Saint Athanasius on the Trinity



We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.


Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians (13:13): The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we posses the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.


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  1. The Athanasian Creed

    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [i.e. universal, Christian] faith.

    Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

    And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity,

    Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.

    For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.

    But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one:
    the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

    Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

    The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.

    The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

    The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

    And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal.
    As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible.

    So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty.

    And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.
    And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

    So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord.
    And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.

    For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord.

    So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods and three Lords.

    The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
    The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten.
    The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.

    So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

    But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and coequal, so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

    He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

    Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;

    God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world;

    Perfect God and perfect Man of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

    Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood;

    Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ:

    One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God;

    One altogether not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.

    For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ;

    Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead;

    He ascended into Heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

    At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give an account of their own works.

    And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

    This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

    for Holy Trinity Sunday …

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