Council of Nicea Timeline

 

Council of Nicea AD 325

The main reasons for calling the council was to debate the Arian heresy and to decide on a date for celebrating Easter, also knows as Pascha in the east.

The Arian heresy came about when an Egyptian priest called Arius began to spread his own teachings that were contrary to those of his bishop, St. Alexander of Alexandria. The disputed issues centred on the nature and relationship of God (the Father) and the Son of God (Jesus). The disagreements sprang from different ideas about the God-head and what it meant for Jesus to be his son. Bishop Alexander and the rest of the church maintained that the Son was divine in just the same sense that the Father is, co-eternal with the Father, else he could not be a true Son. Arius emphasised the supremacy and oneness of God, meaning that the Father's divinity must be greater than the Son's, that the Son had a beginning, that he shared neither the eternity nor the true divinity of the Father, but was rather the very first and the most perfect of God's creation.

This Arian heresy was gaining a following and threatened to split the church so Emperor Constantine called for a Council at Nicaea so that all the church leaders could debate the matter and, following prayer and much debate, approve a single doctrine that all would follow or be excommunicated from the church.

Setting the date for Easter, or agreeing a method of calculating when Easter should be celebrated, was considered very important as it is the most Holy day of the year. Up till that point the date for Easter was based on the Jewish date for Passover being Nisan 14. The Christian church wanted to distance itself from the Jews so it was agreed that Easter (or Pascha) shall always fall on a Sunday and that Easter Sunday shall be the first Sunday, following the first full moon, following the Spring Equinox, which falls on March 21st each year. The earliest date of Easter therefore is 22 March and latest is 25 April. The Eastern church calculation is slightly different to the Western church because the Eastern church still uses the Julian Calendar, which has 365 days in a year and not the Gregorian Calendar, as used in the west, which has 365¼ days in a year but the root calculation of Easter is the same.

Council of Nicaea 325 AD

The Synod Set Forth this Creed

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion; all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.


Council of Nicaea - The Synodal Letter

To the Church of Alexandria, by the grace of God, Holy and great; and to our well-beloved brethren, the Orthodox clergy and laity throughout Egypt, and Pentapolis, and Lybia, and every nation under heaven, the Holy and great synod, the bishops assembled at Nicaea, wish health in the Lord.

Forasmuch as the great and holy Synod, which was assembled at Niecea through the grace of Christ and our most religious Sovereign Constantine, who brought us together from our several provinces and cities, has considered matters which concern the faith of the Church, it seemed to us to be necessary that certain things should be communicated from us to you in writing, so that you might have the means of knowing what has been mooted and investigated, and also what has been decreed and confirmed.

First of all, then, in the presence of our most religious Sovereign Constantine, investigation was made of matters concerning the impiety and transgression of Arias and his adherents; and it was unanimously decreed that he and his impious opinion should be anathematised, together with the blasphemous words and speculations in which he indulged, blaspheming the Son of God, and saying that he is from things that are not, and that before he was begotten he was not, and that there was a time when he was not, and that the Son of God is by his free will capable of vice and virtue; saying also that he is a creature. All these things the holy Synod has anathematised, not even enduring to hear his impious doctrine and madness and blasphemous words. And of the charges against him and of the results they had, ye have either already heard or will hear the particulars, lest we should seem to be oppressing a man who has in fact received a fitting recompense for his own sin. So far indeed has his impiety prevailed, that he has even destroyed Theonas of Marmorica and Secundes of Ptolemais; for they also have received the same sentence as the rest.

