What scriptural arguments for the Trinity were used in the First Council of Nicea?

  • You can read it here.
    – Geremia
    Aug 28, 2017 at 16:56
  • I don't see any scripture being used on that site... Aug 28, 2017 at 17:48
  • Thus, you've answered your question.
    – Geremia
    Aug 28, 2017 at 17:59
  • So the scripture was not used in defending the divinity of Jesus at the First Council of Nicea? Aug 28, 2017 at 18:01
  • Why do you think it should?
    – Geremia
    Aug 28, 2017 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


We do not have any minutes or transcripts from the Council of Nicea. Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus, wrote his Ecclesiastical History about 450 AD, though based on earlier sources.

In Chapter 6 of Book 1 we may read that the Emperor Constantine, in his opening speech to the Nicene Conference, urged the bishops to seek a solution (to their differences) in the divinely-inspired scriptures.

‘For the gospels’ (continued he), ‘the writings, and the oracles of the ancient prophets, clearly teach us what we ought to believe concerning the divine nature. Let, then, all contentious disputation be discarded; and let us seek in the divinely-inspired word the solution of the questions at issue.’

Chapter 7 quotes Athanasius, who was there, as saying the bishops collected together passages from the Scriptures relating to Christ.

So it seems that the bishops looked to Scripture to ascertain the truth, or at least to argue their positions. Still, the communique, to use a modern term, did not include arguments or scriptural references justifying the conclusion.

Athanasius did however describe some of the discussions at the Council as follows:

(some bishops made) the following declarations, which are in accordance with the holy Scriptures; namely, that the Son is by nature only-begotten of God, Word, Power, and sole Wisdom of the Father; that He is, as John said, 'the true God ,' and, as Paul has written, 'the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the person of the Father ,'

and later

collected from Scripture those passages which say of Christ that He is the glory, the fountain, the stream, and the express image of the person; and they quoted the following words: ' In your light we shall see light ;' and likewise, ' I and the Father are one. '

In Chapter 11 he quotes a letter from Eusebius who was also there

'We believe in the being and continual existence of each of these; that the Father is in truth the Father; the Son in truth the Son; the Holy Ghost in truth the Holy Ghost; as our Lord, when sending out His disciples to preach the Gospel, said, ' Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. '

The following appear to be some of the Scriptures referenced: (The phrases mentioned above are also listed below, but with the scriptures also listed.)

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

  • the brightness of the glory and the express image of the person of the Father Hebrews 1 3

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

I and my Father are one.

  • "baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Matthew 28 19Matthew 28 19

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

  • Which of those did the Arians disagree with?
    – bradimus
    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:59
  • 1
    @bradimus The bishops at the Nicene Council agreed unanimously, apart from two abstentions. It was subsequently alleged that some may have lied to keep their sees, or changed their minds, and that others before, after, or outwith the Council may have had other views.. But neither these scriptures, nor the conclusion, was disputed by the bishops there present, I think.
    – davidlol
    Aug 29, 2017 at 12:21
  • 1
    The point was exactly that they disagreed with none of the verses, but the interpretation which we Nicaeans ascribed to those verses. Arius himself was quick to agree that Jesus was incomparably higher than any other creature, baptised by the Trinitarian formula, etc., but believed that there was a time where the Second Person of the Trinity had not been.
    – Wtrmute
    Aug 29, 2017 at 12:26
  • 1
    Well, if they disagreed with what people nowadays think, I suppose we can hardly blame them for not saying so. They seem to have used these scriptures in their discussions in reaching the conclusions they reached, and to have approved the conclusions unanimously. There is a separate question about scriptural support for the doctrine of the Trinity generally, but I interpreted this one to be about the Nicean Council specifically.
    – davidlol
    Aug 29, 2017 at 12:43
  • 1
    I see what you mean, I think. My understanding is that most of the bishops thought the texts self-evidently to demonstrate the divinity of Christ. If others interpreted them differently they forbore to say so at the Council, and so there was no deep scholarly debate which opposition might have brought forward As far as I am aware this is all the available material on the arguments at the Council itself. .
    – davidlol
    Aug 29, 2017 at 16:08

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