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Home > Fathers of the Church > Spurious Epistles (Ignatius of Antioch)

Spurious Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch

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Epistle to the Tarsians


Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Tarsus, saved in Christ, worthy of praise, worthy of remembrance, and worthy of love: Mercy and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, be ever multiplied.

Chapter 1. His own sufferings: exhortation to stedfastness

From Syria even unto Rome I fight with beasts: not that I am devoured by brute beasts, for these, as you know, by the will of God, spared Daniel, but by beasts in the shape of men, in whom the merciless wild beast himself lies hid, and pricks and wounds me day by day. But none of these hardships move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, Acts 20:24 in such a way as to love it better than the Lord. Wherefore I am prepared for [encountering] fire, wild beasts, the sword or the cross, so that only I may see Christ my Saviour and God, who died for me. I therefore, the prisoner of Christ, who am driven along by land and sea, exhort you: stand fast in the faith, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and be steadfast, for the just shall live by faith; Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11 be unwavering, for the Lord causes those to dwell in a house who are of one and the same character.

Chapter 2. Cautions against false doctrine

I have learned that certain of the ministers of Satan have wished to disturb you, some of them asserting that Jesus was born [only ] in appearance, was crucified in appearance, and died in appearance; others that He is not the Son the Creator, and others that He is Himself God over all. Others, again, hold that He is a mere man, and others that this flesh is not to rise again, so that our proper course is to live and partake of a life of pleasure, for that this is the chief good to beings who are in a little while to perish. A swarm of such evils has burst in upon us. But you have not given place by subjection to them, no, not for one hour. Galatians 2:5 For you are the fellow citizens as well as the disciples of Paul, who fully preached the Gospel from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, Romans 15:19 and bore about the marks of Christ in his flesh. Galatians 6:17

Chapter 3. The true doctrine respecting Christ

Mindful of him, by all means know that Jesus the Lord was truly born of Mary, being made of a woman; and was as truly crucified. For, says he, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus. Galatians 6:14 And He really suffered, and died, and rose again. For says [Paul], If Christ should become passible, and should be the first to rise again from the dead. And again, In that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lives, He lives unto God. Romans 6:10 Otherwise, what advantage would there be in [becoming subject to] bonds, if Christ has not died? What advantage in patience? What advantage in [enduring] stripes? And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord? But, [in truth,] none of these sufferings were in vain; for the Lord was really crucified by the ungodly.

Chapter 4. Continuation

And [know, moreover], that He who was born of a woman was the Son of God, and He that was crucified was the first-born of every creature, Colossians 1:15 and God the Word, who also created all things. For says the apostle, There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. 1 Corinthians 8:6 And again, For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5 and, By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16-17

Chapter 5. Refutation of the previously mentioned errors

And that He Himself is not God over all, and the Father, but His Son, He [shows when He] says, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. John 20:17 And again, When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall He also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:28 Wherefore it is one [Person] who put all things under, and who is all in all, and another [Person] to whom they were subdued, who also Himself, along with all other things, becomes subject [to the former].

Chapter 6. Continuation

Nor is He a mere man, by whom and in whom all things were made; for all things were made by Him. John 1:3 When He made the heaven, I was present with Him; and I was there with Him, forming [the world along with Him], and He rejoiced in me daily. And how could a mere man be addressed in such words as these: Sit at My right hand? And how, again, could such an one declare: Before Abraham was, I am? John 8:58 And, Glorify Me with Your glory which I had before the world was? John 17:5 What man could ever say, I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me? John 6:38 And of what man could it be said, He was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world: He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not? How could such a one be a mere man, receiving the beginning of His existence from Mary, and not rather God the Word, and the only-begotten Son? For in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, John 1:1 and the Word was God. And in another place, The Lord created Me, the beginning of His ways, for His ways, for His works. Before the world did He found Me, and before all the hills did He beget Me.

Chapter 7. Continuation

And that our bodies are to rise again, He shows when He says, Verily I say unto you, that the hour comes, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. And [says] the apostle, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:53 And that we must live soberly and righteously, he [shows when he] says again, Be not deceived: neither adulterers, nor effeminate persons, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor fornicators, nor revilers, nor drunkards, nor thieves, can inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 And again, If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; our preaching therefore is vain, and your faith is also vain: you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 1 Corinthians 15:13-32 But if such be our condition and feelings, wherein shall we differ from asses and dogs, who have no care about the future, but think only of eating, and of indulging such appetites as follow after eating? For they are unacquainted with any intelligence moving within them.

Chapter 8. Exhortations to holiness and good order

May I have joy of you in the Lord! Be sober. Lay aside, every one of you, all malice and beast-like fury, evil-speaking, calumny, filthy speaking, ribaldry, whispering, arrogance, drunkenness, lust, avarice, vainglory, envy, and everything akin to these. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14 You presbyters, be subject to the bishop; you deacons, to the presbyters; and you, the people, to the presbyters and the deacons. Let my soul be for theirs who preserve this good order; and may the Lord be with them continually!

Chapter 9. Exhortations to the discharge of relative duties

You husbands, love your wives; and you wives, your husbands. You children, reverence your parents. You parents, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 Honour those [who continue] in virginity, as the priestesses of Christ; and the widows [that persevere] in gravity of behaviour, as the altar of God. You servants, wait upon your masters with [respectful] fear. You masters, issue orders to your servants with tenderness. Let no one among you be idle; for idleness is the mother of want. I do not enjoin these things as being a person of any consequence, although I am in bonds [for Christ]; but as a brother, I put you in mind of them. The Lord be with you!

