Bible Articles on the Topic of Council of Nicea

The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.

Three Creeds

Three of Christianity’s most influential and well-known creeds are compared in the table below.

Creed of the Council of Constantinople, 381

This creed, drawn up at the Council of Constantinople in 381, is often referred to as the “Nicene Creed” and recited in churches. However the creed drawn up at the Council of Nicaea in 325 is significantly different than this creed.

Creed of the Council of Nicaea

The following, the actual creed drawn up at the Council of Nicea in 325, is significantly different than the creed often referred to as the “Nicene Creed.” What is commonly called the “Nicene Creed” and recited in church is actually the Constantinopolitan Creed from the Council of Constantinople in 381.

Letter of the Synod of Antioch (325)

Amazingly, knowledge of this council had been lost until Edward Schwartz published the Syriac of this letter in 1905. Soon two other Syriac editions of this letter were published from other manuscripts. Most scholars now accept the authenticity of this document and the council it describes.

Is Jesus God If He Did Not Know the Time of His Return?

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God. And they generally believe that God is omniscient, thus knowing everything, including all about the future. However, Jesus told his apostles that he would be killed, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven and someday return to earth, and he added that he did not know the day of his return. If Jesus was God, how could he not have known when he would return, since the Father knew it? As a former Trinitarian, I used to believe that Jesus was and is God. But I began to question it when I read in the Bible that he said he didn’t know the time of his return. It caused me to undertake a serious quest for Jesus’ identity. What is this saying?

Is Jesus God or Subordinate to God?

Nearly all Christians are what scholars call “traditionalists” due to their belief that Jesus is God. The church doctrine of the Trinity says God is one essence existing as three co-equal and co-eternal Persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. But the New Testament (NT) repeatedly describes Jesus as subordinate to God to Father, which seems to conflict with them being equal, and scholars label it a paradox. Raymond E. Brown acknowledges that “even in the New Testament works that speak of Jesus as God, there are also passages that seem to militate against such a usage.”

A Review: When Jesus Became God

“Was Jesus Christ God on earth, or was he something else? Three hundred years after the crucifixion, Christians still had not made up their minds about this.” This was what the Arian controversy was all about.

Comments on the Feast of the Holy Trinity

During the great debate at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D, Emperor Constantine (though he did not wish to go to this meeting) summoned and forced the bishop Arius to attend the council. According to historical accounts, the attendees at this council were split into three factions:

Does Colossians 1:15-19 Mean Jesus Preexisted and Created the Universe?

Multiple issues arise in Colossians 1:15-19 that have caused many Bible readers to think Paul therein teaches that Jesus preexisted and created the universe. From this they conclude that only God does that, so Jesus must be God. But Paul does not mean any of that. This text, which is about Jesus, reads as follows in the New American Standard Bible:

A Synopsis: Explaining “Jesus is God” Verses

Most distinguished Trinitarian scholars who have written on the doctrine of the Trinity cite the following texts as the foremost biblical support for these beliefs. We call them “Jesus is God verses” for simplicity sake. Not only is this an easy way to identify the verses, but also expresses what Trinitarians believe these verses teach. Alternative ways to understand these verses accompany them below.

Explanations to Verses Commonly Used to Teach that Jesus Is God

Isn’t it interesting how one statement can be shocking and controversial in one setting and totally mundane in another? For example, if someone came into a room of NASCAR enthusiasts and said, “Racing is so boring to watch—all they do is take left turns over and over,” immediately all activity in the room would screech to a halt so that one could hear a pin drop as each person with blazing eyes fixed their best death stare on the intruder. However, if the same phrase were uttered in a room full of people who didn’t care for car racing, there might be a brief chuckle, but then life would go on. So it is with the phrase, “Jesus is God.” Among my own biblical, unitarian¹ brothers and sisters, this statement is not only understood as false and pejorative, it may even trigger memories of ridicule and exclusion from mainstream Christians. Yet, in any other Christian context, trinitarian or modalist,² the phrase, “Jesus is God,” is utterly mundane and doesn’t even warrant raising an eyebrow. Even so, there are at least two instances in the New Testament in which Jesus is called God.³ So, the question we need to ask is not, “Is Jesus God?” but, “What does the Bible mean when it says, Jesus is God?”⁴ But, before we look at the two places in the New Testament where Jesus is called God, it is necessary to build our understanding of a biblical notion called representational deity, in order to give us the required interpretive tools to understand what the Bible means when humans are called “Gods.”

