He commends their bishop whom they had sent unto him, 5. warns them against divisions and schism.
1. Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia in Asia and has obtained mercy, being fixed in the concord of God, and rejoicing evermore in the passion of our Lord, and is fulfilled in all mercy through his resurrection: I salute you in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is our eternal and undefiled joy, especially if you are at unity with the bishop and presbyters who are with him, and the deacons appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom he has settled according to his own will in all firmness by his Holy Spirit.
Philadelphia is modern Alashehier (near Ammon), and was one of the seven churches addressed by St. John in Revelation 3:7, and the only one he did not criticize. (St. John wrote Revelation about A.D. 95; Ignatius wrote this in A.D. 106 or 107.)
2. I know this bishop obtained that great
ministry among you, not of himself, neither by men, nor out of
vain glory, but by the love of God the Father and our Lord Jesus
3. Whose moderation I admire, for he by his silence is able to do more than others with all their vain talk. He is fitted to the commands, as the harp to its strings.
4. For this reason my soul esteems his mind towards God most happy, knowing it to be fruitful in all virtue, and perfect; he is full of constancy, free from passion, and according to all the moderation of the living God.
5. Therefore as is appropriate to the children both of the light and of truth, flee divisions and false doctrines; for where your shepherd is, there as sheep you follow after.
6. For there are many wolves who seem worthy of belief, who with a false pleasure lead captive those that run in the course of God; but in the concord they shall find no place.
7. Abstain therefore from those evil herbs which Jesus Christ does not trim, because such are not planted by the Father. Not that I have found any division among you, but rather all manner of purity.
8. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, are also with their bishop. And as many as will with repentance return into the unity of the church, even these will also be the servants of God, so that they may live according to Jesus.
9. Be not deceived, brethren: if anyone follows him that makes a schism in the church, he will not inherit the kingdom of God. If anyone walks after any other opinion, he does not agree with the passion of Christ.
10. Wherefore let it be your endeavor to all partake of the same holy Eucharist.
11. For there is but one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, one cup in the unity of his blood, and one altar.
12. As also there is one bishop, together with his presbytery and the deacons my fellow-servants, so that whatever you do, you may do it according to the will of God.
He desires their prayers, and to be united, but not to Judaize.
1. My brethren, the love I have towards you
makes me very much filled to overflowing, for I have a great joy
in you and endeavor to secure you against danger; or rather not
I, but Jesus Christ, in whom being bound I fear more, because I
am yet only on the way to suffering.
2. But your prayer to God will make me perfect, so that I may attain to that portion, which by God's mercy is allotted to me, fleeing to the Gospel as to the flesh of Christ, and to the Apostles as to the presbytery of the church.
3. Let us also love the prophets, because they also have led us to the Gospel, and to hope in Christ, and to expect him.
4. They also, being holy men worthy to be loved and held in esteem, believed they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ.
5. For they have received testimony from Jesus Christ and are numbered in the Gospel of our common hope.
6. But if anyone will preach the Jewish law to you, pay no attention to him, for it is better to receive the doctrine of Christ from one that has been circumcised than Judaism from one who has not.
Circumcision and uncircumcision are used in the figurative, spiritual sense. For references and commentary on this usage, see chapter 8 in The General Epistle of Barnabas.
7. But if either the one, or other, do not speak concerning Christ Jesus, they seem to me to be only monuments and sepulchers of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men.
Compare with: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (Matthew 23:27, 28)
8. Flee therefore the wicked arts and snares of the prince of this world, for fear that at any time you become oppressed by his cunning and grow weak in your charity. But come all together into the same place with an undivided heart.
Satan is called the prince of this world in John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11. By "come all together into the same place" is meant the church. Compare with: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
9. And I bless my God that I have a good
conscience towards you, and that no one among you has whereof to
complain either openly or privately that I have been burdensome
to him in much or in little.
10. And I wish to all among whom I have conversed, that it may not turn to a witness against me.
11. For although some would have deceived me according to the flesh, yet the spirit, being from God, is not deceived; for it knows both where it comes from and where it goes, and reproves the secrets of the heart.
12. I cried while I was among you and spoke with a loud voice: Attend to the bishop, and to the presbytery, and to the deacons.
This is the constant concern of Ignatius for all the churches.
13. Now some supposed that I spoke this as
foreseeing the divisions that should come among you.
14. But he is my witness for whose sake I am in bonds that I knew nothing from any man. But the spirit spoke, saying in this manner: Do nothing without the bishop;
15. Keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; flee divisions and be followers of Christ, as he was of his Father.
For the Church and the bodies of believers as the temple of God, see 1 Corinthians 3:16,17, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16.
16. I therefore did as was proper for me as
a man composed to unity, for God does not dwell where there is
division and wrath.
17. But the Lord forgives all that repent, if they return to the unity of God, and to the council of the bishop.
18. For I trust in the grace of Jesus Christ that he will free you from every bond.
19. Nevertheless I exhort you that you do nothing out of strife, but in accordance to the instruction of Christ.
20. Because I have heard of some who say, Unless I find it written in the originals, I will not believe it to be written in the Gospel. And when I said, It is written, they answered with what lay before them in their corrupted copies.
The "originals" may be translated "archives."
21. But to me Jesus Christ is instead of
all the uncorrupted monuments in the world. I desire through your
prayers to be justified and united with those undefiled monuments
of his cross, his death, his resurrection, and the faith which is
22. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] The priests indeed are good, but much better is the High Priest to whom the Holy of Holies has been committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God.
For Christ as High Priest, compare with: "...that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17); "...consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus..." (Hebrews 3:1); "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin." (Hebrews 4:14, 15); "Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Hebrews 8:1)
See also Hebrews 5:5, 6:20, 9:11, 10:21.
23. He is the door of the Father by which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets enter in, as well as the Apostles and the church.
It is believed that when St. John wrote in Revelation 3:7, 8 to the Philadelphians about "an open door," is was because they had been excommunicated from the local synagogue; hence he assured them Christ was the open door to his kingdom. Compare with: "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:7-9)
24. And all these things tend to the unity
which is of God. Nevertheless, the Gospel has something in it far
above all other dispensations: namely, the appearance of our
Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, his passion and resurrection.
25. The beloved prophets referred to him, but the Gospel is incorruptible perfection. Therefore all together are good, if you believe with charity.
He informs them that he had heard the persecution was stopped at Antioch, and directs them to send a messenger there to congratulate the church.
1. Now concerning the church of Antioch in
Syria, seeing I am told that through your prayers and the
affection you have towards it in Jesus Christ, it is in peace; it
will be fitting for you, as the church of God, to ordain some
messenger or minister to go there to them as the ambassador of
God to glorify God's name and rejoice with them when they meet
2. Blessed in Jesus Christ be that man who will be found worthy of such a ministry, and you yourselves also will be glorified.
3. If you are willing, it is not impossible for you to do this for the grace of God, seeing that also other neighboring churches have sent them some bishops, priests, and deacons.
4. As concerning Philo the deacon of Cilicia, a most worthy man, he still ministers to me in the word of God together with Rheus of Agathopolis, a singularly good person who has followed me even from Syria, not regarding his life. These also are examples to you.
5. And I myself give thanks to God for you that you receive them as the Lord will receive you. But for those who dishonored them, may they be forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ.
6. The charity of the brethren who are at Troas salutes you, from where also I now write by Burrhus, who was sent together with me out of respect by those of Ephesus and Smyrna.
7. May our Lord Jesus Christ honor them, for in him they hope in body, soul, and spirit, in faith, in love, and in unity. Farewell in Christ Jesus, our common hope.
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