Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians – Part 1 (Unity, Unity, Unity)

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Summary: In the year 107 AD, St. Ignatius – the Christian Bishop of Antioch – was martyred for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Leading up to his martyrdom he wrote 7 letters. The first letter was to a well know Christian community in Ephesus. In this mini-series, Fr. Michael Sorial explores the topic of Unity that is threaded throughout the entire letter that St. Ignatius writes to the Ephesians.

Part 1: Chapters 1-9
Part 2: Chapters 10-21

Transcript (compliments of Julianna Kelada)


“Alright, Good Morning and Welcome Back for The Link!”

“We are starting just a two part series this morning, entitled “Unity, Unity, Unity.”

“And we are going to be looking specifically at a Letter of Saint Ignatius of Antioch.”

“As I have mentioned to you all a few weeks ago in a prior series:


Saint Ignatius of Antioch was a Bishop who lived around the end of the first century into the second century.  He died and was martyred in the year 107 AD and he wrote his first of the seven letters, that he wrote was this letter entitled: “Ignatius to the Ephesians.”


Now what I have done is printed out a copy of half of the letter for this week, and we’ll do the rest of it next week, the second half next week. I have added certain footnotes or notes across the paper, so you will kind of have an idea what is going on through it. And we will work our way through this text.


So, just right out of the gate, let me mention, highlight, that Ignatius was a Disciple (if you remember a few weeks ago, we said) Saint Ignatius was a Disciple of John, [John being] the Disciple of Our Lord, right.  The other person that we had mentioned that he had that Saint John had discipled, was a man by the name of Polycarp of Smyrna, who was one of Ignatius’ contempories.  And in fact one of the seven letters that Saint Ignatius writes is to Polycarp.  Okay?  So, it is nice that we’re looking at one of the Apostolic Fathers, which is one of the Fathers who was a disciple of the Disciples’ of Jesus.


So we have the Lord Jesus Christ we have the twelve. Actually, one of the inner three: Peter, James, and John. So John’s disciple, we are going to be looking at, which is Ignatius, and this specific Letter to the Ephesians.


The entire letter, if I have to say that there is one theme for the entire letter it would be the theme of Unity. Okay?

If any one is buying real estate there is one, usually one thing that most realtors will tell you, which is what? Location. …location, location, location.  It’s all about location.  You can have the most beautiful house from the inside, and the outside is exquisite and everything.  But if it is in the wrong location, if it is in a bad part of town, if it is right on a major highway, if there are electrical poles around it, etc… If it’s in a terrible location, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it may appear, location is key!


In the Church that issue of location for the Early Christians was Unity.  Unity was at the core of the teaching of, not only the letter we are going to be looking at this morning, but throughout the New Testament cannon.


Saint Paul stresses the importance of Unity all throughout the scriptures and today’s letter, Saint Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians, stresses this point: Unity, Unity, Unity!


Throughout this letter you are going to find over twenty direct references to unity, and probably at least, thirty-to-forty references to the idea of unity, harmony, oneness, being together, being united, all that.  Being one, being around the table, being with the one bishoping; that image of unity you cannot escape it.  We are going to be going through this whole letter and that is going to be something I think will jump out to you loud and clear.


Tradition suggests that the author of this specific letter, Ignatius, and I have put this for you in your footnote down there number two at the very bottom of the page.  Suggested it was, it was the child that our Lord, if you remember our Lord brought a child on His lap and said, “Unless you become converted as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”


So early tradition suggests that the little child is, in fact, Ignatius of Antioch.  So this is someone who was not only a disciple of John, but he had interacted, in all likelihood, on some level, with Christ, even if as a young child he may or may not have understood exactly who this Man was that was standing in front of him and what He was about to do?


One of the themes you are going to see throughout this letter, on unity, is, and really throughout several of Ignatius’ letters, is the idea of suffering.  Now, why this is important, and he actually, right out at the beginning here we will just look at the first prologue, he says: “Ignatius who is also Theophorus,” Theophorus was most likely a name he gave to himself meaning “God Bearer,” either given to him, or he gave it to himself.  He saw himself as someone who carried God around with him. That this was something that confirmed his Christian calling.


