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Morning over the bay

The Beginning and The End of Life

Ignatius

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Ignatius, also called Theophorus...wishes the church at Ephesus in Asia all joy in Jesus Christ.

As imitators of God, you have been given new life by the blood of God to complete the task that corresponds to your character. You hastened to see me when you heard that for the sake of our common name and expectation I was led away in chains from Syria and that I hope through your prayer to obtain the favor of fighting with the wild beasts in Rome so that I may attain to discipleship.

It is fitting, therefore, that in every way you glorify Jesus Christ who has glorified you. Be firmly joined together in unanimous obedience, obeying the overseer and the body of elders, and be made holy in all things. Your deserving body of elders, worthy of God, is attuned to the overseer as the strings are to a lyre! Therefore the song of Jesus Christ resounds in your unity and in your harmonious love. Yes, all of you should become one choir so that in perfect harmony, taking your keynote from God in unity, you may with one voice sing praises to the Father through Jesus Christ so that he may hear you and recognize you by your good deeds as members of his son...

You are stones for the Father’s temple, prepared for the house-building of God the Father. You are raised high up by the hoist of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, while the Holy Spirit is your rope. Your faith is your windlass. Love is the path that leads up to God. You are all traveling companions, God-bearers, temple-bearers, Christ-bearers, bearers of holy things, in everything adorned with the words of Jesus Christ.

Let us be eager to become imitators of the Lord. Who could have suffered more than he? Who could have been so robbed, who so despised?

The last times are here. Let us feel shame at last! Let us fear God’s patience lest it become judgment upon us! Either let us fear the future wrath or let us love the grace that is given now, one or the other. Let us be found only in Christ Jesus so that we live the true life!

Be eager, then, in coming together as often as possible for God’s Meal of Thanksgiving and for his praises, for if you meet frequently, Satan’s powers are broken; what threatens you from him is dashed to pieces on the unity of your faith. There is nothing better than the peace by which all warfare waged by heavenly and earthly powers is abolished.

Of all these things none is hidden from you if you are single-hearted and if you direct your faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: the beginning is faith, the end is love. The two bound together in unity are God. Everything else that belongs to goodness follows from these. No one who professes faith sins, and anyone who possesses love does not hate. The tree is known by its fruit.

Those who profess to belong to Christ will be recognized by their actions. However, what matters now is not a mere professing of faith. Now the crucial thing is whether a man is found in the power of faith to the end. He who truly possesses the word of Jesus can even hear his silence speak. In this way shall he be perfect: he will act in accordance with his words and will be known even by his silence.

Our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary of the seed of David and yet of the Holy Spirit according to God’s plan of salvation. He was born and baptized so that through his suffering he would purify the water. From that time on every evil spell was exposed, all bonds of evil vanished, and ignorance was removed. The ancient kingdom was shattered. God revealed himself in human form to bring the newness of eternal life! Now began that which had been prepared by God. From now on everything came into motion, for now the destruction of death was taken in hand.

Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, before the year 120

These excerpts from Ignatius are taken from The Early Christians.

Early Christian drawing of a dove.
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