It’s fascinating to me that we have letters from early Christians to some of the very same churches Paul wrote to.
Ignatius wrote to the Ephesians and Romans, Clement wrote to the Corinthians, and Polycarp wrote to the Philippians. And then there’s the other names that we don’t know so well: Ignatius, for example, wrote to the Magnesians and Trallians.
For those of you not familiar with the early Christian writings—or The Ante-Nicene Fathers, as they’re known in the 10-volume series from Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 19th century—I should tell you that such letters are real. Ignatius wrote 7 letters in either A.D. 107 or 116 while being transported to Rome for martyrdom; Polycarp wrote just his Philippian letter in the early 2nd century; and Clement is credited for the letter addressed from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, probably in A.D. 96.
Yes, A.D. 96.
Pretty neat, huh?
The apostle John was still alive at the time, and if Irenaeus—who was taught by Polycarp—is correct, then the Gospel of John was not even written yet. It’s from 2 or 3 years after Rome’s letter to Corinth known as First Clement.
Second Clement, if you’re interested, is a very early sermon, probably dated in the 1st half of the 2nd century, that is attributed to Clement of Rome, but probably falsely so.
And Clement is called "of Rome" because there’s another Clement from Alexandria a century later.
That’s some quick and general comments about early Christianity. There’s way too many things I don’t teach because I don’t have my ducks all lined up in a row yet. But I can yammer on for hours about early Christianity, and most of it is life-changing stuff if it’s put into practice.
So I’m going to spend some time on it. Next blog I’m starting in on Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians. There are a thousand things to say from its words!
It’s not my favorite letter. My favorites—it’s hard to pick just one—are Polycarp’s letter (you can tell he’s awesome), Clement’s letter to Corinth, and the anonymous Letter to Diognetus.
As you can see by the link, I’ve already reworded that into modern English and commented on it for you.
Enjoy! Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians coming up tomorrow!
Wait, wait, wait …
I know what you’re thinking. Is there anything to look forward to?
Well, for starters, do you remember that it’s the church of Ephesus that’s told they lost their first love in the Book of the Revelation (ch. 2). Jesus threatened to pull their candlestick!
Did they repent?
Well, Ignatius wrote his letter 3 or 4 decades after Revelation was written. He might be able to tell us, mightn’t he?