But when the grace of God had delivered Egypt from that heresy and blasphemy, and from the persons who have dared to make disturbance and division among a people heretofore at peace, there remained the matter of the insolence of Meletius and those who have been ordained by him; and concerning this part of our work we now, beloved brethren, proceed to inform you of the decrees of the Synod. The Synod, then, being disposed to deal gently with Meletius (for in strict justice he deserved no leniency), decreed that he should remain in his own city, but have no authority either to ordain, or to administer affairs, or to make appointments; and that he should not appear in the country or in any other city for this purpose, but should enjoy the bare title of his rank; but that those who have been placed by him, after they have been confirmed by a more sacred laying on of hands, shall on these conditions be admitted to communion: that they shall both have their rank and the right to officiate, but that they shall be altogether the inferiors of all those who are enrolled in any church or parish, and have been appointed by our most honourable colleague Alexander. So that these men are to have no authority to make appointments of persons who may be pleasing to them, nor to suggest names, nor to do anything whatever, without the consent of the bishops of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, who are serving under our most holy colleague Alexander; while those who, by the grace of God and through your prayers, have been found in no schism, but on the contrary are without spot in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, are to have authority to make appointments and nominations of worthy persons among the clergy, and in short to do all things according to the law and ordinance of the Church. But, if it happen that any of the clergy who are now in the Church should die, then those who have been lately received are to succeed to the office of the deceased; always provided that they shall appear to be worthy, and that the people elect them, and that the bishop of Alexandria shall concur in the election and ratify it. This concession has been made to all the rest; but, on account of his disorderly conduct from the first, and the rashness and precipitation of his character, the same decree was not made concerning Meletius himself, but that, inasmuch as he is a man capable of committing again the same disorders, no authority nor privilege should be conceded to him. These are the particulars, which are of special interest to Egypt and to the most holy Church of Alexandria; but if in the presence of our most honoured lord, our colleague and brother Alexander, anything else has been enacted by canon or other decree, he will himself convey it to you in greater detail, he having been both a guide and fellow worker in what has been done. We further proclaim to you the good news of the agreement concerning the Holy Easter, that this particular also has through your prayers been rightly settled; so that all our brethren in the East who formerly followed the custom of the Jews are henceforth to celebrate the said most sacred feast of Easter at the same time with the Romans and yourselves and all those who have observed Easter from the beginning. Wherefore, rejoicing in these wholesome results, and in our common peace and harmony, and in the cutting off of every heresy, receive ye with the greater honour and with increased love, our colleague your Bishop Alexander, who has gladdened us by his presence, and who at so great an age has undergone so great fatigue that peace might be established among you and all of us. Pray ye also for us all, that the things which have been deemed advisable may stand fast; for they have been done, as we believe, to the well-pleasing of Almighty God and of his only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.


Council of Nicaea - One the keeping of Easter.

When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom, we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour's Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week]. We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired [to establish] only one Catholic and Apostolic Church. Think, then, how unseemly it is, that on the same day some should be fasting whilst others are seated at a banquet; and that after Easter, some should be rejoicing at feasts, whilst others are still observing a strict fast. For this reason, a Divine Providence wills that this custom should be rectified and regulated in a uniform way; and everyone, I hope, will agree upon this point. As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord; and as, on the other, the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, of the South, and of the North, and by some of those of the East, is the most acceptable, it has appeared good to all; and I have been guarantee for your consent, that you would accept it with joy, as it is followed at Rome, in Africa, in all Italy, Egypt, Spain, Gaul, Britain, Libya, in all Achaia, and in the dioceses of Asia, of Pontus, and Cilicia. You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews.

To sum up in few words: By the unanimous judgment of all, it has been decided that the most holy festival of Easter should be everywhere celebrated on one and the same day, and it is not seemly that in so holy a thing there should be any division. As this is the state of the case, accept joyfully the divine favour, and this truly divine command; for all which takes place in assemblies of the bishops ought to be regarded as proceeding from the will of God. Make known to your brethren what has been decreed, keep this most holy day according to the prescribed mode; we can thus celebrate this Holy Easter day at the same time, if it is granted me, as I desire, to unite myself with you; we can rejoice together, seeing that the divine power has made use of our instrumentality for destroying the evil designs of the devil, and thus causing faith, peace, and unity to flourish amongst us.

May God graciously protect you, my beloved brethren.


Council of Nicaea - Canon 1

If any one in sickness has been subjected by physicians to a surgical operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy; but, if any one in sound health has castrated himself, it behoves that such an one, if[already] enrolled among the clergy, should cease[from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who wilfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men the Canon admits to the clergy.

