Tuesday, June 30, 2015

LOGOS-CHRISTOLOGY

Logos-christology

(Excerpted from the book entitled: Godhead Theology, by Bishop Jerry Hayes. Look for it on Amazon.)

Classical logos-christology had its origins with the Apologists of the second century who needed an offensive against the Modalism of the orthodox. The Apologists labored to establish a personal difference between the Father and the Son. The dis-tinction began as an abstract thought, as was expressed by men like Athenagoras of Athens (which did no violence to the Modalistic views of the Lord’s church) when he presented the thought that the Son (logos) and the Holy Spirit were effuences (something that flows out) of God, flowing out and returning, like the rays of the sun [ Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II, page 133; Athenagoras, ch X.]). (The modalist views of Marcellus of Ancyra  seems to have taken this tack.) However, the logos idea evolved and developed into a personal distinction from the Father. Also, those who accepted and promoted a logos-christology moved progressively through stages of subordinationism (such as was propagated by Justin, Origen and Arius) to what later became the Trinity of the Athanasian Creed. Logos Christianity stemmed from the need of Greco-Roman Christians to reconcile their faith with the widely accepted philosophical views of their culture.  It was a Greco-Roman perspective on a Jewish theme. The fact that Christianity was a new religion seemed to be impeding its progress; Christian apologists overcame this difficulty by showing that Christianity had common ground with Judaism and philosophy. In this task one cannot underestimate the influence of one Philo of Alexandria, Egypt.

Philo, a contemporary of Christ and the apostles, was a Jewish philosopher of Alexandria who was a student of Plato and the Stoics. Greek philosophy had worked on the concept of God for several hundred years and had brought the ancient superstitions of half animal and half human gods to an homogenized form of ‘principles’ and ‘energies.’ It was theorized that there is only one God who is God in Himself (in this it is suggested by Philo that the Greeks were influenced by Moses: i.e. the Shema, Deut 6:4), who could not touch or be touched by a created universe. This transcendent deity must, then, communicate through an inter-mediary that was called the logos. Since more will be said about Philo later, let it be sufficient here to say that he saw in the Greek Logos the promised Hebrew Messiah.  (The link between Plato's teachings and the Trinity as adopted by the Roman Catholic Church is so strong that Edward Gibbon, centuries later in his masterwork The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, referred to Plato as “the Athenian sage, who had thus marvelously anticipated one of the most surprising discoveries of the Christian revelationthe Trinity.”) Philo was a Jew, not a Christian; but, a disciple of his by the name of Justin (called by Christians, Justin Martyr) embraced the thought of Philo con-cerning the logos and the Christ. Justin, as did the other Christian apologist, began to promote this logos-christology of Philo and the Greeks in their Christian circles. (Justin was a Platonic philosopher before he became a Christian and continued to wear his philosopher’s cloak as he preached his version of the Gospel. He saw Christianity as being the fruition of all true philosophies.) The doctrine of logos-christology is  basically this: 
God, Himself, is too holy and pure to become evolved in the created world of matter: so a secondary entity was brought into being called the logos who created all things in behalf of God the first principle; this logos was called the second principle. This “second god” (as Justin called Him) came to earth and was born of the virgin Mary and died for the sins of the world.

The latest offering of logos-christology is applying the term  Christophany to Old Testament manifestations of the Deity. This has only happen since a publication by James Borland in 1978. The term “Christophany” is new enough that it is not listed in the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary © 1981, although “Theophany” does appear. Many teachers of logos-christology hold that each and every manifestation of God in the Old Testament is a Christophany (a manifestation of the Logos, the second god-person and not God the Father). “The practice of the Greek Fathers from Justin Martyr, who identified the "angel of the Lord " with the Logos, furnish excuse for conceiving also the theophanies of the Old Testament as christophanies”  (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge)In this newest posturing of the logos-christology the Father is NEVER manifested in the Bible—only God the Son. In this writers mind, this posturing is now taking place because of the friction between Trinitarianism and Monarchianism in the form of the Oneness theology in American (includes Oneness Pentecostalism, but also New England Trinitarianism [The, more than, thirty year (1819-1850) debate in New England on the subject of the Godhead came about when William Ellery Channing challenged the hegemony of New England orthodoxy in his famous sermon Unitarian Christianity. The battle was immediately joined by Andover theologian Moses Stuart. Stuart’s defense of the Trinity was couched in Sabellianism. The Trinity that stood in New England after the smoke had settled was a Modalistic Monarchian Trinity called the New England Trinity.]) and Barthianism (is the name of the theological movement associated with the thoughts of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968), hailed as the greatest theologian of the 20th century. Barth’s christology is un-blushingly Modalistic Monarchianism.  It is part of the theological movement called neoorthodoxy and is a reaction against the liberal theology of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which was mostly associated with the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher. It's also referred to as Barthian Evangelicalism.) in Europe. The debate has established that the Jesus of the New Testament is the God manifested in the Old Testament. Therefore, instead of the adherents of logos-christology conceding the debate, they have doubled down on their position to the point of denying the presence of God the Father in holy Scripture, apart from His agent—in the person of the Logos.

Here is the truth: Modalist apologist have proven that the God who speaks and is manifested in the Old Testament is in very fact the Jesus of the New Testament. Now, Trinitarian apologist have tweaked, once again, their theology to accept that fact. But say that God the Father is too transcendent to associate directly with creation so He does it all through the Logos (Word/Son). Part of that tweaking is the new term “Christophany” which is replacing “Theophany.” “The doctrines of the logos, ... and the Trinity, received their shape from Greek Fathers, who . . . were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy . . . That errors and cor-ruptions crept into the Church from this source cannot be denied” (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Samuel Macauley Jackson, editor, 1911, Vol. 9, p. 91).

