Thumbnail image

Last Updated on : Saturday, November 22, 2014



DOWNLOAD EUREKA volumes in PDF: Eureka downloads page

Eureka vol. 1 TOC | Eureka vol. 2 TOC | Eureka vol 3 TOC

Previous section | Next section



Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 3


1. Ephesian State




Ignatius was an elder of the ecclesia at Antioch, but possessed of a fanatical desire for martyrdom, which was contrary to the instruction of the Lord Jesus, who said, "when they persecute you in one city, flee to another." But instead of this, when the Emperor Trajan came to Antioch, about A.D. 107, on his way to the Parthian war, Ignatius voluntarily delivered himself up to Trajan, into whose presence he was introduced. "What an impious spirit art thou," said the emperor, "both to transgress our commands, and to inveigle others into the same folly to their ruin!"

Ignatius. Theophorus ought not to be called so, forasrnuch as all wicked spirits are departed far from the servants of God. But if you call me impious because I am hostile to evil spirits, I own the charge in that respect. For I dissolve all their snares, through the inward support of Christ the heavenly King.

Trajan. Pray, who is Theophorus?

Ignat. He who has Christ in his breast.

Trajan. And thinkest thou not that gods reside in us also, who fight for us against our enemies ?

Ignat. You mistake in calling the demons of the nations by the name of gods. For there is only one God, who made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; and one Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, whose kingdom be my portion.

Trajan. His kingdom, do you say, who was crucified under Pilate?

Ignat. His who crucified my sin with ITS AUTHOR; and has put all the fraud and malice of Satan under the feet of those who carry him in their hearts.

Trajan. Dost thou, then, carry him who was crucified within thee?

Ignat. I do; for it is written, "I dwell in them, and walk in them."

Upon this Trajan said, "Since Ignatius confesses that he carries within himself him that was crucified, we command, that he be carried bound by soldiers to Great Rome, there to be thrown to the wild beasts, for the entertainment of the people."

The brethren in Rome hearing of this sentence upon him, met him on his arrival at Ostia, a few miles from the city. They had written to him before, proposing to intercede on his behalf. But he would listen to no such thing, but determined to be devoured at all events. Referring to this, Milner remarks, "I fear the example of Ignatius did harm in this respect to the church. Martydom was, as we know, made too much of in the third century." Having shown how contrary was the course of the apostles, he says of Ignatius, "I suspect there was not an equal degree of calm resignation to the Divine Will."

Besides his excessive desire of martyrdom, which was a species of suicide, Ignatius advocated an unscriptural supremacy of one whom it had become fashionable to style "the Bishop." When the New Testament exhorts the faithful in relation to their rulers, it says, "Obey them that have the rule over you;" and these are particularized as "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers;" and were all "bishops," or episkopoi, which means "overseers." But Ignatius adopted a different style in speaking of these functionaries. "Let us," says he in writing to the Ephesians, "study obedience to the Bishop, that we may be subject to God." And again, "Since ye are subject to the Bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to live, not after man, but after Jesus Christ." And,it is not lawful, without the Bishop, to baptize, or to make a love

feast" and lastly, "It behoves the married to enter into that connection with the consent of the Bishop, that the marriage may be after the will of God, and not to fulfil the lusts of the flesh." These passages show that in that early day one man in each congregation had been set up above all the other elders of the presbytery, who, in proportion as he was aggrandized, were diminished, and caused to assume the position of his inferiors. These notions of Ignatius and his contemporaries laid the foundation of martyrolatry, episcopal usurpation and lordship, the invalidity of ordinances ministered by an unofficial brother, and of matrimony as "a sacrament of the church." A mind running in this current of ideas, had evidently fallen a notch or two below the scriptural standard which characterized the apostolical state in its beginning. Yet Ignatius was more scriptural in his thinking upon religious topics, than any of the writers that succeeded him. He belonged to the fallen Ephesian State, the works of which were not so acceptable as the first.




Eureka Diary -- reading plan for Eureka