the Holy Spirit be glory both
now [and ever] and for the ages to come. Amen."
"...it will be impossible for us either to forsake at any time the Christ who
suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those that are saved--suffered
though faultless for sinners--nor to worship any other."
(The letter of the Smyrnaeans or the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Chaps.14 and 17)
The writings of Ignatius appear early, too--see Ignatius lower on this page.
120-130 AD Aristides
"The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the
Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came
down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with
flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the
gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you
also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it."
"[Christians] are they who, above every people of the Earth, have found the
truth, for they acknowledge God, the creator and maker of all things, in the
only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit." ("Apology" 16)
100-160 AD The Shepherd of Hermas
This has an adoptionist view of Jesus--an ordinary man adopted by God to be
His Son. Archangel Michael appears in it, and some interpret the Son of God as
Michael, though that isn't clearly established. The mainstream and JWs leaders'
views of Jesus reject the adoptionist view, though.
"'Listen,' saith he; 'this great tree which overshadows plains and mountains
and all the earth is the law of God which was given to the whole world; and this
law is the Son of God preached unto the ends of the earth. But the people that
are under the shadow are they that have heard the preaching, and believed on
Him; but the great and glorious angel is Michael, who hath the power over this
people and is their captain. For this is he that putteth the law into the
hearts of the believers; therefore he himself inspecteth them to whom he gave
it, to see whether they have observed it.'" (Parable 8, 3:2-3)
130 or around 200 AD Mathetes
"He did not, as one might have imagined, send to men any servant, or angel, or
ruler, or any one of those who bear sway over earthly things, or one of those to
whom the government of things in the heavens has been entrusted...." ("The Epis-
tle of Mathetes to Diognetus," chap.7)
155-165 AD Tatian the Syrian
"Address to the Greeks"
"CHAP. v.--THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIANS AS TO THE CREATION OF THE WORLD."
"God was in the beginning; but the beginning, we have been taught, is the pow-
er of the Logos. For the Lord of the universe, who is Himself the necessary
ground of all being, inasmuch as no creature was yet in existence, was alone;
but inasmuch as He was all power, Himself the necessary ground of things visible
and invisible, with Him were all things; with Him, by Logos-power, the Logos
Himself also, who was in Him, subsists.
And by His simple will the Logos springs forth; and the Logos, not coming
forth in vain, becomes the first-begotten work of the Father. Him (the Logos)
we know to be the beginning of the world. But He came into being by participa-
tion, not by abscission; for what is cut off is separated from the original sub-
stance, but that which comes by participation, making its choice of function,
does not render him deficient from whom it is taken. For just as from one torch
many fires are lighted, but the light of the first torch is not lessened by the
kindling of many torches, so the Logos, coming forth from the Logos-power of the
Father, has not divested of the Logos-power Him who begat Him."
"CHAP.XXI.--DOCTRINES OF THE CHRISTIANS AND GREEKS RESPECTING GOD COMPARED."
"We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that
God was born in the form of a man."
Tatian showed an example of something you'll see by several of the writers
below, too--comparisons of the Son and Father with light from the sun, fire from
a torch, etc. I think they got that from Rev.21:23 "The city does not need the
sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the
Lamb is its lamp." It could also be from John 1:4 (Jesus is "the light of men")
and 1 John 1:5 ("God is light").
Late 176-177 AD Athenagoras the Athenian
"A PLEA FOR THE CHRISTIANS"
"...God is uncreated, and, impassible, and indivisible--does not, therefore,
consist of parts.
"For if the world, being made spherical, is confined within the circles of
heaven, and the Creator of the world is above the things created, managing that
by His providential care of these, what place is there for the second god, or
for the other gods?
"CHAP. X.--THE CHRISTIANS WORSHIP THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST
"That we are not atheists, therefore, seeing that we acknowledge one God, un-
created, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is
apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by
light, and beauty, and spirit, and power ineffable, by whom the universe has
been created through His Logos, and set in order, and is kept in being--I have
sufficiently demonstrated. [I say "His Logos"], for we acknowledge also a Son of
"Nor let any one think it ridiculous that God should have a Son. For though
the poets, in their fictions, represent the gods as no better than men, our mode
of thinking is not the same as theirs, concerning either God the Father or the
Son. But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation;
for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the
Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in
oneness and power of spirit, the understanding and reason (nous kailogos) of the
Father is the Son of God.
"But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is
meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Fa-
ther, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God,
who is the eternal mind [nous], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity
instinct with Logos [logikos]; but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and
energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attri-
butes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the
lighter. The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements. 'The Lord,' it
says, 'made me, the beginning of His ways to His works.'
"The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be
an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of
the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the
Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their
power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? Nor is our
teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we
recognise also a multitude of angels and ministers, whom God the Maker and
Framer of the world distributed and appointed to their several posts by His
Logos, to occupy themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the world,
and the things in it, and the goodly ordering of them all."
165-175 AD Melito of Sardis
"God who is from God; the Son who is from the Father; Jesus Christ the King
for evermore. Amen." (On Faith)
"We are not those who pay homage to stones, that are without sensation; but of
the only God, who is before all and over all, and, moreover, we are worshippers
of His Christ, who is veritably God the Word existing before all time." (Frag-
ments; from the apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus)
"For there is no need, to persons of intelligence, to attempt to prove, from
the deeds of Christ subsequent to His baptism, that His soul and His body, His
human nature like ours, were real, and no phantom of the imagination. For the
deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indi-
cation and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being
at once both God and perfect man likewise, He gave us sure indications of His
two natures: of His Deity, by His miracles during the three years that elapsed
after His baptism; of His humanity, during the thirty similar periods which pre-
ceded His baptism, in which, by reason of His low estate as regards the flesh,
He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing be-
fore all ages." (Fragment "On the nature of Christ")
180-185 AD Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus was a mixed bag as a writer, but in his writings is the first known
mention of the word "Trinity" ("Triavdo"), which he uses to refer to "God, His
Word and His Wisdom." (Some suggest "Trinity" may have been used earlier since
he doesn't explain the word.)
