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The Early Church Fathers on the Filioque Clause.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Fulgentius of Ruspe, (A.D. 465-527)
    St. Maximus (the Confessor), (A.D. c.580-662)
    St. John Damascene, (A.D. 676 - 787)
St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"Why, then, should we not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, when he is the Spirit also of the Son? For if the Holy Spirit did not proceed from him, when he showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection he would not have breathed upon them, saying, 'Receive the Holy Spirit' [John 20:22]. For what else did he signify by that breathing upon them except that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from him".

Homilies on John 99:8 [A.D. 416]

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"Since the Holy Spirit when he is in us effects our being conformed to God, and he actually proceeds from the Father and Son, it is abundantly clear that he is of the divine essence, in it in essence and proceeding from it".

Treasury of the Holy Trinity, thesis 34 [A.D. 424]

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, (A.D. 465-527), bishop of the city of Ruspe, North Africa, in the 5th and 6th century, born into a noble family of Carthage.

"Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the same Holy Spirit who is Spirit of the Father and of the Son, proceeds from the Father and the Son".

The Rule of Faith 54 [A.D. 524]

St. Maximus (the Confessor), (A.D. c.580-662), Byzantine; a Christian abbot, theologian, scholar and ascetical writer; he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life.

"As we have understood discussions . . . about the incorporeal natures, so too it is now to be recognized that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son that which he was of his own nature. . . . So too the Son is said to receive from the Father the very things by which he subsists. For neither has the Son anything else except those things given him by the Father, nor has the Holy Spirit any other substance than that given him by the Son".

The Holy Spirit 37 [A.D. 362]

"By nature the Holy Spirit in his being takes substantially his origin from the Father through the Son who is begotten.

Questions to Thalassium 63 [A.D. 254]

A different Maximus the Confessor defends Pope Martin's teaching on the Filioque and answers the very objections of the Greeks. Maximus's response:

"Those of the Queen of cities (Constantinople) have attacked the synodic letter of the present very holy Pope, not in the case of all the chapters that he has written in it, but only in the case of two of them. One relates to the theology (of the Trinity) and, according to them, says: 'The Holy Spirit also has his ekporeusis (ekporeuesthai) from the Son'. The other deals with the divine incarnation. "With regard to the first matter, they (the Romans) have produced unanimous evidence of the Latin Fathers, and also of Cyril of Alexandria, from the study he made of the gospel of St. John. On the basis of these texts, they have shown that they have not made the Son the cause (aitian) of the Spirit - they know in fact that the Father is the only cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by ekporeusis (procession) - but that they have manifested the procession through him (to dia autou proienai) and have thus shown the unity and identity of the essence... "They (the Romans) have therefore been accused of precisely those things which it would be wrong to accuse them, whereas the former (the Byzantines) have been accused of those things of which it has been quite correct to accuse them (Monothelitism). They have up till now produced no defence, although they have not yet rejected the things that they have themselves so wrongly introduced. "In accordance with your request, I have asked the Romans to translate what is peculiar to them [the 'also from the son'] in such a way that any obscurities that may result from it will be avoided. But since the practice of writing and sending [the synodic letter] has been observed, I wonder whether they will possibly agree to do this. It is true, of course, that they cannot reproduce their idea in a language and in words that are foreign to them as they can in their mother-tongue, just as we too cannot. In any case, having been accused, they will certainly take some care about this."

Maximus the Confessor (this letter is ca. A.D. 254)

St. John Damascene, (A.D. 676 - 787), born in Damascus, was a Syrian monk. priest and Doctor of the Church, wrote works expounding the Christian faith. A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music.

"And the Holy Spirit is the power of the Father revealing the hidden mysteries of his divinity, proceeding from the Father through the Son in a manner known to himself, but different from that of generation".

Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 12 [A.D. 712]

"I say that God is always Father since he has always his Word [the Son] coming from himself and, through his Word, the Spirit issuing from him".

Dialogue Against the Manicheans 5 [A.D. 728]



The Catholic Church did not invent the idea that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The teaching is not only implied by Scripture but it was explicitly taught by the Early Fathers as well. This article may help others understand the Catholic position:

Straight Answers, The Wording Of The Nicene Creed, by Fr. William Saunders


The Church's Scriptures on the Filioque Clause:

The Holy Spirit will be sent from Jesus and His Father.

26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:26-27


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