St. Augustine of Hippo – Procession of the Holy Spirit From the Father and Son


After reading through St. Augustine’s De Trinitate, I’ve made it a commitment to finally write out a thorough article on this great Saint, venerated universally by East and West, and his theology of the Spirit’s eternal procession. However, since such a work requires much thought, re-reading, and re-packaging of immense thoughts and arguments into smaller ones, I’ve been continuously delayed from being able to publish this sooner than later. Lord willing, this will be out shortly. Another 2 weeks, I suspect. In any case, I did take the time to identify all the important passages where Augustine speaks to the matter of the Spirit’s procession from both the Father and the Son, along with attending argumentation and detail from Augustine himself. This way you can be familiar with some of his thought before I get deeper into the theology and his argument overall. One point I will make here is this – It is unmistakable that Augustine held to an eternal procession (Ad Intra) or spiration of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son as from one single principle, as the Ecumenical Council of Florence made explicit, as well as the modern universal Catholic Catechism. There are some few persons who try to think that what Augustine says here is entirely within the construction of an “eternal manifestation” of the Spirit through the Son (cf. Gregory of Cyprus II and Gregory Palamas), or that he speaks merely of an external procession of the Spirit from the Son, more popularly referred to as the “economic procession” (Ad Extra). I can’t go into the reasons why this is simply wrong, but I can foretell that you will not be able to get this latter sense even in the below citations. But, for the sake of thoroughness, I promise to release the more in-depth article as soon as I can. And lastly, you may want to keep this reference in your own archives since I’ve not found any articles or websites online which provide such an extensive Florilegium from Augustine’s book on the Trinity in support of the Filioque doctrine. Enjoy!


“As, therefore, the Father begot, the Son is begotten; so the Father sent, the Son was sent. But in like manner as He who begot and He who was begotten, so both He who sent and He who was sent, are one, since the Father and the Son are one. So also the Holy Spirit is one with them, since these three are one. For as to be born, in respect to the Son, means to be from the Father; so to be sent, in respect to the Son, means to be known to be from the Father. And as to be the gift of God in respect to the Holy Spirit, means to proceed from the Father; so to be sent, is to be known to proceed from the Father. Neither can we say that the Holy Spirit does not also proceed from the Son, for the same Spirit is not without reason said to be the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. Nor do I see what else He intended to signify, when He breathed on the face of the disciples, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost‘. For that bodily breathing, proceeding from the body with the feeling of bodily touching, was not the substance of the Holy Spirit, but a declaration by a fitting sign, that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father, but also from the Son. For the veriest of madmen would not say, that it was one Spirit which He gave when He breathed on them, and another which He sent after His ascension. For the Spirit of God is one, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, the Holy Spirit, who works all in all. But that He was given twice was certainly a significant economy, which we will discuss in its place, as far as the Lord may grant. That then which the Lord says —Whom I will send unto you from the Father, — shows the Spirit to be both of the Father and of the Son; because, also, when He had said, Whom the Father will send, He added also, in my name. Yet He did not say, Whom the Father will send from me, as He said, Whom I will send unto you from the Father,— showing, namely, that the Father is the beginning (principium) of the whole divinity, or if it is better so expressed, deity. He, therefore, who proceeds from the Father and from the Son, is referred back to Him from whom the Son was born (natus).” (De Trinitate Book IV, Ch. 20)

“Therefore, since the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, and certainly God is holy, and God is a spirit, the Trinity can be called also the Holy Spirit. But yet that Holy Spirit, who is not the Trinity, but is understood as in the Trinity, is spoken of in His proper name of the Holy Spirit relatively [i.e. by relation], since He is referred both to the Father and to the Son, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. But the relation is not itself apparent in that name, but it is apparent when He is called the gift of God; for He is the gift of the Father and of the Son, because ‘He proceeds from the Father’, as the Lord says; and because that which the apostle says, ‘Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His’, he says certainly of the Holy Spirit Himself. When we say, therefore, the gift of the giver, and the giver of the gift, we speak in both cases relatively in reciprocal reference. Therefore the Holy Spirit is a certain unutterable communion of the Father and the Son; and on that account, perhaps, He is so called, because the same name is suitable to both the Father and the Son. For He Himself is called specially that which they are called in common; because both the Father is a spirit and the Son a spirit, both the Father is holy and the Son holy. In order, therefore, that the communion of both may be signified from a name which is suitable to both, the Holy Spirit is called the gift of both. And this Trinity is one God, alone, good, great, eternal, omnipotent; itself its own unity, deity, greatness, goodness, eternity, omnipotence.” (De Trinitate, Book V, Ch. 11)



