What did Ignatius of Antioch teach?

Ignatius of Antioch was born around 35-45AD and died around 98 to 110AD.  Another name for him was Ignatius TheophorusHe was a friend of Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle, and chosen by Peter to lead the church in Antioch after Evodius.  It is an early tradition that he is one of the children Jesus took in his arms and blessed. He was martyred in the coliseum.

Being this close to the apostles and eye witnesses of Jesus his understanding of what Jesus did and said and what the apostles meant in their writings is extremely important. But as time went on He became so important and popular that people began to forge letters and made additions to his.  Looking at the oldest recorded letters, mentions, and quotes from other witnesses of the original letters we can see what was taught in the originals and what information is highly suspect.  When only considering the oldest witnessed writings we can see what he taught prior to the imputations and later modifications.

 Some key teachings from Ignatius are:

  • Believers are first chosen by God- Election.
  • The deity of Jesus
  • The Trinity
  • The actual bodily death and resurrection of Jesus
  • Accountability and Righteous Judgement
  • Limited Atonement
  • Virgin Birth
  • Marriage between one man and one woman.

Interestingly despite claims by Catholics, Ignatius never talks about any sort of position of Pope and does not describe the Eucharist the way it is believed by the Catholic Church today.  Thus, these Catholic positions were invented and developed later; even added into later copies of his writings that was not in his original letters.

The following are quotes from his reliable recession authentic writings and organized by thought and subject.  “Eph” stands for Epistle of Ephesians, “Mag” is for the Epistle of the Magnesians. “Tra” for the Epistle to the Trallians.  “Rom” for Epistle to the Romans.  “Phi” for the Epistle to the Philedephians.  “Smy” for the Epistle to the Smynraeans. “Pol” for the Epistle to Polycarp.

Election / Predestination 

Eph Intro:…”predestinated before the beginning485
of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory,
being united486 and elected through the true passion
by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God:”
Eph CH1: Being the followers490 of God, and stirring up491 yourselves by the blood of God
Eph CH21: I have been thought worthy to be chosen628 to show forth the honour of God.

Deity of Jesus

Eph INTRO: by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness
through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.
Eph CH18:   God Himself being manifested
in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a
beginning which had been prepared by God.
Mag CH6; Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of
Rom INTRO; enlightened by the will of Him that
willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our

The Resurrection

Eph CH20:   Jesus Christ, in His faith and in His love, in His suffering and in
His resurrection.
Mag CH9; therefore endure, that we may be found
the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master—how shall we be
able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in
the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they
rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead
Phi INTRO; rejoiceth unceasingly881 in the passion of our Lord, and
is filled with all mercy through his resurrection; which I salute in the
blood of Jesus Christ,

Smy CH3; For I know that after His resurrection also
He was still possessed of flesh,990 and I
believe that He is so now.   And after his resurrection He did eat and drink with them, as
being possessed of flesh, although spiritually He was united to the


Eph CH1:  have acquired by the habit of righteousness, according to the faith
and love in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Eph CH2: therefore befitting
that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ, who hath glorified
Eph CH3: that He may both hear you, and perceive
by your works that ye are indeed the members of His Son.
Eph CH13:  No man [truly] making a profession of faith

Total Depravity

Eph CH12:  I am a
condemned man, ye have been the objects of


Pol CH5; that they be not found slaves to their own desires.

Manifestation of faith is works

Eph CH8:  even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief,


nor unbelief the works of faith. But even those things which ye
do according to the flesh are spiritual; for ye do all things in Jesus

Appointed Elders

Eph CH1:  And blessed be He who has granted unto you, being worthy, to obtain such
an excellent bishop.
Mag CH6; while your bishop presides in the place of God,
and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along
with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the
ministry of Jesus Christ,
Phi CH10; it will become you, as a Church of God, to elect a deacon to act
as the ambassador of God [for you] to [the brethren there], that he may
rejoice along with them when they are met together,
Smy CH11; your Church should elect some worthy delegate;
Pol CH8; and to elect one
whom you greatly love, and know to be a man of activity, who may be
designated the messenger of God;

 Musical Interments

Eph CH3:  For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is
fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore
in your


concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung.
And do ye, man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and
taking up the song of God in unison, ye may with one voice sing to the
Father through Jesus Christ

Church Attendances/involvement

Eph CH4:  Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within
the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one
or two possesses518 such power, how much
more that of the bishop and the whole Church!
Eph CH13:  Take heed, then,
often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise.
For when
ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are
destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims576 is prevented by the unity of your faith.
Mag CH9; If, therefore, those who
were brought up in the ancient order of things680 have come to the possession of a new681 hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living
in the observance682 of the Lord’s Day, on which
also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death—whom
some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith,


