Tertullian, Cyprian and Ante-Nicene heavenly witnesses

Steven Avery

AD 200 – Tertullian
Against Praxeas XXV
"Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These three are one [thing], not one [Person], as it is said, 'I and my Father are One,' in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number." (ANF vol 3, p. 621)
WOGIG These Three are one essence, not one Person, as it is said, "I and my Father are One," John 10:30

Tertullian gives us two solid allusions

● On Modesty 21.16 : For the very Church, properly and principally, is the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the one Divinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. He assembles this Church which the Lord has specified as‘three’ [OR: which the Lord has founded in Three]. And thus, from that time forward, even each number [of persons] who have united in this faith are reckoned the Church, from its Author and Sanctifier. (the Holy Ghost).
(Tertullian. On Modesty. 21:16. Translated by Jeroen Beekhuizen, correspondence, February 2020)

● On Baptism VI.: Not that in the waters we obtain the Holy Spirit; but in the water, under (the witness of) the angel, we are cleansed, and prepared for the Holy Spirit. In this case also a type has preceded; for thus was John [the Baptist] beforehand the Lord’s forerunner, "preparing His ways." Thus, too, does the angel, the witness of baptism, "make the paths straight" for the Holy Spirit, who is about to come upon us, by the washing away of sins, which faith, sealed in (the name of) the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, obtains. For if "in the mouth of three witnesses every word shall stand:" - while, through the benediction, we have the same (three) as witnesses of our faith whom we have as sureties of our salvation too - how much more does the number of the divine names suffice for the assurance of our hope likewise! Moreover, after the pledging both of the attestation of faith and the promise of salvation under "three witnesses," there is added, of necessity, mention of the Church; inasmuch as, wherever there are three, (that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,) there is the Church, which is a body of three. (ANF vol 3, p. 672)

Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 200) - or Theodotus

The Stromata - Eclogae propheticae Chapter 13
"By two and three witnesses every word is established. By Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, by whose witness and help the prescribed commandments ought to be kept."
(Clement of Alexandria. Prophetic Extracts. 13.1; ANF, vol 8)

Comments on the First Epistle of John
Earthly witnesses and non-Trinitarian allegory
“For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit,” which is life, "and the water,” which is regeneration and faith, "and the blood,” which is knowledge; "and these three are one.” For in the Saviour are those savimg virtues, and life itself exists in His own Son.

Origen - c. AD 230

Scholia on Psalm 122:2 ”Behold as the eyes of the servants…” (Hebrew Bible 123:2)
The Spirit and the body are servants to their masters (the Father and the Son);
the soul is the maiden to her mistress (the Holy Spirit);
and the Lord our God is the three [persons],
for the three are one.
(Origenis Selecta in Psalmos CXXII, Translated by Sarah Van der Pas, correspondence, March 2021)

AD 250 – Cyprian of Carthage

● On the Unity of the Church:
He who breaks the peace and concord of Christ, does so in opposition to Christ; he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ. The Lord says, "I and the Father are one;" and again, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit it is written , "And these three are one."
(Cyprian. Treatise. On the Unity of the Church. Book 1.6, ANF, 1995, vol. 5, p. 423)

• Epistle 73 to Jubianum:
If any one could be baptized by a heretic, and could obtain remission of sins, - if he has obtained remission of sins, and is sanctified, and become the temple of God? I ask, of what God? If of the Creator, he cannot be His temple, who has not believed in Him ; if of Christ, neither can he who denies Him to be God, be His temple ; if of the Holy Spirit, since the three are one, how can the Holy Spirit be reconciled to him, who is an enemy, either of the Father or of the Son?"
(Cyprian, Epistle 73 [to Jubaianus]; translated by Thomas Hartwell Horne, 1825; Horne, "IV. Sect. V. On the First General Epistle of John" in Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 1825, vol 4, p. 452)