Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians
|Ruins of Philadelphia|
Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, which is in Philadelphia of Asia, which has found mercy and is firmly established in the concord of God and rejoices in the passion of our Lord and in His resurrection without wavering, being fully assured in all mercy; which church I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, that is eternal and abiding joy; more especially if they be at one with the bishop and the presbyters who are with him, and with the deacons that have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom after His own will He confirmed and established by His Holy Spirit.
This your bishop I have found to hold the ministry which pertains to the common weal, not of himself or through men, nor yet for vain glory, but in the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And I am amazed at his forbearance; whose silence is more powerful than others' speech. For he is attuned in harmony with the commandments, as a lyre with its strings. Wherefore my soul blesses his godly mind, for I have found that it is virtuous and perfect -- even the imperturbable and calm temper which he has, while living in all godly forbearance.
As children therefore of the light of the truth, shun division and wrong doctrines; and where the shepherd is, there follow you as sheep. For many specious wolves with baneful delights lead captive the runners in God's race; but, where you are at one, they will find no place.
Abstain from noxious herbs, which are not the husbandry of Jesus Christ, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found division among you, but filtering. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, they are with the bishop; and as many as shall repent and enter into the unity of the Church, these also shall be of God, that they may be living after Jesus Christ. Be not deceived, my brethren. If any man follows one that makes a schism, he does not inherit the kingdom of God. If any man walks in strange doctrine, he has no fellowship with the passion.
Be ye careful therefore to observe one Eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in His blood; there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbtery and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever you do, you may do it after God.
My brethren, my heart overflows altogether in love towards you; and rejoicing above measure I watch over your safety; yet not I, but Jesus Christ, wearing whose bonds I am the more afraid, because I am not yet perfected. But your prayer will make me perfect unto God, that I may attain the inheritance wherein I have found mercy, taking refuge in the Gospel as the flesh of Jesus and in the Apostles as the presbytery of the Church. Yes, and we love the prophets also, because they too pointed to the Gospel in their preaching and set their hope on Him and awaited Him; in whom also having faith they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being worthy of all love and admiration as holy men, approved of Jesus Christ and numbered together in the Gospel of our common hope.
But if any one propound Judaizing unto you, do not hear him: for it is better to hear Christianity from a man who is circumcised than Judaizing from one uncircumcised. But if either the one or the other does not speak concerning Jesus Christ, I look on them as tombstones and graves of the dead, whereon are inscribed only the names of men. Shun therefore the wicked arts and plots of the prince of this world, lest you eventually be crushed by his devices, and wax weak in your love. But assemble yourselves all together with undivided heart.
And I give thanks to my God, that I have a good conscience in my dealings with you, and no man can boast either in secret or openly, that I was burdensome to any one in small things or in great. Yes and for all among whom I spoke, it is my prayer that they may not turn it into a testimony against themselves.
For even though certain persons desired to deceive me after the flesh, yet the spirit is not deceived, being from God; for it knows whence it comes and where it goes, and it searches out the hidden things. I cried out, when I was among you; I spoke with a loud voice, with God's own voice, Give heed to the bishop and the presbytery and deacons. Howbeit there were those who suspected me of saying this, because I knew beforehand of the division of certain persons. But He in whom I am bound is my witness that I learned it not from flesh of man; it was the preaching of the Spirit who spoke on this wise; Do nothing without the bishop; keep your flesh as a temple of God; cherish union; shun divisions; be imitators of Jesus Christ, as He Himself also was of His Father.
I therefore did my own part, as a man composed unto union. But where there is division and anger, there God abides not. Now the Lord forgives all men when they repent, if repenting they return to the unity of God and to the council of the bishop. I have faith in the grace of Jesus Christ, who shall strike off every fetter from you; and I entreat you, Do nothing in a spirit of factiousness but after the teaching of Christ. For I heard certain persons saying, If I find it not in the charters, I believe it not in the Gospel. And when I said to them, It is written, they answered me That is the question. But as for me, my charter is Jesus Christ, the inviolable charter is His cross and His death and His resurrection, and faith through Him; wherein I desire to be justified through your prayers.
The priests likewise were good, but better is the High-Priest to whom is committed the holy of holies; for to Him alone are committed the hidden things of God; He Himself being the door of the Father, through which Abraham and Isaac and Jacob enter in, and the Prophets and the Apostles and the whole Church; all these things combine in the unity of God. But the Gospel has a singular preeminence in the advent of the Savior, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and His passion and resurrection. For the beloved Prophets in their preaching pointed to Him; but the Gospel is the completion of immortality. All things together are good, if you believe through love.
Seeing that in answer to your prayer and to the tender sympathy which you have in Christ Jesus, it has been reported to me that the church which is in Antioch of Syria has peace, it is becoming for you, as a church of God, to appoint a deacon to go there as God's ambassador, that he may congratulate them when they are assembled together, and may glorify the Name.
Blessed in Jesus Christ is he that shall be counted worthy of such a ministry; and you yourselves shall be glorified. Now if you desire it, it is not impossible for you to do this for the name of God; even as the churches which are nearest have sent bishops, and others presbyters and deacons.
But as touching Philo the deacon from Cilicia, a man of good report, who now also ministers to me in the word of God, together with Rhaius Agathopus, an elect one who follows me from Syria, having bidden farewell to this present life; the same who also bear witness to you -- and I myself thank God on your behalf, because you received them, as I trust the Lord will receive you. But may those who treated them with dishonor be redeemed through the grace of Jesus Christ.
The love of the brethren which are in Troas salutes you; from whence also I write to you by the hand of Burrhus, who was sent with me by the Ephesians and Smyrnaeans as a mark of honor. The Lord shall honor them, even Jesus Christ, on whom their hope is set in flesh and soul and spirit, by faith, by love, by concord. Farewell in Christ Jesus our common hope.