Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Church of Smyrna [Part #3]

Detail from a painting showing Ignatius of Antioch being devoured by wild beasts in the arena at Rome. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ignatius_of_Antioch.jpg
Detail from a painting showing Ignatius of Antioch being devoured by wild beasts in the arena at Rome. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ignatius_of_Antioch.jpg

[Chapters 1—3] [Chapters 4—8] [Chapters 9—13]

Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1. Thanks to God for your faith

Chapter 2. Christ’s true passion

Chapter 3. Christ possessed a body after his resurrection

Chapter 4. Beware of these heretics

Chapter 5. Their dangerous errors

Chapter 6. Unbelievers in the blood of Christ shall be condemned

Chapter 7. Let us stand aloof from such heretics

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop

Chapter 9. Honour the bishop

Chapter 10. Acknowledgment of their kindness

Chapter 11. Request to them to send a messenger to Antioch

Chapter 12. Salutations

Chapter 13. Conclusion

Chapter 9. Honour the bishop

Moreover,[1] it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while we yet have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is good to reverence[2] both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, serves the devil.

Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for you are worthy. You have refreshed me in all things: and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. You have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while you endure all things, you shall attain to him.

Chapter 10. Acknowledgment of their kindness

You have done well in receiving Philo and Rheus Agathopus as servants[3] of Christ our God; [which men] have followed me for the sake of God, and who [also] give thanks to the Lord on your behalf, because you have refreshed them in every way. None of these things shall be lost to you. May my spirit be for you, and my bonds, which you have not despised or been ashamed of; nor shall Jesus Christ, our perfect hope, be ashamed of you.

Chapter 11. Request to them to send a messenger to Antioch

“Your prayer has reached as far as the church which is at Antioch in Syria. Coming from that place bound with chains, most acceptable to God, I salute all of you — I, who am not worthy to be named as from that place, inasmuch as I am the least of them.”

Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, chapter 11

Your prayer has reached [as far as] the church which is at Antioch in Syria. Coming from that place bound with chains, most acceptable to God,[4] I salute all [of you] — I, who am not worthy to be named as from [that place], inasmuch as I am the least of them.

Nevertheless, according to the will of God, I have been thought worthy [of this honour]; not that I have any sense[5] [of having deserved it], but by the grace of God, which I wish may be perfectly given to me, so that through your prayers I may attain to God.

In order, therefore, that your work may be complete both on earth and in heaven, it is right that, for the honour of God, your church should elect some worthy delegate;[6] so that, journeying into Syria, he may congratulate them that they are [now] at peace, and are restored to[7] their proper greatness, and that their proper constitution[8] has been re-established among them.

It seems, then, to me a fitting thing, that you should send some one of your number with a letter, so that, in company with them, he may rejoice[9] over the tranquility which, according to the will of God, they have obtained; and because, through your prayers, they have now reached the harbour. As persons who are perfect, you should also aim at[10] those things that are perfect. For when you desire to do well, God also is ready to assist you.

Chapter 12. Salutations

The love of the brothers at Troas salutes you; from where I also write to you by Burrhus, whom, together with the Ephesians your brothers, you sent with me, and who has in all things refreshed me.

And I would that all may imitate him, as being a pattern of a minister[11] of God. Grace will reward him in all things. I salute your bishop, worthy of God, and your presbytery, most acceptable to God;[12] and your deacons, my fellow-servants; and all of you individually as well as generally, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in his flesh and blood, in his Passion and Resurrection, both bodily and spiritual, in the union of God and of you.

Grace, mercy, peace and patience be with you for evermore!

Chapter 13. Conclusion

I salute the families of my brethren, with their wives and children, and the virgins who are called widows.[13] Be strong, I pray, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Philo, who is with me, greets you. I salute the house of Tavias, and pray that it may be confirmed in faith and love, both bodily and spiritual. I salute Alce, my well-beloved,[14] and the incomparable Daphnus, and Eutecnus, and all by name.

Farewell in the grace of God.

[Chapters 1—3] [Prev] [Chapters 9—13]

 

You can find translations of all seven of these letters in The Shorter and Syriac Epistles of Ignatius, available on Amazon.

This translation is © 2018 Graham Harter.

 

 

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[1] Or, “finally”

[2] Literally, “to know”

[3] Or, “deacons”

[4] Literally, “most becoming of God”

[5] Or, “not from any conscience”

[6] Literally, “God-ambassador”

[7] Or, “having received”

[8] Literally, “body” — their meeting in an orderly way

[9] Literally, “may glorify with him”

[10] Or, “think of”

[11] Or, “the ministry”

[12] Literally, “most becoming of God”

[13] The deaconesses seem to have been called ‘widows.’

[14] Literally, “the name desired of me”

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