|First Council of Constantinople|
|First Council of Nicaea|
|Council of Ephesus|
|Convoked by||Emperor Theodosius I|
|President||Timothy of Alexandria, Meletius of Antioch, Gregory Nazianzus, and Nectarius of Constantinople|
|Attendance||150 (no representation of Western Church)|
|Topics||Arianism, Holy Spirit|
Documents and statements
|Nicene Creed of 381, seven canons (three disputed)|
|Chronological list of ecumenical councils|
|Part of a series on the|
|Eastern Orthodox Church|
|Part of a series on|
|Oriental Orthodox churches|
|Part of a series on|
| Ecumenical councils |
of the Catholic Church
The First Council of Constantinople (Latin : Concilium Constantinopolitanum; Greek : Σύνοδος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in AD 381 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I.   This second ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, except for the Western Church,  confirmed the Nicene Creed, expanding the doctrine thereof to produce the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and dealt with sundry other matters. It met from May to July 381  in the Church of Hagia Irene and was affirmed as ecumenical in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon.
When Theodosius ascended to the imperial throne in 380, he began on a campaign to bring the Eastern Church back to Nicene Christianity. Theodosius wanted to further unify the entire empire behind the orthodox position and decided to convene a church council to resolve matters of faith and discipline.  : 45 Gregory Nazianzus was of similar mind, wishing to unify Christianity. In the spring of 381 they convened the second ecumenical council in Constantinople.
The Council of Nicaea in 325 had not ended the Arian controversy which it had been called to clarify. Arius and his sympathizers, e.g. Eusebius of Nicomedia were admitted back into the church after ostensibly accepting the Nicene creed. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, the most vocal opponent of Arianism, was ultimately exiled through the machinations of Eusebius of Nicomedia. After the death of Constantine I in 337 and the accession of his Arian-leaning son Constantius II, open discussion of replacing the Nicene creed itself began. Up until about 360, theological debates mainly dealt with the divinity of the Son, the second person of the Trinity. However, because the Council of Nicaea had not clarified the divinity of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, it became a topic of debate. The Macedonians denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. This was also known as Pneumatomachianism.
Nicene Christianity also had its defenders: apart from Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers' Trinitarian discourse was influential in the council at Constantinople. Apollinaris of Laodicea, another pro-Nicene theologian, proved controversial. Possibly in an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was not God, he taught that Christ consisted of a human body and a divine mind, rejecting the belief that Christ had a complete human nature, including a human mind.  He was charged with confounding the persons of the Godhead, and with giving in to the heretical ways of Sabellius. Basil of Caesarea accused him of abandoning the literal sense of the scripture, and taking up wholly with the allegorical sense. His views were condemned in a Synod at Alexandria, under Athanasius of Alexandria, in 362, and later subdivided into several different heresies, the main ones of which were the Polemians and the Antidicomarianites.
Theodosius' strong commitment to Nicene Christianity involved a calculated risk because Constantinople, the imperial capital of the Eastern Empire, was solidly Arian. To complicate matters, the two leading factions of Nicene Christianity in the East, the Alexandrians and the supporters of Meletius in Antioch, were "bitterly divided ... almost to the point of complete animosity". 
The bishops of Alexandria and Rome had worked over a number of years to keep the see of Constantinople from stabilizing. Thus, when Gregory was selected as a candidate for the bishopric of Constantinople, both Alexandria and Rome opposed him because of his Antiochene background.[ citation needed ]
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The incumbent bishop of Constantinople was Demophilus, a Homoian Arian. On his accession to the imperial throne, Theodosius offered to confirm Demophilus as bishop of the imperial city on the condition of accepting the Nicene Creed; however, Demophilus refused to abandon his Arian beliefs, and was immediately ordered to give up his churches and leave Constantinople.   After forty years under the control of Arian bishops, the churches of Constantinople were now restored to those who subscribed to the Nicene Creed; Arians were also ejected from the churches of other cities in the Eastern Roman Empire thus re-establishing Christian orthodoxy in the East. 