So he says, “Ignatius to her (her, being the Church), which has been blessed in greatness through the fullness of God the Father, which has been foreordained before the ages forever unto abiding unchangeable glory, united and elected in a passion, truly suffered!”  Okay?


Now Ignatius is writing this letter, as he is getting ready to be martyred.  And he in fact, writes seven letters on his way to Rome to be martyred.  Most historians suggest that he wrote this along with three other letters when he was in Smyrna with Polycarp, and that when he escapes from there, or either escapes, or is transported to Syria.  Most likely, escapes.


He goes to Syria, he knows his martyrdom is coming; it’s inevitable. He has been on the run for years.  He now goes to Syria and he writes the other three letters: one to Polycarp and then two others. One of them is to the Church in Rome, the church he is about to go to, or the city he is about to go to be martyred in.  {and the other for the city he is about to be martyred in.}


So he is acknowledging that it is for him “joyous to suffer with Christ!”  And he is not the first one to say that, by the way.  Saint Paul in Philippians says, that “we have been granted not only to believe in the name of Christ, but also to suffer for His sake!”  He is saying I am, for me, to acknowledge myself as a disciple of Christ, I am not escaping my own call to suffer for the name of Christ but to take up my own cross and to walk with Him.


So he writes this letter to the Church of Ephesus, which is in Asia or Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  He had not yet visited the Church in Ephesus, but Ephesus is important because, Number 1:  Saint Paul had preached there.  He established a Church there.  You also find in the book of Revelation that there are seven churches that are mentioned; the first of those seven Churches is Ephesus.


We will talk more, most likely next week, about why Ephesus, you find a level of importance there; but on a civil level it is important because it is a trade port.  A big trade port there along one of the main trade routes.  But it is important I believe in the book of Revelation listed as the first of the seven churches.  Because some people suggest, that when Saint John took Saint Mary the Mother of our Lord, they went to Ephesus for a period of time and were housed in that place.  Okay?


It’s a place that is mentioned a couple times in the book of Revelation, and again it was mentioned first, which tells us that it was important.  So he writes this letter to this community.  And he is telling them again “I am not going to escape my suffering.  That when had times come, I am not going to run from Christ.  I am going to carry my cross and follow Him, because after all, the disciple is not above the Master.”


Chapter 1: The whole chapter is about sharing in His name, the name of Christ, by becoming an imitator of God.  He begins off in Chapter 1: “Welcome in God Your well-beloved Name, which you bear by natural right in a virtuous mind by faith and love of in Christ Jesus Our Savior, being imitators of God.  and right below that he tells them that they were: “Perfectly fulfilled the pleasant work.”


The fact that they have a well-beloved name simply means that they are people of high character; that they are people who are virtuous.  He suggests so much when he says that they have a natural right.  They are known all over the world, because they have a high level of commitment to Christ.  So, being known as a community, what we can get from this, being known as a Christian, is not about how much noise or activities we do, but rather how high the degree of our Christian character and virtue.  And this is what makes these people in Ephesus known.


It is not because they have built the biggest building.  It is not because they have the best sounding choir in church.  It is not because they have the most eloquent speakers preaching.  It’s not because they’ve sent out the most missionaries.  It is because they have a high Christian character.  Their virtue is people.  And so he says, “I have heard of your well-beloved name.”  And their well-beloved name became because they became imitators of Christ.  They became imitators of our Lord.


If you scroll down a little bit to the fifth line it says:

“I was on my way from Syria, in bonds for the sake of the common Name (the common Name being Christ) and hope, and was hoping through your prayers to succeed in fighting with wild beasts in Rome!”  He saying “I am going to the arena and don’t try to stop me!”  {Ignatius} He is not trying to escape.  He is saying “I am just simply hoping that I can make it as a disciple.” Seeing then that in God’s name I have received your whole multitude.