Council of Nicaea Canon 2

Forasmuch as, either from necessity, or through the urgency of individuals, many things have been done contrary to the Ecclesiastical canon, so that men just converted from heathenism to the faith, and who have been instructed but a little while, are straightway brought to the spiritual layer, and as soon as they have been baptized, are advanced to the episcopate or the presbyterate, it has seemed right to us that for the time to come no such thing shall be done. For to the catechumen himself there is need of time and of a longer trial after baptism. For the apostolical saying is clear, "Not a novice; lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into condemnation and the snare of the devil. "But if, as time goes on, any sensual sin should be found out about the person, and he should be convicted by two or three witnesses, let him cease from the clerical office. And whoso shall transgress these [enactments] will imperil his own clerical position, as a person who presumes to disobey fie great Synod.

Council of Nicaea Canon 3

The great Synod has stringently forbidden any bishop, presbyter, deacon, or any one of the clergy whatever, to have a subintroducta dwelling with him, except only a mother, or sister, or aunt, or such persons only as are beyond all suspicion.

Council of Nicaea Canon 4

It is by all means proper that a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops in the province; but should this be difficult, either on account of urgent necessity or because of distance, three at least should meet together, and the suffrages of the absent [bishops] also being given and communicated in writing, then the ordination should take place. But in every province the ratification of what is done should be left to the Metropolitan.

Council of Nicaea Canon 5

Concerning those, whether of the clergy or of the laity, who have been excommunicated in the several provinces, let the provision of the canon be observed by the bishops which provides that persons cast out by some be not readmitted by others. Nevertheless, inquiry should be made whether they have been excommunicated through captiousness, or contentiousness, or any such like ungracious disposition in the bishop. And, that this matter may have due investigation, it is decreed that in every province synods shall be held twice a year, in order that when all the bishops of the province are assembled together, such questions may by them be thoroughly examined, that so those who have confessedly offended against their bishop, may be seen by all to be for just cause excommunicated, until it shall seem fit to a general meeting of the bishops to pronounce a milder sentence upon them. And let these synods be held, the one before Lent, (that the pure Gift may be offered to God after all bitterness has been put away), and let the second be held about autumn.

Council of Nicaea Canon 6

Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.

Council of Nicaea Canom 7

Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Aelia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour.

Council of Nicaea Canon 8

Concerning those who call themselves Cathari, if they come over to the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the great and holy Synod decrees that they who are ordained shall continue as they are in the clergy. But it is before all things necessary that they should profess in writing that they will observe and follow the dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; in particular that they will communicate with persons who have been twice married, and with those who having lapsed in persecution have had a period [of [20] penance] laid upon them, and a time [of restoration] fixed so that in all things they will follow the dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. Wheresoever, then, whether in villages or in cities, all of the ordained are found to be of these only, let them remain in the clergy, and in the same rank in which they are found. But if they come over where there is a bishop or presbyter of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, it is manifest that the Bishop of the Church must have the bishop's dignity; and he who was named bishop by those who are called Cathari shall have the rank of presbyter, unless it shall seem fit to the Bishop to admit him to partake in the honour of the title. Or, if this should not be satisfactory, then shall the bishop provide for him a place as Chorepiscopus, or presbyter, in order that he may be evidently seen to be of the clergy, and that there may not be two bishops in the city.

Council of Nicaea Canon 9

If any presbyters have been advanced without examination, or if upon examination they have made confession of crime, and men acting in violation of the canon have laid hands upon them, notwithstanding their confession, such the canon does not admit; for the Catholic and Apostolic Church requires that [only] which is blameless.

Council of Nicaea Canon 10

If any who have lapsed have been ordained through the ignorance, or even with the previous knowledge of the ordainers, this shall not prejudice the canon of the Church for when they are discovered they shall be deposed.

Council of Nicaea Canon 11

Concerning those who have fallen without compulsion, without the spoiling of their property, without danger or the like, as happened during the tyranny of Licinius, the Synod declares that, though they have deserved no clemency, they shall be dealt with mercifully. As many as were communicants, if they heartily repent, shall pass three years among the hearers; for seven years they shall be prostrators; and for two years they shall communicate with the people in prayers, but without oblation.

Councol of Nicaea Canon 12

As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, (so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations); let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators. But in all these cases it is necessary to examine well into their purpose and what their repentance appears to be like. For as many as give evidence of their conversions by deeds, and not pretence, with fear, and tears, and perseverance, and good works, when they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers, may properly communicate in prayers; and after that the bishop may determine yet more favourably concerning them. But those who take [the matter] with indifference, and who think the form of [not] entering the Church is sufficient for their conversion, must fulfil the whole time.

