Born about AD 296 of wealthy parents, an Egyptian by birth and a Greek by education, he was deeply moved by the martyrdoms of Christians during the last days of persecution, and from early childhood he himself knew what it was to be on the run from the authorities. After Christianity became legally tolerated in AD 313, the church’s troubles were by no means over. Disputes about the person of Christ came out into the open. Arius began to teach that Christ had been created by, and was inferior to God the Father. This teaching became very popular, and when Athanasius opposed him in a brilliant series of pamphlets, circulars, books and commentaries, he began to take up the stance for which he became famous – “Athanasius against the world”.
His attractive godliness led to his appointment by popular demand as Bishop of Alexandria at the age of 33, but the victory of his doctrine at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 remained in jeopardy for two generations. The Roman government supported the Arians and Athanasius was hounded through five exiles covering seventeen years of flight and hiding. His later years were spent peacefully at Alexandria. He died in AD 373. Prof. Prestige declares that almost single-handed he saved the church from pagan intellectualism, and that “by his tenacity and vision in preaching the one God and Saviour, he preserved from dissolution the unity and integrity of the Christian faith.”
Taken from The Fountains People by Neil Gibbons