THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.
Adapt. and mod. (c) 1990. ATHENA DATA PRODUCTS
Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her which hath been blessed
in greatness through the plentitude of God the Father; which hath
been foreordained before the ages to be forever and unto abiding and
unchangeable glory, united and elect in a true passion, by the will
of the Father and of Jesus Christ our God; even unto the church which
is at Ephesus [of Asia], worthy of all felicitation; abundant
greeting in Christ Jesus and in blameless joy.
While I welcomed in God [your] well beloved name which ye bear by
natural right, [in an upright and virtuous mind], by faith and love
in Christ Jesus our Savior--being imitators of God, and having your
hearts kindled in the blood of God, ye have perfectly fulfilled your
for when ye heard that I was on my way from Syria, in bonds for the
sake of the common Name and hope, and was hoping through your prayers
to succeed in fighting the wild beasts in Rome, that by so succeeding
I might have power to be a disciple, ye were eager to visit me--
seeing then in God's name I have received your whole multitude in the
person of Onesimus, whose love passeth utterance and who is moreover
your bishop [in the flesh] and I pray that ye may love him according
to Jesus Christ and that ye all may be like him; for blessed is He
that granted unto you according to your deserving to have such a
But as touching my fellow servant Burrhus, who by the will of God is
your deacon blessed in all things, I pray that he may remain with me
to the honor of yourselves and of your bishop. Yea, and Crocus also,
who is worthy of God and of you whom I received as an ensample of the
love which ye bear me, hath relieved me in all ways--even so may the
Father of Jesus Christ refresh him--together with Onesimus and
Burrhus and Euplus and Fronto; in whom I saw you all with the eyes of
May I have joy of you always, if so be I an worthy of it. It is
therefore meet for you in every way to glorify Jesus Christ who
glorified you; that being perfectly joined together in one
submission, submitting yourselves to your bishop and presbytery, ye
may be sanctified in all things.
I do not command you, as though I were somewhat. For even though I
am in bonds for the Name's sake, I am not yet perfected in Jesus
Christ. [For] now am I beginning to be a disciple; and I speak to you
as to my school-fellows. For I ought to be trained by you for the
contest in faith, in admonition, in endurance, in long-suffering.
But, since love doth not suffer me to be silent concerning you,
therefore was I forward to exhort you, that ye run in harmony with
the mind of God: for Jesus Christ also, our inseparable life, is the
mind of the Father, even as the bishops that are settled in the
farthest parts of the earth are in the mind of Jesus Christ.
So then it becometh you to run in harmony with the mind of the
bishop; which thing also ye do. For your honorable presbytery, which
is worthy of God, is attuned to the bishop, even as its strings to a
lyre. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love Jesus Christ is
And do ye, each and all, form yourselves into a chorus, that being
harmonious in concord and taking the key note of God ye may in unison
sing with one voice through Jesus Christ unto the Father, that He may
both hear you and acknowledge you by your good deeds to be members of
His Son. It is therefore profitable for you to be in blameless unity,
that ye may also be partakers of God always.
For if I in a short time had such converse with your bishop, which
was not after the manner of men but in the Spirit, how much more do I
congratulate you who are closely joined with him as the Church is
with Jesus Christ and as Jesus Christ is with the Father, that all
things may be harmonious in unity.
Let no man be deceived. If any one be not within the precinct of the
altar, he lacketh the bread [of God]. For, if the prayer of one and
another hath so great force, how much more that of the bishop and of
the whole Church.
Whosoever therefore cometh not to the congregation, he doth thereby
show his pride and hath separated himself; for it is written, God
resisteth the proud. Let us therefore be careful not to resist the
bishop, that by our submission we may give ourselves to God.
And in proportion as a man seeth that his bishop is silent, let him
fear him the more. For every one whom the Master of the household
sendeth to be steward over His own house, we ought so to receive as
Him that sent him. Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as
the Lord Himself.
Now Onesimus of his own accord highly praiseth your
orderly conduct in God, for that ye all live according to truth, and
that no heresy hath a home among you: nay, ye do not so much as
listen to any one, if he speak of aught else save concerning Jesus
Christ in truth.
For some are wont of malicious guile to hawk about the Name, while
they do certain other things unworthy of God. These men ye ought to
shun, as wild-beasts; for they are mad dogs, biting by stealth;
against whom ye ought to be on your guard, for they are hard to heal.
There is one only physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and in-
generate, God in man, true Life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God,
first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let no one therefore deceive you, as indeed ye are not deceived,
seeing that ye belong wholly to God. For when no lust is established
in you, which hath power to torment you, then truly ye live after
God. I devote myself for you, and I dedicate myself as an offering
for the church of you Ephesians which is famous unto all the ages.
They that are of the flesh cannot do the things of the Spirit,
neither can they that are of the Spirit do the things of the flesh;
even as faith cannot do the things of unfaithfulness, neither
unfaithfulness the things of the faith. Nay, even those things which
ye do after the flesh are spiritual; for ye do all things in Jesus
But I have learned that certain persons passed through you from
yonder, bringing evil doctrine; whom ye suffered not to sow seed in
you, for ye stopped your ears, so that ye might not receive the seed
sown by them; forasmuch as ye are stones of a temple, which were
prepared beforehand for a building of God the Father, being hoisted
up to the heights through the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the
Cross, and using for a rope the Holy Spirit; while your faith is your
windlass, and love is the way that leadeth up to God.
So then ye are all companions in the way, carrying your God and your
shrine, your Christ and your holy things, being arrayed from head to
foot in the commandments of Jesus Christ. And I too, taking part in
the festivity, am permitted by letter to bear you company and to
rejoice with you, that ye set not your love on anything after the
common life of men, but only on God.