So “by succeeding I might have power to be a disciple.”  He is saying, what’s he saying here?  He is saying, “for me to be a disciple it means I am not going to escape from what my own Master had done by taking up the Cross.”  He’s saying, “The power of discipleship is in not fleeing the Cross.”  “You were eager to visit me, seeing then that in God’s Name I received your whole multitude in the person of Onesimus.”


Now Onesimus, he later says, shortly after, he says that he is “Your bishop in the flesh.”  The distinction there in the flesh is because ultimately Christ is the Bishop, the overseer par-excellence.  He is The Bishop.  So that Ignatius is acknowledging himself in one of his other letters, he says, “Though I am your bishop, and I am about to be martyred, your Eternal Bishop will never leave you.”  And will provide someone else for you by the way, once I am gone to be your bishop in the flesh.


Onesimus is the first name that is going to jump out to you.  Onesimus is the bishop at the time of Ephesus.  Okay?  So there’s a few people we are going to find here but we see this idea of unity.  But there’s going to be unity around certain things.  You’re going to have unity around the Bishop; you are going to have unity around the Eucharist; you are going to have unity around the Truth.


And those three themes for Ignatius, in all seven of his letters are indispensable, you can miss them. Okay? Unity around the bishop, the Eucharist, and the Truth, are essential.  So Onesimus is there and he’s saying, “in receiving your bishop, I have received all of you.”  He is come as your representative and in so doing I have received you.


It as if in a corporate meeting, one of the VP’s is sent to a place, and that place receives that person as if they are coming to receive the entire corporation, because they have been sent as an ambassador to carry the message of the corporation.  When an ambassador of a country goes to a place they don’t go to speak whatever they think.  The question is never, “What do you think about something?”  It is “what message are you carrying from the State Department or from the President?”  And this is how Ignatius receives Onesimus.  And quite frankly, this is how we should receive one another.  Is that when we receive each other, we receive each other, as if we are receiving the entire body.


One of the things about Onesimus that is really, really interesting:  Many church historians, if you have your Bibles you can look in the Letter of Philemon.  Saint Paul’s shortest letter; right before the Letter to the Hebrews.  He says, “therefore,” starting in verse eight: “Therefore though I might be very bold in Christ, to command you what is fitting yet, for loves sake I rather appeal to you being such a one as Paul… sorry this is Philemon writing.  Paul and Timothy are sending this letter.  “Being such a one as Paul the aged, and now also prisoner of Jesus Christ.”  So Paul is putting himself into the Letter He is saying “I myself have made myself a slave for Christ.”  And this is what the entire letter to Philemon is about: this slave that is not being let go.  “I appeal to you, for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while I am in my chains.”  So, in all likelihood, Paul begets, if you will.  He [Paul] draws or calls Onesimus to the Christian faith and then John the Beloved, disciples him.  Okay?


So as Saint Paul says in I Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, Christ brought the increase.”  Okay?  Paul did some work, John did some work, ultimately, Christ brought the increase. But in all likelihood, this is what most church historians suggest.  This is the Onesimus that we are talking about.


What’s interesting about this?  You have a guy who is a slave, who is now a bishop of one of the largest church communities in the world at the time.  People say, “Well, I’m not qualified.  I am not equipped.  I’m not.”  We’ve got Onesimus here to prove to us otherwise.  Christ did it with fishermen; he also did it with all sorts of people including this young slave named Onesimus.


The next line he says: “I pray that you may love him according to Jesus Christ and that you all may be like him; for blessed is He that granted unto you according to your deserving to have such a bishop.” He is saying, “You are such good people, that God has blessed you to give you this wonderful bishop.  And by the way, be like him and imitate him.


This is similar language that Saint Paul uses in I Corinthians 11:1, where he tells the Church of Corinth, he says, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”  What we are being told here is that we share the common name of Christ by becoming the imitators of God.  Okay?  And we imitate him, not as actors and actresses but with an authentic life, an authentic spirit and authentic heart, by what we witness in other people.  Is that fair? Sometimes people think. Sometimes people think, “Well I am just going to read the Bible, and I will figure it out.” But the beauty of the church historically has been this notion of discipleship?  And Jesus didn’t say, “Go, print the Bible, hand it to people, and let them be, let them learn how to become disciples.”