“And so when we say, both that the Father is the Beginning, and that the Son is the Beginning, we do not speak of two beginnings of the creature [i.e. creation in general]; since both the Father and the Son together is one beginning in respect to the creature, as one Creator, as one God. But if whatever remains within itself and produces or works anything is a beginning to that thing which it produces or works; then we cannot deny that the Holy Spirit also is rightly called the Beginning, since we do not separate Him from the appellation of Creator: and it is written of Him that He works; and assuredly, in working, He remains within Himself….But in their mutual relation to one another in the Trinity itself, if the begetter is a beginning in relation to that which he begets, the Father is a beginning in relation to the Son, because He begets Him; but whether the Father is also a beginning in relation to the Holy Spirit, since it is said, He proceeds from the Father, is no small question. Because, if it is so, He will not only be a beginning to that thing which He begets or makes, but also to that which He gives….If, therefore, that also which is given has him for a beginning by whom it is given, since it has received from no other source that which proceeds from him; it must be admitted that the Father and the Son are a Beginning (principium, Eng. Principle) of the Holy Spirit, not two Beginnings (principia); but as the Father and Son are one God, and one Creator, and one Lord relatively to the creature, so are they one Beginning relatively to the Holy Spirit. But the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one Beginning in respect to the creature, as also one Creator and one God.” (De Trinitate Book V, Ch. 13-14)


“And it is proved by many other testimonies of the Divine Word, that the Spirit, who is specially called in the Trinity the Holy Spirit, is of the Father and of the Son: of whom likewise the Son Himself says, Whom I will send unto you from the Father; and in another place, Whom the Father will send in my name. And we are so taught that He proceeds from both, because the Son Himself says, He proceeds from the Father. And when He had risen from the dead, and had appeared to His disciples, He breathed upon them, and said, Receive the Holy Ghost, so as to show that He proceeded also from Himself. And Itself is that very power that went out from Him, as we read in the Gospel, and healed them all…..Are we therefore able to ask whether the Holy Spirit had already proceeded from the Father when the Son was born, or had not yet proceeded; and when He was born, proceeded from both, wherein there is no such thing as distinct times: just as we have been able to ask, in a case where we do find times, that the will proceeds from the human mind first, in order that that may be sought which, when found, may be called offspring; which offspring being already brought forth or born, that will is made perfect, resting in this end, so that what had been its desire when seeking, is its love when enjoying; which love now proceeds from both, i.e. from the mind that begets, and from the notion that is begotten, as if from parent and offspring? These things it is absolutely impossible to ask in this case, where nothing is begun in time, so as to be perfected in a time following. Wherefore let him who can understand the generation of the Son from the Father without time, understand also the procession of the Holy Spirit from both without time. And let him who can understand, in that which the Son says, As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself, not that the Father gave life to the Son already existing without life, but that He so begot Him apart from time, that the life which the Father gave to the Son by begetting Him is co-eternal with the life of the Father who gave it: let him, I say, understand, that as the Father has in Himself that the Holy Spirit should proceed from Him, so has He given to the Son that the same Holy Spirit should proceed from Him, and be both apart from time: and that the Holy Spirit is so said to”  proceed from the Father as that it be understood that His proceeding also from the Son, is a property derived by the Son from the Father. For if the Son has of the Father whatever He has, then certainly He has of the Father, that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from Him. But let no one think of any times therein which imply a sooner and a later; because these things are not there at all. How, then, would it not be most absurd to call Him the Son of both: when, just as generation from the Father, without any changeableness of nature, gives to the Son essence, without beginning of time; so procession from both, without any changeableness of nature, gives to the Holy Spirit essence without beginning of time? For while we do not say that the Holy Spirit is begotten, yet we do not therefore dare to say that He is unbegotten, lest any one suspect in this word either two Fathers in that Trinity, or two who are not from another. For the Father alone is not from another, and therefore He alone is called unbegotten, not indeed in the Scriptures, but in the usage of disputants, who employ such language as they can on so great a subject. And the Son is born of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father principally, the Father giving the procession without any interval of time, yet in common from both [Father and Son]. But He would be called the Son of the Father and of the Son, if — a thing abhorrent to the feeling of all sound minds — both had begotten Him. Therefore the Spirit of both is not begotten of both, but proceeds from both. (De Trinitate, Book 15, Ch. 26)

