Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius and Polycarp were both disciples of John.  He was possibly born during Jesus’s walk on earth but was probably not the child placed in his lap to bless.

15 Epistles bear Ignatius’s name, but only seven of them are believed to be his: epistles to Philippians, Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, Smyrnaeans, and to Polycarp.  Clearly, when he wrote this, he was sentenced to by martyred for his faith in Rome.  Here is the gist of this letters.  You may not necessarily agree with my conclusions, but they are mine and not intended to insult anyone.

1. Iggy anticipates his martyrdom by wild beasts.  He looks forward to joining in Christ who suffered for him.
2. He also seems to know Onesimus. 
4. A lot of emphasis on respecting bishops and presbyters
6. He calls Paul a Christ-bearer and Timothy the most faithful
7. Mentions Mary, the virgin.  I wonder if people just called her the virgin throughout her life because she was one when she bore Jesus as a virgin.  The legend of her perpetual virginity appears early on.
13. “Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye come frequently together in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and his “fiery darts” urging to sin fall back ineffectual.”
19. “Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were wrought in silence, but have been revealed to us.” It’s like, he gets this idea from Revelation 12, which really just symbolizes the Church bearing Christ.
20. “If Jesus Christ shall graciously permit me through your prayers, and if it be His will…” I thought this was sweet.

2. More acknowledgement of bishops and elders.  At this time, they were not the hierarchical mess that they are now.  Bishops are preachers and elders that govern the church.  And we should listen to them if they are truly called of God.
3. Mentions Daniel the wise in Susanna
4. “To those who indeed talk of the bishop, but do all things without him, will He who is the true and first Bishop, and the only High Priest by nature, declare, “Why call ye Me Lord, and do not the things which I say?””
7. “I do nothing on my own” from ESV is a better translation, not the KJV, “I can do nothing on my own.”
10. “Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be.”

3. “And do ye reverence them as Christ Jesus, of whose place they are the keepers, even as the bishop is the representative of the Father of all things, and the presbyters are the Sanhedrim of God, and assembly of the apostles of Christ.”
9. Really good theology.  Go read it.
10. “But as for me, I do not place my hopes in one who died for me in appearance, but in reality.”
12. “And do ye also pray for me, who have need of your love, along with the mercy of God, that I may be thought worthy to attain the lot for which I am now designed, and that I may not be found reprobate.”

2. Do not spare me from martyrdom.  I honestly don’t think anyone should be that eager to be martyred.  If it happens, great, but there’s nothing inherently holy in it.
6. “Do not wish to keep me in a state of death, for life without Christ is death.”
9. He asks them to pray for Syria as he no longer leads them.  At this point, his death must be certain.

1. More praise of the bishop
3. “Keep yourselves, then, from those evil plants which Jesus Christ does not tend, but that wild beast, the destroyer of men, because they are not the planting of the Father, but the seed of the wicked one.”
4. “Wherefore I write boldly to your love, which is worthy of God, and exhort you to have but one faith, and one [kind of] preaching, and one Eucharist.”  More praise of virginity as a great virtue.  He recognizes the apostles that did marry, but this is the beginning of folks acting like sex is evil unless for the purpose of having children.  He also mentions Paul might have been married.  He was not married at the time the Scriptures closed.  I wonder if some later ghost writer wrote in the stuff about Judith and Anna.
6.” If any one says there is one God, and also confesses Christ Jesus, but thinks the Lord to be a mere man, and not the only-begotten God, and Wisdom, and the Word of God, and deems Him to consist merely of a soul and body, such an one is a serpent, that preaches deceit and error for the destruction of men.”
9.  The Old Testament is Good; the New Testament is better. “The priests indeed, and the ministers of the word, are good; but the High Priest is better, to whom the holy of holies has been committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God.”
10. More about appointing a new bishop to succeed Ignatius.  These are seeds of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession.  It’s like, once the 11 appointed Matthias, and once they all started dying, they felt like they needed to appoint successors to them.  To an extent, I guess I do believe in Apostolic succession, but in the same sense that in Christ we are all prophets, priests, and kings.  An Apostle is anyone who Christ himself trained.  If a man is truly called to be lead a church as apostle, it is because Christ truly called him, and there are many in that office who Christ did not call.

2. “Now, He suffered all these things for us; and He suffered them really, and not in appearance only, even as also He truly rose again.”
3.  Not only did Christ have a real body that really suffered death, it also really came back to life and walked the earth for 40 more days.

1. “Maintain thy position with all care, both in the flesh and spirit. Have a regard to preserve unity, than which nothing is better. Bear with all even as the Lord does with thee.”
5. “Flee evil arts and the public discourse of them.”  Even then, bad media got in the way of husbands and wives.
6. Telling Polycarp to heed the bishop when he is the bishop.
7. “Seeing that the Church which is at Antioch in Syria is, as report has informed me, at peace, through your prayers, I also am the more encouraged, resting without anxiety in God,1115 if indeed by means of suffering I may attain to God.”

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