First Council of Nicea

A collection of bishops met to form the "First Council of Nicea" in Bythanian in Nicea. In the year 325 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine I convened the council. There was a significant split between the Christians and the Romans at this time. This council was viewed as a first step toward improving ties between Christians and the Romans, who had persecuted many of them. Christianity had spread throughout the globe by the third century. This growth was ascribed to Christianity becoming more formal and structured, particularly in terms of leadership. As the size of the church increased, more rules were put in place to keep the church in line. The "council of Nicea" was called upon by the then Roman Emperor Constantine I. Although the council was convened to discuss religious matters, the interests of the emperor were political. He was concerned about the division on religious grounds and needed to settle the matter before it escalated further. Unity was his primary concern as it facilitated a peaceful rule.

At some point, Alexander summoned church leaders in Alexandria and discussed the scripture. Among the members invited to the meeting was Arius. He was a Christian presbyter as well as a priest in Alexandria. He had a controversial view on various topics especially the divinity of the God the father of God the son. This controversial teaching was among the significant topics discusses in the council of Nicea . Arius was a controversial person. He had already been excommunicated once by the bishop due to his controversial views of Christianity teachings. His main argument was that the holy trinity wasn't true as it is stipulated. God existed in three forms, God the father, God the son and God the holy spirit. However, from his logic, God the Father begot God the son. He, therefore, stated that if God the father Begot God the son, therefore the son had a beginning and did not exist before. His arguments to root among many Christian minds and hearts as they viewed the concept, not from a faith perspective but the perspective of Arius. Alexander tried several times disregard this concept as hearsay, but Arius kept up.

During this period, Emperors Licinius and Constantine had made Christianity formal by legalizing it. The aim of the legalization of Christianity in the Roman empire was to get rid of the theological division that existed within the church. Alexander was very patient in dealing with the church, and the controversy brought about by Arius . He consulted with other Bishops various times before finally deciding to excommunicate Arius and banned him from the communion table. This fate did little to spot Arius from pursuing his belief. He, therefore, went to marketplaces and spoke of his controversies to the merchants, travelers, and sailors. He even went further and formed songs and poems to propagate his vies to the people.

People listened to him and believed him. He even went further and convinced the bishop of Nicomedia, Eusebius among other church leaders to follow his course. This course brought divisions to the church. This development in the church and to the religion was terrible as Arius was Wrong. It was the responsibility of the church to preserve the teaching of the scripture without adding or subtracting any parts. According to the teachings of the apostle, the God he son existed before he was begotten. He existed within the father as his logos. Apparently, Arius and Eusebius ignored this aspect of the apostles teaching and based their argument on God begetting the son later.

The Council of Nicea wasn't convened to talk about Arius controversy specifically. However, Arius and his course became the main topic of the meeting. The meeting of the council was recommended by Synod Hosius of Córdoba by 325 AD. The synod was responsible for the investigation of the effects if Arius Controversies to the Greek-speaking East. There were general concerns from many bishops that the controversy of Arius would affect the salvation of many souls. Indeed, his teachings had taken root among the people and begun to spread. This was perceived as a threat to the general continuation of the Christian Faith. All the bishops were therefore summoned in Nicea to deal with this issue. Nicea province was chosen due to its accessibility from the various regions such as Thrace, Armenia, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, Egypt, Georgia, and Greece .

The council meeting in Nicea was the first in the history of the church summoned by Emperor Constantine. It provided the church leaders with an opportunity to shine the light on the revealed doctrines and challenge the heretical theology that had arisen from the controversial views of Arius and his followers. Constantine had Invited a total of 1800 bishops from all the churches; 800 to the west and 1000 to the east. However, quite a small number arrived. Various members who attended gave varied estimated of those who arrived. It is however estimated that those who attended were between 200 and three hundred bishops . Delegates also arrived from various regions including Britain. The Bishops were also allowed to bring in two high priests and three deacons. The agenda of the meeting was diverse, but most of which revolved around the controversies brought about by Arius speculations on God the son. Other issues to be discussed include the date for Pascha celebrations, militias Schism as well as various matters concerning the discipline of the church. Emperor Constantine was a political leader. He viewed all the division in the church as a sign of Unrest. Since he was the Roman emperor at the time, peace and security of the regions under his jurisdiction was his responsibility. He was, therefore, more concerned by the political ramification of division in the church as opposed to the interest of the church and the Christianity teachings .