Chapter 10. Salutations

May I enjoy your prayers! Pray that I may attain to Jesus. I commend unto you the Church which is at Antioch. The Churches of Philippi, whence also I write to you, salute you. Philo, your deacon, to whom also I give thanks as one who has zealously ministered to me in all things, salutes you. Agathopus, the deacon from Syria, who follows me in Christ, salutes you. Salute one another with a holy kiss. 1 Peter 5:14 I salute you all, both male and female, who are in Christ. Fare well in body, and soul, and in one Spirit; and do not forget me. The Lord be with you!

Epistle to the Antiochians


Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church sojourning in Syria, which has obtained mercy from God, and been elected by Christ, and which first Acts 11:26 received the name Christ, [wishes] happiness in God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 1. Cautions against error

The Lord has rendered my bonds light and easy since I learned that you are in peace, that you live in all harmony both of the flesh and spirit. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, Ephesians 4:1 guarding against those heresies of the wicked one which have broken in upon us, to the deceiving and destruction of those that accept of them; but that you give heed to the doctrine of the apostles, and believe both the law and the prophets: that you reject every Jewish and Gentile error, and neither introduce a multiplicity of gods, nor yet deny Christ under the pretence of [maintaining] the unity of God.

Chapter 2. The true doctrine respecting God and Christ

For Moses, the faithful servant of God, when he said, The Lord your God is one Lord, Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29 and thus proclaimed that there was only one God, did yet immediately confess also our Lord when he said, The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord. Genesis 19:24 And again, And God said, Let Us make man after our image: and so God made man, after the image of God made He him. Genesis 1:26-27 And further In the image of God made He man. Genesis 5:1Genesis 9:6 And that [the Son of God] was to be made man [Moses shows when] he says, A prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren, like me.

Chapter 3. The same continued

The prophets also, when they speak as in the person of God, [saying,] I am God, the first [of beings], and I am also the last, and besides Me there is no God, Isaiah 44:6 concerning the Father of the universe, do also speak of our Lord Jesus Christ. A Son, they say, has been given to us, on whose shoulder the government is from above; and His name is called the Angel of great counsel, Wonderful, Counsellor, the strong and mighty God. Isaiah 9:6 And concerning His incarnation, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son; and they shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23 And concerning the passion, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, I also was an innocent lamb led to be sacrificed. Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19

Chapter 4. Continuation

The Evangelists, too, when they declared that the one Father was the only true God, John 17:3 did not omit what concerned our Lord, but wrote: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1 And concerning the incarnation: The Word, says [the Scripture], became flesh, and dwelt among us. John 1:14 And again: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1 And those very apostles, who said that there is one God, 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Galatians 3:20 said also that there is one Mediator between God and men. Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Timothy 2:5 Nor were they ashamed of the incarnation and the passion. For what says [one]? The man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself 1 Timothy 2:5 for the life and salvation of the world.

Chapter 5. Denunciation of false teachers

Whosoever, therefore, declares that there is but one God, only so as to take away the divinity of Christ, is a devil, and an enemy of all righteousness. He also that confesses Christ, yet not as the Son of the Maker of the world, but of some other unknown being, different from Him whom the law and the prophets have proclaimed, this man is an instrument of the devil. And he that rejects the incarnation, and is ashamed of the cross for which I am in bonds, this man is antichrist. Moreover, he who affirms Christ to be a mere man is accursed, according to the [declaration of the] prophet, Jeremiah 17:5 since he puts not his trust in God, but in man. Wherefore also he is unfruitful, like the wild myrtle-tree.

Chapter 6. Renewed cautions

These things I write to you, you new olive-tree of Christ, not that I am aware you hold any such opinions, but that I may put you on your guard, as a father does his children. Beware, therefore, of those that hasten to work mischief, those enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose glory is in their shame. Philippians 3:18-19 Beware of those dumb dogs, those trailing serpents, those scaly dragons, those asps, and basilisks, and scorpions. For these are subtle wolves, and apes that mimic the appearance of men.

Chapter 7. Exhortation to consistency of conduct

You have been the disciples of Paul and Peter; do not lose what was committed to your trust. Keep in remembrance Euodias, your deservedly-blessed pastor, into whose hands the government over you was first entrusted by the apostles. Let us not bring disgrace upon our Father. Let us prove ourselves His true-born children, and not bastards. You know after what manner I have acted among you. The things which, when present, I spoke to you, these same, when absent, I now write to you. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. 1 Corinthians 16:22 Be followers of me. 1 Corinthians 4:16 My soul be for yours, when I attain to Jesus. Remember my bonds. Colossians 4:18

Chapter 8. Exhortations to the presbyters and others

You presbyters, feed the flock which is among you, 1 Peter 5:2 till God shall show who is to hold the rule over you. For I am now ready to be offered, 2 Timothy 4:6 that I may win Christ. Philippians 3:8 Let the deacons know of what dignity they are, and let them study to be blameless, that they may be the followers of Christ. Let the people be subject to the presbyters and the deacons. Let the virgins know to whom they have consecrated themselves.

Chapter 9. Duties of husbands, wives, parents, and children

Let the husbands love their wives, remembering that, at the creation, one woman, and not many, was given to one man. Let the wives honour their husbands, as their own flesh; and let them not presume to address them by their names. 1 Peter 3:6 Let them also be chaste, reckoning their husbands as their only partners, to whom indeed they have been united according to the will of God. You parents, impart a holy training to your children. You children, honour your parents, that it may be well with you.

Chapter 10. Duties of masters and servants

You masters, do not treat your servants with haughtiness, but imitate patient Job, who declares, I did not despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me. For what in that case shall I do when the Lord makes an inquisition regarding me? Job 31:13-14 And you know what follows. You servants, do not provoke your masters to anger in anything, lest you become the authors of incurable mischiefs to yourselves.

