Ignatius was born several years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As the Bishop of Antioch, he was a very influential Christian leader of his time. He is recognized as one of the first martyrs and one of the first people to write about Jesus’s virgin birth outside of the Bible in his seven famous letters. Ignatius wrote these letters while on his way to Rome around AD 107 as a prisoner to be executed for his beliefs.
Ignatius’s letters set the foundation of many “dogmas” or tenets in the church like martyrdom and the humanity of Jesus. In the letters, Ignatius gave thanks, offered instruction on Christian living, and warned of false teachings.
In one of his letters, Ignatius wrote this about the existence of Jesus:
“Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth; who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His Father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe in Him.”
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Ignatius was very devoted to Christ, and it is said that he was ready to die for Him. He stated in his letter to the Ephesians, "Now I begin to be a disciple... Let fire and cross, flocks of beasts, broken bones, dismemberment... come upon me, so long as I attain to Jesus Christ." He was dedicated to finding unity with Jesus, and he believed that being a perfect disciple meant sharing in Christ’s suffering. Continuing in this letter, Ignatius testifies, “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 passible and then impassible — even Jesus Christ our Lord.”
His dedication in his service for the Lord is evident as he writes, “He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.”
Ignatius found power and strong belief in Jesus Christ and was proud to suffer in His name. He was faithful to Jesus, and he said in his letter to the Smyrnaeans, “I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.”