Ignatius’ Conviction of Who Jesus Was

Ignatius was born ca. A.D. 30, was the third Bishop/Patriarch of Antioch. He ” was on his way to martyrdom in Rome in Trajan’s reign (AD 98–117, probably late in that period) when he wrote seven letters which were gathered into a corpus: to the Asian churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia and Smyrna, to his friend Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and to the Roman church, asking them not to intervene to prevent his martyrdom.”(Wood & Marshall: 1996: 87.)

In his letters to the Ephesians, Romans and Smyrnaeans, we can trace the first Christians belief of Jesus as their God. Here is a drop of lines in his letters:

  • For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan(Letter to the Ephesians 18:2)
  • Consequently all magic and every kind of spell were dissolved, the ignorance so characteristic of wickedness vanished, and the ancient kingdom was abolished, when God appeared in human form to bring the newness of eternal life(Ibid 19:3)
  • There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first subject to suffering and then beyond it, Jesus Christ our Lord.(Ibid 7:2)
  • Being as you are imitators of God, once you took on new life through the blood of God you completed perfectly the task so natural to you.(Ibid 1:1)
  • I glorify Jesus Christ, the God who made you so wise(Letter to the Smyrnaeans 1:1)

I strongly encourage readers to read the context of these letters and also dig deeper for themselves for other passages in his letters that shows that, first Christians believed and understood Christ Jesus as their God.

Online Materials:

  1. Christian Classic Ethereal Library: Ignatius
  2. Ignatius of Antioch: Early Christian Writings

Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.