Having read these holy phrases and finding ourselves in agreement (for "there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism"), we have given glory to God who is the saviour of all and rejoice together that our churches and yours are at one in professing the same faith as the inspired scriptures and the tradition of our holy fathers. But since I discovered that there are some always eager to find fault, who buzz around like angry wasps and spit forth evil words against me, to the effect that I say that the holy body of Christ came down from heaven and not from the holy virgin, I thought it necessary in answer to them to say a little about this matter to you.
O fools, whose only competence is in slander! How did you become so perverted in thought and fall into such a sickness of idiocy? For you must surely know that almost all our fight for the faith arose in connexion with our insistence that the holy virgin is the mother of God. But if we claim that the holy body of our common saviour Christ is born from heaven and was not of her, why should she still be considered God-bearer? For whom indeed did she bear, if it is untrue that she bore Emmanuel according to the flesh? It is rather they who speak such nonsense against me who deserve to be ridiculed. For the holy prophet Isaiah does not lie when he says, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us". Again the holy Gabriel speaks total truth when he says to the blessed virgin: "Do not fear, Mary. You have found favour with God, and behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will call his name Jesus . For he will save his people from their sins".
But when we say that our lord Jesus Christ came from heaven and above, we do not apply such expressions as "from above" and "from heaven" to his holy flesh. Rather do we follow the divine Paul who clearly proclaimed: "The first man was of the earth, earthly, the second man is the Lord from heaven".
We also recall our Saviour who said: "No one has gone up into heaven except him who came down from heaven, the son of man". Yet he was born, as I have just said, from the holy virgin according to the flesh.
But since God the Word, who came down from above and from heaven, "emptied himself, taking the form of a slave", and was called son of man though all the while he remained what he was, that is God (for he is unchangeable and immutable by nature), he is said to have come down from heaven, since he is now understood to be one with his own flesh, and he has therefore been designated the man from heaven, being both perfect in godhead and perfect in humanity and thought of as in one person. For there is one lord Jesus Christ, even though we do not ignore the difference of natures, out of which we say that the ineffable union was effected. As for those who say that there was a mixture or confusion or blending of God the Word with the flesh, let your holiness see fit to stop their mouths. For it is quite likely that some should spread it abroad that I have thought or said such things. But I am so far from thinking anything of the kind that I think that those are quite mad who suppose that "a shadow of change" is conceivable in connexion with the divine nature of the Word. For he remains what he is always and never changes, nor could he ever change or be susceptible of it. Furthermore we all confess that the Word of God is impassible though in his all-wise economy of the mystery he is seen to attribute to himself the sufferings undergone by his own flesh. So the all-wise Peter speaks of "Christ suffering for us in the flesh" and not in the nature of his unspeakable godhead. For in order that he might be believed to be the saviour of all, in accordance with our economic appropriation, as I said, he refers to himself the sufferings of his own flesh, in much the same way as is suggested through the voice of the prophet coming as it were from him in advance: "I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to blows; I hid not my face from shame and spitting" .
Let your holiness be persuaded and let no one else cherish any doubt, that we everywhere follow the opinions of the holy fathers especially those of our blessed and glorious father Athanasius, with whose opinions we differ not in the slightest. I would have added many of their testimonies, proving my opinions from theirs, had I not feared that the length of the letter would be made tedious thereby. We do not permit anyone in any way to upset the defined faith or the creed drawn up by the holy fathers who assembled at Nicaea as the times demanded. We give neither ourselves nor them the licence to alter any expression there or to change a single syllable, remembering the words: "Remove not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set".
For it was not they that spoke, but the Spirit of God the Father, who proceeds from him and who is not distinct from the Son in essence. We are further confirmed in our view by the words of our holy spiritual teachers. For in the Acts of the Apostles it is written: "When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them". And the divine Paul writes as follows: "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. And anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him". When, therefore, any of those who love to upset sound doctrine pervert my words to their way of thinking, your holiness should not be surprised at this, but should remember that the followers of every heresy extract from inspired scripture the occasion of their error, and that all heretics corrupt the true expressions of the holy Spirit with their own evil minds and they draw down on their own heads an inextinguishable flame.
Since therefore we have learnt that even the letter of our glorious father Athanasius to the blessed Epictetus, which is completely orthodox, has been corrupted and circulated by some, with the result that many have been injured therefore, thinking it both useful and necessary for the brethren, we have despatched to your holiness accurate copies of the original, unadulterated writings which we have.