The first and most important task for each individual and for the entire human race, is to gain full and precise knowledge of the religious authority of Christ, and then to recognize it. It is upon the accomplishment of this great task that the victory of truth depends, as well as the peaceful co-existence of the nations, and the happiness and prosperity of mankind.
Let us assume that the whole earth has come to know the religious authority of Christ, that it has realized that Christ is true God and true man – Theanthropos, the saviour and redeemer of men, and that by Him alone eternal salvation has been won, and that it accordingly has recognized this saving truth and has welcomed it unreservedly. What result will this recognition have?
It will bring repentance for past deeds, the forgiveness of sins, the end of evil, the rule of love in the hearts of men, the victory of the kingdom of the Logos and the abolition of the kingdom of the sword, and the dissolution of the kingdoms of this world. When evil is destroyed and good enters into the world, differences and temptations to sin, disappear. A wolf will feed with a lamb, and a lion with a ram, and they will suffer no harm. This is the establishment of a true, universal brotherhood of the nations through Christ, and in it may be found genuine freedom, real equality and justice, and true civilization.
Nevertheless, the successful execution of this task is difficult for man, though for God – and for God alone – it is easy, for He revealed a way to accomplishment of the work that not only was successful, but also was quick. When God willed to unite not just one individual, but a whole society of men to Himself, He sent into the world His only begotten Son as saviour of the world, to fulfill the will of God. He appointed His Son the mediator between Himself and man, so that through faith, He might guide the human race to its ultimate goal. It was the duty of the mediator to carry out the will of God in the first place as it affected Himself, by rendering perfect obedience to the law of God, and by fulfilling the law to the very last detail.
The mediator is Jesus Christ. Christ was required to have full knowledge of the will of God and to acknowledge the real and true God as His Father, being bound to Him by the moral bond of unity and love. Christ possessed full knowledge of the will of God and of His law; He possessed holiness; He was endowed richly with sanctification; He was above all the holy one.
In a word, He was the only true mediator between God and man, for He had all the qualities which a mediator requires for man’s salvation. He had selfless devotion and a strong will for the work which He had undertaken. He had strength to endure all temptation so that He might bring His work to a successful conclusion, and He finished it as He said on the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
Because Christ possesses all the qualities required to complete His task, He succeeded in finishing His work after He established His first principles and laid His foundations – firm, unshakable, and eternal. The result is that Christ glorified the real, true God in the world, for He revealed Him and made Him known to man, and He demonstrated plainly that almighty God is the sole source of holiness, wisdom, and righteousness, and of every good quality that satisfies the nature of man.
When Judas departed after receiving the bread, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him” (John 13:31,32). God was glorified through Christ as a father is glorified through his son, or as a workman is glorified through his works. The heavenly Father was glorified because through Christ, His own goodness, wisdom, and righteousness were revealed.
But the heavenly Father also glorified Christ because He exalted Him ” … far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:21-23). God declared Christ to be high priest and king for eternity – the law and standard of all thought and activity, will and feeling.
Thus God placed all things in absolute subjection to Jesus Christ, the high priest, king, saviour, and infallible rabbi. God laboured for the success of this task until He placed everything in subjection to Christ, so that Christ might be all in all. Christ summoned the apostles to a sacred ministry in the vineyards of salvation. Then He instructed them for a considerable time, and kept them near Him as He prepared them to carry on the work for which He laid the eternal foundations and first principles.
He gave them knowledge of God as He Himself knew Him: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (John 17:6). “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).
After His Resurrection, when He received all authority in Heaven and on earth, and after He trained them sufficiently for teaching the truth, Christ gave His apostles the authority to do for the rest of mankind just what He had done for them, and thus these very apostles became saviours of the rest of mankind. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).
After His Resurrection, Christ shared with the apostles the authority to mediate and to fill the office of priest. The apostles placed it into practice on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. The apostles’ authority to officiate as priests and to mediate, is the same as Christ’s authority, but it differs in that it is not absolute authority. It is an authority which is a consequence of Christ’s work, a relative authority subordinate to the absolute authority of Christ. It is a highpriesthood which is subordinate to the absolute highpriesthood of Christ and serves it, and is given conditionally.
When the apostles received priestly authority, they had to exercise it according to the religious laws which the higher power decreed and which the lower authority had to obey, and they had to act in the name of Christ. It was their duty to remit sins according to the established law and to retain them in the same way according to the force of the law.
