Skip to comments.The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
Posted on 12/26/2010 2:54:41 PM PST by marshmallow
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.
Chapter 1. Praise of the Ephesians
I have become acquainted with your name, much-beloved in God, which you have acquired by the habit of righteousness, according to the faith and love in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Being the followers of God, and stirring up yourselves by the blood of God, you have perfectly accomplished the work which was beseeming to you. For, on hearing that I came bound from Syria for the common name and hope, trusting through your prayers to be permitted to fight with beasts at Rome, that so by martyrdom I may indeed become the disciple of Him "who gave Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God," Ephesians 5:2 [you hastened to see me ]. I received, therefore, your whole multitude in the name of God, through Onesimus, a man of inexpressible love, and your bishop in the flesh, whom I pray you by Jesus Christ to love, and that you would all seek to be like him. And blessed be He who has granted unto you, being worthy, to obtain such an excellent bishop.
Chapter 2. Congratulations and entreaties
As to my fellow-servant Burrhus, your deacon in regard to God and blessed in all things, I beg that he may continue longer, both for your honour and that of your bishop. And Crocus also, worthy both of God and you, whom I have received as the manifestation of your love, has in all things refreshed 1 Corinthians 16:18, etc. me, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ shall also refresh 1 Corinthians 16:18, etc. him; together with Onesimus, and Burrhus, and Euplus, and Fronto, by means of whom, I have, as to love, beheld all of you. May I always have joy of you, if indeed I be worthy of it. It is therefore befitting that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ, who has glorified you, that by a unanimous obedience "you 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," 1 Corinthians 1:10 and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, you may in all respects be sanctified.
Chapter 3. Exhortations to unity
I do not issue orders to you, as if I were some great person. For though I am bound for the name [of Christ], I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I begin to be a disciple, and I speak to you as fellow-disciples with me. For it was needful for me to have been stirred up by you in faith, exhortation, patience, and long-suffering. But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that you would all run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 4. The same continued
Wherefore it is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also you do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, you may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of His Son. It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus you may always enjoy communion with God.
Chapter 5. The praise of unity
For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity! Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses Matthew 18:19 such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole Church! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, "God resists the proud." Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God.
Chapter 6. Have respect to the bishop as to Christ Himself
Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him. For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, Matthew 24:25 as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself. And indeed Onesimus himself greatly commends your good order in God, that you all live according to the truth, and that no sect has any dwelling-place among you. Nor, indeed, do you hearken to any one rather than to Jesus Christ speaking in truth.
As seen in the extract published here, Ignatius sets forth a model of the Church in which unity with one's bishop is essential. It is the basic model which has been handed down to us and exists in the present day in both Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Calvin, (Institutes, 1-3) and his followers repudiate in toto, the letters which so completely discredit Calvin's own peculiar views on ecclesiastical government.
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I first read St. Ignatius while still a protestant. I immediately knew I had a major problem. haha Now I’m Orthodox.
I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God's sake, if only you do not prevent it.
I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness.
Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God.
I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.
Letter to the Romans
What a great man!
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“we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself”
Thank goodness this epistle is not part of the canon of scripture. The Bible already lays out the mode of church government. The Bible also tells us to give Bishops a double honor. To look on them as we would the Lord is wrong.
I would really, really like to know why those of Asia “turned away” from the teachings of St Paul.
What did they turn to?
That's a fairly common, and happy, occurrence, ag. :)
What were the epistles that touched you most in your journey to orthodoxy?
Yes, that’s why Jesus told us to call no man teacher either — and yet we use the term “Doctor” which means teacher...
I have no trouble with bishops as a Protestant, as long as they are apostolic--that is putting themselves under full apostolic authority--that is, strictly following the written instructions of the Apostles, namely the Bible.
I'm an Anglican.
The Greek for "bishop" is episcopos, meaning simply overseer. The word "presbyter" meaning, simply elder is where the English word "priest" AND Presbyterian derive. Presbyter (elder) is used interchangeably with episcopos (overseer/bishop) in the New Testament
Naturally in the Roman world, where hierarchy of authority was normal in all spheres of life--along with the Jewish world, where a hierarchy of authority existed amidst the religious leadership, presbyters of presbyters, or episcopos of episcopos, that is structures of church authority beyond the local church pastors/elders, would occur--especially in cities, which were the very first places evangelized by St. Paul and the early Church. Even amidst Protestants who deny the office of bishop (like Presbyterians and Baptists) informal hierarchy of persons occurs.
When either Al Mohler (Southern Baptist scholar/leader) or R. C. Sproul (Presbyterian scholar/leader) speaks--people listen and follow, including pastors... Their informal power and influence is MORE, arguably, than many bishops in say, Roman Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican circles.
That is not why ST. Ignatius’s Letter(s) were not included in the Canon. As for Mt 23:9, the context of the passage is not to forbid the use of the word “Father”. Rather, it is to remind the Pharisees that God alone, is the source of all authority.
If Christ meant to strictly forbid the use of the word Father, as you seem to understand what Christ meant [it is a wrong interpretation and one never held in the Apostolic Churches of both the West (Catholic) and East (Orthodox)], then St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians should not be in the Canon and St. Paul should be considered a heretic for he wrote:
“I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (cf 1 Cor 4:14-15).
Actually, it was a combination of the writings of Saints Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr with honorable mention going to Eusebius’ History of the Church.
St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp were the first I read, because I downloaded from the internet everything they wrote immediately upon hearing about them. That was almost five years ago now.
That’s because of the particular protestant tradition you are from. To understand the context of what i said please let me add, “I was raised a southern pentecostal.”
Marvellous — you know, I think we catholics do not teach our young enough. The writings of the early Christians should be mandatory during confirmation
It was not included in the Canon of the NT because Ignatius was not an Apostle, and never claimed to be. The books in the NT which were not written by Paul or one of the Twelve were written by someone under their direct tutelage (e.g., Mark was a disciple of Peter; Luke was a disciple of Paul). Ignatius wrote his epistles 15-20 years after the death of the last Apostle.