2.19.1 The philosopher’s response: “What, then, is the meaning of the passage, ‘They did not know the way of wisdom nor remember its paths,’ and so on?”

2.19.2 The response of the holy bishops through the same Eusebius Pamphili: “Often, philosopher, after looking at wisdom’s words, you have been amazed at wisdom’s power, because one can find in wisdom great intellectual truth in concise expressions.

2.19.3 One could rightly compare Scripture’s words in the parable in the Gospel which teaches that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. Although it is the smallest ‘of all the seeds on earth,’ it provides ample shelter for birds when fully grown.

2.19.4 Thus we see that concise expressions scatter the power of divine words. But when the thoughts fully mature and extend like branches over the understanding of the birds (that is, of humans), one finds power so great that it can provide ample shelter not only to the farmers but also to the birds standing nearby.

2.19.5 Where did I get this understanding other than from the word of Holy Scripture through the psalmist David? It proves and confirms that he is not rational wisdom, as you concluded, but is the incomprehensible, uncreated Wisdom, without beginning, who crafted this rational wisdom as well as everything which has been made, that is, Christ.

2.19.6 Since Christ is the power of God and the Wisdom of God according to the character of his inexpressible, inconceivable divine nature, he is God’s true divine Word. For David says, ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; all their power by the Spirit of his mouth’ [Psalm 33:6, LXX 32:6].

2.19.7 You hear ‘the word of the Lord;’ you hear ‘the Spirit of his mouth.’ Now listen again for confirmation of the true faith, which the religious piously apprehend and proclaim, since (I suppose) you have not accepted from this great spiritual company of holy priests any knowledge of what they proclaimed to you.

2.19.8 So listen dutifully and stop trying to understand the inexpressible with human arguments. He who is perfect neither decreases nor increases. There is one who is unbegotten, God the Father. There is one who is begotten of him, the only-begotten Son, God the Word.

2.19.9 Therefore, just as there is not another unbegotten God along with God the Father, there is not another Son of God who was begotten with, before, or after God’s only-begotten Son, God the Word. There is truly one God the Father, and there is truly one Son, incomprehensibly begotten of him, God the Word.

2.19.10 Therefore, just as God is not Father in name only, the Son is not Son in name only, but in actuality. The Father is actually Father; the Son is actually Son. The Father is God; the Son, begotten of him, is God. The Father is perfect; his Son is perfect. The Father is incorporeal; the Son is incorporeal (for the imprint and image of the incorporeal is certainly incorporeal).

2.19.11 Philosopher, do you believe that the Father’s only-begotten Son was begotten of his essence [οὐσία], as we have demonstrated from the beginning of our debate by so many passages of Scripture, or not?”

The philosopher’s response: “Explain how this occurred.”

2.19.12 The holy bishops said through the same Eusebius Pamphili: “Do not ask ‘how,’ philosopher. Otherwise, as we told you many times and solemnly declared at the beginning of this debate, you may quickly fall headlong as you try to understand the unsearchable.

2.19.13 For if, in speaking of the unbegotten, it were permissible to ask ‘how,’ then, in speaking of the begotten, it would also be permissible to ask ‘how.’ But since the unbegotten does not admit of investigation as to how he is unbegotten, neither does the begotten admit of investigation as to how he was begotten. Stop seeking the unsearchable, for you will not find it. Seek what may be found, and you will find it.

2.19.14 If you would investigate, from whom could you learn? The earth? It did not yet exist. The sea? The waters had not yet been created. The heavens? They had not yet been made. The sun, moon, and stars? They had not yet been created. Angels and archangels? They did not yet exist, for the Son made even them. What about time? The only-begotten was before time.

2.19.15 Do not apply the standards of things which have not always existed to him who has always existed. The unbegotten Father is incomprehensible. The Son incomprehensibly begotten of him is incomprehensible.

2.19.16 Keep silent about ‘how.’ Leave this to him who has begotten and him who was begotten. The Father alone knows who the Son is; the Son knows the Father (and ‘he to whom the Son desires to reveal the Father’ [Matthew 11:27]), as the Gospel about him says.

2.19.17 If, however, you insist on asking ‘how’ and are determined to understand the unsearchable, we laugh at your audacity. Rather, we mourn for you because you are unwilling to apprehend by faith that God is always Father of his Son and that his only-begotten Son is always his Son, always coexisting with the Father and not created later, as you irreverently say.

2.19.18 Instead, apprehend by faith and confess that the Son is a perfect being from a perfect being (as you have often heard), eternal light from eternal light, true God from true God and Father, uncreated from uncreated, not composite from one who is not composite, always existing with the Father. For John the Evangelist says, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

2.19.19 Philosopher, the word ‘was’ does not admit of something existing before him. The word ‘was’ repudiates ‘was not,’ as we already demonstrated, philosopher. The word ‘God’ repudiates ‘not God.’ Believe what has been written. Do not consider nor investigate what has not been written.

2.19.20 Believe that the Son himself crafted everything which has been made in accord with the Father’s will, not by seeing with his eyes (for God does not have parts, as we said before), but by his will, as he alone knows. Apprehending this by faith, we proclaim according to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures that, by the will of the Father and of himself, he crafted all creation, in heaven and on earth, perceivable and only conceivable, not with tools nor devices nor the assistance of another, but by the will of the Father (as we just said), who said to him and the Holy Spirit, ‘Let us make man in our image and likeness.’

2.19.21 He did not say, ‘Make!’ or ‘You two, make!’ but rather, ‘Let us make,’ showing the sameness of essence and equality of honor in the blessed, indescribable Trinity.

2.19.22 Do not mutter to yourself and roll your eyes, philosopher, but rather use your intellect to see the accuracy of apostolic doctrine and faithfully accept it. Do not be unfaithful any longer, but rather faithful.

2.19.23 Listen and understand: The Word of God, God’s Son before time, to whom he said, ‘Let us make man,’ and so on, himself became human in the last days by the will of the Father and of himself, taking on flesh through a virgin for the sake of Adam, the fallen man.

2.19.24 He who is without a body emptied himself, as the apostle Paul said,1 taking on a body for the body.2 God the Word took the body on like a cloud so that he would not consume the created beings of the world,3 for ‘no one has ever seen God’ [John 1:18].

2.19.25 He was restrained in flesh that flesh might be freed from death through its inalterable union with him, the invisible in the visible that he might endure visible circumstances as a human subject to time. In both cases, the same is truly God and man, man and God. From both there is one Christ. Thus we apprehend and recognize the difference between his essences, namely, his divine nature and his flesh. He was and is God. He became man for the plan of salvation [οἰκονομία].

2.19.26 Because of him there were prophets; because of him there were apostles; because of him there were martyrs. There were prophets because of the one prophesied; apostles because of the one sent out for the plan of salvation; martyrs because of the first martyr. God the Son came to earth, concealing his great divine nature in flesh, according to his will. Yet he did not leave heaven desolate, nor was he absent from the world before he took on flesh.

2.19.27 He was and is God. He became man for the plan of salvation, taking on flesh and being born of a virgin because of his love for mankind.

2.19.28 The Father begot a Son worthy of and equal to himself, as God the Father, who begot him, and the Son begotten by him both know, philosopher.”


Next Chapter – 2.20 The philosopher’s counter-question

Previous Chapter – 2.18 Another counter-argument of the philosopher

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.


Created by RR 7-28-21

  1. Cf. Philippians 2:7.
  2. This clause could be drawing on the frequent image of the church as Christ’s body in the New Testament.
  3. This comparison is reminiscent of the pillar of cloud which indicated God’s presence during the Exodus (cf. Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; Numbers 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:1-2).

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