The logos-christology does not take into account the Hebrew’s revelation of God. This was the mistake of the Apologists. Possibly because they were anti-semitic. The Old Testament reveals one only God who brooked no other god-persons. The New Testament scriptures, then, should be viewed, and interpreted, through the lens of Old Testament revelation. The real question, then, is: What glasses are we to look through. The 1st century church of the apostles had only the Old Testament scriptures for its foundation. With and through these they understood the person of Jesus. In short, they viewed Jesus through the glasses of the Old Testament. As a result they worshipped Him as the Father incarnate in flesh. Consider this: With the coming of the Greek and Latin church fathers Jesus began to be viewed through the lens of the Platoic/Philo Logos. So then enter the “logos-christology.”

The christology of the Imperial Church claims the Greeks as its headwater, not the Hebrew prophets. Hence, Modalism is the oldest and original orthodoxy of the Church, and as such is the true teaching of the apostles: because the first century Christology was Hebraic, not Hellenic. One can not help but recall the warning of Apostle Paul, when in A.D. 62 he wrote to the church of Colosse from a prison cell: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”

(Excerpted from the book entitled: Godhead Theology, by Bishop Jerry Hayes. Look for it on Amazon.)

   Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius



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Sunday, June 28, 2015

OUTWARD ADORNING OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN

Outward Adorning

Outward Adorning

Question:
Recently, while conducting a meeting in my home state of Tennessee I was asked the question: “What is the biblical position of outward adorning for Christians?” In the question, 1 Peter 3:3-6 was particularly referenced. First Peter 3:3-6 reads as follows, in the KJV:
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
Answer:
I will attempt to give an answer to this question in the spirit of love and consideration for those who may not have come to the understanding of the subject that I have. However, I plead with the reader to bear in mind that there cannot be opposing truths. The Holy Scripture teaches but one thing: If we are in disagreement to its meaning we should not be content in our incongruity, but rather, should not rest until our opinions are harmonized in Truth.
It is my considered opinion that the biblical stance on outward adorning is far less prohibitive than is required in most Holiness type churches. Having said that I would hasten to say: Temperance is always to be the guiding factor in adorning. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
We will approach the subject of outward adorning on three levels:
  1. The Divine Sanction of Outward Adorning; 
  2. The “Only, But Rather” Idiom; 
  3. Apostolic Principle;
  4. A Matter of Personal Conscience.
IDivine Sanction For Outward Adorning
First: I would direct the inquirer to Ezekiel 16:8-14. In this passage we find Yahweh employing outward adorning as an allegory for His blessings upon His people. The important point here is that God is holy, in Him there is no evil way, all of His doings are righteous. Therefore, He would not (could not) use an evil thing to represent His personal goodness. I will include here that particular text (Ez 16:8-14) from the New American Standard Bible.
“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God. 9 “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. 12 I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord God.
In this passage Yahweh’s splendor is described as: embroidered cloth, silk, ornaments of gold and silver which consisted of bracelets, a necklace, a nose ring, earrings and a crown. Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically evil with outward adorning or Yahweh would not have used it as a representation of "HIS" SPLENDOR.
Second: One should consider the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). After the son had return to his father, and was reconciled, we read in verse 22, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.’” Thus, there is nothing intrinsically evil about a ring or an expensive garment, or Jesus would not have employed them as the metaphor of His blessings. Just as outward adorning both in jewelry and apparel was used in the Old Testament to signify the blessings of Yahweh, so too in the New Testament jewelry and apparel (i.e. outward adorning) are employed by Jesus to represent the same thing. We see in these two illustrations, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, that outward adorning is sanctioned by the Holy Spirit as legitimate representations of the splendor of God.
Third: we should consider the matter of how Jesus dressed. Unlike John the Baptist (who dressed in rough and common attire), the garments which Jesus wore were quite exquisite. When one examines John 19:23-24 one sees the extraordinary robe which Christ wore. It was woven without seam throughout. A garment to be prized: so much so, that the soldiers cast lots for it. Here is a question for us to consider: “Would Jesus observed a practice that the Holy Spirit, through Peter, would condemn? The apostle Peter wrote of “putting on of apparel” (1 Peter 3:3). Whatever Peter meant by women’s adorning not being the “putting on of apparel,” the thing that is certain is that he did not mean a prohibition on expensive clothing; we can be confident in this, since Jesus wore clothing of great value.
Fourth: In Jeremiah 2:32 Yahweh ask this question: “Can of maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?” This question demonstrates that God considers it just as natural for a maid to desire ornaments (i.e. outward adorning) as it is for a bride to desire her wedding garments. Therefore, in the mind of God (as reveled by the prophet, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), it is not sinful, but natural, for a young woman to desire ornaments with which to adorn herself.
Fifth: According to the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 3:3, 4, 5), the “holy women of old” adorned themselves in the same manner in which he is admonishing Christian women to adorn themselves. Peter uses the phrase: “After this manner…;” he especially mentions Sarah, the wife of Abraham (verse 6). When we read the story of Abraham’s servant going in search for Isaac a bride (Genesis 24:10, 22, 30, 53, 67), jewelry plays an important role. Rebecca receives jewels that obviously belonged to Sarah before. Since Peter referenced these holy women and held them up as an example for Christian women to emulate, it cannot be that he is prohibiting outward adorning with gold and jewels, for these “holy women of old” adorned themselves with such ornaments.
Sixth: We consider the OVERCOMERS’ reward. The New Testament speaks of “crowns” that will be given to believers who overcome (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4). Of course, when the Bible speaks of the rewards for believers in heaven it uses terms like gold, pearls, and crowns. It would be strange, indeed, if it were a sin for believers to be adored with such things on earth, and yet received them as rewards in heaven. It would be like saying: We cannot sin by wearing these things here, but we may sin when we get to heaven. Of course one would never reason such a scheme.
Seventh: There is the adorning of the first century Christians to be considered. Perhaps we have never thought that the Christians of the churches pastored by the Apostles would practice outward adorning. However, such is indeed the case if one is to take the words of James, the half-brother of our Lord, into account. James writes:
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” (Ja 2:2-4)
From the words of the Apostle James, it is obvious that the Lord’s church will have both the rich and the poor; both those that adorn themselves in rich apparel, and those who do not. The pastoral instruction of James was that the leaders of the church were to make no difference between the two. But this is not true in many churches today – is it? A difference is made. The leaders of the church say to those wearing the jewels, “You are a sinner;” and to those who are dressed in plain apparel, “You are the righteous.” The apostle James, our Lord’s half-brother, instructed us not to show partiality between the two.
Eighth: One last observation will be made concerning Yahweh’s attitude toward outward adorning. In Exodus 33:4-6 the people of God show an intuitive response in removing their ornaments in a time of mourning. This also was commanded by the Lord God. It is interesting to see that the only time God commanded the removing of ornaments was in a time of national mourning. Is the church to be in mourning? or in a time of great rejoicing? The latter is certainly true. It follows, then, that there is no reason for the people of God, as a whole, to put aside their ornaments. From time to time individuals may do well to do so in a time of mourning. It may even be feasible for the elders of the congregation to requested the members lay aside their ornaments to humble themselves in a time of soul-searching and repentance. But this surely would only be a temporary condition in the Lord’s church, as it was with Israel in Exodus 33.

