6 The First Millennium Spread of the Gospel

Go To the Beginning of this Book Excerpts from The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’   

Introduction to the Following “Handouts” for Understanding Family Theology

 The text content in the following sections was originally designed as part of concise “handouts” or “overhead projector transparencies” for use in teaching Family Theology.  These are included in the full version of The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’ and are certainly very useful for this shorter collection of excerpts, as they not only review the previous material but provide many new details, especially in the 3 part collection The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church, from which this Internet Edition web page takes its name.  These and other “handouts” are also available in the separate collection The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church: An Overview of the Family Theology that Revolutionizes Bible Reading and its Implications Towards the Eventual Re-Establishment of the Undivided Early Church’s Unity in Diversity

The 7 Covenants of the One Ongoing Covenant Family of God 

The number 7 in the Bible is the number of Covenant Oath.  There is no covenant without swearing an oath (and the Hebrew word for swearing an oath literally means “to seven oneself”).  The number 7 in the Bible is also symbolic of fulfilment, completion – thus it seems odd that there are only 5 major covenants in the Old Testament and only 1 in the New Testament, for a total of 6 – until we recognize the future fulfilment of the Christian Church in the Kingdom of Heaven when Christ returns as the 7th, Eternal Covenant.  Covenant renewals are not counted here (on a number of occasions after temporarily falling away from faithfulness, God’s People renewed their commitment to the previous major covenant, as they did under Joshua and Ezra). Undergoing Baptism is taking the New Covenant Oath.  Note all of these individual covenants together are stages of maturity in love of the ONE ongoing Covenant Family of God (which is why the Early Church Fathers said that “Abel was a Christian” – they recognized that godly Abel, son of Adam, belonged to the one ONGOING adopted Covenant Family of God which culminated in the Christian Church).

PAST: Old Testament Covenants whose time as “the latest” stage of maturity in love God the Father wanted His Covenant children to strive for is past. 

The 7th Day Covenant with Adam (The Adamic Covenant)

The Covenant with Noah (The Noahic Covenant)

The Covenant with Abraham (The Abrahamic Covenant)

The Covenant with Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) 

The Covenant with David (the Davidic Covenant)

PRESENT:  The New Covenant of Jesus Christ (The Christian Church) 

FUTURE:  The Eternal Covenant (The Fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in the New Heavens and New Earth)

All the Old Testament Covenants Are Fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Universal New Covenant Church, Which Is in Covenant Family Continuity with Them: God Has Fathered One Human Family Through Successive Stages Through the Various Covenants

 © 2007 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO 

Covenants make Families

What distinguishes a covenant from a mere contract is the exchange of persons (not just property or services) in a covenant family bond.  The one covenant still common in our age and culture is the marriage covenant – where two parties who were not related to each other swear the covenant oath and then together form a new family.  Moreover, covenants make bonds of Sacred kinship, because they are witnessed and guaranteed by the Deity by whom the covenant oath is sworn.  Adam was created with the supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but lost it through sin.  God, foreseeing Adam’s inability to keep the gift of supernatural adoption into His Family, before Adam sinned united himself to Adam and his descendants (humanity) through a covenant adoption as well (on the 7th Day – 7 being the number of Covenant Oath, the Covenant being what made the 7th Day Holy), so that when Adam lost the supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Adam and his descendants (all humanity – note the Hebrew word for humanity is adam) would still be God’s children through the lesser, legal adoption of covenant – whether they remained faithful to the Covenant Father or became estranged from Him (runaways). 

Jesus Christ “the New Adam” restored the supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit (which Adam had lost), which makes all Christians children of God and brothers and sisters to each other not only as New Covenant Family members in good standing, but at a much higher and more wonderful level, as Pope Benedict XVI in The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood describes – but all non-Christians are still related to God as His children, and thus Christians are also still related in family bonds to all non-Christians, through the lesser covenant adoption of all humanity descended from Adam by God.  Thus all humanity indeed falls into Pope Benedict’s two categories of

1) the Christian brother – united to each other and God through covenant and the wonderful supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit – or

2) the other brother – Covenant Family members estranged from the Covenant Father, lacking the marvelous bond which supernaturally unites all Christians under God the Father – the “other brother” whom Christians are called to seek to reconcile with their Father, bringing them back into living in the Father’s Household, the Christian Church (see 1 Timothy 3:15), living by the Family Rules (the New Covenant Moral Law of Love, encapsulated in the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount). 

So once one understands the succession of Biblical Covenants God used to gradually train His one human Covenant Family descended from Adam to higher and higher standards of love, one understands that the Bible reveals that every human being is in fact related to God as His children through covenant adoption –  as either 

1)   a Covenant Family member in good standing, who is from the “Olive Tree” (see Romans 11) of the faithful family line since Adam who remained in loving relationship with God the Covenant Father (or at least consistently repented and renewed the covenant soon after falling away), a Covenant Family member who lives under the Father’s House Rules (moral laws which train us to love like the Father loves), or as 

2)  a Covenant Family member who is estranged from the family, descended from a branch of the faithful “Olive Tree” since Adam and Noah which earlier fell away or was cut off for unbelief and sin, (becoming a “wild olive shoot”) and thus lost close connection with God’s Covenant Family – a Covenant Family member who no longer lives under the Covenant Father’s House Rules (Judeo-Christian morality) – a runaway or prodigal child who needs to be restored to full relationship with the Father and the Covenant Family through being reconciled with the Family’s Loving Father and coming into the New Covenant Church. 

