Ignatius the Image-bearer to Polycarp, bishop of the church of the Smyrnaeans, or rather who has God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as his bishop: heartiest greetings.
So approving am I of your godly mind, which is grounded, as it were, upon an unmovable rock, that my praise exceeds all bounds, inasmuch as I was judged worthy of seeing your blameless face. May it bring me joy in God.
I urge you, by the grace with which you are clothed, to press on in your race and to exhort all people so that they may be saved. Do justice to your office with constant care for both physical and spiritual concerns. Focus on unity, for there is nothing better. Bear with all people, even as the Lord bears with you; endure all in love, just as you now do. Devote yourself to unceasing prayers; ask for greater understanding than you have. Keep alert with an unresting spirit. Speak to the people individually, in accordance with God’s example. Bear the diseases of all, as a perfect athlete. Where there is more work, there is much gain.
If you love good disciples, it is no credit to you; rather with gentleness bring the more troublesome ones into submission. Not every wound is healed by the same treatment; relieve inflammations with cold compresses. Be as shrewd as a snake in all circumstances, yet always innocent as a dove. You are both physical and spiritual in nature for this reason, so that you may treat gently whatever appears before you; but ask, in order that the unseen things may be revealed to you, so that you may be lacking in nothing and abound in every spiritual gift. The time needs you (as pilots need winds and as a storm-tossed sailor needs a harbor) in order to reach God. Be sober, which you are already convinced. May I be a ransom on your behalf in every respect, and my chains as well, which you loved.
Do not let those who appear to be trustworthy yet who teach strange doctrines baffle you. Stand firm, like an anvil being struck with a hammer. It is the mark of a great athlete to be bruised, yet still conquer. But especially we must, for God’s sake, patiently bear all things, so that he may also bear with us. Be more diligent than you are. Understand the times. Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way.
Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 263–265. Copyright ©️ 2007 by Michael W. Holmes. Used by permission of Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group.