On Deification in the Law and the Prophets

St. Aprahat the Persian Sage ca. 270-345

(This is) a reply against the Jews, who blaspheme the people gathered from among the Gentiles… they bring forward as an argument, that God said:— I am God and there is none else beside Me. Deut. 32:39 And again he said:— You shall not worship another God. Exo. 34:14. Therefore, (say they), you are opposing God in that you call a man, God.

For the venerated name of Godhead has been applied also to righteous men, and they have been held worthy to be called by it. And the men with whom God was well pleased, them He called, My sons, and My friends. When He chose Moses His friend and His beloved and made him chief and teacher and priest unto his people he called him God. For He said to him:— I have made you a God unto Pharaoh. Exo. 6:1 And He gave him His priest for a prophet, And Aaron your brother shall speak for you unto Pharaoh, and you shall be unto him as a God, and he shall be unto you an interpreter. Exo. 7:1 Thus not alone to the evil Pharaoh did He make Moses God, but also unto Aaron, the holy priest, He made Moses God.

Again, hear concerning the title Son of God, by which we have called Him. They say that though God has no son, you make that crucified Jesus, the firstborn son of God. Yet He called Israel My first-born, when He sent to Pharaoh through Moses and said to him, Israel is My first-born; I have said unto you, let My Son go to serve Me, and if you are not willing to let (him) go, lo! I will slay your son, your firstborn. Exo. 4:22-23 And also through the Prophet Hos. 11:1-2 He testified concerning this, and reproved them and said to the people, Out of Egypt have I called My son. As I called them, so they went and worshipped Baal and offered incense to the graven images. And Isaiah said Isa. 1:2 concerning them, Children have I reared and brought up, and they have rebelled against Me. And again it is written, You are the children of the Lord your God. Deut. 14:1 And about Solomon He said, He shall be to Me a son, and I will be to him a Father. 2 Sam. 8:14 So also we call the Christ, the Son of God, for through Him we have gained the knowledge of God; even as He called Israel My firstborn son, and as He said concerning Solomon, He shall be to Me a son. And we call Him God, even as He surnamed Moses by His own Name. And also David said concerning them:— You are Gods and children of the Highest, all of you. And when they amended not themselves, therefore He said concerning them:— As men shall you die, and as one of the princes shall you fall (Psa. 82:6-7).

For the name of Divinity is given for the highest honor in the world, and with whomsoever God is well pleased, He applies it to him. But however, the names of God are many and are venerable, as He delivered His names to Moses, saying to him:— I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. This is My Name for ever, and this is My memorial unto generations. Exo. 3:6, 15 And He called His name Ahiyah ashar Ahiyah, El Shaddai and Adonai Sabaoth. By these names is God called. The great and honorable name of Godhead He withheld not from His righteous ones; even as, though He is the great King, without grudging He applied the great and honorable name of Kingship to men who are His creatures.

For by the mouth of His prophet God called the heathen King Nebuchadnezzar, King of Kings. For Jeremiah said:— Every people and kingdom that shall not put his neck into the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Kings, My servant, with famine and with sword and with pestilence will I visit that people. Though He is the great King, He grudges not the name of Kingship to men. And (so), though He is the great God, yet He grudged not the name of Godhead to the sons of flesh. And though all fatherhood is His, He has called men also fathers. For He said to the congregation:— Instead of your fathers, shall be your children. And though authority is His, He has given men authority one over another. And while worship is His unto honor, He has yet allowed it in the world, that one man should honor another. For even though a man should do worship before the wicked and the heathen and them that refuse grace, yet is he not censured by God. And concerning worship He commanded His people, You shall not worship the sun or the moon or all the hosts of heaven; and also you shall not desire to worship any creature that is upon the earth. Deut. 4:17 Behold the grace and the love of our good Maker, that He did not grudge to men the name of Godhead and the name of worship, and the name of Kingship, and the name of authority; because He is the Father of the created things that are over the face of the world, and He has honoured and exalted and glorified men above all creatures. For with His holy hands He fashioned them; and of His Spirit He breathed into them, and a dwelling-place did He become unto them from of old. In them does He abide and among them does He walk. (Demonstration 17.1-6)