There ensued a contest to control the newly recovered see. A group led by Maximus the Cynic gained the support of Patriarch Peter of Alexandria by playing on his jealousy of the newly created see of Constantinople. They conceived a plan to install a cleric subservient to Peter as bishop of Constantinople so that Alexandria would retain the leadership of the Eastern Churches.  Many commentators characterize Maximus as having been proud, arrogant and ambitious. However, it is not clear the extent to which Maximus sought this position due to his own ambition or if he was merely a pawn in the power struggle.[ citation needed ] In any event, the plot was set into motion when, on a night when Gregory was confined by illness, the conspirators burst into the cathedral and commenced the consecration of Maximus as bishop of Constantinople. They had seated Maximus on the archiepiscopal throne and had just begun shearing away his long curls when the day dawned. The news of what was transpiring quickly spread and everybody rushed to the church. The magistrates appeared with their officers; Maximus and his consecrators were driven from the cathedral, and ultimately completed the tonsure in the tenement of a flute-player. 
The news of the brazen attempt to usurp the episcopal throne aroused the anger of the local populace among whom Gregory was popular. Maximus withdrew to Thessalonica to lay his cause before the emperor but met with a cold reception there. Theodosius committed the matter to Ascholius, the much respected bishop of Thessalonica, charging him to seek the counsel of Pope Damasus I. 
Damasus' response repudiated Maximus summarily and advised Theodosius to summon a council of bishops for the purpose of settling various church issues such as the schism in Antioch and the consecration of a proper bishop for the see of Constantinople.  Damasus condemned the translation of bishops from one see to another and urged Theodosius to "take care that a bishop who is above reproach is chosen for that see." 
Thirty-six Pneumatomachians arrived but were denied admission to the council when they refused to accept the Nicene creed.
Since Peter, the Pope of Alexandria, was not present, the presidency over the council was given to Meletius as Patriarch of Antioch.  The first order of business before the council was to declare the clandestine consecration of Maximus invalid, and to confirm Theodosius' installation of Gregory Nazianzus as Archbishop of Constantinople. When Meletius died shortly after the opening of the council, Gregory was selected to lead the council.
The Egyptian and Macedonian bishops who had supported Maximus's ordination arrived late for the council. Once there, they refused to recognise Gregory's position as head of the church of Constantinople, arguing that his transfer from the See of Sasima was canonically illegitimate because one of the canons of the Council of Nicaea had forbidden bishops to transfer from their sees.  : 358–9
McGuckin describes Gregory as physically exhausted and worried that he was losing the confidence of the bishops and the emperor.  : 359 Ayres goes further and asserts that Gregory quickly made himself unpopular among the bishops by supporting the losing candidate for the bishopric of Antioch and vehemently opposing any compromise with the Homoiousians.  : 254
Rather than press his case and risk further division, Gregory decided to resign his office: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was responsible for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Seize me and throw me... I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it."  He shocked the council with his surprise resignation and then delivered a dramatic speech to Theodosius asking to be released from his offices. The emperor, moved by his words, applauded, commended his labor, and granted his resignation. The council asked him to appear once more for a farewell ritual and celebratory orations. Gregory used this occasion to deliver a final address (Or. 42) and then departed.  : 361
Nectarius, an unbaptized civil official, was chosen to succeed Gregory as president of the council.  : 255
Seven canons, four of these doctrinal canons and three disciplinary canons, are attributed to the council and accepted by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches; the Roman Catholic Church accepts only the first four  because only the first four appear in the oldest copies and there is evidence that the last three were later additions. 
The first canon is an important dogmatic condemnation of all shades of Arianism, and also of Macedonianism and Apollinarianism. 
The second canon renewed the Nicene legislation imposing upon the bishops the observance of diocesan and patriarchal limits. 
The third canon reads:
The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is New Rome.   
The fourth canon decreed the consecration of Maximus as Bishop of Constantinople to be invalid, declaring "that [Maximus] neither was nor is a bishop, nor are they who have been ordained by him in any rank of the clergy".   This canon was directed not only against Maximus, but also against the Egyptian bishops who had conspired to consecrate him clandestinely at Constantinople, and against any subordinate ecclesiastics that he might have ordained in Egypt. 
The fifth canon might actually have been passed the next year, 382, and is in regard to a Tome of the Western bishops, perhaps that of Pope Damasus I. 
The sixth canon might belong to the year 382 as well and was subsequently passed at the Quinisext Council as canon 95. It limits the ability to accuse bishops of wrongdoing. 
The seventh canon regards procedures for receiving certain heretics into the church. 