He said, no rather “go make them disciples; teach them all things I’ve said to you.”  So what Ignatius here is telling the church of Ephesus, “You have this bishop named Onesimus, who himself is clearly an imitator of Christ. And he is one who lives like God; learn from him.  Learn from his example amongst you.”


Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 He goes on and he transitions into this idea about submission and unity.  And he basically says, “If you want to live a holy life, there’s two things that are important.  Number one of course, Unity.  The whole letter is about Unity, so you know Unity is going to be there. The second one is Submission, Submission.


“But as touching my fellow-servant,” we are now going to now introduce a new guy, so we’ve got Onesimus the Bishop, we’ve got a new person the deacon, “Burrhus who by the will of God is your deacon,”  Okay?  “blessed in all things, I pray that in all things I pray that he may remain with me to the honor of yourselves and of your bishop.”


So we have this man named Burrhus who is there as a servant of theirs, as a deacon.  And he goes on and he says that, “I receive him as a model for imitation of the love which you bear me.”  Ignatius knew their love through Burrhus who came and carried their love to him.  Okay?  Burrhus comes and says “I am coming to support you on behalf of these people.”


You know when someone is sick, or someone is just lost a loved one; we often times we will, and mom and dad, or husband or wife, whoever it is, just can’t make it.  But if one of the people go, they say, that family is a blessed family.  I know the love of the family through this person who came and visited me. So Burrhus comes and carries with him the love of the entire community to support him at this time.  And he says, “it serves as a model for the imitation of the love, which they bear for him.”  The truth is, we represent, when we’re out we represent the name.  We represent The Name, that’s above every name.  And we also represent our family, our church family, and our organic families, our home families, our family of origin.  We represent many things when we are out.


Parents, when your kids are out, one of the best compliments you can receive, no matter how much your kids might be lunatics at home, is when you hear, “Man, your kids are so well-behaved.  Your kids are great. We’ve never seen kids,” and people might be lying, trying to make you feel good, whatever it might be. Okay? I am sure your kids are great, but I mean listen, when I hear that as a parent, I’m like that is the best feeling in the world.  When we are out in the world, we represent the name of Christ.  And we also represent our faith community; our Church.  We represent Christ, we represent all of Christianity and in a sense we also represent our church family.


You represent, if Saint Anianus is your home perish, when you are out you represent your home perish.  People are not going to say, “O, we heard about this guy Fr. Michael” no they are going to say, “We might hear something that he says, but the people in that perish are good people.”  We know that God is doing something special there, not because the guy can stand up and talk, or he visits people, or he talks. None of that stuff.  People are going say that’s a good place because the people of God that are there are good people.


That is what they are saying here.  That’s what Ignatius is saying here, he is saying here “You are out, you represent not only the Name of Christ, but your church community, your church, and ultimately the entire body of Christ.”  Which is, I know for some people, they feel like that is a heavy burden, but I would tell you that that is a great responsibility and opportunity to witness to the Name of Christ.

The last few lines he says here, “It is therefore worthy of you in every way to glorify Jesus Christ, who glorified you.”  He is saying it’s worthy, for you, to glorify Jesus and by the way, He clearly glorified you.  Glorify Him!  Give glory to Him in all things, because I can see that He is working in your life. “Being perfectly joined together,” look at the number of images, “joined together in one.”  I mean, if there I don’t know how many more words he could have squeezed in to that small section, “joined together in one.”  In four words he uses three synonyms to talk about unity.


He is basically telling us that when we are joined together in one submission, “submitting ourselves to the bishop and priests, we will be sanctified in all things.”  When we seek out our unity, and we’re willing to submit to the teaching of the church.  The teaching of Christ as communicated through the church, leads to our holiness of life.


