I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that you also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but if possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance — which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this.
“But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then I also am bound only in appearance. And why then have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But in fact, he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God: provided only that he is so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things so that I may suffer together with him, he who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.”
Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, chapter 4
But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then I also am bound only in appearance. And why [then] have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But [in fact], he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God: provided only that he is so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things so that I may suffer together with him, he who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.
Chapter 5. Their dangerous errors
Some ignorantly deny him — or rather have been denied by him — being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. These persons neither the prophets have persuaded, nor the Law of Moses, nor the gospel even to this day, nor the sufferings we have individually endured. For they also think the same thing regarding us.
For what does anyone profit me, if he commends me but blasphemes my Lord, not confessing that he [truly] possessed a body? But he who does not acknowledge this, has in fact altogether denied him, being enveloped in death. I have not, however, thought it good to write the names of such persons, inasmuch as they are unbelievers. Indeed, far be it from me to make any mention of them, until they repent and return to [a true belief in] Christ’s Passion, which is our resurrection.
Chapter 6. Unbelievers in the blood of Christ shall be condemned
Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels, and rulers both visible and invisible, if they do not believe in the blood of Christ, shall in consequence incur condemnation. “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Do not let [high] place puff anyone up: for the whole [of our calling] is faith and love, to which nothing is to be preferred. But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come to us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; [no care] of the slave, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty.
Chapter 7. Let us stand aloof from such heretics
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, and whom the Father, [out] of his goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, so that they also might rise again.
It is right, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not speak of them either in private or in public, but [instead] give heed to the prophets, and above all to the gospel, in which the Passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully perfected. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.
Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father; and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God.
Let no man do anything connected with the church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.
Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude be also; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
Graham is an evangelical Christian believer living in Sussex, UK. He is passionate about helping people to understand what the Bible really says, and about explaining what the Christians of the early centuries believed and taught.