13 Comments

Ignatius on the Hatred of Christians

A brief note on Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch in the early second century, wrote seven letters to churches as he was traveling as a prisoner to Rome. He was looking forward to being torn apart by wild beasts before the emperor. At one point he makes the profound declaration, “Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world” (μεγέθους ἐστὶν ὁ Χριστιανισμός ὅταν μισῆται ὑπὸ κόσμου [Romans 3.3]).

Sometimes the priorities and perspectives of American Christians who are striving to bring America back to its alleged Christian roots end up being against the gospel. An examination of the Christian faith before it was legal helps us to put things in proper perspective.

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13 comments on “Ignatius on the Hatred of Christians

  1. It is easy to equate political power and cultural respectability with a good spiritual state of the church or society. Thank you, for speaking against that error.

  2. Amen!! Well said my friend. It seems to me that more western culture Christians need to thoughtfully read John 15: 18-27. Wasn’t it Tertullian who said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church?” I don’t advocate looking for pain and martyrdom, however, Biblical Christianity is never going to be compatible with this or any culture’s worldview.

  3. Well, here in western Europe we are not doing much better. Except possibly there are fewer here who claim any christian roots to begin with. We truly seem to have forgotten that the Gospel message is totally against anything a human might concieve! And yes, I do enjoy Tom Wright ;-)

  4. Th

  5. Thanks Prof. for all the insights on Ignatius. I think these are the things western biblical scholarship should give attention to but for us in Africa, it is a different thing entirely. people need to these things.

  6. Dr. Wallace I have read the letters of Ignatius, (in a translation by archbishop Wake), and I was wondering if it is possible that the letters we have today of Ignatius is not the original letters, but rather later forgeries in his name (or that it was tampered with)?
    I’m no scholar, so it is just speculation on my part, but it seems the theology of Ignatius evident in the letters attributed to him, fits much better into a later phase of christianity than the simple faith of the early believers. Is it possible that we have forgeries and the real letters have been lost, or at least was severely tampered with?

    Is there quotes by the other early church fathers that quote the letters differently than what we have?

    Thank you for all your labours in the field of Textual Criticism.
    May YHWH bless you.

    • There are forgeries in the name of Ignatius, but seven letters have been accepted as genuine. The work by J. B. Lightfoot over a century ago still stands as a thorough treatment of the issue of forgery. You should read his arguments for evidence of their authenticity. What he had to say was at a decisive moment in the history of New Testament interpretation and much needed.

      • Thank you Dr. Wallace, I really appreciate your reply. I will look for the work by J. B. Lightfoot, thank you for pointing me in the right direction. (Is it just something he wrote on Ignatius specifically, or is it part of a larger collection of patristic works?)

        Thank you kindly

  7. Dr. Wallace can you also recommend a good scholarly work about Ignatius and his letters that treat some variants, with a good translation included?

    Thank you very much.

  8. Love this quote and so very true. Thanks for sharing. It reminded of something Prof Hendricks said one time in class, ‘Throughout Church History, the church has always been the least effective for the Kingdom when it had either wealth or power. Right now, at least in America, we have both.’ Let the cry of Ignatius be heard!

  9. I constantly see Christians slandering the current administration in their attempt to bring the U.S.A. back to it’s alleged Christian roots. The latest is a group on Facebook who are against Obama’s Forced Implantation of Microchips.

    Ridiculous!

  10. [...] found this short post over at Daniel Wallace’s blog. I like it. A brief note on Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch in [...]

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