Council of Ephesus

Last updated
Council of Ephesus
Accepted by
Previous council
First Council of Constantinople
Next council
Council of Chalcedon
Convoked byEmperor Theodosius II
President Cyril of Alexandria
Attendance200–250 (papal representatives arrived late)
Topics Nestorianism, Theotokos, Pelagianism, Premillennialism
Documents and statements
Confirmation of the original Nicene Creed, condemnations of heresies, declaration of Mary as "Theotokos", eight canons
Chronological list of ecumenical councils

The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus (near present-day Selçuk in Turkey) in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, [1] confirmed the original Nicene Creed, [2] and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who held that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Birth Giver of Christ" but not the Theotokos , "Birth Giver of God". It met in June and July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia.

Ephesus Ancient city in Anatolia

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

Selçuk Town in Aegean, Turkey

Selçuk is the central town of Selçuk district, İzmir Province in Turkey, 2 kilometres northeast of the ancient city of Ephesus.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, the part of Turkey in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city while Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.


Nestorius' doctrine, Nestorianism, which emphasized the distinction between Christ's human and divine natures and argued that Mary should be called Christotokos (Christ-bearer) but not Theotokos (God-bearer), had brought him into conflict with other church leaders, most notably Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius himself had requested the Emperor to convene the council, hoping that it would prove his orthodoxy; the council in fact condemned his teachings as heresy. The council declared Mary as Theotokos (Mother of God). [3]

Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures of Jesus Christ were joined by will rather than nature. This Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, who was influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch.

Cyril of Alexandria Pope of Alexandria from 412 to 444

Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He was enthroned when the city was at the height of its influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late-4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople.

Orthodoxy adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion

Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means "conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church." The first seven ecumenical councils were held between the years of 325 and 787 with the aim of formalizing accepted doctrines.

Nestorius' dispute with Cyril had led the latter to seek validation from Pope Celestine I, who authorized Cyril to request that Nestorius recant his position or face excommunication. Nestorius pleaded with the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II to call a council in which all grievances could be aired, hoping that he would be vindicated and Cyril condemned.

Pope Celestine I pope

Pope Celestine I was Pope from 10 September 422 to his death in 432. According to the Liber Pontificalis, the start of his papacy was 3 November. However, Tillemont places the date at 10 September.

Excommunication Censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community

Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to end or at least regulate the communion of a member of a congregation with other members of the religious institution who are in normal communion with each other. The purpose of the institutional act is to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it, in particular, those of being in communion with other members of the congregation, and of receiving the sacraments.

Theodosius II Byzantine Emperor (401–450)

Theodosius II, commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was the Eastern Roman Emperor for most of his life, taking the throne as an infant in 402 and ruling as the Eastern Empire's sole emperor after the death of his father Arcadius in 408. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople. He also presided over the outbreak of two great Christological controversies, Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

Approximately 250 bishops were present. The proceedings were conducted in a heated atmosphere of confrontation and recriminations and created severe tensions between Cyril and Theodosius II. Nestorius was decisively outplayed by Cyril and removed from his see, and his teachings were officially anathematized. This precipitated the Nestorian Schism, by which churches supportive of Nestorius, especially in the Persian Empire of the Sassanids, were severed from the rest of Christendom and became known as Nestorian Christianity, or the Church of the East, whose present-day representatives are the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Syrian Church, and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius himself retired to a monastery, later recanting his Nestorian position. [ citation needed ]

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Episcopal see the main administrative seat held by a bishop

An episcopal see is, in the usual meaning of the phrase, the area of a bishop's ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Nestorian Schism schism between the Christian churches of Sassanid Persia affiliated with Nestorius and churches that rejected him, arising out of a Christological dispute, caused by the Council of Ephesus (431)

The Nestorian Schism (431–544), in church history, involved a split between the Christian churches of Sassanid Persia, which affiliated with Nestorius, and churches that rejected him. The schism rose out of a Christological dispute, notably involving Cyril and Nestorius. The First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 condemned Nestorius and his doctrine, which emphasized the radical distinctness between Christ's human and divine natures.


Political context

McGuckin cites the "innate rivalry" between Alexandria and Constantinople as an important factor in the controversy between Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius. [4] However, he emphasizes that, as much as political competition contributed to an "overall climate of dissent", the controversy cannot be reduced merely to the level of "personality clashes" or "political antagonisms". According to McGuckin, Cyril viewed the "elevated intellectual argument about christology" as ultimately one and the same as the "validity and security of the simple Christian life". [5]

Alexandria Metropolis in Egypt

Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

Even within Constantinople, some supported the Roman-Alexandrian and others supported the Nestorian factions. For example, Pulcheria supported the Roman-Alexandrian popes while the emperor and his wife supported Nestorius. [6]

Pulcheria Byzantine empress

Saint Aelia Pulcheria was regent of the Eastern Roman Empire during the minority of her brother Theodosius II, ruling empress of the Eastern Roman Empire for a few months in 450 and then empress by marriage to Marcian until her death.