The third canon was a first step in the rising importance of the new imperial capital, just fifty years old, and was notable in that it demoted the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. Jerusalem, as the site of the first church, retained its place of honor. It originally did not elicit controversy, as the Papal legate Paschasinus and a partisan of his, Diogenes of Cyzicus, reference the canon as being in force during the first session of the Council of Chalcedon.  According to Eusebius of Dorlyeum, another Papal ally during Chalcedon, "I myself read this very canon [Canon 3] to the most holy pope in Rome in the presence of the clerics of Constantinople and he accepted it." 
Nevertheless, controversy has ensued since then. The status of the canon became questioned after disputes over Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon erupted. Pope Leo the Great,  declared that this canon had never been submitted to Rome and that their lessened honor was a violation of the Nicene council order. Throughout the next several centuries, the Western Church asserted that the Bishop of Rome had supreme authority, and by the time of the Great Schism the Roman Catholic Church based its claim to supremacy on the succession of St. Peter. At the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869), the Roman legates  asserted the place of the bishop of Rome's honor over the bishop of Constantinople's. After the Great Schism of 1054, in 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council declared, in its fifth canon, that the Roman Church "by the will of God holds over all others pre-eminence of ordinary power as the mother and mistress of all the faithful".   Roman supremacy over the whole world was formally claimed by the new Latin patriarch. The Roman correctores of Gratian,  insert the words: "canon hic ex iis est quos apostolica Romana sedes a principio et longo post tempore non recipit" ("this canon is one of those that the Apostolic See of Rome has not accepted from the beginning and ever since").
Later on, Baronius asserted that the third canon was not authentic, not in fact decreed by the council. Contrarily, roughly contemporaneous Greeks maintained that it did not declare supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, but the primacy; "the first among equals", similar to how they today view the Bishop of Constantinople.
It has been asserted by many that a synod was held by Pope Damasus I in the following year (382) which opposed the disciplinary canons of the Council of Constantinople, especially the third canon which placed Constantinople above Alexandria and Antioch. The synod protested against this raising of the bishop of the new imperial capital, just fifty years old, to a status higher than that of the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, and stated that the primacy of the Roman see had not been established by a gathering of bishops but rather by Christ himself.   [note 1] Thomas Shahan says that, according to Photius too, Pope Damasus approved the council, but he adds that, if any part of the council were approved by this pope, it could have been only its revision of the Nicene Creed, as was the case also when Gregory the Great recognized it as one of the four general councils, but only in its dogmatic utterances. 
Traditionally, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed has been associated with the Council of Constantinople (381). It is roughly theologically equivalent to the Nicene Creed, but includes two additional articles: an article on the Holy Spirit—describing Him as "the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and Who spoke through the prophets"—and an article about the church, baptism, and the resurrection of the dead. (For the full text of both creeds, see Comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381.)
However, scholars are not agreed on the connection between the Council of Constantinople and the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed. Some modern scholars believe that this creed, or something close to it, was stated by the bishops at Constantinople, but not promulgated as an official act of the council. Scholars also dispute whether this creed was simply an expansion of the Creed of Nicaea, or whether it was an expansion of another traditional creed similar but not identical to the one from Nicaea.  In 451, the Council of Chalcedon referred to this creed as "the creed ... of the 150 saintly fathers assembled in Constantinople",  indicating that this creed was associated with Constantinople (381) no later than 451.
This council condemned Arianism which began to die out with further condemnations at a council of Aquileia by Ambrose of Milan in 381. With the discussion of Trinitarian doctrine now developed, the focus of discussion changed to Christology, which would be the topic of the Council of Ephesus of 431 and the Council of Chalcedon of 451.
David Eastman cites the First Council of Constantinople as another example of the waning influence of Rome over the East. He notes that all three of the presiding bishops came from the East. Damasus had considered both Meletius and Gregory to be illegitimate bishops of their respective sees and yet, as Eastman and others point out, the Eastern bishops paid no heed to his opinions in this regard. 
The First Council of Constantinople (381) was the first appearance of the term 'New Rome' in connection to Constantinople. The term was employed as the grounds for giving the relatively young church of Constantinople precedence over Alexandria and Antioch ('because it is the New Rome').
The 150 individuals at the council are commemorated in the Calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on February 17.
The Eastern Orthodox Church in some places (e.g. Russia) has a feast day for the Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils on the Sunday nearest to July 13  and on May 22. 
