What Did Athenagoras of Athens Teach?

Not a lot is known about Athenagoras except what is found in his writings and quoted by later writers.  It is estimated that he was born around 133AD and died around 190AD.  His writings are dated to around 176AD.  Oddly he is not recorded in the writings of Eusebius but none the less is noted by other church historians.  From his writings we can determine what it is he understood from the Apostles teachings; and his writings are extensive.  His known writings mainly focus on why Christianity is superior to pagan religions and a very lengthy argument for bodily resurrection.  His writings also contain a very detailed explanation of The Trinity before the term ‘the trinity’ was applied.

Key Teachings

  • God’s Eternal Existence 
  • God’s Perfection and Goodness
  • God’s absolute Sovereignty
  • Monotheism
  • Authority of scripture 
  • The Trinity
  • Jesus the Son of God
  • Deity of Jesus
  • Bodily Resurrection 
  • ‘Traditional’ Marriage
  • Homosexuality is sin
  • Abortion is sin 

Read his writings here

Sample Quotes


CH1-9:  that the Deity is uncreated and eternal… our doctrine acknowledges one God,
the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated (for that which is does not
come to be, but that which is not) but has made all things by the Logos which is
from Him… He is God who has framed all things by the
Logos, and holds them in being by His Spirit… we have for witnesses of the things we apprehend
and believe, prophets, men who have pronounced concerning God and the things of
God, guided by the Spirit of God… since the voices of the
prophets confirm our arguments… their minds by the impulses of
the Divine Spirit, uttered the things with which they were inspired, the Spirit
making use of them as a flute-player breathes into a flute

CH10-27 : therefore, seeing that we acknowledge one God,
uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is
apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by
light, and beauty, and spirit, and power ineffable, by whom the universe has
been created through His Logos, and set in order, and is kept in being… for we acknowledge also a Son of
God. Nor let any one think it ridiculous that God should have a Son. For though
the poets, in their fictions, represent the gods as no better than men, our mode
of thinking is not the same as theirs, concerning either God the Father or the
Son. But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father… of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the
Son being one… the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in
oneness and power of spirit…  The Holy Spirit Himself
also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God,
flowing from Him… God the Father, and of God the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their
distinction in order… the oneness of the Son
with the Father, what the communion of the Father with the Son, what is the
Spirit, what is the unity of these three, the Spirit, the Son, the Father, and
their distinction in unity… God, being perfectly good, is eternally doing good

CH33-35.  you would find many
among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer
communion with God. But if the remaining in virginity and in the state of an
eunuch brings nearer to God… that a person should either remain
as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a
specious adultery… in the beginning God made one man and one
woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh… those who have set up a market for fornication and
established infamous resorts for the young for every kind of vile pleasure,–who
do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking
abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of
ways, so dishonouring the fair workmanship of God… when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion
commit murder, and will have to give an account to God s for the abortion, on
what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same
person to regard the very foetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore
an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not
to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with
child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it.

CH36 – : that it is not our belief
alone that bodies will rise again, but that many philosophers also hold the same

CH2 – that it
is either impossible for God, or contrary to His will, to unite and gather
together again bodies that are dead, or even entirely dissolved into their
elements, so as to constitute the same persons
CH3 – His power is sufficient for the raising of dead bodies,
is shown by the creation of these same bodies… He made at their first formation the bodies of men, and their original elements,
He will, when they are dissolved, in whatever manner that may take place, raise
them again with equal ease:

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