(Died circa 185 AD)
Theophilus was born a heathen, not far from the Tigris and Euphrates, and was led to embrace Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures.
He makes no reference to his office in his existing writings, nor is any other fact in his life recorded. Eusebius, however, speaks of the zeal which he and the other chief shepherds displayed in driving away the heretics who were attacking Christianity.
He was a fertile writer in different areas of Christian literature, polemics, exegetics and apologetics. His contributions are credited with has bringing Christian literature to the front in literary eminence, and distance all their heathen contemporaries.
Theophilus’ most renowned work is his “Apologia ad Autolycum,” whose main objective was to convince a heathen friend, Autolycus, a man of great learning and an earnest seeker after truth, of the divine authority of the Christian religion, while at the same time demonstrating the falsehood and absurdity of paganism. Theophilus holds that the truth of Christianity depends on his demonstration that the books of the Old Testament were written long before the writings of the Greeks and were divinely inspired.
According to Theophilus, whatever truth the heathen authors contain were borrowed from Moses and the prophets, who alone declared God’s revelation to man. He contrasts the perfect consistency of the divine oracles, which he regards as a convincing proof of their inspiration, with the inconsistencies of heathen philosophers. He explained that heathen religion was a mere worship of idols, bearing the names of dead men. Almost the only point in which he was in agreement with the heathen writers was in the doctrine of retribution and punishment after death for sins committed in life.
Theophilus was the first Christian writer to speak of the Trinity. While allegorizing upon the creation, he sees the sun as the image of God and the moon that of man, whose death and resurrection are prefigured by the monthly changes of that luminary. The first three days before the creation of the heavenly bodies are types of the Trinity “God, His Word and His Wisdom.”
Adapted by A.J. Valentini