"But this is the attribute of God, the Highest and Almighty, and the living
God, not only to be everywhere present, but also to see all things and to hear
all, and by no means to be confined in a place; for if He were, then the place
containing Him would be greater than He; for that which contains is greater than
that which is contained. For God is not contained, but is Himself the place of
all." (To Autolycus 2:3)
"For the sun is a type of God, and the moon of man. And as the sun far sur-
passes the moon in power and glory, so far does God surpass man. And as the sun
remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being
full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good.
But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it
is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. 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." (To Autolycus 2:15)
"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.'" (To Autolycus 2:18)
105-115 AD Ignatius
According to "The Watchtower," Feb.1, 1992:
"Even if Ignatius had said that the Son was equal to the Father in eternity,
power, position, and wisdom, it would still not be a Trinity, for nowhere did
he say that the holy spirit was equal to God in those ways. But Ignatius did
not say that the Son was equal to God the Father in such ways or in any other.
Instead, he showed that the Son is in subjection to the One who is superior,
Almighty God." ("The Watchtower," Feb.1, 1992)
A bigger coverage of the Watchtower article about Ignatius with complaints
about the JWs leaders' misuse of research material is at the next link.
Ignatius, likely a student of apostles Peter and John, and Irenaeus, a stu-
dent of Polycarp who was a student of apostle John, are impressive among early
examples of people who believed that Jesus appeared as God and man. According
to Wikipedia, "Theodoret (Dial. Immutab., I, iv, 33a) reported that Peter him-
self appointed Ignatius to the see of Antioch."
I don't mind saying, compared to Russell, etc., not even getting what the
mainstream view is right (p.8), claiming to predict the date of invisible rap-
tures and that Civil Service dentists are Satanic and all (p.1a), these guys are
a little more impressive to me.
Ignatius and Justin Martyr were among early Christian apologists.
Various sources indicate you have to be careful with the writings of Ignatius:
later expanded versions may be spurious.
According to Ignatius:
"There is one only physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate,
God in man, true Life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passible and
then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord."
By ingenerate he means God and by generate he's referring to Jesus having been
born a man--Jesus was both God and man, the mainstream view.
"From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ig-
norance of wickedness vanished away, the ancient kingdom was pulled down, when
God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life; and that
which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take effect. Thence
all things were perturbed, because the abolishing of death was taken in hand."
(Ignatius to the Ephesians, chaps.7 and 19)
"Await Him that is above every season, the Eternal, the Invisible, who became
visible for our sake, the Impalpable, the Impassible, who suffered for our sake,
who endured in all ways for our sake.
"I bid you farewell always in our God Jesus Christ, in whom abide ye in the
unity and supervision of God. I salute Alce, a name very dear to me. Fare ye
well in the Lord." (Ignatius to Polycarp, chaps.3 and 8)
Another translation I found has "Attalus" where the translation above has
"Alce," which I'm guessing is a typo:
The writings of his we have don't clarify the mainstream view of the holy
spirit as personal, then again he doesn't indicate he has the JWs leaders' view
of the scriptural references to the holy spirit as personal being poetic person-
ification (p.8). He used the threefold formula (p.8) in the next passage, which
also shows he had the mainstream view of the cross (p.6b):
"...forasmuch as ye are stones of a temple, which were prepared beforehand for
a building of God the Father, being hoisted up to the heights through the engine
of Jesus Christ, which is the Cross, and using for a rope the Holy Spirit; while
your faith is your windlass, and love is the way that leadeth up to God."
(Ignatius to the Ephesians, chap.9)
"For this cause also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to the
end that they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one
God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word that
proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing unto Him that sent
Him." (Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chap.8)
Ignatius used the threefold formula in the next passage.
"Do your diligence therefore that ye be confirmed in the ordinances of the
Lord and of the Apostles, that ye may prosper in all things whatsoever ye do in
flesh and spirit, by faith and by love, in the Son and Father and in the Spirit,
in the beginning and in the end, with your revered bishop, and with the fitly
wreathed spiritual circlet of your presbytery, and with the deacons who walk af-
(Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chap.13:1)
The early church fathers described by "Should You Believe in the Trinity?"
For fans of catching the JWs leaders' lying about support for their distinc-
tive rules, the article by Mike Licona at the next link gives a good coverage of
the way the JWs leaders brochure misrepresents the church fathers it brings up:
150-160 AD Justin Martyr
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created
angel who is 'other than the God who made all things.' He said that Jesus was
inferior to God and 'never did anything except what the Creator…willed him to
do and say.'"
As mentioned above in the section about complaints about the misuse of re-
search material, the phrase "created angel" above isn't in quotes because Justin
Martyr didn't write it. The closest thing to it in truth is that he had a main-
stream idea of Jesus appearing as an angel of God in the OT.
One complaint I know for Martyr is he was influenced by Platonic philosophy
(not as much as Clement, though) in explaining the matter given below:
"Justin also, under Platonist influence, declared that Plato's belief in God's
creating from pre-existing matter was 'from no other source than from Moses.'
He appealed to the unfortunate translation of the Septuagint in Gen 1:2, the
earth had been 'invisible and unfashioned' before God created the cosmos that
we 'perceive by the senses.'"