Council of Nicaea Canon 13

Concerning the departing, the ancient canonical law is still to be maintained, to wit, that, if any man be at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the last and most indispensable Viaticum. But, if any one should be restored to health again who has received the communion when his life was despaired of, let him remain among those who communicate in prayers only. But in general, and in the case of any dying person whatsoever asking to receive the Eucharist, let the Bishop, after examination made, give it him.

Council of Nicaea Canon 14

Concerning catechumens who have lapsed, the holy and great Synod has decreed that, after they have passed three years only as hearers, they shall pray with the catechumens.

Council of Nicaea Canon 15

On account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was ordained bishop or presbyter.

Council of Nicaea Canon 16

Neither presbyters, nor deacons, nor any others enrolled among the clergy, who, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the ecclesiastical Canon, shall recklessly remove from their own church, ought by any means to be received by another church; but every constraint should be applied to restore them to their own parishes; and, if they will not go, they must be excommunicated. And if anyone shah dare surreptitiously to carry off and in his own Church ordain a man belonging to another, without the consent of his own proper bishop, from whom although he was enrolled in the clergy list he has seceded, let the ordination be void.

Council of Nicaea Canon 17

Forasmuch as many enrolled among the Clergy, following covetousness and lust of gain, have forgotten the divine Scripture, which says, "He hath not given his money upon usury," and in lending money ask the hundredth of the sum [as monthly interest], the holy and great Synod thinks it just that, if after this decree, any one be found to receive usury, whether he accomplish it by secret transaction or otherwise, as by demanding the whole and one half, or by using any other contrivance whatever for filthy lucre's sake, he shall be deposed from the clergy and his name stricken from the list.

Council of Nicaea Canon 18

It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great Synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters, whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer. And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away with, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them. Furthermore, let not the deacons sit among the presbyters, for that is contrary to canon and order. And if, after this decree, any one shall refuse to obey, let him be deposed from the diaconate.

Council of Nicaea Canon 19

Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic and Aspostolic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptised; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptised and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.

Council of Nicaea Canon 20

Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.

 


 

Arabic Canons attributed to the Council of Nicaea

The Arabic Canons of Nicaea were adapted from the Syriac by the Melchites and borrowed by the Egyptian Copts. They are greatly disputed and were probably added later by well meaning Christians wishing to promote a more Western Roman Catholic argument, as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox one. Some even go as far as to say they are totally false and should not be included along with the original canons.

The following then are the captions of the so called Arabic Canons:

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 1

Insane persons and energumens should not be ordained.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 2

Bond servants are not to be ordained.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 3

Neophytes in the faith are not to be ordained to Holy Orders before they have a knowledge of Holy Scripture. And such, if convicted after their ordination of grave sin, are to be deposed with those who ordained them.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 4

The cohabitation of women with bishops, presbyters, and deacons prohibited on account of their celibacy. We decree that bishops shall not live with women; nor shall a presbyter who is a widower; neither shall they escort them; nor be familiar with them, nor gaze upon them persistently. And the same decree is made with regard to every celibate priest, and the same concerning such deacons as have no wives. And this is to be the case whether the woman be beautiful or ugly, whether a young girl or beyond the age of puberty, whether great in birth, or an orphan taken out of charity under pretext of bringing her up. For the devil with such arms slays religious, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and incites them to the fires of desire. But if she be an old woman, and of advanced age, or a sister, or mother, or aunt, or grandmother, it is permitted to live with these because such persons are free from all suspicion of scandal.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 5

Of the election of a bishop and of the confirmation of the election.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 6

That those excommunicated by one bishop are not to be received by another; and that those whose excommunication has been shown to have been unjust should be absolved by the archbishop or patriarch.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 7

That provincial Councils should be held twice a year, for the consideration of all things affecting the churches of the bishops of the province.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 8

Of the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, and of their jurisdiction.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 9

Of one who solicits the episcopate when the people do not wish him; or if they do desire him, but without the consent of the archbishop.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 10

How the bishop of Jerusalem is to be honoured, the honour, however, of the metropolitan church of Caesarea being preserved intact, to which he is subject.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 11

