This new family-the body of Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit-is responsible for writing the Gospel, which is not a systematic exposition of the Christian teaching, precisely because it is not concerned with teaching. Jesus did not leave behind Him a new philosophical system, nor did He institute a mere religion. He left His body and sent His Spirit. And the Gospel consists of fundamental elements from the life of Jesus and the experience of the new community in Christ. St John the Evangelist speaks clearly of the restricted character of the Gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). However, those things which the world could not contain if they were written in detail are found, made known and lived in the Church, where Jesus Himself lives. Those who think they know Christ outside the Church know very few things about Him; those who belong to the Church live “in Him”. Thus we can say that the Gospel is essentially a “private” book. It belongs to the Church, which has a world-wide mission. Or, to put it another way, outside the Church the Gospel is a sealed and incomprehensible book. This is characteristically expressed in the way that it is placed on the altar in the Orthodox Church, for it is within the Church that the ministry of the Gospel is accomplished.
Later, when needs present themselves, the Church will formulate dogma, which is only an expression, perhaps in a different way, of the truth which it has embraced from the day of Pentecost, “Having received all the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit…” the Fathers who proclaimed Christ “set forth the faith taught by God.”
The Gospel and dogma are expressions of the same Spirit of the Church. The Church is not producing literature when it writes the Gospel nor engaging in philosophy when it formulates dogma, but in both cases it is expressing the fulness of the new life hidden within it. For this reason, the Gospel cannot be understood outside the Church nor dogma outside worship.
Archimandrite Vasileios Hymn of Entry (p. 17-18)