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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

What is Orthodoxy?



The first step that the Lord put in his mind to establish the Orthodox Church

is to create man – to create a human being; our father Adam, and our

mother Eve. Then our God, the Pantocrator, the almighty, put them in

Paradise, which is mentioned in Genesis chapter 2. It was no sin in Paradise,

and God meet with man, without any mediation. Our father Adam was very

happy in the Paradise of Joy, and every morning he’d meet with the

almighty God, and the almighty God would meet with him and Eve.

Everything was going well. There was only one commandment that our

almighty Lord said, and that was, not to eat from a certain tree. However,

when Adam ate from the tree, he committed a sin. Therefore, there must

be judgement, and our almighty Lord said, “Of every tree of the garden you

may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall

not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis

chapter 2, verse 16-17)

So, the almighty Lord prepared the human mind to think about the

redemption, or the Redeemer, at so many stages. In Genesis chapter 22,

verse 2, our Lord ordered Abraham to offer his son Isaac, as a live human

offering, on the altar. This altar was made from stones. This is the first time

we hear of a human scarification. However, before this, there was

something that happened in the Paradise, when our father Adam committed

the sin, the almighty God covered him with the skin of an animal after

killing the animal to use the skin from it to cover the body of our father

Adam. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. This is a

principle, which we will discuss in our third lecture on dogmas. But blood

has to be shed, in order to forgive our sins. So, in this step, the lord covered

the man with the skin of the killed animal. The almighty Lord then started

to elevate the human mind, to accept the human scarification. Here we

have two points – the altar, which represents our relationship with God as

individuals, as mentioned in Exodus chapter 24, verse 4. Also, our

relationship with God as a group or community as mentioned in 1 Kings

chapter 18, verse 30. Here, the altar is the mediation between man and

God. For the first time in Genesis, we start to see this concept of a

mediation altar, and human scarification, which was Isaac. In the second

stage, the sin was still present – no redemption. Stage number three is the

house of Eel. The house of Eel was mentioned in the book of Genesis

chapter 28, verse 35. When our father Jacob had escaped from his brother

Isu, he slept in the desert and he saw a ladder, extending from earth to

heaven, with angels coming down from heaven to earth, and the almighty

God standing at the top of the ladder. So our father Jacob said, “this is none

other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Genesis

chapter 28, verse 17). This place is a very holy place, and is the house of

God”. At the top of the ladder, he saw that the heaven was open, and he

could see the angels coming from heaven to earth, and vise versa. The

ladder represents the fact that man can come from bottom, from earth to

heaven, through the ladder. There are four points concerning this ladder, or

house of Eel:

1- the ladder represents that God is with us, like God was with our father


2-the ladder represents the open heaven, as the heaven here was open.

3-the ladder represents the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he

is the man

Who is incarnated from heaven to earth to redeem us.

I would like to stop here to discuss with you the characteristics of our


Suppose that we have four levels, with level four representing priesthood.

The other levels are the elder, the youth, and the children. Say the youth

slaps the child, the child’s reaction is forgiveness. Now say that the youth

also slaps the priest, is the sin that the youth committed to the priest

similar to that which he committed to the child? No! Our father Adam, when

he committed the sin against our almighty God, he committed the sin

against God. As the right is unlimited, therefore the sin is unlimited. There

is a different level to the sin committed against a man. So the sin which was

committed by our father Adam was committed against the Lord, and the

Lord is unlimited, so the sin is unlimited. As the sin has a punishment, so too

must Adam have a punishment. What was the punishment for our Father

Adam? Death. Therefore, the Redeemer must have the characteristic of

being an unlimited man. The Redeemer must also be a man, to be able to

save the man. He must also be without sin, in order to be able to save the

sinners. How can we imagine a child without sin? All of us come from our

father and mother, and we inherit the sin from our father and mother. The

only man who is without sin, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born from our

Queen, the Lady of us all, St.Mary, the virgin. He was born from St. Mary, by

the power of the Holy Spirit. The Redeemer must also die, and must also

rise from the death.

Therefore, the ladder seen by Jacob represents the incarnation of our Lord

Jesus Christ, who makes the reconciliation between heaven and earth.

