St Ignatius of Antioch

St Ignatius of Antioch iconIgnatius of Antioch (35/50 – 98/117) – a disciple of the Apostle John who was also very good friends with Polycarp.  He was the bishop of Antioch and his seven authentic letters were written rather hastily as he was being forcefully moved to Rome for persecution.  These were likely written some time around 110 AD.

There exists a shorter and longer version of each of his letters.  Some say the shorter versions are more authentic, others the longer.  There aren’t any huge differences I noticed between the two other than a lot of scripture references are absent from the shorter versions.  Whether these were removed from the original letters for the sake of brevity while copying by hand, or added later for the sake of clarity, nobody really knows.  Either version is a worthwhile read and essentially contains the same message.

I included the shorter versions here on my website because I personally think that they are probably the originals.  As mentioned above, these letters were written in haste when St Ignatius was on a forceful march to his death.  I think they were probably gently edited in the proceeding centuries.

With that said, one of my largest target audiences with this website are those who are “Orthodox inquirers.”  When I was inquiring, I wanted to read the original ancient documents, and not anything that had been “touched up” by a Church that I felt was possibly corrupt.

There are seven legit epistles by St Ignatius.  Those I have included.  The others out there that bear his name were probably not written by him.  These seven epistles significantly impacted my thoughts about the early Church, and each of them are a fairly quick read.

Without further ado, here are the Epistles of St Ignatius of Antioch:

2 thoughts on “St Ignatius of Antioch”

  1. Wow. Just. Wow. Thank you for sharing these. My husband and I are now Orthodox Catechumens and are struggling with the hurdle called “The One Catholic and Apostolic Church IS Orthodoxy”. We balk about how we will be expected to relate to other churches and Christians. Well, I have to say these letters cut me to the quick. I find nothing in these that speaks of an “invisible” Church bonded in some sort of intellectual unity of belief in Jesus; nothing but a spiritual reality. In fact I find statements like this:

    “If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” *gulp* *crosses self*

    and this:

    “Be ye subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Jesus Christ to the Father, according to the flesh, and the apostles to Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit; that so there may be a union both fleshly and spiritual.”

    Man… difficult but oh so necessary stuff. I am home.

    1. Eliana, these epistles played a large part in convincing me that the Orthodox Church IS that ever-so-elusive “early Church” that Protestants constantly talk about.

      St. Ignatius was being led to his death, he had no time to think about ways to say things nicely and was rather blunt and forward with his letters. They cut me to the quick as well when I first read them, and they still do.

      I try to stay away from hotly debated topics on this blog such as homosexuality or ecumenism because I’m still fairly new to the faith and have so much to learn, but you are right, he leaves no room for an “invisible church” doctrine.

Leave a Reply