Recommended Reading: When Jesus Became God

When I picked up Richard Rubenstein’s When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1999), I was stirred wide awake and remained so from start to finish. This is an account of one of the greatest doctrinal battles of early Christianity, and Rubenstein’s lively telling reads like a political thriller. My fascination with this book prompted me to interview the distinguished professor from George Mason University. I wanted to know: how did a secular Jew, a sociologist by training, whose area of expertise centers on Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs, become embroiled in the internecine warfare of Christians in the Fourth Century of the Common Era?

The Trinity Controversy: Alexander, Alexandria, Arius and Nicea

“When modern readers are introduced to the theological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries, they are sometimes shocked by the atmosphere in which they took place. Those debates were not carried on by calm scholars sitting in their manuscript-lined studies. From one perspective, the story is one of misunderstandings, vicious personal attacks, distortions, violence, bribes, mutual excommunication, intervention by emperors, and the deposition and exile of bishops and others who lost in the struggle. From another perspective, the story is one of theological creativity that has shaped Christian beliefs for about fifteen centuries.”

The Catholic Faith

Book 16, the final book of the Theodosian Code, treats religion. The tenor and contents of this book give us a sense of how the imperial court refashioned its own religious authority in the centuries following the legalization of Christianity. Although bishops might attempt to subordinate the imperial house to episcopal authority, the emperors still maintained their role as guardians of religious equilibrium. So emperors convoked Christian councils and legislated on religion.

How Jesus Became God

When we meet together each Sunday, at the opening of the service, it is quite common for presiding brothers in their public prayers to give thanks to God for the fact that we are able to meet together in “peace and safety.” That portion of their prayer concerning our being able to meet together in “peace and safety” is something that we can easily take for granted. These prayers remind us that we live in a country where we do not have to worry about being physically attacked by religious adversaries or arrested by our government for simply showing up here each Sunday to worship God according to our consciences. But for many people, for many centuries, in various lands,… for them this wasn’t always the case.

Incarnation Rebuttal: The Word Becoming Flesh?

The following is a transcription of a sermon by Bill Kynes, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, in Annandale, Virginia, given on December 20, 2015. The title of his sermon was, “Incarnation: The Word Becoming Flesh.” I was in the audience listening to the pastor’s message and found myself disagreeing with much of what the pastor put forth. I decided to transcribe Pastor Kynes’ words (found in blue type-face) and insert my comments (found in black type-face) along the way.

Did Jesus Empty Himself of Any Divine Attributes?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi, exhorting them to be humble and love one another (Philippians 2:1-4). Then he added what all modern scholars insist is a pre-existing hymn whose composer remains unknown. Paul introduces this hymn by telling readers, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). Then he begins the hymn by saying, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men…” (vv. 6-7).

Did Jesus Indicate He Was God to the Rich Young Man?

Many people know about Jesus saying to a rich young man, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). The man elicited this remark by addressing him as “Good Teacher” (v. 17). Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (v. 18).

How Did Matthew Understand Isaiah’s Ascription of “Immanuel”?

Matthew says Jesus’ birth fulfilled Isaiah 7:14. He quotes it and explains as follows: “‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US’” (Matthew 1:23).

Is Jesus God Because He Is the Son of God?

The New Testament (NT) repeatedly identifies Jesus as the Son of God. Mark writes, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). At Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, the heavenly voice announced, “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). When Jesus later asked his apostles, “‘who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:15-16). And the author of the Gospel of John concludes, “these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). The central theme of all four NT gospels is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Can Jesus Be God If He Has a God?

Most Christians believe Jesus is God because that is what the institutional church has taught. And it has asserted that if anyone does not believe Jesus is God, that person is not a genuine Christian. But the Bible never supports this assertion.

Is Jesus “the Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6?

Most Christians claim that Jesus is God, and one of their primary biblical passages they cite for support is Isaiah 9:6. It reads, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Is Trinitarianism Monotheistic?

The bedrock of normative Judaism has always been strict monotheism—the belief that there is numerically only one God, the God of Israel, whose name is YHWH, usually written as “Yahweh.” This belief in one God is what made a Jew a Jew. It distinguished Jews from their neighbours, who during antiquity were polytheistic.

Jesus: Middleman or the God-Man?

Some church fathers reckoned Jesus as a “God-man,” and Christians have been doing so ever since. Emil Brunner repeatedly does so in his classic defence of traditional Christology, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith.