Phi CH4; Take ye heed, then, to have but one
Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup
to [show forth904] the unity of His blood; one

The Trinity

Eph CH1: the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God:”
Eph CH2: the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ
Eph CH3:  is the
[manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to
the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ.
Eph CH20:  in one faith of God the Father,
and of Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son, and “the first-born of
every creature,”626 but of the seed of David
according to the flesh, being under the guidance of the Comforter,
Mag CH7: therefore all run together as into one
temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth
from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.
Mag CH13;  in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning
and in the end;  and the apostles to
Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit; that so there may be a
union both fleshly and spiritual.
Rom CH3; For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He
is with840 the Father,


Mag CH10; Therefore, having become His disciples, let
us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity.695 For whosoever is called by any other
name besides this, is not of God.
Rom INTRO;  to those who are united, both
according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who
are filled inseparably with the grace of God

Phi CH8 ; He is the door of the Father, by which enter in Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the Church. 

Scripture Quotes:

1 Corinthians, Ephesians. 1 Timothy, 1 John, Matthew, John, Proverbs, Isaiah, Numbers

Mag CH13; Study, therefore, to be established in
the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, that so all things,
whatsoever ye do, may prosper both in the flesh and spirit;


Eph CH2:  ye may
in all respects be sanctified.
Eph CH14:  For there is not now a
demand for mere profession,585 but that a man be found continuing in the
power of faith to the end.
Tal CH5; Am I not able to write
to you of heavenly things? But I fear to do so, lest I should inflict
injury on you who are but babes [in Christ].


Eph CH3:   I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I begin to be a
disciple, and I speak to you as fellow-disciples with me.
Eph CH12:  I am a
condemned man, ye have been the objects of


Phil CH5; inasmuch as I am not yet perfect.


Eph CH6: It is manifest, therefore, that we
should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the


Himself. And indeed Onesimus himself greatly commends your good order in
God, that ye all live according to the truth, and that no sect Or, “heresy.”
has any dwelling-place among you. 
Tal CH6;  abstain from herbage of a different kind; I mean heresy. For
those755 [that are given
to this] mix756 up Jesus Christ with their own
poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who
administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does
greedily757 take, with a fatal pleasure758 leading to his own death.
Tal CH7; Be on your guard, therefore, against such persons.
Phi CH2;  flee from division and wicked


doctrines; but where the
shepherd is, there do ye as sheep follow. For there are many wolves that
appear worthy of credit, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry
captive889 those that are running
towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.

Righteous Judgement:

Eph CH7:  For some are in the habit of carrying about
the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise
things unworthy of God, whom ye must flee as ye would wild beasts. For
they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom ye must be on
your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured.
Eph CH8: Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed
ye are not deceived, inasmuch as ye are wholly devoted to God.
Eph CH9:  Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have
passed on from this to you, having false doctrine, whom ye did not suffer
to sow among you, but stopped your ears, that ye might not receive those
things which were sown by them, as being stones542 of the temple of the Father,
Eph CH13:  The tree is made manifest by its fruit;584 so those that profess themselves to be
Christians shall be recognised by their conduct.
Mag CH3: not judging rashly, from the manifest
youthful appearance645 [of their
bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or
rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us
Mag CH8; Be not
deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are
unprofitable. For if we
still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not
received grace.
Mag CH11; but, as less than any of you, I desire to guard you
beforehand, that ye fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine,
Phi CH3; If any man
follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the
kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange893 opinion, he
agrees not with the passion [of Christ.].

Hypostatic Union of Jesus

Eph CH7:  There is one Physician who is
possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing
in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and
then impossible,—534 even Jesus Christ our Lord.


Eph CH10:  And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men.
For there is in them hope of repentance
that they


may attain to God.
Phi CH8; To all them that repent, the Lord
grants forgiveness,

Responding to false teachers and persecutors

Eph CH10:  See,554 then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way.
Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in
opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return555 your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye
stedfast556 in the faith; and for their
cruelty, manifest your gentleness. 
Smy CH4; But I


guard you
beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only
not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must
pray to God for them,


Eph CH10:  that so no plant of the devil may be found
in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ,
both with respect to the flesh and spirit.
Eph CH14:  The tree is made manifest by its fruit;584 so those that profess themselves to be
Christians shall be recognised by their conduct.
Eph CH15:  It is better
for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be
one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one
Teacher, who spake and it was done; while even those things which He did
in silence are worthy of


the Father.
Mag CH4; not only to be called
Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of
bishop, but do all things without him.
Mag CH5: The
unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the
character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in
readiness to die into His passion,665 His life is not in us.
Mag CH12;  know that ye cherish modesty711 of spirit; as it is written, “The
righteous man is his own accuser.”712

Prosperity and Material wealth

Rom CH11; All the
pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth,860 shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of861 Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth.
Rom CH12;  Do not speak of Jesus Christ, and yet set your
desires on the world. Let not envy find a dwelling-place among you;

End Times

Eph CH11:  The last
times are come upon us. Let us therefore
be of a reverent spirit, and fear the long-suffering of God, that it tend
not to our condemnation. For let us either stand in awe of the wrath to
come, or show regard for the grace which is at present displayed—
one of two things. 

