restricted access To the Trallians
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III To the Trallians DGNATIUS THEOPHORUS to the holy Church which is in Tralles in Asia. Beloved as you are by God, the Father of Jesus Christ, elect and worthy of God, outwardly and inwardly at peace through the passion of Jesus Christ, in whom we have hope through our resurrection unto Him, I salute you in the fullness of God, as the Apostles used to do, and I wish you every joy. (1) By the will of God and of Jesus Christ your bishop, Polybius, has visited me here in Smyrna. He tells me that by nature more than by habit you are faultless in disposition and resolute in patience. In spite of the bonds I bear for Jesus Christ, he filled me with such consolation that in him I was able to behold your whole community. Accepting your spiritual benevolence through him, I thanked God to find, as I had heard, that you are imitators of God. (2) For it seems to me that, when you are obedient to the bishop as you would be to Jesus Christ, you are living, not in a human way, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us that by faith in His death you might escape death. You must continue, then, to do nothing apart from the bishop. Be obedient, too, to the priests as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, our hope-in whom we shall be found, if only we live in Him. And, as ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, the deacons should please all in every way they can; for they are not merely ministers of food and drink, but the servants of the Church of God. They must avoid all reproach as they would beware of fire. (3) In the same way all should respect the deacons as 102 TO THE TRALLIANS 103 they would Jesus Christ, just as they respect the bishop as representing the Father and the priests as the council of God and the college of the Apostles. Apart from these there is nothing that can be called a Church. In such matters I am sure you feel as I do, for I have received a sample of your love in the person of your bishop who is here with me. His demeanor is a great lesson; his meekness is his power. I am sure that even the infidels esteem him. Because I love you I treat you gently; but on his behalf I could write more sharply . However, prisoner as I am, I have not felt myself in a position to command you as though I were an Apostle. (4) By the grace of God I am not lacking in wisdom; but I measure my words, lest my boasting should be fatal. I must, in fact, be more afraid than ever of paying attention to those who flatter me. Their words only serve to scourge me. I long to suffer, but I do not know if I am worthy. To most people my ardor! is not apparent, but for my part it is becoming irresistible.2 My prayer is for humility, by which the prince of this world is overcome. (5) It is not that I am unable to write to you of heavenly realities, but I am afraid that, children as you are, I might do you harm. Please share my convictions, else you may be choked by what you cannot swallow. For myself, I do not pretend to be a disciple merely because I am in chains and can contemplate such mysteries as the ordered hierarchy of angels and principalities and the visible and invisible worlds. Much must be lacking to us, if we are not to lose God. (6) I exhort you, then, to leave alone the foreign fodder of heresy and keep entirely to Christian food. It is not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, that speaks. For the heretics mingle 1 Some translate eTis as though it meant the 'envy of Satan: 2 Literally, 'it makes war on me: 104 SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH poison wih Jesus Christ, as men might administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, without giving a hint of their wickedness , so that without thought or fear of the fatal sweetness a man drinks his own death. (7) Against such men be on your guard. This will be possible if you are not proud and if you keep close to Jesus Christ and the bishop and the ordinances of the...


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