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Athanasius:

Rightly called the great defender of the Nicene faith, Athanasius possessed a keen insight into the central doctrines of Christianity. Like Augustine after him, Athanasius saw Philippians 2:5-7 in close connection with John 1:1. In his "Four Discourses Against the Arians", Discourse II,3232Athanasius, "Four Discourses Against the Arians" in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (series II) ed. by Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1980) vol. 5:409. he ties John 1:1, 14 together with Philippians 2:6 as his main Scriptural support of the deity of Christ. To Athanasius, John's eternal Word existing "with" God and being God is the same as Paul's pre-existent Christ eternally existing in God's form and being equal with him.

Similarly, Athanasius quotes all of the Carmen Christi and then says, "Can anything be plainer than this? He was not from a lower state promoted; but rather, existing as God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not promoted but humbled Himself."3333Athanasius, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4:329. This view of the eternally existing Christ is found also in his "Statement of Faith"3434Athanasius, "Statement of Faith" in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5:85. in which he says,

"All things to wit were made through the Son; but He Himself is not a creature, as Paul says of the Lord: `In Him were all things created, and He is before All' (Col. 1:16). Now He says not, `was created' before all things, but `is' before all things. To be created, namely, is applicable to all things, but `is before all' applies to the Son only."

One final quote from Athanasius should be sufficient to represent his interpretation of this doctrine:

"Therefore if the Word be creature, He would not be first or beginning of the rest; yet if He be before all, as indeed He is, and is Himself alone First and Son, it does not follow that He is beginning of all things as to His Essence, for what is the beginning of all is in the number of all. And if He is not such a beginning, then neither is He a creature, but it is very plain that He differs in essence and nature from the creatures, and is other than they, and is Likeness and Image of the sole and true God, being Himself sole also. Hence He is not classed with creatures in Scripture..."3535Athanasius, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5:375. See also 5:382.


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