Often times I hear people say, “I’m not sure I like that explanation of that verse.  I am not sure how I feel about that interpretation.”  I have sat with people often times, and tried to give them an honest interpretation or explanation of the scripture according to an early Christian understanding.  People say “it’s interesting, I am just not sure I am comfortable with that for myself.”  If we’re looking ultimately looking for our holiness of life, our sanctification; what Ignatius at least, is suggesting, (this is just, one first century bishop, okay, who is not outside of the scope of the rest of Scripture, by the way); and not outside the teaching of Christ and the Apostles.  He is saying, “Seek unity, and seek to submit to the voice of the authority of the church.”  And we’ll look at a couple verses later on the back, alright?


So we have gone through, we share in His name by being imitators of God.  Submission in unity brings sanctification.  The third chapter is all, he says, “Unity in Christ comes by unity with the Bishop.”  And he starts off, importantly, saying that, “unity is not a unity of authoritarianism,” Okay?

Sometimes people look at the Bishop and they say, “he is there, and we’re here.  He is big, and I’m little, I’m nothing.”  And actually, Ignatius puts the playing field here: he says, “I do not command you, as though I were somewhat.”  What’s he saying, “somewhat” that’s the way people spoke.  “I do not command you as though I were somewhat.”  He is saying, “There is nothing unique, extraordinary or special about me, but I have been given a role to instruct you and to teach you.  And so for that reason, I meant, I am teaching you.” Okay?

He’s saying, “I am not commanding you as though I were something like extraordinary; for even though, I am in the bond for the name, as to my schoolmates.”  He is looking at the rest of the church, and he’s not looking at them as if they were less; what is being implied here is that his schoolmates’ share the same Master, which is Jesus Christ.  That they are, that he is not the teacher and they are the students, but even if in reality that is the truth, he is saying, “I am not seeing you in that way.”  They might say listen your our teacher, he is saying okay, but I am your schoolmate, I am here learning just along with you.


People often times ask, “Who does the Pope confess to?”

And sometimes, my friends, the Pope finds some monk in a monastery, or some priest in a small village in Egypt, and that is his Father of Confession or Spiritual Father.  What Ignatius is giving us a very important principle is “no matter how high, that we perceive, no matter how high up the chain of responsibility a person climbs or perceives to be put, that person is still a disciple of Christ.  And Ignatius is saying, “I am here your schoolmate, I am here to learn along with you and walk with you.”


The anointing that comes is the anointing that happens by the trainer, which is Christ Himself.  In verse two down there he says, “But, since love does not allow me to be silent,” he is saying; I am so compelled by my love for you, I can’t not speak.  He starts of by saying, “I don’t command you as though I’m something special.”  He is just saying, “I love you so deeply, I can’t but speak to you.  I can’t but tell you the truth.”  The next line below, he says, “Therefore, if I were fore to exhort you, that you run in harmony with the mind of God, for Jesus Christ also our inseparable life in 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.”  The main theme here is that the importance of unity, that Christ is One with the Father, the bishops how ever far apart they may be from each other are ultimately one in Christ.


Chapter 3 Concludes with this image that we can simply see in Ephesians Chapter 4:1 & 6 in Saint Paul’s letter not Saint Ignatius’ Letter.  Every morning we wake up, and we pray the First Hour in the Coptic Canonical Book of Hours, we call the Agpeya.  Okay?


And in that First Hour, we read the following passage, from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you (or beg you) to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in Love.” Think about the imagery of unity that he is talking about here “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith one baptism.  One God and Father of all, who is above all and therefore all, and in you all.”

It is this same language that was one of the earliest Trinitarian Creeds here that we find in Ephesians, it’s all about unity and submitting to one another.  The submission is not a submission of authoritarianism; it’s a willful submission.  Just as we find in scripture, husbands and wives being commanded to submit to each other, in love.