II. The “Only, But Rather” Idiom
An “idiom” is a function of speech that is common in every language. An idiom has a meaning which cannot be determined by the conjoined meaning of the individual elements in the statement. An example would be: “Monday week.” One might say “Monday week” when they mean a week from this coming Monday. The meaning would be understood by the idiom, although the definition of the two words “Monday” and “week,” when joined together, would not give the meaning of the idiom.
There is an idiom in holy Scripture which is called the "only, but rather" idiom. This idiom must be inserted between certain two independent statements of Scripture for the true meaning to be acquired. In a study of 1 Peter 3:3-6 the “only, but rather”idiom must be inserted between verses 3 and 4. However, before we go there, permit me to share other places in the NT where the “only, but rather,” idiom is required for proper interpretation.
  1. Jn 6:27 “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life,...” ~ If one was to interpret this verse without the idiom, one would understand that the disciple of Christ was not to work to feed himself and his family natural food in this life. However, logic demands that the “only, but rather” idiom be inserted between the two conjoining statements. When the idiom is applied, the passage then reads: “Labor not for the meat which perisheth ONLY, BUT RATHER for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, ...”
  2. John 11:4 Jesus says concerning Lazarus: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” ~ The problem with this statement is that without the idiom Jesus lied. Did Jesus lie? Obviously not. The “only, but rather,” idiom is understood here, and must be inserted into the text between the two conjoining statements. When the idiom is used, Jesus’s statement is interpreted thusly: “This sickness is not to death ONLY, BUT RATHER for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby.”
  3. Matthew 16:17 When Jesus is commending Peter for his revelation concerning His identity as the Son of God, Jesus says to him: “Blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” ~ Now, without the idiom inserted into this text one would have reason to question the veracity of Jesus’ statement; because, in John 1:40-42 flesh and blood (in the person of Andrew) did indeed reveal Christ to Peter. However, with the idiom understood in the text such a problem is removed. By inserting the “only, but rather” idiom into Matthew 16:17, this statement is understood to be saying, “Blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto the ONLY, BUT RATHER my Father which is in heaven.”
  4. Acts 5:4 Here, Apostle Peter tells Ananias: “Thou hast not lied unto men, but God.” ~ The problem here is that Ananias did, indeed, lie to men, in that he lied to Peter. Actually, there is no problem; the idiom is understood though not explicitly stated. With the idiom, Peter’s words would be understood as follows: “Thou hast not lied unto men ONLY, BUT RATHER to God.”
  5. Genesis 32:28 In this passage Yahweh tells Jacob, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: …” ~ Again, there is a problem if the idiom is not understood; because, in Genesis 46:2 Yahweh Himself calls Israel “Jacob.” Did “Yahweh forget Himself? No not at all. The idiom is understood. Therefore, the statement is understood to be saying: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob ONLY, BUT RATHER Israel.”
The conclusion is that 1 Peter 3:3-6 requires the “only, but rather” idiom to be properly interpreted. When this is done the text reads: “Whose adorning let it not being the outward adorning of platting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel ONLY, BUT RATHER let it be the hidden man of the heart,…”
If the “only, but rather” idiom is not used to interpret 1 Peter 3:3-6 we have two bigger problems. The first one is: We are faced with the proposition of God changing, because, God allowed and sanctioned outward adorning of the Old Testament but is now forbidding it in the New Testament. This would constitute a change in God’s nature; in what God liked and then disliked. James 1:17 and Hebrews 13:8 assures us that God is immutable; He never changes. The second problem, if the idiom is not understood in 1 Peter 3: 3–6, is that the disciple of Christ is forbidden from wearing clothing altogether. That would not make walking around sense. Without the idiom the prohibition on platting the hair and the wearing of gold also prohibits “putting on of apparel.” Apparel would be any manner of clothing whatsoever.
We see, then, that the “only, but rather” idiom is absolutely required for a proper understanding of 1 Peter 3:3-6. Therefore, there is no prohibition on adorning the hair, wearing of gold or putting on of apparel. Instead, the Apostle is stressing the importance of adorning the internal person over and above the external one.

