There is nearly unanimous agreement that Ignatius was martyred sometime during the reign of Trajan (AD. 98-117). Writing to various churches before his death, his letters emphasize unity and truth. Ignatius is also keen on finishing the race well. He is about to be thrown to the lions, and he wants to reassure the churches that this is all very well.
In his letter to the Romans, he says in one place, “The Work is not a matter of persuasive rhetoric; rather, Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world.” Soon after penning those words, he speaks of his impending death in this way:
“May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me promptly, not as they have done with some, whom they were too timid to touch. And if when I am willing and ready they are not, I will force them. Bear with me- I know what is best for me. Now at last I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing visible or invisible envy me, so that I may reach Jesus Christ. Fire and cross and battles with wild beasts, mutilation, mangling, wrenching of bones, the hacking of limbs, the crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil- let these come upon me, only let me reach Jesus Christ!
Neither the ends of the earth nor the kingdoms of this age are of any use to me. It is better for me to die for Jesus Christ than to rule over the ends of the earth. Him I seek. who died on our behalf; him I long for, who rose again for our sake. The pains of birth are upon me. Bear with me, brothers: do not keep me from living; do not desire my death. Do not give to the world one who wants to belong to God, nor tempt him with material things. Let me receive the pure light, for when I arrive there I will be a man. Allow me to be an imitator of the suffering of my God. If anyone has Him within himself, let him understand what I long for and sympathize with me, knowing what constrains me.”
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