Chapter 11. Inculcation of various moral duties

Let no one addicted to idleness eat, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 lest he become a wanderer about, and a whoremonger. Let drunkenness, anger, envy, reviling, clamour, and blasphemy be not so much as named among you. Ephesians 5:3 Let not the widows live a life of pleasure, lest they wax wanton against the word. 1 Timothy 5:6, 11 Be subject to Cæsar in everything in which subjection implies no [spiritual] danger. Provoke not those that rule over you to wrath, that you may give no occasion against yourselves to those that seek for it. But as to the practice of magic, or the impure love of boys, or murder, it is superfluous to write to you, since such vices are forbidden to be committed even by the Gentiles. I do not issue commands on these points as if I were an apostle; but, as your fellow-servant, I put you in mind of them.

Chapter 12. Salutations

I salute the holy presbytery. I salute the sacred deacons, and that person most dear to me, whom may I behold, through the Holy Spirit, occupying my place when I shall attain to Christ. My soul be in place of his. I salute the sub-deacons, the readers, the singers, the doorkeepers, the labourers, the exorcists, the confessors. I salute the keepers of the holy gates, the deaconesses in Christ. I salute the virgins betrothed to Christ, of whom may I have joy in the Lord Jesus. I salute the people of the Lord, from the smallest to the greatest, and all my sisters in the Lord.

Chapter 13. Salutations continued

I salute Cassian and his partner in life, and their very dear children. Polycarp, that most worthy bishop, who is also deeply interested in you, salutes you; and to him I have commended you in the Lord. The whole Church of the Smyrnæans, indeed, is mindful of you in their prayers in the Lord. Onesimus, the pastor of the Ephesians, salutes you. Damas, the bishop of Magnesia, salutes you. Polybius, bishop of the Trallians, salutes you. Philo and Agathopus, the deacons, my companions, salute you, Salute one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13:12

Chapter 14. Conclusion

I write this letter to you from Philippi. May He who is alone unbegotten, keep you steadfast both in the spirit and in the flesh, through Him who was begotten before time began! And may I behold you in the kingdom of Christ! I salute him who is to bear rule over you in my stead: may I have joy of him in the Lord! Fare well in God, and in Christ, being enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

Epistle to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch


Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to Hero, the deacon of Christ, and the servant of God, a man honoured by God, and most dearly loved as well as esteemed, who carries Christ and the Spirit within him, and who is my own son in faith and love: Grace, mercy, and peace from Almighty God, and from Christ Jesus our Lord, His only-begotten Son, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from the present evil world, Galatians 1:4 and preserve us unto His heavenly kingdom.

Chapter 1. Exhortations to earnestness and moderation

I Exhort you in God, that you add [speed] to your course, and that you vindicate your dignity. Have a care to preserve concord with the saints. Bear [the burdens of] the weak, that you may fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 Devote yourself to fasting and prayer, but not beyond measure, lest you destroy yourself thereby. Do not altogether abstain from wine and flesh, for these things are not to be viewed with abhorrence, since [the Scripture] says, You shall eat the good things of the earth. Isaiah 1:19 And again, You shall eat flesh even as herbs. Genesis 9:3 And again, Wine makes glad the heart of man, and oil exhilarates, and bread strengthens him. But all are to be used with moderation, as being the gifts of God. For who shall eat or who shall drink without Him? For if anything be beautiful, it is His; and if anything be good, it is His. Give attention to reading, 1 Timothy 4:13 that you may not only yourself know the laws, but may also explain them to others, as the earnest servant of God. No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier; and if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully. 2 Timothy 2:4 I that am in bonds pray that my soul may be in place of yours.

Chapter 2. Cautions against false teachers

Every one that teaches anything beyond what is commanded, though he be [deemed] worthy of credit, though he be in the habit of fasting, though he live in continence, though he work miracles, though he have the gift of prophecy, let him be in your sight as a wolf in sheep's clothing, Matthew 7:15 labouring for the destruction of the sheep. If any one denies the cross, and is ashamed of the passion, let him be to you as the adversary himself. Though he gives all his goods to feed the poor, though he remove mountains, though he give his body to be burned, 1 Corinthians 13:2 let him be regarded by you as abominable. If any one makes light of the law or the prophets, which Christ fulfilled at His coming, let him be to you as antichrist. If any one says that the Lord is a mere man, he is a Jew, a murderer of Christ.

Chapter 3. Exhortations as to ecclesiastical duties

Honour widows that are widows indeed. 1 Timothy 5:3 Be the friend of orphans; for God is the Father of the fatherless, and the Judge of the widows. Do nothing without the bishops; for they are priests, and you a servant of the priests. They baptize, offer sacrifice, ordain, and lay on hands; but you minister to them, as the holy Stephen did at Jerusalem to James and the presbyters. Do not neglect the sacred meetings [of the saints]; inquire after every one by name. Let no man despise your youth, but be an example to the believers, both in word and conduct. 1 Timothy 4:12

Chapter 4. Servants and women are not to be despised

Be not ashamed of servants, for we possess the same nature in common with them. Do not hold women in abomination, for they have given you birth, and brought you up. It is fitting, therefore, to love those that were the authors of our birth (but only in the Lord), inasmuch as a man can produce no children without a woman. It is right, therefore, that we should honour those who have had a part in giving us birth. Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, 1 Corinthians 11:11 except in the case of those who were first formed. For the body of Adam was made out of the four elements, and that of Eve out of the side of Adam. And, indeed, the altogether peculiar birth of the Lord was of a virgin alone. [This took place] not as if the lawful union [of man and wife] were abominable, but such a kind of birth was fitting to God. For it became the Creator not to make use of the ordinary method of generation, but of one that was singular and strange, as being the Creator.

