Church of Antioch

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The Church of Antioch (Arabic: كنيسة أنطاكية, romanizedkánīsa ʾanṭākiya; IPA: [ka.niː.sa ʔan.tˤaː.ki.ja]) was the first of the five major churches of the early pentarchy in Christianity, with its primary seat in the ancient Greek city of Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey).

The earliest record of the church of Antioch is given in Acts 11, stating that some "men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus [...] and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord."[1] Later, at the start of their missionary journeys, Paul the Apostle (also called Saul) and Barnabas preached in Antioch for a year, and followers of the church were called "Christians" for the first time.[2][full citation needed]


Followers of Jesus as the messiah trace the origin of the term Christian to the church established at Antioch, which was founded at Pentecost in Jerusalem. According to verses 19–26 of Acts 11, Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul and brought him to Antioch. They met with the church and taught for a year. The disciples, who had been scattered because of persecution in Jerusalem, were first called Christians in Antioch. This name was later recognised by the Apostles in Jerusalem.[3] One of the leading members of this group was Barnabas, who was sent to organize the new church. The group later became the Patriarchate of Antioch, part of the pentarchy as one of the five great patriarchates.

Saul, also known as Paul the Apostle, began his missionary journeys in Antioch.[2][full citation needed] According to Acts, Judaizers from Jerusalem caused a disturbance in the church.[4] Paul started his first missionary journey from Antioch and returned there.[5][6] After the Jerusalem decree to the gentile converts in Antioch, Paul began his second missionary journey from Antioch.[7] His third journey also began there. Ignatius then served as bishop there for forty years until his martyrdom in 107 AD.[8][full citation needed]

Antioch served as a central point for sending missionaries to the gentiles, probably after the Great Commission. Nicolas, one of the Seven Deacons, was a missionary from Antioch. According to the Alexandrine manuscript of Acts 11:20–26, the Christians dispersed by the martyrdom of Stephen preached to the idolatrous Greeks of Antioch, not to "Grecians" or Greek-speaking Jews.[full citation needed]

Antioch was also the birthplace of John Chrysostom, a prominent Christian father who died in 407 AD.[9][full citation needed]

The seat of the Patriarchate was originally in Antioch (in present-day Turkey). In response to the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century, it was moved to Syria.[citation needed]

Some ancient synagogue priestly rites and hymns of Greek origin have partially survived to the modern day, particularly in the unique worship of the Melkite and Greek Orthodox communities in the Turkish Hatay province, Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. Members of these communities still refer to themselves as Rūm, which literally means "Eastern Romans" or "Byzantines" in Turkish, Persian and Arabic. The term Rūm is preferred to Yūnāniyyūn, which means "Greek" or "Ionian".[citation needed]

Successive branches[edit]


The Maronite, Melkite, and Syriac Catholic patriarchates are in full communion with the Catholic Church and thus recognise each other's claims. The Catholic Church also appointed a Latin Patriarch of Antioch in 1100 by way of Bohemond (founder of the Principality of Antioch, one of the crusader states). After the Crusades, this office became titular in 1268, and lasted as titular for many centuries until it was abolished in 1964.

The Maronite Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East was founded by Maron in the 5th century; it survived the later Muslim invasions, reaffirming communion with Rome in the 12th century. The Melkite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem was formed in 1724 by Cyril VI Tanas, who brought the Antiochian Orthodox community into communion with Rome. Those who rejected this move formed the extant Antiochian Orthodox Church. The Syriac Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch was first formed in 1662 with the election of the Catholic-aligned Andrew Akijan as Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, and later re-established in 1782 with the election of the Catholic Michael III Jarweh as the same.

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

Oriental Orthodox[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Acts 11:26
  2. ^ a b Smith's Bible Dictionary
  3. ^ Acts 11:19–26
  4. ^ Acts 15:1
  5. ^ Acts 13:1–3
  6. ^ Acts 14:26
  7. ^ Acts 15:36,18:22–23
  8. ^ Faussett's Bible Dictionary
  9. ^ Easton's Bible Dictionary