Category Archives: Hippolytus

Friday with the Fathers – Infant Baptism

I’ll give you two…

“He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).

“Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them” (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).

Even Zwingli allowed infant baptism.

Christus Victor in Hippolytus?

LastSupper
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As part of Hippolytus’ liturgy, which included the Eucharist, he displays an image of atonement which I believe is similar to the Christus Victor approach – and one familiar at the time.

Who, when he was deliveredb to voluntary suffering,
in order to dissolve death,
and break the chains of the devil,
and tread down hell,
and bring the just to the light,
and set the limit,
and manifest the resurrection,

What say you? Does this view of atonement fit with your view? Further, can different views fit into prayers and liturgies more easily than other or perhaps even co-exist with others?

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Earliest Song of Songs Commentary now Online

Mike Aquilina alerts us to a freebie:

The earliest Christian commentary on the Song of Songs is, at long last, available in English. Yancy Smith embedded a translation in his doctoral dissertation, Hippolytus’ Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context, which is available free online. You can also get to it by going to the TCU website, lib.tcu.edu. Then input either the author name or title.

Creeds: Second Century

We are continuing our week of examining early Church creeds with two creedal statements from the 2nd Century. The below creed is from Justin Martyr (Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldon, New York: The Christian Literature Company). We know that Justin generally referred to Christ as ‘another God’ (Trypho, 56).

We worship the God of the Christians, whom we consider One from the beginning, the creator and maker of all creation, visible and invisible.

And the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, who had also been proclaimed beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good instructions.

Justin forcefully distinguishes the Servant of God from the God of the Christians.

During Hippolytus’ schism with the Church at Rome, during the trouble Modalism, he enlisted the aid of past Elders who seemingly issued a creedal statement against Noetus

We also know in truth one God, we know Christ, we know the Son, suffering as he suffered, dying as he died, and risen on the third day, and abiding at the right hand of the Father, and coming to judge the living and the dead. And in saying this we say what has been handed down to us.

According to Hippolytus, Noetus had stated,

“When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” (Book IX Refutation of All Heresies)

It should be remembered that while Justin had proclaimed Heraclitus as a ‘Christian’ although he lived some 600 years before Christ, Hippolytus accused the same deceased as being the progenitor of the heresy of Noetus. The heresy of Noetus is that the Father produced the Son and declared the Son the Father, creating a paradox and troublesome thought of patripassianism.

Unlike Justin in Europe, the Asians carried from God to Christ to the Son without removing Christ from God, but assigning the suffering to the Son.

Hippolytus and the Baptismal Ceremony of the 3rd century Roman Church

Chronicon has posted a digitalization of Hippolytus‘ work, Apostolic Tradition. Here are a few of the highlights:

Hippolytus, the first ‘antipope’ (although he later was taken back into the Church before his death), begins his work with:

We have duly completed what needed to be said about “Gifts”, describing those gifts which God by His own counsel has bestowed on men, in offering to Him­self His image which had gone astray. But now, moved by His love to all His saints, we pass on to our most im­portant theme, “The Tradition”, our teacher. And we address the churches, so that they who have been well trained, may, by our instruction, hold fast that tradition which has continued up to now and, knowing it well, may be strengthened. This is needful, because of that lapse or error which recently occurred through ignor­ance, and because of ignorant men. And [the] Holy Spirit will supply perfect grace to those who believe aright, that they may know how all things should be transmitted and kept by them who rule the church.

The writer is setting forth the proper way for bishops and elders, as well as other minor offices, to be ordained, but he touches on two issues of importance to me. First, we note that Hippolytus no where refers to Christ as God, as Ignatius had done two generations earlier; however, holding to what is later Marcellus’ thought, Hippolytus declares a distinction between the Incarnate Son and the Preincarnate Word.

Then,

Jesus Christ … Who is thy Word, inseparable from thee; through whom thou didst make all things and in whom thou art well pleased. Whom thou didst send from heaven into the womb of the Virgin, and who, dwelling within her, was made flesh, and was manifested as thy Son, being born of [the] Holy Spirit and the Virgin.

Hippolytus, in this work, rarely calls Jesus Christ anything by ‘your Servant Jesus Christ.’

For the baptism, which for Hippolytus has developed into a far reaching ceremony, surely not intended by even the most pretentious of the Apostles,

Then, after these things, let him give him over to the  presbyter who baptizes, and let the candidates stand in the water, naked, a deacon going with them likewise. And when he who is being baptized goes down into the  water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say thus:

Dost thou believe in God, the Father Almighty?

And he who is being baptized shall say:

I believe.

Then holding his hand placed on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say:

Dost thou believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead?

We see the early creed, the early rule of faith stated by Hippolytus, but we also see how later doctrine was developed from this creed. For the first one hundred years, baptism was done in the name of Christ, but sometime before Justin, as the baptism formula changed, it became more developed, as we see here – before it would be contracted in later centuries to what we have in Matthew 28.19.

And when he says:

I believe,

he is baptized again. And again he shall say:

Dost thou believe in [the] Holy Ghost, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh?

He who is being baptized shall say accordingly:

I believe,

and so he is baptized a third time.

