Ignatius begins his letter by greeting the Smyrneans.
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and of the beloved Jesus Christ, which has through mercy obtained every kind of gift, which is filled with faith and love, and is deficient in no gift, most worthy of God, and adorned with holiness: the Church which is at Smyrna, in Asia, wishes abundance of happiness, through the immaculate Spirit and word of God." (Ignatius to the Smyrneans, Introduction)The church at Smyrna was a church that was blessed by God. They had obtained every kind of gift from God, were full of love for God and one another, and were adorned with true holiness in their actions and their inward thoughts. Ignatius' prayer was that, along with all of this, they would also find and receive an abundance of happiness through God.
Of chief importance to Ignatius for the church is Smyrna was to remind them of the truth of the Gospel.
"I Glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh." (Ignatius to the Smyrneans, Chapter 1)Ignatius congratulated them that they had become immovable in their faith, just as if they had been also nailed immovably onto the cross with Christ. The central theme of Ignatius' recitation of the Gospel was the physical participation of Jesus in all these events. Jesus was not some phantom, he was not an apparition, nor was he made of some kind of psudo-flesh, rather he partook of flesh and blood just like us. He was both God and Man. The truth of this fact Jesus entrusted to the church as both "the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)
"Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful [followers], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church." (Ignatius to the Smyrneans, Chapter 1)This faith in the fleshy participation of Christ was central to the truth of the Gospel and the core beliefs of the one Body of Christ, which is His church. The reason that Ignatius held this truth to be so essential and critical to our faith was that if Jesus did not suffer, die, and rise again in the flesh, then we too have no hope for our own resurrection and the reunion of our flesh and spirit after our death.
"Now, He suffered all these things for our sakes, that we might be saved. And He suffered truly, even as also He truly raised up Himself, not, as certain unbelievers maintain, that He only seemed to suffer, as they themselves only seem to be [Christians]. And as they believe, so shall it happen unto them, when they shall be divested of their bodies, and be mere evil spirits." (Ignatius to the Smyrneans, Chapter 2)If Jesus only seemed to suffer or did not suffer in the flesh, then what hope do we have for our own flesh? If the flesh of Christ did not suffer and die then our flesh will neither participate with Him in His resurrection from the dead. Jesus died in the flesh to save both our spirits and our flesh, to save our whole person. He did not come just to save our spirits but also our flesh which will one be reunited with us after our death to live together eternally with Christ where He is. This theme Ignatius will continue throughout his letter.