Conception of the Church

The Church is a divine institution, established by the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind (Mt. 16, 18). It is a Society of people, united under the headship of Jesus Christ by a true faith in Him, as God and Savior, by the holy Sacraments and the Church Hierarchy or Priesthood. The Church comprises all true believers - living and departed ones.

Establishment of the Church

On the fiftieth day after His resurrection the Lord sent down on His apostles the Holy Ghost. When the apostles were assembled in Jerusalem with the Holy Virgin Mary and the other faithful, as commanded by the Lord, the Holy Ghost came down on them and set on each of them as a tongue of fire and gave them power to teach and to speak different languages. The people, who came to Jerusalem for the day of Penticost from all over the world, could hear the apostles speaking their languages and marveled at this. Apostle Peter explained to the multitude the meaning of the event, and glory of Jesus Christ. His teaching and works. Three thousand people then believed in Jesus Christ as God and Savior and were baptized on that day and thus it was marked the establishment of the Christian Church. The apostles did many signs and miracles "and the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2, 47) .

The Growth of the Church

When the number of Christians increased so that the apostles could not personally minister unto all, and some widows were left without daily ministration, the apostles then decided to ordain some men to help them and told the believers to select among them seven worthy men, known for their piety and wisdom. These seven men were brought before the apostles, who prayed over them, thus ordaining them deacons of the Church (Acts 6, 6).

Among the seven Stephen was the greatest in faith and wisdom, he did many miracles, preached to Jews the Christian doctrine and withstood all their assails. He died as a first martyr of the Christian Church, being stoned by the Jews, but the word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly: and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6,7).

All the apostles zealously fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by the Lord: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" (Mt. 28.19). After the descension of the Holy Ghost they went to all parts of the world to preach the Gospel. Many records bear witness to their work for the Church and the Book of Acts of the Apostles is the history of the Apostolic Church. Next to this book the epistles of St. Paul are important documents on the Early Church as also the epistles of the other apostles.

Preaching of the Apostles

From the Book of Acts we learn important rules and regulations on the organization of the Early Church. Here we read of the election of apostle Mathias in place of Judas Iscariot, of the ordination of deacons and priests, of the holy Sacraments as the same were performed by the apostles, of the Apostolic Council and other activities of the apostles. specially of the preaching of the Christian doctrine by them.

Apostle Peter

Apostle Peter preached from the very first day of the Church's existence in Jerusalem, then in Antioch, where the disciples were called Christians first (Acts 11, 26) , and other cities of Palestine. Toward the end of his life Apostle Peter was sent to Rome for trial and during the time of Emperor Nero. when first persecution of Christians was ordered, he was crucified with his head downward, considering himself not worthy to be crucified as the Lord was.

Once when St. Peter was ready to leave Rome for safety. he met the Lord by the city gate carrying the cross and asked Him "Quo Vadis. O Lord." Jesus Christ answered him: "I am going to be crucified again in Rome." These words made Peter go back to stand the trial and he was crucified in about 65 A. D. Apostle Peter wrote two epistles, and for his zeal and labors is glorified by the Church as the first and glorious among the apostles.

Apostle Paul

Before his conversion-Saul, was a very learned pharisee's disciple and was bitterly opposed to Christianity, taking a very active part in persecuting its followers. Once he was on his way to the city of Damascus "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,- as the Book of Acts says, "to bring them bound unto Jerusalem." When he was nearing Damascus, suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven and he fell to the ground and heard the voice saying unto him: "Saul, Saul. why persecutest thou me?" And Saul said, "Who art thou. Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest : it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 8, 1-5) .

Trembling and astonished Saul asked the Lord as to what He wanted him to do and the Lord answered that he shall proceed to the city where he will be told what he must do. Here Saul lost his sight and was led to the city by his companions, who heard the voice speaking to Saul but did not see any vision. In Damascus Saul was met by a certain disciple Ananias, who prayed over him putting the hands on him. Saul received his sight and was baptized. From then on he became the famous apostle of Jesus Christ and preached the Gospel among gentiles in different countries, suffered many persecutions and tortures. He died at about the same time in Rome when St. Peter was crucified there, only being a Roman citizen, St. Paul was not crucified but was beheaded by sword, which was considered at that time not so disgraceful as to be crucified.

St. Paul wrote 14 epistles to different churches he founded and in the History of the Church he is known as "the apostle of gentiles." being equal in glory and zeal with the Apostle Peter.

Apostle James

Apostle James was the first Bishop of the Church in Jerusalem. He presided at the apostolic Council (Sobor) there and devoted himself to the organization of the Church. The Jewish leaders were bitterly opposed to him and when the governor of the place was away they killed him by throwing him from the roof of some high building, then hitting him on the head. Apostle James left to the Church the order of Divine Liturgy which is the prototype of the Liturgies in use now by the Eastern Orthodox Church and one epistle. He was a cousin of our Lord and is often in the Bible referred as the "Brother of the Lord."

Apostle John, the divine

Apostle John was a beloved disciple of Jesus Christ. To his care was intrusted the Holy Virgin Mary by the Lord from the Cross "Behold thy Mother" (John 19. 27) . While the Holy Virgin was living in his home St. John preached the Gospel in Judea and after her assumption he went with his preaching through all Asia Minor. He died in Ephesus, 105 years old, being the only apostle who died of the natural death. When St. John became too old and weak, he used to repeat to his disciples: "Children, love one another," because in these words, he explained, "is all teaching of Christ." He wrote 4th Gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation.

Apostle Andrew

Apostle Andrew is "the First Called" among the apostles and is a Russian apostle. He was a brother of St. Peter, whom he brought to Jesus (John 2, 40-42) . At first St. Andrew was preaching the Gospel in Greece and on the northern shores of the Black Sea. In time he went with his preaching up north from the Black Sea and visited that part of the country which was known then as Skiphia and where now Russia is, and he went as far north as where the city of Novgorod stands, as the Russian tradition says.

When St. Andrew came to the region where t

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