III. Upholding Apostolic Principal
At the first ecumenical Council of the Lord’s church, James (half-brother of the Lord) stood, and with apostolic authority established a principle by which the church was to function throughout the ages. This principle is found in Acts 15:28-29.
“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
The “Apostolic Principal” established by James is: “No greater burden then these necessary things.” Within the same text James list the necessary things. Among them, nothing is said concerning outward adorning. Therefore, for the Lord’s church to place a prohibition on outward adorning would be breaking “Apostolic Principle.”

IV. Outward Adorning Is a Matter of Conscience (Romans Chapter 14)
Apostle Paul addresses matters of Christian lifestyle in Romans chapter 14. Verses 4 and 5 should be common ground to all parties concerned in the discussion about outward adorning. “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” In other words, some things are a matter of conscience. Outward adorning is one of those things.
In this chapter the apostle Paul addresses those who are weak in the faith versus those who are strong in the faith. It is interesting, and a great revelation, to discover in verse 2 that it is the week in the faith that adopted restricted lifestyle, and the stronger the faith who practice liberties which those who are weak in the faith would feel to be wrong, or even sinful. Notice that Paul says in verses 1 and 2: “Him that his weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth he may eat all things, another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” Here the weak is juxtaposed with the strong. The strong in the faith believes he may eat all things, while the weak in the faith restricts that which he eats because of personal conviction.
In verse 14 the apostle Paul writes “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteems anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” In other words, the one who is weak in the faith (whose faith is timid) is bothered by many things; for such an one to partake of the things that his faith would not allow would be a sin—it would be unclean to him. While the same thing would not be unclean (i.e. sin) to the individual whose faith was stronger.
In verse 20 we have a similar statement from the Apostle: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 is addressing the same thought. If we, who are strong in the faith, insist on our liberties at the expense of the timid consciousness of those who are weak, we are not walking in love; but are actually bringing offense by our liberties. So then, some things are a matter of conscience. If our conscience is not offended by liberties which holy Scripture does not prohibit, then happy are we; and we may exercise such liberties when appropriate to do so. But if a weaker brother is offended by our action, then we should refrain from the liberties for the sake of his conscience—not ours (1 Corinthians 10:23-33). The Apostle drives this point home in Romans 14:22-23, “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God.” (Exercise your liberty in private, or where the weak in faith will not be offended.) “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he allows. And he that doubts is damned if he eats, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
Conclusion
What the Word of God does not expressly forbid the Church of Jesus Christ should not prohibit. Since the Word of God does not forbid outward adorning, the church should not prohibit it. It is a matter of conscience. The faith of some will allow it, while the faith of others will not. The bottom line is: outward adorning is not a sin for a believer who is mature enough to allow it.

Summary
We have looked at the subject of outward adorning as presented in 1 Peter 3:3-6 and have examined the topic on four different levels:
  1. The Divine Sanction of Outward Adorning. Here we found that God’s attitude toward outward adorning is favorable, because he uses it as an allegory for his favor upon his people. We discovered that Jesus wore exquisite garments; that Yahweh considered natural that young women desire ornaments; the holy women of old adorned themselves with jewels, and the same women were said to be an example of how Christian women should adorn themselves; the only time God instructed Israel to remove their ornaments was in a time of national morning.
  2. We discovered the “Only, But Rather” idiom that must be applied to 1 Peter 3:3-4 before arriving at the proper interpretation of the text.
  3. We further found that to prohibit outward adorning for Christian women, or men, would be breaking Apostolic Principle established by the apostle James (our Lord's half-brother).
  4. Finally, we found that Outward Adorning Is a Matter of Conscience.Surprisingly, it was discovered that those who restrict their lifestyles (because of offense to their consciences) from things the Bible does not prohibit, are weak in the faith; and those who allow liberties in their lifestyles, and whose consciousnes are not offended, are the strong in the faith. This makes outward adorning a matter of personal conscience: the weak in the faith will restrict what the strong in the faith allow.
Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ignatius’ Theology of Martyrdom (The Substitute Soul)