Grammatical Problems with God’s Blood

Church fathers cited Acts 20:28 as an important New Testament (NT) text which supported their belief that Jesus was God. Some traditionalist Christians still do; but in recent times, their scholars have abandoned it as a support for Christ’s deity.

Pontifical Biblical Commission Rejects Common Interpretation of John 10:30

Ask most Christians who know the Bible, “Where does the Bible say Jesus claimed to be God?” and they’ll likely answer, “He said in John 10:30, ‘I and the Father are one.’” But that is a far cry from saying, “I am God,” or the like. One is struck with the thought, “Is that the best evidence Christians can provide that Jesus claimed to be God? If so, perhaps he never made such a claim.”

The Restitution of Jesus Christ: The Quest for the Historical Jesus

In the early centuries of church history, Christians became embroiled in many controversies about Jesus’ identity. Each time it happened, they fervently searched the Scriptures to defend their positions.¹⁶ These debates were often between two or three groups of professing Christians that were in opposition to each other. In fact, the major christological controversies of the early centuries of church history were of this latter type, in which all disputants appealed mostly to the New Testament, as well as patristic interpretations of it, in order to support their respective theses. Most of their arguments centered on the proper interpretation of the four gospels, especially the sayings of Jesus. An examination of these early, protracted, christological controversies confirms that the gospels of the NT require substantial analysis in order to determine how these documents identify Jesus.

The Strongest Biblical Evidence That Jesus Is God?

When the risen Jesus appeared to his gathered disciples on the first Easter evening, the Apostle Thomas was not present (John 20:19-24). The disciples later told him they had seen Jesus. Thomas said he would not believe unless he saw Jesus for himself (v. 25).

Two Persons or One Person?

The New Testament (NT) has two epistles whose authorship is accredited to the Apostle Peter. Titles of books and letters of the Bible were often penned after they were written and probably by a different hand. The early church unanimously accepted that Peter wrote 1 Peter; but for centuries the church disputed whether he wrote 2 Peter. Most modern, historical-critical, NT scholars have rejected that he did so. Since its salutation attests to Peter’s authorship, and for other reasons, I am inclined to accept that he did.

The False Trilemma: Was Jesus a Liar, Lunatic, or God?

None of the above. But that is what C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) asks in his little book, Mere Christianity (1943). It is one of the foremost apologetic works in the history of Christianity. In 2000, the premier American Christian magazine, Christianity Today, selected it as the #1 Christian book of the 20th century, that is, besides the Bible.

What Are the Claims of Christ?

Many Christians, mostly Evangelicals, speak of “the claims of Christ.” They usually mean that Jesus claimed things about his identity that are recorded in the New Testament (NT) people, called “traditionalists,” assert that the greatest claim Jesus ever made about himself was that he was God. But NT evidence reveals that this is their claim, not that of Jesus. Strong traditionalist Brian Hebblethwaite concedes, “it is no longer possible to defend the divinity of Jesus by reference to the claims of Jesus.”

The Formulation of Dogma: The Christ of the Creeds

We have examined some of the factors which led to the formulation of dogma in the early centuries of the Christian era and we have seen that the controversies and questions centred pre-eminently on the person of Jesus Christ. To review in any detail the steps by which formal definitions on these questions came to be laid down would require far more space than we have available and might prove tedious. It is proposed, however, to indicate in very broad outline the main periods in the development, so that the dogmas which were formed then and still remain part of the orthodox creed of the Established Church may be seen against their proper background.

A Human Child is Born, A Human Son is Given

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Must Christians Have a Creed? The Bible Doctrine of God

If the Bible is the Word of God, it follows that Bible teaching concerning God is God’s teaching about Himself. That being so, there seems no reason why any unprejudiced reader of the Scriptures should withhold his assent to any aspect of the Bible doctrine of God. What God reveals about Himself must be true, and if we seek to modify or amend this Bible teaching in any particular, we infer quite definitely that God has given a distorted and therefore false revelation of Himself, and that He cannot therefore be believed in the matter, or else that part of what He has declared is of no consequence, and need not be taken seriously. Each of these alternatives is so evidently untenable that we must dismiss them both. We can only conclude that the sole logical alternative to entire belief is total disbelief. There is no intermediate stage in such a matter.

The Holy Ghost: Must Christians Have a Creed?

“I believe in the Holy Ghost.” This simple affirmation in the Apostles’ Creed commends itself to us because it is not cumbered with abstruse definitions and dubious arguments such as mar the later and much less generally accepted Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.