According to Justin Martyr:
Justin Martyr taught that no being assisted God with creation. (Adversus
Haereses (Book II, Chapter 2))
Justin Martyr, in "First Apology," chap.63, interpreted Jesus to be the theo-
phany of the angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses.
"Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this pur-
pose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times
of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He
is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the
prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove."
("The First Apology of Justin," chap.13)
"Then I replied, 'Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavor to persuade
you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Mo-
ses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things--numerical-
ly, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time
done anything which He who made the world—-above whom there is no other God-—has
not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with."
("Dialog of Justin with Trypho, a Jew," chap.56)
"...even so here, the Scripture, in announcing that the Angel of the Lord ap-
peared to Moses, and in afterwards declaring him to be Lord and God, speaks of
the same One, whom it declares by the many testimonies already quoted to be min-
ister to God, who is above the world, above whom there is no other [God]."
("Dialog of Justin with Trypho, a Jew," chap.60)
"'I shall give you another testimony, my friends,' said I, 'from the Scrip-
tures, that God begat before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain ra-
tional power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now
the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and
then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He
appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun).
"For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s
will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see
happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word;
yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we
give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is
not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which
has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that
from which it was kindled.
"The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all
things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter.'"
("Dialog of Justin with Trypho, a Jew," chap.60)
"We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is
the Son of the true God Himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of
prophecy a third. For this they accuse us of madness, saying that we attribute
to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Crea-
tor of all things; but they are ignorant of the Mystery which lies therein."
("First Apology," 13:5-6)
"And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own
person, answers them, `The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.'"
(Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr with Trypho, A Jew, Chap. XXXVI)
"If, therefore, you assert that the Holy Spirit calls some other one God and
Lord, besides the Father of all things and His Christ, answer me; for I under-
take to prove to you from Scriptures themselves, that He whom the Scripture
calls Lord is not one of the two angels that went to Sodom, but He who was with
them, and is called God, that appeared to Abraham."
(Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr with Trypho, A Jew, Chap. LVI)
"For the sea is not traversed except that trophy which is called a sail abide
safe in the ship; and the earth is not ploughed without it: diggers and mechan-
ics do not their work, except with tools which have this shape."
("First Apology," chap.LV--Symbols of the Cross)
175-185 AD Irenaeus
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Irenaeus, who died about 200 C.E., said that the prehuman Jesus had a separ-
ate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not
equal to the 'One true and only God,' who is 'supreme over all, and besides whom
there is no other.'"
Irenaeus (115-142 to 190-early 200's?). As a boy he listened to Polycarp, the
disciple of apostle John. He became Bishop of Lyons.
According to Irenaeus:
"Thus also did Rahab the harlot, while condemning herself, inasmuch as she was
a Gentile, guilty of all sins, nevertheless receive the three spies, who were
spying out all the land, and hid them at her home; [which three were] doubtless
[a type of] the Father and the Son, together with the Holy Spirit."
("Against Heresies," book IV, chap.xx.12)
"The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of
the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith:
...one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and
all things that are in them;
and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salva-
and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations
of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the
resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the
beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His manifestation from heaven in the glory
of the Father ‘to gather all things in one,' and to raise up anew all flesh of
the whole human race,
in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, ac-
cording to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every
tongue should confess; to him, and that He should execute just judgment towards
("Against Heresies," X.l)
"But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with
many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop
of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth,...."
(Against Heresies, book III, Chap.iii.1)
Irenaeus disagreed with the JWs leaders' view that apostle John thought Jesus
was archangel Michael:
"For that all things, whether Angels, or Archangels, or Thrones, or Dominions,
were both established and created by Him who is God over all, through his Word,
John has thus pointed out."
(Against Heresies, book III, chap.viii.3)
"He said to them, 'Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' For [God] promised, that in
the last times he would pour Him [the Spirit] upon [His] servants and handmaids,
that they might prophecy; wherefore He did also descend upon the Son of God,
made the Son of man, becoming accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the
human race, to rest with human beings, and to dwell in the workmanship of God,
working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits
into the newness of Christ."
(Against Heresies, book III, chap.xvii.1)
"For I have shown from the scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as
to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Him-
self in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King
Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles,
and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small
portion of the truth. Now, the scriptures would not have testified these things
of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man."
(Against Heresies, book III, chap.xix.2)
"God formed man...it was not angels, therefore, who made us...neither had an-
gels power to make an image of God."
(Against Heresies," book IV, chap.20, section 1)
""The Word, that is, the Son, was always with the Father."
(Against Heresies, book IV, ch. 20, section 3)
Iraneus indicated the holy spirit is a person of God:
"And thus one God the Father is declared, who is above all, and through all,
and in all. The Father is indeed above all, and He is the Head of Christ; but
the Word is through all things, and is Himself the Head of the Church; while the
Spirit is in us all, and He is the living water, which the Lord grants to those
who rightly believe in Him, and love Him, and who know that 'there is one Fa-
ther, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.'
And to these things does John also, the disciple of the Lord, bear witness,
when he speaks thus in the Gospel: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All
things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.'"
(Against Heresies, book V, chap.xviii.2)
In the next segment, Irenaeus interprets Wisdom in Proverbs 3:19,20, 8:22-31
as both the Son and the holy spirit (called "wisdom" at Eph.1:17) as a way to
"I have also largely demonstrated, that the Word, namely the Son, was always
with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with
Him, anterior to all creation, He declares by Solomon: 'God by Wisdom founded
the earth, and by understanding hath He established the heaven. By His know-
ledge the depths burst forth, and the clouds dropped down the dew.'