Theological context

Contention over Nestorius' teachings, which he developed during his studies at the School of Antioch, largely revolved around his rejection of the long-used title Theotokos ("Birth-giver of God") for the Virgin Mary. Shortly after his arrival in Constantinople, Nestorius became involved in the disputes of two theological factions, which differed in their Christology.

McGuckin ascribes Nestorius' importance to his being the representative of the Antiochene tradition and characterizes him as a "consistent, if none too clear, exponent of the longstanding Antiochene dogmatic tradition." Nestorius was greatly surprised that what he had always taught in Antioch without any controversy whatsoever should prove to be so objectionable to the Christians of Constantinople. Nestorius emphasized the dual natures of Christ, trying to find a middle ground between those who emphasized the fact that in Christ God had been born as a man, insisted on calling the Virgin Mary Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος, "God-bearer"), and those that rejected that title because God as an eternal being could not have been born. Nestorius suggested the title Christotokos (Χριστοτόκος, "Christ-bearer"), but this proposal did not gain acceptance on either side.

Nestorius tried to answer a question considered unsolved: "How can Jesus Christ, being part man, not be partially a sinner as well, since man is by definition a sinner since the Fall?" To solve that he taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to the incarnate Christ, not the divine Logos who existed before Mary and indeed before time itself. The Logos occupied the part of the human soul (the part of man that was stained by the Fall). But wouldn't the absence of a human soul make Jesus less human? Nestorius rejected this proposition, answering that, because the human soul was based on the archetype of the Logos, only to become polluted by the Fall, Jesus was "more" human for having the Logos and not "less". Consequently, Nestorius argued that the Virgin Mary should be called Christotokos, Greek for "Birth Giver of Christ", and not Theotokos , Greek for "Birth Giver of God".

Nestorius believed that no union between the human and divine was possible. If such a union of human and divine occurred, Nestorius believed that Christ could not truly be con-substantial with God and con-substantial with us because he would grow, mature, suffer and die (which Nestorius argued God cannot do) and also would possess the power of God that would separate him from being equal to humans.

According to McGuckin, several mid-twentieth-century accounts have tended to "romanticise" Nestorius; in opposition to this view, he asserts that Nestorius was no less dogmatic, uncompromising than Cyril and that he was fully just as prepared to use his political and canonical powers as Cyril or any of the other hierarchs of the period. [7]

Nestorius's opponents charged him with detaching Christ's divinity and humanity into two persons existing in one body, thereby denying the reality of the Incarnation. Eusebius, a layman who later became the bishop of the neighbouring Dorylaeum was the first to accuse Nestorius of heresy but his most forceful opponent was Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria. Cyril argued that Nestorianism split Jesus in half and denied that he was both human and divine.

Cyril appealed to Pope Celestine I, charging Nestorius with heresy. The Pope agreed and gave Cyril his authority to serve a notice to Nestorius to recant his views within ten days or else be excommunicated. Before acting on the Pope's commission, Cyril convened a synod of Egyptian bishops which condemned Nestorius as well. Cyril then sent four suffragan bishops to deliver both the Pope's commission as well as the synodal letter of the Egyptian bishops. Cyril sent a letter to Nestorius known as "The Third Epistle of Saint Cyril to Nestorius." This epistle drew heavily on the established Patristic Constitutions and contained the most famous article of Alexandrian Orthodoxy: "The Twelve Anathemas of Saint Cyril." In these anathemas, Cyril excommunicated anyone who followed the teachings of Nestorius. For example, "Anyone who dares to deny the Holy Virgin the title Theotokos is Anathema!" Nestorius however, still would not repent. McGuckin points out that other representatives of the Antiochene tradition such as John of Antioch, Theodoret and Andrew of Samosata were able to recognize "the point of the argument for Christ's integrity" and concede the "ill-advised nature of Nestorius' immoveability." [8] Concerned at the potential for a negative result at a council, they urged Nestorius to yield and accept the use of the title Theotokos when referring to the Virgin Mary. [9]

For example, John of Antioch wrote to Nestorius urging him to submit to the Pope's judgment and cease stirring up controversy over a word that he disliked (Theotokos) but which could be interpreted as having an orthodox meaning especially in light of the fact that many saints and doctors of the church had sanctioned the word by using it themselves. John wrote to Nestorius, "Don't lose your head. Ten days! It will not take you twenty-four hours to give the needed answer.... Ask advice of men you can trust. Ask them to tell you the facts, not just what they think will please you.... You have the whole of the East against you, as well as Egypt." Despite this advice from his colleagues, Nestorius persisted in maintaining the rightness of his position.


