3

Ignatius of Antioch is one of the Apostolic Church Fathers - one of 4 from whom we have significant writings (along with Pope Clement I, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Papias of Hierapolis).

Of the 4, the case for understanding Jesus as God amongst the Apostolic Church Fathers seems strongest with Ignatius (with the others, it seems weak, relying almost solely on a single textual variant in Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians, see here). Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians seems the strongest in this of his writings. Consider the greeting

"The source of your unity and election is genuine suffering which you undergo by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God."

or section 7

"There is only one physician — of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate"

or section 18

"For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary"

or section 19

"for God was revealing himself as a man"

How do Unitarians understand Ignatius' views - did he assert that Jesus was Almighty God, a god, or neither? Secondly, do Unitarians think his views are representative of the early Church?

10
2

I suppose I’m a Unitarian^ as I’m not a trintarian or a binitarian. The bible* is the standard by which all other texts should be measured. So who cares what Ignasious says if it conflicts with clear, unambiguous and consistent bible teaching?

We are warned about false teachers, it should come as no surprise that they masquerade as teachers of truth. For reasons known only to God, many are unable to determine one from the other, and just go along with their preachers - some who seem to have the audacity to replace God’s word with their own. Heb 10:31 comes to mind.

"There is only one physician — of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate.”

This construct is a fabrication that plainly ignores all other scripture. There is no incarceration. There is a manifestation of God, IN the person of Jesus, the logos made flesh, the Immanuel#. He is NOT ‘spiritual’ until his resurrection. 1 Pet 3:18

being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us 1John 1:2

*when we are aware of the bible alterations that suggest a trinity/binity bias, then one is more able to see clearly the inspired word God has provided - which is perfectly sufficient for our needs.

^Label used for the purposes of comparison only - not as a denominational reference!

#Why ‘Immanuel’ doesn’t make Jesus God.

5
  • +1 Re use of Unitarian, I am not intending it as referring to a specific church or organization, just those who aren't trinitarians or binitarians (any number other than One). – One God the Father Jun 6 at 6:32
  • Interesting answer...hmm if the Bible is so clear about Unitarianism how does one interpret Isaiah 9:6 ..Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, His name will be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. That is absolutely clear to any English reading person as saying Jesus is Mighty God and Everlasting Father. – Adam Jul 17 at 23:05
  • @adam have you asked a question here about non trinitarians explanation of Isa 9:6? – Kris Jul 18 at 13:57
  • nope rather prompted those who may be considering unitarianism to consider some very significant reasons as to why the doctrine is a poor one. The significance of Isaiah regarding the coming of the messiah cannot be understated...that was his main message, he pointed to the coming messiah. Therefore texts like Isaiah 9:6 are a big deal. Now i recognise that JW's also believe Jesus is god (authority delegated from Jehovah), however, i dont think one could realistically call Jw's unitarian in the traditional sense? – Adam Jul 18 at 23:49
  • There are 3 acceptable answers to this already @ (excepting GD's illogical answer) hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/47489/… More could be stated to clear up this proof-texting nonsense which drives some very odd beliefs, but what is presented thus far is sufficient. – user47952 Jul 19 at 0:07
-1

The Church of Christ always responds using references, as we do not believe in giving our own personal interpretations about things, so I hope the moderators will indulge me this time.

How do Unitarians understand Ignatius' views - did he assert that Jesus was Almighty God, a god, or neither?

The Church of Christ recognizes Ignatius as the originator of the idea that Jesus is God, based on historical accounts. This was after the New Testament writers passed away.

Sys. Theology, p. 305
"The earliest time known at which Jesus was deified was, after the New Testament writers, in the letters of Ignatius, at the beginning of the second century.”"
(Systematic Theology by Strong, Augustus Hopkins, D.D., LL. D., Philadelphia: The Judson Press, © 1907.)

Secondly, do Unitarians think his views are representative of the early Church?

Historical accounts tell us that he was alone in his view among his immediate peers, with the earliest Church Fathers, Ignatius excluded, viewing Christ as the revealer of the knowledge of God, rather than God Himself.

Hist. of the Chris. Ch., p. 37
"Common Christianity … moved in a much simpler range of thought. … it conceived of Him primarily as the divine revealer of the knowledge of the true God, and the proclaimer of a “new law” of simple, lofty, and strenuous morality. This is the attitude of the so-called “Apostolic Fathers,” with the exception of Ignatius, … They include Clement of Rome (c. 93-97); Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110-117); Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 110-117); Hermas of Rome (c. 100-140);"
(A History of the Christian Church, 3rd Edition by Walker, Williston. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons © 1970.)

It is not surprising that after the New Testament writers had passed away, that the doctrine about Christ would then be changed. We need only consult the Bible as to why.

The Apostle Paul tells us that after his "departure," those among the Church's overseers would rise up and speak perverse things to draw the disciples away.

Acts 20:28-30
28Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood. 29For I know this, that after I have departed, fierce wolves will attack you, which will not spare the flock. 30Also from among yourselves, men shall arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.
(Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text: George M. Lamsa’s Translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Philadelphia USA: A.J. Holman Co., 1968.)

This "departure" refers to his death.

II Tim. 4:6
6From henceforth I am ready to die, and the time of my departure is at hand.
(Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text: George M. Lamsa’s Translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Philadelphia USA: A.J. Holman Co., 1968.)

Among the things that the brethren were in danger of blindly accepting was the teaching about another Jesus, different from the one preached by the Apostles.

II Cor. 11:3-4
3But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The Apostles taught that Jesus was in the form of God, the image of God, but never God Himself―that distinction always went to the Father alone. (To those who disagree, feel free to contradict this in questions of your own.)

No, rather, as we know, the Apostles taught that Jesus is a man.

I Tim. 2:5
5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

As God proclaimed to the Prince of Tyre, He does not allow one to be both man and God.

Ezek. 28:2
2"Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,' Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

To the Church of Christ, Ignatius, who taught that Jesus is both man and God, is the fulfillment of what the Apostles forewarned.

3
  • 1
    +1 I'm particularly interested in the idea that Ignatius was alone amongst his peers in his views, and will take a look at A History of the Christian Church by Williston Walker (1921 edition is available here archive.org/details/ahistorychristi01walkgoog ). Thanks for this! – One God the Father Jun 7 at 5:58
  • Note that the 1921 edition of Walker's A History of the Christian Church has formatting issues. The 1918 edition is here, directly linked to 'Common Christianity' quotation, which is on p.42 of the 1918 edition archive.org/details/ahistorychristi00walkgoog/page/n62/mode/2up – One God the Father Jun 9 at 16:41
  • Therte is a problem here with your logic carsonfel...doubting Thomas...he fell at Jesus feet in the upper room and exclaimed "my Lord and My God!" Clearly thomas (one of the disciples) definately knew that Jesus was God at this point in time...long before the apostle paul came on the scene. – Adam Jul 18 at 23:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.