A Sacrificial Offering

Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians
1:2  “[I] was hoping through your prayers to succeed in fighting with wild beasts in Rome, that by so succeeding I might have power to be a disciple, ... :”
Ignatius’ Epistle to the Romans
4:1 “I write to all the churches, and I bid all men know, that of my own free will I die for God, unless ye should hinder me. I exhort you, be ye not an unseasonable kindness to me. Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God. I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ]. 4:2 Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my sepulchre and may leave no part of my body behind, so that I may not, when I am fallen asleep, be burdensome to any one. Then shall I be truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world shall not so much as see my body. Supplicate the Lord for me, that through these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. 4:3 I do not enjoin you, as Peter and Paul did. They were Apostles, I am a convict; they were free, but I am a slave to this very hour. Yet if I shall suffer, then am I a freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise free in Him. Now I am learning in my bonds to put away every desire.
In his letter to the Romans we see his concern that they might intercede to the authorities in his behalf and interfere with his mission.
Bishop Ignatius has come under attack from modern readers for his “desire” to die for Christ. Some have seen this as a bit vainglorious. Permit me to suggest that we must look deeper into the bishop’s theology; plus, we need to understand his heart as truly being that of the shepherd of his flock. I think that John Chrysostom understood Ignatius when he said of him: “For having heard Christ saying, ‘the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,’  with all courage he did lay it down for the sheep.” When one studies closely the writings of Ignatius one detects an apostolic doctrine concerning suffering that the modern church either overlooks or does not want to see. To understand Ignatius in relation to his willing martyrdom one must look to the apostle Paul’s statement found in Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” 
Yes, there is a covenant of suffering that the disciples of Christ enter into with Christ Himself. Christ is the head of the body, but all Christians are members of His body. Therefore, the suffering and sacrifice of Christ is continually experienced though the suffering and sacrifice being made by His body throughout time and space. The suffering of the Church is the suffering of Christ and is meritorious for the salvation of the world. Important to this apostolic doctrine are the passages of holy Scripture that support this apostolic teaching:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?
Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Concerning Colossians 1:24 we deem it good to consult Christian scholars from the past so that the reader will be protected from thinking that this writer is teaching some new doctrine.
Matthew Henry
Colossians 1:24-29 Both the sufferings of the Head and of the members are called the sufferings of Christ, and make up, as it were, one body of sufferings.
John Gill
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,.... The apostle, as soon as he had made mention of his being a minister of the Gospel, thinks and speaks of his "sufferings"; for those are what always more or less attend persons in such an office; they are appointed to them by God; Christ has foretold them of them; they are necessary for them; they must expect them, and patiently endure them: the apostle was under them now at this present time, for he wrote this epistle in his bonds when a prisoner at Rome, not for any immorality, any crime he had committed, but for Christ's sake, for his Gospel's sake, for the sake of the churches of Christ to whom he preached, for the confirmation of them, and so of these Colossians; and therefore he says, "for you"; ... nor was he distressed and discouraged at his afflictions, he "rejoiced" in them, because he had the presence of God in them, the Spirit of God and of glory rested on him, and God was glorified by them; he esteemed it an honour done him that grace was given, and he counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ; and as well knowing that he should live and reign with him, since he suffered with him and for him: and what greatly caused and increased his joy was what follows, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh; ... of such which he filled up in "his" own "flesh"; and design the afflictions of Christ in his members, which are called "his", because of that near union there is between Christ and them; so that what befalls them may be predicated of him; when anyone of them suffers, he suffers with him, as the sufferings of a part of the body are ascribed to the whole person; and because of that sympathy there is between them, he has a fellow feeling with his people in all their infirmities; in all their afflictions he is afflicted: ... ;  add to this, that the afflictions of the saints are endured for Christ's sake, for the sake of his Gospel, and the profession of his name, and therefore called his, and the more cheerfully bore by them: now of these there were some remains to be filled up by the apostle; not that all the afflictions of the whole body of Christ were to be, or have been filled up by him; there was a great deal left behind by him to be filled up by others, and which has been filling up ever since, and still is, and yet all is not fulfilled to this day, nor will be till the end of time; ...”
Jamieson-Fausset- Brown
“Colossians 1: 24. ... To enhance the glory of Christ as paramount to all, he mentions his own sufferings for the Church of Christ. ...  "I was made," in the past time (Col 1:23).
for you—"on your behalf," that ye may be confirmed in resting solely on Christ (to the exclusion of angel-worship) by the glorification of Christ in my sufferings (Eph 3:1).
fill up that which is behind—literally, "the deficiencies"—all that are lacking of the afflictions of Christ ... Christ is "afflicted in all His people's afflictions" (Isa 63:9). "The Church is His body in which He is, dwells, lives, and therefore also suffers" [Vitringa]. Christ was destined to endure certain afflictions in this figurative body, as well as in His literal; these were "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," which Paul "filled up." His own meritorious sufferings in expiation for sin were once for all completely filled up on the Cross. But His Church (His second Self) has her whole measure of afflictions fixed. The more Paul, a member, endured, the less remain for the rest of the Church to endure; the communion of saints thus giving them an interest in his sufferings. It is in reference to the Church's afflictions, which are "Christ's afflictions, that Paul here saith, "I fill up the deficiencies," or "what remain behind of the afflictions of Christ." She is afflicted to promote her growth in holiness, and her completeness in Christ. Not one suffering is lost (Ps 56:8). All her members have thus a mutual interest in one another's sufferings (1Co 12:26). ... Believers should regard their sufferings less in relation to themselves as individuals, and more as parts of a grand whole, carrying out God's perfect plan.”
The above Christian teachers, to some degree at least, demonstrate the idea of Christ suffering for the world through the suffering of His body, which we have presented from Colossians 1:24 and the litany of Pauline passage given above to that end. Ignatius understood this very apostolic precept and when the opportunity presented itself he jumped to it with alacrity. In the bishop’s letter to the Romans, he exhorts them thusly, For I would not have you to be men-pleasers but to please God, as indeed ye do please Him. For neither shall I myself ever find an opportunity such as this to attain unto God, nor can ye, if ye be silent, win the credit of any nobler work” (Romans 2:1). Ignatius is admonishing the Romans not to intervene in his behalf, for he would not ever find an opportunity such as this to attain unto God”
Ignatius was ever the disciple; and the Christian. Or I should say he was always becoming the disciple and the Christian. He took seriously the instruction of Christ to “take up your cross and follow me.” A disciple was one who “followed” the teacher. The bishop wrote much about “becoming” a disciple. Now that he was chained to ten leopards (the ten soldiers) and traveling toward his destiny with lions, he was “beginning” to be a disciple. This “beginning” would be finished when he followed his Teacher in giving his life for the sheep—only then would he truly be a disciple of the Master. The Shepherd of Antioch had a keen conviction of what it meant to be a Christian. The followers of Christ were first called Christians at Antioch—the honor of the name belonged to that See. In the beginning the mob meant it as a slur, but from that beginning the people of the Way took up the name as a badge of honor. Christian—like Christ. Ignatius wrote of being a Christian in deed, and not in name only. To the bishop of Syria, he would only truly be a Christian when he followed Christ in giving his life for his sheep, as did Christ.
Ignatius is conscious that his own life is but a substitute for the life of the Church. This truth cannot be stated any clearer then in Smyræans 10:2 and Polycarp 2:3. In these two texts Ignatius employs the Greek word antipsuchon (lit. substitute soul) in close connection with desmos (“chains”). Michael W. Holmes translates Smyr 10:2 as: “My spirit is a ransom (antipsuchon) on your behalf, and my chains as well, ...” Holmes renders Polyc 2:3 as: “May I be a ransom (antipsuchon) on your behalf in every respect, and my chains as well, ...” Charles H Hoole translates Smyr 10:2 as: “My spirit is given for yours (antipsuchon), and my bonds, ...” In like manner, KennethW. Howell renders these two passages: Smyr 10:2 “My spirit and my bonds are your substitute soul (antipsuchon), ...” and Polyc 2:3 “I and my bonds that you love are your substitute soul (antipsuchon) in every way.” Especial telling is Ephesians 8:1 and 18:1 in which Ignatius uses the Greek word “peripsēma” to describe his spirit/soul as being a sacrifice for the Church. Joseph Henry Thayer says, concerning this word: 
“What is wiped off; dirt rubbed off; offscouring, scrapings: 1 Corinthians 4:13, used in the same sense as perikatharma, q. v. Suidas and other Greek Lexicographers s. v. relate that the Athenians, in order to avert public calamities, yearly throw a criminal into the sea as an offering to Poseidon; hence “argurion ... peripsēma tou paidiou hēmōn genoito” (as if to say) let it become an expiatory offering, A ransom, for our child, the comparison to the saving of our son’s life let it be to us a despicable and worthless thing, ... . It is used of a man who in behalf of religion undergoes dire trials for the salvation of others, Ignt. Eph 8:1; 18:1 ...” 