“But because it is most difficult to distinguish generation from procession in that co-eternal, and equal, and incorporeal, and ineffably unchangeable and indivisible Trinity, let it suffice meanwhile to put before those who are not able to be drawn on further, what we said upon this subject in a sermon to be delivered in the ears of Christian people, and after saying wrote it down. For when, among other things, I had taught them by testimonies of the Holy Scriptures that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both, I continue: If, then, the Holy Spirit proceeds both from the Father and from the Son, why did the Son say, ‘He proceeds from the Father.’ Why, think you, except as He is wont to refer to Him, that also which is His own, from whom also He Himself is? Whence also is that which He says, ‘My doctrine is not my own, but His that sent me?’ If, therefore, it is His doctrine that is here understood, which yet He said was not His own, but His that sent Him, how much more is it there to be understood that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from Himself, where He so says, He proceeds from the Father, as not to say, He proceeds not from me? From Him, certainly, from whom the Son had his Divine nature, for He is God of God, He has also, that from Him too proceeds the Holy Spirit; and hence the Holy Spirit has from the Father Himself, that He should proceed from the Son also, as He proceeds from the Father. Here, too, in some way may this also be understood, so far as it can be understood by such as we are, why the Holy Spirit is not said to be born, but rather to proceed; since if He, too, was called a Son, He would certainly be called the Son of both, which is most absurd, since no one is son of two, save of father and mother. But far be it from us to surmise any such thing as this between God the Father and God the Son. Because not even the son of men proceeds at the same time from both father and mother; but when he proceeds from the father into the mother, he does not at that time proceed from the mother; and when he proceeds from the mother into this present light, he does not at that time proceed from the father. But the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father into the Son, and from the Son proceed to sanctify the creature, but proceeds at once from both; although the Father has given this to the Son, that He should proceed, as from Himself, so also from Him. For we cannot say that the Holy Spirit is not life, while the Father is life, and the Son is life: and hence as the Father, while He has life in Himself, has given also to the Son to have life in Himself; so has He given also to Him that life should proceed from Him, as it also proceeds from Himself. I have transferred this from that sermon into this book, but I was speaking to believers, not to unbelievers…. Lift up your eyes to the light itself, and fix them upon it if you can. For so you will see how the birth of the Word of God differs from the procession of the Gift of God, on account of which the only-begotten Son did not say that the Holy Spirit is begotten of the Father, otherwise He would be His brother, but that He proceeds from Him. Whence, since the Spirit of both is a kind of consubstantial communion of Father and Son” (De Trinitate, Book 15, Ch. 27)


9 thoughts on “St. Augustine of Hippo – Procession of the Holy Spirit From the Father and Son

  1. Pingback: Santo Agostinho de Hipona – Processão do Espírito Santo através do Pai e do Filho – Apologistas da Fé Católica

  2. This is a topic which is way over my head and I’ve never been truly able to grasp the difference between the East and West’s understanding of it.

  3. “Never, O Man, is that which concerns the Church put right through compromises: there is no mean between truth and falsehood. But just as what is outside the light will be necessarily in darkness, so also he who steps away a little from truth is left subject to falsehood” (Saint Mark of Ephesus, +1443).
    “Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are but two sides of the same coin. They may present different faces, but the underlying substance is the same” (Carlton, Clark. (1999). The Truth: What Every Roman Catholic should know about the Orthodox Church. Salisbury, Massachusetts: Regina Orthodox press; page 184.).
    “…even today the East still regards this Filioque as a falsification of the old ecumenical creed and as clear heresy. However, similarly, to the present day those Catholic and Protestant dogmatic theologians of the West who attempt to make what is claimed to be the central dogma of Christianity credible to their contemporaries with every possible modernization and new argument (usually in vain) hardly seem to be aware that they are interpreting the relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit not so much in the light of the New Testament as in the light of Augustine”. [Hans Küng. (2001). The Catholic Church: A Short History. New York: Modern Library; pages 49-51.].

  4. “The seven Ecumenical Councils have such importance for the Orthodox Church that it has been possible for some of her representatives to define her as “the Church of the Seven Councils” (1). No Western Church regards Ecumenical Councils with quite this degree of seriousness, nor does any single out these particular seven in the way the Orthodox Church does” (page 165: “The significance of the Ecumenical Councils”, by William Nicholls, in: Marty, Martin E., & Peerman, Dean G., eds. (1965). New Theology No. 2. New York: The Macmillan company.).
    1. Ware, Timothy. (1963). The Orthodox Church. New York: Penguin Books; page 43.