Chapter 4: (30:38)

We are going to move through these last ones fairly quickly.  I’ll glaze over them [pretty] quickly. You can read them at leisure at home.  Chapter 4: He talks about unity with the teaching of the church. He begins by saying, “So then it is becoming for you to run in harmony with the mind of the Bishop.” The next line, he says, “For Your honorable priests, which are worthy, are attuned to the bishop even as a strings to the lyre.” So you have this image, so far by the way, you have the three-fold ministry: the bishops, the priests, and the deacons, clearly spoken about here in Saint Ignatius’ Letter.  And he is saying,  “You make yourself in harmony with the bishop, just as the priests are in harmony with the teaching of the bishop.”


What he is emphasizing here is not, “I agree administratively with every decision.” Not, “I like the way he spoke that message.”  What he’s saying here is, “Make yourselves in harmony with the teaching of the Bishop,” or really, “the teaching of the Church.”  And he gives us beautiful imagery of a Harp.  And saying “when everything is in tune together, it makes beautiful music.” And what does that beautiful music does, it draws people to it.” Okay?


That is the fruit of Unity when everything is attuned together, when our love for each other extends beyond the four walls.  When our teaching is in harmony with each other.  When we receive others as if Christ Himself, the whole body of Christ is coming.  All that bears fruit.  All that is the name that is spoken about and is declared.


Let me tell you one of the important things I believe, as a church is critical, is that when we speak the same thing as far as the teaching goes; …you know the old African Proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I believe it takes an entire church community for all of us to be raised up.  And so when we’re saying okay, we are seeking to be in harmony with the mind of Christ, which is in the bishop, in the church, so to speak, then that also allows all of us to rise up and for this beautiful song to be sung.


Let’s flip to the back.

There is so much in that Fourth Chapter, but I am just going to go through these last few very quickly.

The Fifth Chapter is all about Eucharistic Unity.  If you look on the fourth line in chapter five, verse two, it says: “let no man be deceived, if anyone is not within the area of the altar, he lacks the bread of God.”  “If the prayer of one in another has such a great force,” this is the imagery in Matthew Chapter 18:18-20, where it says, “if two or three are gathered in my name I am there in their midst.”  Right? He says, “If the prayer of one in another has such a great force, how much more that of the bishop and the whole church!”


He’s saying when the whole church gathers together around the Altar of God, the area of the Altar, and the Bread of God is given to us; he says there is power in there.  There is power in us tearing down our egos and going pushing past our circumstances of life, and being together around the One Body of Christ.”  Submission is the willing is not us saying, “I am less than, or I am weak, or I am nothing” But submission is rather the willingness to give up my rights to myself; it’s me saying, “In all things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Okay?


Chapter Six:

Chapter Six: “He tells us again, remain in truth to maintain unity.”  And in Chapter Six, Seven and Eight, you are going to find Ignatius talking about wrong teaching. So he goes from the importance of unity and submission and how the unity communicates something powerfully to the world.  Then he goes to the Eucharist, and now he is coming to the teaching.


In Chapter Six, Seven, and Eight, he really emphasizes very clearly, if you look in right before Chapter 6:2.  He says, “Plainly therefore, we ought to regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.”  Now, some people hear that and that makes them very uncomfortable.  Look on your footnote, or your site in Ephesians Chapter Five verse twenty-two, “Wives submit to your husbands as,” to who? “As to the Lord.”  Same exact language by the way.  Same exact language that Paul uses within a marriage relationship.  (God Bless You) Ignatius is using in the church, he is saying, “Submit yourself, regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.”  We are not saying that he is the Lord, we are saying regard him just in the same way that the Husband is not the Lord, he is not the Christ, right?  In the same way that parents are not the Lord over the children should they submit; but rather regard him, as if he were the Lord himself.  In other words, it’s all about seeking to be in unity with Christ in the Church.  And the whole idea here in this Chapter is about submitting to truth as presented by the Church.