Christ came into the world to do the will of His Father, and acted in the name of God the Father, and not in His own name. So too, because the apostles were sent by Christ as high priests and teachers to proclaim the truth and to baptize the nations in the name of the Holy Trinity, they had to act in the name of Jesus Christ who sent them, and not in their own name or in the name of any one else.
The holy apostles acted in this manner as genuine, valid priests and servants of Christ, teaching, serving as priests, and doing everything according to the will of Christ and in His name. They proclaimed the Gospel everywhere. They organized churches in the name of Christ, and they summoned the faithful to a spiritual banquet in the name of Christ, by whom they were sent forth. They spoke as they were commanded, and as they witnessed and heard and understood the works and words of their holy teacher.
Both in the selection of the apostles and in their mediating and priestly vocation, we see the same law obtaining that we also saw in the choice of Christ in His highpriestly calling by God. For just as in the calling of Christ certain qualifications were observed which the high priest and mediator had to possess, so also in the calling of the apostles, the following were noted:
- Good will with self denial in the performance of the task;
- Wisdom and knowledge of the work;
- Strength for its completion.
Christ manifested these qualities to perfection, but the holy apostles had them too, and so they were judged worthy by Christ to be priests and teachers of grace. They had selfless devotion and good will. They had enlightenment and knowledge of the divine task. They also had sufficient strength to succeed in God’s work.
Moreover, the apostles, by the same law, entrusted the sacred deposit of faith, in the name of Christ, to others whom God called to the work of salvation, because they possessed the same qualities as the apostles. These have been called clergy – bishops, priests, and deacons – summoned by God through the hands of the apostles to accomplish the work of salvation. As Christ glorified God when He made Him known to His disciples, so the disciples in their turn glorified Christ when they made known His name among men and preached that He is our saviour. Also the successors of the apostles, as well as the successors of their successors, the holy fathers of the Church, did not come in their own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ, whose holy name they made known to men.
In this way, from the time of the apostles, the sacred priesthood has continued in existence, the servant and assistant in the work of salvation, functioning and acting in obedience to the will of the absolute high priest, Christ, who is the eternal, unerring law in the Church. As long as men called by God and not by themselves, with the qualities for the priesthood, entered the service of the work of salvation, many unbelievers came into the faith. Believers were strengthened and nourished by the Word and the Mysteries.* Sinners repented, and the unrepentant were reproved and cut off from spiritual fellowship as rotten wood.
But the time came when wicked men entered the Church and corrupt materialists fell upon the sees of the bishops, until the false bishops which exist today. They seized positions of power in the Church by means of money and political maneuvering, and since then, grievous wolves have entered the fold, sparing it not.
There were far fewer clergymen and bishops in the Church who had the qualities for the priesthood, and because of a lack of true shepherds, the flock was abandoned and left to the disposal of the wolves. The faithful lost their faith, for they saw the wicked conduct of the bishops. God, Christ, and the Church are put to shame by the behavior of these false shepherds.
How can the truth be made known to the world? How can true civilization be spread over the earth? Certainly as matters stand, this task cannot be accomplished by man, but only by God. God will fill with His Spirit those whom He judges worthy and will send them forth to proclaim His truth.
It will be the priesthood of the outcasts which will continue the work of the apostles and holy fathers – first among our people, and then through our people to the entire world. God possesses a seed in this land; if He had not left a seed in us, we would have become as Sodom and would have resembled Gomorrah.
The ministry of the outcasts is at war today with the spurious ministry of those bishops who are guilty of simony. True education and philosophy are at war with the schools of darkness. The upright and just administration is at war with the political systems of despotism.
Three blessings have been revealed today, and they exist in Greece: true religion, true culture, and true government. From here they will be transplanted into every land in due time. Today in Greece, the heralds of these blessings are two publications – the Logos and the Kerygma, and three societies – the religious society of St. John the Baptist, the political society of Constantine the Great, and the philosophical society of the all-wise Logos. All those who desire the well being of our nation and of all mankind, should come forth and work together with them for the supremacy of Christian principles, and for the knowledge and recognition of the truth. Let us heed the lesson well.
Knowledge of the truth brings salvation, just as ignorance of the truth brings destruction. The eternal truth is Jesus Christ, for He Himself exclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
*Editors’ note: Derived from the Greek mysteria. The sacred, God-ordained Mysteries of the Orthodox Church include Baptism; Chrism; Holy Eucharist or Communion; Repentance and Confession; Matrimony; Holy Unction; and Holy Orders. Although called sacraments in the West, this term is foreign to Orthodox theology. Because heterodox and latin terms often are carriers of cacodox connotations and doctrines, they should be avoided by Orthodox Christians.