Saturday, February 09, 2013

Ignatius, The God-Bearer - Introduction

We know little of Ignatius before his sentence of death. In 107 AD, Ignatius presented himself before the Roman emperor Trajan while he was visiting Antioch, where Ignatius served the church as bishop. He confessed before Trajan that he was a Christian, a confession that, in those days, earned you a one-way ticket to Rome and a chance to compete with wild beasts at the Colosseum. It was on this long journey from Antioch to Rome that Ignatius wrote his seven letters to the church. From there stop at Smyrna, where his younger friend Polycarp was bishop, he wrote letters to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians, and the Romans. From there they sailed and arrived at Troas where he wrote letters to the Philadelphians, the Smyrnæans, and to his friend Polycarp.

It is from these letters that we learn most of what we know about the man who's nickname was Theophorus, which means, God-Bearer. Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John and the older friend of Polycarp, also a disciple of John. From the account of his martyrdom,
"Ignatius, the disciple of John the apostle, a man in all respects of an apostolic character, governed the Church of the Antiochians with great care." (The Martyrdom of Ignatius, Chapter 1)
Ignatius was a man beloved by those in the church and an example to other believes and even to his fellow bishops. The seven letters Ignatius wrote during his journey to Rome have been preserved for us in three separate forms, typically referred to as the shorter, longer, and the Syriac version. I am in no way a scholar of ancient writing so I have adopted the opinion of the majority and will use the shorter version of the letters in the following posts.

Over the next several post we will examine, one by one, the letters of Ignatius. I hope they are a blessing to you and that they also challenge you in your christian life and in your understanding of what it means to be "christian."

David Robison


  1. Anonymous1:27 PM

    What do you about this quote:
    "Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes."

    Knowing that Ignatius was discipled by Apostle St. John?

  2. Hmmm... I guess you will have to wait till I get to Ignatius' letter to the Smyrnæans.