The last line there, verse two, he says “Now, Onesimus, who is the bishop of his own accord, highly praises your conduct, your orderly conduct in God.  For that you all live according to truth.  He is saying, “Your life is in order, why? Because you live according to truth, right?”  If my life is disrupted it’s because I’m living, I am not sure what I m listening to.  I might be listening to all sorts of different things, so my life becomes chaotic.  And then no heresy has a home amongst you.  No false teaching has found its way amongst you.  No you do not so much as listen to anyone, if he speaks anything else except, concerning Jesus Christ in truth.  He is not just saying someone speaks to you Jesus Christ, he is saying that they speak truth about Christ.  Which is the whole reason why we did this last series, Mysterious Figures in Early Christianity. Because, and I have told you all this before, and I say this every time I open up Orthodox Foundations class that we teach.  Do you ever hear me stand up and say, “I think this verse means something particular?  And it appears to you to be outside of the teaching of the Church, and then it is your responsibility, and my responsibility to say, “Who cares what I think, or you think? Let’s find out what the Early Church taught and believed and understood about the specific passages.”  Ultimately, you don’t care how I interpret a passage; you want to know that I am remaining faithful to interpreting it and understanding it according to the Early Christian understanding of it.


Is that fair?  So this is what he is telling us here.  He is saying, “That we should not accept anything concerning Jesus Christ in truth.”  There is a lot of Jesus Christ that is preached out there.  He is saying, “Be sure to receive that which is in truth.”


Chapter Seven: He talks all about avoiding false teaching.  He says, “Some are accustomed to hunt in a cunningly destructive manner.”  He’s saying, “Some people want to tear down, and hunt out in a destructive way those after the Name.  While they do certain other things other things unworthy of God. These men you should avoid as wild beasts, for they are mad dogs,” they are savages, in other words, they destroy you!  We have heard this language used out there between different religious groups, different denominations.  I mean, we hear people talk this way all the time.  Saint Ignatius is saying, “This is dangerous stuff.”  Okay?  “Be safe, be on guard.”  Because you… wrong teaching?  We don’t often times think of that.  Right?  Often times, we think, it is not that big of a deal.  Why do people make such a bid deal about differences in teaching? And he clarifies that… because he says that, the previous…


In Chapter Six, he says, “When you have all these different ideas that are not in harmony?” Imagine if one string on this piano is not in harmony, is out of tune; what does it do?  It ruins the piano.  If one of the strings breaks… you can’t use it for performance.  You can’t, it would be lousy.  It would sound terrible.  You might be… let’s be real, you can’t use it!  Okay?  I am trying to figure out, is there a way?  What Saint Ignatius here is saying is that, “the teaching should be in harmony with that of the Church.”  He is saying that, “this is important because when it is, our lives are ordered.  When our lives are ordered, and our lives are in unity as a church, as a body, as a family, as families, as Christians, then what happens is, other people are drawn to the Name of Christ;” this is not just about us.  This is not about us like people saying, “No, No we have to have this or this have this, we have… No, No, No.” There is something far greater than you or me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about you.  If someone came to you and said, your teaching is wrong, I would say “show me, teach me, good, there is a better way of doing it, excellent. I’ll submit to that.”


Let me give it a completely different angle.  We’re starting some discussion about building for this Church.  And I have already told the building committee, repeatedly, so there are some things in the Church I can’t negotiate about.  Like teaching.  Can’t negotiate about right and or wrong teaching.  It is either it is right or wrong.  If it is right then we submit to it, but if it is wrong then we correct it and submit to the right teaching.


But if the building committee decides unanimously, with the approval of the Chruch, that You guys want to have rainbow, and pink flowers all over the Church walls, I will not be thrilled about it, I’ll be less than happy about it, but I would submit.  I pray to God, that better senses win out.  Okay?  But, I would sobmit to that if that is what everyone in the church, pray to God, that doesn’t happen. Okay?


With teaching we can’t do that.  With teaching we don’t just figure out things democratically.  Okay?


There is only one physician of flesh and of Spirit; generate being.  Like generated and ingenerated like being begot, either, He came into, Christ was born in the flesh, but He is also eternal.  That’s what that section means.  He was The Life in Death, Son of Mary, Son of God, first passable then impassible Jesus Christ our Lord.”  He is saying, “The issue they are dealing with in the time of year is gnosticism. Gnosticism is the idea that Jesus Christ was not really both divine and human.  Some people are saying, “He was one or the other.”  And it’s very clear here that Saint Ignatius is emphasizing and implying, the human and the divine natures.


