The Antiochian Church
The gospel was first preached in Antioch in Syria by Jewish converts returning there from Jerusalem after the days of Pentecost and afterwards by refugees who fled Jerusalem during the persecution at the time of the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Later St. Barnabas brought St. Paul from Tarsus and they went to Antioch, being called to the Apostleship: “And the disciples were called ‘Christians’ first at Antioch” (Acts-11:26), then took it to Rome and consecrated as his successor in Antioch, St. Evodius, who was in turn succeeded by St. Ignatius, called “Theophoros.”
During the centuries that Syria was governed by Rome/Constantinople, Antioch came to rank among one of the greatest cities of the empire in prestige, luxury, culture, law, medicine, art, literature, philosophy, and religion. By the middle of the fifth century, paganism had died out and monasticism was flourishing. Anti-imperial, nationalist politics, however, soon came to find expression in the Monophysite controversies, which politically weakened both Syria and Constantinople.
When the Patriarch of Antioch, Severus (Sawiriyus I), patriotically embraced the Monophysite movement in A.D. five eighteen – 518, the Church of Syria split. The faction loyal to imperial government elected Bulus I as their new Patriarch and forced Ptr. Severus into exile at Alexandria. The Faithful in the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch who continued to recognize Papal and Imperial authority came to be called Melkites–after the Greek word for “king”.
In A.D. five forty two – 542, during the fourth year of Patriarch Severus’ Monophysite successor (Sergius, Sirjiyus), Father Ya’qub al-Barda’i (Jacob Baradaeus) began a thirty six year missionary journey throughout the Near East on behalf of Monophysitism and ordained thousands of priests. His efforts solidified his Church’s support among the common people and left such a positive and lasting impression that the Church for which he so arduously ministered is still fondly termed “Jacobite”.
Syria was absorbed into the Muslim world at the beginning of the seventh century. The Jacobite Church flourished for many centuries, enjoying better treatment under the Muslims than under Constantinople. However, since A.D. thirteen thirteen – 1313, the Church has experienced a long decline and many factional splits.
Beginning with Patriarch Ignatius V (A.D. thirteen thirteen – 1313), the Syrian prelate of Antioch took the name Ignatius as his religious name, in honor of St. Ignatius (the third Patriarch of Antioch), to which is added a second name and numeral. The head of this Syrian Church has the title: Patriarch of Antioch and of All the Domain of the Apostolic Throne.
The Office of the Bishop
The Lord Jesus Christ consecrated Peter as a bishop, and he consecrated others. This established an apostolic succession.
In the office of bishop vibrates the rhythm of the eternal divine life; in the monarchial bishop the ascended Christ, the invisible Head of The Church, becomes visible; and in the chain of bishops, consecrated by episcopal imposition of hands, the unbroken continuity is visualized, which unites The Church of this century with The Church of The Apostles.
Thus the bonds of The rex deus church with those first days in Nazareth and Galilee remain unbroken, assured both by its faithful proclamation of The Gospel in all its apostolic purity and by its regular episcopal ordination of Bishops in Apostolic Succession. The ministry of our Bishops is in direct continuity with that of the Apostles of LORD Yeshua ha Mashiach, our God and only Redeemer. The rex deus church possesses both a valid Apostolic Succession and a faithful transmission of The Gospel in all its truth and purity.
In the office of the Bishop is the fullness of the apostolic succession; the deacons have the right to exercise only a portion of the Bishop’s responsibilities and duties–they cannot function at all unless they are canonically subject to an Orthodox Bishop (from whom they derive their rights, powers and responsibilities and to whom they are accountable).
The life and vitality of the Body of Christ, realized in each local community, is identical with that of all the other local churches in the present and in the past. This reality and continuity is manifested in the act of the consecration of bishops in order to constitute a conciliar act and to witness to the continuity of apostolic succession, faith and tradition.
Since the Bishop is primarily the guardian of the faith and, as such, the center of the sacramental life of The Faithful committed into his or her care, the rex deus church maintains the doctrine of apostolic succession — i.e., the understanding that the ministry of the Bishop is in direct continuity with that of the Apostles. The rex deus church values Her ability to trace the consecration and ordination of Her clergy back to the Twelve Apostles of Christ.