Moreover, there are two Biblical kinds of adoption by God:  

1)  covenant adoption, whereby God legally adopts humanity as His children through making a covenant (as He did with the entire human race descended from Adam and Noah); and 

2) the supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit of adoption, whereby God’s very life of love indwells a person to make them supernaturally related to God as His children – this is the condition Adam was created in but lost, which Jesus Christ the New Adam restores to members of His New Covenant Christian Church (though we still await the redemption of our bodies in the final resurrection, and until that Eternal Covenant era New Covenant Christians still struggle with sin – Romans 8:22,23, Romans 7:14-25).

 © 2007 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO 

The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church 

(The Formation of the Different but United Culturally-based Rites of the Universal (Greek Katholikos, or Catholic) Church, the Different ‘Sister Churches’ in the Universal (Catholic) Communion of Sister Churches Known Collectively in the First Millennium as the Catholic Church

Part 1: The Old Testament History Leading up to the New Covenant Christian Church

  • The 7th Day Covenant with ADAM (The Adamic Covenant)

Universal (Catholic) in scope, including all humanity descended from Adam

  • The Covenant with Noah (The Noahic Covenant)

Universal (Catholic) in scope, including all humanity descended from Noah

  • The Covenant with Abraham (The Abrahamic Covenant)

Limited in scope to Abraham’s descendants, but Universal (Catholic) in purpose, for the blessing of all nations descended from Noah

  • The Covenant with Moses (The Mosaic Covenant)

Limited in scope to Israel, but Universal (Catholic) in purpose, to train Israel God’s “first-born son” nation descended from Noah to maturity so it could become a witness to lead the fallen-away “other son” nations back

  •  The Covenant with David (the Davidic Covenant)

Limited in scope to David’s descendants, but Universal (Catholic) in purpose, for the blessing of all nations descended from Noah

The Bible describes each of the individual Covenants above as “everlasting” because they are all part of the one ongoing Covenant Family of God (“Abel was a Christian”).  In the period when each of the Covenants above was the most recent Covenant, God the Covenant Father of Love expected more maturity in love from His adopted Covenant children and often gave them a higher moral standard of love to aim for, beginning a new Covenant each time the new goal was satisfactorily achieved.  All the Old Testament Covenants Are Fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Universal New Covenant Church, Which Is in Covenant Family Continuity with Them: God Has Fathered One Human Family descended from Adam Through Successive Stages Through the Various Covenants.

The Faithful Line of the Covenant Family

(The Ongoing “Olive Tree” Family Tree of God’s Faithful People)

The faithful descendants of Adam (through his son Seth) are:

The Sethites

descended from them (through Noah the last faithful Sethite before the Flood and his son Shem) are: 

The Semites

descended from them (through the Semite Eber) are:

The Hebrews

descended from them (through the specially chosen Hebrew Abraham and his grandson Jacob/Israel) are:

The Israelites

descended from them (from the Israelite Tribe [and Southern Kingdom] of Judah) are:

the Jews 

The Fallen-Away ‘Gentile’ Lines of the Covenant Family

In each of the Covenants there are many Covenant children who fell away from faithfulness to their Covenant Father.  The Cainite Civilization which corrupted the godly Sethites except Noah was ended by the Flood, but there were many continuing lines of faithful Noah’s descendants who fell away at various times after Noah, becoming ‘Gentiles’, including the Midianites and Arabs (Ishmaelites) descended from Abraham, the whole 10 Northern Tribes of Israel, and many Jews, especially before the Babylonian Exile.  After the Exile, however, the Jews had matured tremendously as a nation, they satisfactorily achieved the goal of their 3 non-universal Covenants , proving that as a nation they would now rather die than fall away, meaning they were ready for:

  • The New Covenant of Jesus Christ the New ADAM

Universal (Catholic) in scope, composed of Christian Jews and the Gentiles they invited back.