At stage number four, we talk about the tabernacle, which is mentioned in

Exodus chapter 25, verse 9. The tabernacle represents the God’s design. Our

almighty God designed the tabernacle Himself. So this is a very important

point, that the God who created the heavens and the earth, put the design

of the tabernacle, by himself. It is also a place of gathering people

together, and also, gathering people with God. This is a holy place where

God appears to man, and man can see God. Is the beauty of the tabernacle

from the outside or the inside? What is the shape of the tabernacle from the

outside, and what is its color from the outside? The color of it is black. So

you can see all the tents of the Israelites in the desert, but when you see a

tent, which has a black roof, this represents the house of God, in the midst

of the houses of the Israelites. So, what does this mean? The tabernacle

from outside is black, and on the inside, it is very, very beautiful. It has so

many colors, so many wonderful designs, and so many holy places. The

tabernacle represent the afflictions/temptation which comes to the church,

but as the tabernacle is black, these troubles come to the outside only.

Another thing about the tabernacle is that it sanctifies the people when

they commit sin, by blood. So if one of the men committed sin, he would

bring a lamb to the priest, who would kill this lamb, put the blood of it on

the altar and would pray for him to has his sins forgiven. So we have the

sanctification by the blood, and the purity by the water. There is a place in

the tabernacle called the water place, so that anyone who comes inside the

tabernacle, must wash his body and hands, to become pure, and to become

a man of God, after his forgiveness of sins.

Also, he who comes to the tabernacle would be consecrated by the holy oil,

which is inside the tabernacle. So inside the tabernacle there is blood,

water, and the holy oil. One other important point is that this tabernacle is

mobile. It is moveable. When the Israelites moved from place A to place B,

they would take their tabernacle with them. Thus it is moveable; it’s not

constant/stable in any one place. This means that we are strangers on this

earth – we have no place here. We have to consider this as a very important

point, that the tabernacle is moveable, representing that our life on earth is

like that of a strangers, and we have to look after our eternal life.

These are the four stages of establishing the Orthodox Church, but we still

have stage number five and six.

Step number one in establishing the Orthodox Church is the Paradise, step

number two is the altar of our father Abraham, step three is the house of

Eel, and step four is tabernacle. Step number five is the temple. The temple

was in Jerusalem, but was destroyed in the year 70 A.D. by Titus. This

temple is from God’s design as well. Solomon built the temple of God. David

wanted to build the temple, but was refused due to his sin of murder and

adultery. The name of the temple means ‘the great house of God’. The

temple being in Jerusalem represents one country from the world, and the

Jews representing one nation only, thus the temple represents one place

and one nation. The temple was destroyed because the house of God must

be all over the world, for all the nations. We do not want to go into great

detail about step number five, as the Jewish believe that they will one day

rebuild the temple, and there is a website on the internet called, ‘We are

ready to rebuild the temple’, and we don’t know what will happen, but we

know that as this temple is from one nation and from one country, it is not

going to work for the kingdom of God.

Now we are going to enter stage number six, in which there is a church. In

the church we are practicing the Holy Mass, and the sacrament of our Lord.

The church has authority. It is one of the biggest authorities in the world.

There are 4 authorities in this world. Authority number one is God, number

two is church, number three is the government, and number four is the

humans or our family. The church has authority to ordain priests, perform

the mass, perform marriage, and to perform the seven sacraments. This

church is the second authority, after the authority of the Lord. But what

about the Coptic Orthodox Church? What does Orthodox mean? “Ortho”

means sound, “doxy” means glory. So therefore, “orthodoxy” means the

sound way to glorify God. The Orthodox Church was founded by St. Mark,

who was one of the apostles. He founded the church in Egypt. Hosea

chapter 11, verse 1 says, “Out of Egypt I called my son” Our Lord Jesus

Christ visited Egypt for four years and a half, as our Holiness Pope Shenouda

said. Then St. Mark came to Egypt and established the Orthodox Church, or

the sound way to glorify God, in the year 64 A.D. He also ordained a bishop

called Arianius, and seven priests. After the martyrdom of St. Mark, Bishop

Arianius became the first Pope of the Orthodox Church. Now we have our

beloved father, Pope Shenouda, whose number is 117. Was this chain of

Orthodox Popes continued, or was it cut somewhere? This chain was

continued from St. Mark till now, with our father Pope Shenouda.

The doctrine of the Orthodox Church means the teaching of the Orthodox

Church, and the dogma of the Orthodox Church means the principles of the

Orthodox Church. The rite of the Orthodox Church, means the worship of

the Orthodox Church. All this is taken from the Holy Bible.

