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4th Anniversary of the Enthronement of H.H. Abune Antonios

In Commemoration of the 4th Anniversary of the Enthronement of H.H. Abune Antonios, the 3rd Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church

Introduction:

The basis for the office and authority of a patriarch is not a mere human concoction. It is instituted by our Lord himself when he said: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:17-18). “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21-22). “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20-21); “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will buildmy church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:18-19).

The designation of Patriarch first and foremost belongs to God the Father himself, for he is indeed called “Abba - Father”.  Abraham is also known as a father. It is said of him, “No longer will you be called Abram; you name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5-7). Following Abraham, Moses was appointed by God to become a leader and a father to the nation of Israel. This early dispensation in God’s economy, in fact, is referred to as the age of the patriarchs. Finally, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself, the second of the triune God, tells us that he is our father. It was our Lord who bestowed upon His Spirit-filled apostles the full authority to lead the church as fathers.  The apostles, just as Christ had appointed them, did the same to succeeding generations of men to lead the church as fathers. To this day, these fathers have continued to lead the church by the authority that has been given to them, and they will continue to serve as true stewards until the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although called by different names at different times and in different places, the authority and office of these leaders who are anointed by the Holy Spirit remains unaltered. For example, in Rome and Egypt they are referred to as Popes. In other traditions they are called patriarchs, catholicos, etc. The office of the patriarch, therefore, signifies one who presides as an ambassador of Christ on earth. His most important duty is to preside over a synod and to lead the church.

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