All will be saved?

Eph CH16:  Those that corrupt families shall not inherit
the kingdom of God.
Smy CH6; if they believe not in the blood of
Christ, shall, in


consequence, incur condemnation.
Smy CH7; They abstain from the Eucharist and
from prayer,1016 because they confess not the
Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for
our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those,
therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death

Existance of Hell

Eph CH16: If, then, those who do
this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this
be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of
God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such an one becoming defiled
[in this way], shall go away into everlasting fire, and so shall every
one that hearkens unto him. 

Existance of Satan

Eph CH17:  Be not ye anointed with the
bad odour of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead
you away captive from the life which is set before you.
Mag CH1: if we endure all the
assaults of the prince of this world, and escape them, we shall enjoy


Eph CH16: If, then, those who do
this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this
be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of
God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified!
Eph CH17:  For this end did the Lord suffer the
ointment to be poured upon His head,
Mag CH11; being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus
Smy Ch2; He suffered all these
things for our sakes, that we might be saved.

The Gospel

Eph CH18:  Let my spirit be counted as nothing606 for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block607 to those that do not believe, but to us
salvation and


life eternal.  For our God, Jesus
Christ, was, according to the appointment609 of God, conceived in the
womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born
and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.
Eph CH19:  Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the
prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the
Lord.   God Himself being manifested
in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a
beginning which had been prepared by God.
Mag CH11; that


ye attain to full assurance in regard to the birth, and
passion, and resurrection which took place in the time of the government
of Pontius Pilate, being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus
Christ, who is our hope,707 from which may no one of
you ever be turned aside.
Tal CH1;  according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His
death, ye may escape from death.
Tal CH9; Stop your ears, therefore, when
any one speaks to you at variance with787


Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary;
who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate;
He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in
heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His
Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so
raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not
possess the true life.
Phi CH5; while I flee to the Gospel as to the flesh of Jesus, and to
the apostles as to the presbytery of the Church. And let us also love the prophets, because they too
have proclaimed the Gospel,917 and placed their hope in Him,918 and waited for
Him; in whom also believing, they were saved, through union to Jesus
Christ, being holy men, worthy of love and admiration, having had witness
borne to them by Jesus Christ, and being reckoned along with [us] in the
Gospel of the common hope.
Phi CH8; But the Gospel possesses
something transcendent [above the former dispensation], viz., the
appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, His passion and resurrection. For
the beloved prophets announced Him,955 but the Gospel is the perfection of immortality.956 All these things are good
together, if ye believe in love.
Smy CH1;He was truly of the seed of
David according to the flesh,975 and the Son
of God according to the will and power976 of God; that He was truly born of a
virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be
fulfilled977 by Him; and was truly,
under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us
in His flesh. Of this fruit978 we are by His divinely-blessed
passion, that He might set up a standard979 for all ages, through His resurrection, to
all His holy and faithful [followers], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in
the one body of His Church.


Mag CH8; For the divinest prophets lived according to Christ
Jesus. On this account also they were persecuted,
being inspired by His grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there
is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is
His eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence,
Phi CH8;  When I heard some saying, If I do not find it in the
ancient947 Scriptures, I will not believe the
Gospel; on my saying to them, It is written, they answered me, That
remains to be proved. But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that
is ancient: His cross, and death, and resurrection, and the faith948 which is by Him, are undefiled monuments of
antiquity; by which I desire, through your prayers, to be justified.


Mag CH8; Works of the Law
Mag CH9; Sabbath Only worship
Mag CH10; Judaizing
Tal CH10-11, Smy CH2; Docetæ
 Phi CH6; Judaism

Husbands, Wives, and Marriage

Pol CH5; Speak to my sisters, that they love the
Lord, and be satisfied with their husbands both in the flesh and spirit.
that they love their wives, even
as the Lord the Church.1092 If any one can continue in a state of purity.  But it becomes both men and women who marry, to form
their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be
according to God, and not after their own lust. Let all things be done to
the honour of God.

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