 © 2008 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church 

(The Formation of the Different but United Culturally-based Rites of the Universal (Greek Katholikos, or Catholic) Church, the Different ‘Sister Churches’ in the Universal (Catholic) Communion of Sister Churches Known Collectively in the First Millennium as the Catholic Church

Part 2: The New Testament Spread of the Gospel From Christian (‘Messianic’) Jews to the Gentiles 

The faithful line of the legally adopted Covenant Family since Adam, those faithful Sethites and Semites and Hebrews and Israelites known as the Jewish Nation, through God’s very patient fathering throughout the Old Testament’s series of ever-more-mature Covenants, are at last mature enough in love to no longer take legal covenant adoption for granted and lose it easily, meaning they are at last ready for Jesus Christ the New Adam to come from among them and restore to them the supernatural adoption of the indwelling Holy Spirit and not lose it easily as Adam had.  Those now-more mature Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah are thus empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to at last successfully fulfill the mission God had called Israel from among the nations of descendants of Noah to perform in the first place: To lead the other ‘Gentile’ nations back to the Covenant Father they had left between the time of Noah and the Exile, re-joining the one ongoing Covenant Family since Adam through the New Covenant Christian Church, so that the once-fallen-away Gentiles too, like the Jews from the line which had been faithful to the Covenant Family since Adam, could also receive the restored indwelling Holy Spirit of supernatural adoption which Adam had lost, becoming members of the Body of Jesus Christ the New Adam: the Christian Church.

Through the original Jewish Christians’ ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit of adoption restored to them by Jesus Christ the New Adam, huge numbers of the unfaithful, fallen-away ‘Gentile’ lines of the legally adopted Covenant Family descended from Adam and Noah are brought back into the faithful line of the one ongoing “Olive Tree” of the faithful People of God through the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, which forms:

The Universal (Catholic) Christian Church of Jew and Gentile

Christ has “created in Himself one new man out of the two (Jew and Gentile)…in this one body He has reconciled both of them to God through the cross” (cf Ephesians 2:15-16).  In the “New Israel” of the Catholic, Christian Church, Jew and Gentile are once again one Universal (Catholic) family (as before Abraham was called from among the descendants of Noah), except for those Jews and those Gentiles who refused to join the New Covenant Family.  They represent our continued mission as the “New Israel” of the Universal (Catholic) Church of Jesus Christ. 

At Pentecost (Acts 2), the Church was born in: 

JERUSALEM 

Center of the Jewish Culture as Renewed in Jesus

Center of the Foundational Jewish Rite of the Christian Church

Jesus Christ was Jewish.  His Chosen Apostles, and all the first Christians were Jewish and Christian, and in the New Testament they never saw themselves as “ex-Jews.”

Since all Christians were Jewish, many thought that one needed to be Jewish to be saved, and thus that Gentile converts to Christianity should become culturally Jewish and be circumcised, etc.  Others, notably Peter and Paul, strongly disagreed.  The issue was settled by:

THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM (Acts 15

The Proto-Council and Pattern of All Later Ecumenical (Worldwide) Councils of the Universal (Catholic) Christian Church 

This Holy Spirit-guided Council of ordained Apostles and other Christian leaders determined that Gentiles did not need to become culturally Jewish to be saved, they only needed to adjust their cultural practices to the norms of the Christian Gospel, as the Jewish cultural practices had been adjusted (Gentiles only had to abandon certain cultural customs related to sexual immorality and idolatry).  At this time in the New Testament, there were two distinct culturally-based Rites of Christianity, both approved of through a formal Council of all the gathered ordained Christian leaders led by the Holy Spirit – Jewish Rite Christianity and Gentile Rite ChristianityActs 15:1-16:5 and 21:17-26 prove that this multi-ritual form of Christian brotherhood was the norm for the New Testament Church.  Both Jews and Gentiles retained their distinct cultural identities when they became Christians, but simply became the very best Jews and Gentiles they could be, empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Those of the original Jewish Christians who, either before or after the Council of Jerusalem, sadly did not accept its teaching and insisted Gentiles must become Jewish to be Christian, were called “Judaizers” (whom Paul frequently opposed in his Scriptural letters).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ first spread from Jerusalem to Antioch as the first Gentile “daughter” Church or Rite of the original Jewish Rite Jerusalem Church:

FROM

JERUSALEM

Center of the Jewish Culture as Renewed in Jesus

Center of the Foundational Jewish Rite of the Christian Church

TO

ANTIOCH

Center of the Syrian Culture as Renewed in Jesus,

the first Gentile culture introduced to Christianity by the original Jewish Christians.  The disciples of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).

© 2008 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church

(The Formation of the Different but United Culturally-based Rites of the Universal (Greek Katholikos, or Catholic) Church, the Different ‘Sister Churches’ in the Universal (Catholic) Communion of Sister Churches Known Collectively in the First Millennium as the Catholic Church)

Part 3: The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Formation of the Original Pentarchy of Five Patriarchates (Church Provinces) of Different Culturally-Based Sister Churches or Rites Which Together Clearly Articulated and Established the Traditional Essential Fundamentals of Christian Orthodoxy (Against Many Early Christian Heretical Interpretations of the Bible) at the First Millennium Ecumenical (Worldwide) Councils of the Undivided Early Catholic (Universal) Christian Church 

Jesus’ Jewish Apostles and the original Jewish Rite Christians, based in Jerusalem, took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of the surrounding Gentile (non-Jewish) cultures to the North, South, East, and West, and Christianity gradually settled in the major center of the vast Roman Empire in each general direction, where it gradually formed distinct culturally-based Rites (distinct cultural responses to and expressions and celebrations of the Gospel).  These Rites were gradually organized (for accountability to the Gospel and protection against heresy) into distinct cultural ‘Sister Churches’ which looked to the ordained overseer (bishop or eparch) of the nearest major center to settle disputes and set guidelines for Christian worship in each cultural area to ensure no heresies crept into Christian worship liturgies.  Each of the first five cultures renewed in Jesus which became organized Sister Churches each celebrating different cultural Rites eventually were formally recognized as legitimate forms of orthodox Christianity at the Early Ecumenical (worldwide) Councils of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church by being declared Patriarchates, the overseer of the major center who pastorally guided each one being declared a Patriarch.  The first five Patriarchates were: 

JERUSALEM

Center of the Jewish Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Foundational Jewish Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church which brought the Gospel to all others.

