The Letter of the Six Bishops to Paul of Samosata (c. AD 268) before his deposition


 The following is adapted from “The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study. I highly recommend the book.

Hymenaeus, Theophilus, Theoteknus, Maximus, Proclus, Bolanus, to Paul in Christ, greetings. 

Now that we have reached the point of discussions with one another we shall demonstrate what we believe. And in order that it might be made abundantly clear what each one thinks and that those things which are in question might come to their most certain conclusion, it seemed [good] to us to set forth a written account concerning this faith which we received from the beginning and so have what has been handed down and maintained in the universal and holy church until this very day through succession from the blessed apostles who also “became eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word” (Luke 1:4), being proclaimed in the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament. For God is unbegotten, one, without beginning, invisible, unchangeable, “whom no man has seen, nor is able to see,” (1 Timothy  6:16) and any attempt to comprehend His glory or greatness or relate how they are in a way that does justice to the truth is humanly impossible. But we must also be content to receive a measured knowledge concerning Him as His Son reveals Him. Just as it says, “no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son reveals Him” (Matthew 11:27) This Son, begotten, the one and only Son, the Image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, (Colossians 1:15) the Wisdom and Word and Power of God, (1 Corinthians 1:24) existing before the ages, not as to foreknowledge but as to being and nature God, Son of God, we confess and preach having come to a knowledge from both the Old and New Testaments. And whoever argues that the Son of God as God did not exist before the foundation of the world, [must] believe and confess [such] affirming that they proclaim two gods. If it is preached that the Son of God is not God, we shall lead this foreign [teaching] away from the ecclesiastical rule. And every catholic church is in agreement with us.

For concerning this it is written, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A rod of equity is the rod of your rule; you loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Therefore God, your God, anointed you with oil of rejoicing above Your companions.” (Hebrews 1:8-9) And again in Isaiah [it is written], “Our God is repaying judgment; yes, he will repay; He Himself will come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of stammerers shall be clear.” (Isaiah 35:4-6) And again, “They will pray in You because God is in You.” (Isaiah 45:14) And, “There is no God beside you. For you are God and we did not know it, O God of Israel, Savior.” (Isaiah 45:14-15) And according to the apostle, “From whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5) Of this One [we read], “the one who is over all.” And, “beside you,” meaning over all created things.

Also in the writing of Hosea we read, “For I am God and not a man, holy in your midst, and I will not enter into a city. I will go after the Lord.” (Hosea 11:9-10) And every God-breathed Scripture reveals God to be the Son of God, which to set forth one by one we put off for another time.  We believe this One, being eternally with the Father, has brought to fruition the Father’s will for all of creation. For He spoke and they came into existence. He commanded and they were created (Psalm 32:9 LXX). Now the One who commands gives orders to another. We have been persuaded that this One is no other God than the One and Only Son of God, to Whom also He said, “Let us make man according to our image and likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)

Briefly stated, according to the Gospel, “All things were made through Him, and without Him not one thing was made.” (John 1:3) And according to the apostle, “In Him all things were created: things in the heavens and things on the Earth, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or rulers or dominions or authorities. Everything has been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16) And thus He did as truly being and working, as both Logos and God, through Whom the Father has made all things – not as through a tool nor as through irresistible knowledge – the Father having begotten the Son as a living Power and Subsistence who works all things in all things, not just by observing or by the Son only being present but also by being involved in the entire creative act, as it is written, “I was working alongside Him.” (Proverbs 8:20)

We say that this One came down and appeared to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre, one of the three, with Whom the patriarch conversed as with the Lord and Judge seeing that He has received from the Father all the judgment. Concerning Whom it has been written, “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorra fire and sulphur from the Lord of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24) He is revealed to be the One who fulfils the Father’s will to the patriarchs and He speaks in the same passages and the same sections sometimes as an angel but other times as Lord and even at times being testified to as God. For to believe an angel to be called God of all is ungodly. But this angel is the Son of the Father, the Lord Himself, being also God. For it is written, “An angel of great counsel” (Isaiah 9:6) as [it is similarly written] in other places to Abraham, etc. “For now I know that you fear God” and “you did not spare your beloved son on account of Me.” (Genesis 22:12) And “he called the name of the place ‘The Lord saw’ that they might say today, ‘On the mountain the Lord appeared.’” (Genesis 22:14)