  5. “The Synodicon on the Holy Spirit: The epitomes.
    1. “If the Spirit is indeed simple but proceeds from the Father and the Son, then those two would certainly be considered one person, and there would be introduced here a Sabellian fusion, or better to say, a semi-Sabellian fusion”.
    2. “If indeed the Holy Spirit does proceed from the Father and the Son, He would be altogether double and composite. If the Holy Spirit is ascribed to two principles, where will the much hymned monarchy of the Father be?”.
    Vladimir Lossky. “The procession of the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Trinitarian doctrine. Whether we like it or not, the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit has been the sole dogmatic grounds for the separation of East and West. All the other divergences which, historically, accompanied or followed the first dogmatic controversy about the Filioque are more or less dependent upon that original issue”.
    Saint Photius the Great. Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit.
    “Concerning statements in the sacred teachings which state that as the Son is
    begotten of the Father alone, so likewise the proper theology concerning the Holy
    Spirit is that He proceeds from one and the same cause; and also concerning the
    saying that because He is of one essence with the Son, He therefore proceeds from
    Him as well.
    Part 1. “There are various arguments, scattered throughout many lengthy dissertations, which confute the arrogance of those contentious men who hold fast to unrighteousness and strive against the truth. Since your great zeal and love for God has requested that those corrective arguments, furnished by divine providence, be gathered into a general overview and outline, this goal is indeed not unworthy of your desire and godly love. Above all else, there is a saying of the Lord which opposes them like a sharp, inescapable arrow, striking down and destroying every wild animal and fox as though with a thunderbolt. What saying? That which the Son Himself delivers; that whichstates that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.
    Rejecting this compact garment, do you still seek for the divine clothing? Would you propagate the fable that the Spirit proceeds from the Son?
    If you do not cower when seizing the dogmas of our common Saviour, Creator, and Lawgiver with a violence that yields only to your insanity, then what other things could one find by which utterly to confute your impious zeal? — If you despise the laws of the Lord, what godly man will not execrate your opinion? — But what else can raise you from your fall? What other method of healing will cure your mortal wounds not caused by the word of the Saviour, but by your own self-made sickness, which out of disobedience stubbornly strives to transform the medicine of the Lord’s doctrine into a noxious poison? The Saviour’s doctrine does not simply touch these wounds, but digs deeply into them and cures the whole body of sores with care and concern. We have not laid the two-edged sword of the Spirit [the Holy Scriptures] against you too often, nevertheless because of the affection of our common Master we will make a prompt and willing proof of our sacred conceptions, and arm ourselves completely, preparing a strategy and drawing up an order of battle”.
    Archimandrite Vassilios Bakoyannis: “The Filioque: “The Filioque was introduced at the third local Synod of Toledo (589 AD) and confirmed by the fourth local Synod which met in the same city in 633 AD”. “The Filioque is heretical. “The Western Church believes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Eastern Church believes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent into the world by the Son. Either the Western Church is confusing the “procession” with the “mission” or is deliberately closing its eyes to the difference. “We would ask just one question: Where does it say in Scripture that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son? Nowhere! On the contrary, it says clearly and bluntly (John 15:26) that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father”. [One Lord, One Faith: An introduction to comparative Christian doctrine.].
    Saint Mark of Ephesus: “The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics . . . “The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics… we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless they dismiss the addition from the creed Filioque and confess the creed as we do”.
    Saint Mark of Ephesus: .” . . flee those who uphold other doctrines …. All the teachers of the Church, all the Councils, and all the Divine Scriptures, exhort us to flee those who uphold other doctrines and to separate from communion with them.” — Saint Mark of Ephesus, Confession of Faith, XII, 304.
    The holy traditions of the holy apostles of the holy Church which was founded by the LORD God and Saviour Christ Jesus have always, everywhere, and with everyone (Saint Vincent of Lerins, Commonitories) taught the Monopatrism that the Holy Spirit, the “promise from the Father” (Acts 2:33) eternally “proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). Scott R. Harrington, February, 2018.

