(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was
not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors.)
THIS FILE CONTAINS:
The Syriac version of the Ignatian Epistles
1. To Polycarp
2. To the Ephesians
3. To the Romans
SYRIAC VERSIONS OF THE EPISTLES OF IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO POLYCARP(1)
Ignatius, who is [also called] Theophorus, to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna,
or rather, who has as his own bishop God the Father, and our Lord Jesus
Christ: [wishes] abundance of happiness.
BECAUSE thy mind is acceptable to me, inasmuch as it is established in
God, as on a rock which is immoveable, I glorify God the more exceedingly
that I have been counted worthy of [seeing] thy face, which I longed after
in God. Now I beseech thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to
add [speed] to thy course, and that thou ever pray for all men that they
may be saved, and that thou demand(2) things which are befitting, with all
assiduity both of the flesh and spirit. Be studious of unity, than which
nothing is more precious. Bear with all men, even as our Lord beareth with
thee. Show patience(3) with all men in love, as [indeed] thou doest. Be
stedfast in prayer. Ask for more understanding than that which thou
[already] hast. Be watchful, as possessing a spirit which sleepeth not.
Speak with every man according to the will of God. Bear the infirmities of
all men as a perfect athlete; for where the labour is great, the gain is
If thou lovest the good disciples only, thou hast no grace; [but]
rather subdue those that are evil by gentleness. All [sorts of] wounds are
not healed by the same medicine. Mitigate [the pain of] cutting(4) by
tenderness. Be wise as the serpent in everything, and innocent, with
respect to those things which are requisite, even as the dove. For this
reason thou art [composed] of both flesh and spirit, that thou mayest
entice s those things which are visible before thy face, and mayest ask, as
to those which are concealed from thee, that they [too] may be revealed to
thee, in order that thou be deficient in nothing, and mayest abound in all
gifts. The time demands, even as a pilot does a ship, and as one who stands
exposed to the tempest does a haven, that thou shouldst be worthy of God.
Be thou watchful as an athlete of God. That which is promised to us is life
eternal, which cannot be corrupted, of which things thou art also
persuaded. In everything I will be instead(6) of thy soul, and my bonds
which thou hast loved.
Let not those who seem to be somewhat, and teach strange doctrines,
strike thee with apprehension; but stand thou in the truth, as an
athlete(7) who is smitten, for it is [the part] of a great athlete to be
smitten, and [yet] conquer. More especially is it fitting that we should
bear everything for the sake of God, that He also may bear us. Be [still]
more diligent than thou yet art. Be discerning of the times. Look for Him
that is above the times, Him who has no times, Him who is invisible, Him
who for our sakes became visible, Him who is impalpable, Him who is
impassible, Him who for our sakes suffered, Him who endured everything in
every form for our sakes.
Let not the widows be overlooked; on account of(8) our Lord be thou
their guardian, and let nothing be done without thy will; also do thou
nothing without the will of God, as indeed thou doest not. Stand rightly.
Let there be frequent(9) assemblies: ask every man [to them] by his name.
Despise not slaves, either male or female; but neither let them be
contemptuous, but let them labour the more as for the glory of God, that
they may be counted worthy of a more precious freedom, which is of God. Let
them not desire to be set free out of the common [fund], lest they be found
the slaves of lust.
Flee wicked arts; but all the more discourse regarding them. Speak to
my sisters, that they love in our Lord, and that their husbands be
sufficient for them in the flesh and spirit. Then, again, charge my
brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they love their wives,
as our Lord His Church. If any man is able in power to continue in
purity,(1) to the honour of the flesh of our Lord, let him continue so
without boasting; if he boasts, he is undone; if he become known apart from
the bishop, he has destroyed himself.(2) It is becoming, therefore, to men
and women who marry, that they marry with the counsel of the bishop, that
the marriage may be in our Lord, and not in lust. Let everything,
therefore, be [done] for the honour of God.
Look ye to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be
instead of the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the
presbyters, and the deacons; with them may I have a portion in the presence
of God! Labour together with one another, act as athletes(3) together, run
together, suffer together, sleep together, rise together. As stewards of
God, and of His household,(4) and His servants, please Him and serve Him,
that ye may receive from Him the wages [promised]. Let none of you be
rebellious. Let your baptism be to you as armour, and faith as a spear, and
love as a helmet, and patience as a panoply. Let your treasures be your
good works, that ye may receive the gift of God, as is just. Let your
spirit be long-suffering towards each other with meekness, even as God [is]
toward you. As for me, I rejoice in you at all times.