The last point of today’s lecture is the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church.

This goes in the order of God, Pope, Bishops, Priests, and high Priests,

followed by Deacons. However, we only have three orders of hierarchy in

the church, and this consists of Bishops being first, then Presbyterians or the

Priest, and the third category is the deacons. In the category of the Bishops,

they can be a metropolitan who has assistant Bishops. The Priest can be a

hegomen who has assistant priests, and the deacons can have seven ranks.

So these are the three main categories of the Orthodox Church, which are

also mentioned in the Holy Bible.

Questions & Answers:

Where you a priest or a monk before you became a bishop?

The bishop has to be chosen from the monks.

What do you do as a bishop?

We pray, we take care of the congregation. The bishop must do two

particular roles of the church – the pastoral role and the administrational

role. The pastoral means the spiritual side of things. The administrational

means the social side of things.

Why can’t a bishop, pope or patriarch get married?

This question is very important, however, we are going to answer it in the

third lecture, so just wait.

How can we become a bishop?

It’s a very easy way. You have to spend all your life praying, then you must

become a monk, then you have to be a priest. If God wishes, you will

become a bishop. If He does not wish, then you will not become a bishop.

Any of you who want to become a monk must enter the monastery with the

aim to worship God, without the desire to become a bishop.

Why is it wrong to go out with someone of the opposite sex, if our parents

expect us to get married one day and have a family?

This is an important question. We are not preventing you to go out with

someone as a boyfriend or girlfriend, but we want you to wait for the

suitable situation. Is this the right time for you to be going out with

someone to establish this relation? Is this the suitable age? What kind of

relation is this? Is it going to include wrong contact? This is not the right

time to have such things. We advise you to have your partner after you

finish the university. This is because, as you are still maturing, you may

choose someone now, but will change your mind in a few years time. So

wait till the suitable age.

Why do some boys hate girls? Are we not God’s children? They act like we

are there to give them something.

Hating is a sin, and you are God’s children. Take care of giving boys

anything. But what is this something? Just take care of what you give them.

Why do bishops wear white in the mass, and why do they wear a hat?

The hat of the bishop represents the heaven. The white clothes represents

the purity.

Why do we celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January?

This question is very familiar to us, and we are going to negotiate this in the

ecumenical meetings with the sister churches, as we cannot decide to

celebrate the nativity on the 25th of December, as this decision must come

from His Holiness Pope Shenouda. This is according to the Coptic calendar.

The 7th of January corresponds to the 28th of Kiahk.

Our father Abraham sent his servant called Alliazerr El-Damasky to choose

the wife for his son Isaac from Rebecca. The question is why is it not

permitted to wear a nose ring in our church, when it is mentioned in the

Holy Bible?

Did you read that in the Holy Bible, Rebecca put on a nose ring? We will

review this together, but now we see many different types of piercing, and

this is wrong. Don’t do it.

Is the Coptic Orthodox Church the oldest church?

Yes, because we were founded by St. Mark in the year 64 A.D. We don’t

know of any church that was founded before us. We are also the pioneers of

the monastic life by St. Anthony, we are the pioneers of the defenders of

the doctrine, and we are the pioneers of the theological education by St.

Cyril of Alexandra.

Why do priest and monks beat their chest during the mass?

This is a sign of weakness, saying to God, “I am weak, please help me.”

Is the world coming to an end, and if so, what are the signs?

The world will come to an end one day, and the signs are mentioned in the

book of Matthew chapter 24.

Is it wrong to marry people who are not from the Orthodox Church?

We advise you to choose your partner from the Orthodox Church, because if

you marry from another church and you have children, which church will the

children go to? What kind of worship are you going to offer to God? Is it the

worship of Orthodox doctrine and dogma, or worship and doctrine and

dogma of the other church?

How about the Greek Orthodox Church? Is it permitted for us to marry from

them, and to have communion with them?