  6. Why the Filioque is a heresy. by Father John S. Romanides.
    The Filioque is a heresy, because it confuses the hypostatic properties of the Father, that is, His being cause, with those of the Son and, as a result, introduces a kind of Semi-Sabellianism. This is the case if the notion of being cause belongs both to the Father’s and to the Son’s hypostasis, but not to the Spirit’s. If the Father and the Son as hypostases are the cause of the existence of the Holy Spirit, then, according to Photios, we have two principles in the Godhead, or, if they think of the Father and the Son as one cause, then, as we said above, we have Semi-Sabellianism, that is, the identification of the incommunicable, hypostatic properties of the Father and the Son. If the cause is identified with the essence and not with the hypostaseis, then the Holy Spirit is a creature, because the doctrine that the essence is the cause of another person is the doctrine of the Eunomians, since they identified the cause of the existence of the Son with the essence of the Father and attempted on this basis to demonstrate that the Son is a creature.
    Consequently, if the Father’s and the Son’s essence is the cause of the existence of the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is a creature. Again, He is a creature, if the cause of the Spirit’s existence, or His procession, is a common energy of the Father and the Son, of which the Spirit is lacking. This is the case, because, as Orthodox and Pneumatomachians argue, the lack of even one energy common to the Father and to the Son from the Spirit would demonstrate the created nature of the Spirit. The one doctrine leads to Semi-Sabellianism and the other to Eunomianism, or to the heresy of the Pneumatomachoi where the Spirit becomes a creature.
    Today, the Latins (that is, Roman Catholic theologians) are obliged, if they wish to revise the foundation of their theology, not only to take seriously the theology of the Fathers, which constituted the basis of the decisions of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, but also to revise the Trinitarian terminology, which is based on Augustine’s doctrine.
    Source: An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics, pages 33-35.

      • GOD’s relationship to HIMSELF in ETERNITY in HIS ESSENCE AND THREE PERSONS is DIFFERENT from His Economic relationship to Mankind in TIME. Thus FILIOQUE is IMPOSSIBLE.

      • Saint Mark of Ephesus.
        “The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics… we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless they dismiss the addition from the Creed Filioque and confess the Creed as we do.”
        Canonized: 1734, Constantinople by Patriarch …
        Attributes: Long white beard, vested as a bishop…
        Died: June 23, 1444 (age 52); Constantinople, …
        Born: c. 1392; Constantinople, Byzantine Empire.
        Encyclical letter of Saint Mark of Ephesus.
        July 1444

        To All Orthodox Christians on the Mainland and in the Islands.

        From Mark, Bishop of the Metropolis of Ephesus—Rejoice in Christ!

        To those who have ensnared us in an evil captivity—desiring to lead us away into the Babylon of Latin rites and dogmas—could not, of course, completely accomplish this, seeing immediately that there was little chance of it. In fact, that it was simply impossible. But having stopped somewhere in the middle—both they and those who followed after them—they neither remained any longer what they were, nor became anything else. For having quit Jerusalem, a firm and unwavering faith—and yet being in no condition and not wishing to become and to be called Babylonians—they thus called themselves, as if by right, “Greco-Latins,” and among the people are called “Latinizers.”

        And so these split people, like the mythical centaurs, confess together with the Latins that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, and has the Son as Cause of His existence, and yet together with us confess that He proceeds from the Father. And they say together with them that the addition to the Creed (of the Filioque) was done canonically and with blessing, and yet together with us do not permit it to be uttered (Besides, who would turn away from what was canonical and blessed?). And they say together with them that unleavened bread is the Body of Christ, and yet together with us do not dare to accept it. Is this not sufficient to reveal their spirit, and how that it was not in a quest for the Truth—which, having in their hands, they betrayed—that they came together with the Latins, but rather from a desire to enrich themselves and to conclude not a true, but false, union?

        But one should examine in what manner they have united with them; for everything that is united to something different is naturally united by means of some middle point between them. And thus they imagined to unite with them by means of some judgment concerning the Holy Spirit, together with expressing the opinion that He has existence also from the Son. But everything else between them is divergent, and there is among them neither any middle point nor anything in common. Just as before, two divergent Creeds are uttered. Likewise, there are celebrated two Liturgies, divergent and discordant one with the other—one with leavened bread, the other with unleavened bread. Divergent also are baptisms—one performed with triple immersion, the other with “pouring” over the head from above; one with anointing chrism, the other completely without. And all rites are in everything divergent and discordant one with the other, along with the fasts, church usages, and other, similar things.

        What kind of unity is this, when there is no apparent and clear sign of it? And in what manner have they united with them, desiring also to preserve their own—for in this they were unanimous—and at the same time not following the traditions of the Fathers? But what is their own “wise” opinion?

        “Never,” they say, “has the Greek Church said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone. She has said simply that He proceeds from the Father, thus not excluding the participation of the Son in the procession of the Holy Spirit. Therefore—they say—both before and now we exhibit unity.”

        Alas, what absurdity! Alas, what blindness! If the Greek Church—having received it from Christ Himself and the Holy Apostles and Fathers—has said that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, but has never said—for she has received this from no one—that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, then what else does this signify than that she affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone? For if He is not from the Son evidently, He is from the Father alone.

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