THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE MAGNESIANS
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.
Adapt. and mod. (c) 1990. ATHENA DATA PRODUCTS
Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her which hath been blessed
through the grace of God the Father in Christ Jesus our Savior, in
whom I salute the church which is in Magnesia on the Maeander, and I
wish her abundant greeting in God the Father and in Jesus Christ.
When I learned the exceeding good order of your love in the ways of
God, I was gladdened and I determined to address you in the faith of
For being counted worthy to bear a most godly name, in these bonds,
which I carry about, I sing the praise of the churches; and I pray
that there may be in them union of the flesh and of the spirit which
are Jesus Christ's, our never-failing life--and union of faith and of
love which is preferred before all things, and--what is more than
all--an union with Jesus and with the Father, in whom if we endure
patiently all the despite of the prince of this world and escape
therefrom, we shall attain unto God.
Forasmuch then as I was permitted to see you in the person of Damas
your godly bishop and your worthy presbyters Bassus and Apollonius
and my fellow-servant the deacon Zotion, of whom I would fain have
joy, for that he is subject to the bishop as unto the grace of God
and to the presbytery as unto the law of Jesus Christ:--
Yea, and it becometh you also not to presume upon the youth of your
bishop, but according to the power of God the Father to render unto
him all reverence, even as I have learned that the holy presbyters
also have not taken advantage of his outwardly youthful estate, but
give place to him as to one prudent in God; yet not to him, but to
the Father of Jesus Christ, even to the Bishop of all.
For the honor therefore of Him that desired you, it is meet that ye
should be obedient without dissimulation. For a man doth not so much
deceive this bishop who is seen, as cheat that other who is
invisible; and in such a case he must reckon not with flesh but with
God who knoweth the hidden things.
It is therefore meet that we not only be called Christians, but also
be such; even as some persons have the bishop's name on their lips,
but in everything act apart from him. Such men appear to me not to
keep a good conscience, for as much as they do not assemble
themselves together lawfully according to commandment.
Seeing then that all things have an end, and these two life and
death--are set before us together, and each man shall go to his own
place; for just as there are two coinages, the one of God and the
other of the world, and each of them hath its proper stamp impressed
upon it, the unbelievers the stamp of this world, but the faithful in
love the stamp of God the Father through Jesus Christ, through whom
unless of our own free choice we accept to die unto His passion, His
life is not in us:--
Seeing then that in the aforementioned persons I beheld your whole
people in faith and embraced them, I advise you, be ye zealous to do
all things in godly concord, the bishop presiding after the likeness
of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the
Apostles, with the deacons also who are most dear to me, having been
entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father
before the worlds and appeared at the end of time.
Therefore do ye all study conformity to God and pay reverence one to
another; and let no man regard his neighbor after the flesh, but love
ye one another in Jesus Christ always. Let there be nothing among you
which shall have power to divide you, but be ye united with the
bishop and with them that preside over you as an ensample and a
lesson of incorruptibility.
Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, [being united
with Him], either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye
anything without the bishop and the presbyters. And attempt not to
think anything right for yourselves apart from others: but let there
be one prayer in common, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in
love and in joy unblamable, which is Jesus Christ, than whom there is
Hasten to come together all of you, as to one temple, even God; as to
one altar, even to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from One Father
and is with One and departed unto One.
Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which
are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of
Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace:
for the divine prophets lived after Christ Jesus. For this cause also
they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to the end that
they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one
God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His
Word that proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing
unto Him that sent Him.
If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto
newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their
lives after the Lord's day, on which our life also arose through Him
and through His death which some men deny--a mystery whereby we
attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we
may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher--
if this be so, how shall we be able to live apart from Him? seeing
that even the prophets, being His disciples, were expecting Him as
their teacher through the Spirit. And for this cause He whom they
rightly awaited, when He one, raised them from the dead.
Therefore let us not be insensible to His goodness. For if He should
imitate us according to our deeds, we are lost. For this cause,
seeing that we are become His disciples, let us learn to live as
beseemeth Christianity. For whoso is called by another name besides
this, is not of God.
Therefore put away the vile leaven which hath
waxed stale and sour, and betake yourselves to the new leaven, which
is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, that none among you grow
putrid, seeing that by your savor ye shall be proved.
It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practice Judaism. For
Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity,
wherein every tongue believed and was gathered together unto
Now these things I say, my dearly beloved, not because I have
learned that any of you are so minded; but as being less than any of
you, I would have you be on your guard betimes, that ye fall not into
the snares of vain doctrine; but be ye fully persuaded concerning the
birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the
time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate; for these things were
truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope; from which hope
may it not befall any of you to be turned aside.
Let me have joy of you in all things, if I be worthy. For even
though I am in bonds, yet am I not comparable to one of you who are
at liberty. I know that ye are not puffed up; for ye have Jesus
Christ in yourselves. And, when I praise you, I know that ye only
feel the more shame; as it is written the righteous man is a
Do your diligence therefore that ye be confirmed in the ordinances
of the Lord and of the Apostles, that ye may prosper in all things
whatsoever ye do in flesh and spirit, by faith and by love, in the
Son and Father and in the Spirit, in the beginning and in the end,
with your revered bishop, and with the fitly wreathed spiritual
circlet of your presbytery, and with the deacons who walk after God.
Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to
the Father [according to the flesh], and as the Apostles were to
Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and
Knowing that ye are full of God, I have exhorted you briefly.
Remember me in your prayers, that I may attain unto God; and remember
also the church which is in Syria, whereof I am not worthy to be
called a member. For I have need of your united prayer and love in
God, that it may be granted to the church which is in Syria to be
refreshed by the dew of your fervent supplication.
The Ephesians from Smyrna salute you, from whence also I write to
you. They are here with me for the glory of God, as also are ye; and
they have comforted me in all things, together with Polycarp bishop
of the Smyrnaeans. Yea, and all the other churches salute you in the
honor of Jesus Christ. Fare ye well in godly concord, and possess ye
a steadfast spirit, which is Jesus Christ.