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“Epiphanius on Sabellius and Sabellianism”

from Adversus Haereses (Panarion), 62

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Click here to read at in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from Kidd, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church.

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Not many years ago, one Sabellius made his appearance; indeed, within recent times; and from him the Sabellians take their name. With some slight exceptions, his opinions were like those of the Noëtians. Most of his followers are to be found in Mesopotamia and in Rome; and they are the victims of folly.

Their tenet is as follows: that one and the same Being is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in such sense that to one substance belong three names, much as in a man [we find] body, soul and spirit. The body, so to say, is the Father; the soul, so to say, the Son; and the Spirit in the Godhead is what the spirit is in a man. Or as in the sun: it is one substance but has three activities; I mean light, heat and orb. The heat, whether warmth or fervour, is the Spirit; the light is the Son; and the Father Himself is the form of the whole substance. Once on a time the Son was sent forth, like a ray; and, after accomplishing in the world all that had to do with the dispensation of the Gospel and human salvation, was then received back again into heaven; just as a ray is emitted by the sun and is then withdrawn into the sun again. The Holy Spirit is still being sent forth into the world; and, successively and severally, into every one of those who are worthy to receive it. The Spirit re-creates him; fills him with fresh fervour; and supplies him, so to say, with heat and warmth, infusing fresh power and influence into his spirit. Such are the tenets they inculcate.

They make use of all the Scriptures of the Old and the New testament; or, rather, of such phrases as they select to suit their own perverse insanity and folly. They start off with the terms in which God spake to Moses: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord; though shalt not make to thyself other gods.” “There shall no strange gods be in thee.” “I am the first and I am the last and beside me there is no God,” and any other texts they can find to suit their own notions. These they adopt to prove their position. Or again, from the Gospel: “I am in the Father and the Father in Me.” “I and the Father are one.”


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