ANTIOCH

Center of the Syrian Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the first Gentile Rite of the Christian Church, the Antiochene  (or Antiochian) Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church.

ALEXANDRIA

Center of the Egyptian Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Alexandrian Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church.

ROME

Center of the Roman Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Roman Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church. 

BYZANTIUM/ CONSTANTINOPLE

Center of the Greek Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Byzantine (Greek) Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church.

These are the original “Pentarchy” of five Christian Patriarchates which together made up the Early Christian Church, the Catholic (Universal) Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches, and these are the “Mother Rites” of all later culturally-based Christian Rites or Sister Churches or Patriarchates formed when missionaries from one of these five Churches evangelized a new culture (in Ethiopia, England, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, India etc.).  This fulfilled the prophecy “Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (John 11:51-52).  This fulfilled God’s plan since He told Adam and Noah and their descendants to “fill the Earth,” and made sure they did so at Babel.  God thus planned the formation of different cultures which, renewed in Christ, would each have a different cultural perspective on the infinite truth of God revealed in Jesus which would give them different insights into Divine Revelation which they would be able to pool together at the Early Ecumenical (worldwide) Councils of the Christian Church so as to together come up with the most accurate and precise understanding of the Christian fundamentals, against many heretical challenges to the saving Christian faith.  

© 2008, 2009 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

The “Daughter Churches” of the Original “Pentarchy” of Christian Sister Churches and Patriarchates,

Including Those “Estranged Daughters” Which Broke Away from the Universal (Catholic) Christian Communion in the 2nd Millennium but Which Remained “Catholic at Heart,” Still Committed to  the Traditional Essential Fundamentals of Christian Orthodoxy Which Were Clearly Articulated and Established (Against Many Early Christian Heretical Interpretations of the Bible) by the Original Pentarchy of Five Patriarchates (Church Provinces) of Different Culturally-based Sister Churches or Rites at the First Millennium Ecumenical (Worldwide) Councils of the Undivided Early Catholic (Universal) Christian Church, the Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches

Part I:  The Structure of the Undivided Early Church

The Church is the “profound mystery” (see Ephesians 5:22-32) of the Bride and Body of Jesus Christ, animated by the Divine Holy Spirit as the “soul” which enlivens that Body of Christ the Church and leads it into “all the truth” (John 16:13), which makes the Church “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), which is why the judgements of the Undivided Early Church’s Councils of ordained Christian overseers (bishops, eparchs, patriarchs and popes) as to just what the Canon of the New Testament is and just how the Christian Bible must be interpreted (so as to yield the traditional Christian fundamental doctrines) can be trusted by all Christians today (“doctrinally liberal” Protestantism, which dominates the oldest and largest Protestant “mainline” denominations today, is typically uncertain about even basic Christian orthodoxy, and sometimes blatantly unorthodox/heretical, Catholic Christians would say precisely because the Protestant Reformation rejected this Biblical understanding of the Church in history as truly though mysteriously (see Ephesians 5:22-32) the Living Body of Christ on Earth, in communion with and directed by Christ the Head of the Body through His Holy Spirit, despite the human failings of individual Church leaders). 

For certain, the Undivided Early Church called itself the Catholic Church because it was a Catholic (Greek for Universal) Communion of different culturally-based “Rites” (different cultural responses to and celebrations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ).  These Rites, once established and organized, were also called ‘particular’ (or ‘Sister’) Churches which together made up the one Catholic (Universal) Christian Church.  Structurally this ancient Catholic Church was (and is) made up of: 

1)   the ancient Jerusalem (initially Jewish) Rite or Sister Church , where the (initially entirely Jewish) Church of Jesus Christ began with the descent of the Holy Spirit, and where the very first (Holy Spirit-led) Church Council was held in settlement of the very first major dispute among Christians (Acts 15); 

2)  the ancient Antiochene (Syrian), Alexandrian (Egyptian), Roman (currently by far the largest but this was not always so), and Byzantine (Greek) Gentile (non-Jewish) Rites or Sister Churches which developed thanks to the preaching of the Gospel by the Jewish Apostles and disciples of Jesus who started from Jerusalem (these four Sister Churches together with the Jerusalem Church were known as the “Pentarchy” of Church Patriarchates or Provinces which participated in the (Holy Spirit-led) Early Ecumenical Councils which clearly defined the essential truths of Christianity in settlement of major disputes among early Christians caused by early Christian heretics); and 