Council of Ephesus in 431, in the Basilica of Fourviere, Lyon Christian council of Ephesus in 431.jpg
Council of Ephesus in 431, in the Basilica of Fourvière, Lyon

On 19 November, Nestorius, anticipating the ultimatum which was about to be delivered, convinced Emperor Theodosius II to summon a general council through which Nestorius hoped to convict Cyril of heresy and thereby vindicate his own teachings. Theodosius issued a Sacra calling for the metropolitan bishops to assemble in the city of Ephesus, which was a special seat for the veneration of Mary, where the theotokos formula was popular. Each bishop was to bring only his more eminent suffragans. The date set by the Emperor for the opening of the council was Pentecost (7 June) 431. [10]

McGuckin notes that the vagueness of the Sacra resulted in wide variations of interpretation by different bishops. In particular, the vastness of John of Antioch's ecclesiastical territory required a lengthy period to notify and gather his delegates. Because the overland trip from Antioch to Ephesus was long and arduous, John composed his delegation of his metropolitan bishops who were restricted to bring no more than two suffragans each. By doing so, he minimized the number who would have to travel to Ephesus. Neither of the emperors attended the council. Theodosius appointed Count Candidian as the head of the imperial palace guard to represent him, to supervise the proceedings of the Council, and to keep good order in the city of Ephesus. Despite Nestorius' agenda of prosecuting Cyril, Theodosius intended for the council to focus strictly on the christological controversy. He thus gave Candidianus strict directions to remain neutral and not to interfere in the theological proceedings. It is generally assumed that Candidian initially maintained his neutrality as instructed by the emperor and only gradually became more biased towards Nestorius. McGuckin, however, suggests that Candidian may have favored Nestorius from the start. [11] [12]


Celestine sent Arcadius and Projectus, to represent himself and his Roman council; in addition, he sent the Roman priest, Philip, as his personal representative. Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria was president of the council. Celestine had directed the papal legates not to take part in the discussions, but to give judgment on them. [13]

Bishops arrived in Ephesus over a period of several weeks. While waiting for the other bishops to arrive, they engaged in informal discussions characterized as tending to "exasperate rather than heal their differences". [14] The metropolitan of Ephesus, Memnon, was already present with his 52 bishops. Nestorius and his 16 bishops were the first to arrive shortly after Easter. As archbishop of the imperial city of Constantinople, he traveled with a detachment of troops who were under the command of Count Candidian. McGuckin notes that the troops were not there to serve as Nestorius' bodyguard but to support Candidian in his role as the emperor's representative. However, McGuckin theorizes that Candidian's progressive abandonment of neutrality in favor of Nestorius may have created the perception that Candidian's troops were, in fact, there to support Nestorius. [15] Candidian ordered all monks and lay strangers to leave the city; he further instructed the bishops not to leave on any pretext until the council was concluded. [14] Several sources comment that the purpose of this injunction was to prevent bishops from leaving the council to appeal to the emperor directly. [16]

According to McGuckin, Memnon, as bishop of Ephesus, commanded the "fervent and unquestioned loyalty" of the local populace and thus could count on the support of local factions to counterbalance the military might of Candidian's troops. [17] In view of the verdict of Rome against Nestorius, Memnon refused to have communion with Nestorius, closing the churches of Ephesus to him. [18]

Cyril brought with him 50 bishops, arriving only a few days before Pentecost. [19] There were very few bishops representing the West, as the papal representatives would not arrive until July. [20] The Palestinian delegation of 16 bishops and Metropolitan Flavian of Philippi arrived 5 days after the date that had been set for opening the council, and aligned themselves with Cyril. [20]

At this point, Cyril announced his intention to open the council; however, Candidian enjoined him from doing so on the grounds that the Roman and Antiochean delegations had not arrived yet. [9] Cyril initially acceded to Candidian's injunction knowing that he could not legally convene a council without the official reading of the Emperor's Sacra. [21]

A number of bishops, who were undecided between Nestorius and Cyril, did not want to give Cyril, as one party in the dispute, the right to chair the meeting and decide the agenda; [22] however, they began to take Cyril's side for various reasons. [23]

Various circumstances including a detour necessitated by flooding as well as sickness and death of some of the delegates seriously delayed John of Antioch and his bishops. [24] It was rumored that John might be delaying his arrival in order to avoid participating in a council which was likely to condemn Nestorius as a heretic. [13]

First session - June 22

Two weeks after the date set for the council, John and the bulk of his Syrian group (42 members) had not yet appeared. At this point, Cyril formally opened the council on Monday 22 June by enthroning the Gospels in the centre of the church, as a symbol of Christ's presence among the assembled bishops. [25]

Despite three separate summons, Nestorius refused to acknowledge Cyril's authority to stand in judgment of him and considered the opening of the council before the arrival of the Antiochene contingent as a "flagrant injustice". [9] [13] The 68 bishops who opposed opening the council entered the church in protest, arriving with Count Candidian who declared that the assembly was illegal and must disperse. [26] He urged Cyril to wait four more days for the Syrian delegation to arrive. [27] However, since even the bishops opposed to opening the council were now present, Cyril maneuvered Candidian by means of a ruse to read out the text of the Emperor's decree of convocation, which the assembly then acclaimed as recognition of its own legality. [28]

