Acts of the Apostles - Chapter 8 Verses 26 until 39
008:026 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
008:027 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
008:028 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
008:029 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
008:030 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
008:031 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
008:032 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
008:033 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
008:034 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
008:035 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
008:036 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
008:037 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
008:038 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
008:039 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
For interested parties they are many ecclesiastical papers and commentaries on this reading from acts.
This reading outlines key elements regarding the establishment of the christian faith in Ethiopia. It details the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Church first to St Philip instructing him to "go and bring the Ethiopian into the faith".
We also see that this man was a member of the royal family of Ethiopia. This is interesting do to the fact that the Ethiopian royal family is very ancient and was very well known throughout the ancient world and bibllical period (you can find many biblical references to Ethiopia and the royal family throughout the bible). His baptism is thus the same as baptising the Ethiopian empire in a manner of speaking; more actualy however the christainization of the nation.
This marked the first act of the church proceeding out from the Jews and to the gentile world. It must be understood here that the Ethiopian was not a gentile (not that there is anything wrong with being a gentile) he was a Jew and a Hebrew; an Aramaic and Hebrew speaking Jew.
I want to be clear that although he was an Hebraic Jew (not an Isrealite Jew) he was a black man; as black as you would imagine a black man to be.
But as I was saying with the two language and literate point...Both of these are evidenced by the fact that he was literate "reading Isiah" (the written old testament at that time was in Hebrew and maybe Greek). He was speaking to St Philip which had to be with Greek or Aramaic. However he was the bridge that the church crossed to begin its work among the gentile world. Many church scholars refer to the Ethiopian as the "first fruits of the church".
If the head of state becomes christian than his entire nation or empire is under the leaership of Christ and His church. This Ethiopian conversion and the resulting christian kingdom which was centered at Axum is a precursor to emperor Constantine and his conversion and the resulting christian kingdom of Byzantium.
There is much more that can be said but I only want to demonstrate that Ethiopia has been a Christian nation from the 1st century as stated in scripture.
Ethiopias christianization was not an apostolic mission to the nation by an apostle but an direct act of the Holy Spirit through St Philip in Jerusalem. Ethiopia is thus the only 'nation' that recieved the church and the faith in Jerusalem. This is a major reason why all Ethiopian emporers struggled to build a church in Jerusalem in thier rein. Jerusalem was (is) the Spiritual capital of Ethiopia.
Some emporers succeeded and built great churches there some failed do to war or various political strife in the empire. This second case caused some 'hopeful' emporers to build churches in Ethiopia; churches that exceeded magnificense; in effect they were building the "new Jerusalem" centered at Axum. Thus we have the rock hewn churches of Axum, Lailibela and Gonder. These churches today are a site to behold and the Patriarch is called the Patriarch of Ethiopia 'arch bishop of Axum'.
The Apostolic bishporic comes to Ethiopia from the See of St Mark centered at Alexandria. The See of St Mark is over the African continent including lands beyond the Nile. This is what Ethiopia and Egypt has in common. Ethiopia has never and will never deny this fact.
The true Holy Bishporic was administered over the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewhado Church and not established within it. Egypt seemd to prefer to keep it at Alexandria.
Do to this Ethiopia has (is) seen by some as being the "Coptic Church". People also state that Ethiopia did not recieve the faith until the 5 Syrians which came to Ethiopia in the 4th century for protection from persecution after the Chalcedon since one of them became the first bishop of Ethiopia which was the beginning of the Bishporic in Ethiopia.
We do not mind the description. I just wnat to point out what is behind it.
People may say that. But the facts are that these 5 Saints (Syrians) came there because they new the Ethiopians and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Ethiopia has been a christian nation since the 1st century: Acts Ch 8 starting at verse 26. This fact can not be avoided.
Ethiopia recieved the bishporic in the 4th century coming from St Mark through the See of St Mark centered at Alexandria with the Syrian. But the bishporic was administered at Alexandria.
No one wonders why Egypt can consecrate a Syrian in the 4th century and needed another 16 centuries before it consecrate an Ethiopian to serve the Ethiopians??
(this is a key element or precendent sited by Ethiopians among other key reason when requesting Egypt to establish a local bishporic over the centuries)
Ethiopia received the Administrative control of its bishporic in the 20th century with the blessing and approval of the See of St. Mark with the election and consecration of its first Ethiopian bishops and election of Patriarch Basilios. Thus Ethiopia still remained in full union and doctrine with the See of St Mark only having the power to administer its church affairs locally with its own synod just like all other Orthodox church communities (except India??)
There is much more that can be added.
I hope this very small clip is clearly demonstrating the church as one among Copts and Ethiopians and that any diffrences are strictly internal management and not to be likened to schismatic issues that divide the church.
I am happy that the fathers have come to peace with each other.
I am also happy that the long tension that did exist did not cause a split between us. Thanks be to God.