The Early Christian Church - Vol. 1

By Philip Carrington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 24
IGNATIUS THE MARTYR

The journey of Ignatius, A.D. 110-15, p.445. Ignatius in Phrygia, p.447. Ignatius at Smyrna, p.449. The Epistles from Smyrna, p.450. Syrian catholicism, p.451. The gnosis of Ignatius, p.453. The Epistle to the Romans, p.453. Ignatius at Troas, p.455. Ignatius at Philippi, p.457. The Epistle to Polycarp, p.458. The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, p.459. The case of Valens, p.461. The conclusion of Polycarp's Epistle, p.462.


THE JOURNEY OF IGNATIUS, A.D. 110-15

The account of the trial of St Ignatius before the Emperor Trajan in Antioch, and the Acts of his martyrdom in Rome, were composed at the end of the fourth century and are classified as pious fiction. We can infer from his own Epistles that he was the last of a number of martyrs; for he calls himself the last of all, and refers to other Syrians who have gone to Rome before him, who may have been martyrs too. Polycarp mentions two other martyrs, Zosimus and Rufus; but they were not travelling with him, and must have passed through a little earlier. It would seem that he caught up with them at Philippi.

Forty years later there was a severe persecution at Smyrna, in which Polycarp evaded capture for some time, so that his death came as the last of a number. Ignatius seems to have done something of this sort.

The sentence was to be carried out in Rome. A special example was to be made of this notable Christian, and in consequence the whole catholic church was stirred by his dramatic progress from east to west. It was incumbent upon him to preserve his spiritual morale; for the eyes of the world were upon him. He knew exactly what would be done with him. We have his own word for it; 'I am beginning to be a disciple; come fire, come cross; grapplings with wild beasts, cuttings and manglings, wrenching of bones, hacking of limbs, crushing of the whole body; let cruel torments of the devil come upon me; if only I may attain unto Jesus Christ.'

He travelled in the custody of ten soldiers; ten leopards, he called them; and remarked that the more kindly they were treated the worse

-445-

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