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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/theophilus-on-the-nature-of-god/

In chapter 5, Theophilus argues that God is understood by means of his actions. In chapter 4 he remarked that God is the self-existent sovereign creator. Here Theophilius continues with the proposition that God also maintains providential control over the creation.

This argument is line with the argument of Paul in Romans 1

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19–20 (ESV)

Theophilus writes:

For as the soul in man is not seen, being invisible to men, but is perceived through the motion of the body, so God cannot indeed be seen by human eyes, but is beheld and perceived through His providence and works. For, in like manner, as any person, when he sees a ship on the sea rigged and in sail, and making for the harbour, will no doubtinfer that there is a pilot in her who is steering her; so we must perceive that God is the governor [pilot] of the whole universe,

Theophilus then continues with the argument, fully supported by Christian Scripture, that God cannot be observed:

though He be not visible to the eyes of the flesh, since He is incomprehensible. For if a man cannot look upon the sun, though it be a very small heavenly body, on account of its exceeding heat and power, how shall not a mortal man be much more unable to face the glory of God, which is unutterable?

John 1:18 reads, “No one has ever seen God”. Theophilus’ imagery may have been inspired by Paul’s words in 1Timothy 6 that God dwells in unapproachable light and thus cannot be seen:

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:13–16 (ESV)

Theophilus next picks up an argument which Augustine will ponder in the Confessions:

For as the pomegranate, with the rind containing it, has within it many cells and compartments which are separated by tissues, and has also many seeds dwelling in it, so the whole creation is contained by the spirit of God, and the containing spirit is along with the creation contained by the hand of God. As, therefore, the seed of the pomegranate, dwelling inside, cannot see what is outside the rind, itself being within; so neither can man, who along with the whole creation is enclosed by the hand of God, behold God.

Augustine raises this as a question: What is God’s relationship to the Creation:

Since, then, thou dost fill the heaven and earth, do they contain thee? Or, dost thou fill and overflow them, because they cannot contain thee? And where dost thou pour out what remains of thee after heaven and earth are full? Or, indeed, is there no need that thou, who dost contain all things, shouldst be contained by any, since those things which thou dost fill thou fillest by containing them? For the vessels which thou dost fill do not confine thee, since even if they were broken, thou wouldst not be poured out. And, when thou art poured out on us, thou art not thereby brought down; rather, we are uplifted. Thou art not scattered; rather, thou dost gather us together. But when thou dost fill all things, dost thou fill them with thy whole being? Or, since not even all things together could contain thee altogether, does any one thing contain a single part, and do all things contain that same part at the same time? Do singulars contain thee singly? Do greater things contain more of thee, and smaller things less? Or, is it not rather that thou art wholly present everywhere, yet in such a way that nothing contains thee wholly?

Book I, Chapter 3.

Theophilus then returns to his original proposition and seeks to bring the point to bear: If you can recognize a king by his secondary actions, why cannot you not recognize God by the same means?


Then again, an earthly king is believed to exist, even though he be not seen by all, for he is recognised by his laws and ordinances, and authorities, and forces, and statues; and are you unwilling that God should be recognised by His works and mighty deeds?