"And again: 'The Lord created me the beginning of His ways in His work: He
set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before He made the earth, before
He established the depths, and before the fountains of waters gushed forth; be-
fore the mountains were made strong, and before all the hills, He brought me
"And again: 'When He prepared the heaven, I was with Him, and when He estab-
lished the fountains of the deep; when He made the foundations of the earth
strong, I was with Him preparing [them]. I was He in whom He rejoiced, and
throughout all time I was daily glad before His face, when He rejoiced at the
completion of the world, and was delighted in the sons of men.'
"There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created and arranged
(Against Heresies, 4:20:3-4)
"The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in
breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by
(Against Heresies, book 2, Chap.XXIV)
182-202 AD Clement of Alexandria
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215 C.E., called Jesus in his prehuman
existence 'a creature' but called God 'the uncreated and imperishable and only
true God.' He said that the Son 'is next to the only omnipotent Father' but not
equal to him."
Clement of Alexandria gave the Logos as immanent in the father, with the Son-
Logos preceding from the Logos, and Son and Spirit as "first-born powers and
first created," which led Photius to charge that Clement "degraded the Son to
the rank of a creature." Clement may have believed in a two stage Logos--an
eternal Logos that became the Son. Clement also once taught that Jesus didn't
have bodily needs.
He was a notable example of an Ante-Nicene father who wanted to mix his theo-
logy with the philosophy of his day. It was probably his version of trying to
assimilate with the people of his time and place to persuade them to Christian-
ity. He'd make a good choice for JWs literature that makes a case for such a
teacher being influenced by philosophy except that philosophy is most notably
the influence when it caused his explanations to deviate from the mainstream
He didn't mean Jesus or the holy spirit were creatures, though, and, once you
get past the philosophy, seems pretty mainstream:
"This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was
in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone
being both, both God and man--the Author of all blessings to us; by whom we, be-
ing taught to live well, are sent on our way to life eternal."
(Exhortation to the heathen, chap.1)
"He that is truly most manifest Deity, He that is made equal to the Lord of
the universe; because He was His Son, and the Word was in God, not disbelieved
in by all when He was first preached, nor altogether unknown when, assuming the
character of man, and fashioning Himself in flesh, He enacted the drama of human
salvation: for He was a true champion and a fellow-champion with the creature."
(Exhortation to the heathen, chap.10)
(Regarding 1 John 1:1): "For when he says, 'That which was from the beginning,'
he touches upon the generation without beginning of the Son, who is co-existent
with the Father. There was; then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as
also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of sub-
stance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate."
(Fragments, Section III, Comments on the First Epistle of John)
"I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third
is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made ac-
cording to the will of the Father."
(Stromata, book V, chap.14)
197-220 AD Tertullian
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Tertullian, who died about 230 C.E., taught the supremacy of God. He ob-
served: 'The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as
he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different
from him who is sent.' He also said: 'There was a time when the Son was not...
Before all things, God was alone.' (The word “tri'as” appears in its Latin
form of 'trinitas”' in Tertullian. While these words do translate to 'Trini-
ty,' this is no proof in itself that Tertullian taught the doctrine of the Trin-
ity.)" ("Should You Believe in the Trinity?")
The main complaint I know about Tertullian is he developed Montanist habits
(to not wear loud, colorful clothes, etc.) later in life. They remind me a lit-
tle of the JW leaders' exaggerated version of the scriptural idea of worldli-
The main complaint I know about the JWs leaders here is they waste everyone's
time trying to find an early example of their view with Tertullian. Tertllian
did use some of the ideas the JWs leaders attribute to him in the first quote
about Tertullian (not a direct quote) they present, but they're taken out of
their original context by the JWs leaders and referred to like they show Tertul-
lian didn't have a mainstream view.
If you're getting the hang of not just one but both views and know what to
look for to compare, you probably caught how silly it is already. For example,
both the mainstream and JWs leaders' views say that before all things were
created, God was alone. That's "no proof in itself" of anything we're trying to
First I'll show passages by Tertullian that seem the most like the statements
the JWs leaders' attribute to him, then fill in a bit of the rest of his view.
According to Tertullian:
"I am, moreover, obliged to say this, when (extolling the Monarchy at the ex-
pense of the Economy) they contend for the identity of the Father and Son and
Spirit, that it is not by way of diversity that the Son differs from the Father,
but by distribution: it is not by division that He is different, but by distinc-
tion; because the Father is not the same as the Son, since they differ one from
the other in the mode of their being. For the Father is the entire substance,
but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknow-
ledges: 'My Father is greater than I.' In the Psalm His inferiority is des-
cribed as being 'a little lower than the angels.' Thus the Father is distinct
from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and
He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is
another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made
is another." ("Against Praxeas," chap.9)
Tertullian refuted modalism (God at any one time is only the Father, or only
the Son, or only the holy spirit) with "Against Praxeas": the Son isn't a dif-
ferent mode than the Father but is distinct from the Father, etc. Tertullian
would get some disagreements from others with the mainstream view about how to
explain the subordinate role of the Son (being a little less than the angels,
and the Father being greater, both have to do with Jesus' time in human form--p.
8), but he otherwise just distinguished between the Father and the Son in a con-
text of the mainstream view, not the JWs leaders' view.
"Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has
not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been
God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge
previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him,
nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the
latter a Father. In this way He was not Lord previous to those things of which
He was to be the Lord. But He was only to become Lord at some future time: just
as He became the Father by the Son, and a Judge by sin, so also did He become
Lord by means of those things which He had made, in order that they might serve
Him." ("Against Hermogenes," chap.3)
In the last passage, Tertullian was just explaining his interpretation of the
application of titles and didn't think the titles "Father" and "Son" apply until
a certain point then they show up at the same time, not that their lives did
The passage with "God was alone" the brochure refers to is chap.5 of "Against
Praxeas" (which I think had "Europa," which was a good Santana tune--no,no,no).