Chapter 5. Various relative duties

Flee from haughtiness, for the Lord resists the proud. James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 Abhor falsehood, for says [the Scripture], You shall destroy all them that speak lies. Guard against envy, for its author is the devil, and his successor Cain, who envied his brother, and out of envy committed murder. Exhort my sisters to love God, and be content with their own husbands only. In like manner, exhort my brethren also to be content with their own wives. Watch over the virgins, as the precious treasures of Christ. Be long-suffering, Proverbs 14:29 that you may be great in wisdom. Do not neglect the poor, in so far as you are prosperous. For by alms and fidelity sins are purged away.

Chapter 6. Exhortations to purity and caution

Keep yourself pure as the habitation of God. You are the temple of Christ. You are the instrument of the Spirit. You know in what way I have brought you up. Though I am the least of men, seek to follow me, be an imitator of my conduct. I do not glory in the world, but in the Lord. I exhort Hero, my son; but let him that glories, glory in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17 May I have joy of you, my dear son, whose guardian may He be who is the only unbegotten God, and the Lord Jesus Christ! Do not believe all persons, do not place confidence in all; nor let any man get the better of you by flattery. For many are the ministers of Satan; and he that is hasty to believe is light of heart. Sirach 19:4

Chapter 7. Solemn charge to Hero, as future bishop of Antioch

Keep God in remembrance, and you shall never sin. Be not double-minded James 1:6, 8 in your prayers; for blessed is he who doubts not. For I believe in the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His only-begotten Son, that God will show me, Hero, upon my throne. Add speed, therefore, to your course. I charge you before the God of the universe, and before Christ, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and of the ministering ranks [of angels], keep in safety that deposit which I and Christ have committed to you, and do not judge yourself unworthy of those things which have been shown by God [to me] concerning you. I hand over to you the Church of Antioch. I have commended you to Polycarp in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 8. Salutations

The bishops, Onesimus, Bitus, Damas, Polybius, and all they of Philippi (whence also I have written to you), salute you in Christ. Salute the presbytery worthy of God: salute my holy fellow deacons, of whom may I have joy in Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit. Salute the people of the Lord, from the smallest to the greatest, every one by name; whom I commit to you as Moses did [the Israelites] to Joshua, who was their leader after him. And do not reckon this which I have said presumptuous on my part; for although we are not such as they were, yet we at least pray that we may be so, since indeed we are the children of Abraham. Be strong, therefore, O Hero, like a hero, and like a man. For from henceforth you shall lead Deuteronomy 31:7, 23 in and out the people of the Lord that are in Antioch, and so the congregation of the Lord shall not be as sheep which have no shepherd. Numbers 27:17

Chapter 9. Concluding salutations and instructions

Salute Cassian, my host, and his most serious-minded partner in life, and their very dear children, to whom may God grant that they find mercy of the Lord in that day, 2 Timothy 1:18 on account of their ministrations to us, whom also I commend to you in Christ. Salute by name all the faithful in Christ that are at Laodicea. Do not neglect those at Tarsus, but look after them steadily, confirming them in the Gospel. I salute in the Lord, Maris the bishop of Neapolis, near Anazarbus. Salute also Mary my daughter, distinguished both for gravity and erudition, as also the Church which is in her house. Colossians 4:15 May my soul be in place of hers: she is the very pattern of pious women. May the Father of Christ, by His only-begotten Son, preserve you in good health, and of high repute in all things, to a very old age, for the benefit of the Church of God! Farewell in the Lord, and pray that I may be perfected.

Epistle to the Philippians


Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God which is at Philippi, which has obtained mercy in faith, and patience, and love unfeigned: Mercy and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

Chapter 1. Reason for writing the epistle

Being mindful of your love and of your zeal in Christ, which you have manifested towards us, we thought it fitting to write to you, who display such a godly and spiritual love to the brethren, to put you in remembrance of your Christian course, that you all speak the same thing, being of one mind, thinking the same thing, and walking by the same rule of faith, as Paul admonished you. For if there is one God of the universe, the Father of Christ, of whom are all things; 1 Corinthians 8:6 and one Lord Jesus Christ, our [Lord], by whom are all things; 1 Corinthians 8:6 and also one Holy Spirit, who wrought 1 Corinthians 12:11 in Moses, and in the prophets and apostles; and also one baptism, which is administered that we should have fellowship with the death of the Lord; and also one elect Church; there ought likewise to be but one faith in respect to Christ. For there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is through all, and in all. Ephesians 4:5

Chapter 2. Unity of the three divine persons

There is then one God and Father, and not two or three; One who is; and there is no other besides Him, the only true [God]. For the Lord your God, says [the Scripture], is one Lord. Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29 And again, Has not one God created us? Have we not all one Father? Malachi 2:10 And there is also one Son, God the Word. For the only-begotten Son, says [the Scripture], who is in the bosom of the Father. John 1:18 And again, One Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:6 And in another place, What is His name, or what His Son's name, that we may know? Proverbs 30:4 And there is also one Paraclete. For there is also, says [the Scripture], one Spirit, Ephesians 4:4 since we have been called in one hope of our calling. 1 Corinthians 12:13 And again, We have drunk of one Spirit, Ephesians 4:4 with what follows. And it is manifest that all these gifts [possessed by believers] works one and the self-same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:11 There are not then either three Fathers, or three Sons, or three Paracletes, but one Father, and one Son, and one Paraclete. Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Matthew 28:19 not unto one [person] having three names, nor into three [persons] who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honour.

