St. Ignatius of Antioch

Personal information:

  • Vague because no biographical details.
    • Only personal information from martyrdom account.
    • He was aka “Theophorus” = “God-bearer” (based on legend that Ignatius was child Jesus took in his arms in Gospel of Mark).
  • Died at Emperor Trajan (117)… but best guess is 107
    • 30 – 107
  • Bishop of Antioch 69 (2nd bishop of Antioch after St. Peter & Evotius).
    • Long episcopate.
    • 2 chairs of St. Peter.

Influences:

  • St Paul – everything centred on Christ.
  • St. John

Topics:

  • Anti-heretical:
    • Against Docetism (that Jesus Christ’s humanity was a mere appearance). Truly born of flesh…truly from David’s line… truly born of a virgin…
  • Christocentric.
  • Trinitarian
    • when talking about Church…
    • But no schema (not systematic).
    • Bishop compared to God, Priests compared to Apostles, Deacons compared to Christ.
  • Ecclesiology:
    • Very hierarchical
      • Monarchical episcopate – earliest witness to 1 bishop in each area (who is a mirror of God & Christ – his office is his relationship to God).
      • Bishop preside in the place of God.
        • Show him utmost respect b/c he office comes from God.
      • Concerned about order in the Church.
    • 3-fold orders
      • Bishops, priests, deacons –> makes up the Church for the local diocese.
    • “Catholic Church”
      • … where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
      • 1st to use this term.
  • Martyrdom:
    • Christ = original martyr.
      • Ignatius wants to be like Christ.
    • He looks forward to his martyrdom, to die and suffer like Christ.
      • especially strong in his letter to the Romans (wrote on his way to Rome)
      •  anticipating to be eaten alive by the beasts (to be ground like wheat & made purest bread).

Works:

  • Gives us letters – to different communities that he passed through & also personal letter to Polycarp (7 letters) on his way to martyrdom in Rome… route → from Antioch (in Turkey), sailed across the Aegean Sea, and continued to Rome.
  • 7 core letters Eusebius says are legit.
    • 15 Epistles bear his name.
      • At Symrna –> wrote Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans
      • At Troas –> wrote Philippians, Symrneans, Polycarp.
    • Long & short versions (short are more authentic).
  • Famous for his holiness & martyrdom.
  • General: Short, full of fervour, appropriate for spiritual reading.

7 Letters:

(1) Letter to Ephesians:

  • Praises them & their excellent bishop Onesimus
  • Be subject to bishops, priests, deacons.
    • Look upon bishop as Jesus Christ.
  • Be in unity.
    • “Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God”
    • Meet together often to worship God.
  • Beware of false teachings.
    • “One physician who is possessed of both flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in the flesh”
    • For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head, that he might breathe immortality into His Church” 
  • Faith = beginning & Love = end.
  • 3 celebrated mysteries of renown:
    1. Virginity of Mary
    2. Jesus’ birth
    3. Jesus’ death
  • Eucharist
    • “the medicine of divine immortality”

(2) Letter to Magnesians

  • Rejoices in their Godly love
  • Warns them.
  • Honour your bishop
    • Bishop Damas – he is young.
    • Mock bishop = mock God.
    • Jesus = bishop of us all.
  • Death
    • For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it, so is it also here
  • Harmony
    • Bishops in place of God
    • Presbyters in place of apostles
    • Deacons
  • Lord’s Day over Sabbath
  • Do NOT Judaize
    • Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity.
  • Needs prayers for himself & Syrian Church.

 

(3) Letter to Trallians

  • Praises them.
  • Be subject to bishop & priests & deacons
    • NO church apart from them.
      • “Within the altar” = pure
    • Bishop Polybius = as Jesus.
    • Priests = apostles of Jesus, sanhedrim of Jesus, assembly of apostles.
    • Deacons are “ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ”
  • Desire for humility
    • Defeats the “prince of this world”
  • Heretics
    • “For those mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does greedily take, with a fatal pleasure, leading to his own death”
  • Doctrine
    • Jesus “truly born… died… raised”

 

(4) Letter to Romans:

  • Unique
    • Because it is the letter of the people he is going to…
    • No mention of bishop
      • Jesus presides… “Presides over love”
    • Most elaborate of all greetings = tremendous respect
      • “Worthy of all… beloved & enlightened by the will of Him.”
    • Presiding in love, second to none in love (early indication of primacy in Rome*).
  • Do NOT save me from martyrdom
    • Afraid of their love
    • Wants to be “sacrificed to God, while the altar is being prepared”
  • Martyrdom
    • A sacrifice to God.
    • Be found a Christian.
    • Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice [to God].

    • All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of9 Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. “For what shall a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?”

    • I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.

(5) Philadelphians

  • Praises bishop
    • Do nothing without him.
    • Follow your shepherd.
  • Avoid schisms. 
  • Eucharist
    • Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to [the will of] God.

  • Do NOT accept Judaism

 

(6) Letter to Symrnaeans

  • Praises God for their faith
  • Creed
    • Truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled5 by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh
  • Beware of heresy
    • They do NOT believe in the Eucharist to be Jesus’ flesh
  • Honour bishop  & Catholic Church
    • honour bishop = honour God
    • ** Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

 

(7) Letter to Polycarp

  • Polycarp = bishop of Smyrneans
  • Many exhortations
    • Part of good athlete is to be brusied & prevail
    • Pray without ceasing
    • Every wound is not healed with the same remedy
    • Crown is immortality
    • Stand like a beaten anvil
    • Consider the times, look for  Him who is above time.

 

Favourite Quotes:

  • “breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of divine immortality” ~ Letter to Ephesians
  • Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice [to God]. ~ Letter to Romans
  • I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life. ~ Letter to Romans
  • Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. ~ Letter to Smyrnaens

 

Other sources:

Trackbacks

  1. […] [2] Conlin, Richard (2016, October 4). St. Ignatius of Antioch [Web log post]. Retrieve October 31, 2017 https://richardconlin.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/st-ignatius-of-antioch/ […]

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