Of those who force themselves into the order of presbyters without election or examination.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 12

Of the bishop who ordains one whom he understands has denied the faith; also of one ordained who after that he had denied it, crept into orders.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 13

Of one who of his own will goes to another church, having been chosen by it, and does not wish afterwards to stay there. Of taking pains that he be transferred from his own church to another.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 14

No one shall become a monk without the bishop's license, and why a license is required.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 15

That clerics or religious who lend on usury should be cast from their grade.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 16

Of the honour to be paid to the bishop and to a presbyter by the deacons.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 17

Of the system and of the manner of receiving those who are converted from the heresy of Paul of Samosata.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 18

Of the system and manner of receiving those who are converted from the heresy of the Novatians.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 19

Of the system and manner of receiving those who return after a lapse from the faith, and of receiving the relapsed, and of those brought into peril of death by sickness before their penance is finished, and concerning such as are convalescent.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 20

Of avoiding the conversation of evil workers and wizards, also of the penance of them that have not avoided such.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 21

Of incestuous marriages contrary to the law of Spiritual relationship, and of the penance of such as are in such marriages. [The time of penance fixed is twenty years, only godfather and godmother are mentioned, and nothing is said of separation.]

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 22

Of sponsors in baptism. Men shall not hold females at the font, neither women males; but women females, and men males.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 23

Of the prohibited marriages of spiritual brothers and sisters from receiving them in baptism.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 24

Of him who has married two wives at the same time, or who through lust has added another woman to his wife; and of his punishment. If he be a priest he is forbidden to sacrifice and is cut off from the communion of the faithful until he turn out of the house the second woman, and he ought to retain the first.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 25

That no one should be forbidden Holy Communion unless such as are doing penance.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 26

Clerics are forbidden from suretyship or witness-giving in criminal causes.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 27

Of avoiding the excommunicate, and of not receiving the oblation from them; and of the excommunication of him who does not avoid the excommunicated.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 28

How anger, indignation, and hatred should be avoided by the priest, especially because he has the power of excommunicating others.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 29

Of not kneeling in prayer.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 30

Of giving [only] names of Christians in baptism, and of heretics who retain the faith in the Trinity and the perfect form of baptism; and of others not retaining it, worthy of a worse name, and of how such are to be received when they come to the faith.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 31

Of the system and manner of receiving converts to the Orthodox faith from the heresy of Arius and of other like.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 32

Of the system of receiving those who have kept the dogmas of the faith and the Church's laws, and yet have separated from us and afterwards come back.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 33

Of the place of residence of the patriarch, and of the honour which should be given to the bishop of Jerusalem and to the bishop of Seleucia.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 34

Of the honour to be given to the Archbishop of Seleucia in the Synod of Greece.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 35

Of not holding a provincial synod in the province of Persia without the authority of the patriarch of Antioch, and how the bishops of Persia are subject to the metropolitans of Antioch.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 36

Of the creation of a patriarch for Ethiopia, and of his power, and of the honour to be paid him in the Synod of Greece.

That the Ethiopians ought neither to create nor to elect a patriarch, because, on the contrary, their prelate should be under the authority of him who holds the see of Alexandria. There may be among them one in place of the patriarch and should be called catholicos, because he has neither the honour nor the authority of the patriarch. If it happens that a council be convened and that the prelate of the Ethiopians be present, let him take the seventh place, after the prelate of Seleucia.
If the authority is given to him to create archbishops in his province, he will not, however, be permitted to appoint any of them (Ethiopians). If anyone does not obey, the Synod will excommunicate him.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 37

Of the election of the Archbishop of Cyprus, who is subject to the patriarch of Antioch.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 38

That the ordination of ministers of the Church by bishops in the dioceses of strangers is forbidden.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 39

Of the care and power which a patriarch has over the bishops and archbishops of his patriarchate; and of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all. Let the patriarch consider what things are done by the archbishops and bishops in their provinces; and if he shall find anything done by them otherwise than it should be, let him change it, and order it, as seemeth him fit: for he is the father of all, and they are his sons. And although the archbishop be among the bishops as an elder brother, who hath the care of his brethren, and to whom they owe obedience because he is over them; yet the patriarch is to all those who are under his power, just as he who holds the seat of Rome, is the head and prince of all patriarchs; in-asmuch as he is first, as was Peter, to whom power is given over all Christian princes, and over all their peoples, as he who is the Vicar of Christ our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by the Synod.