3) the many missionary “daughter” Rites or Churches of the above ancient Gentile Sister Churches  (the first four Gentile cultures as renewed in Christ), which were initially mission fields for the above ancient Rites of the Church but which eventually developed their own distinct cultural response to and expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while still retaining many elements of their “mother” Rite which had initially evangelized them (today’s Catholic Church has 26 Sister Churches including all the “daughter” Rites which remain in the Catholic Communion – but it could have many more Rites, all of them still “daughter” Rites of the original five cultures renewed in Jesus, if the fundamentally orthodox, “Catholic at heart” already churches rejoin the ancient Catholic Communion they formally left though they unconsciously still remain in it “in heart” by their orthodoxy. Such reunion according to the structure of the Undivided Early Church would absolutely not mean Protestant churches being absorbed into the huge Roman Catholic Sister Church but formally becoming their own Catholic ‘Sister Churches’ of “fully equal dignity” with the Roman Rite, according to the Catholic Church’s own recent official and dogmatic teaching of the nature and structure of the Church in Vatican II, the 21st Ecumenical Council).

In consideration of the Undivided Early Church’s structure it is helpful to distinguish between these 3 terms: 

1)  a Rite is a particular Christian sub-group’s identifiable particular way of expressing their Christian faith, usually a particular cultural response to, expression of and celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, though Rites are also sometimes spirituality-based rather than culturally-based – based on the spirituality of a particular saint or religious order or spiritual movement within the Church. 

2) a Sister Church (or particular Church within the Catholic/Universal Church) is an older and more organized Rite which actually has its own separate hierarchy of ordained overseers (bishops or eparchs) within the Catholic (Universal) Communion of Sister Churches (or, sadly today, sometimes outside of it). 

3) a Patriarchate is a very well-established Sister Church of venerable age and historical contribution to the Church.  The oldest and most well established distinct Rites or Sister Churches eventually become officially known as Patriarchates, with the ordained overseers (also called bishops or eparchs) who head them known as Patriarchs

So all Patriarchates are Sister Churches, and all Sister Churches are Rites, but not all Rites are yet Sister Churches and not all Sister Churches are yet Patriarchates.

© 2009 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

The “Daughter Churches” of the Original ‘Pentarchy’ of Christian Sister Churches and Patriarchates,

Including Those “Estranged Daughters” Which Broke Away from the Universal (Catholic) Christian Communion in the 2nd Millennium but Which Remained “Catholic at Heart,” Still Committed to  the Traditional Essential Fundamentals of Christian Orthodoxy Which Were Clearly Articulated and Established (Against Many Early Christian Heretical Interpretations of the Bible) by the Original Pentarchy of Five Patriarchates (Church Provinces) of Different Culturally-based Sister Churches or Rites at the First Millennium Ecumenical (Worldwide) Councils of the Undivided Early Catholic (Universal) Christian Church, the Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches

Part II:  The Patriarchates of the Undivided Early Church’s ‘Pentarchy’ Together with Their “Daughter Rites,” Those Currently in or out of the Ancient Catholic (Universal) Christian Communion (This Leads to What a Christian Church Reunified According to the Undivided Early Church Model of Unity in Diversity Would Look Like)  

All of the 5 ancient Jewish and Gentile Christian “Mother Rites” (centered in Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Byzantium/Constantinople) and several of the older of their daughter Rites are formally known as Patriarchates (this way of organizing the Church was established at the very same Early Ecumenical Councils which established the fundamental doctrines of Christianity against heretical challenges).  So a Patriarch, generally speaking, is the chief overseer or bishop of an entire cultural expression of Christianity, an entire well-established Rite or Sister Church within the ancient Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches, whose responsibility is to keep the cultural Rite of Christianity which is under his jurisdiction accountable to the orthodox Christian faith, even as cultures (and thus cultural expressions of Christianity) change with time and circumstance.  

The following five sections show the first five Patriarchates of the Undivided Early Church’s Pentarchy, with their “daughter” Rites or Churches listed.  Some of the “daughter” Rites are just Rites, distinct worship forms (sometimes reflecting a distinct spirituality not a culture) which are not large enough or organized and established enough to be their own distinct “Sister Churches”; some of the “daughter Rites” are old and established enough that they have been declared Patriarchates in their own right; some of them are portions (often majority portions) of ancient “Sister Churches” or Patriarchates which are no longer within the Universal (Catholic) Christian Communion (such as the Eastern Orthodox Churches); some of them are churches or “ecclesial communities” historically broken away from a Patriarchate of the Catholic Communion (and still sharing some of the Patriarchate’s distinct features) which are not constituted as the Undivided Early Church’s Sister Churches were, but which still display a valid distinct cultural or spiritual expression of orthodox Christianity (such as the conservative/ Evangelical Protestant churches and “Messianic Judaism”).  Groups which otherwise have a definite historical connection to one of the ancient Patriarchates of the Catholic Church they broke away from but are no longer strictly orthodox in the fundamentals of Christian faith are not included here (such as the “Lesser” Eastern Churches and historically orthodox Protestant “mainline” churches which no longer heartily affirm basic Christian orthodoxy).

THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM

Center of the ancient Jewish Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Foundational Jewish Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church which brought the Gospel to all others

Declared a Patriarchate at the 4th Ecumenical Council, 451 AD, Which Defined That Jesus Is Fully God and Fully Man Against the Monophysite Christian Heretics

The historical Jerusalem Rite is no longer specifically culturally Jewish, but Gentile, since the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews by pagan Rome, however, the Jewish liturgy of Saint James (Christ’s Apostle, the first overseer/bishop of Jerusalem who hosted the Acts 15 Council, martyred circa 54 AD) is still used in this Rite.  There are both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians of the Jerusalem Rite (the current Patriarch is Eastern Orthodox).  Within the Catholic Church, there is an Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC) who there is talk of re-establishing as a “Hebrew Rite” of the Catholic Church.  This group is mostly made of Roman Catholics of Jewish ethnicity seeking to have a more authentically Jewish cultural practice of their Christian faith, but a formal Rite would most appropriately be constituted under the ancient Jerusalem Patriarchate and drawing from the Jewish Christian liturgy of Saint James rather than the Roman liturgy in the Christianization of Jewish rituals, so as to be more appealing to even whole Jewish communities who become ready to accept Jesus as Israel’s Messiah.  Such is not inconceivable, as there are now more Jewish believers in Jesus than at any time since the primitive Church, because the AHC and the Protestant movement of “Messianic Judaism” (founded by Protestant Christians of Jewish ethnicity) give Jews a place to be both Jewish and Christian (as the original Jewish Christians allowed Gentiles to be both Gentile and Christian after the Acts 15 Council).  In an ideal Church reunification patterned after the Undivided Early Church, both the AHC and “Messianic Jews” would become a Hebrew or Jewish Rite of the Catholic Church, under the ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

THE PATRIARCHATE OF ANTIOCH

Center of the ancient Syrian Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the first Gentile Rite of the Christian Church, the Antiochene  (or Antiochian) Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church

Declared a Patriarchate at the 1st Ecumenical Council, 325 AD, Which Defined That Jesus Is God, One in Being with the Father, Against the Arian Christian Heretics

Daughter Rites include: The Maronite Rite (in Lebanon); the Syrian Rites; the Armenian Rite; the Chaldean Rite; the Malabarese and Malankarese Rites (in India, started by St. Thomas the Apostle).  The current Patriarch is Eastern Orthodox.  Most of the Antiochene daughter Rites today have both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox members, though the Maronite and Malabarese Rites are of the few Eastern Sister Churches which were never even partly nor temporarily out of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Communion.  The Armenian Rite is recognized as a Patriarchate in its own right (in 1958 the Armenian Catholic Patriarch was considered a front-runner to be elected pope).  The Chaldean Church consists of Antiochene Christians who broke away from the Undivided Early Catholic Church in the 5th Century to embrace the Nestorian heresy, but recanted their heresy and rejoined the Catholic Communion in the 16th Century.

 

THE PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDRIA

Center of the ancient Egyptian Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Alexandrian Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church

Declared a Patriarchate at the 1st Ecumenical Council, 325 AD, Which Defined That Jesus Is God, One in Being with the Father, Against the Arian Christian Heretics

[Saint Athanasius, the Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, was the first to put together the New Testament in the form we know it in 367 AD, confirmed for the whole Christian Church by Pope Innocent I in 405 AD, and, though exiled for it (and sheltered by the pope), he was the greatest defender of the Divinity of Jesus against the Arian heretics.]

Daughter Rites include: The Coptic Rite (in Egypt); the Ethiopian Rite (started by St. Phillip the Apostle).  The Copts are the Egyptians descended from the race of the Pharaohs, who embraced Christianity in the Early Church (and still have whole cities in Egypt), while most Egyptian citizens today are Arab (Ishmaelite) Muslims.  There are both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians today of the Alexandrian Rites (Coptic or Ethiopian).  The current Patriarch is Eastern Orthodox. 

THE PATRIARCHATE OF ROME

Center of the ancient Roman Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Roman Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church

Declared a Patriarchate at the 1st Ecumenical Council, 325 AD, Which Defined That Jesus Is God, One in Being with the Father, Against the Arian Christian Heretics

Daughter Rites include: The tiny Ambrosian, Bragan, and Mozaribic Rites (distinct local Roman daughter Rites which are not organized as distinct Sister Churches; the Celtic and Gallican Rites (absorbed into the mainstream Roman Rite, leaving their permanent cultural mark on it); the Zairean Rite (a newly recognized distinctly African cultural expression of the Gospel, not yet organized into its own distinct Sister Church with its own hierarchy); the Carthusian, Carmelite and Dominican Rites (spirituality-based verus culturally-based Rites, with distinct liturgical worship expressing the particular spirituality of these religious orders); extinct Rites including the distinct North African Church of Saint Augustine; the Anglican Rite (founded by Saint Augustine of Canterbury at the request of Pope Saint Gregory the Great in the 7th Century, with the Archbishop of Canterbury functioning as its Catholic “Patriarch”or Head of Rite; lost to the Catholic Communion in the 16th Century schism of King Henry VIII which created the Church of England with its later worldwide Anglican Communion thanks to worldwide British colonization).

