Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ignatius to the Romans - Greetings

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, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, [I wish] abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God." (Ignatius to the Romans, Introduction)
Ignatius greets the believers in Rome. Ignatius' letter to Rome is different from his other letters. First, his other letters are written to those he was leaving behind, but here he is writing to those whom he will soon see. Also, in this letter there is no teaching, as in his other letters, just an impassioned plea for them not to interfere with his death as a martyr.

Ignatius congratulates the Roman church for their worthy character and their adherence  to Jesus. Specifically there are some interesting things that he mentions. He says that they "preside over love." It interesting that the key characteristic of the church that Ignatius highlights is love. They were not first known as a church of authority, or of discipline, but of love. The church is a many faceted organisation, but it is love that binds us together in unity. "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Colossians 3:14)

Secondly, he praises them for being "united" to everyone of God's commandments. Here not referring to the Old Testament law but to the "Law of Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:12) They not only performed outward obedience to His law but were also conformed inwardly to His will; their inward desire and their outward obedience working together to fulfill the Law of Christ.

Finally, he write to them as brothers and sisters in Christ. He, as well as all the early Christian writers, did not view Rome as superior in authority or appointment  For sure, the Church in Rome was important, not because it was divinely elevated, but because of the importance of the city it resided in. Rome was not everyone's superiors, but, more consistent with love, their brothers and sisters.

David Robison


  1. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Hi David, it is apparent that I am unable to read your posts on Ignatius from the beginning, so I plan to start now with the Letter to the Romans.

  2. You can if you scroll to the bottom of the page and click "older posts". Let me know if you still have a problem.