And pray ye also without ceasing for the rest of mankind (for there
is in them a hope of repentance), that they may find God. Therefore
permit them to take lessons at least from your works.
Against their outbursts of wrath be ye meek; against their proud
words be ye humble; against their railings set ye your prayers;
against their errors be ye steadfast in the faith; against their
fierceness be ye gentle. And be not zealous to imitate them by
Let us show ourselves their brothers by our forbearance; but let us
be zealous to be imitators of the Lord, vying with each other who
shall suffer the greater wrong, who shall be defrauded, who shall be
set at nought; that no herb of the devil be found in you: but in all
purity and temperance abide ye in Christ Jesus, with your flesh and
with your spirit.
These are the last times. Henceforth let us have reverence; let us
fear the long-suffering of God, lest it turn into a judgment against
us. For either let us fear the wrath which is to come or let us love
the grace which now is--the one or the other; provided only that we
be found in Christ Jesus unto true life.
Let nothing glitter in your eyes apart from Him, in whom I carry
about my bonds, my spiritual pearls in which I would fain rise again
through your prayer, whereof may it be my lot to be always a
partaker, that I may be found in the company of those Christians of
Ephesus who moreover were ever of one mind with the Apostles in the
power of Jesus Christ.
I know who I am and to whom I write. I am a convict, ye have
received mercy: I am in peril, ye are established.
Ye are the high-road of those that are on their way to die unto God.
Ye are associates in the mysteries with Paul, who was sanctified, who
obtained a good report, who is worthy of all felicitation; in whose
foot-steps I would fain be found treading, when I shall attain unto
God; who in every letter maketh mention of you in Christ Jesus.
Do your diligence therefore to meet together more frequently for
thanksgiving to God and for His glory. For when ye meet together
frequently, the powers of Satan are cast down; and his mischief
cometh to nought in the concord of your faith.
There is nothing better than peace, in which all warfare of things in
heaven and things on earth is abolished.
None of these things is hidden from you, if ye be perfect in your
faith and love toward Jesus Christ, for these are the beginning and
end of life--faith is the beginning and love is the end--and the two
being found in unity are God, while all things else follow in their
train unto true nobility.
No man professing faith sinneth, and no man possessing love hateth.
The tree is manifest from its fruit; so they that profess to be
Christ's shall be seen through their actions. For the Work is not a
thing of profession now, but is seen then when one is found in the
power of faith unto the end.
It is better to keep silence and to be, than to talk and not to be.
It is a fine thing to teach, if the speaker practice. Now there is
one teacher, who spake and it came to pass: yea and even the
things which He hath done in silence are worthy of the Father.
He that truly possesseth the word of Jesus is able also to hearken
unto His silence, that he may be perfect; that through his speech he
may act and through his silence he may be known.
Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are nigh unto
Him. Let us therefore do all things as knowing that He dwelleth in
us, to the end that we may be His temples and He Himself may be in us
as our God. This is so, and it will also be made clear in our sight
from the love which we rightly bear towards Him.
Be not deceived, my brethren. Corrupters of houses shall not
inherit the kingdom of God.
If then they which do these things after the flesh are put to death,
how much more if a man through evil doctrine corrupt the faith of God
for which Jesus Christ was crucified. Such a man, having defiled
himself, shall go into the unquenchable fire; and in like manner also
shall he that hearkeneth unto him.
For this cause the Lord received ointment on His head, that He might
breathe incorruption upon the Church. Be not anointed with the ill
odor of the teaching of the prince of this world, lest he lead you
captive and rob you o the life which is set before you.
And wherefore do we not all walk prudently, receiving the knowledge
of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why perish we in our folly, not
knowing the gift of grace which the Lord hath truly sent?
My spirit is made an offscouring for the Cross, which is a
stumbling-block to them that are unbelievers, but to us salvation and
life eternal. Where is the wise? Where is the disputer? Where is
the boasting of them that are called prudent?
For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb by Mary
according to a dispensation, of the seed of David but also of the
Holy Ghost; and He was born and was baptized that by His passion He
might cleanse water.
And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary
and her child-bearing and likewise also the death of the Lord--three
mysteries to be cried aloud--the which were wrought in the silence of
God. How then were they made manifest to the ages?
A star shone forth in the heaven above all the stars; and its light
was unutterable, and its strangeness caused amazement; and all the
rest of the constellations with the sun and moon formed themselves
into a chorus about the star; but the star itself far outshone them
all; and there was perplexity to know whence came this strange
appearance which was so unlike them.
From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved,
the ignorance of wickedness vanished away, the ancient kingdom was
pulled down, when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness
of everlasting life; and that which had been perfected in the
counsels of God began to take effect. Thence all things were
perturbed, because the abolishing of death was taken in hand.
If Jesus Christ should count me worthy through your prayer, and it
should be the Divine will, in my second tract, which I intend to
write to you, I will further set before you the dispensation whereof
I have begun to speak, relating to the new man Jesus Christ, which
consisteth in faith towards Him and in love towards Him, in His
passion and resurrection,
especially if the Lord should reveal aught to me. Assemble yourselves
together in common, every one of you severally, man by man, in grace,
in one faith and one Jesus Christ, who after the flesh was of David's
race, who is Son of Man and Son of God, to the end that ye may obey
the bishop and the presbytery without distraction of mind; breaking
one bread, which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote that
we should not die but live for ever in Jesus Christ.
I am devoted to you and to those whom for the honor of God ye sent to
Smyrna; whence also I write unto you with thanksgiving to the Lord,
having love for Polycarp as I have for you also. Remember me, even as
I would that Jesus Christ may also remember you.
Pray for the church which is in Syria, whence I am led a prisoner to
Rome-- I who am the very last of the faithful there; according as I
was counted worthy to be found unto the honor of God. Fare ye well in
God the Father and in Jesus Christ our common hope.