Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ignatius to the Ephesians - Ambassadors of Love

This is a continuation of my series on Ignatius and the seven letters he wrote while on his way to be martyred in Rome. If you are unfamiliar with Ignatius, you may want to start with the introduction to this series.

Ignatius was encouraged and strengthened by those who had come from Ephesus to share with him the love of the church.
"And Crocus also, worthy both of God and you, whom I have received as the manifestation of your love, hath in all things refreshed me, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ shall also refresh him; together with Onesimus, and Burrhus, and Euplus, and Fronto, by means of whom, I have, as to love, beheld all of you." (Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 2)
Ignatius' response reminds me of the time that Paul was discouraged, even to the point of even disparaging of life. "For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more." (2 Corinthians 7:5-7) We cannot over state the power of our presence to one who is suffering or in the midst of a trial, yet its not us, but the love of God that resides within us as. These men carried not only their love, and the love of the whole church, but also God's love to Ignatius. Often times love must be personal, love must be shrouded in human flesh, and often God uses our human flesh to communicate His love to those who need it.

One of the themes that is so significant to Ignatius is that of unity.
"It is therefore befitting that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ, who hath glorified you, that by a unanimous obedience 'ye may be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, and may all speak the same thing concerning the same thing,' " (Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 2)
Again we hear Paul, "make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Philippians 2:2) This does not mean that we are no longer individuals nor that we are not different one from another, but these differences are not what divide us since there is that which is greater that unites us. What unites us is our unanimous obedience; not to Ignatius, not to their bishop, and not even a leader but to God and His word. Having secured such obedience to ourselves, it produces within us a common mind, judgement, and voice. This is because obedience to God flows from our love of God. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) and Paul replies "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Colossians 3:14) Unity begins with obedience to God.

David Robison


  1. I notice that in abridging this section you did not include that, along with their being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment, it was in their being subject to the bishop and presbyery that they might in all respects be sanctified.

    Depending on what he meant, this could have been part of the beginning of leaders being honored to the point of not being questioned. A bad precedent in my opinion.

  2. yes I did, although only for brevity. You cannot read Ignatius without having to discuss the Bishop and the Presbytery. When reading what he says it is important for us to place ourselves in his shoes and his time and not try to interpret his words based on our present day structures and definition. I agree with you and your caution. However, sometimes I wish we had such men as the Bishops of old to lead and oversee the churches today. I think each of us should and could wish to be like such men of old. David