Therefore, Holmes renders Eph 8:1, “I am a humble sacrifice (peripsēma) for you ..” and 18:1 “My spirit is a humble sacrifice (peripsēma) for the cross, which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but salvation and eternal life to us.” It is the presence of Christ’s death within him that allows Ignatius to call himself “the substitute soul” and “the sacrificial offering” because he embraces the cross for the benefit of the members of the body of Christ. His total experience, his chains and his mistreatment, constitutes a sacrificial martyrdom for Christ and for His church.  John Chrysostom, earlier introduced in our study, made the observation that the blood shed in the name of idols had polluted the city of Rome, therefore the blood of holy Christians such as Peter, Paul and Ignatius was required to cleans the city. It seems that Christ continues to shed His blood for the redemption of the world—each generation of Christians has their share of sacrifice to make. Are we prepared to be a “peripsēma” (the substitute soul) for our generation?

Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius



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Friday, June 26, 2015

CHURCH STRUCTURE: BISHOP IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH



"Ignatius either personally knew the apostles or was closely related to their associates, so his writings likely reflect what the apostles taught." – Habermas (2004).
"Yamauchi... cited the seven letters of Ignatius as being among the most important of the writings of the apostolic fathers. 'He emphasized both the deity and the humanity of Jesus ... he stressed the historical underpinnings of Christianity ... truly persecuted under Pilate, truly crucified, truly raised from the dead ...' " – Strobel (1998. p89).

