One theologian spoke thus,
“Just as we become aware of a meteor only when, after traveling silently through space for untold millions of miles, it blazes briefly through the atmosphere before dying in a shower of fire, so it is with Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria.” Writing sometime between A.D. 98-117, the good bishop writes the following to the Christians in Rome.
IGNATIUS to the Romans
0:0 Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that
hath found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father
Most High and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the
church that is beloved and enlightened through the
will of Him who willed all things that are, by faith
and love towards Jesus Christ our God; even unto her
that hath the presidency in the country of the region
of the Romans, being worthy of God, worthy of honour,
worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of
success, worthy in purity, and having the presidency
of love, walking in the law of Christ and bearing the
Father’s name; which church also I salute in the name
of Jesus Christ the Son of the Father; unto them that
in flesh and spirit are united unto His every
commandment, being filled with the grace of God
without wavering, and filtered clear from every
foreign stain; abundant greeting in Jesus Christ our
God in blamelessness.
1:1 Forasmuch as in answer to my prayer to God it
hath been granted me to see your godly countenances,
so that I have obtained even more than I asked; for
wearing bonds in Christ Jesus I hope to salute you, if
it be the Divine will that I should be counted worthy
to reach unto the end;
1:2 for the beginning verily is well ordered, if so
be I shall attain unto the goal, that I may receive
mine inheritance without hinderance. For I dread your
very love, lest it do me an injury; for it is easy for
you to do what ye will, but for me it is difficult to
attain unto God, unless ye shall spare me.
2:1 For I would not have you to be men-pleasers but
to please God, as indeed ye do please Him. For neither
shall I myself ever find an opportunity such as this
to attain unto God, nor can ye, if ye be silent, win
the credit of any nobler work. For, if ye be silent
and leave me alone, I am a word of God; but if ye
desire my flesh, then shall I be again a mere cry.
2:2 [Nay] grant me nothing more than that I be
poured out a libation to God, while there is still an
altar ready; that forming yourselves into a chorus in
love ye may sing to the Father in Jesus Christ, for
that God hath vouchsafed that the bishop from Syria
should be found in the West, having summoned him from
the East. It is good to set from the world unto God,
that I may rise unto Him.
3:1 Ye never grudged any one; ye were the
instructors of others. And my desire is that those
lessons shall hold good which as teachers ye enjoin.
3:2 Only pray that I may have power within and
without, so that I may not only say it but also desire
it; that I may not only be called a Christian, but
also be found one. For if I shall be found so, then
can I also be called one, and be faithful then, when I
am no more visible to the world.
3:3 Nothing visible is good. For our God Jesus
Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly
visible. The Work is not of persuasiveness, but
Christianity is a thing of might, whensoever it is
hated by the world.
4:1 I write to all the churches, and I bid all men
know, that of my own free will I die for God, unless
ye should hinder me. I exhort you, be ye not an
unseasonable kindness to me. Let me be given to the
wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God. I
am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild
beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ].
4:2 Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may
become my sepulchre and may leave no part of my body
behind, so that I may not, when I am fallen asleep, be
burdensome to any one. Then shall I be truly a
disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world shall not so
much as see my body. Supplicate the Lord for me, that
through these instruments I may be found a sacrifice
4:3 I do not enjoin you, as Peter and Paul did. They
were Apostles, I am a convict; they were free, but I
am a slave to this very hour. Yet if I shall suffer,
then am I a freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall
rise free in Him. Now I am learning in my bonds to put
away every desire.
5:1 From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild
beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being
bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers,
who only wax worse when they are kindly treated.
Howbeit through their wrong doings I become more
completely a disciple; _yet am I not hereby
5:2 May I have joy of the beasts that have been
prepared for me; and I pray that I may find them
prompt; nay I will entice them that they may devour me
promptly, not as they have done to some, refusing to
touch them through fear. Yea though of themselves they
should not be willing while I am ready, I myself will
force them to it.
5:3 Bear with me. I know what is expedient for me.
Now am I beginning to be a disciple. May nought of
things visible and things invisible envy me; that I
may attain unto Jesus Christ. Come fire and cross and
grapplings with wild beasts, [cuttings and manglings,]
wrenching of bones, hacking of limbs, crushings of my
whole body, come cruel tortures of the devil to assail
me. Only be it mine to attain unto Jesus Christ.
6:1 The farthest bounds of the universe shall profit
me nothing, neither the kingdoms of this world. It is
good for me to die for Jesus Christ rather than to
reign over the farthest bounds of the earth. Him I
seek, who died on our behalf; Him I desire, who rose
again [for our sake]. The pangs of a new birth are
6:2 Bear with me, brethren. Do not hinder me from
living; do not desire my death. Bestow not on the
world one who desireth to be God’s, neither allure him
with material things. Suffer me to receive the pure
light. When I am come thither, then shall I be a man.
6:3 Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my
God. If any man hath Him within himself, let him
understand what I desire, and let him have fellow-
feeling with me, for he knoweth the things which
7:1 The prince of this world would fain tear me in
pieces and corrupt my mind to Godward. Let not any of
you therefore who are near abet him. Rather stand ye
on my side, that is on God’s side. Speak not of Jesus
Christ and withal desire the world.
7:2 Let not envy have a home in you. Even though I
myself, when I am with you, should beseech you, obey
me not; but rather give credence to these things which
I write to you. [For] I write to you in the midst of
life, yet lusting after death. My lust hath been
crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in
me, but only water living +and speaking+ in me, saying
within me, Come to the Father.
7:3 I have no delight in the food of corruption or
in the delights of this life. I desire the bread of
God, which is the flesh of Christ who was of the seed
of David; and for a draught I desire His blood, which
is love incorruptible.
8:1 I desire no longer to live after the manner of
men; and this shall be, if ye desire it. Desire ye,
that ye yourselves also may be desired.
8:2 In a brief letter I beseech you; believe me. And
Jesus Christ shall make manifest unto you these
things, that I speak the truth — Jesus Christ, the
unerring mouth in whom the Father hath spoken [truly].
8:3 Entreat ye for me, that I may attain [through
the Holy Spirit]. I write not unto you after the
flesh, but after the mind of God. If I shall suffer,
it was your desire; if I shall be rejected, it was
9:1 Remember in your prayers the church which is in
Syria, which hath God for its shepherd in my stead.
Jesus Christ alone shall be its bishop — He and your
9:2 But for myself I am ashamed to be called one of
them; for neither am I worthy, being the very last of
them and an untimely birth: but I have found mercy
that I should be some one, if so be I shall attain
9:3 My spirit saluteth you, and the love of the
churches which received me in the name of Jesus
Christ, not as a mere wayfarer: for even those
churches which did not lie on my route after the flesh
went before me from city to city.
10:1 Now I write these things to you from Smyrna by
the hand of the Ephesians who are worthy of all
felicitation. And Crocus also, a name very dear to me,
is with me, with many others besides.
10:2 As touching those who went before me from Syria
to Rome unto the glory of God, I believe that ye have
received instructions; whom also apprise that I am
near; for they all are worthy of God and of you, and
it becometh you to refresh them in all things.
10:3 These things I write to you on the 9th before
the Kalends of September. Fare ye well unto the end in
the patient waiting for Jesus Christ.