As expected, you can see the silliness of the JWs leaders' use of it by the
phrases right after it.
"For before all things God was alone--being in Himself and for Himself uni-
verse, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was
nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had
with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason.
For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from
"This Reason is His own Yought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call logos,
by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual
with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say
that the Word was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable
to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the begin-
ning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself con-
sists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being
its own substance." ("Against Praxeas," chap.5)
Tertullian elaborated some more about terms (and sorry about the word
"yought"--you don't hear that one anymore), this time over which word makes a
more suitable word for something eternal, but Tertullian explained the logos was
eternal with the mainstream view. Tertullian said God was alone before the be-
ginning of creation in the mainstream way of expressing monotheism. God had
Reason within him, which, when spoken, was called the Word, so in that sense he
wasn't alone. Tertullian described Jesus the mainstream way, not the JWs lead-
In making a misleading presentation of Tertullian's outlooks, the JWs leaders'
note that the word "trinity" alone doesn't show Tertullian taught the mainstream
view as if they were going to show you he didn't. But the use Tertullian makes
of it in his explanations makes it clear that he used it as a title for the bas-
ic mainstream tri-unity view--that the three, Father, Son, and holy spirit, are
of one God--not the JWs leaders' view.
"Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kin-
dled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from
it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, 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 made a second in
manner of existence--in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from
the original source, but went forth.
"This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending
into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man
united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood,
speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ." ("Apologies" XXI)
In the last passages, Tertullian used the same kind of "light from light"
phrasing that Tatian showed, which likewise sounds like it's based on Rev.21:23
"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God
gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp" and both John 1:4 (Jesus is "the light
of men") and 1 John 1:5 ("God is light").
In "Against Praxeas," Tertullian argued against Modalism and explains the tri-
unity meaning he intended with the abbreviation "Trinity."
"As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity
(that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded,
which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three
Persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condi-
tion, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect;
yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is
one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." ("Against Praxeas,"
"Still, in these few quotations the distinction of Persons in the Trinity is
clearly set forth. For there is the Spirit Himself who speaks, and the Father
to whom He speaks, and the Son of whom He speaks. In the same manner, the other
passages also establish each one of several Persons in His special character--
addressed as they in some cases are to the Father or to the Son respecting the
Son, in other cases to the Son or to the Father concerning the Father, and again
in other instances to the (Holy) Spirit."
("Against Praxeas," chap.11)
In the next passages, Tertullian elaborated on a mainstream Christian version
of the "one God and one Lord" Shema.
"That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no
time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God,
and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God; but because in
earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when
Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord,
being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord.
"Now, if there were found in the Scriptures but one Personality of Him who is
God and Lord, Christ would justly enough be inadmissible to the title of God and
Lord: for (in the Scriptures) there was declared to be none other than One God
and One Lord, and it must have followed that the Father should Himself seem to
have come down (to earth), inasmuch as only One God and One Lord was ever read
of (in the Scriptures), and His entire Economy would be involved in obscurity,
which has been planned and arranged with so clear a foresight in His providen-
tial dispensation as matter for our faith.
"As soon, however, as Christ came, and was recognised by us as the very Being
who had from the beginning caused plurality (in the Divine Economy), being the
second from the Father, and with the Spirit the third, and Himself declaring and
manifesting the Father more fully (than He had ever been before), the title of
Him who is God and Lord was at once restored to the Unity (of the Divine Na-
ture), even because the Gentiles would have to pass from the multitude of their
idols to the One Only God, in order that a difference might be distinctly set-
tled between the worshippers of One God and the votaries of polytheism."
("Against Praxeas," chap.13)
Tertullian refuted the Gnostic idea that Jesus didn't appear in human flesh.
He explained that Jesus didn't appear as an angel, even specifying not archangel
Michael, since there was no promise for the restoration of condemned angels as
there was for fallen mankind. Jesus might only be called an angel as a title of
function since "angel" means "messenger," but not nature. In the process, he
said Jesus wasn't an angel at all.
"But Christ, they say, bare (the nature of) an angel. For what reason? The
same which induced Him to become man? Christ, then, was actuated by the motive
which led Him to take human nature. Man's salvation was the motive, the restor-
ation of that which had perished. Man had perished; his recovery had become
necessary. No such cause, however, existed for Christ's taking on Him the na-
ture of angels. For although there is assigned to angels also perdition in 'the
fire prepared for the devil and his angels,' yet a restoration is never promised
to them. No charge about the salvation of angels did Christ ever receive from
the Father; and that which the Father neither promised nor commanded, Christ
could not have undertaken. For what object, therefore, did He bear the angelic
nature, if it were not (that He might have it) as a powerful helper wherewithal
to execute the salvation of man?
"He has been, it is true, called 'the Angel of great counsel,' that is, a mes-
senger, by a term expressive of official function, not of nature.
"Only it was never said by Christ, 'And the angel, which spake within me,
said unto me.' Neither, indeed, was ever used by Christ that familiar phrase of
all the prophets, 'Thus saith the Lord.' For He was Himself the Lord, who open-
ly spake by His own authority, prefacing His words with the formula, 'Verily,
verily, I say unto you.' What need is there of further argument? Hear what
Isaiah says in emphatic words, 'It was no angel, nor deputy, but the Lord Him-
self who saved them.'" ("On the Flesh of Christ" XIV)
(The Isaiah verse he paraphrased is Is.63:8,9.)
