The city of Antioch was founded three hundred years before the birth of Christ by Seleucus, one of the princely successors of Alexander the Great, and named after his father Antiochus. The Church in Antioch dates back to the days of the foremost apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, as is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Scripture refers to
Antioch as the place where the followers of Jesus Christ were first called "Christians" (Acts 11.26), and records that Nicholas, one of the original seven deacons, was from that city -- and may have been its first convert (Acts 6.5). Located near the mouth of the Orontes River in north western Syria, at the juncture of three important trade routes, it was a large and sophisticated city when Christianity began. According to one of the oldest and strongest of traditions, St. Peter was the actual founder of the Christian church in Antioch, carrying out there his first mission among the Gentiles. He stayed three years, and returned twice more, the last time on his way to Rome and eventual martyrdom.
The Orthodox Church is the first Christian Church. Incredible as it seems, for nineteen and a half centuries she has continued in her undiminished and unaltered faith and practice. Today, her apostolic doctrine, worship, and structure remain intact. The Orthodox Church maintains that the Church is the living Body of Jesus Christ.