Ignatius

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About Ignatius

Ignatius Nurono (lit. “The fire-bearer”) was an Apostolic Father, student of the Apostle John, and the third bishop of Antioch.  En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom by being fed to wild beasts, he wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology.

CHAPTER I.

1 Declares his joy for their firmness in the Gospel.

4 Enlarges on the person of Christ, against such  as pretend that Christ did not suffer.

IGNATIUS, who is also called  Theohorus, to the church of  God the Father, and of the beloved  Jesus Christ, which God hath  mercifully blessed with every  good gift; being filled with faith  and charity, so that it is wanting  in no gift; most worthy of God,  and fruitful in saints; the church  which is at Smyrna in Asia; all  through his immaculate spirit,  through word of God.

2 I glorify God, even Jesus  Christ, who has given you such  wisdom.

3 For I have observed that you  are settled in an immoveable faith,  as if you were nailed to the cross  of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in  the flesh and in the spirit; and  are confirmed in love through the  blood of Christ; being fully  persuaded of those things which  relate unto our Lord.

4 Who truly was of the race  of David according to the flesh,  but the Son of God according to  the will and power of God;  truly born of the Virgin, and  baptised of John; that so all  righteousness might be fulfilled  by him.

5 He was also truly crucified  by Pontius Pilate, and Herod the  Tetrarch, being nailed for us in  the flesh; by the fruits of which  we are, even by his most blessed  Passion;

6 That he might set up a token  for all ages through his resurrection,  to all his holy and faithful servants,  whether they be Jews or Gentiles,  in one body of his church.

7 Now all these things he suffered  for us that we might be saved; and  he suffered truly, as he also truly  raised up himself; and not, as some  unbelievers say, that he only seemed  to suffer; they themselves ‘only  seeming to be.’

8 And as they believe so shall it  happen unto them, when being divested  of the body they shall become mere  spirits.

9 But I know that even after his  resurrection he was in the flesh;  and I believe that he is still so.

10 And when he came to those  who were with Peter, he said  unto them, Take, handle me, and  see that I am not an incorporeal  daemon. And straightway they  felt and believed; being convinced  both by his flesh and spirit.

11 For this cause they despised  death, and were bound to be above  it.

12 But after his resurrection he  did eat and drink with them, as he  was flesh; although as to his  Spirit he was united to the Father.

CHAPTER II.

1 Exhorts them against heretics.

8 The danger of their doctrine.

NOW these things, beloved, I put  you in mind of, not questioning  but that you yourselves also  believe that they are so.

2 But I arm you before-hand  against certain beasts in the shape  of men, whom you must not only  not receive, but if it be possible  must not meet with.

3 Only you must pray for them,  that if it be the will of God they  may repent; which yet will be  very hard. But of this our Lord  Jesus Christ has the power, who  is our true life.

4 For if all these things were  done only in show by our Lord,  then do I also seem only to be  bound:

5 And why have I given up myself  to death, to the fire, to the  sword, to wild beasts?

6 But now the nearer I am to  the sword, the nearer I am to  God: when I shall come among  the wild beasts, I shall come to  God.

7 Only in the name of Jesus  Christ, I undergo all, to suffer  together with him; he who was  made a perfect man strengthening,  me.

8 Whom some not knowing, do  deny; or rather have been denied  by him, being the advocates of  death, rather than of the truth.  Whom neither the prophecies, nor  the law of Moses have persuaded;  nor the Gospel itself, even to this  day; nor the sufferings of every  one of us.

9 For they think also the same  things of us. For what does a  man profit me, if he shall praise  me, and blaspheme my Lord; not  confessing that he was truly made  man?

10 Now he that doth not say  this, does in effect deny him,  and is in death. But for the names  of such as do this, they being  unbelievers, I thought it not  fitting to write them unto you.

11 Yea, God forbid that I should  make any mention of them, till  they shall repent to a true belief  of Christ’s passion, which is our  resurrection.

12 Let no man deceive himself;  both the things which are in heaven,  and the glorious angels, and princes,  whether visible or invisible, if they  believe not in the blood of Christ,  it shall be to them, unto condemnation.

13 He that is able to receive  this, let him receive it. Let no  man’s place or state in the world  puff him up: that which is worth  all his faith and charity, to it  nothing is to be preferred.

14 But consider those who are  of a different opinion from us,  as to what concerns the grace of  Jesus Christ which is come unto us,  how contrary they are to the  design of God.

15 They have no regard to charity,  no care of the widow, the fatherless,  and the oppressed; of the bond or  free, of the hungry or thirsty.