"But He is not on this account to be regarded as an angel, as a Gabriel or a
Michael." ("On the Flesh of Christ," XIV)
180-230 AD Hippolytus
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Hippolytus, who died about 235 C.E., said that God is 'the one God, the first
and the only One, the Maker and Lord of all,' who 'had nothing co-eval [of
equal age] with him...But he was One, alone by himself; who, willing it, called
into being what had no being before,' such as the created prehuman Jesus."
According to Hippolytus:
"The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing co-
eval with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth,
nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the
stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His
will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except
that He willed to make them."
In the segment from the start of next paragraph, "ratiocination" means "the
process of exact thinking":
"Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection,
brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by
voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the
divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself
constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things
that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His
progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father."
In the next segment, Hippolytus says Jesus wasn't an angel.
"This Logos the Father in the latter days sent forth, no longer to speak by a
prophet, and not wishing that the Word, being obscurely proclaimed, should be
made the subject of mere conjecture, but that He should be manifested, so that
we could see Him with our own eyes. This Logos, I say, the Father sent forth,
in order that the world, on beholding Him, might reverence Him who was deliver-
ing precepts not by the person of prophets, nor terrifying the soul by an angel,
but who was Himself--He that had spoken--corporally present amongst us." ("The
Refutation of All Heresies," Book 10, Chaps.28,29)
"A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge
God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became
man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the
Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn
how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power is one.
As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the
economy there is a threefold manifestation, as shall be proved afterwards when
we give account of the true doctrine.
"In these things, however, which are thus set forth by us, we are at one. For
there is one God in whom we must believe, but unoriginated, impassible, immor-
tal, doing all things as He wills, in the way He wills, and when He wills."
("Against The Heresy Of One Noetus," part 8)
"God, subsisting alone, and having nothing contemporaneous with Himself, de-
termined to create the world. And conceiving the world in mind, and willing and
uttering the word, He made it; and straightway it appeared, formed as it had
pleased Him. For us, then, it is sufficient simply to know that there was noth-
ing contemporaneous with God. Beside Him there was nothing; but He, while exist-
ing alone, yet existed in plurality. For He was neither without reason, nor wis-
dom, nor power, nor counsel And all things were in Him, and He was the All.
When He willed, and as He willed, He manifested His word in the times determined
by Him, and by Him He made all things. When He wills, He does; and when He
thinks, He executes; and when He speaks, He manifests; when He fashions, He con-
trives in wisdom.
"For all things that are made He forms by reason and wisdom--creating them in
reason, and arranging them in wisdom. He made them, then, as He pleased, for He
was God. And as the Author, and fellow-Counsellor, and Framer of the things that
are in formation, He begat the Word; and as He bears this Word in Himself, and
that, too, as (yet) invisible to the world which is created, He makes Him visi-
ble; (and) uttering the voice first, and begetting Him as Light of Light, He set
Him forth to the world as its Lord, (and) His own mind; and whereas He was visi-
ble formerly to Himself alone, and invisible to the world which is made, He
makes Him visible in order that the world might see Him in His manifestation,
and be capable of being saved." ("Against The Heresy Of One Noetus," part 10)
203-250 AD Origen
According to "Should You Believe in the Trinity?":
"Origen, who died about 250 C.E., said that 'the Father and Son are two sub-
stances...two things as to their essence,' and that 'compared with the Father,
[the Son] is a very small light.'"
The quotes the brochure attribute to Origen seem to be misrepresentative
statements about his later writings written by someone else, used in the JWs
leaders'context of a comparison of the mainstream and JWs leaders' view to leave
the false impression that Origen taught a basic, at least, JWs leaders' view of
Jesus as a seperate created being.
Origen taught a mainstream Trinitarian view at first, including the unity of
substance of the Father and Son, both eternal. His later writings became con-
troversial for attempting to reconcile it with outside philosophies. In the
later ones, Origen still taught the Son was eternal and God, but took the sub-
ordinate role of the Son farther than necessary. The Son was secondary to the
Father, and the holy spirit was third.
Since these changes were due to concerns about outside philosophy, they may
seem alien to anyone trying to figure these things out by the Bible alone, and
In this later period of his writings, Origen may have written that Christians
may call Jesus a "second god" due to Philo (mentioned in the section on "John 1:
1" on p.8) calling Logos a "god" figuratively. Neither meant that the Logos was
a seperate created being. In Philo's case the Logos was an emanation of God
that had a beginning, but in the case of Origen's later writings the Logos was
eternally generated by the Father but overly subordinated. He did something
like that with the holy spirit.
As all this relates to the concern at hand, Origen still taught an eternal
Logos, not a created one, let alone that it was archangel Michael.
According to Origen:
"Seeing God the Father is invisible and inseparable from the Son, the Son is
not generated from Him by 'prolation,' as some suppose. For if the Son be a
'prolation' of the Father (the term 'prolation' being used to signify such a
generation as that of animals or men usually is), then, of necessity, both He
who 'prolated' and He who was 'prolated' are corporeal. For we do not say, as
the heretics suppose, that some part of the substance of God was converted into
the Son, or that the Son was procreated by the Father out of things non-exis-
tent, i.e., beyond His own substance, so that there once was a time when He
did not exist; but, putting away all corporeal conceptions, we say that the Word
and Wisdom was begotten out of the invisible and incorporeal without any corpor-
eal feeling, as if it were an act of the will proceeding from the understanding.