Chapter 3. Christ was truly born, and died

For there is but One that became incarnate, and that neither the Father nor the Paraclete, but the Son only, [who became so] not in appearance or imagination, but in reality. For the Word became flesh. John 1:14 For Wisdom built for herself a house. Proverbs 9:1 And God the Word was born as man, with a body, of the Virgin, without any intercourse of man. For [it is written], A virgin shall conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son. Isaiah 7:14 He was then truly born, truly grew up, truly ate and drank, was truly crucified, and died, and rose again. He who believes these things, as they really were, and as they really took place, is blessed. He who believes them not is no less accursed than those who crucified the Lord. For the prince of this world rejoices when any one denies the cross, since he knows that the confession of the cross is his own destruction. For that is the trophy which has been raised up against his power, which when he sees, he shudders, and when he hears of, is afraid.

Chapter 4. The malignity and folly of Satan

And indeed, before the cross was erected, he (Satan) was eager that it should be so; and he wrought [for this end] in the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 He wrought in Judas, in the Pharisees, in the Sadducees, in the old, in the young, and in the priests. But when it was just about to be erected, he was troubled, and infused repentance into the traitor, and pointed him to a rope to hang himself with, and taught him [to die by] strangulation. He terrified also the silly woman, disturbing her by dreams; and he, who had tried every means to have the cross prepared, now endeavoured to put a stop to its erection; not that he was influenced by repentance on account of the greatness of his crime (for in that case he would not be utterly depraved), but because he perceived his own destruction [to be at hand]. For the cross of Christ was the beginning of his condemnation, the beginning of his death, the beginning of his destruction. Wherefore, also, he works in some that they should deny the cross, be ashamed of the passion, call the death an appearance, mutilate and explain away the birth of the Virgin, and calumniate the [human] nature itself as being abominable. He fights along with the Jews to a denial of the cross, and with the Gentiles to the calumniating of Mary, who are heretical in holding that Christ possessed a mere phantasmal body. For the leader of all wickedness assumes manifold forms, beguiler of men as he is, inconsistent, and even contradicting himself, projecting one course and then following another. For he is wise to do evil, but as to what good may be he is totally ignorant. And indeed he is full of ignorance, on account of his voluntary want of reason: for how can he be deemed anything else who does not perceive reason when it lies at his very feet?

Chapter 5. Apostrophe to Satan

For if the Lord were a mere man, possessed of a soul and body only, why do you mutilate and explain away His being born with the common nature of humanity? Why do you call the passion a mere appearance, as if it were any strange thing happening to a [mere] man? And why do you reckon the death of a mortal to be simply an imaginary death? But if, [on the other hand,] He is both God and man, then why do you call it unlawful to style Him the Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8 who is by nature unchangeable? Why do you say that it is unlawful to declare of the Lawgiver who possesses a human soul, The Word was made flesh, John 1:14 and was a perfect man, and not merely one dwelling in a man? But how came this magician into existence, who of old formed all nature that can be apprehended either by the senses or intellect, according to the will of the Father; and, when He became incarnate, healed every kind of disease and infirmity? Matthew 4:23Matthew 9:35

Chapter 6. Continuation

And how can He be but God, who raises up the dead, sends away the lame sound of limb, cleanses the lepers, restores sight to the blind, and either increases or transmutes existing substances, as the five loaves and the two fishes, and the water which became wine, and who puts to flight your whole host by a mere word? And why do you abuse the nature of the Virgin, and style her members disgraceful, since you displayed such of old in public processions, and ordered them to be exhibited naked, males in the sight of females, and females to stir up the unbridled lust of males? But now these are reckoned by you disgraceful, and you pretend to be full of modesty, you spirit of fornication, not knowing that then only anything becomes disgraceful when it is polluted by wickedness. But when sin is not present, none of the things that have been created are shameful, none of them evil, but all very good. But inasmuch as you are blind, you revile these things.

Chapter 7. Continuation: inconsistency of Satan

And how, again, does Christ not at all appear to you to be of the Virgin, but to be God over all, and the Almighty? Say, then, who sent Him? Who was Lord over Him? And whose will did He obey? And what laws did He fulfil, since He was subject neither to the will nor power of any one? And while you deny that Christ was born, you affirm that the unbegotten was begotten, and that He who had no beginning was nailed to the cross, by whose permission I am unable to say. But your changeable tactics do not escape me, nor am I ignorant that you are wont to walk with slanting and uncertain steps. And you are ignorant who really was born, you who pretend to know everything.

Chapter 8. Continuation: ignorance of Satan

For many things are unknown to you; [such as the following]: the virginity of Mary; the wonderful birth; Who it was that became incarnate; the star which guided those who were in the east; the Magi who presented gifts; the salutation of the archangel to the Virgin; the marvellous conception of her that was betrothed; the announcement of the boy-forerunner respecting the son of the Virgin, and his leaping in the womb on account of what was foreseen; the songs of the angels over Him that was born; the glad tidings announced to the shepherds; the fear of Herod lest his kingdom should be taken from him; the command to slay the infants; the removal into Egypt, and the return from that country to the same region; the infant swaddling-bands; the human registration; the nourishing by means of milk; the name of father given to Him who did not beget; the manger because there was not room [elsewhere]; no human preparation [for the Child]; the gradual growth, human speech, hunger, thirst, journeyings, weariness; the offering of sacrifices and then also circumcision, baptism; the voice of God over Him that was baptized, as to who He was and whence [He had come]; the testimony of the Spirit and the Father from above; the voice of John the prophet when it signified the passion by the appellation of the Lamb; the performance of various miracles, manifold healings; the rebuke of the Lord ruling both the sea and the winds; evil spirits expelled; you yourself subjected to torture, and, when afflicted by the power of Him who had been manifested, not having it in your power to do anything.