Note that nothing in Scripture allows for this baptismal formula (note as well, that baptism was considered a sacrament for the remission of sins (Acts 2.38; Romans 6.1-7))

And afterward, when he has come up [out of the water], he is anointed by the presbyter with the oil of thanksgiving, the presbyter saying:

The next step connects both baptismal traditions (Matthew 28.19 and the book of Acts)

I anoint thee with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ. And so each one, after drying himself, is immediately 20 clothed, and then is brought into the church.

Then the bishop, laying his hand upon them, shall pray, saying:

O LORD GOD, who hast made them worthy to obtain remission of sins through the laver of re­generation of [the] Holy Spirit, send into them thy grace, that they may serve thee according to thy will; for thine is the glory, to the Father and the Son, with [the] Holy Spirit in the holy church, both now and world without end. Amen.

As with the final baptism (of the three), the holy Spirit is here connected with the holy Church, perhaps in reference to

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV)

Unus Deus – The Apology of Aristides

The Apology of Aristides was written in relation to the Emperor Hadrian sometime 117 and 138 (bringing it within the time frame of the Epistle of Diognetus), and not long after John’s Apocalypse. It details to the Emperor the attempts by others to find the true God, and their subsequent failures. Fore 1500 years, we had only the mention of Eusebius concerning the Apology, but it was found in the waning years of the 19th century by Armenian monks; it was then found in the Syriac version by Orthodox monks at Mt. Sinai. The Greek exists in a modified form, and cannot be trusted in the differences. Of interesting note to the discussion of the doctrinal development is from Book II. The The English translation from the Syriac reads,

The Christians, then, reckon the beginning of their religion from Jesus Christ, who is named the Son of God most High; and it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin took and clad Himself with flesh, and in a daughter of man there dwelt the Son of God. This is taught from that Gospel which a little while ago was spoken among them as being preached; wherein if ye also will read, ye will comprehend the power that is upon it. This Jesus, then, was born of the tribe of the Hebrews; and He had twelve disciples, in order that a certain dispensation of His might be fulfilled. He was pierced by the Jews; and He died and was buried; and they say that after three days He rose and ascended to heaven; and then these twelve disciples went forth into the known parts of the world, and taught concerning His greatness with all humility and sobriety; and on this account those also who to-day believe in this preaching are called Christians, who are well known. There are then four races of mankind, as I said before, Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians

This statement rings true of a Modalistic viewpoint, that God robed Himself with flesh as the Son of God.

Unus Deus – Verus Doctrina, Pt 11

The Right Hand of God

The term, right hand of God is an anthropomorphic expression[1]. The use of this anthropomorphism occurs 60[2] times in Scripture (39 times in the OT; 21 times in the NT). Hebrew Idiom behind this language denotes power and strength. Let us take note of the Old Testament visions of God at this time. In Genesis 28.13-16, Jacob saw “the LORD…” (a theophany, as all OT visions are). 1 Kings 22.19 and 2 Chron. 18.18, Micaiah said, “I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left;” noticeably absent is Son or the Spirit. Throughout the entire Old Testament and Deuterocanon, there is only mention of “the LORD,” as a single Deity (numerical singleness, not unified). In Isa. 6.1, only “the LORD” is seen. Ezk. 1.26-28, 2.1. Ezekiel saw “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”

The Greek δεξιός (dexios) means the ‘right’, indicating a direction. Usually, the word ‘hand’ is supplied, and not unjustly. The issue is, what is meant by ‘the right hand’ and is their a particular emphases on the action (sitting, standing, at or by). In Acts 2.33, we read “τη δεξια ουν του θεου υψωθεις την τε επαγγελιαν του αγιου πνευματος λαβων παρα του πατρος εξεχεεν τουτο ο νυν υμεις βλεπετε και ακουετε.” The phrase “τη δεξια ουν του θεου” is translated in the KJV as ‘by the right hand of God’ with the margin note reading ‘at.’ This translation makes it the instrumental case, while the ‘at’ translation refers to the locative case. Robertson suggests that it only makes sense in the dative case, which reads ‘to the right hand of God.’ The issue here is that depending on the translation, a different theology can develop. For example, if Christ was exalted to the right hand, then a form of dynamic Monarchianism could develop. The proper method is translating this verse as ‘at the right hand of God,’ which still allows the idiom to come out. The same can be said for Acts 5.31. In Acts 7.55-56, Stephen saw Christ ‘on’ the right hand of God. (εκ δεξιων εστωτα του θεου)(See Col 3.1 which reads εν δεξια του θεου )

We read in the much discussed Hebrews 1.3, ‘εν δεξια της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις. Simply, after word of God had been fulfilled, with the price of redemption was paid, Christ resumed His glory and dignity, fully and without separation; he assumed the glory that He had before the Incarnation without distinction Christ is here pictured as the King (Prophet and Priest also) Messiah seated on the throne of God as God.

