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