The Christian has not power over himself, but is [ever] ready to be
subject to God.(5)
I salute him who is reckoned worthy to go to Antioch in my stead, as I
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS(1)
Ignatius, who is [also called] Theophorus, to the Church which is blessed
in the greatness of God the Father, and perfected; to her who was
selected(2) from eternity, that she might be at all times for glory, which
abideth, and is unchangeable, and is perfected and chosen in the purpose of
truth by the will of the Father of Jesus Christ our God; to her who is
worthy of happiness; to her who is at Ephesus, in Jesus Christ, in joy
which is unblameable: [wishes] abundance of happiness.
INASMUCH as your name. which is greatly beloved, is acceptable to me in
God, [your name] which ye have acquired by nature, through a right and just
will, and also by the faith and love of Jesus Christ our Saviour, and ye
are imitators of God, and are fervent in the blood of God, and have
speedily completed a work congenial to you [for] when ye heard that I was
bound,(3) so as to be able to do nothing for the sake of the common name
and hope (and I hope, through your prayers, that I may be devoured by
beasts at Rome, so that by means of this of which I have been accounted
worthy, I may be endowed with strength to be a disciple of God), ye were
diligent to come and see me. Seeing, then, that we have become acquainted
with your multitude(4) in the name of God, by Onesimus, who is your bishop,
in love which is unutterable, whom I pray that ye love in Jesus Christ our
Lord, and that all of you imitate his example,(5) for blessed is He who has
given you such a bishop, even as ye deserve [to have].(6)
But inasmuch as love does not permit me to be silent in regard to you,
on this account I have been forward to entreat of you that ye would be
diligent in the will of God.
For, so long as there is not implanted in you any one lust which is
able to torment you, behold, ye live in God. I rejoice in you, and offer
supplication(9) on account of you, Ephesians, a Church which is renowned in
all ages. For those who are carnal are not able to do spiritual things, nor
those that are spiritual carnal things; in like manner as neither can faith
[do] those things which are foreign to faith, nor want of faith [do] what
belongs to faith. For those things which ye have done in the flesh, even
these are spiritual, because ye have done everything in Jesus Christ.
And ye are prepared for the building of God the Father, and ye are
raised up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross;
and ye are drawn by the rope, which is the Holy Spirit; and your pulley is
your faith, and your love is the way which leadeth up on high to God.
Pray for all men; for there is hope of repentance for them, that they
may be counted worthy of God. By your works especially let them be
instructed. Against their harsh words be ye conciliatory, by meekness of
mind and gentleness. Against their blasphemies do ye give yourselves to
prayer; and against their error be ye armed with faith. Against their
fierceness be ye peaceful and quiet, and be ye not astounded by them. Let
us, then, be imitators of our Lord in meekness, and strive who shall more
especially be injured, and oppressed, and defrauded.
The work is not of promise,(2) unless a man be found in the power of
faith, even to the end.
It is better that a man should be silent while he is something, than
that he should be talking when he is not; that by those things which be
speaks he should act, and by those things of which he is silent he should
My spirit bows in adoration to the cross, which is a stumbling-block to
those who do not believe, but is to you for salvation and eternal life.
There was concealed from the ruler of this world the virginity of Mary
and the birth of our Lord, and the three renowned mysteries(4) which were
done in the tranquillity of God from the star. And here, at the
manifestation of the Son, magic began to be destroyed, and all bonds were
loosed; and the ancient kingdom and the error of evil was destroyed.
Henceforward all things were moved together, and the destruction of death
was devised, and there was the commencement of that which was perfected in
THE THIRD EPISTLE OF THE SAME ST. IGNATIUS(1)
Ignatius, who is [also called] Theophorus, to the Church which has received
grace through the greatness of the Father Most High; to her who presideth
in the place of the region of the Romans, who is worthy of God, and worthy
of life, and happiness, and praise, and remembrance, and is worthy of
prosperity, and presideth in love, and is perfected in the law of Christ
unblameable: [wishes] abundance of peace.
FROM of old have I prayed to God, that I might be counted worthy to
behold your faces which are worthy of God: now, therefore, being bound in
Jesus Christ, I hope to meet you and salute you, if it be the will [of God]
that I should be accounted worthy to the end. For the beginning is well
arranged, if I be counted worthy to attain to the end, that I may receive
my portion, without hindrance, through suffering. For I am in fear of your
love, lest it should injure me. As to you, indeed, it is easy for you to do
whatsoever ye wish; but as to me, it is difficult for me to be accounted
worthy of God, if indeed ye spare me not.