The Council of Chalcedon was the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian Church. It was convoked by the Roman emperor Marcian. The council convened in the city of Chalcedon, Bithynia from 8 October to 1 November 451 AD. The council was attended by over 520 bishops or their representatives, making it the largest and best-documented of the first seven ecumenical councils. The principal purpose of the council was to re-assert the teachings of the ecumenical Council of Ephesus against the heresies of Eutyches and Nestorius. Such heresies attempted to dismantle and separate Christ's divine nature from his humanity (Nestorianism) and further, to limit Christ as solely divine in nature (Monophysitism).
An ecumenical council, also called general council, is a meeting of bishops and other church authorities to consider and rule on questions of Christian doctrine, administration, discipline, and other matters in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
The 380s decade ran from January 1, 380, to December 31, 389.
Year 381 (CCCLXXXI) was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Syagrius and Eucherius. The denomination 381 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who held that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Christ-bearer" but not the Theotokos, "God-bearer". It met in June and July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia.
Saint Meletius was a Christian bishop of Antioch from 360 until his death in 381. He was opposed by a rival bishop named Paulinus and his episcopate was dominated by the schism, usually called the Meletian schism. As a result, he was exiled from Antioch in 361–362, 365–366 and 371–378. One of his last acts was to preside over the First Council of Constantinople in 381.
Maximus, also known as Maximus I or Maximus the Cynic, was the intrusive archbishop of Constantinople in 380, where he became a rival of Gregory Nazianzus.
Nectarius was the archbishop of Constantinople from AD 381 until his death, the successor to Saint Gregory Nazianzus and predecessor to St. John Chrysostom.
The Arian controversy was a series of Christian disputes about the nature of Christ that began with a dispute between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the relationship between the substance of God the Father and the substance of His Son.
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the regions adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth centuries. They denied the godhood of the Holy Ghost, hence the Greek name Pneumatomachi or 'Combators against the Spirit'.
In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. All of the seven councils were convened in modern-day Turkey.
The East–West Schism that occurred in 1054 represents one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. It includes various events and processes that led to the schism and also those events and processes that occurred as a result of the schism. Eastern and Western Christians had a history of differences and disagreements, some dating back to the period of Early Christianity. At the very root of what later became the Great Schism were several questions of pneumatology and ecclesiology. The most important theological difference occurred over various questions regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the use of the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. One of the main ecclesiological issues was the question of papal supremacy. Other points of difference were related to various liturgical, ritual, and disciplinary customs and practices. Some political and cultural processes also contributed to the breakout of the schism.
The doctrines of Petrine primacy and papal primacy are perhaps the most contentiously disputed in the history of Christianity. Theologians regard the doctrine of papal primacy as having gradually developed in the West due to the convergence of a number of factors, e.g., the dignity of Rome as the only apostolic see in the West; the tradition that both Peter and Paul had been martyred there; Rome's long history as a capital of the Roman Empire; and its continuing position as the chief center of commerce and communication.
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated in its early stage by Constantine the Great and the First Council of Nicaea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787), and in its late stage by the Edict of Thessalonica of 380, which made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire.
In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.
The Edict of Thessalonica, issued on 27 February AD 380 by Theodosius I, made the Catholicism of Nicene Christians the state church of the Roman Empire. It condemned other Christian creeds such as Arianism as heresies of "foolish madmen," and authorized their punishment.
Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire – the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.
Constantine the Great's (272–337) relationship with the four Bishops of Rome during his reign is an important component of the history of the Papacy, and more generally the history of the Catholic Church.
Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire when Emperor Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, which recognized the catholic orthodoxy of Nicene Christians in the Great Church as the Roman Empire's state religion. Most historians refer to the Nicene church associated with emperors in a variety of ways: as the catholic church, the orthodox church, the imperial church, the imperial Roman church, or the Byzantine church, although some of those terms are also used for wider communions extending outside the Roman Empire. The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church all claim to stand in continuity from the Nicene church to which Theodosius granted recognition.
Pope Damasus offered no protest against the elevation of Constantinople, even though Alexandria had always been, in the past, in close contact with Rome. This event, which has often been considered the first conflict between Rome and Byzantium, actually took place in an altogether friendly atmosphere. Everyone continued to regard the Bishop of Rome as the first bishop of the Empire, and the head of the church.