Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop a few years after the Council of Nicaea. His sons were Arians. At least the leadership of the Visigoths that sacked Rome where Arians. That was in 410, only 85 years after Nicea (325).

Yet there were only 2 Arians of 300 Bishops in the Council of Nicea that was convinced enough of Arianism to refuse to sign the Nicene creed.

So why were there so few Arians on the First Council of Nicaea?

In quora people said that the majority of "Arians" were in the west of the empire and hence too far from Nicea. So very few of Arians were in Nicea. Another theory is that Arians were a new idea. I want to know which one is true.

Here are similar questions in quora:

Why were Arians underrepresented at the First Council of Nicaea?

How was the representation of bishops at the Council of Nicea determined?

Note: I've heard a theory that most Arian supporters were in the west and Nicea is far away in the east. Also, most Christians at that time, did not consider the Trinity/homoousion a "big thing". They did not think it would concern them. I forget the source.

That is why very few western bishops came in and that explains why Arians were outnumbered. Still, I want to know more about this aspect of history.

  • 1
    This may get a better answer at Christianity.se Oct 8, 2013 at 1:29
  • 4
    I think answers from Christianity.se would be biased in favor of trinitarians. It'll be something along, because God has decree that the right doctrines win.
    – user4951
    Oct 8, 2013 at 1:58
  • I want pure secular historical answer. I can ask both.
    – user4951
    Oct 8, 2013 at 2:12
  • Why is it terrible at all? In quora people said that the majority of "Arians" are in the west of the empire and hence too far from Nicea. Also the fact that the number of Arians are so large shows that it may not be a new thing.
    – user4951
    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:46
  • 1
    Edited and added tags. I tried to remove the specious conjectures and guesstimates and to keep the good kernel of the question. Oct 8, 2013 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


Arians were not underrepresented at the council of Nicaea

Arius started saying that the Son was distinct from the father under Alexander of Alexandria, so it's probably in 313 or so. So Arianism was less than twelve years old at the Council. So the reason there were so few Arians on this council was that Arianism was a very new thing, not that they were underrepresented.

At the council of Nicaea there were a few bishops who supported Arius position (Warren Carroll claims 22). But they didn't prevail, and the two you mention are the only ones who preferred to be thrown out of the church than to sign the Nicean creed. (Source: Carroll again)

Your further comments and claims about there being many Arians are first of all not evidence that Arianism was widespread. It's just points out some notable Arians, but it says nothing about how widespread it was.

  • 1
    That the idea that Jesus may not be God is new. I mean obviously non christians believe that. But to have most Jesus' followers not thinking he is a God but mere prophets, for example. Is that really a new idea?
    – user4951
    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:45
  • Your answer said that Arians are underrepresented in Nicea because they are new doctrines. However, there are many Arians around. Your answer is they are new but spread quickly
    – user4951
    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:50
  • let us continue this discussion in chat Oct 8, 2013 at 4:55
  • @user4951: This was not the Arian belief. The Arians, just like the non-Arians, were unanimous in their belief that Jesus Christ was the incarnation of God's Word, through Whom the world was created. Where they differed, however, was that the former believed Him to have been created by God from nothingness prior to Creation-proper, in the same manner in which a smith or artificer, through the aid of hammer and anvil, creates all other future tools; whereas the latter believed Him to be part of God's eternal being, i.e., homo-ousios.
    – Lucian
    Feb 4, 2019 at 22:56

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