John says the following about Christ: “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him, that the saying of Isaiah the Prophet, might be fulfilled, which he spoke: The Lord, who has believed our report and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?'” (John 12.37-38) echoing the Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. The “Arm” of the Lord denotes the “power” of the Lord. A thorough study of this term and it’s usage in the Bible, will reflect a similarity in the meanings and usage of the words: power, might, strength, hand, right side and arm, when referring to this designation of Christ. Christ, as is often done in the Gospels, attributes a prophecy in the Old Testament to Himself.

A question that is begged relates to the issue of ‘co-equality’ and power. In Matthew 28:18, Christ tells His disciples that He has been given all power in heaven and in earth. If Christ is the Almighty, the ruler of both heaven an earth, and He alone sits on the throne, then where does the Father and the Spirit stand in relation to him? Throughout the final book of the New Testament, we find references to a throne in heaven and only one sitting on that throne. We find no mention, when John describes the throne room, of either the Son or Spirit standing in conjunction with God on the throne. In 3.21, Christ says that He has taken His seat on the throne of the Father. (The vision of which is easily understood of the Incarnation is seen as providing a temporary difference between the Father and His Word.) Throughout the remaining verses, we see but one sitting on the throne.

In 2nd Temple Judaism, it was common to use idioms to express God, thus we have the development of Throne, Majesty and other words to describe God without saying God. We have to be careful in understanding the phrase literally. Since the right hand (or side) is a place of honour, to literally say that Christ is at the right hand of God, is to demote the deity of Christ and bring about the adoptionist doctrine of the Arians. We also will see that a contradiction in scripture exists between the phrases ‘at the right hand’ and ‘on the throne’. To understand this phrase in a completely idiom free translation, we would generally read that Christ is on the throne.

The Roman Road: Jesus is God

Before we move to the profession of faith found in Romans 10, let us first examine chapter 9, verse 5, where Paul writes, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (KJV) The NET reads, “To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” The NRSV has “to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” There is doctrine here decided by the correct placement of commas.

Paul, in the original Greek wrote, “ων οι πατερες και εξ ων ο χριστος το κατα σαρκα ο ων επι παντων θεος ευλογητος εις τους αιωνας αμην.” Vincent, noting the difference that arises by punctuation notes, “Authorities differ as to the punctuation; some placing a colon, and others a comma after flesh. This difference indicates the difference in the interpretation; some rendering as concerning the flesh Christ came. God who is over all be blessed for ever; thus making the words God, etc., a doxology: others, with the comma, the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever; i.e., Christ is God.” Robertson writes, “A clear statement of the deity of Christ following the remark about his humanity. This is the natural and the obvious way of punctuating the sentence. To make a full stop after sarka (or colon) and start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward. See note on Acts 20:28[3] and note on Titus 2:13[4] for Paul’s use of theos applied to Jesus Christ,” clearly indicating that He believes that Paul applied the θεος to Christ in this instance.

Several commentators have stated that the closing phrase should be a separate sentence (God who is blessed forever), however, in scriptural doxologies the word “Blessed” precedes the name of God on whom the blessing is invoked[5].

To understand our profession in 10.9 of Romans, we have to read further to verse 13, where Paul quotes Joel 2:32, which reads, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (KJV). Here, the word for LORD in Hebrew is יהוה, the Tetragammon, which is commonly understood to be the proper name of God in the Old Testament.

Would Paul use a theological drenched title in two different ways, especially in such a short distance from one another?

In verse 13, we understand the LORD to be the God of the Old Testament, so therefore we must understand Paul to mean in verse 9 to the God of the Old Testament as well. The construction of the passage leads us to translate the phrase found in the KJV as ‘profess the Lord Jesus’ to profess that ‘Jesus is Lord.’. With the understanding that the ‘Lord’ in verse 13 is the same ‘Lord’ in verse 9, in order to be saved, we must profess with our my mouth that Jesus is God.


[1] The attribution of human characteristics to non-human beings or things

[2] Ex. 15:6, 12, De. 33:2, 1 Ki. 22:19, 2 Ch. 18:18, Job 23:9, 40:14, Ps. 16:11, 17:3, 18:35, 20:6, 21:8, 44:3, 45:4, 48:10, 60:5, 63:8, 73:23, 74:11, 77:10, 78:54, 80:15, 17, 89:13, 25, 98:1, 108:6, 110:1, 118:15, 16, 138:7, 139:10, Is. 41:10, 48:13, 62:8, Je. 22:24, La. 2:3, 4, Hab. 2:16, Mt. 22:44, 26:64, Mk. 12:36, 14:62, 16:19, Lk. 20:42, 22:69, Ac. 2:33, 34, 5:31, 7:55, 56, Ro. 8:34, Ep. 1:20, Col. 3:1, He. 1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, 1 Pe. 3:22

[3] Robertson’s note here states, “With his own blood (dia tou haimatos tou idiou). Through the agency of (dia) his own blood. Whose blood? If tou theou (Aleph B Vulg.) is correct, as it is, then Jesus is here called “God” who shed his own blood for the flock. It will not do to say that Paul did not call Jesus God, for we have Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13 where he does that very thing, besides Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11.

[4] Here, he notes “This is the necessary meaning of the one article with theou and sōtēros just as in 2Peter 1:1, 2Peter 1:11.

[5] Psalms 68:35; Psalms 72:18