How did early Christians view the Godhead?

History of Early Christianity


How did the original Christian church understand the Godhead?

Did you know that the early church was neither trinitarian nor unitarian? The early church was binitarian.

That is, early Christians considered that the Father and the Son were God and that the Holy Spirit was the power of God. And while some dispute this, historically it is a fact.

Do any scholars realize this?

While there are many articles at the COGwriter website which document the binitarian beliefs of 2nd century Christians, I thought that a few quotes from modern theologians may be eye-opening for those who have had little exposure to the binitarian truth of the Godhead.

Modern scholars, like Larry Hurtado, have realized the Christians who claimed to be Nazarene including most considered to be “proto-orthodox” held a binitarian view of the Godhead:

…”Nazarene” Christianity, had a view of Jesus fully compatible with the beliefs favored by the proto-orthodox (indeed, they could be considered part of the circles that made up proto-orthodox Christianity of the time). Pritz contended that this Nazarene Christianity was the dominant form of Christianity in the first and second centuries…the devotional stance toward Jesus that characterized most of the Jewish Christians of the first and second centuries seems to have been congruent with proto-orthodox devotion to Jesus…the proto-orthodox “binitarian” pattern of devotion…(Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 560-561,618).

Furthermore, it perhaps should be mentioned that the sacra nomina (generally two-letter abbreviations, perhaps intended to identify the documents as “Christian”) found on early documents associated with Christianity is also believed to support the position that those that professed Christ in the second century were binitarian. Larry Hurtado also observed:

The Christian nomina sacra…differ in form from any Jewish scribal devices…Most significantly, the four earliest Christian nomina sacra are the two key words for God (Theos and Kyrios) and key designations for Jesus (Iēosus, Christos, and Kyrios).If therefore, as is usually believed, the nomina sacra practice represents an expression of piety and reverence, it is a striking departure from pre-Christian Jewish scribal practice to extend to these designations of Jesus the same scribal treatment given to key designations for God. That is, the four earliest Christian nomina sacra collectively manifest one noteworthy expression of what I have called the “binitarian shape” of earliest Christian piety and devotion (Hurtado LW.The Earliest Christian Artifacts.William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids (MI), 2006, pp. 105-106).

Dr. Harold Brown, a Protestant trinitarian scholar, has admitted:

The language of the New Testament permits the Holy Spirit to be understood as an impersonal force or influence more readily than it does the Son…those who saw the Holy Spirit as a Person, were often heretical, for example, the Montanists (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 140).

Harold Brown also has admitted:

It is impossible to document what we now call orthodoxy in the first two centuries of Christianity (ibid, p.5).

And that is true. And he was specifically referring to doctrines like the trinity and other teachings that are contrary to what the Continuing Church of God holds.

What about Catholic scholars? The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches this about the 4th century binitarians, which it calls the Semi-Arians:

Semi-Arians…A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century…showing that the very name of father implies a son of like substance…rejected the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (Chapman, John. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus it is clear that many held the binitarian view at that time (including no doubt, many who were not true Christians).

What about Orthodox scholars? Notice this frank admission from a bishop of the Orthodox Church about the late acceptance of the trinity:

…the councils defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith — the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language…the first two, held in the fourth century…formulated the doctrine of the Trinity…The work of Nicea was taken up by the second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 381. This council expanded and adapted the Nicene Creed, developing in particular that teaching upon the Holy Spirit, whom it affirmed to be God even as the Father and the Son are God…It was the supreme achievement of St. Athanasius of Alexandria to draw out the full implications of the key word in the Nicene Cred: homoousios, one in essence or substance, consubstantial. Complementary to his work was that of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints…(died 394). While Athanasius emphasized the unity of God — Father and Son are one in essence (ousia) – the Cappadocians stressed God’s threeness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostasis) (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 20-23).

So it took councils of men to change the predominant view that the Godhead was basically binitarian to trinitarian. Yet, as recorded in the New Testament, Jude wrote:

…contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered for the saints” (Jude 3).

