THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE SMYRNAEANS
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.
Adapt. and mod. (c) 1990. ATHENA DATA PRODUCTS
Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and
of Jesus Christ the Beloved, which hath been mercifully endowed with
every grace, being filled with faith and love and lacking in no
grace, most reverend and bearing holy treasures; to the church which
is in Smyrna of Asia, in a blameless spirit and in the word of God
I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who bestowed such wisdom upon
you; for I have perceived that ye are established in faith immovable,
being as it were nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in
flesh and in spirit, and firmly grounded in love in the blood of
Christ, fully persuaded as touching our Lord that He is truly of the
race of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine
will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John that
all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him,
truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and
Herod the tetrarch (of which fruit are we--that is, of His most
blessed passion); that He might set up an ensign unto all the ages
through His resurrection, for His saints and faithful people, whether
among Jews or among Gentiles, in one body of His Church.
For He suffered all these things for our sakes [that we might be
salved]; and He suffered truly, as also He raised Himself truly; not
as certain unbelievers say, that He suffered in semblance, being
themselves mere semblance. And according as their opinions are, so
shall it happen to them, for they are without body and demon-like.
For I know and believe that He was in the flesh even after the
and when He came to Peter and his company, He said to them, Lay
hold and handle me, and see that I am not a demon without a body.
And straightway they touched Him, and they believed, being joined
unto His flesh and His blood. Wherefore also they despised death, nay
they were found superior to death. And after His resurrection He
[both ate with them and drank with them as one in the flesh, though
spiritually He was united with the Father.
But these things I warn you, dearly beloved, knowing that ye
yourselves are so minded. Howbeit I watch over you betimes to protect
you from wild beasts in human form--men whom not only should ye not
receive, but, if it were possible, not so much as meet [them]; only
pray ye for them, if haply they may repent. This indeed is difficult,
but Jesus Christ, our true life, hath power over it.
For if these things were done by our Lord in semblance, then am I
also a prisoner in semblance. And why then have I delivered myself
over to death, unto fire, unto sword, unto wild beasts? But near to
the sword, near to God; in company with wild beasts, in company with
God. Only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ, so that we may
suffer together with Him. I endure all things, seeing that He Himself
enableth me, who is perfect Man.
But certain persons ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied
by Him, being advocates of death rather than of the truth; and they
have not been persuaded by the prophecies nor by the law of Moses,
nay nor even to this very hour by the Gospel, nor by the sufferings
of each of us severally; for they are of the same mind also
For what profit is it [to me], if a man praiseth me, but blasphemeth
my Lord, not confessing that He was a bearer of flesh? Yet he that
affirmeth not this, doth thereby deny Him altogether, being himself a
bearer of a corpse.
But their names, being unbelievers, I have not thought fit to record
in writing--nay, far be it from me even to remember them, until they
repent and return to the passion, which is our resurrection.
Let no man be deceived. Even the heavenly beings and the glory of
the angels and the rulers visible and invisible, if they believe not
in the blood of Christ [who is God], judgment awaiteth them also.
He that receiveth let him receive. Let not office puff up any man;
for faith and love are all in all, and nothing is preferred before
But mark ye those who hold strange doctrine touching the grace of
Jesus Christ which came to us, how that they are contrary to the mind
of God. They have no care for love, none for the widow, none for the
orphan, none for the afflicted, none for the prisoner, none for the
hungry or thirsty. They abstain from eucharist (thanksgiving) and
prayer, because they allow not that the eucharist is the flesh of our
Savior Jesus Christ, which flesh suffered for our sins, and which
the Father of His goodness raised up.
They therefore that gainsay the good gift of God perish by their
questionings. But it were expedient for them to have love, that they
may also rise again.
It is therefore meet that ye should abstain from such, and not speak
of them either privately or in public; but should give heed to the
Prophets, and especially to the Gospel, wherein the passion is shown
unto us and the resurrection is accomplished.
[But] shun divisions, as the beginning of evils. Do ye all follow
your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery
as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God's
commandment. Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the Church
apart from the bishop. Let that be held a valid eucharist which is
under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it.
Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as
where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church. It is not lawful
apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but
whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that
everything which ye do may be sure and valid.
It is reasonable henceforth that we wake to soberness, while we have
[still] time to repent and turn to God. It is good to recognize God
and the bishop. He that honoreth the bishop is honored of God; he
that doeth aught without the knowledge of the bishop rendereth
service to the devil.
May all things therefore abound unto you in grace, for ye are worthy.
Ye refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ shall refresh you. In
my absence and in my presence ye cherished me. May God recompense
you; for whose sake if ye endure all things, ye shall attain unto
Philo and Rhaius Agathopus, who followed me in the cause of God, ye
did well to receive as ministers of [Christ] God; who also give
thanks to the Lord for you, because ye refreshed them in every way.
Nothing shall be lost to you.
My spirit is devoted for you, as also are my bonds, which ye despised
not, neither were ashamed of them. Nor shall He, who is perfect
faithfulness, be ashamed of you, even Jesus Christ.
Your prayer sped forth unto the church which is in Antioch of Syria;
whence coming a prisoner in most godly bonds I salute all men, though
I am not worthy to belong to it, being the very last of them. By the
Divine will was this vouchsafed to me, not of my own complicity, but
by God's grace, which I pray may be given to me perfectly, that
through your prayers I may attain unto God.
Therefore that your work may be perfected both on earth and in
heaven, it is meet that your church should appoint, for the honor of
God, an ambassador of God that he may go as far as Syria and
congratulate them because they are at peace, and have recovered their
proper stature, and their proper bulk hath been restored to them.
It seemed to me therefore a fitting thing that ye should send one of
your own people with a letter, that he might join with them in giving
glory for the calm which by God's will had overtaken them, and
because they were already reaching a haven through your prayers.
Seeing ye are perfect, let your counsels also be perfect; for if ye
desire to do well, God is ready to grant the means.
The love of the brethren which are in Troas saluteth you; from whence
also I write to you by the hand of Burrhus, whom ye sent with me
jointly with the Ephesians your brethren. He hath refreshed me in all
ways. And I would that all imitated him, for he is an ensample of the
ministry of God. The Divine grace shall requite him in all things.
I salute your godly bishop and your venerable presbytery [and] my
fellow-servants the deacons, and all of you severally and in a body,
in the name of Jesus Christ, and in His flesh and blood, in His
passion and resurrection, which was both carnal and spiritual, in the
unity of God and of yourselves. Grace to you, mercy, peace, patience,
I salute the households of my brethren with their wives and
children, and the virgins who are called widows. I bid you farewell
in the power of the Father. Philo, who is with me, saluteth you.
I salute the household of Tavia, and I pray that she may be grounded
in faith and love both of flesh and of spirit. I salute Alce, a name
very dear to me, and Daphnus the incomparable, and Eutecnus, and all
by name. Fare ye well in the grace of God.