Chapter Eight: Just about finished here. “Let then there no man, let no one therefore, deceive you.”  He goes on and talks more about the idea of deception.  He is again emphasizing the importance of remaining completely devoted to God.  In I Corinthians 2:14, Saint Paul tells us, “That the person without the Spirit is not accept the things that come from the Spirit, but considers them foolishness.”  He is saying, “That we are to remain devoted so that we wouldn’t be deceived.  That’s what Chapter Eight is about, and “when we remain devoted to the Work of the Holy Spirit, we then are not deceived by our flesh.”


Sometimes we will say things like, “I don’t feel like that.  Or I feel like that’s wrong.  Or I am uncomfortable with that specific thing.”  With whatever it may be.  With pink flowers on the walls, okay?  I am personally uncomfortable with that. Okay?  May that is probably not the best example for this, but let’s just say there is something that says, I am uncomfortable with it.  And part of that may be our own flesh, uncomfortable with something.  We have grown up in a certain way that we are uncomfortable with a specific thing.  And with Saint Ignatius, and Saint Paul here, both saying, by the way, is that “we want to be spiritual people not carnal people.”  In Jeremiah, I believe it is nineteen, he says that, “The heart is deceitful, deceitfully wicked beyond all things who can know.”  Sometimes we want to submit to what our flesh or our inner desires want, and what he is telling us here, is “to remain completely devoted to being people of God, be spiritual people, to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.


For this week we are going to wrap up with Chapter Nine.  Because of all of this he says, “A life of complete devotion will produce joy.”  That’s what brings joy out in our lives.  “But I have learned that certain persons pass through you from far away,” saying, that “Some people travel a long way, to deceive you; bringing evil doctrine.”  And then he gives three parables (examples by the way) I have highlighted them for you there.  He says, “It is one of seeds, sowing the seeds, its the stones of a temple and it’s a festal procession.  He is saying, “When they came to sow their seeds, you stopped up your ears, you refuse to listen.


The next section he talks about stones of a Temple, he says, “in so doing you became stones of the Temple, that you were prepared before hand for building for God the Father and raised up this beautiful building, was erected, and when beautiful building is erected, people can’t help but to take notice to it.  And he says that your, “being raised up was through the engine of Jesus Christ.”  In that engine of Jesus Christ he describes as the Cross.  The engine, the power of Christ, the way that we are raised up in this engine, is by dying to ourselves.  Ignatius is saying this, “I am about to go and die myself, but I am willing to submit and take up my cross; and using for a rope, the Holy Spirit.  He is saying that, “The Cross, me dying to myself, is what lifts me up, that the rope that’s going to pull that [sentence over me] power of the Temple up, is itself the Holy Spirit; to be spiritual people, not carnal people.

And then he concludes with one final example, in verse two, he says, “So then you are all companions in this festal procession.”


Along the way, and he is speaking to people where they are, at the time in Ephesus, a lot of people that have various pagan deities; and what they would do is, they would hang shrines around themselves.  Like little necklaces of their deity; and this is the example, this is the image that Saint Ignatius is using.  So he says, “You are all [companions (47:17)] in the festal procession along the way, carrying along your God the Christ, your shrine, Your Christ.  The shrine is not something to be physically carried, but He is your Christ.  “Being arrayed in Head to Foot, in the commandments of Jesus Christ.”  What happens in a festal procession, everybody comes out to watch, and they say, “That is a beautiful celebration, and they are drawn to that celebration.  And for us the festal procession is not arraying ourselves with all these funny looking things, but rather, we array ourselves by keeping the commands of God.


He concludes the chapter by saying, “Set not your love on anything after the common life of man, but only of God.”  This whole section is all about unity and how, when we remain completely devoted to Christ, this produces a true joy in our life.  A true celebration in our lives, that we witness to others.  (48:22).

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