Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch his date of birth and date of birth is uncertain but between 30 – 98 or 117. He was also known as Theophorus from Greek Θεοφόρος “God-bearer”). Ignatius and Polycarp were students of John the Apostle, he wrote some documents which the church preserved  and are proof of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

There is a tradition that says Ignatius was one of the children whom Jesus took in His arms and blessed in the gospels. His letters were we are certain that they were written by him are:

  1. To the Ephesians
  2. To the Magnesians
  3. Letter to the Trallians
  4. To the Romans
  5. To the Philadelphians
  6. To the Smyrnaeans
  7. To Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

Ignatius is claimed to be the first known Christian writer to argue in favor of Christianity's replacement of the Sabbath with the Lord's Day:

Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace…. If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny … how shall we be able to live apart from Him? … It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity— Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, 10:3, Lightfoot translation.

He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning “universal”, “complete” and “whole” to describe the church, writing:

Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation.

Ignatius died under martyrdom and his famous quote is as follows:

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


Soli Deo Gloria