 The many other Protestant Churches are new breakaway Roman “daughter Rites” no longer in full communion with their “Mother Rite” nor with the ancient Catholic Communion of Sister Churches East and West to which their Roman “Mother Rite” belongs, yet they remain distinctly Western and Roman, continuing many theological, ritual and practical approaches to common Divine Revelation which are not shared by the Eastern Rites of Christianity.  Conservative, orthodox  Protestants (including Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Charismatics) specifically conserve about 90% of the ancient Catholic Christian faith of the Undivided Early Church and are still “Catholic at Heart,” having kept all the fundamentals of the ancient Catholic Christian Church they left, while those many “liberal” Protestants who no longer conserve but doubt or deny even the basic Catholic Christian fundamentals are truly “Protestant at heart,” protesting against the traditional New Testament Canon and fundamental Bible interpretation of the Undivided Early Catholic Church, and so they may be unorthodox “heretics.”

The Pope in Rome functions as both the Universal overseer or bishop (Head Pastor) of the entire Catholic (Universal) Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches, and as the Patriarch of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church specifically (and as the local overseer of the city of Rome, hence the traditional papal “triple-crowned bishop’s mitre” representing the 3 offices).

 

THE PATRIARCHATE OF BYZANTIUM/CONSTANTINOPLE

Center of the ancient Greek Culture as Renewed in Jesus, the Byzantine (Greek) Rite of the Catholic (Universal) Christian Church

Declared a Patriarchate at the 4th Ecumenical Council, 451 AD, Which Defined That Jesus Is Fully God and Fully Man Against the Monophysite Christian Heretics

Daughter Rites include: The Greek Rite; the Italo-Greek Rite (which escaped persecution by moving near Rome); the Ukrainian Rite (and related Ruthenian Rite); the Melkite Rite; the Arabian Rite; the Romanian, Russian, Belarusan, Georgian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian & Slovak Rites.  The stability and sophistication of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire centered in Constantinople for 1000 years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire helped the Byzantine Patriarchate to have successful missions to many Eastern cultures and thus develop the largest number of “daughter” Churches of any Patriarchate.  The First Millennium was unkind to the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, mainly through the Muslim conquest of their territories.  The poor fortunes of these Patriarchates also located in the East meant that they came under the influence of the Byzantine Patriarch (the “Ecumenical Patriarch” of the East).  At the turn of the Second Millennium the Patriarchate of Constantinople was as large in numbers of Christians as that of Rome, though the later Muslim conquest of the Byzantine Empire would reduce its fortunes, and by 1472 would result in there being both Catholic and separated Eastern Orthodox portions of almost all of the Byzantine “daughter” Rites/Churches as well as the Rites of the other Eastern Patriarchates influenced by Constantinople.  All 4 of the Eastern Patriarchs of the ancient Pentarchy have since been Eastern Orthodox, repudiating the Catholic (Universal Christian) participation of their Patriarchates in almost all of the Catholic Church’s first 17 Ecumenical Councils until 1439 (calling themselves “the Church of the 7 Ecumenical Councils” since the 8th Ecumenical Council of 869 AD which they participated in dogmatically defined the papacy which they are no longer in communion with).  Portions of all of the Byzantine and other Eastern Patriarchates and all their daughter Rites either remained in the ancient Catholic Communion of Sister Churches or returned to it after a temporary separation.  In most cases the larger portion of each Eastern Rite is now Eastern Orthodox, but the dominant half of the Ukrainian Rite returned to the  Catholic Communion in 1595 and the Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church (or Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) is today’s largest non-Roman Rite Catholic Church.  It was also the largest “underground” Church of the 20th Century, since it officially did not exist in Ukraine under Soviet rule; even its church buildings were given to the Russian Orthodox Church which operated under strict Soviet supervision.  Yet after the fall of Soviet Communism the Ukrainian Catholic Church emerged from the underground with 5 million members (even despite the reduction in its membership from the Holodomor, Stalin’s genocidal forced starvation of 7 million Ukrainians in 1932-3).   The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is a new Byzantine “daughter” Rite among the Eastern Orthodox Churches no longer within the Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches, as are the newer successful missionary Eastern Orthodox Churches of Finland, Japan, and China.