Chapter 9. Continuation: ignorance of Satan

Seeing these things, you were in utter perplexity. And you were ignorant that it was a virgin that should bring forth; but the angels' song of praise struck you with astonishment, as well as the adoration of the Magi, and the appearance of the star. You reverted to your state of [wilful] ignorance, because all the circumstances seemed to you trifling; for you deemed the swaddling-bands, the circumcision, and the nourishment by means of milk contemptible: these things appeared to you unworthy of God. Again, beheld a man who remained forty days and nights without tasting human food, along with ministering angels at whose presence you shuddered, when first of all you had seen Him baptized as a common man, and knew not the reason thereof. But after His [lengthened] fast you again assumed your wonted audacity, and tempted Him when hungry, as if He had been an ordinary man, not knowing who He was. For you said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Matthew 4:3 Now, this expression, If you be the Son, is an indication of ignorance. For if you had possessed real knowledge, you would have understood that the Creator can with equal ease both create what does not exist, and change that which already has a being. And you tempted by means of hunger Him who nourishes all that require food. And you tempted the very Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8 forgetting in your malevolence that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. For if you had known that He was the Son of God, you would also have understood that He who had kept his body from feeling any want for forty days and as many nights, could have also done the same forever. Why, then, does He suffer hunger? In order to prove that He had assumed a body subject to the same feelings as those of ordinary men. By the first fact He showed that He was God, and by the second that He was also man.

Chapter 10. Continuation: audacity of Satan

Then dare you, who fell as lightning Luke 10:18 from the very highest glory, to say to the Lord, Cast yourself down from hence Matthew 4:6 [to Him] to whom the things that are not are reckoned as if they were, Romans 4:17 and to provoke to a display of vainglory Him that was free from all ostentation? And did you pretend to read in Scripture concerning Him: For He has given His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest you should dash Your foot against a stone? Matthew 4:6 At the same time you pretended to be ignorant of the rest, furtively concealing what [the Scripture] predicted concerning you and your servants: You shall tread upon the adder and the basilisk; the lion and the dragon shall you trample under foot.

Chapter 11. Continuation: audacity of Satan

If, therefore, you are trodden down under the feet of the Lord, how do you tempt Him that cannot be tempted, forgetting that precept of the lawgiver, You shall not tempt the Lord your God? Deuteronomy 6:16 Yea, you even dare, most accursed one, to appropriate the works of God to yourself, and to declare that the dominion over these was delivered to you. Luke 4:6 And you set forth your own fall as an example to the Lord, and promise to give Him what is really His own, if He would fall down and worship you. Matthew 4:9 And how did you not shudder, O you spirit more wicked through your malevolence than all other wicked spirits, to utter such words against the Lord? Through your appetite were you overcome, and through your vainglory were you brought to dishonour: through avarice and ambition you [now] draw on [others] to ungodliness. You, O Belial, dragon, apostate, crooked serpent, rebel against God, outcast from Christ, alien from the Holy Spirit, exile from the ranks of the angels, reviler of the laws of God, enemy of all that is lawful, who rose up against the first-formed of men, and drove forth [from obedience to] the commandment [of God] those who had in no respect injured you; you who raised up against Abel the murderous Cain; you who took arms against Job: do you say to the Lord, If You will fall down and worship me? Oh what audacity! Oh what madness! You runaway slave, you incorrigible slave, do you rebel against the good Lord? Do you say to so great a Lord, the God of all that either the mind or the senses can perceive, If You will fall down and worship me?

Chapter 12. The meek reply of Christ

But the Lord is long-suffering, and does not reduce to nothing him who in his ignorance dares [to utter] such words, but meekly replies, Get you hence, Satan. Matthew 4:10 He does not say, Get behind Me, for it is not possible that he should be converted; but, Begone, Satan, to the course which you have chosen. Begone to those things to which, through your malevolence, you have been called. For I know Who I am, and by Whom I have been sent, and Whom it behooves Me to worship. For you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13 I know the one [God]; I am acquainted with the only [Lord] from whom you have become an apostate. I am not an enemy of God; I acknowledge His pre-eminence; I know the Father, who is the author of my generation.

Chapter 13. Various exhortations and directions

These things, brethren, out of the affection which I entertain for you, I have felt compelled to write, exhorting you with a view to the glory of God, not as if I were a person of any consequence, but simply as a brother. Be subject to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons. Love one another in the Lord, as being the images of God. Take heed, you husbands, that you love your wives as your own members. You wives also, love your husbands, as being one with them in virtue of your union. If any one lives in chastity or continence, let him not be lifted up, lest he lose his reward. Do not lightly esteem the festivals. Despise not the period of forty days, for it comprises an imitation of the conduct of the Lord. After the week of the passion, do not neglect to fast on the fourth and sixth days, distributing at the same time of your abundance to the poor. If any one fasts on the Lord's Day or on the Sabbath, except on the paschal Sabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ.

Chapter 14. Farewells and cautions

Let your prayers be extended to the Church of Antioch, whence also I as a prisoner am being led to Rome. I salute the holy bishop Polycarp; I salute the holy bishop Vitalius, and the sacred presbytery, and my fellow-servants the deacons; in whose stead may my soul be found. Once more I bid farewell to the bishop, and to the presbyters in the Lord. If any one celebrates the passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles.