Must Christians Have a Creed: Who Was Jesus Christ?

Of all the official “creeds” of the principal churches of Christendom, none is so largely Scriptural as is the “Apostles’ Creed” of the Church of England. For whereas the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed seem to be the products of professional theologians, imposed on the members of the Church in order to settle (or stifle) controversy, and appear to bear all the expected signs of prolonged negotiation by successive Church Councils, the Apostles’ Creed, in striking contrast, is eminently suited in form and wording to the ordinary worshipper, and makes a delightfully simple Statement of Faith, which is what a “creed” should be.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed, or Quicunque Vult (also Quicumque Vult), is a Christian statement of belief focused on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicunque vult, is taken from the opening words, “Whosoever wishes”. The creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated. It differs from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles’ Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the creed (like the original Nicene Creed).

How Jesus Became God

Listen to a brief history of the doctrine of the Trinity, how it became part of the Christian mainstream belief system, and the problems associated with the Trinitarian creeds. This lecture was inspired by the book When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein.

The Arian Controversy

Alex Hall tells the story of how the Christian church vacillated between Arius and Athanasius during the fourth century. By focusing on the dueling Church councils during that period (A.D. 318–381) Alex paints a picture, which, although disturbing to those of us who would like to think that such matters as the nature and identity of Jesus were always clear, accurately describes how politics heavily influenced the development of Christology during that time. And more importantly, how the victors in this controversy changed much of Church history. As George Orwell, once said in 1984:

1st Ecumenical Council of Nikea with the Condemned Arius

Council of Nicea

Constantine and Bishops holding the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (icon)

Council of Nicea

Council of Nicaea 325 (1590 fresco)

Council of Nicea

First Council of Nicea (325) (icon)

Council of Nicea

Athanasius of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (/ˌæθəˈneɪʃəs/; Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías; c. 296–298 – 2 May 373), also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

Consubstantiality

Consubstantial (Latin: consubstantialis) is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios. “Consubstantial” describes the relationship among the Divine persons of the Christian Trinity and connotes that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are “of one substance” in that the Son is “begotten” “before all ages” or “eternally” of the Father’s own being, from which the Spirit also eternally “proceeds.” In Latin languages it is the term for homoousism.

Homoiousian

A homoiousian (from the Greek: ὁμοιούσιος from ὅμοιος, hómoios, “similar” and οὐσία, ousía, “essence, being”) was a member of 4th-century AD theological party which held that God the Son was of a similar, but not identical, substance or essence to God the Father. Proponents of this view included Eustathius of Sebaste and George of Laodicea. Homoiousianism arose in the early period of the Christian religion out of a wing of Arianism. It was an attempt to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable views of the pro-Nicene homoousians, who believed that God the Father and Jesus his son were identical (ὁμός, homós) in substance, with the “neo-Arian” position that God the Father is “incomparable” and therefore the Son of God can not be described in any sense as “equal in substance or attributes” but only “like” (ὅμοιος, hómoios) the Father in some subordinate sense of the term.

Homoousian

Homoousion (/ˌhɒmoʊˈuːsiən/ HOM-oh-OO-see-ən; Greek: ὁμοούσιος, translit. homooúsios, lit. ‘one in being’, from ὁμός, homós, “same” and οὐσία, ousía, “being”) is a Christian theological doctrine pertaining to the Trinitarian understanding of God. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being ὁμοούσιος with God the Father, i.e. Jesus is “one in being” with the Father. The term was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea to clarify the nature of the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead. In Latin, and in Romance languages that lack a present participle of the verb be, the term is rendered consubstantialis or a translation thereof. It is one of the cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity.

Homoousion

Homoousion (/ˌhɒmoʊˈuːsiən/ HOM-oh-OO-see-ən; Greek: ὁμοούσιος, translit. homooúsios, lit. ‘one in being’, from ὁμός, homós, “same” and οὐσία, ousía, “being”) is a Christian theological doctrine pertaining to the Trinitarian understanding of God. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being ὁμοούσιος with God the Father, i.e. Jesus is “one in being” with the Father. The term was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea to clarify the nature of the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead. In Latin, and in Romance languages that lack a present participle of the verb be, the term is rendered consubstantialis or a translation thereof. It is one of the cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity.

Semi-Arianism

Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance, or con-substantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians. Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Christian Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism.