CHURCH HISTORY

I. DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH CHURCH- (Ekklesia - the called out ones) - the living Body of Christ called to assemble in our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of the faithful - guided by the Holy Spirit in order to achieve this end.

II. THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH - 30 A.D. The Day of Pentecost. (Acts: Chapter 2)

"Once and forever, in the mystery of Pentecost, the Spirit-Comforter enters into the world in which He was not yet present in such manner as He is now." George Florovsky.

III. BIBLICAL BASIS FOR EPISCOPAL AUTHORITY

A.) Matt 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them" *The authority claimed from a synod is derived from Christ’s presence, through the Holy Spirit.

IV. THE APOSTOLIC SYNODS

A.) The replacing of Judas with Mattias: Acts 1:24 "Lord show which one of these two, You have chosen."

B.) SYNOD OF JERUSALEM-50 A.D. (Acts 15)

1.) The Issue of Circumcision: * For St. Paul’s’ view see: Romans 3:30 and Ephesians 2:11

a.) The Book of Acts: The Pentecostal Church

  • Chs. 1-5: The Church of Jerusalem
  • Chs. 6-12: The Good News begins to spread in the world of the Diaspora
  • Chs. 13-28: Christianity spreads to the Gentile world
  • 70 A.D. and onward

V. TWO RESULTS OF THE COUNCILS

1.) The Christian Church became the Universal Church (Gentiles & Jews)

2.) Apostolic Council set the precedent for Church leaders to come together collectively

 
VI. THE BIBLICAL HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH

A.) The Bishop - (Episcopos or "over-seer" in the original Greek is incorrectly translated in the Bible as elder. The ancient Church always knew this to be the head of the Christian communitie known as the person of a bishop. 

I Tim. 3:1 "If any one aspires to the office of Bishop"

B.) The Priest - (Presbyters in the original Greek not elder)

I Tim. 5:17 "Let the presbyters (not elders) who rule well be considered worthy of double honor."

C.) The Deacon - (Diakonos of diakonos) I Tim. 3:8 "Deacons likewise must be serious" St. Ignatius Bishop of Antioch 2nd Century. See Handout

D.) The Role of the Bishop

1.) To safeguard unity in his community between all ministries.

2.) To Teach the Truth:  To safeguard Apostolic Succession which is twofold - physically every Orthodox bishop can trace his ordination back to one of the Apostles and secondly, they must also have retained the Apostolic teachings as the living Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

3. To embody Christ, the High Priest by offering the Eucharist and administering the local Church community.

E.) The Ordination of the Laity

1.) Through baptism and confirmation the laity is ordained to their own charismatic ministries. They exist together with the other orders.

CRITERIA FOR A COUNCIL TO BE ECUMENICAL (representing the entire Church)

1.) The number of Bishops

2.) All local Churches must be represented.

3.) Decisions of an Ecumenical Synod must be accepted by all Churches and by both the clergy and the laity.

4.) The conviction of the council itself. Do they accept their affirmations?

5.) The issues discussed must concern the universal Church.

6.) The decisions must be accepted by the whole Church.

7.) The presence of Christ

 
THE HISTORY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE

I. THE ORAL PERIOD - 33 AD-50 AD

II. THE WRITTEN PERIOD - 50 AD-100 AD

A.) The Epistles of St. Paul

III. THE GOSPELS

A.) Mark: 70 AD Matthew and Luke B.) John: The end of the first century

IV. THE BIBLE IN ORTHODOXY

 "There emerges in Orthodox tradition the position that the Bible is the record if truth not the truth itself; according to the Church Fathers the Truth itself is God alone."( Fr. Ted Stylianopoulos, New Testament Professor Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.)

V. HOLY TRADITION

"THE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH" LOSSKY

A.) The Criticism of Orthodoxy: The Orthodox Church places Holy Tradition above or equal to Scripture

VI. THE TRADITIONS OF MEN

A.) Response: NT Study of the word, Tradition

1.) Mark 7:5-13 We agree- "no traditions of men."

2.) Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principle of the world, and not according to Christ" (We agree!)

VII. HOLY TRADITION OR APOSTOLIC TRADITION

A.) II Thess. 3:6 "Therefore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of by epistle."

B.) Traditions were not handed down but handed over to the Churches

 "Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it "(2Tim 3:0-15)

C.) Apostolic Tradition: delivered by the Apostles to the Churches which they founded.
1.) Ecumenical councils proclaimed the Holy Traditions of the Church.

2.) Theology and dogmatic beliefs-equal to scripture in authority.

IMPORTANT HISTORICAL DATES

  • 33 AD Pentecost-The Church is consecrated-Acts Chapter 2
  • 50 AD The First Apostolic Council of Jerusalem
  • 313 The Edict of Milan-Christianity becomes the official Religion
  • 321 Byzantium becomes the "New Rome"
  • 325 1st Ecumenical Council of Nicaea
  • 381 2nd Ecumenical Council of Constantinople
  • 431 3rd Ecumenical Council of Ephesus
  • 451 4th Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon
    • 1st Schism in the Church-Nestorian Church of Persia; the five monophysite churches of Armenian, Syria, Coptics of Egypt, Ethiopia and India
  • 553 5th Ecumenical Council
  • 680 6th Ecumenical Council
  • 726 The first phase of the Iconoclast/Iconodules controversy
  • 787 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea
  • 843 The Triumph of Orthodoxy (Icons restored)-The first Sunday of Lent designated as "Sunday of Orthodoxy."
  • 863 Cyril and Methodius mission to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia
  • 988 St. Vladimir adopts Orthodoxy as the religion of Russia
  • 1054 The Great Schism (Catholic West and Orthodox East)
  • 1204-1261 4th Crusade -the loot and capture of Constantinople (Romans)
  • 1439 Synod of Florence (Last attempt towards unity)
  • 1453 The Byzantine Empire Falls to the Ottoman Empire
  • 1517 The Protestant Reformation (Martin Luther)
  • See Historical Chart below
  • 1821 The Greek Revolution against the Turks
  • 1864 First Greek Orthodox Parish in New Orleans
  • 1922 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Established
  • 1970 Standing Conference of all Orthodox Bishops in U.S. (SCOBA)