Arrival of the Antiochene delegation

When John of Antioch and his Syrian bishops finally reached Ephesus five days after the council, they met with Candidian who informed them that Cyril had begun a council without them and had ratified Celestine's conviction of Nestorius as a heretic. Angered at having undertaken such a long and arduous journey only to have been pre-empted by actions taken by Cyril's council, John and the Syrian bishops held their own Council with Candidian presiding. [29] [30] This council condemned Cyril for espousing the Arian, Apollinarian and Eunomian heresies and condemned Memnon for inciting violence. The bishops at this council deposed both Cyril and Memnon. [9] Initially, the emperor concurred with the actions of John's council but eventually withdrew his concurrence.[ citation needed ]

Second Session - July 10

The second session was held in Memnon's episcopal residence. Philip, as papal legate, opened the proceedings by commenting that the present question regarding Nestorius had already been decided by Pope Celestine as evidenced by his letter, which had been read to the assembled bishops in the first session. He indicated that he had a second letter from Celestine which was read to the bishops now in attendance. The letter contained a general exhortation to the council, and concluded by saying that the legates had instructions to carry out what the pope had decided on the question and expressed Celestine's confidence that the council would agree. The bishops indicated their approval by acclaiming Celestine and Cyril. Projectus indicated that the papal letter enjoined the council to put into effect the sentence pronounced by Celestine. Firmus, the Exarch of Caesarea in Cappadocia, responded that the pope's sentence had already been carried out in the first session. The session closed with the reading of the pope's letter to the emperor. [13]

Third Session - July 11

Having read the Acts of the first session, the papal legates indicated that all that was required was that the council's condemnation of Nestorius be formally read in their presence. When this had been done, the three legates each confirmed the council's actions, signing the Acts of all three sessions. The council sent a letter to Theodosius indicating that the condemnation of Nestorius had been agreed upon not only by the bishops of the East meeting in Ephesus but also of the bishops of the West who had convened at a synod in Rome convened by Celestine. The bishops asked Theodosius to allow them to go home since so many of them suffered from their presence at Ephesus. [13]

Fourth Session - July 16

At the fourth session, Cyril and Memnon presented a formal protest against John of Antioch for convening a separate conciliabulum. The council issued a summons for him to appear before them, but he would not even receive the envoys who were sent to serve him the summons. [13]

Fifth Session - July 17

Next day the fifth session was held in the same church. John had set up a placard in the city accusing the synod of the Apollinarian heresy. He was again cited, and this was counted as the third canonical summons. He paid no attention. In consequence the council suspended and excommunicated him, together with thirty-four bishops of his party, but refrained from deposing them. Some of John's party had already deserted him, and he had gained only a few. In the letters to the emperor and the pope which were then dispatched, the synod described itself as now consisting of 210 bishops. The long letter to Celestine gave a full account of the council, and mentioned that the pope's decrees against the Pelagians had been read and confirmed. [13]

Sixth Session - July 22

At this session, the bishops approved Canon 7 which condemned any departure from the creed established by the First Council of Nicaea, in particular an exposition by the priest Charisius. According to a report from Cyril to Celestine, Juvenal of Jerusalem tried and failed to create for himself a patriarchate from the territory of the Antiochene patriarchate in which his see lay. He ultimately succeeded in this goal twenty years later at the Council of Chalcedon. [13]

Seventh Session - July 31

At this session, the council approved the claim of the bishops of Cyprus that their see had been anciently and rightly exempt from the jurisdiction of Antioch. The council also passed five canons condemning Nestorius and Caelestius and their followers as heretics and a sixth one decreeing deposition from clerical office or excommunication for those who did not accept the Council's decrees.

Canons and declarations

Cyril of Alexandria Saint Cyril of Alexandria at Chora.jpg
Cyril of Alexandria

The Council denounced Nestorius' teaching as erroneous and decreed that Jesus was one person (hypostasis), and not two separate persons, yet possessing both a human and divine nature. The Virgin Mary was to be called Theotokos a Greek word that means "God-bearer" (the one who gave birth to God).