"Nay, John also indicates that "God is Light," and Paul also declares that
the Son is the splendour of everlasting light.s As light, accordingly, could
never exist without splendour, so neither can the Son be understood to exist
without the Father; for He is called the 'express image of His person,' and
the Word and Wisdom. How, then, can it be asserted that there once was a time
when He was not the Son? For that is nothing else than to say that there was
once a time when He was not the Truth, nor the Wisdom, nor the Life, although
in all these He is judged to be the perfect essence of God the Father; for these
things cannot be severed from Him, or even be separated from His essence. And
although these qualities are said to be many in understanding, yet in their
nature and essence they are one, and in them is the fulness of divinity.
"Now this expression which we employ—-'that there never was a time when He did
not exist'-—is to be understood with an allowance. For these very words 'when'
or 'never' have a meaning that relates to time, whereas the statements made re-
garding Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be understood as transcending all
time, all ages, and all eternity. For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds the
comprehension not only of temporal but even of eternal intelligence; while other
things which are not included in it are to be measured by times and ages."
("De Principiis," or "First Principles," book four, chapter one, section 28)
Sounds like Origen is working on one of those ideas about God being eternal in
being transcendant over time, which is relative to matter, and both of which God
created (Gen.1:1). This study could go to a few other such places, such as the
procession of the holy spirit, etc., but I'm looking for a basic mainstream or
basic JWs leaders' view, and Origen was mainstream.
"And who that is capable of entertaining reverential thoughts or feelings re-
garding God, can suppose or believe that God the Father ever existed, even for a
moment of time, without having generated this Wisdom? For in that case he must
say either that God was unable to generate Wisdom before He produced her, so
that He afterwards called into being her who formerly did not exist, or that He
possessed the power indeed, but--what cannot be said of God without impiety--was
unwilling to use it; both of which suppositions, it is patent to all, are alike
absurd and impious: for they amount to this, either that God advanced from a
condition of inability to one of ability, or that, although possessed of the
power, He concealed it, and delayed the generation of Wisdom.
"Wherefore we have always held that God is the Father of His only-begotten
Son, who was born indeed of Him, and derives from Him what He is, but without
any beginning, not only such as may be measured by any divisions of time, but
even that which the mind alone can contemplate within itself, or behold, so to
speak, with the naked powers of the understanding." ("De Principiis," book one,
chapter two, section two)
"Now this image contains the unity of nature and substance belonging to Father
and Son. For if the Son do, in like manner, all those things which the Father
doth, then, in virtue of the Son doing all things like the Father, is the image
of the Father formed in the Son, who is born of Him, like an act of His will
proceeding from the mind. And I am therefore of opinion that the will of the
Father ought alone to be sufficient for the existence of that which He wishes to
exist. For in the exercise of His wilt He employs no other way than that which
is made known by the counsel of His will. And thus also the existence of the
Son is generated by Him. For this point must above all others be maintained by
those who allow nothing to be unbegotten, i.e., unborn, save God the Father
only. ("De Principiis," book one, chapter 2, section 6)
"And we must be careful not to fall into the absurdities of those who picture
to themselves certain emanations, so as to divide the divine nature into parts,
and who divide God the Father as far as they can, since even to entertain the
remotest suspicion of such a thing regarding an incorporeal being is not only
the height of impiety, but a mark of the greatest folly, it being most remote
from any intelligent conception that there should be any physical division of
any incorporeal nature. ("De Principiis," book one, chapter 2, section 6)
"Rather, therefore, as an act of the will proceeds from the understanding, and
neither cuts off any part nor is separated or divided from it, so after some
such fashion is the Father to be supposed as having begotten the Son, His own
image; namely, so that, as He is Himself invisible by nature, He also begat an
image that was invisible. For the Son is the Word, and therefore we are not to
understand that anything in Him is cognisable by the senses. He is wisdom, and
in wisdom there can be no suspicion of anything corporeal. He is the true
light, which enlightens every man that cometh into this world; but He has noth-
ing in common with the light of this sun." ("De Principiis," book one, chapter
2, section 6)
"And that you may understand that the omnipotence of Father and Son is one and
the same, as God and the Lord are one and the same with the Father, listen to
the manner in which John speaks in the Apocalypse: 'Thus saith the Lord God,
which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.' For who else was
'He which is to come' than Christ? And as no one ought to be offended, seeing
God is the Father, that the Savior is also God; so also, since the Father is
called omnipotent, no one ought to be offended that the Son of God is also
called omnipotent." ("De Principiis," book one, chapter two, section ten)
"That all things were created by God, and that there is no creature which
exists but has derived from Him its being, is established from many declarations
of Scripture; those assertions being refuted and rejected which are falsely al-
leged by some respecting the existence either of a matter co-eternal with God,
or of unbegotten souls, in which they would have it that God implanted not so
much the power of existence, as equality and order. For even in that little
treatise called The Pastor or Angel of Repentance, composed by Hennas, we have
the following: 'First of all, believe that there is one God who created and ar-
ranged all things; who, when nothing formerly existed, caused all things to be;
who Himself contains all things, but Himself is contained by none.' And in the
book of Enoch also we have similar descriptions." ("First Principles," book
one, chapter 3, section 3)
Origen taught that if the holy spirit went from ignorance to knowledge of the
"...the Holy Spirit would never be reckoned in the Unity of the Trinity, i.e.,
along with the unchangeable Father and His Son, unless He had always been the
Holy Spirit. When we use, indeed, such terms as 'always' or 'was,' or any other
designation of time, they are not to be taken absolutely, but with due allow-
ance; for while the significations of these words relate to time, and those sub-
jects of which we speak are spoken of by a stretch of language as existing in
time, they nevertheless surpass in their real nature all conception of the fi-
nite understanding. ("First Principles," book one, chapter 3, section 4)
"Nevertheless it seems proper to inquire what is the reason why he who is re-
generated by God unto salvation has to do both with Father and Son and Holy
Spirit, and does not obtain salvation unless with the co-operation of the entire
Trinity; and why it is impossible to become partaker of the Father or the Son
without the Holy Spirit." ("First Principles," book one, chapter 3, section 5)
The JWs leaders' brochure says that Origen wrote that the Father and Son are
"two substances" and that "compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small
light." Given that the JWs leaders' brochure is meant to seem to compare their
stance of Jesus being archangel Michael with the mainstream view of Jesus, that
leaves the impression that Origen taught the basic, at least, JWs leaders' view
of Jesus as a seperate created being.