Chapter 15. Salutations. Conclusion

Philo and Agathopus the deacons salute you. I salute the company of virgins, and the order of widows; of whom may I have joy! I salute the people of the Lord, from the least unto the greatest. I have sent you this letter through Euphanius the reader, a man honoured of God, and very faithful, happening to meet with him at Rhegium, just as he was going on board ship. Remember my bonds Colossians 4:18 that I may be made perfect in Christ. Fare well in the flesh, the soul, and the spirit, while you think of things perfect, and turn yourselves away from the workers of iniquity, who corrupt the word of truth, and are strengthened inwardly by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Epistle of Maria the Proselyte to Ignatius


Maria, a proselyte of Jesus Christ, to Ignatius Theophorus, most blessed bishop of the apostolic Church which is at Antioch, beloved in God the Father, and Jesus: Happiness and safety. We all beg for you joy and health in Him.

Chapter 1. Occasion of the epistle

Since Christ has, to our wonder, been made known among us to be the Son of the living God, and to have become man in these last times by means of the Virgin Mary, of the seed of David and Abraham, according to the announcements previously made regarding Him and through Him by the company of the prophets, we therefore beseech and entreat that, by your wisdom, Maris our friend, bishop of our native Neapolis, which is near Zarbus, and Eulogius, and Sobelus the presbyter, be sent to us, that we be not destitute of such as preside over the divine word as Moses also says, Let the Lord God look out a man who shall guide this people, and the congregation of the Lord shall not be as sheep which have no shepherd. Numbers 27:16-17

Chapter 2. Youth may be allied with piety and discretion

But as to those whom we have named being young men, do not, you blessed one, have any apprehension. For I would have you know that they are wise about the flesh, and are insensible to its passions, they themselves glowing with all the glory of a hoary head through their own intrinsic merits, and though but recently called as young men to the priesthood. Now, call into exercise your thoughts through the Spirit that God has given to you by Christ, and you will remember that Samuel, while yet a little child, was called a seer, and was reckoned in the company of the prophets, that he reproved the aged Eli for transgression, since he had honoured his infatuated sons above God the author of all things, and had allowed them to go unpunished, when they turned the office of the priesthood into ridicule, and acted violently towards your people.

Chapter 3. Examples of youthful devotedness

Moreover, the wise Daniel, while he was a young man, passed judgment on certain vigorous old man, showing them that they were abandoned wretches, and not [worthy to be reckoned] elders, and that, though Jews by extraction, they were Canaanites in practice. And Jeremiah, when on account of his youth he declined the office of a prophet entrusted to him by God, was addressed in these words: Say not, I am a youth; for you shall go to all those to whom I send you, and you shall speak according to all that I command you; because I am with you. Jeremiah 1:7 And the wise Solomon, when only in the twelfth year of his age, had wisdom to decide the important question concerning the children of the two women, when it was unknown to whom these respectively belonged; so that the whole people were astonished at such wisdom in a child, and venerated him as being not a mere youth, but a full-grown man. And he solved the hard questions of the queen of the Ethiopians, which had profit in them as the streams of the Nile [have fertility], in such a manner that that woman, though herself so wise, was beyond measure astonished.

Chapter 4. The same subject continued

Josiah also, beloved of God, when as yet he could scarcely speak articulately, convicts those who were possessed of a wicked spirit as being false in their speech, and deceivers of the people. He also reveals the deceit of the demons, and openly exposes those that are no gods; yea, while yet an infant he slays their priests, and overturns their altars, and defiles the place where sacrifices were offered with dead bodies, and throws down the temples, and cuts down the groves, and breaks in pieces the pillars, and breaks open the tombs of the ungodly, that not a relic of the wicked might any longer exist. To such an extent did he display zeal in the cause of godliness, and prove himself a punisher of the ungodly, while he as yet faltered in speech like a child. David, too, who was at once a prophet and a king, and the root of our Saviour according to the flesh, while yet a youth is anointed by Samuel to be king. 1 Samuel 16 For he himself says in a certain place, I was small among my brethren, and the youngest in the house of my father.

Chapter 5. Expressions of respect for Ignatius

But time would fail me if I should endeavour to enumerate all those that pleased God in their youth, having been entrusted by God with either the prophetical, the priestly, or the kingly office. And those which have been mentioned may suffice, by way of bringing the subject to your remembrance. But I entreat you not to reckon me presumptuous or ostentatious [in writing as I have done]. For I have set forth these statements, not as instructing you, but simply as suggesting the matter to the remembrance of my father in God. For I know my own place, and do not compare myself with such as you. I salute your holy clergy, and your Christ-loving people who are ruled under your care as their pastor. All the faithful with us salute you. Pray, blessed shepherd, that I may be in health as respects God.

Epistle to Mary at Neapolis, Near Zarbus


Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to her who has obtained mercy through the grace of the most high God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Lord, who died for us, to Mary, my daughter, most faithful, worthy of God, and bearing Christ [in her heart], wishes abundance of happiness in God.

Chapter 1. Acknowledgment of her excellence and wisdom

Sight indeed is better than writing, inasmuch as, being one of the company of the senses, it not only, by communicating proofs of friendship, honours him who receives them, but also, by those which it in turn receives, enriches the desire for better things. But the second harbour of refuge, as the phrase runs, is the practice of writing, which we have received, as a convenient haven, by your faith, from so great a distance, seeing that by means of a letter we have learned the excellence that is in you. For the souls of the good, O you wisest of women! resemble fountains of the purest water; for they allure by their beauty passers-by to drink of them, even though these should not be thirsty. And your intelligence invites us, as by a word of command, to participate in those divine draughts which gush forth so abundantly in your soul.

