The Council of Ephesus (convoked at Ephesus in AD 431 during the reign of Theodosius II) convened in order to refute the heretical teaching of Nestorius that Christ comprises two persons: the Word of God and the man Jesus of Nazareth. In accordance with the beloved disciple, John, who writes: “Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist” (1 Jn 2:22), the council deposed Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople, condemned his teachings, and ordered his written works burned.
Simply affirming the creeds of 1 Nicea and 1 Constantinople, the Third Ecumenical Council did not actually produce its own creed. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church treats the twelve anathemas that Cyril of Alexandria produced while presiding over this conclave as if they were a creed.
THE TWELVE ANATHEMAS PROPOSED BY CYRIL AND ACCEPTED BY THE COUNCIL OF EPHESUS
I. If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God [Theotokos], inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, “The Word was made flesh”], let him be anathema.
II. If anyone does not confess that the Word from God the Father has been united by hypostasis with the flesh and is one Christ with his own flesh, and is therefore God and man together, let him be anathema.
III. If anyone divides in the one Christ the hypostases after the union, joining them only by a conjunction of dignity or authority or power, and not rather by a coming together in a union by nature, let him be anathema.
IV. If anyone distributes between the two persons or hypostases the expressions used either in the gospels or in the apostolic writings, whether they are used by the holy writers of Christ or by him about himself, and ascribes some to him as to a man, thought of separately from the Word from God, and others, as befitting God, to him as to the Word from God the Father, let him be anathema.
V. If anyone shall dare to say that the Christ is a God-bearing [Theophorus] man and not rather that he is very God, as an only Son through nature (because “the Word was made flesh,” and “hath a share in flesh and blood as we do”), let him be anathema.
VI. If anyone shall dare say that the Word of God the Father is the God of Christ or the Lord of Christ, and shall not rather confess him as at the same time both God and Man, since according to the Scriptures, “The Word was made flesh,” let him be anathema.
VII. If anyone shall say that Jesus as man is only energized by the Word of God, and that the glory of the Only-begotten is attributed to him as something not properly his, let him be anathema.
VIII. If anyone shall dare to say that the assumed man ought to be worshipped together with God the Word, and glorified together with him, and recognized together with him as God, and yet as two different things, the one with the other (for this “together with” is added [that is, by the Nestorians] to convey this meaning); and shall not rather with one adoration worship the Emmanuel and pay to him one glorification, as [it is written] “The Word was made flesh,” let him be anathema.
IX. If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Ghost—so that he [Christ] used through him [the Holy Ghost] a power not his own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men—and shall not rather confess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these divine signs, let him be anathema.
X. The divine scripture says Christ became “the high priest and apostle of our confession”; he offered himself to God the Father in an odor of sweetness for our sake. If anyone, therefore, says that it was not the very Word from God who became our high priest and apostle, when he became flesh and a man like us, but as it were another who was separate from him, in particular a man from a woman, or if anyone says that he offered the sacrifice also for himself and not rather for us alone (for he who knew no sin needed no offering), let him be anathema.
XI. If anyone shall not confess that the flesh of the Lord gives life and that it pertains to the Word of God the Father as his very own, but shall pretend that it belongs to another person who is united to him [that is., the Word] only according to honor, and who has served as a dwelling for the divinity; and shall not rather confess, as we say, that that flesh gives life because it is that of the Word who gives life to all, let him be anathema.
XII. If anyone shall not recognize that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, that he was crucified in the flesh, and that likewise in that same flesh he tasted death and that he is become the first-begotten of the dead, for, as he is God, he is the life and it is he that gives life, let him be anathema.