Friday, March 08, 2013

Ignatius to the Trallians - 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.

The church of Tralles is another church I never knew existed before but they too sent a delegation to Ignatius to encourage him on his way. On his journey to Rome to be martyred he write to them regarding their common faith.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the holy Church which is at Tralles, in Asia, beloved of God, the Father of Jesus Christ, elect, and worthy of God, possessing peace through the flesh, and blood, and passion of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, through our rising again to Him, which also I salute in its fulness, and in the apostolical character, and wish abundance of happiness." (Ignatius to the Trallians, Introduction)
Ignatius is constant in reminding them, and us, of the realities of our Christian faith; that Jesus was born as a man, lived among us, died in our place, and rose from the dead so that we too might know the power of His resurrection. It is unclear what he means by saluting the church in its fullness; whether he means the fullness of all its members gathered together in unity or in the fullness of the blessings they posses from God. He also solutes them for their apostolic character. Apostolic succession does not always guarantee apostolic character. Just because a church was planted by an apostle or planted by another apostolic church does not guarantee that it will have apostolic character nor is one guaranteed apostolic character just because they preside as a bishop through apostolic succession. Apostolic character is defined as the degree to which we adhere to the teachings and traditions of the apostles. These truths may be handed down to us but its up to us to make them a reality in our lives and in our churches.

Ignatius continues to great the brethren in Tralles.
"I know that ye possess an unblameable and sincere mind in patience, and that not only in present practice, but according to inherent nature, as Polybius your bishop has shown me, who has come to Smyrna by the will of God and Jesus Christ, and so sympathized in the joy which I, who am bound in Christ Jesus, possess, that I beheld your whole multitude in him. Having therefore received through him the testimony of your good-will, according to God, I gloried to find you, as I knew you were, the followers of God." (Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter 1)
He congratulates them form their patience in Christ. Not only could they demonstrate patience when necessary but they were patient by nature. God not only wants us to have present patience but to be patience by nature. God not only wants us to be presently righteousness but to be righteous by nature. God not only whats us to presently love but to be loving by nature. This is the true power of the gospel. Any law can make people presently righteousness but only the grace of God can make us righteous by nature. God's grace reaches down deep inside to change not only our behavior but the very people we are; changing and confirming us to the image of Christ. Making us godly by nature. This is right and suitable for all who are "followers of God."

David Robison

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