There are two groups of churches that call themselves Orthodox – there is

the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which our church is part of. They consist of

six churches – the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the

Ethiopian Orthodox Church the Indian Orthodox Church, the Aritrain

Orthodox church and the Armenian Orthodox Church. These six churches

have the same theme, we can go to any of these churches and have Holy

Communion in these churches, we can have marriages from these churches,

we can celebrate all of the sacraments in each of those six churches? So any

priest or bishop from any of those churches could come and do the Divine

Liturgy in our church, and they can celebrate and participate with us. Then

there is another family of Orthodoxy the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is a

group of about 15 or 14 churches, which includes the Greek Orthodox, the

Russian Orthodox, the Antiocian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and many,

many such churches. These two families of churches are very close

together, but there is no communion between us. I can’t go to a Greek

Orthodox Church and have Holy Communion, and I can’t participate in a

marriage in a Greek Orthodox Church. And a priest from a Greek Orthodox

Church cannot come into our Church and have Holy Communion. This goes

back about 1500 years in the division between us, in what was called the

council of Chalcedon, in the year 451. Some problems arose at this time,

which had a lot to do with politics and language. We were saying things the

Nature of Jesus Christ in one way, using one language. They were saying the

same thing but in the Greek language. Thus, some confusion took place, and

unfortunately, a division took place between these two families of

Orthodoxy. So they put a nathamest on each other, which means that the

Oriental Orthodox Church said, “We don’t recognize the priesthood or the

sacraments of the Eastern Orthodox Church,” and vise versa. So these

restrictions were made and a nathamest put in place. However, now in this

time we are living in, this is staring to change. Now there are many

dialogues and discussions between the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental

Orthodox, so that they may be united again together, and become one

family. So all of the scholars have met together and have agreed that we

are really one in faith. So what is remaining now to do in order for these

two families of Orthodoxy to unite back together again, is that for each of

the separate churches to say that we are going to lift these nathmes. ‘We

recognize your priesthood and sacraments, we can have Holy Communion

together, and can participate in all the sacraments together.’ But until that

takes place, there is still unfortunately that division, but we hope that this

division can be healed.

Why do we have the emus egg in the front of the altar in the church?

As the emus takes care of its eggs, it represents God’s pastoral care to us.

Why does the Coptic Church wait 50 years to consecrate a departed person

as a saint, who lived a good life?

The Holy Synod of our church agreed this, because we want to make sure of

the holy life of that saint. If we can see his/her body after death, if there

are books we can read, so we wait for 50 years just to make sure of his/her

holy life.


Did God make sin?

No. God cannot make sin because of His nature. His nature does not know

the sin.


As there is no big sin and small sin, if you kill someone, and swear, is it the



In Revelations chapter 21, verse 8, the people who lie are equal to those

who commit adultery. In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 9, all the sinners are

equal – the swearers, the killers, the adulaters, etc.

I think it says in the bible, that when the temple of Solomon is rebuilt, it is

the end of the world. What does this mean?

The end of the world has many signs, which are mentioned in Matthew

chapter 24. These signs have not come to completion yet.

Why do the priests wear black, but in the mass they wear white?

The black means sorrow and sadness because the priest must carry the sin

of the congregation and must feel sorry for their sins and the sins of the

congregation as well, at the same time. They wear white in the altar

because they are happy to be celebrating the Holy Liturgy.

What should we do if we think that the world is against us?

The world is against the sons of God, and the world is always fighting us to

fall into sin. It is mentioned in the Mass, ‘don’t love the world and

everything in it, because the world and everything in it will demolish.’

Is it true that jinxing is real?

It is the same as envy. It is real, as we saw with Joseph’s brothers. Joseph

experienced envy from his brothers, and Cane experienced the same thing

from his brother. So, in my opinion, there are some weak people who have

this sin in their mind, and we have to take care of this. Don’t give the

people a chance to envy you.

Why do we have so many rules to enter heaven?

Because heaven is the best place and we have to be very qualified to enter

that place. We also have to be holy because there is no sin in heaven, we

have to be God’s children, we have to have the virtues of being a good

person, and thus we have the right to go to heaven. Heaven is very joyful.

There is no sorrow, no pain, no sadness.

Do non-Christian people go to heaven?

In order to go to heaven, you have to be baptized. Without being baptized,

you will not be able to enter the heaven.

What if I didn’t hear about God?

Your conscience will be your guidance. It will guide people who live in very

far away places, in which there is no preacher. So their conscience will be

their judgment, and God will consider their situation according to His

unlimited wisdom.

If a person baptized in the Catholic Church, will he/she enter into heaven?

We have so many differences with the Catholic Church, and we are in

dialogue with them. But this issue falls under the umbrella of the wisdom of

God. But at the end of the day, we are sure, that he who is baptized in the

sound way of glorifying God, and he is a committed Christian, and is obeying

the commandments, will enter the heaven.