For there is no other time such as this, that I should be accounted
worthy of God; neither will ye, if ye be silent, [ever] be found in a
better work than this. If ye let me alone, I shall be the word of God; but
if ye love my flesh, again am I [only] to myself a voice. Ye cannot give me
anything more precious than this, that I should be sacrificed to God, while
the altar is ready; that ye may be in one concord in love, and may praise
God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, because He has deemed a
bishop worthy to be God's, having called him from the east to the west. It
is good that I should set from the world in God, that I may rise in Him to
Ye have never envied any man. Ye have taught others. Only pray ye for
strength to be given to me from within and from without, that I may not
only speak, but also may be willing, and that I may not merely be called a
Christian, but also may be found to be [one]; for if I am found to be [so],
I may then also be called [so]. Then [indeed] shall I be faithful, when I
am no longer seen in the world. For there is nothing visible that is good.
The work is not [a matter(3)] of persuasion; but Christianity is great when
the world hateth it.
I write to all the Churches, and declare to all men, that I willingly
die for the sake of God, if so be that ye hinder me not. I entreat of you
not to be [affected] towards me with a love which is unseasonable. Leave me
to become [the prey of] the beasts, that by their means I may be accounted
worthy of God. I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of the beasts I
shall be ground,(4) that I may be found the pure bread of God. Provoke ye
greatly(5) the wild beasts, that they may be for me a grave, and may leave
nothing of my body, in order that, when I have fallen asleep, I may not be
a burden upon any one. Then shall I be in truth a disciple of Jesus Christ,
when the world seeth not even my body. Entreat of our Lord in my behalf,
that through these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. I do not,
like Peter and Paul, issue orders unto you. They are(6) apostles, but I am
one condemned; they indeed are free, but I am a slave, even until now. But
if I suffer, I shall be the freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise in
Him from the dead, free. And now being in bonds, I learn to desire nothing.
From Syria, and even unto Rome, I am cast among wild beasts, by sea and
by land, by night and by day, being bound between ten leopards, which are
the band of soldiers, who, even when I do good to them, all the more do
evil unto me. I, however, am the rather instructed by their injurious
treatment;(1) but not on this account am I justified to myself. I rejoice
in the beasts which are prepared for me, and I pray that they may in haste
be found for me; and I will provoke them speedily to devour me, and not be
as those which are afraid of some other men,(2) and will not approach them:
even should they not be willing to approach me, I will go with violence
against them. Know me from myself what is expedient for me.(3) Let no
one(4) envy me of those things which are seen and which are not seen, that
I should be accounted worthy of Jesus Christ. Fire, and the cross, and the
beasts that are prepared, cutting off of the limbs, and scattering of the
hones, and crushing of the whole body, harsh torments of the devil--let
these come upon me, but(5) only let me be accounted worthy of Jesus Christ.
The pains of the birth stand over against me.(6)
And my love is crucified, and there is no fire in me for another love.
I do not desire the food of corruption, neither the lusts of this world. I
seek the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ; and I seek His
blood, a drink which is love incorruptible.
My spirit saluteth you, and the love of the Churches which received me
as the name of Jesus Christ; for those also who were near to [my] way in
the flesh, preceded me in every city.
(8)[Now therefore, being about to arrive shortly in Rome, I know many
things in God; but I keep myself within measure, that I may not perish
through boasting: for now it is needful for me to fear the more, and not
pay regard to those who puff me up. For they who say such things to me
scourge me; for I desire to suffer, but I do not know if I am worthy. For
zeal is not visible to many, but with me it has war. I have need,
therefore, of meekness, by which the prince of this world is destroyed. I
am able to write to you of heavenly things, but I fear lest I should do you
an injury. Know me from myself. For I am cautious lest ye should not be
able to receive [such knowledge], and should be perplexed. For even I, not
because I am in bonds, and am able to know heavenly things, and the places
of angels, and the stations of the powers that are seen and that are not
seen, am on this account a disciple; for I am far short of the perfection
which is worthy of God.] Be ye perfectly strong(9) in the patience of Jesus
Christ our God.
Here end the three Epistles of Ignatius, bishop and martyr.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in
1867. (ANF 1, Roberts and Donaldson.) The digital version is by The
Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.