The Council declared it "unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different (ἑτέραν) Faith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Ghost in Nicæa". [2] It quoted the Nicene Creed as adopted by the First Council of Nicaea in 325, not as added to and modified by the First Council of Constantinople in 381. [31] [32] [33] [34]

Pelagianism and premillennialism

In addition to its condemnation of Nestorianism, the council also condemned Pelagianism, [2] and rejected premillennialism (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Papias, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius) in favor of amillennialism (Clement of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo): "Augustine's explanation became Church doctrine when it was adopted as the definitive explanation of the millennium by the Council of Ephesus in 431." [35] According to Augustine of Hippo, the number 'one thousand' of the thousand-year reign of Christ in Revelation 20:1–3 is a synecdochic figure of speech, "but […] some Christians do not understand […], and so construe the passage into ridiculous fancies. […] [S]uch assertions can be believed only by the carnal. They who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians." Against these assertions (Jerome : "cesset ergo mille annorum fabula", lit.  'so let's stop with this fable of a thousand years'; Augustine: "quasdam ridiculas fabulas", lit.  'certain ridiculous fables'; Council of Ephesus: "juxta deliramenta, fabulosa ­que mille annorum infausti Apollinarii dogmata", lit.  ' like the delusion s, and the fabled dogma s of the unfortunate Apollinaris about a millennium '), [36] both Augustine and the Council of Ephesus "prefer proceeding to show how that passage of Scripture should be understood", by quoting, contextualizing, and paraphrasing the ipsissima verba of "Dominus Iesus Christus" (Latin for "Lord Jesus Christ") himself in Matthew 12:29 par Mark 3:27. [37]

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man" — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse "an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold", he says, "on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years", — that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed.

Augustine (TPQ 24 August 410 – TAQ 28 August 430 AD)

The Council of Ephesus re-emphasizes the ecclesiological approach of Augustine's eschatology, thereby conforming the millennium to the Holy Sacraments of the church. [38]

That also, which the holy Church uniformly does in the whole world with regard to those to be baptized, we do not observe with indifferent respect. Since whether children or youths come to the sacrament of regeneration, they do not approach the fountain of life, before the unclean spirit is driven away from them by the exorcisms and the breathings upon them of the priests; so that then it is truly manifest how the prince of this world is sent forth (John 12:31), and how the strong [man] is first bound (Matthew 12:29), and thereafter his vessels are plundered (Mark 3:27), having been transferred to the possession of the victor, who leads captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8) and gives gifts to man (Psalms 67:19).

Council of Ephesus (431 AD)


Eight canons were passed:

Confirmation of the Council's acts

The bishops at Cyril's council outnumbered those at John of Antioch's council by nearly four to one. In addition, they had the agreement of the papal legates and the support of the population of Ephesus who supported their bishop, Memnon.

However, Count Candidian and his troops supported Nestorius as did Count Irenaeus. The emperor had always been a firm supporter of Nestorius, but had been somewhat shaken by the reports of the council. Cyril's group was unable to communicate with the emperor because of interference from supporters of Nestorius both at Constantinople and at Ephesus. Ultimately, a messenger disguised as a beggar was able to carry a letter to Constantinople by hiding it in a hollow cane.

Although Emperor Theodosius had long been a staunch supporter of Nestorius, his loyalty seems to have been shaken by the reports from Cyril's council and caused him to arrive at the extraordinary decision to ratify the depositions decreed by both councils. Thus, he declared that Cyril, Memnon, and John were all deposed. Memnon and Cyril were kept in close confinement. But in spite of all the efforts of the Antiochene party, the representatives of the envoys whom the council was eventually allowed to send, with the legate Philip, to the Court, persuaded the emperor to accept Cyril's council as the true one. Seeing the writing on the wall and anticipating his fate, Nestorius requested permission to retire to his former monastery. The synod was dissolved in the beginning of October, and Cyril arrived amid much joy at Alexandria on 30 October. Pope Celestine had died on July 27 but his successor, Sixtus III, gave papal confirmation to the council's actions.


Christological spectrum during the 5th-7th centuries showing the views of The Church of the East (light blue), Miaphysite (light red) and the western churches i.e. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic (light purple) Christological spectrum-o2p.svg
Christological spectrum during the 5th-7th centuries showing the views of The Church of the East (light blue), Miaphysite (light red) and the western churches i.e. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic (light purple)

The events created a major schism between the followers of the different versions of the council, which was only mended by difficult negotiations. The factions that supported John of Antioch acquiesced in the condemnation of Nestorius and, after additional clarifications, accepted the decisions of Cyril's council. However, the rift would open again during the debates leading up to the Council of Chalcedon.

Persia had long been home to a Christian community that had been persecuted by the Zoroastrian majority, which had accused it of Roman leanings. In 424, the Persian Church declared itself independent of the Byzantine and all other churches, in order to ward off allegations of foreign allegiance. Following the Nestorian Schism, the Persian Church increasingly aligned itself with the Nestorians, a measure encouraged by the Zoroastrian ruling class. The Persian Church became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine over the next decades, furthering the divide between Christianity in Persia and in the Roman Empire. In 486 the Metropolitan of Nisibis, Barsauma, publicly accepted Nestorius' mentor, Theodore of Mopsuestia, as a spiritual authority. In 489 when the School of Edessa in Mesopotamia was closed by Byzantine Emperor Zeno for its Nestorian teachings, the school relocated to its original home of Nisibis, becoming again the School of Nisibis, leading to a wave of Nestorian immigration into Persia. The Persian patriarch Mar Babai I (497–502) reiterated and expanded upon the church's esteem for Theodore, solidifying the church's adoption of Nestorianism. [39]


