Early Church Fathers on Jesus' Divinity  

According to Christians, belief in the divinity of Jesus existed since 'the early years' of Christianity

By Nicaea (in 325 AD), just about every Christian everywhere, already agreed that Jesus was divine, the Son of God ... There certainly was no vote to determine Jesus' divinity: this was already a matter of common knowledge among Christians, and had been from the early years of the religion.

Bart Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know About Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, 14-15

Early Church Fathers made statments confirming their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Church Fathers and their statements were made many years after Jesus' crucifixion.

35-108 AD | Ignatius
Ignatius was the bishop at the church in Antioch and another disciple of John. He wrote a series of letters to various churches on his way to Rome, where he was to be martyred. He writes,
There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first subject to suffering and then beyond it, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 7.2 (107-110 AD)
For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God's plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit.
Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 18.2 (107-110 AD)
  • Ignatius was writing approximately 74 years (or 2 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Ignatius was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 69-156 AD | Polycarp
    Polycarp was the bishop at the church in Smyrna. Irenaeus tells us Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle. In his Letter to the Philippians he says,
    Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternan7h l high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth ... and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead.
    Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians, 12:2 (110-140 AD)
  • Polycarp was writing approximately 77 years (or 2 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Polycarp was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 100-165 AD | Justin Martyr
    Justin Martyr was a Christian apologist of the second century. He boldly states,
    And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said.
    Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 128 (155–160 AD)
    Permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove that Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts.
    Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 36 (155–160 AD)
    For if you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God.
    Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 126. ANF, I:263 (155–160 AD)
  • Justin Martyr was writing approximately 122 years (or 3 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Justin Martyr was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 130-202 AD | Irenaeus
    Irenaeus of Lyons was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. Irenaeus was born in Smyrna in Asia Minor, where he studied under bishop Polycarp, who in turn had been a disciple of John the Apostle.
    He received testimony from all that He was very man, and that He was very God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons.
    Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.6.7 (175-185 AD)
    ... Christ Jesus our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father.
    Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.10.1 (175-185 AD)
    Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers.
    Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.5.2 (175-185 AD)
  • Irenaeus was writing approximately 142 years (or 3 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Irenaeus was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 150-215 AD | Clement
    Clement of Alexandria was another early church father. He wrote around AD 200. He writes,
    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....
    Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, 1 (182-202 AD)
  • Clement was writing approximately 149 years (or 3 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Clement was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 155-240 AD | Tertullian
    Tertullian was an early Christian apologist. He said,
    For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God.
    Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul, 41 (197-220 AD)
  • Tertullian was writing approximately 164 years (or 4 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Tertullian was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 170-235 AD | Hippolytus
    Hippolytus of Rome was a third century theologian. He was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. He writes,
    The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God.
    Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 10.29 (180-230 AD)
    For, lo, the Only-begotten entered, a soul among souls, God the Word with a (human) soul. For His body lay in the tomb, not emptied of divinity;
    Hippolytus, Exegetical Fragments from Commentaries, On Luke, Chapter 23 (180-230 AD)
    For all, the righteous and the unrighteous alike, shall be brought before God the Word.
    Hippolytus, Against Plato, Section 3 (180-230 AD)
  • Hippolytus was writing approximately 147 years (or 3 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Hippolytus was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • 185-254 AD | Origen
    Origen was another early Christian theologian. He writes,
    Jesus Christ... in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained the God which He was.
    Origen, De Principiis, Preface, 4 (203-250 AD)
    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...
    Origen, De Principiis, Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 2 (203-250 AD)
  • Origen was writing approximately 170 years (or 4 generations*) after Jesus' crucifixion
  • Origen was not a disciple of Jesus, or an eyewitness
  • * In 100 AD, the average life expectancy of a person was 40 years

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