16 They abstain from the eucharist,  and from the public offices;  because they confess not the eucharist  to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus  Christ which suffered for our sins,  and which the Father of his goodness  raised again from the dead.

17 And for this cause contradicting  the gift of God, they die in their  disputes; but much better would it  be for them to receive it, that they  might one day rise through it.

18 It will therefore become you.  to abstain from such persons, and  not to speak with them, neither in  public nor in private.

19 But to hearken to the prophets,  and especially to the Gospel, in  which both Christ’s passion is  manifested unto us, and his  resurrection perfectly declared.

20 But flee all divisions, as the  beginning of evils.

CHAPTER III.

1 Exhorts them to follow their bishop and pastors;  but especially their bishop.

6 Thanks them for their kindness,

11 and acquaints them with the ceasing of the  persecution at Antioch.

SEE that ye all follow your  bishop, as Jesus Christ, the  Father; and the presbytery, as  the Apostles; and reverence the  deacons, as the command of God.

2 Let no man do any thing  of what belongs to the church  separately from the bishop.

3 Let that eucharist be looked  upon as well established, which is  either offered by the bishop, or by  him to whom the bishop has given.  his consent.

4 Wheresoever the bishop shall  appear, there let the people also  be: as where Jesus Christ is, there  is the Catholic church.

5 It is not lawful without the  bishop; neither to baptize, nor to  celebrate the Holy Communion  but whatsoever he shall approve  of, that is also pleasing unto God;  that so whatever is done, may be  sure and well done.

6 For what remains, it is very  reasonable that we should repent  whilst there is yet time to return  unto God.

7 It is a good thin to have a  due regard both to God, and to  the bishop: he that honors the  bishop, shall be honored of God;  but he that does any thing without  his knowledge, ministers unto the  devil.

8 Let all things therefore abound  to you in charity; seeing that ye  are worthy.

9 Ye have refreshed me in all  things; so shall Jesus Christ you.  Ye have loved me both when I was  present with you, and now being  absent, ye cease not to do so.

10 May God be your reward,  for whom whilst ye undergo all  things, ye shall attain unto  him.

11 Ye have done well in that ye  have received Philo, and Rheus  Agathopus, who followed me for  the word of God, as the deacons  of Christ our God.

12 Who also gave thanks unto  the Lord for you, forasmuch as ye  have refreshed them in all things.  Nor shall any thing that you have  done be lost to you.

13 My soul be for yours, and  my bonds which ye have not despised,  nor been ashamed of. Wherefore  neither shall. Jesus Christ,  our perfect faith, be ashamed  of you.

14 Your prayer is come to the  church of Antioch, which is in  Syria. From whence being sent  bound with chains becoming God.  I salute the churches; being not  worthy to be called from thence,  as being the least among them.

15 Nevertheless by the will of  God I have been thought worthy  of this honor; not for that I  think I have deserved it, but by  the grace of God;

16 Which I wish may be perfectly  given unto me, that through your  prayers I may attain unto God.

17 And therefore, that your  work may be fully accomplished,  both upon earth and in heaven;  it will be fitting, and for the  honor of God, that your church  appoint some worthy delegate,  who being come as far as Syria,  may rejoice together with them  that they are in peace; and that  they are again restored to their  former state, and have again  received their proper body.

18 Wherefore I should think it  a worthy action, to send some  one from you with an epistle,  to congratulate with them their  peace in God; and that through  your prayers, they have now  gotten to their harbor.

19 For inasmuch as ye are perfect  yourselves, you ought to think  those things that are perfect. For  when you are desirous to do well,  God is ready to enable you there.  unto.

20 The love of the brethren that  are at Troas salute you; from whence  I write to you by Burrhus whom ye  sent with me, together with the  Ephesians, your brethren; and who  has in all Things refreshed me.

21 And I would to God that all  would imitate him, as being a pattern  of the ministry of God. May his grace  fully reward him.

22 I salute your very worthy  bishop, and your venerable presbytery;  and your deacons, my fellow-servants;  and all of you in general, and every  one in particular, in the name of  Jesus Christ, and in his flesh and  blood; in his passion and resurrection  both fleshly and spiritually; and in  the unity of God with you.

23 Grace be with you, and mercy,  and peace, and patience, for evermore.

24 I salute the families of my  brethren, with their wives and  children; and the virgins that are  called widows. Be strong in the  power of the Holy Ghost. Philo,  who is present with me salutes  you.

25 I salute the house of Tavias,  and pray that it may be strengthened  in faith and charity, both of flesh  and spirit.

26 I salute Alce my well-beloved,  together with the incomparable  Daphnus, and Eutechnus, and all  by name.

27 Farewell in the grace of God.

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