© 2009 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

  

To review the previous material covering the One Ongoing Covenant Family from Adam to the Modern Separated Churches:  

The Faithful Line of the People of God

(The Ongoing “Olive Tree” Family Tree of the People of God)

The faithful descendants of Adam (through his son Seth) are: 

  • The Sethites 

descended from them (through Noah the last faithful Sethite before the Flood and his son Shem) are:

  • The Semites 

descended from them (through the Semite Eber) are:

  •  The Hebrews 

descended from them (through the specially chosen Hebrew Abraham and his grandson Jacob/Israel) are: 

  • The Israelites 

descended from them (from the Israelite Tribe and Southern Kingdom of Judah) are: 

  • The Jews 

descended from them (those of them who accepted Messiah Jesus when He came) are:

The  Christian (or ‘Messianic’) Jews 

Through their ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit of adoption restored to them by Jesus Christ the New Adam, huge numbers of the unfaithful, fallen-away “Gentile” lines of the Covenant Family descended from Adam and Noah are brought back into the faithful line of the one ongoing “Olive Tree” of the faithful People of God through the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, which forms: 

The Universal (Catholic) Christian Church of Jew and Gentile

Christ has “created in Himself one new man out of the two (Jew and Gentile)…in this one body He has reconciled both of them to God through the cross” (cf Ephesians 2:15-16).  In the “New Israel” of the Catholic, Christian Church, Jew and Gentile are once again one universal (catholic) family (as before Abraham was called from among the descendants of Noah), except for those Jews and Gentiles who refused to join the New Covenant Family.  They represent our continued mission as the “New Israel” of the Universal (Catholic) Church of Jesus Christ. 

The various nations (civilizations, cultures) of Gentiles came back into the faithful Covenant Family through the Christian Church as 4 major different Sister Churches or Rites which together (along with the initially entirely Jewish Jerusalem Church) made up the one Universal (Catholic) Church, which is the Catholic (Universal) Communion of Sister Churches, Jew and Gentile.  Though sadly the original Jerusalem Rite Jewish Sister Church eventually got absorbed into the mass ranks of Gentile converts to Christianity and only recently has there been talk of reestablishing the original “Jewish Rite” of the Catholic Church (for modern Jews who wish to embrace their Messiah), these 4 first Gentile “Mother Rites” had “daughter rites,” which were more Gentile nations brought into the New Covenant Church through the ministry of the original four major “Gentile” Rites or Sister Churches of the one Universal (Catholic) Christian Church:

The Antiochene Catholic Church Daughter Rites include: The Maronite Rite (in Lebanon); the Armenian Rite; the Syrian Rites; the Chaldean Rite; the Malabarese and Malankarese Rites (in India, started by St. Thomas the Apostle) The Alexandrian Catholic Church Daughter Rites include: The Coptic Rite (in Egypt); the Ethiopian Rite (started by St. Phillip the Apostle)[Saint Athanasius, the Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, was the first to put together the New Testament in the form we know it in 367 AD, confirmed for the whole Christian Church by Pope Innocent I in 405 AD] The Roman Catholic Church Daughter Rites include: The tiny Ambrosian, Bragan, and Mozaribic Rites; the Celtic and Gallican Rites (absorbed into the mainstream Roman Rite); the Zairean Rite (in Africa);  extinct Rites; the Anglican Rite (lost to Catholic Communion in the schism of Henry VIII)*; Religious Order Rites The Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Church Daughter Rites include: The Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite & Arabian Rites; the Greek & Italo-Greek Rites; the Romanian, Russian, Belarusan, Georgian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian & Slovak Rites**

The Bishop of Rome is not only the Patriarch (Head Overseer/Bishop) of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, but also the universal overseer/bishop or Pope, Head Pastor of the entire Universal (Catholic) Christian Church since he is the Successor of Peter, the Chief Apostle, who died in Rome (see So That The World May Believe Volume III, Chapter 4:  The Papacy’s Solid Foundation in the Bible; and Chapter 5:  The Papacy’s Solid Foundation in Undivided Early Church History Since Apostolic Times 

 * The other Protestant Churches are new breakaway Roman “daughter Rites” no longer in full communion with their “Mother Rite” nor with the ancient Catholic Communion of Sister Churches East and West to which their Roman “Mother Rite” belongs.  Conservative, orthodox  Protestants are still “Catholic at Heart,” having kept all the fundamentals of the ancient Catholic Christian Church they left, while Liberal Protestants who no longer conserve but doubt or deny the Catholic fundamentals are unorthodox “heretics.” 

** Portions of the Byzantine, Antiochene and Alexandrian Catholic Churches were separated from the Catholic Communion of East and West largely due to Muslim conquest and interference and these are known as the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  These are indeed orthodox, therefore still “Catholic at heart,” while the “Lesser Eastern Churches” which rejected the ancient Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church in which the proper fundamental interpretation of the Bible was established are unorthodox “heretics.”

© 2007 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

To see more detailed “highlights” of the ancient “Pentarchy” of five Patriarchates, the first five cultures renewed in Jesus, and the great contributions each of them made to the whole Christian Church in the period of the Undivided Early Church, see the section Some Undivided Early Church First Millennium Highlights of the Pentarchy of the First Five Christian Patriarchates and their Contributions to the One Universal Church of Christ

 © 2007 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

 Go To Next Section About Groups Which Fell Away From The Ongoing Covenant Family

 Go To the Beginning of this Book Excerpts from The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’