John in his first epistle
features one God and His Son.
They are John’s constant theme.
The Son, the Word, is that eternal life which was with the Father in the beginning 1John 1:2
Our fellowship is with the Father and His Son 1John 1:3
who is our Advocate with the Father 1John 2:1
We should continue in the Son and the Father 1John 2:24
We have confidence in God and believe on the name of His Son 1John 3:21,23
God sent His only begotten Son into the world 1John 4:9,10
The Father sent the Son to be our Saviour 1John 4:14
God dwells in us if we confess that Jesus is the Son of God 1John 4:15
We can overcome the world by believing that Jesus is the Son of God 1John 5:5
God gave His Son 1John 5:10
God has given us eternal life which is in His Son 1John 5:11
That you might believe on the name of the Son of God 1John 5:13
The Father and Son are “the true God and eternal life” 1John 5:20.
That eternal life which was with the Father 1John 1:2
John ends his first epistle with the same two he began with.
“deny the Father and the Son” 1John 2:22,
John’s first disciple,
Ignatius of Antioch (Theophorus) c. 35-110
warned the believers in Tralleis about….
“vain talkers and deceivers introduce God as a Being unknown; they suppose Christ to be unbegotten; and as to the Spirit, they do not admit that He exists. Some of them say that the Son is a mere man, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but the same person.” Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chapter 6
Polycarp of Smyrna c. 69-165
Another contemporary and disciple of the apostle John introduced his Epistle
to the Philippians in the style of Paul’s epistles.
“Polycarp, and the elders with him, to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi: Mercy to you, and peace from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied.” The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippains.
Justin Martyr c. 100-165
In his Dialog with Trypho written about 45 years after the death of John, Justin attempts to persuade a Jew from Scripture that Jesus is the divine Son of God, the promised Messiah.
“God begat before all creatures a Beginning, a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; … He was begotten of the Father” Chapter 61.
Justin then quoted Proverbs 8:
“When He speaks by Solomon: …The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He had made the earth, and before He had made the deeps, before the springs of the waters had issued forth, before the mountains had been established. Before all the hills He begets me.” Chapter 61
“But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with Him; even as the Scripture by Solomon has made clear, that He whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten as a Beginning before all His creatures and as Offspring by God.” Chapter 62
Justin quoted Psalm 110, a verse also quoted by Jesus, Peter and Paul, each applying it to the Son of God.
“‘The LORD says to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. He shall send forth a rod of power over Jerusalem, and it shall rule in the midst of Thine enemies. In the splendour of the saints before the morning star have I begotten Thee …from the womb of the morning.’” Chapter 83
“And the same thing he proclaimed in mystery when he speaks of this stone which was cut out without hands (Dan 2:45)… signified that it is not a work of man, but of the will of the Father and God of all things, who brought Him forth.” Chapter 76
Justin recognized in the Stone and the Mountain a pattern of the Son coming out from his Father "who brought Him forth." About 10 years later he wrote his First Apology to the Roman emperor Antonimus in defence of Christianity.
“the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.” Chapter 63
For Justin, the deity of Christ is assured by his divine inheritance from the God of the universe.
Tertullian, another prolific Christian author, was born in Carthage, north Africa about the time Justin Martyr died. In his book, Against Praxaes, Tertullian also used Proverbs 8 to support the pre-existence of Christ.
“Listen therefore to Wisdom, expressed in the character of the Second Person: ‘At the first, the Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works, before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled. Moreover, before all the hills did He beget me.’ That is to say, ‘He created and generated me in His own intelligence.’” Chapter 6
Other English translations render “created” as “generated,” or “begotten” but Tertullian makes it clear he was not created from nothing.
“By proceeding from Him [God] He became His first-begotten Son, because he was begotten before all things; and he was also His only-begotten, because he alone was begotten of God, in a way unique to himself, from the womb of His own heart -- even as the Father Himself testifies: ‘My heart,’ says He, ‘has emitted my most excellent Word.” [Ps 45:1] Chapter 7
“Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled.”
Apoligies Chapter 21
Like Justin Martyr, Tertullian also understood the concept of divine inheritance.
“..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;” Apoligies Chapter 21
Tertullian also saw in the creation of man a type of the Father and Son. In his On Exhortation to Chastity he makes a point of how significant the one rib from Adam produced two and no more.
“There were more ribs in Adam,.. but not more wives in the eye of God” “Accordingly the man of God, Adam, and the woman of God, Eve… sanctioned for man-kind a type by the authoritative precedent of their origin” On Exhortation to Chastity 204-212 AD
Tertullian notes that God made man in His own image by creating only two not three which was based on the “authoritative precedent” of the Father and the Son.
“How will a woman have room for another husband?” “She will have one in spirit, one in flesh. This will be adultery, the conscious affection of one woman for two men.” On Monogomy c. 210 AD
This seems to describe the duality which exists if Christ and the Holy Spirit are two separate persons. The church now has two husbands, two intercessors, two mediators: “one in spirit, one in flesh.” She then tries to give her “conscious affection…for two men” and “This will be adultery.”
Two is company; three’s a crowd.
He clearly presented a two being, subordinate Christology persisting well into the third century AD. Alas, he tried to preserve the "one true God" by making both the Father and Son part of the one divine substance, not just of the same nature, but of the same indivisible physical essence. His solution paved the diverging path to the philosophical triune god of Rome.
Novatian was a Roman priest who argued that the Church could not forgive sins but only God. His treatise on The Trinity written in 257 AD nearly 70 years before the Council of Nicea, was aimed at refuting the modal god of the Sabellians. His argument is based on the divinely begotten Son of God.
“There is, then, God the Father, Who established and created all things, Who alone is without origin, invisible, boundless, immortal, eternal, the One God. To His greatness, His majesty, His powers alike, nothing whatever can be placed, I will not say in superiority, but even in comparison. From Him, at such a time as He, the Father, willed, the Word, Who is the Son, was born; the Word, … acknowledged as the Personal Substance of a power issuing forth from God.”
“The Son has His Origin in the Father, Who has no Origin.” “He proceeded from the Father, at Whose will all things were made, God, assuredly, proceeding from God, constituting the Second Person after the Father, as Son, yet not robbing the Father of the unity of the Godhead.” “If He had not been begotten, He would have been ranked with Him Who is not begotten, and the Two, being found to be equal, as unbegotten, would, of course, have given us two Gods…”
“He is begotten. For whether He is the Word, whether He is power, whether He is wisdom, whether He is light, whether He is the Son—whatever He is of these, He has no other source of His Being, as we have said before, than the Father. He owes His origin to the Father. …for He derived His origin, in being born, from Him Who is the one God.” Ante-Nicene Christian Library vol. 13 edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, 1869, Chapter 31.
Novatian’s words are rich with the words of Scripture. Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and came from God” John 8:42; “I live by the Father” John 6:57; “I came out from God” John 16:27; “I came forth from the Father” John 16:28; “He that is of God hears God’s words” John 8:47; “I am the Son of God” John 10:36; “I am in the Father and the Father in me” John 14:10.
Ignatius, Justin, Tertullian, Novatian—all believed in the begotten Son who came forth from God. For over 200 years, belief in the begotten Son of God remained the faith once delivered to the saints.