When reading the Bible and Agpeya at home, must we stand or is it ok to sit




"...Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God...for as we have

many members in one body...so we, being many, are one body in Christ...having then gifts

differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us

prophesy...or ministry, let us use it in our ministering...or he who exhorts, in

exhortation...and live peaceably with all men...if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts,

give him a drink...do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good..." (Romans 12:2-


According to this chapter, we find four pillars of Orthodox faith and



V Transformation

As the Apostle is saying, we must not be conformed to those outside of the church. In the

life of a Christian, transformation consists of four stages in order to become a member of

God's Kingdom: the first is baptism in which we receive God's gift of the Holy Spirit; it is the

stage in which we become 'regenerated'. The second stage is 'consecration' - the anointing of

the holy oil Myron, after baptism. The priest anoints the baptised with the sign of the cross in

36 places: the brain, nostrils, mouth, ears and eyes - 'Lord consecrate my senses'; 2 on the

heart - 'Lord consecrate my heart'; 2 on the back - 'Lord consecrate my will'; 6 crosses on

both arms, on the three joints, back and front - 'Lord consecrate my deeds'; and 6 crosses on

both legs, on the three joints, back and front - 'Lord consecrate my way'. Once this baby has

been regenerated through baptism, and consecrated through Myron, he is now Christian and

can be 'unified' with Christ through the Holy Communion. This child when he grows up will

inevitably sin, so he must return to the Lord through 'repentance'; which is like a second



V Membership

After being transformed, you become a member in the body of Christ, and a member of the

Kingdom of Heaven. This body consists of the Head which is Jesus Christ, the Heavenly

Members which are the saints and angels and host of heavenly powers, and the Earthly

Members which are the believers on earth. You must not think you are an individual, but

rather, you are an organ in a body, and all these members must work together. Not only do

we pray to our Lord, but we also ask for the intercessions of our saints, and they pray for us.


V Service

Being a member of God's family, you have a responsibility to serve; whether it is as a

deacon, Sunday School servant, visiting the sick and distressed, and sowing the seed of

Christ's love to those outside the church; this can be done by example alone. Thus, this

person must work for the benefit of the whole body of Christ.

V Witnessing

This does not necessarily mean standing up and preaching to people; as God has not given

the gift of preaching to everyone, but when we deal with those outside the church in

principles, purity and love, we will be Orthodox witnesses.

These four pillars can be summed up in the word ORTHODOX

itself :

ORTHO = Straight DOX = Glorify

Therefore, Orthodox means the straight way of glorifying God. You

must be straight in your faith, in your understanding of Christianity,

and straight in your life - your actions, thoughts and conductAmen

||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

||    The Orthodox Faith (Dogma)    ||    Family and Youth    ||    Sermons    ||    Bible Study    ||    Devotional    ||    Spirituals    ||    Fasts & Feasts    ||    Coptics    ||    Religious Education    ||    Monasticism    ||    Seasons    ||    Missiology    ||    Ethics    ||    Ecumenical Relations    ||    Church Music    ||    Pentecost    ||    Miscellaneous    ||    Saints    ||    Church History    ||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Patrology    ||    Canon Law    ||    Lent    ||    Pastoral Theology    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bibles    ||    Iconography    ||    Liturgics    ||    Orthodox Biblical topics     ||    Orthodox articles    ||    St Chrysostom    ||   

||    Bible Study    ||    Biblical topics    ||    Bibles    ||    Orthodox Bible Study    ||    Coptic Bible Study    ||    King James Version    ||    New King James Version    ||    Scripture Nuggets    ||    Index of the Parables and Metaphors of Jesus    ||    Index of the Miracles of Jesus    ||    Index of Doctrines    ||    Index of Charts    ||    Index of Maps    ||    Index of Topical Essays    ||    Index of Word Studies    ||    Colored Maps    ||    Index of Biblical names Notes    ||    Old Testament activities for Sunday School kids    ||    New Testament activities for Sunday School kids    ||    Bible Illustrations    ||    Bible short notes

||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

||    Prayer of the First Hour    ||    Third Hour    ||    Sixth Hour    ||    Ninth Hour    ||    Vespers (Eleventh Hour)    ||    Compline (Twelfth Hour)    ||    The First Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Second Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Third Watch of the midnight prayers    ||    The Prayer of the Veil    ||    Various Prayers from the Agbia    ||    Synaxarium