That impression would be a distorted summary of certain passages from "Contra
Celsus"--a later writing by Origen described above. There was predictable con-
troversy about Origen speculating too far about the reduced status and subordin-
ation of the Son and holy spirit, which went farther than it was generally done
and was due to outside philosophy, but it wasn't an idea of a created Jesus:
"Those, indeed, who worship sun, moon, and stars because their light is visi-
ble and celestial, would not bow down to a spark of fire or a lamp upon earth,
because they see the incomparable superiority of those objects which are deemed
worthy of homage to the light of sparks and lamps. So those who understand that
God is light, and who have apprehended that the Son of God is 'the true light
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' and who comprehend also
how He says, 'I am the light of the world,' would not rationally offer worship
to that which is, as it were, a spark in sun, moon, and stars, in comparison
with God, who is light of God’s creative power, or to call them, after the fash-
ion of Anaxagoras, 'fiery masses,' that we thus speak of sun, and moon, and
stars; but because we perceive the inexpressible superiority of the divinity of
God, and that of His only-begotten Son, which surpasses all other things."
("Contra Celsus," book five, chapter 11)
The "small light" part of the JWs presentation about Origen seems to refer to
that passage. Origen wrote that some who worship the Sun, etc., wouldn't wor-
ship a small spark found on Earth. Likewise, a Christian wouldn't worship ex-
cept to worship God and his Son.
Combine the examples of quotes out of context (also see "Complaints about the
The JWs leaders misrepresented all of the early Christian writers they wrote
of as having, or implying they had, various basic JWs leaders' views but who had
the basic mainstream views. Importantly, none of them said Jesus was created
archangel Michael or some other created being external to God or that the holy
spirit is impersonal, etc.
Lucien then Arius appear in the late 200's and into the 300's AD with some-
thing like the JWs leaders' views of created Jesus except he's worshipped and
not archangel Michael; they didn't use the JWs leaders' claim of an impersonal
spirit (therefore didn't use the God in one location JWs leaders' view, either).
(The Ebionites were earlier in denying the mainstream view of Jesus, but they
didn't have the JWs leaders' view. They believed Jesus was just a man. They
also followed Jewish law and considered apostle Paul, who created the most writ-
ings for what became the New Testament, an apostate, etc., so didn't have a
conservative view of the Bible.)
Arius may have arrived at his view as an extension of the idea of Origen of a
hierarchy in which the Son was in a sense subordinate to the Father, and the Son
was sustained by the Father's will. But while Origen was otherwise not only of
the mainstream view but was highly regarded by the others of it, Arius decided
that Jesus was a subordinate created being.
One theory holds that Arius' view is said to have paralleled the development
of the neo-Platonism of his time. If so, Arius would have been guided by an
idea that there were levels of being that beings couldn't cross--God couldn't
appear on man's level nor Jesus on God's--so since Jesus appeared on Earth, he
couldn't have been a manifestation of God. ("Arius: Heresy and Tradition" by
Rowan Williams, 2001)
The usual view then had to explain how they disagreed, and the Greek words for
"same essence"/homoousios (Trinity) and "similar essence"/homoiousios (Arian)
were bandied back and forth. And some that chose the "same substance" side of
the debate would have preferred a different word for it.
The first Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, and the first Council of Constantinople,
(381 or 383 AD?), are described at the sites at the next links.
One account of some of these events by Michael Williams & Covenant Theological
Seminary is at the next link. (I like the part about Athanasius waving from the
boat. (Link inactive)
After Arius developed a following with his created Jesus view, and the dispute
between it and the historical mainstream view was popularized in the early 300's
AD, Tertullian popularized the use of the Latin word "trinitas," trinity, as a
way to identify the long held mainstream view, and the new contention with it
became known as Arius' view or "Arianism."
There's therefore no corresponding record in early Christian history of the
JWs leaders' version of a ransom sacrifice, let alone in combination with the
JWs leaders' rejection of the immortal soul and rejection of the Trinity.
An interesting sidelight of the Arian debates:
Valentinus was a mainstream teacher who almost became a bishop. According to
Tertullian, Valentinus lost the job to another and became heretical--a Gnostic.
Valentinus taught that God is three hypostases (hidden spiritual realities)
and three prosopa (persons) called the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Marcellus of Ancyra, though against Arianism, was against the use of the word
"hypostases" because the Gnostic Valentinus used it as part of his explanation
for the three persons--the Father, Son, and holy spirit. According to Wikipe-
dia: "Nag Hammadi library Sethian text such as Trimorphic Protennoia identify
Gnosticism as professing Father, Son and feminine spirit Sophia or, as Professor
John D. Turner denotes, God the Father, Sophia the Mother, and Logos the Son."
The Macedonians had an Arian/JWs leaders'-type view that denied the personal-
ity of the holy spirit. It was condemned in 381 AD by the First Council of Con-