For some are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, whom ye must flee as ye would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom ye must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured. There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible,—50 even Jesus Christ our Lord.
But some most worthless persons are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, and hold opinions contrary to the doctrine of Christ, to their own destruction, and that of those who give credit to them, whom you must avoid as ye would wild beasts. For “the righteous man who avoids them is saved for ever; but the destruction of the ungodly is sudden, and a subject of rejoicing.”51 For “they are dumb dogs, that cannot bark,”52 raving mad, and biting secretly, against whom ye must be on your guard, since they labour under an incurable disease. But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began,53 but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.”54 Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passible body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.
Chapter VIII.—Renewed Praise of the Ephesians.
Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed ye are not deceived, inasmuch as ye are wholly devoted to God. For since there is no strife raging among you which might distress you, ye are certainly living in accordance with God’s will. I am far inferior to you, and require to be sanctified by your Church of Ephesus, so renowned throughout the world. They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But even those things which ye do according to the flesh are spiritual; for ye do all things in Jesus Christ.
Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed ye are not deceived; for ye are wholly devoted to God. For when there is no evil desire within you, which might defile and torment you, then do ye live in accordance with the will of God, and are [the servants] of Christ. Cast ye out that which defiles55 you, who are of the56 most holy Church of the Ephesians, which is so famous and celebrated throughout the world. They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But ye, being full of the Holy Spirit, do nothing according to the flesh, but all things according to the Spirit. Ye are complete in Christ Jesus, “who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.”57
Chapter IX.—Ye Have Given No Heed to False Teachers.
Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed on from this to you, having false doctrine, whom ye did not suffer to sow among you, but stopped your ears, that ye might not receive those things which were sown by them, as being stones58 of the temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God the Father, and drawn up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross,59 making use of the Holy Spirit as a rope, while your faith was the means by which you ascended, and your love the way which led up to God. Ye, therefore, as well as all your fellow-travellers, are God-bearers, temple-bearers, Christ-bearers, bearers of holiness, adorned in all respects with the commandments of Jesus Christ, in whom also I exult that I have been thought worthy, by means of this Epistle, to converse and rejoice with you, because with respect to your Christian life60 ye love nothing but God only.
Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed in among you, holding the wicked doctrine of the strange and evil spirit; to whom ye did not allow entrance to sow their tares, but stopped your ears that ye might not receive that error which was proclaimed by them, as being persuaded that that spirit which deceives the people does not speak the things of Christ, but his own, for he is a lying spirit. But the Holy Spirit does not speak His own things, but those of Christ, and that not from himself, but from the Lord; even as the Lord also announced to us the things that He received from the Father. For, says He, “the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s, who sent Me.”61 And says He of the Holy Spirit, “He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever things He shall hear from Me.”62 And He says of Himself to the Father, “I have,” says He, “glorified Thee upon the earth ; I have finished the work which, Thou gavest Me; I have manifested Thy name to men.”63 And of the Holy Ghost, “He shall glorify Me, for He receives of Mine.”64 But the spirit of deceit preaches himself, and speaks his own things, for he seeks to please himself. He glorifies himself, for he is full of arrogance. He is lying, fraudulent, soothing, flattering, treacherous, rhapsodical, trifling, inharmonious, verbose, sordid, and timorous. From his power Jesus Christ will deliver you, who has founded you upon the rock, as being chosen stones, well fitted for the divine edifice of the Father, and who are raised up on high by Christ, who was crucified for you, making use of the Holy Spirit as a rope, and being borne up by faith, while exalted by love from earth to heaven, walking in company with those that are undefiled. For, says [the Scripture], “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”65 Now the way is unerring, namely, Jesus Christ. For, says He, “I am the way and the life.”66 And this way leads to the Father. For “no man,” says He, “cometh to the Father but by Me.”67 Blessed, then, are ye who are God-bearers, spirit-bearers, temple-bearers, bearers of holiness, adorned in all respects with the commandments of Jesus Christ, being “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people,”68 on whose account I rejoice exceedingly, and have had the privilege, by this Epistle, of conversing with “the saints which are at Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.”69 I rejoice, therefore, over you, that ye do not give heed to vanity, and love nothing according to the flesh, but according to God.
Chapter X.—Exhortations to Prayer, Humility, Etc.
And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See,70 then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return71 your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye stedfast72 in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord (who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned? ), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit.
And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For “cannot he that falls arise again, and he that goes astray return? ”73 Permit them, then, to be instructed by you. Be ye therefore the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. For thus saith the Lord, “If ye take forth the precious from the vile, ye shall be as my mouth.”74 Be ye humble in response to their wrath; oppose to their blasphemies your earnest prayers; while they go astray, stand ye stedfast in the faith. Conquer ye their harsh temper by gentleness, their passion by meekness. For “blessed are the meek ; ”75 and Moses was meek above all men;76 and David was exceeding meek.77 Wherefore Paul exhorts as follows: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.”78 Do not seek to avenge yourselves on those that injure you, for says [the Scripture], If I have returned evil to those who returned evil to me.”79 Let us make them brethren by our kindness. For say ye to those that hate you, Ye are our brethren, that the name of the Lord may be glorified. And let us imitate the Lord, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again ; ”80 when He was crucified, He answered not; “when He suffered, He threatened not ; ”81 but prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”82 If any one, the more he is injured, displays the more patience, blessed is he. If any one is defrauded, if any one is despised, for the name of the Lord, he truly is the servant of Christ. Take heed that no plant of the devil be found among you, for such a plant is bitter and salt. “Watch ye, and be ye sober,”83 in Christ Jesus.
Chapter XI.—An Exhortation to Fear God, Etc.
The last times are come upon us. Let us therefore be of a reverent spirit, and fear the long-suffering of God, that it tend not to our condemnation. For let us either stand in awe of the wrath to come, or show regard for the grace which is at present displayed—one of two things. Only [in one way or another] let us be found in Christ Jesus unto the true life. Apart from Him, let nothing attract84 you, for whom I bear about these bonds, these spiritual jewels, by which may I arise through your prayers, of which I entreat I may always be a partaker, that I may be found in the lot of the Christians of Ephesus, who have always been of the same mind with the apostles through the power of Jesus Christ.
The last times are come upon us. Let us therefore be of a reverent spirit, and fear the long-suffering of God, lest we despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance.85 For let us either fear the wrath to come, or let us love the present joy in the life that now is; and let our present and true joy be only this, to be found in Christ Jesus, that we may truly live. Do not at any time desire so much as even to breathe apart from Him. For He is my hope; He is my boast; He is my never-failing riches, on whose account I bear about with me these bonds from Syria to Rome, these spiritual jewels, in which may I be perfected through your prayers, and become a partaker of the sufferings of Christ, and have fellowship with Him in His death, His resurrection from the dead, and His everlasting life.86 May I attain to this, so that I may be found in the lot of the Christians of Ephesus, who have always had intercourse with the apostles by the power of Jesus Christ, with Paul, and John, and Timothy the most faithful.
Chapter XII.—Praise of the Ephesians.
I know both who I am, and to whom I write. I am a condemned man, ye have been the objects of mercy; I am subject to danger, ye are established in safety. Ye are the persons through87 whom those pass that are cut off for the sake of God. Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, the deservedly most happy, at whose feet88 may I be found, when I shall attain to God; who in all his Epistles makes mention of you in Christ Jesus.
I know both who I am, and to whom I write. I am the very insignificant Ignatius, who have my lot with89 those who are exposed to danger and condemnation. But ye have been the objects of mercy, and are established in Christ. I am one delivered over [to death], but the least of all those that have been cut off for the sake of Christ, “from the blood of righteous Abel”90 to the blood of Ignatius. Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, inasmuch as he was “a chosen vessel; ”91 at whose feet may I be found, and at the feet of the rest of the saints, when I shall attain to Jesus Christ, who is always mindful of you in His prayers.
Chapter XIII.—Exhortation to Meet Together Frequently for the Worship of God.
Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims92 is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth,93 is brought to an end.
Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye come frequently together in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and his “fiery darts”94 urging to sin fall back ineffectual. For your concord and harmonious faith prove his destruction, and the torment of his assistants. Nothing is better than that peace which is according to Christ, by which all war, both of aërial and terrestrial spirits, is brought to an end. “For we wrestle not against blood and flesh, but against principalities and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.”95
Chapter XIV.—Exhortations to Faith and Love.
None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus96 which are the beginning and the end of life. For the beginning is faith, and the end is love.97 Now these two, being inseparably connected together,98 are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them. No man [truly] making a profession of faith sinneth;99 nor does he that possesses love hate any one. The tree is made manifest by its fruit;100 so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession,101 but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end.
Wherefore none of the devices of the devil shall be hidden from you, if, like Paul, ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ102 which are the beginning and the end of life. The beginning of life is faith, and the end is love. And these two being inseparably connected together, do perfect the man of God; while all other things which are requisite to a holy life follow after them. No man making a profession of faith ought to sin, nor one possessed of love to hate his brother. For He that said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,”103 said also, “and thy neighbour as thyself.”104 Those that profess themselves to be Christ’s are known not only by what they say, but by what they practise. “For the tree is known by its fruit.”105
Chapter XV.—Exhortation to Confess Christ by Silence as Well as Speech.
It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one Teacher, who spake and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of the Father. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognised by his silence. There is nothing which is hid from God, but our very secrets are near to Him. Let us therefore do all things as those who have Him dwelling in us, that we may be His temples,106 and He may be in us as our God, which indeed He is, and will manifest Himself before our faces. Wherefore we justly love Him.
It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”107 Men “believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth,” the one “unto righteousness,” the other “unto salvation.”108 It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. For he who shall both “do and teach, the same shall be great in the kingdom.”109 Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, first did and then taught, as Luke testifies, “whose praise is in the Gospel through all the Churches.”110 There is nothing which is hid from the Lord, but our very secrets are near to Him. Let us therefore do all things as those who have Him dwelling in us, that we may be His temples,111 and He may be in us as God. Let Christ speak in us, even as He did in Paul. Let the Holy Spirit teach us to speak the things of Christ in like manner as He did.
Chapter XVI.—The Fate of False Teachers.
Do not err, my brethren.112 Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God.113 If, then, those who do this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such an one becoming defiled [in this way], shall go away into everlasting fire, and so shall every one that hearkens unto him.
Do not err, my brethren.114 Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God.115 And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavour to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, “being waxen fat,”116 and “become gross,” sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into hell. In like manner, every one that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskilful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished. “What communion hath light with darkness? or Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath he that believeth with an infidel? or the temple of God with idols? ”117 And in like manner say I, what communion hath truth with falsehood? or righteousness with unrighteousness? or true doctrine with that which is false?
Chapter XVII.—Beware of False Doctrines.
For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head,118 that He might breathe immortality into His Church. Be not ye anointed with the bad odour of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead you away captive from the life which is set before you. And why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognising the gift which the Lord has of a truth sent to us?
For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head,119 that His Church might breathe forth immortality. For saith [the Scripture], “Thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore have the virgins loved Thee; they have drawn Thee; at the odour of Thine ointments we will run after Thee.”120 Let no one be anointed with the bad odour of the doctrine of [the prince of] this world; let not the holy Church of God be led captive by his subtlety, as was the first woman.121 Why do we not, as gifted with reason, act wisely? When we had received from Christ, and had grafted in us the faculty of judging concerning God, why do we fall headlong into ignorance? and why, through a careless neglect of acknowledging the gift which we have received, do we foolishly perish?
Chapter XVIII.—The Glory of the Cross.
Let my spirit be counted as nothing122 for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block123 to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal. “Where is the wise man? where the disputer? ”124 Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent? For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment125 of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.
The cross of Christ is indeed a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to the believing it is salvation and life eternal. “Where is the wise man? where the disputer? ”126 Where is the boasting of those who are called mighty? For the Son of God, who was begotten before time began127 , and established all things according to the will of the Father, He was conceived in the womb of Mary, according to the appointment of God, of the seed of David, and by the Holy Ghost. For says [the Scripture], “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and He shall be called Immanuel.”128 He was born and was baptized by John, that He might ratify the institution committed to that prophet.
Chapter XIX.—Three Celebrated Mysteries.
Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown,129 which were wrought in silence by130 God. How, then, was He manifested to the world?131 A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new spectacle came, so unlike to everything else [in the heavens]. Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death.
Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown,132 which were wrought in silence, but have been revealed to us. A star shone forth in heaven above all that were before it, and its light was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star. It far exceeded them all in brightness, and agitation was felt as to whence this new spectacle [proceeded]. Hence worldly wisdom became folly; conjuration was seen to be mere trifling; and magic became utterly ridiculous. Every law133 of wickedness vanished away; the darkness of ignorance was dispersed; and tyrannical authority was destroyed, God being manifested as a man, and man displaying power as God. But neither was the former a mere imagination,134 nor did the second imply a bare humanity;135 but the one was absolutely true,136 and the other an economical arrangement.137 Now that received a beginning which was perfected by God.138 Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death.
Chapter XX.—Promise of Another Letter.
Chapter XX.—Exhortations to Stedfastness and Unity.
If Jesus Christ shall graciously permit me through your prayers, and if it be His will, I shall, in a second little work which I will write to you, make further manifest to you [the nature of] the dispensation of which I have begun [to treat], with respect to the new man, Jesus Christ, in His faith and in His love, in His suffering and in His resurrection. Especially [will I do this139 ] if the Lord make known to me that ye come together man by man in common through grace, individually,140 in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that ye obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.