Historically speaking, the Greek Orthodox Church is a Christian Church that originated from the teachings of the Apostles. The Church is divided into two main doctrinal groups, the Eastern and the Western Orthodox Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church is comprised of the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople.
Table of Contents
- Early traditions of Christianity
- Constantine I legitimized Christianity in the Roman Empire
- Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople were founded by the Apostles
- Doctrinal differences between the Eastern and Western Orthodox Churches
- Liturgical services based on the actions of Jesus
Early traditions of Christianity
Throughout its history, Christianity has been plagued by schisms and theological disagreements. In the early Church, there were two distinct periods that are sometimes called the “Apostolic” and the “Late Antique.”
During the first phase of Christianity, Christians came from all over the world and formed a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Jesus. In this period, early Christians used the Old Testament according to the Septuagint. The Old Testament is a collection of divinely inspired books.
The first Christians were ethnically Jewish, but some Gentiles were allowed to convert. During this period, the Church began to develop an early episcopal structure. These early bishops determined which interpretations were correct.
The early Christians were also persecuted. There are several New Testament writings that mention persecutions. A few Christians, such as Stephen, were killed. In addition, the apostles were expelled from the synagogues.
Constantine I legitimized Christianity in the Roman Empire
During the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine, Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire. He made Christianity a legal religion, which allowed Christians to have rights and privileges that they had not previously enjoyed.
The Edict of Milan was a political agreement between Constantine and his co-emperor Licinius that gave Christians legal rights. The Edict of Milan did not make the Empire Christian, but it was a notable first.
The First Council of Nicaea was a religious council held near present day Istanbul in 325. It was the first attempt by Christians to set standards for the entire Church. The First Council of Nicaea was also the first ecumenical council.
There are many laws that Constantine enacted during his reign that are still in use today. During his reign, Constantine reformed the Roman army and created a mobile field unit. He also initiated a series of successful campaigns against Roman frontier tribes.
Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople were founded by the Apostles
Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople were established by the Apostles of the Greek Orthodox Church in the first century. These ecclesiastical jurisdictions are still in existence today.
The first bishop of Antioch was Saint Peter. In the early church, the Apostles preached the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. They also appointed priests and deacons to help the flock. They wrote the gospels and epistles. The Church holds the faith that was given to the Apostles by Christ.
Antioch was once a major city in the Levant region. It was part of the Roman Empire. It was an important literary center in Greco-Roman times. The city was a major part of the Roman Diocese of the East. In 431 AD, the Patriarchate was recognized as a pentarchy, which is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Doctrinal differences between the Eastern and Western Orthodox Churches
Despite their similarities, the Eastern and Western Orthodox Churches have significant doctrinal differences. They differ in three main areas.
The most important difference is in theology. While the Western Church believes that salvation is gained through faith in Jesus, the Eastern Church believes that salvation is achieved through a lifelong effort to lead a holy life.
The Orthodox Church claims to be the one true church of Christ and affirms the Bible as the Word of God. While the Orthodox church has more in common with Roman Catholicism, it has many differences. The Orthodox Church is more in line with evangelical Protestantism in that it does not attribute as much importance to the Virgin Mary.
The Roman Catholic church teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin. It also uses images as aids in worship.
Liturgical services based on the actions of Jesus
Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, the Church has celebrated memorable events in liturgical services based on the actions of Jesus. This includes the Great Lent, the Holy Fast and Pascha. These fasts are considered to be penitential days of preparation. They remain penitential through Bright Week after Easter. The Orthodox Church continues to observe them, but they are not celebrated in the same way as before.
On the first three days of Great Lent, the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is used. This vesperal liturgy is also used on Saint Basil’s feast day.
The Great Octoechos is a cycle of services that are used throughout the first three days of Holy Week. It is a sequence of eight weekly services, arranged in a cycle of eight tones. This sequence begins on the Sunday after Pascha and ends on the last day of Great Lent.