In 1994, the Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East marked the resolution of a dispute between those two churches that had existed since the Council of Ephesus. They expressed their common understanding of doctrine concerning the divinity and humanity of Christ, and recognized the legitimacy and rightness of their respective descriptions of Mary as, on the Assyrian side, "the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour", and, on the Catholic side, as "the Mother of God" and also as "the Mother of Christ". [40]

Related Research Articles

The Chalcedonian Definition was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. Chalcedon was an early centre of Christianity located in Asia Minor. The council was the fourth of the Ecumenical Councils that are accepted by Chalcedonian churches which include the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestant churches. It was the first council not to be recognised by any Oriental Orthodox church; these churches may be classified as non-Chalcedonian.

Council of Chalcedon Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451; not accepted by Oriental Orthodoxy

The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451, at Chalcedon, a town of Bithynia in Asia Minor. The Council was called by Emperor Marcian to set aside the 449 Second Council of Ephesus. Its principal purpose was to assert the orthodox catholic doctrine against the heresy of Eutyches and the Monophysites, although ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction also occupied the council's attention.

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Nestorius Archbishop of Constantinople

Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to August 431, when Emperor Theodosius II confirmed his condemnation by the Council of Ephesus on 22 June.

Eutyches was a presbyter and archimandrite at Constantinople. He first came to notice in 431 at the First Council of Ephesus, for his vehement opposition to the teachings of Nestorius; his condemnation of Nestorianism as heresy led him to an equally extreme, although opposite view, which precipitated his being denounced as a heretic himself.

Ibas was bishop of Edessa and was born in Syria. His name is the Syriac equivalent of "Donatus". He is frequently associated with the growth of Nestorianism, although this assertion is contentious and has been opposed.

Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria 5th-century Coptic/Orthodox pope

Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria, 25th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. He was deposed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 but was recognized as Patriarch by the Coptic Church until his death. He died on the Island of Gangra, Paphlagonia, in September 454. He is venerated as a saint by the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox churches.

Eusebius of Dorylaeum was a 5th-century bishop who spoke out against heretical teachings, especially those of Nestorius and Eutyches, during the period of Christological controversy. He was bishop of Dorylaeum which is located in Phrygia. The name Eusebius may also be found as Eusebios which means “pious” in Greek. The surname “of Dorylaeum” is a result of his appointment to bishop in Dorylaeum.

Eutychianism specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus

Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople. Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ.

The Second Council of Ephesus was a Christological church synod in 449 AD convened by Emperor Theodosius II under the presidency of Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria. It was intended to be an ecumenical council, and it is accepted as such by the miaphysite churches but was rejected by the Chalcedonian dyophysites. It was explicitly repudiated by the next council, the Council of Chalcedon of 451, recognised as the fourth ecumenical council by Chalcedonian Christians, and it was named the Latrocinium or "Robber Council" by Pope Leo I. The Chalcedonian churches, particularly the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions, continue to accept this designation, while the Oriental Orthodox repudiate it.

Coptic history

Coptic history is part of history of Egypt that begins with the introduction of Christianity in Egypt in the 1st century AD during the Roman period, and covers the history of the Copts to the present day. Many of the historic items related to Coptic Christianity are on display in many museums around the world and a large number is in the Coptic Museum in Coptic Cairo.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

Theodotus of Ancyra was a fifth-century bishop of Ancyra. He was a theologian who attended the Council of Ephesus in 431, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II. Although he had earlier supported the Nestorian theology of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, Theodotus at the council supported Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria in condemning Nestorius. Theodotus was condemned in turn by the Nestorians at their 432 Synod of Tarsus.

Christianity in the 5th century Christianity-related events during the 5th century

In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.

Eutherius of Tyana, metropolitan bishop of Tyana in Cappadocia II, features in the context of the 431 Council of Ephesus, where he belonged to the eastern delegation led by John of Antioch. Dismayed by the deposition of his fellow exponent of the School of Antioch, Nestorius, precipitated by Cyril of Alexandria's vigorous objection to the Christotokos expression which Nestorius used, Eutherius writes a lively text of protest, which in turn brings about his own deposition and exile, initially at Scythopolis in Palestine. John of Antioch, in the Act of Union of 433, reconciled with Cyril and pursued a policy of abandoning some of the positions he had once held and repression of those who continued to express them. His successor and nephew, Domnus II of Antioch, however, advocated conciliation, and Eutherius was able to escape from Scythopolis and take refuge with Irenaeus, the new bishop of Tyre.