The meeting took several weeks to be completed. The main topics of discussion were the Arius Controversy. The arguments on both sides were so heated to the extent of physical violence. Arius was smacked on the face at some point by Nicholas of Myra. The main argument of Arius and his followers were on the existence and creation of God the Son. They didn't understand the difference between existing, creating and begotten about Jesus. Their main argument was that God the son was created by God the father much later, thereby disputing the scripture that states God the father God the Son and God the Holy spirit existed and have no beginning. The exact terms used in the council meeting were not understood by various members such as those speaking Greek . According to Arianism, God the father is the supreme being and goes further to argue that the creation of God the son was from sheer will of God the father. They further maintain that God the son had a begging as opposed to the scripture that states God the father and the son have no beginning. Arius further argued to the council that since the son of God was created and begotten by God, there was a point in time where he did not exist. This eliminates the belief that Jesus had no beginning. Arius states that indeed the son of God had a beginning.

As the debated progressed, the council declared the existence of the son of God as true and indisputable. They also declared that God the same was coeternal with God the father and both have no beginning. They went further to state that the doctrine codifies the presentation of Jesus and should be understood from the teachings of the apostles who passed them down. The bishops in the creed of Nicea expressed this belief that formed the basis of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

As mentioned earlier, the Arius ideologies had sparked division in the church. There were unrests in various part of the empire caused by the division that arose .Surprisingly, Arianism took root in various parts leading further division within the church as well as commotions and endless trouble. The concern of the emperor was the stability of the empire, which at the time was being threatened by the division in the church. His decision to call the council was to ensure that all the issues within the church were solved before the toppled out and affected the stability of the kingdom . Various issues a arose from the Arius theology and ideologies. These issues all accumulated to the tension that would have potentially led to the riots in the streets.

By the time Emperor Constantine I became the ruler, the Christian religion was young and still fragile. Most of the people who had adopted Christianity were still young in faith and needed guidance to nurture their understanding of the scripture. The religion was characterized by inconsistencies particularly the topic of the relationship between God and Jesus. The bishops and their followers believed like God the father and the son and accepted that they were all eternal beings with no beginning. Arius and his followers had conflicting views and stipulated that although Jesus was a remarkable leader, he came second to God in superiority.

The council of Nicea was called upon to settle the division in the interpretation of the scripture. However, The bishops and the supporters of Arius couldn't agree. Constantine, therefore, intervened by making a compromise that settled the matter. His move was aimed to eliminate the threat to peace once and for all he, therefore, chose the side of the Bishops. He asserted that Jesus and God were made from the same substance . He, however, didn't go into many d etails to explain the relationship between God and Jesus. Most of the Bishops agreed to this compromise. They, therefore, passed the language into doctrine. The compromise was the basis of the current Christian theology and came to be referred to as the: Nicene Creed."

During the same meeting, the Bishops decided to clear all other issues and rules that were not clear concerning the church and Christianity teachings. Most of the canons made during that day became the basis of all the future laws . After the conclusion of the Arius controversy by the Bishop, the next and final matter to be cleared was the setting up of the date for the celebration of Ester. At the time, the people celebrated Easter on different dates across the empire. The council, therefore, settle on a date that did not coincide with the Jewish holiday- the first Sunday after the first full moon.

The Emperor exiled Arius and Eusebius and their followers . Eusebius, however, wrote back to the church soon after his banishment stating that he had changed his opinion about his stand on the relationship between God the father and the son

It can, therefore, be deduced that the council of Nicea was both a political and religious Council meeting. The Bishops were concerned about the spiritual salvation of the people and the effect that Arius controversies had on them, particularly his interpretation of the relationship between God the father and the son. Since Christianity was a young religion at the time, it was fragile and characterized by numerous inconsistencies . The continued dragging of Arius controversies would have had a significant effect on the religion and their followers. Constantine I, on the other hand, convened the council meeting in Nicea to help solve the dispute and stop the widening division between the Followers of Arius and the other Christians. He perceived this division as a threat to the stability of the empire and therefore needed it stopped before it escalated to violence.


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