Little is known about the life of Ignatius of Antioch except that he was the third bishop of Antioch in Syria, after Peter and Evodius; and, that he was fed to wild beasts in the arena at Rome (A.D. 107) for being a Christian. He called himself Theophorus—God Bearer. Ignatius Theophorus was born in A.D. 35. Therefore the legend about him being one of the children that Jesus takes into His arms and blesses (Mark 10:16) is not true in that Ignatius was not yet born. The legend does, however, reflect the tender and loving attitude of the ancients toward him.
Ignatius lived in a very volatile time for the infant Church. He had witnessed the heavy persecution, first by the Jews, and then, by the Roman government. His flock at Antioch had suffered terribly at the hands of Domitian, and lastly by Trajan. Finally the bishop, himself, is presented before Trajan, when that emperor was in Antioch, and confesses to being a Christian. He is condemned and ordered to be conveyed to Rome where he is cast to the wild beasts, for the entertainment of the mob. Assigned, and chained, to ten soldiers as his guard, the band sets out on their journey to Rome. He is taken by the overland route through Cilicia and Asia Minor, and thence to Rome. Where the way forks at Laodicea, the northern road is chosen. He halts at Philadelphia, and then again at Smyrna, where he is welcomed by Polycarp, the bishop of that city, and by delegates from the neighboring churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, and Tralles. Pressing northward, he stops again at Troas. We gather that he crossed by sea to Neapolis and halted once more at Philippi, where the Christians welcomed him. After that he passes out of sight. 
Ignatius considers the journey as a martyrdom leading to a martyrdom. The soldiers, whom he called “leopards” become more hateful with each bit of kindness shown to them. (“From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only wax worse when they are kindly treated. Howbeit through their wrong doings I become more completely a disciple; yet am I not hereby justified.” Romans 5:1) News of the bishop’s arrest and sentence went before them, and the several churches along the route sent out delegates, along with their individual bishops, to meet with Ignatius and refresh him in his bonds. (One can only imagine the amount of bribes given to the Roman guards, by the Christians, in order to gain access to their valued prisoner.) It was while in this journey that Ignatius has left behind seven letters that give us great insight into the first generation of the Church after the death of the apostles: During the stop in Smyrna Ignatius wrote his epistles to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, and Romans; from Troas he wrote to the Philadelphians, Smyræans, and Polycarp. Finally, the bishop of Syria received the honor of martyrdom in (or about) the Year of Our Lord 107, on the 20th of December. It is reported that Ignatius, and the company of soldiers (ten) sent to guard him, arrived in Rome on the last day of the games, and he was dispatched to the wild beasts immediately.
He writes at a time of the Church that is some thirty-eight years after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The seven years of tribulation leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the razing of the Jewish temple in A. D. 70 had seen the martyrdom of Peter, Paul, and James (the Lord’s half brother and bishop of the Jerusalem church). Moreover, contrary to traditional opinion, this period also saw the martyrdom of the apostle John as well. John’s brother and fellow apostle, James, was killed earlier by the Jews (Acts 12:2). 
(Parenthetically, but necessarily, it must be pointed out that the traditional long life for Apostle John and his Ephesian residency go hand in hand. It is clear to this writer that John’s bishopric at Ephesus and his long life are fabrications for the purpose of bringing him into the lifetime of Papias and Irenaeus, thereby, giving these churchmen a touchstone to the apostles [Irenaeus is considered the first Catholic church father]. A con-vincing evidence of this fabrication is the witness of Ignatius: Ignatius, himself, reputed to be a disciple of John, as was his fellow bishop, Polycarp, wrote to the church at Ephesus and mentions that church’s former and present bishops, in his personal references to Paul and Onesimus (Ephesians 12:2, and Ephesians 1:2 respectively), but did not mention John. It is a thing unthinkable for John’s disciple, Ignatius, to send a letter to the very church where his teacher had such a long bishopric and not make even one mention of that connection—if it were true. Moreover, the fact that the “Long Version” of Ignatius’ Ephesian letter does contain a reference to John as associated with Ephesus is a sure evidence of its unlikeliness, in that the “Long Versions” of Ignatius’ writings are all interpolations written much later for the purpose of either weakening his doctrine on the deity of Jesus, or to “write into history” support for teachings that had developed in the Church but had no historical support.) 
In the heat of this tribulation, Ignatius is made bishop of Antioch in A. D. 68 or 69. By the time of the writing of the seven letters, Ignatius had been bishop of his district for 38-40 years. Thus, the Church of Ignatius had a complete generation of development after the death of the leading apostles. This is an important fact to consider, when one compares Ignatius’ church with the one pictured in the Acts of the Apostles. 

Ignatius’ Theology of Church Structure
Ignatius will write much about church structure. His advocacy of the structure of bishop, presbyter, and deacon have lead some to discount the possibility of such an early date for the letters (A.D. 107). The New Testament presents only two separate church offices: bishops and deacons (see 1 Tim 3:1-13). The terms bishop, presbyter, and pastor are synonymous for the same office, in the New Testament. Further, there were plural bishops/presbyters ordained in each church.
 Ignatius advocated strongly for a “head” bishop for each metropolitan church with presbyters being under his authority, and with deacons being under the authority of the presbyters—a hierarchical episcopacy consisting of these three tiers. (e.g. Eph 2:2; 5:3; Trall 2: 1-2; 13:2; Polyc 6:1).  Some doubt if this development could have come about in such short of time—38-40 years.
When we look back over the last half century in America, we can have some understanding of how events can dictate change. As the leader of the apostolic congregation at Antioch, Ignatius must have learned first hand how important a congregation’s leadership is to its health and survival during times of persecution. The shepherd is the one force that protects and holds the flock together, whether dwelling safely in a sheltered community, or in a precarious place, such as the open countryside—where predators are prowling about in the shadows. In fact this must have been much on the mind of this holy bishop, for he writes to the Philadelphians: “As children therefore [of the light] of the truth, shun division and wrong doctrines; and where the shepherd is, there follow ye as sheep. 2:2 For many specious wolves with baneful delights lead captive the runners in God's race; but, where ye are at one, they will find no place.”
Although the form of government demonstrated in the New Testament was episcopal, it was not as well defined as we find in the writings of Ignatius. Where we see a plurality of bishops/presbyters per congregation in the New Testament, in Ignatius we see but one bishop for each church. In Ignatius’ church one individual is given the oversight of the flock and all other shepherds come under his jurisdiction. There is no doubt, in this writers mind, that this came about as a result of the circumstances brought on by persecution. Truly, when the flock is driven from place to place, having to meet in secret much, if not all, of the time, the cohesiveness of the community becomes the shepherd (bishop). In Ignatius’ theology the bishop stands in the place of Christ to the church and the presbyters represent the apostles. He makes a point to state this, in one way or another, over and over again. It was an important lesson learned in Antioch, and he is determined to pass it on to the other churches. Antioch was a city of firsts: the believers were first called Christians at Antioch, and now their bishop is the first to call for a monepiscopacy .

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
Ephesians 2:2 “...It is therefore meet for you in every way to glorify Jesus Christ who glorified you; that being perfectly joined together in one submission, submitting yourselves to your bishop and presbytery, ye may be sanctified in all things.”
3:2 “ ...the bishops that are settled in the farthest parts of the earth are in the mind of Jesus Christ.” 3:4 “So then it becometh you to run in harmony with the mind of the bishop; which thing also ye do. For your honourable presbytery, which is worthy of God, is attuned to the bishop, even as its strings to a lyre. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung.”
5:1 “For if I in a short time had such converse with your bishop, ..., how much more do I congratulate you who are closely joined with him as the Church is with Jesus Christ... . 5:2 Let no man be deceived. If any one be not within the precinct of the altar, he lacketh the bread [of God]. For, if the prayer of one and another hath so great force, how much more that of the bishop and of the whole Church. 5:3 Whosoever therefore cometh not to the congregation, he doth thereby show his pride and hath separated himself; for it is written, _God resisteth the proud._ Let us therefore be careful not to resist the bishop, that by our submission we may give ourselves to God.”
6:1 “And in proportion as a man seeth that his bishop is silent, let him fear him the more. For every one whom the Master of the household sendeth to be steward over His own house, we ought so to receive as Him that sent him. Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself.”
20:2 “... Assemble yourselves together in common, every one of you severally, man by man, in grace, in one faith and one Jesus Christ, ... , to the end that ye may obey the bishop and presbytery without distraction of mind; ... .”