The faith delivered once for all should not have been changed.

Such a doctrinal change to the trinity should never have been made and never has been adopted by the true Christian Church.

Regarding the New Testament, even a trinitarian scholar has admitted:

The binitarian formulas are found in Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13…No doctrine of the Trinity in the Nicene sense is present in the New Testament…There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense in the Apostolic Fathers…(Rusch W.G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Fortress Press, Phil., 1980, pp. 2-3).

Since modern scholars know that the early church was binitarian and not trinitarian, have you been taught this before?

If not, perhaps you had better look into this further.

The Continuing Church of God also had the following sermon on its ContinuingCOG channel:


The Godhead

What does the Bible teach about the Godhead? How did original catholic Christians view the Godhead? Did early Christians teach that the Father and the Son were God? What about the Holy Spirit? Is the Godhead one family? Was the trinity promoted by early apostates such as Montanus and Valentinus? Were Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyon, Hippolytus of Rome, Lucian of Antioch, and the historian Eusebius trinitarian or binitarian? What is binitarianism? Did Origen of Alexandria, Athanasius, Emperor Constantine, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and Emperor Theodosius push trinitarism? Were early Eastern Orthodox patriarchs Semi-arians? Did the Roman Bishop assert that semi-arianism/binitarianism was “orthodox”? Did approximately 400 Greco-Roman bishops at the Council of Rimini, 359 A.D. sign a Semi-arian creed? Does the World Council of Churches (WCC) require a trinitarian belief for membership? Does the Vatican’s 21st century, handbook, ‘The Bishop and Christian Unity: An Ecumenical Vademecum’ just seek ecumenical unity with trinitarians? Should the Christian view of the Godhead been changed because of political, pagan, misinformation, or other non-biblical reasons? Is there are church that still holds to the original beliefs of the nature of the Godhead? This sermon is part of a series by Dr. Thiel covering the beliefs of the original catholic Church of God.

Here is a link to the sermon: The Godhead.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God? , Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, and What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, and Early Heresies and Heretics, and Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, and Saturday or Sunday?, and The Godhead.
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Proof Jesus is the Messiah This free book has over 200 Hebrew prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Plus, His arrival was consistent with specific prophecies and even Jewish interpretations of prophecy. Here are links to seven related sermons: Proof Jesus is the Messiah, Prophecies of Jesus’ birth, timing, and death, Jesus’ prophesied divinity, 200+ OT prophecies Jesus filled; Plus prophecies He made, Why Don’t Jews Accept Jesus?, Daniel 9, Jews, and Jesus, and Facts and Atheists’ Delusions About Jesus. Plus the links to two sermonettes: Luke’s census: Any historical evidence? and Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah, but … These videos cover nearly all of the book, plus have some information not in the book. We also have the book translated in the Spanish PRUEBA de que JESÚS es el MESÍAS and French PREUVES QUE JÉSUS EST LE MESSIE languages.
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?.
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 seemingly list two different genealogies for Jesus. Why? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Por qué Jesús tiene dos genealogías diferentes las cuales aparecen en Mateo 1 y Lucas 3?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view? A related sermon is available: Truth about the Holy Spirit: What THEY do not want you to know!
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD. Two related sermons are available: Trinity: Fundamental to Christianity or Something Else? and The Godhead and the Trinity. A brief video is also available: Three trinitarian scriptures?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it? Here is a link to a related sermon: Unitarianism? How is God One?
Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus? The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach this, and SDA Ellen White did, but does the Bible allow for this? Here is a link to a related video message: Is Jesus the Archangel Michael? Here is a related article in the Spanish language: ¿Se convirtió el Arcángel Miguel en Jesús?
How Many Creators? Did the ancient Mayans know the truth about the Godhead at creation?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism. A related sermon is also available: Binitarian view of the Godhead.


Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.

Get news like the above sent to you on a daily basis

Your email will not be shared. You may unsubscribe at anytime.