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  2. 1 2 3 4 Schaff, Philip; Wace, Henry, eds. (1890), The Seven Ecumenical Councils (,, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, 14, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.: Eerdmans Pub Co., ISBN   0-8028-8129-7
  3. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (2004), Mary, Mother of God
  4. McGuckin, p. 12
  5. McGuckin, pp. 19-21
  6. Gabra, Gawdat (2009). The A to Z of the Coptic Church. Scarecrow Press. p. 97.
  7. McGuckin, p. 21
  8. McGuckin, pp. 22-23
  9. 1 2 3 4 Kelly, Joseph (2009). The ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church: a history. Liturgical Press.
  10. McGuckin, pp. 53-54
  11. McGuckin, p. 53
  12. "Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Council of Ephesus" . Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Catholic Encyclopedia - Council of Ephesus".
  14. 1 2 Robertson, John Craigie (1854). History of the Christian Church. John Murray. p. 405. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  15. McGuckin, p. 54
  16. "The Council of Ephesus", The Church Quarterly Review, Vol. 33, (Arthur Cayley Headlam, ed.), Spottiswoode, 1892, p. 103
  17. McGuckin, p.55
  18. McGuckin, pp. 57-58
  19. McGuckin, pp. 54-56
  20. 1 2 McGuckin, p. 57
  21. McGuckin, p. 78; Nonetheless he must have been acutely aware that he could claim no legal status for his synod under imperial law until the official reading of the Emperor's Sacra had taken place.
  22. McGuckin, p. 60
  23. McGuckin, pp. 60-65
  24. McGuckin, pp. 58-59
  25. McGuckin, p. 77
  26. McGuckin, pp. 77-78
  27. Gibbon. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. p. 115.
  28. McGuckin, p. 79; When Candidian finished reading the Sacra he surely realised the full extent of his mistake. The Bishops acclaimed long life to the Emperor in demonstrative professions of loyalty, but now with the text officially declaimed in the symbolic presence of the whole Episcopal gathering the Synod of Ephesus was in formal session, legally as well as canonically sanctioned.
  29. McGuckin, p. 59
  30. J. B. Bury (1958). History of the later Roman Empire from the death of Theodosius I to the death of Justinian. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 353–. ISBN   978-0-486-20398-0 . Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  31. Extracts from the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, The Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius
  32. Johannes Roldanus, The Church in the Age of Constantine (Taylor & Francis 2006 ISBN   978-0-41540903-2), p. 140
  33. John Anthony McGuckin (editor), The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Theology (Wiley 2010 ISBN   978-1-44439254-8), p. 166
  34. Adrian Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church (Kessinger 2004 reprint ISBN   9781417910601), p. 383
  35. Sungenis, Robert (September 2003). Jones, E. Michael (ed.). "The Revolutionary Jew". South Bend, IN: Culture Wars. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)Sungenis, Robert (May 2011). Jones, E. Michael (ed.). "Quo Vadis, Petrus? Jesus of Nazereth, Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection" (book review). South Bend, IN: Culture Wars. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2019. See Denz. 140.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  36. Hieronymus Stridonius (1958) [ca. 407]. Commentaria in Danielem [ Commentary on Daniel ]. Twin brooks series. Translated by Archer, Gleason Leonard. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN   978-0-8010-5079-4. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2019. 'For everything which is of the earth shall return to earth' (Eccl. 3:20). But the saints shall never possess an earthly kingdom, but only a heavenly. Away, then, with the fable about a millennium!Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) Corpus Corporum : "Omne enim quod de terra est, revertetur interram (Eccl. III, 20): sancti autem nequaquam habebunt terrenum regnum, sed coeleste. Cesset ergo mille annorum fabula." Labbé, Philippe; Cossart, Gabriel, eds. (1671–1672). "Archived copy". Sacrosancta concilia ad regiam editionem exacta. Tomus tertius ab anno CCCCXXI ad annum CCCCL (MDZ: Scan 416. Archived 2 May 2019 at the Wayback Machine) (in Latin and Byzantine Greek). 3. Lutetiae Parisiorum: Impensis Societatis typographicae Librorum Ecclesiasticorum jussu Regis constitutae. col. 837–838 B. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  37. Augustine (1887) [early 5th century]. "Book 20, Chapter 7: What is Written in the Revelation of John Regarding the Two Resurrections, and the Thousand Years, and What May Reasonably Be Held on These Points". Written at Rome. In Schaff, Philip (ed.). De ciuitate Dei contra paganos [The City of God]. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series. 2. Translated by Dods, Marcus. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  38. Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum.
  39. "Nestorian". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  40. Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East Archived January 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine


Further reading

Millenium reinterpreted
  1. Gumerlock, Francis (2010). "Learning from Patristic Christology" (PDF). In Hartog, Paul (ed.). The Contemporary Church and the Early Church: Case Studies in Ressourcement (essay). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 155–179. ISBN   978-1-4982-7185-1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 February 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

    Although it is often said that the Second Council of Constantinople condemned chiliasm, this was not the case. See my "Millennialism and the Early Church Councils", 83–95. See also the research of Michael J. Svigel, who countered the assertion that the Council of Ephesus condemned chiliasm, in "Phantom Heresy", 105–112.