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians
2:1 “ ... Zotion, of whom I would fain have joy, for that he is subject to the bishop as unto the grace of God and to the presbytery as unto the law of Jesus Christ:”
3:1 “Yea, and it becometh you also not to presume upon the youth of your bishop, but according to the power of God the Father to render unto him all reverence, even as I have learned that the holy presbyters also have not taken advantage of his outwardly youthful estate, but give place to him as to one prudent in God; yet not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, even to the Bishop of all. 3:2 For the honour therefore of Him that desired you, it is meet that ye should be obedient without dissimulation. For a man doth not so much deceive this bishop who is seen, as cheat that other who is invisible; and in such a case he must reckon not with flesh but with God who knoweth the hidden things.”
6:1 “... the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons also who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, ... .” 6:2 “... be ye united with the bishop and with them that preside over you as an ensample and a lesson of incorruptibility.”

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians
2:1 “For when ye are obedient to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, it is evident to me that ye are living not after men but after Jesus Christ.” 2:2 It is therefore necessary, even as your wont is, that ye should do nothing without the bishop; but be ye obedient also to the presbytery, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ ... . 
3:1 In like manner let all men respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, even as they should respect the bishop as being a type of the Father and the presbyters as the council of God and as the college of Apostles. Apart from these there is not even the name of a church. 
7:1 “... And this will surely be, if ye be not puffed up and if ye be inseparable from [God] Jesus Christ and from the bishop and from the ordinances of the Apostles. 7:2 He that is within the sanctuary is clean; but he that is without the sanctuary is not clean, that is, he that doeth aught without the bishop and presbytery and deacons, this man is not clean in his conscience.”
12:2 “... it becometh you severally, and more especially the presbyters, to cheer the soul of your bishop unto the honour of the Father [and to the honour] of Jesus Christ and of the Apostles.”
13:2 “... submitting yourselves to the bishop as to the commandment, and likewise also to the presbytery;”

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians
2:1 “... where the shepherd is, there follow ye as sheep.”
3:2 “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, they are with the bishop;”
4:1 Be ye careful therefore to observe one eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in His blood; there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever ye do, ye may do it after God.
7:1 “... I cried out, when I was among you; I spake with a loud voice, with God's own voice, Give ye heed to the bishop and the presbytery and deacons.
8:1 “... Now the Lord forgiveth all men when they repent, if repenting they return to the unity of God and to the council (assembly—communion) of the bishop.”

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans
8:1 “... Do ye all follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God's commandment. Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be held a valid eucharist which is under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it. 8:2 Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which ye do may be sure and valid.
9:1 “...It is good to recognise God and the bishop. He that honoureth the bishop is houroured of God; he that doeth aught without the knowledge of the bishop rendereth service to the devil.”

The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp
4:1 “... Let nothing be done without thy consent;”
5:2 “... It becometh men and women too, when they marry, to unite themselves with the consent of the bishop, that the marriage may be after the Lord and not after concupiscence.
6:1 “Give ye heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. I am devoted to those who are subject to the bishop, the presbyters, the deacons.”
The hierarchical episcopacy of Ignatius has been hard for many Protestant leaders to accept, and has caused them to question the authorship of Ignatius for this segment of the letters. However, those of us who see the New Testament establishing an episcopal structure in the beginning, accept readily Ignatius as being authentic. It is true that his writings advanced the apostles episcopal framework to a more solid structure. One may ask: On what authority did Ignatius do this? To answer that question we need to consider that one of the gifts given to the Church by the Holy Spirit was the gift of governments, or administration (1 Cor 12:28). Consider this: The church of Jesus Christ is a living organism and as such goes through periods of change, as does any living thing. However, having said that, it must be pointed out that the Church is a species to itself, and though changing, it can never evolve into another species. By that we mean it must change within its structure—staying true to the structure. So the episcopal structure placed in its gnome by the Holy Spirit would be expected to further develop through the administration of men, like Ignatius, with the “gift of governments.” So, then, what we see in Ignatius’ epistles is exactly what one would expect to see the church structure become when in the throes of persecution.
Of course it must be pointed out that for all the verbiage of Ignatius concerning the authority of the bishops, presbytery, and deacons, it is, after all, only an echoing of the Apostles’ instruction to obey those who were rulers in the Church: e.g.

Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
1 Corinthians 16:15-16 “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.”
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” 
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” 
Hebrews 13:24 “Salute all them that have the rule over you...”


Having, as we have, read the teachings of Bishop Ignatius on Church structure, we are better prepared to begin our review of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Apostolic Orthodox Church International. The Lord’s church has been episcopal from the beginning; however,  Protestantism left this biblical form of church structure, for the most post part. Therefore, to those of us who have been educated, ecclesiastically, by the Protestant church-view, episcopal structure may seem strange. But, perhaps, now, not so strange, having given serious thought to the words of the bishop of Syria, coming to us  from the apostolic age of the Church.. 

Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius


If the ministry of the Bishop is a blessing to you, please consider leaving a monetary gift of any amount at the link provided here: