The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

Home | Authorities | Writings | Table | Lists | Places | Heresies | Miscellaneous | for more Information

Early Christian Authorities

Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp of Smyrna
Justin Martyr
Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian of Carthage
Muratorian Canon
Eusebius of Caesarea
codex Sinaiticus
Athanasius of Alexandria
Didymus the Blind

Ignatius of Antioch (born ? -- died (apparently martyred) ~110 CE in Rome)   

This icon is taken from Orthodox Byzantine Icons. The artist and date are unknown. A larger version is available.

Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria, is known mainly as the author of 7 letters that had exceptional influence in the early church. A Catholic Encyclopedia article is online at St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was apparently anxious to counteract the teachings of two groups: the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament (although the NT did not really exist at that time); and the Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were only apparent. The letters have often been cited to determine what beliefs were held in the early church. These letters are:

Ignatius does not refer to older Christian writings by name, but his letters have quotations (of approval) from these writings:

Ignatius is held in high regard in the West Syrian Church (an independent Christian Church). Every patriarch since 1293 bears the surname "Ignatios" in his honor. The present (1982) patriarch, Ignatios XXXIX Jacob III, rules from Damascus over 11 metropolitans and 3 bishops and over the Syrian Orthodox Church in Malabar.

The quotations below follow [Richardson]. For a summary of this evidence see the Cross Reference Table.

Ignatius quotes the Gospel according Matthew

Ignatius Matthew
Eph. 14:2

No one who professes faith falls into sin, nor does one who has learned to love hate. "The tree is known by its fruit". Similarly, those who profess to be Christ's will be recognized by their actions. For what matters is not a momentary act of professing, but being persistently motivated by faith.

Smyr. 6:1

Let no one be misled: heavenly beings, the splendor of angels, and principalities, visible and invisible, if they fail to believe in Christ's blood, they too are doomed. "Let him accept it who can". Let no one's position swell in his head, for faith and love are everything -- there is nothing preferable to them.

Poly. 2:2

In all circumstances be "wise as a serpent", and perpetually "harmless as a dove". The reason you have a body as well as a soul is that you may win the favor of the visible world. But ask that you may have revelations of what is unseen. In that way you will lack nothing and have an abundance of every gift.


Ignatius quotes I Thessalonians

Ignatius I Thessalonians
Eph. 10:1

"Keep on praying" for others too, for there is a chance of their being converted and getting to God. Let them, then, learn from you at least from your actions.


Ignatius quotes I Colossians

Ignatius Colossians
Eph. 10:2

Return their bad temper with gentleness; their boasts with humility; their abuse with prayer. In the face of their error, be "steadfast in the faith". Return their violence with mildness and do not be intent on getting your own back.


Ignatius quotes I Corinthians

Ignatius I Corinthians
Eph. 18:1

I am giving my life (not that it's worth much!) for the cross, which unbelievers find a stumbling block, but which means to us salvation and eternal life. "Where is the wise man? Where is the debater?" Where are the boasts of those supposedly intelligent?

Trall. 1:3 Those too who are deacons of Jesus Christ's "mysteries" must give complete satisfaction to everyone. For they do not serve mere food and drink, but minister to God's Church. They must therefore avoid leaving themselves open to criticism, as they would shun fire. 4:1
Trall. 12:3

Out of love I want you to heed me, so that my letter will not tell against you. Moreover, pray for me. By God's mercy I need your love if I am going to deserve the fate I long for, and not prove a "castaway".


Even now as a prisoner, I am learning to forgo my own wishes. All the way from Syria to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts, by land and sea, night and day, chained as I am to ten leopards (I mean to a detachment of soldiers), who only get worse the better you treat them. But by their injustices I am becoming a better disciple, "though not for that reason am I acquitted". What a thrill I shall have from the wild beasts that are ready for me! I hope they will make short work of me. I shall coax them on to eat me up at once and not to hold off, as sometimes happens, through fear.

Rom. 6:1 Not the wide bounds of earth nor the kingdoms of this world nor the kingdoms of this world will avail me anything. "I would rather die" and get to Jesus Christ, than reign over the ends of the earth. That is what I am looking for -- the One who died for us. That is whom I want -- the One who rose for us. 9:15

Ignatius quotes Romans

Ignatius Romans
Eph. 20:2

I will do this especially if the Lord shows me that you are all, every one of you, meeting together under the influence of grace that we owe to the Name, in one faith and in union with Christ who was "descended from David according to the flesh" and is Son of man and Son of God. At these meetings you should heed the bishop and presbytery attentively, and break one loaf, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which wards off death but yields continuous life in union with Jesus Christ.


Ignatius quotes Acts

Ignatius Acts
Mag. 5:1

Yes, everything is coming to and end, and we stand before this choice -- death or life -- and everyone, will go "to his own place". Once might say similarly, there are two coinages, one God's, the other the world's. Each bears its own stamp -- unbelievers that of this world; believers, who are spurred by love, the stamp of God the Father through Jesus Christ. And if we do not willingly die in union with his Passion, we do not have his life in us.


Ignatius quotes Gospel according to Luke

Ignatius Luke
Smyr. 3:1-2

For myself, I am convinced and believe that even after the resurrection he was in the flesh. Indeed, when he came to Peter and his friends, he said to them, "Take hold of me, touch me and see that I am not a bodiless ghost.". And they at once touched him and were convinced, clutching his body and his very breath. For this reason they despised death itself, and proved its victors. Moreover, after the resurrection he ate and drank with them as a real human being, although in spirit he was united with the Father.


Ignatius quotes Ephesians

Ignatius Ephesians
Poly. 1:2

God grant I may never forget it! By the grace which you have put on, I urge you to press forward in your race and to urge everybody to be saved. Vindicate your position by giving your whole attention to its material and spiritual sides. Make unity your concern -- there is nothing better than that. Lend everybody a hand, as the Lord does you. "Out of love be patient" with everyone, as indeed you are.

Poly. 5:1

Tell my sisters to love the Lord and to be altogether contented with their husbands. Similarly urge my brothers in the name of Jesus Christ "to love their wives as the Lord loves the Church".


Pages created by Glenn Davis, 1997-2010.
For additions, corrections, and comments send e-mail to