And concerning Jacob, “And the angel of God spoke to me while asleep saying, ‘Jacob.’ I said, ‘Who is it?’ And He said, ‘Look up with your eyes … I am the God who appeared to you in the place of God where you anointed a pillar to Me there and made a vow to Me there.’” (Genesis 31:13) Also after the struggle and the things concerning a man written about beforehand, it was added, “And Jacob called the name of that place ᾽Seeing-God.’ ‘For I have seen God face to face and my life has been preserved.’”(Genesis 32:30)The man written about beforehand, being the Son of God, whom the Scripture itself reveals [to be] God, we confess. Moreover, we also affirm that the law likewise was given to Moses by the ministry of the Son of God, as the apostle teaches saying, “Why then the law? It was added for the sake of transgressions, until the seed to whom the promise was made should come, having been ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Galatians 3:19) For we do not know another mediator between God and men other than this One.

What’s more, Moses also teaches us the following: “now an angel appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the bush …now when the Lord saw that he came near to see, the Lord called to him from the bush.” (Exodus 3:2-4) Again, “After you go, as you gather the elders of the sons of Israel, then you will say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of our fathers has appeared to me, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob …’ If then, they do not believe me, neither will they listen to my voice. For they will say, ‘The Lord God has not appeared to you!’ What shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:14)

And in the blessings, “According to the ordinances by the One who appeared in the bush, may these things come upon the head of Joseph.” (Deuteronomy 33:16) And elsewhere, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Even this word which you have spoken, I will do for you.’” So he said, “Show me Your glory.” And the Lord replied, “I will pass by before you in My glory. And I will call in the name ‘Lord’ before you and I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:17-19) In this way it was indeed accomplished: “And the Lord descended in a cloud, and He stood beside him there. And He called in the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before his face. And He called ‘the Lord God.’” (Exodus 34:6)

For the One above who promised to pass by is the Son of God, the Lord. Yet He called in the name of the Lord, the Father. This One is the One who also speaks truth saying, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from the Father. This One has seen the Father.” (John 6:46) And in the same gospel, “His voice you have never heard, nor His form have you seen.” (John 5:37) And “No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom the Father, He has made Him known.” (John 1:18) And in another place the apostle says, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

Now the Son, who is with the Father, being God and Lord of all creation and being sent by the Father from heaven and being enfleshed, became a man. For this reason also the body of the virgin held the fullness of deity in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)He was unchangeably united to deity and has been made divine. Therefore, the God and man Himself, Jesus Christ, was prophesied about in the law and prophets, and in every church under heaven it is believed that as God [He] emptied himself from being equal with God. (Philippians 2:7) And as man [He was] also from the seed of David according to the flesh. (Romans 1:4)
The signs and wonders recorded in the gospels God accomplished by becoming flesh and blood [and] as One who “has been tempted in all things [as we are, yet] without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Thus also Christ in the divine Scriptures before He put on flesh was named as one and the same.

[We know that] in Jeremiah, “the breath of our face” (Lamentations 4:20) is Christ. “The Lord is the Spirit,” (2 Corinthians 3:17) according to the apostle. “For they drank from the spiritual Rock and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4) and again, “We must not put the Lord to the test just as some tested Him and were destroyed by snakes.” (1 Corinthians 10:9)
And concerning Moses [it is written], “he considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” (Hebrews 11:26) So also Peter [wrote], “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be ours searched and made careful inquiry examining what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating.” (1 Peter 1:11) Now if “Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:24) He has been so from eternity. Thus also with respect to Christ being one and the same in substance, even though these are lofty and high thoughts to be thinking.

Regarding these things which were written down from the greatest to the least, we want to know if you think and teach these things with us and will sign below [in agreement], [and] if [you are] in favor with that which has been written or not.

The Letter of the Six Bishops to Paul of Samosata (c. AD 268) before his deposition

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