  2. Gumerlock, Francis (2004). Yerxa, Donald A. (ed.). "Millennialism and the Early Church Councils: Was Chiliasm Condemned at Constantinople?" (PDF). Fides et Historia (Le Millénarisme et les Conciles de l'Eglise primitive: Le Chiliasme a-t-il été condamné à Constantinople ? (in French). Translated by Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda)  [ fr ]. . Archived 2 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine). The Conference on Faith and History. 36 (2): 83–95. ISSN   0884-5379. OCLC   643815799. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 February 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

    A portion of this article was delivered as a paper entitled "Gospel Proclamation and the Millennium: Did the Council of Constantinople Condemn Chiliasm?" at the Midwest regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society held at Wheaton College, March 22–23, 2002.

  3. Svigel, Michael J. (2013) [17 September 2004]. "Annexe II – L'hérésie fantôme : Le Concile d'Ephèse (431) a-t-il condamné le Millénarisme?" [Appendix 2 – The Phantom Heresy: Did the Council of Ephesus (431) Condemn Chiliasm? ]. In Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda) (ed.). Archived copy [A veil on their heart. The Catholic «No» to the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on Earth]. Un voile sur leur coeur. Le « non » catholique au Royaume millénaire du Christ sur la terre (English original. Archived 24 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine) (in French). Translated by Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda). PressBooks. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

    Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda): Mon essai ne prétend pas renouveler le débat historique – largement documenté – concernant le Millénarisme, mais il se propose d'essayer de comprendre les raisons – culturelles, théologiques, voire psychologiques – de la réticence, et même de l'hostilité déclarée du Magistère catholique envers cette croyance vénérable., lit.  'My essay does not claim to renew the historical debate - widely documented - concerning Millenarianism, but it proposes to try to understand the reasons - cultural, theological, even psychological - of reluctance, and even hostility declared by the Catholic Magisterium to this venerable belief.'

  4. Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda) (6 June 2013). La pierre rejetée par les bâtisseurs — L'«intrication prophétique» des Écritures [The stone rejected by the builders — the «prophetic entanglement» of the scriptures] (official book presentation). Los Gatos, CA: Smashwords. ISBN   978-1-301-76249-1. Archived from the original on 18 September 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda) (4 October 2013). Dieu a rétabli son Peuple. Témoigner devant l'Église que Dieu a restitué au Peuple juif son héritage messianique [God has restored his people: to testify before the Church that God has restored to the Jewish people their messianic heritage] (official book presentation). Los Gatos, CA: Smashwords. ISBN   978-1-301-63397-5. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) — In the author's opinion (which is, nota bene: "sur la base d'une révélation privée reçue il y a près de cinquante ans, […] qu'il partage avec un petit groupe de fidèles chrétiens", lit.  'based on a private revelation received nearly fifty years ago, […] that he shares with a small group of Christian faithful'), the messianic hope of the Old Testament prophecy of a future glory for "Judah" in Joel 3:1 ("For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah") has already literally come true through the present nation of Israel:

    With selective attention to Judeo-Christian sensibilities: Selon l'auteur, «Dieu a rétabli le peuple juif». Sachant que cette perspective choque les chrétiens […]., lit.  'According to the author, «God has restored the Jewish people». Knowing that this perspective shocks Christians […].'

    That this perspective shocks Christians et alii, is implied by a picture:

    Put online on 18 December 2009, by Menahem Macina (pen name of Claude Miranda): « Musulmans, restez chez vous », « Mars aux Martiens », lit.  '«Muslims, stay home», «Mars for Martians»'. Archived 13 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.

  1. Zureik, Constantine K. (August 1948). Ma'na al-Nakbaمعنى النّكبة [The Meaning of the Nakba ] (PIWP book presentation at UCC). Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-04.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

    Topics addressed:
      ال نكبة / Nakbah/Naqba / הנכבה (Arabic, "the catastrophe") expulsion of Palestinians in 1948
     First usage of the word Nakba for expulsion of Palestinians in 1948

  2. "Inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos" [ From thence He will come again to judge the living and the dead ]. Catechismum Catholicae Ecclesiae[ Catechism of the Catholic Church ] (English translation. Archived 1 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine). La Santa Sede: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 15 August 1997. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2019.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

    § 676: Haec antichristica fallacia iam in mundo adumbratur quotiescumque intenditur messianicam in historia adimplere spem quae non nisi ultra historiam per iudicium eschatologicum perfici potest: Ecclesia hanc Regni futuri adulterationem, etiam sub eius forma mitigata, nomine millenarismi reiecit, praecipue sub forma politica messianismi saecularizati, « intrinsecus pravi »., lit.  'The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the «intrinsically perverse» political form of a secular messianism.'