Romans 9:5 used as a deity verse in the Ante-Nicene era.

Steven Avery

Romans 9:5
Whose are the fathers,
and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came,
who is over all,
God blessed for ever. Amen.

This was a surprise, so I want to get it documented. The verse is known for having two or three different translations.

First, lets note that there are strained attempts at higher and lower Christology texts, and a major back and forth between Edwin Hamilton Gifford (1820-1905), and Benjamin Hall Kennedy.

Benjamin Hall Kennedy
“And of whom is the Christ as concerning flesh. He who is over all is God, worthy to be praised for ever. Amen.” {Sermon, etc., p. 19.)

Revision margin note:
“Some modern interpreters place a full stop after flesh, and translate.
He who is God over all be (is) blessed forever : or.
He who is over all is God. blessed forever.
Others punctuate,
flesh, who is over all. God be (is) blessed forever"

John William Burgon and Cook wrote forcefully againt this note:

Quarterly Review (1881)
Revision Revised (1883)

(k) A MARGINAL ANNOTATION set over against Romans ix. 5 is the last thing of this kind to which we shall invite attention. S. Paul declares it to be Israel’s highest boast and glory that of them, ‘as concerning the flesh [came] CHRIST, who is over all [things], God blessed for ever! Amen.’ A grander or more unequivocal testimony to our Lord’s eternal Godhead is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Accordingly, these words have been appealed to as confidently by faithful Doctors of the Church in every age, as they have been unsparingly assailed by unbelievers. The dishonest shifts by which the latter seek to evacuate the record which they are powerless to refute or deny, are paraded by our Revisionists in the following terms:—

Facebook - Patristics for Protestants (some addition to my post here)

Casey Perkins

Tertullian writes in Against Praxeas:
I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father " God," and invoke Jesus Christ as " Lord." But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him " God," as the same apostle says: "Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever."

Gregory of Nazianzus has a similar quote in the Theological Orations, but I can't seem to find it. Does anyone happen to have it handy?

Steven Avery

If you are looking for a reference that includes Romans 9:5, I doubt that you will find it in Gregory Nazianzen.

John William Burgon and Ezra Abbot went over the references from the early church writers with a fine tooth comb, and Gregory did not come up. And they were generally far better scholars than today's crew on these issues, even when they were on opposite sides.


It is interesting that Tertullian used Romans 9:5 for a Deity Lite approach. I wonder if the translation given is accurate to his expression.


Beyond that, I often find dual addressing in the New Testament interesting. And I do not see Christians doing similar.


Back to Tertullian, I do not often quote Philip Schaff, but here goes:

"Tertullian cannot escape the charge of subordinationism. He bluntly calls the Father the whole divine substance, and the Son a part of it;1011 illustrating their relation by the figures of the fountain and the stream, the sun and the beam. He would not have two suns, he says, but he might call Christ God, as Paul does in Rom 9:5..... "

History of the Christian Church (1910)


Here you can see that four Ante-Nicene writers are emphasized in relation to Romans 9:5 and Deity

Tertullian, Hippolytus, Novatian and Cyprian. - note the English text given for Cyprian

Also Methodius of Olympus (d. 311) can be added to the four.

The Writings of Methodius, Alexander of Lycopolis, Peter of Alexandria, and Several Fragment (1869)

We keep festival, not according to the vain customs of the Greek mythology; we keep a feast which brings with it no ridiculous or frenzied banqueting of the gods, but which teaches us the wondrous condescension to us men of the awful glory of Him who is God over all.1
1 Rom. ix. 5.
Methodius is not specific enough, and an allusion, so I will not count this in to the group. Now we get to the four refrenced.
…But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call him “God,” as the same apostle says: “Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”… (Tertullian, 145-220 A.D., Against Praxeas, Chapter XIII)[5]

Let us look next at the apostle’s word:
“ Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”,13 This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” 14 He who is overall, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man. He is (yet) God for ever.' For to this effect John also has said, “ Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” 15 And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father; ”16 and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed 17 Almighty by the Father. ...
(Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D., Dogmatical and Historical Fragments – Against the Heresy of One Noetus,[6]

…and if, besides, the Apostle Paul says, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for evermore.”…reasonably Christ is God…(Novatian, 257 A.D., A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XII)[7]

...That Christ is God…Christ came, who is God over all, blessed for evermore.” (Cyprian, 200-258 A.D., Cyprian Treatise XII Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews)[8]





edited by Gerald Bray, Thomas C. Oden

To the Israelites Belong the Patriarchs and Christ

God Who Is Over All.
It is clear from this passage that Christ is the God who is over all. The one who is over all has nothing over him, for Christ does not come after the
Father but from the Father. The Holy Spirit is also included in this, as it is written: The Spirit of the Lord fills the earth, and whoever contains all things knows every sound.20 So if the Son is God over all and the Spirit is recorded as containing all things, it is clear that the nature and substance of the Trinity are shown to be one and over all things.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.21 - (Latin, through Rufinus)

20 Wis 1:7.
21 CER 4:140.

Of Their Flesh Is thb Christ.
As there is no mention of the Father's name in this verse and Paul is talking about Christ, it cannot be disputed that he is called God here. For if Scripture is speaking about God the Father and adds the Son, it often calls the Father God and the Son Lord. If someone does not think that it is said here about Christ that he is God, then let him name the person about whom he thinks it is said, for there is no mention of God the Father in this verse.
Commentary on Paul's Epistles.22
22 CSEL 81-305.

Augutstine and Pelagius are also given, a bit unclear, Cyril of Alexandria is not on this deity topic

Steven Avery

Benjamin Hall Kennedy tries to counter the significance of these early church writers, considering them like a flock of sheep.

The divinity of Christ, a sermon. With an appendix on Romans ix. 5, and Titus ii. 13
Benjamin Hall Kennedy

Christ is God Over All: Romans 9:5 in the Context of Romans 9-11 (2013)
By George Carraway

Grammatical Objections to the Thesis
Ezra Abbot. One of perhaps the more thorough analyses of the text was published by Ezra Abbot in response to Dwight in 1881.64 Abbot argued that a doxology to God was not out of place in Romans 9:1-5 and that the various aspects of 9:5 suggest it is proper, lie argued that the participle can best be understood as starting a new sentence in which the participle selves as the subject and God is the antecedent. As support for that he denied that (Grk) should require as an antithesis that Jesus is God, and, in addition, he argued that a full stop is suggested following it Abbot finally contends that (Grk); is never applied to Jesus in the New Testament and, in spite of suggestions that the word order is unnatural for a doxology, it is best applied to God. Abbot’s assessment includes a thorough analysis of the meaning of the text; however, he ultimately realized that the reading that Christ is God is also a possible reading. He then fell back to contentions similar to others that Paul nowhere else refers to Jesus as God, and that it is unlikely that at the early time of Paul’s writing he could have had that understanding.