A Fragment of the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch, to the Smyrnaeans

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Chapter One

1 From Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, to the Assembly of God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah, the Beloved, to her that has been mercifully blessed with every gift, filled with faith and love, lacking in no gift, most highly revered, the bearer of sacred vessels, to the Assembly which is at Smyrna in Asia, in a blameless spirit and in the Word of God heartiest greeting.

2 I render glory to Yeshua the Messiah, who has given you such wisdom. 3 For I have perceived that you are firmly settled in unwavering faith, being nailed, as it were, to the Cross of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah in flesh and spirit, and firmly planted in love in the blood of Christ, being fully convinced as touching our Lord, 4 that He is truly of the race of David after the flesh, and Son of God after the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin, baptized by John, that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, 5 truly nailed for us in the flesh under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch– of whose fruit are we, even of His most blessed Passion– 6 that He might raise up an ensign 1 to the ages through His resurrection, for His saints and believers, whether among Jews or Gentiles, in one body of His Assembly. 2

7 For all these sufferings He endured for our sakes, that we might be saved. And He truly suffered, as also He truly raised Himself up. Nor is it the case, as some unbelievers affirm, that He suffered in appearance– for it is they who are mere appearance. 8 And according to their opinions, so shall it happen to them; for they are unsubstantial, and vapid. 3

9 For I know and believe that He was in the flesh even after the resurrection. 10 And when He came to Peter and those who were with him, He said to them, “Take, handle Me, and see that I am not a bodiless spirit.” 4 And straightway they touched Him and believed, being united with His flesh and spirit. 5 11 Therefore also they despised death, and were found to rise above death. 12 Moreover after His resurrection He ate with them and drank with them, 6 as living in the flesh, although spiritually united with the Father.

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Chapter Two

1 Now these things I urge upon you, beloved, knowing that you also are thus minded. 2 But I watch over you to guard you from wild beasts in the form of men, whom you must not only refuse to receive, but, if possible, not even meet. 3 Only pray for them, so it may come to pass that they may repent. Though this is difficult, yet Yeshua the Messiah, our true Life, has power to effect it. 4 For if these deeds were wrought by our Lord in mere semblance, then too are my bonds mere semblance. 5 Why, moreover, have I surrendered myself to death, to face fire, sword, and wild beasts? 6 Yet he that is near to the sword is near to God, and he that is in the presence of wild beasts is in the presence of God– 7 7 only may it be in the name of Yeshua the Messiah, that we may suffer with Him. All things I endure, since He, the perfect Man, makes me strong.

8 Yet Him certain persons ignorantly deny, or rather they have been denied by Him; for they are advocates of death rather than of the truth. They have not listened to the Prophecies, nor to the Torah of Moses, 8 nor even until now to the Besorah, nor to the sufferings which we all endure. 9 And they have the same thoughts also about us. For what profit is it to me if a man praises me, but speaks evil of my Lord, refusing to confess that He has borne our flesh? 10 But he that will not assert this has completely denied Him, and he bears a corpse around with him. Now their names, since they are unbelievers, I have not thought good to write. 11 May I not even remember them, until they have repented and turned to the Passion, which is our resurrection.

12 Let no man be deceived. Even the heavenly powers and the glory of the angels and the principalities both visible and invisible, except they believe in the blood of the Messiah, have a judgment awaiting them. 13 He that is able to receive it, let him receive.

Let no office puff up any man; for faith and love are everything, and there is nothing better than these. 14 Mark those who hold strange doctrine with regard to the grace of Yeshua the Messiah, which came to us, how opposed they are to the mind of God. 15 They have no thought for love, nor for the widow, the orphan, the afflicted, the prisoner, the hungry, or the thirsty. 16 They withhold themselves from the thanksgiving and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Yeshua the Messiah, whose flesh was suffered for our sins, which in His loving-kindness, the Father raised up. 9

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End Notes

1 Isaiah 5:26. See also Isaiah 49:22 and 52:10.

2 This echoes the Apostle Paul’s thought process in Ephesians 1:23, 2:16, and 3:6.

3 Literally, “spirit-like,” indicating they are void of substance.

4 Not quoting any of the canonical Gospels, but this citation is known from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. (Jerome, Of Illustrious Men 16)

5 Following the Greek, Coptic, and Latin. The Armenian version has here “flesh and blood.”

6 Luke 24:30, 35, 42; John 21:13.

7 Echoing a passage attributed to Yeshua, but not found in any canonical Gospel: “He who is near Me is near the fire; but whoever is far from Me is far from the kingdom.” (Origen, Homily on Jeremiah 20:3; Didymus, Commentary on Psalm 88:8)

8 Although Ignatius lists them in a different order, he is essentially echoing the same thought process as Hegesippus, who records that in early cases of Apostolic succession, “the state of affairs was in accordance with the teaching of the Torah, and of the Prophets, and of the Lord.”

9 The Greek text of this letter continues for a little over another chapter, but regrettably, the Coptic manuscript (with which it must be compared) ends at this point.

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See Also

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