Question: "What occurred at the Council of Nicea?"
Answer: The Council of Nicea took place in 325 A.D. by the order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine. Nicea was located in Asia Minor, east of Constantinople. At the Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine presided over a group of Church bishops and leaders with the purpose of defining the true God for all of Christianity and eliminating all the confusion, controversy, and contention within Christ’s church. The Council of Nicea affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ and established an official definition of the Trinity—the deity of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit under one Godhead, in three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.
Constantine, a converted Christian (debatably), called for a council meeting to be held in Nicea with the bishops of the Christian church to resolve escalating quarrels and controversy mounting to a bitter degree of disunity among the church leadership concerning theological issues. The failing Roman Empire, now under Constantine’s rule, could not withstand the division caused by years of hard-fought, “out of hand” arguing over doctrinal differences. He saw it not only as a threat to Christianity but as a threat to society as well. Therefore, at the Council of Nicea, Constantine demanded that the Christians settle their internal disagreements and become Christ-like agents who could bring new life into a troubled, beaten-down empire. Constantine felt “called” to use his authority to help bring about the unity, peace, and love, all for which Christ stands. He and the bishops had reason to worry about the future survival of Christianity within the Roman world empire, let alone the survival of his world empire. The Council of Nicea, led by Emperor Constantine, was the meeting to settle differences, to become like-minded, all to the glory of Christ.
The main theological issue and focus had always been about Christ. Since the end of the Apostolic Age and beginning of the Church Age, saints began questioning, debating, fighting, and separating over the question, “Who is the Christ?” Is He more divine than human or more human than divine? Was Jesus created / made or begotten? Being the Son of God, is He co-equal and co-eternal with Father God, or less and lower in status than the Father? Is the Father the One and only True God, or are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit the One true God? “True God of True God,” “One Being, Three Persons”, a tri-unity called “Trinity”? Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).
Once the Nicea Council meeting was underway Constantine demanded that the 300 bishops make a decision by majority vote defining who Jesus Christ is. Constantine commanded them to create a “creed” doctrine that all of Christianity would follow and obey, a doctrine that would be called the “Nicene Creed,” upheld by the Church and enforced by the Emperor. The bishops voted to make the full deity of Christ the accepted position for the church. The Council of Nicea voted to make the Trinity the official doctrine of the church. However, the Council of Nicea did not invent these doctrines. Rather, it only recognized what the Bible taught, and systematized the doctrines.
The New Testament taught that Jesus the Messiah should be worshipped and trusted, which was/is to say He is co-equally God and man. The New Testament forbids the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8, 9) but commands worship of Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9; 1:19). Paul declares Jesus as Lord and the One to whom a person must pray for salvation just as one calls on Jehovah, Yahweh (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:9-13). “Jesus is God overall” (Romans 9:5), and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Faith in Jesus’ Deity is basic to Paul’s testimony and theology.
John’s Gospel declares Jesus the be the Divine eternal Logos, agent of creation and source of life and light (John 1:1-5, 9); the "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6); an advocate with heavenly Father (1 John 2:1-2); sovereign (Revelation 1:5); the Rider on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16); and the totality of the Son of God from the beginning to the end (Revelation 22:13). The author of Hebrews reveals the full deity of Jesus through His perfection as the most high priest, Melchizedek (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 7:1-3), and the full humanity (Hebrews 2). The Divine-human Savior is the Christian's object of faith, hope, and love.
The Council of Nicea did not invent the doctrine of the deity of Christ. Rather, the Council of Nicea affirmed the Apostles' teaching of who Christ is—the One true God in Deity and Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
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