Chapter 2. His own condition

But I, O blessed woman, not being now so much my own master as in the power of others, am driven along by the varying wills of many adversaries, being in one sense in exile, in another in prison, and in a third in bonds. But I pay no regard to these things. Yea, by the injuries inflicted on me through them, I acquire all the more the character of a disciple, that I may attain to Jesus Christ. May I enjoy the torments which are prepared for me, seeing that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Chapter 3. He had complied with her request

I have gladly done the things that you commanded in the letter, having no doubt about those persons whom you proved to be men of worth. For I am sure that you bore testimony to them in the exercise of a godly judgment, and not through the influence of carnal favour. And your numerous quotations of Scripture passages exceedingly delighted me, which, when I had read, I had no longer a single doubtful thought respecting the matter. For I did not hold that those things were simply to be glanced over by my eyes, of which I had received from you such an incontrovertible demonstration. May I be in place of your soul, because you love Jesus, the Son of the living God. Wherefore also He Himself says to you, I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me shall find peace.

Chapter 4. Commendation and exhortation

Now it occurs to me to mention, that the report is true which I heard of you while you were at Rome with the blessed father Linus, whom the deservedly-blessed Clement, a hearer of Peter and Paul, has now succeeded. And by this time you have added a hundred-fold to your reputation; and may you, O woman, still further increase it. I greatly desired to come unto you, that I might have rest with you; but the way of man is not in himself. Jeremiah 10:23 For the military guard [under which I am kept] hinders my purpose, and does not permit me to go further. Nor indeed, in the state I am now in, can I either do or suffer anything. Wherefore deeming the practice of writing the second resource of friends for their mutual encouragement, I salute your sacred soul, beseeching of you to add still further to your vigour. For our present labour is but little, while the reward which is expected is great.

Chapter 5. Salutations and good wishes

Avoid those that deny the passion of Christ, and His birth according to the flesh: and there are many at present who suffer under this disease. But it would be absurd to admonish you on other points, seeing that you are perfect in every good work and word, and able also to exhort others in Christ. Salute all that are like-minded with yourself, and who hold fast to their salvation in Christ. The presbyters and deacons, and above all the holy Hero, salute you. Cassian my host salutes you, as well as my sister, his wife, and their very dear children. May the Lord sanctify you for evermore in the enjoyment both of bodily and spiritual health, and may I see you in Christ obtaining the crown!

First Epistle to St. John

Ignatius, and the brethren who are with him, to John the holy presbyter.

We are deeply grieved at your delay in strengthening us by your addresses and consolations. If your absence be prolonged, it will disappoint many of us. Hasten then to come, for we believe that it is expedient. There are also many of our women here, who are desirous to see Mary [the mother] of Jesus, and wish day by day to run off from us to you, that they may meet with her, and touch those breasts of hers which nourished the Lord Jesus, and may inquire of her respecting some rather secret matters. But Salome also, [the daughter of Anna,] whom you love, who stayed with her five months at Jerusalem, and some other well-known persons, relate that she is full of all graces and all virtues, after the manner of a virgin, fruitful in virtue and grace. And, as they report, she is cheerful in persecutions and afflictions, free from murmuring in the midst of penury and want, grateful to those that injure her, and rejoices when exposed to troubles: she sympathizes with the wretched and the afflicted as sharing in their afflictions, and is not slow to come to their assistance. Moreover, she shines forth gloriously as contending in the fight of faith against the pernicious conflicts of vicious principles or conduct. She is the lady of our new religion and repentance, and the handmaid among the faithful of all works of piety. She is indeed devoted to the humble, and she humbles herself more devotedly than the devoted, and is wonderfully magnified by all, while at the same time she suffers detraction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Besides these points, many relate to us numerous other things regarding her. We do not, however, go so far as to believe all in every particular; nor do we mention such to you. But, as we are informed by those who are worthy of credit, there is in Mary the mother of Jesus an angelic purity of nature allied with the nature of humanity. And such reports as these have greatly excited our emotions, and urge us eagerly to desire a sight of this (if it be lawful so to speak) heavenly prodigy and most sacred marvel. But do you in haste comply with this our desire; and fare well. Amen.

Second Epistle to St. John

His friend Ignatius to John the holy presbyter.

If you will give me leave, I desire to go up to Jerusalem, and see the faithful saints who are there, especially Mary the mother, whom they report to be an object of admiration and of affection to all. For who would not rejoice to behold and to address her who bore the true God from her own womb, provided he is a friend of our faith and religion? And in like manner [I desire to see] the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be very like Christ Jesus in appearance, in life, and in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb. They say that, if I see him, I see also Jesus Himself, as to all the features and aspect of His body. Moreover, [I desire to see] the other saints, both male and female. Alas! Why do I delay? Why am I kept back? Kind teacher, bid me hasten [to fulfil my wish], and fare well. Amen.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Virgin Mary

Her friend Ignatius to the Christ-bearing Mary.

You ought to have comforted and consoled me who am a neophyte, and a disciple of your [beloved] John. For I have heard things wonderful to tell respecting your [son] Jesus, and I am astonished by such a report. But I desire with my whole heart to obtain information concerning the things which I have heard from you, who was always intimate and allied with Him, and who was acquainted with [all] His secrets. I have also written to you at another time, and have asked you concerning the same things. Fare well; and let the neophytes who are with me be comforted of you, and by you, and in you. Amen.

Reply of the Blessed Virgin to this Letter

The lowly handmaid of Christ Jesus to Ignatius, her beloved fellow disciple.

The things which you have heard and learned from John concerning Jesus are true. Believe them, cling to them, and hold fast the profession of that Christianity which you have embraced, and conform your habits and life to your profession. Now I will come in company with John to visit you, and those that are with you. Stand fast in the faith, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and show yourself a man; nor let the fierceness of persecution move you, but let your spirit be strong and rejoice in God your Saviour. Luke 1:47 Amen.

About this page

Source. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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