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January 6, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Theophany

On the sixth of this month [January], we commemorate the Holy Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.


The baptism of Christ split the heavens,
That those without defilement may enter therein.
On the sixth the Forerunner baptized Christ in the river.

The Holy Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ the entire holy Church of God celebrates today, performing a vigil from the evening. After arriving at thirty years of age, our Lord wanted to manifest Himself to people that He was God in body. When the Lord was baptized by John, God the Father testified from above with His voice and the occurrence of the Holy Spirit, that He was His Son truly and consubstantially. From that moment He became known to all through His miracles, and His lofty teachings, that He was indeed God, Who through the Prophets was clearly proclaimed.*

He came to Baptism for this cause. When the Lord became man on our behalf, He fulfilled the law throughout His entire life. Because John came from the desert and was baptizing at the Jordan, according to the word of God spoken to him, that is according to the ordinance and the law of God, as the Evangelist Luke says (Lk. 3:2), our Lord wanted to fulfill this word as a divine law. This took place after He had reached thirty years of age, when He went to be baptized by John the Baptist, as others were doing, though He had no need to be baptized, being without sin. John, being reverent towards the Lord and aware of his own unworthiness, said: "I have need to be baptized by You, but You come to me?" But the Lord encouraged and urged John to baptize Him, showing him that what he thought was unfitting, was indeed fitting, namely that the Master should be baptized by the servant. For this reason He said to him: "Let it be so. It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness in this way." Righteousness is here called by the Lord the fulfillment of all the commandments, according to the divine Chrysostom (Discourse on Baptism), as if He said: "Since I fulfilled all the commandments of the divine law, this one alone remained, which is why I must fulfill this one also."

Then John let go of his resistance, and the Lord was baptized by him, and immediately came up out of the water.** And behold the heavens opened, and John saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming to Jesus. And a voice came from the heavens saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." By this was manifested to the Jews, that John was not greater than Christ, as it was falsely assumed by many about him. Rather he was incomparably much lower than Christ, being His servant and subject. For this reason the Spirit descended, bringing down the voice of the Father to Jesus, and He clearly showed as if with a finger, that "This is My beloved Son" was not spoken about John the Baptist, although he possessed great glory and office, but it was spoken about the baptized Jesus.

Having therefore fulfilled this lawful ordinance of baptism, the Lord loosed the curse which was given to Adam for deviating from the divine law. And redeeming us from condemnation, he ceased every lawful ritual, and raised it to be more spiritual and more perfect. This was followed by putting an end to Jewish baptism, and gave us the faithful over to be baptized in the three emersions and immersions which take place in the Baptism which has the grace of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of John being inferior.*** By the Lord being baptized in the one river, He fulfilled the shadowy and imperfect baptism, and opened the doors to the spiritual and divine Baptism of the Church. Having in this way been baptized, we owe it to keep ourselves clean, spotless and undefiled from sins, by occupying ourselves with the life-giving commandments.


* It should be noted, that according to Eusebius, when the Lord was baptized it was the third day of the week. And the sacred Apostolic Constitutions say, that He was baptized at the tenth hour of the night.

** The divine Chrysostom asks: Why do the Evangelists Matthew and Mark say that Jesus immediately came up out of the water? He solves the question as follows. Whereas when others were baptized, because they were sinners, they stayed immersed in the water until they confessed all their sins, and then they came out of the water. Hence it took them some time. The Lord on the other hand, being sinless, and having no sin to confess, immediately came out of the water.

When Christ was baptized, not only did He sanctify the Jordan River, but the entire nature of water, as is clearly testified by the sacred Chrysostom, as he says in his Discourse on the Holy Baptism of the Savior: "This present day it is, on which He was baptised and sanctified the nature of water. Because on this day all, having obtained the waters, do carry it home and keep it all year, since today the waters are sanctified. And an obvious phenomenon occurs: these waters in their essence do not spoil with the passage of time, but obtained today, for one whole year and often for two or three years, they remain unharmed and fresh, and afterwards for a long time do not stop being water, just as that obtained from the fountains."

*** It should be noted that the baptism of John had only one emersion and immersion, and was higher than the Jewish baptism. The Lord was baptized with the baptism of John for two reasons. First, to show that He was the Son of God, as testified by the voice of the Father and the descent of the Holy Spirit. And second, to fulfill all righteousness.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity made its appearance. For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, when He called Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove, confirmed the truth of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast appeared today to the world, and Thy light, O Lord, has been marked upon us, who with full knowledge sing to Thee. Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared, O unapproachable Light.

A great light has shone on Galilee of the Gentiles, on the land of Zebulon and the land of Nephthali, as the prophet said. It is Christ, a bright Dawn appearing as lightning from Bethlehem to those who sat in darkness. The Lord born from Mary, the Sun of Righteousness, sheds His rays on the whole inhabited earth. Come then, naked children of Adam; let us clothe ourselves in Him, that we may be warmed; for He Who covers the naked and enlightens those in darkness, has come. He has appeared, the unapproachable Light.

The Savior Who is Grace and Truth, has appeared in the streams of the Jordan, and illumined those sleeping in darkness and shadow. For He, the unapproachable Light, has come and is made manifest.