Ante-Nicene Age - Nicene Creed


The Ante-Nicene Age spans from the 2nd century to 325 in the 4th century when the first Nicene Creed was adopted. This era had a significant impact on the unity of Christian doctrine and the spread of faith to a greater world. 


During this time of the Roman Empire, early Christian bishops traveled to the town of Nicaea at the direction of emperior Constantine the Great. 


Today, the town is called Iznik in the provence of Bursa, Turkey. It's located in a fertile basin at the eastern edge of Lake Ascanius and surrounded by hills.


Constantine called the clerics together to unify the 4th century church in the face of growing theological disputes, primarily over the nature and divinity of Jesus Christ. 


Some 300 bishops gathered in the emperor's grand lakeside palace. In the center of the chamber, on a throne, lay the four gospels. Constantine was dressed in a purple gown and wore a silver diadem. 


He opened the Council of Nicaea by saying, "I rejoice to see you here, yet I should be more pleased to see unity and affection among you." 


The dispute began when a bishop of early Christianity, by the name of Arius, preached that Christ was a creation of God. This horrified many clerics. Among them was Alexander, who argued that Christ co-existed eternally with God. Eusebius of Nicomedia defended Airus, attempting to prove that Jesus was a created being.


Those who opposed Arius snatched his speech from his hands and tore it apart. These bishops had suffered greatly for Christ in persecutions by the Romans and weren't about to hear the Lord blasphemed.


Constantine immediately told the delegates assembled in the Senatus Palace in Nicaea to resolve their differences.


Many bishops argued that God the Father created Christ the Son before the beginning of time, while others asserted that Christ had the same divine essence as God the Father.


The issues at Nicaea in early Christianity came down to this: If Christ is not God, then how can he overcome the infinite gap between God and man? A creed reflecting both views was written and signed by most of the bishops in the summer of 325.


But disagreement over the meaning of Scripture on the deity of Christ continued for more than fifty years, until another council of bishops met in Constantinople and adopted an expanded form of the earlier creed, which is known today as the Nicene Creed.


The creed embraced in 381 AD affirms the doctrine of the Trinity: that God is three "persons" (Father, Son, and Spirit) in one nature or essence. Each person is fully divine, yet each is distinct.


Those who reject the doctrine of the Trinity today argue that it was neither taught by Jesus nor part of the early church, but rather was imposed by Constantine on the bishops who gathered at Nicaea.


This was not the case.


The doctrine is at the heart of Christ's Great Commission, which tells believers to ". . . go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. . . ." (Matt. 28:19)


The doctrine was a widely held belief before the council met. Among the leading church fathers who defended the doctrine were Polycarp, Justin, Martyr, Ignatius, Tertullian, and Origen. 



What We Learn from the Early Church

Tim Keller of the Gospel Coaliton  Read HERE



What Really Happened at Nicaea?

Christian Research Institute  Read HERE




Selected Reading Resources


Nicaea and its Legacy, by Lewis Ayres


Reading the Early Church Fathers, by James Papaandrea


The Making of the New Testament, by Arthur G. Patzia


The Canon of the New Testament, by Bruce Metzger


The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, by Justo L.Gonzalez


Christianity: Transformation of the Book, by Anthony Grafton


The Early Christians in Their Own Words, by Eberhard Arnold


Christians as the Romans Saw Them, by Robert Louis Wilken


The Rise of Christianity, by Rodney Stark


Eusebius: The Church History, by Paul Maier


Nicene Creed: Illustrated and Instructed for Kids, by Joey Fitzgerald


Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism, by D. H. Williams


Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church, by Stuart Hall


Constantine and Eusebius, by Timothy D. Barnes


The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians, by Thomas O'Laughlin


From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation, by Craig Evans


Early History of Christian Church, by Louis Duchesne


Christianity at the Crossroads, by Michael Kruger


Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity, by Edmond Gallaher


From Nicaea to Chalcedon, by Frances Young and Andrew Teal


Early Christian Creeds, by J.H.D. Kelly


Quest for the Historical Apostles, by W. Brian Shelton 




Early Christianity Websites



Christian Classics Ethereal Library


Christian History Institute


Early Christian Writings


Centre for the Study of Christian Origins


Patristics-Writings of Ancient World


Christianity Today: Early Church


Early Church Fathers


EarlyChurch (uk)


Codex Sinciticus (British Library)



Early Christianity Blogs



Michael Kruger


Larry Hurtado


Michael Bird


Ryan Reeves


Early Christians


Patristics Society News


History of the Early Church Podcast 




Early Christianity Articles


Click HERE to view all articles: 



The Road to Nicaea


A Marriage Made in Byzantium


Constantine and the Bishops


Athanasius: Defense of Orthodoxy


Eusebius: Father of Church History


Why do we need the Nicene Creed?


The Christian Codex


Ancient Versions of New Testament


Life and Times of Early Christianity


Persecution of Early Christians


How Early Christians Worshiped


Liturgy of the Early Church


How we got the Bible


What Happened to the 12 Apostles?




Early Christianity and the New Testament Canon

Explore Orthodoxy, Heresy, and Canon in Early Church  Read HERE



What Do Earliest Christian Manuscripts Tell Us About Their Readers?

Dr. Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh  Read HERE



A Survey of Church History, Part 1 A.D. 100 to 600 (Video Series)

Dr. Robert Godfrey of Ligonier Ministries  Read HERE



Submerged Church Honoring Council of Nicaea in AD 325 Discovered

Associates for Biblical Research  Read HERE





Someone has said, "knowing Christ died--that's history. Believing He died for me--that's salvation."


A personal relationship with Christ begins at the moment of our salvation. Only when we are born spiritually into God's family do we become members of His spiritual kingdom.


While we may not know exactly when this new life begins, we can understand the steps we need to begin this new relationship: 


First, admit our lost condition. We come into this world separated from the life of God and absorbed with an interest in finding satisfaction on our own terms.


Second, acknowledge what God has done for us. Jesus's death was of infinite value. When He rose from the dead, He proved that He had died in our place to pay the price of all sin--past, present, and future.


Third, personally believe and receive God's gift. No one is saved by trying to be good but by trusting in the Good News of Christ.


(Adapted from Our Daily Bread)




A Greek doctor named Lucanus penned a personal account of the life of Jesus Christ and his apostles in the first century A.D. Scribes convert the doctor's papyrus scrolls into a single codex, which he then takes on a perilous mission to visit Christian exiles in ancient Bithynia of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).


Along the way, the valuable codex falls into the hands of Jews who had fled Jerusalem when Roman legions sacked the city in the year 70. But the Christian book--to be known as the Nicaea Codex--is mysteriously lost and becomes the object of a relentless quest over time and place by people who are determined to possess it at all costs.


What finally happens to the priceless codex is revealed in the novel's epilogue that will surpise you. The Nicaea Trilogy is a sprawling saga told in three novellas under one cover. It unfolds against a backdrop of persecution and war during the Roman Empire.


And then comes hope with the crowning of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, and the adoption of a new statement of faith called the Nicene Creed. 


Read a Sample Chapter of the Nicaea Trilogy




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Warren Lamb

Faithful Journey Publishing




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