Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

The Distinctions between the Persons

In today’s passage, David Chytraeus gives a traditional, classical Western account of the distinctions (discrimina) among the three Persons of the Godhead. He thus teaches the eternal generation of the Son.

Chytraeus connects the Son’s intercession and mediation to the Fall, which is to say that the Son became man’s intercessor as soon as the Fall had occurred. His mediatorial work is brought to fulfillment when he takes on human nature in space-time and dies as a sacrificial victim (victima). Forgiveness, righteousness, and life come through him alone.

The Spirit is sent forth to govern the Church’s teaching, and it is the Spirit who reigns in and hallows the hearts of his people; he does this through the Gospel (per Evangelium).

Recita Descriptiones & discrimina trium personarum Divinitatis.

PATER est prima persona divinitatis, quae ab aeterno genuit Filium coaeternum imaginem suam, & una cum Filio & Spiritu Sancto omnes res ex nihilo condidit & conservat.

FILIUS est secunda persona divinitatis, genita ab aeterno a Patre, & est substantialis & integra imago aeterni Patris, qui Filius postea fuit intercessor inter DEUM & primos homines lapsos, & constitutus mediator, assumpsit ex virgine Maria humanam naturam, factus est victima pro nobis, & per eum ac propter eum solum, datur ab aeterno Patre remissio peccatorum, iustitia & vita aeterna.

SPIRITUS SANCTUS est tertia Persona1 divinitatis, quae a Patre & Filio procedit: & mittitur, ut ministerium docendi in Ecclesia gubernet, & per Evangelium corda piorum regneret & sanctificet.

Give a general description of [each of] the three persons of the Godhead, and the differences [between them].

The Father is the first Person of the Godhead, who 2 from eternity has begotten the coeternal Son, his own image, and who, together with the Son and the Holy Spirit, created all things out of nothing and preserves them.

The Son is the second Person of the Godhead, begotten 3 from eternity from the Father, and is the substantial and perfect image of the eternal Father; which Son later was intercessor between God and the first men, once they had fallen, and was established as the mediator; he assumed from the Virgin Mary a human nature, he was made the sacrificial victim for us, and through him and on account of him alone is given [to us] the remission of sins, righteousness, and eternal life.

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, who 4 proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent in order to govern the ministry of teaching in the Church and through the Gospel to reign over and sanctify the hearts of the pious.

  1. Capitalized even though the other two instances are not; I’m just following the conventions of the edition I am using, even where there seems to have been a printer’s mistake. Even Homer nods.
  2. quae–the antecedent is persona.
  3. genita, feminine in agreement with persona.
  4. Again, the antecedent is persona

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.