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.

“No Pain, No Gain”–An Ancient Idiom?

As I was reading in Ignatius’s letters today, I came across this idiom: πάντων τὰς νόσους βάσταζε, ὡς τέλειος ἀθλητής· ὅπου πλείων κόπος, πολὺ κέρδος (Ignatius to Polycarp, 1.3). Roughly translated, “bear the diseases of all, as a perfect athlete. Where there is great labor, there is great gain.”

J. B. Lightfoot, in his magnificent five-volume work, The Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, translated the last five words as “the more pain the greater gain.” This was in the late nineteenth century—long before Gold’s Gym was birthed. Relating, as Ignatius does, pain and gain to an athlete, we have essentially the positive spin on the modern idiom of “no pain, no gain.” Maybe I should open up a gym for Greek geeks and put as our motto ὅπου πλείων κόπος, πολὺ κέρδος.