Let there be only four patriarchs in the whole world as there are four writers of the Gospel, and four rivers, etc. And let there be a prince and chief over them, the lord of the see of the Divine Peter at Rome, according as the Apostles commanded. And after him the lord of the great Alexandria, which is the see of Mark. And the third is the lord of Ephesus, which is the see of John the Divine who speaks divine things. And the fourth and last is my lord of Antioch, which is another see of Peter. And let all the bishops be divided under the hands of these four patriarchs; and the bishops of the little towns which are under the dominion of the great cities let them be under the authority of these metropolitans. But let every metropolitan of these great cities appoint the bishops of his province, but let none of the bishops appoint him, for he is greater than they. Therefore let every man know his own rank, and let him not usurp the rank of another. And whosoever shall contradict this law which we have established the Fathers of the Synod subject him to anathema.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 40

Of the provincial synod which should be held twice every year, and of its utility; together with the excommunication of such as oppose the decree.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 41

Of the synod of Archbishops, which meets once a year with the Patriarch, and of its utility; also of the collection to be made for the support of the patriarch throughout the provinces and places subject to the patriarch.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 42

Of a cleric or monk who when fallen into sin, and summoned once, twice, and thrice, does not present himself for trial.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 43

What the patriarch should do in the case of a defendant set at liberty unpunished by the decision of the bishop, presbyter, or even of a deacon, as the case may be.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 44

How an archbishop ought to give trial to one of his suffragan bishops.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 45

Of the receiving of complaints and condemnation of an archbishop against his patriarch.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 46

How a patriarch should admit a complaint; or judgment of an Archbishop against an Archbishop.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 47

Of those excommunicated by a certain one, when they can be and when they cannot be absolved by another.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 48

No bishop shall choose his own successor.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 49

No simoniacal ordinations shall be made.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 50

There shall be but one bishop of one city, and one parochus of one town; also the incumbent, whether bishop or parish priest, shall not be removed in favour of a successor desired by some of the people unless he has been convicted of manifest crime.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 51

Bishops shall not allow the separation of a wife from her husband on account of discord.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 52

Usury and the base seeking of worldly gain is forbidden to the clergy, also conversation and fellowship with Jews.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 53

Marriages with infidels to be avoided.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 54

Of the election of a chorepiscopus, and of his duties in towns, and villages, and monasteries.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 55

How a chorepiscopus should visit the churches and monasteries which are under his jurisdiction.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 56

Of how the presbyters of the towns and villages should go twice a year with their chorepiscopus to salute the bishop, and how religious should do so once a year from their monasteries, and how the new abbot of a monastery should go thrice.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 57

Of the rank in sitting during the celebration of service in church by the bishop, the archdeacon and the chorepiscopus; and of the office of archdeacon, and of the honour due the archpresbyter.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 58

Of the honour flue the archdeacon and the chorepiscopus when they sit in church during the absence of the bishop, and when they go about with the bishop.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 59

How all the grades of the clergy and their duties should be publicly described and set forth.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 60

Of how men are to be chosen from the diocese for holy orders, and of how they should be examined.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 61

Of the honour due to the deacons, and how the clerics must not put themselves in their way.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 62

The number of presbyters and deacons is to be adapted to the work of the church and to its means.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 63

Of the Ecclesiastical Economist and of the others who with him care for the church's possessions.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 64

Of the offices said in the church, the night and day offices, and of the collect for all those who rule that church.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 65

Of the order to be observed at the funeral of a bishop, of a chorepiscopus and of an archdeacon, and of the office of exequies.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 66

