Ephesus, General Council of

Ephesus, General Council Of.

The third oecumenical council, convoked by the emperor Theodosius II, was held at Ephesus in 431, upon the controversy raised by Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, who objected to the application of the title of Θεοτόκος to the Virgin Mary. For the circumstances which led to the convocation of this council, see the articles NESTORIUS SEE NESTORIUS , NESTORIANS SEE NESTORIANS , PELAGIUS SEE PELAGIUS . Celestine, the pope, not seeing fit to attend in person, sent three legates, Arcadius and Projectus, bishops, and Philip, a priest. Among the first who arrived at the council was Nestorius, with a numerous body of followers, and accompanied by Ireneus, a nobleman, his friend and protector. Cyril of Alexandria also, and Juvenal of Jerusalem came, accompanied by about fifty of the Egyptian bishops; Memnon of Ephesus had brought together about forty of the bishops within his jurisdiction; and altogether more than two hundred bishops were present. Candidianus, the commander of the forces in Ephesus, attended, by order of the emperor, to keep peace and order; but by his conduct he greatly favored the party of Nestorius. The day appointed for the opening of the council was June 7th; but John of Antioch, and the other bishops from Syria and the East not having arrived, it was delayed till the 22d of the same month. At the first session of the council (June 22), before the Greek and Syrian bishops had arrived, Cyril and the bishops present condemned the doctrines of Nestorius, and deposed and excommunicated him. This sentence was signed by one hundred and ninety-eight bishops, according to Tillemont, and by more than two hundred according to Fleury; it was immediately made known to Nestorius, and published in the public places. At the same time, notice of it was sent to the clergy and people of Constantinople, with a recommendation to them to secure the property of the Church for the successor of the deprived Nestorius. As soon, however, as Nestorius had received notice of this sentence, he protested against it, and all that had passed at the council, and forwarded to the emperor an account of what had been done, setting forth that Cyril and Memnon, refusing to wait for John and the other bishops, had hurried matters on in a tumultuous and irregular way. On the 27th of June twenty-seven Syrian bishops arrived, chose John of Antioch for their president, and deposed Cyril in their turn. In August, count John, who had been sent by Theodosius, arrived at Ephesus, and directed the bishops of both synods to meet him on the following day. Accordingly, John of Antioch and Nestorius attended with their party, and Cyril with the orthodox; but immediately a dispute arose between them the latter contending that Nestorius should not be present, while the former wished to exclude Cyril. Upon this, the count, to quiet the dispute, gave both Cyril and Nestorius into custody, and then endeavored, but in vain, to reconcile the two parties. And thus matters seemed as far from a settlement as ever. The emperor at last permitted the fathers of the council to send to him eight deputies, while the Orientals or Syrians, on their part, sent as many. The place of meeting was Chalcedon, whither the emperor proceeded, and spent five days in listening to the arguments on. both sides; and here the Council of Ephesus may, in. fact, be said to have terminated. Nothing is known of what passed at Chalcedon, but the event shows that Theodosius sided with the Catholics, since upon his return to Constantinople he ordered, by a letter, the Catholic deputies to come there, and to proceed to consecrate a bishop in the place of Nestorius, whom he had already ordered to leave Ephesus, and to confine himself to his monastery near Antioch. Afterwards he directed that all the bishops at the council, including Cyril and Memnon, should return to their respective dioceses. The judgment of this council was at once approved by the whole Western Church, and by far the greater part of the East, and was subsequently confirmed by the (Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, consisting of six hundred and thirty bishops. Even, John of Antioch and the Eastern bishops very soon acknowledged it. But Nestorius protested to the last that he did not hold the heretical opinions anathematized by the council. SEE NESTORIUS.

Of the other councils of Ephesus, the following are all that need be mentioned: 1, in 245 (?), against the Patropassian Noetus; 2, in 400, under Chrysostom, where Heraclidus was consecrated bishop of Ephesus, and six simoniacal bishops deposed; and the ROBBER COUNCIL (see next article). — Landon, Manual of Councils, page 235; Mansi, Conc. 4:1212, 1320, et al.; Gieseler, Ch. History, § 88; Neander, Church Hist. 2:468 sq.; Murd. Mosheim, Church Hist. 1:358; Palmer, On the Church, 1:385 sq.; Cunningham, Historical Theology, 1:328 sq.; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 2:161 sq. ; Smith, Tables of Church History; Christian Examiner, 54:49.

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