The last living disciple,
John the Revelator, wrote
“Truely our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ” 1John 1:3
With the death of the apostle John, the church of Ephesus was replaced by the church of Smyrna (Rev 2:1,8). Now belief in God and His Son faced tribulation and persecution. Polycarp, Iranaeus, Justin Martyr defended the truth of “the one true God and Jesus Christ” with their very lives. But from this pure, simple faith in one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor 8:6), there soon was “a falling away” (2 Thes 2:3).
Peter saw it as well, saying, “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (2Pet 2:1). John then gave the final warning. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come” (1John 2:18). Antichrist—that great evil enemy of God was coming. And who was He? “He is antichrist that denies the Father and the Son.” (v 22).
The first was to make them the same person. God was thus the Father in the Old Testament and the Son in the New Testament. Sabellius came up with this “modal” idea in the early part of the third century. He taught that God was sometimes a father, sometimes a son—He just wore different hats depending on the situation. God was not really a Father nor was Christ really a Son.
The second way in which antichrist could deny the Father and Son was to let them be two separate persons all the time but require them to be part of a single indivisible God being. This demanded that they be co-eternal, co-equal, con-substantial. Again, God could not be a real Father or have a real Son; these were just metaphors, figures of speech.
While the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople were producing their creeds defining one God of undivided substance composed of three co-equal persons, other councils met professing the original belief in God and His Christ (Rev 12:10).
But by the end of the 4th century the falling away was complete. Creeds had taken the place of the Bible. The “traditions of men” held sway over the Word of God, and with a firmly establish creed that could be enforced—it soon was. Excommunication, Inquisition and Crusade became weapons wielded by bishops and popes.
Those who continued to believe in the Father and His Son were chased “into the wilderness” where they had “a place prepared of God” Rev 12:6. Here for over a thousand years, they could remain true to their conscience and true to the Word.
I make the journey to my Lord; I believe in one God the Father, the only unbegotten and invisible,
and in his only-begotten son, our Lord and God, the designer and maker of all creation,
having none other like him (so that one alone among all beings is God the Father, who is also
the God of our God); and in one Holy Spirit, the illuminating and sanctifying power, as Christ said
after his resurrection to his apostles: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you;
but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)
and again “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)...
Peter Heather, John Matthews Goths in the Fourth Century, Liverpool University Press 1991 p. 143.
His Son is His only-begotten, the Creator of all things,
and the visible image of the invisible God. (John 1:3; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2).
The Holy Spirit, according to Ufilas, is (as with the Councils of Rimini, Sirmium and Lampsacus) the power of God (Luke 1:35; 1Cor 1:34).
Ulfilas was so influential among the Gothic people that by 370 AD a new flock of Christian converts from the Danube joined his mission at the foot of mount Haemus. A decade later conversion of the entire Gothic nation was complete.
Probably the greatest testimony to the work of Ulfilas was his translation of the Bible into the Gothic language, a task which required him to invent a new alphabet—consisting of Greek and Runic letters. It is the oldest existing example of any Teutonic language. Seven manuscripts have been discovered. Codex Argenteus, written on purple vellum in gold and silver letters, dating from the sixth century, was discovered in 1597, and is now preserved at the Carolina Rediviva library of Uppsala, Sweden.