Of taking a second wife, after the former one has been disowned for any cause, or even not put away, and of him who falsely accuses his wife of adultery. If any priest or deacon shall put away his wife on account of her fornication, or for other cause, as aforesaid, or cast her out of doors for external good, or that he may change her for another more beautiful, or better, or richer, or does so out of his lust which is displeasing to God; and after she has been put away for any of these causes he shall contract matrimony with another, or without having put her away shall take another, whether free or bond; and shall have both equally, they living separately and he sleeping every night with one or other of them, or else keeping both in the same house and bed, let him be deposed. If he were a layman let him be deprived of communion. But if anyone falsely defames his wife charging her with adultery, so that he turns her out of doors, the matter must be diligently examined; and if the accusation was false, he shall be deposed if a cleric, but if a layman shall be prohibited from entering the church and from the communion of the faithful; and shall be compelled to live with her whom he has defamed, even though she be deformed, and poor, and insane; and whoever shall not obey is excommunicated by the Synod. [Note.--The reader will notice that by this canon a husband is deposed or excommunicated, as the case may be, if he marry another woman, after putting away his wife on account of her adultery. It is curious that in the parallel canon in the collection of Echellensis, which is numbered LXXI., the reading is quite different, although it is very awkward and inconsequent as given. Moreover, it should be remembered that in some codices and editions this canon is lacking altogether, one on the right of the Pope to receive appeals taking its place. As this canon is of considerable length, I only quote the interesting parts.] Whatever presbyter or deacon shall put away his wife without the offence of fornication, or for any other cause of which we have spoken above, and shall east her out of doors; such a person shall be east out of the clergy, if he were a clergyman; if a layman he shall be forbidden the communion of the faithful. But if that woman[untruly charged by her husband with adultery], that is to say his wife, spurns his society on account of the injury he has done her and the charge he has brought against her, of which she is innocent, let her freely be put away and let a bill of repudiation be written for her, noting the false accusation which had been brought against her. And then if she should wish to marry some other faithful man, it is right for he; to do so, nor does the Church forbid it; and the same permission extends as well to men as to women, since there is equal reason for it for each. But if he shall return to better fruit which is of the same kind, and shall conciliate to himself the love and benevolence of his consort, and shall be willing to return to his pristine friendship, his fault shall be condoned to him after he has done suitable and sufficient penance. And whoever shall speak against this decree the fathers of the synod excommunicate him.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 67

Of having two wives at the same time, and of a woman who is one of the faithful marrying an infidel; and of the form of receiving her to penance.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 68

Of giving in marriage to an infidel a daughter or sister without her knowledge and contrary to her wish.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 69

Of one of the faithful who departs from the faith through lust and love of an infidel; and of the form of receiving him back, or admitting him to penance

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 70

Of the hospital to be established in every city, and of the choice of a superintendent and concerning his duties.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 71

Of the placing a bishop or archbishop in his chair after ordination, which is enthronisation.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 72

No one is allowed to transfer himself to another church than that in which he was ordained; and what is to be done in the case of one cast out forcibly without any blame attaching to him.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 73

The laity shall not choose for themselves priests in the towns and villages without the authority of the chorepiscopus; nor an abbot for a monastery; and that no one should give commands as to who should be elected his successor after his death, and when this is lawful for a superior.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 74

How sisters, widows, and deaconesses should be made to keep their residence in their monasteries; and of the system of instructing them; and of the election of deaconesses, and of their duties and utility.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 75

How one seeking election should not be chosen, even if of conspicuous virtue; and how the election of a layman to the aforesaid grades is not prohibited, and that those chosen should not afterward be deprived before their deaths, except on account of crime.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 76

Of the distinctive garb and distinctive names and conversation of monks and nuns.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 77

That a bishop convicted of adultery or of other similar crime should be deposed without hope of restoration to the same grade; but shall not be excommunicated.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 78

Of presbyters and deacons who have fallen only once into adultery, if they have never been married; and of the same when fallen as widowers, and those who have fallen, all the while having their own wives. Also of those who return to the same sin as well widowers as those having living wives; and which of these ought not to be received to penance, and which once only, and which twice.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 79

Each one of the faithful while his sin is yet not public should be mended by private exhortation and admonition; if he will not profit by this, he must be excommunicated.

Council of Nicaea Arabic Canon 80

Of the election of a procurator of the poor, and of his duties.

Early Church Fathers

Clement of Rome Ignatius of Antioch Polycarp of Smyrna
Clement of Alexandria Tertullian of Carthage Cyprian of Carthage
Irenaeus of Lyons Origen of Alexandria Athanasius of Alexandria

to top of page