The Patriarchate of Antioch: Founded by Saints Peter and Paul
The most famous scriptural reference concerning Antioch relates that it was in this city that the followers of Christ were first mockingly referred to as "Christians" (Acts 11:26). In the Book of Acts, which offers an account of the first years of the Church, we discover that Antioch is the second most frequently mentioned city. Nicholas, one of the original seven deacons was a convert from Antioch and perhaps the first Christian from that city (Acts 6:5). During the persecution which occasioned the death of Saint Stephen the First Martyr, members of the fledgling Christian community in Jerusalem fled to Antioch for refuge.
Church tradition maintains that the See of Antioch was founded by Saint Peter the Apostle in A.D. 34 . Peter was either followed or joined by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas who preached there to both Gentiles and to Jews, who seem to have been numerous in the city. It was in Antioch that one of the first conflicts within the Church developed between Peter and Paul. This conflict regarded the necessity of circumcision for male Gentile converts to Christianity. It was the resolution of this conflict at the Council of Jerusalem under Saint James the Apostle that determined the direction of the Antiochian mission to the Gentiles, and the dynamic nature of that Christian community in its missionary outreach. It was from Antioch that Paul and Barnabas departed for their great missionary journeys to the Gentile lands (Acts 13:1).
The Apostles directed a truly universal ministry. After spending some seven years in Antioch, Peter left for Rome. To succeed him as bishop of Antioch he appointed Euodius, who is thus counted in early episcopal lists as the first successor to the Antiochian Throne of Peter. The multiple Apostolic foundation of the See of Antioch, the early missions centered there and the active nature of the community, as recorded in the New Testament, have been a unique heritage to all who trace their spiritual and ecclesiastical roots to the Antiochian Patriarchate.
The See of Antioch continued its glorious contributions to the universal Church by the numerous outstanding personalities it nurtured. Saint Ignatius of Antioch for example, is revered as both a victorious martyr during the reign of Emperor Trajan (early second century) and as a reliable historical source for the structure of Church life. Ignatius was the second successor to Peter and may actually have been consecrated by that Apostle or Saint Paul.
The Church of Antioch has maintained a continuous succession in the Apostolic Faith down to the present. The current Bishop/Patriarch of Antioch is His Beatitude John X, who was enthroned on Sunday, February 10, 2013 following the repose of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV on December 5, 2012. Patriarch Ignatius served the See of Antioch from July 2, 1979 until the date of his repose.