I heard this from a Catholic friend of mine: He said, in explaining where Orthodoxy is coming from, that because St. Andrew told his brother Simon about Jesus, he's the real leader of the church and hence the Church which claims its succession from Andrew is the true Church and since that Church is the Orthodox Church, they're the real deal.

Is this 3rd hand, 3rd grade articulation of the origins of Eastern Orthodox apostolic succession and legitimacy even close to what they actually believe?

  • Following the first chapter of John's gospel, the Apostle Andrew is commonly styled the First-Called; thus, one could say that he has a chronological primacy among the apostles. Since he is traditionally believed to have preached in Scythia (the section's last two paragraphs), and be later martyred in Patras, he is seen as a patron saint by Orthodox Slavs, Greeks, and Romanians.
    – user46876
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


As an Eastern Orthodox, I've never heard this line of reasoning.

Instead, what is usually discussed is the difference between primacy and supremacy. In the Orthodox view, among all the bishops, there were five who were regarded as preeminent based on the importance of their sees. These were:

  • Rome
  • Constantinople
  • Alexandria
  • Antioch
  • Jerusalem

The Orthodox recognized Rome as "first among equals", that is, as the preeminent bishop among the five great sees, and among all bishops everywhere. In disputes, Orthodox would from time to time appeal to Rome.

However, the Orthodox reject the idea that the bishop of Rome is on a level above or superior to other bishops. All bishops are the successors of the apostles. There's no reason to suppose that the bishop of Rome has an office that is different in kind from the office of bishop held by all the other bishops.

The significance of Rome is not the Petrine founding of the church there, but simply the fact that it was the capital city of the Roman Empire. In 381, Constantinople received the second place of honor after Rome, not due to any apostolic heritage, but because it was the second most important city after Rome.

  • So, basically your saying that Peter and Andrew are equals, in the same way that the historic bishops were supposed to be equals. I like it! Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 14:44

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